Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Only one resolution

A friend of my sister's was killed in a car accident a few days ago. She was only 32.

Life is short and I'm going to remember that. I am going to live like I remember that.

Hope you will too. My sister's friend did, luckily.

By the way, PLEASE don't drink and drive.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bike followup

I got some really great tips on my last post. I am not sure why I'm all cranked up to buy a bike in December, but I was thinking that if I shopped in the off-season, I might get more time from the salespeople (and maybe a better deal). There is a bike shop in Ann Arbor that looks promising. I should also see what's available in Toledo, but one of the local shops did give me that "you're not cool enough to shop here" vibe, which sort of sours me on shopping there again. I am not really sure why some bike shop employees cop that kind of attitude. I think some bike shop employees will only give you respect if you look super-fit or if you plan to spend huge amounts of money. I am not either, unfortunately. As fit as I feel, I think I still don' t look it. That's one of my huge motivating factors in wanting to lose weight -- wanting people to see the fit person I want to be and not see me as an overweight person and assume I'm either a) not knowledgeable about fitness or b) a lazy glutton.

But if I casually look around at a bike store without being sure I'm going to buy something right away, I can get the sense of whether it's the right place to go when I'm ready to buy something.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bike crazy

One thing I want to do this spring is get a new bike for training and racing. My current bike has served me pretty well for the last 8 years, but the fit has never been exactly right for me and it's not comfortable for long rides. I tried a Trek WSD (Women's Specific Design) bike once at a Danskin event, and it felt so good I didn't want to get off. I am thinking that because of my build (long legs, short torso, narrow shoulders) that this kind of bike might fit me better than the typical unisex (men's) fit.

I am a bit nervous about bike shopping. I have never been a gearhead, so I don't really know the terminology and am not sure I'll be able to get a good deal. I probably feel about bike shopping the way a lot of other people would feel about shopping for a computer. I have been to bike shops where the salespeople make you feel like a jerk if you're not looking to spend at least $3000. I am thinking my upper limit on bike price would be $1500-2000.

I just want something that feels great when I ride it and will hold up well for long training sessions. I don't need the coolest and latest and greatest stuff, I just want a good, solid road bike that won't hold me back in a race.

Any advice or recommendations to share? Post them in the comments.

Friday, December 25, 2009

So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

Another year over, and a new one just begun. . .

I didn't feel like a Christmas/holiday post (I had a fun one, but how interesting would it be to write about it?) This post was shamelessly stolen from Shauna's 2009 and Feelin' Fine post:

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
I tore apart a sink in my bathroom and helped to install a new one. Not just changing out a faucet this time, but actually removing a sink from my home. That was fun. I took a 6-week watercolor class and decided I really enjoy it and want to keep doing it. I tried hot yoga, also great. I committed to regularly coloring my hair, probably for the rest of my life (unless I decide that I want to go gray someday). I let my first passport expire (though I resolve to get a new one in 2010 just in case someone wants to whisk me away to Europe at the last minute). I got a full-time job in the field of my choice, one that I could actually imagine doing for the rest of my career. I attended a graduation ceremony as a faculty member.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next this year?
I barely remember what I resolved last year, except that I was going to be at my goal weight by now. Obviously, did not keep that one. I resolve to get a passport this year (see above). I resolve to focus on my behavior and my fitness and keep working toward my goals without getting obsessive about the scale. I resolve to keep trying new things and setting new goals. I also want to continue working on getting out of debt while still enjoying the occasional worthy splurge.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
She wasn't close to me anymore, but a high school classmate died unexpectedly and it was a bit of a shock.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sadly, I did not leave the USA, which was why I didn't renew my passport -- I was a little short on cash and had no plans to travel, so I thought I would wait until I was feeling a little more flush. I did do some traveling within the States, visiting California, Massachusetts (twice), Tennesee, North Carolina. Michigan is less than a mile from here so I'm there a lot.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A vacation with my husband. Also, sometime I would like to go on a spa-type retreat for a weekend (or week) trip by myself and maybe meet up with some like-minded women. Don't know that this will happen in 2010, though.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The first real Christmas for my nephew.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting my finances in order for the first time since I moved in with my husband. We have managed to straighten out our money issues, plus we also both have full-time jobs we like and only one house (having two mortgages for almost a year was a major financial strain). We aren't all the way out of debt yet but it is seeming possible to get down to just a mortgage payment.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Failing to decide whether I really wanted to lose weight enough to seriously commit to it. I feel like I played around with weight loss this year -- not really committing to doing it or to letting it go, just sort of fiddling. This coming year I want to try to have more focus. I also didn't spend as much time maintaining relationships with friends, or making new friends whose interests more closely match my own.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'm currently having trouble with my foot, will be seeing a podiatrist Tuesday to deal with some recurrent pain/numbness in the toes of my left foot. I started taking meds for a thyroid issue. I have been pretty lucky, though, this was a fairly healthy year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Refurbished 3GS iPhones! Both of us love them and they were a steal.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, living expenses, debt.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

14. What song will always remind you of 2009?
I can't think of one. I think I spent most of 2009 listening to NPR news and various podcasts. Yes, I'm officially old, but with a techno twist.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Happier. Things are more secure now for me and I'm feeling good.
b) thinner or fatter?
About the same weight. Maybe not thinner, but definitely fitter.
c) richer or poorer?
Richer, per #8.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Traveling for fun and not work. Spending time with real friends and family.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about what other people think. Sitting in front of a computer or TV screen just because I couldn't think of something better to do.

18. How will you spend Christmas?
Spent it with my family -- feasting, playing cards, opening lots of gifts, playing with my nephew. May host a belated celebration with my in-laws next Tuesday if they all can agree to/commit to a time.

19. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I have been in love with my husband for a long time (going on 20 years together next October, and 16 years married in May). I am lucky to have a lot of love in my life.

20. What was your favorite TV program?
The Biggest Loser, The Mentalist

21. What was the best book you read?

22. What was your favorite film of this year?
I really enjoyed "Extract." Also just saw "Invictus" and loved that too.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was feeling under the weather on the day itself but recovered enough to go out to see "Precious" and have Thai food. I turned 39.

24. What kept you sane?
Lots of workouts.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I thought Owain Yeoman (just found out his name) from "The Mentalist" was pretty cute until he got this dorky haircut.

26. Who did you miss?
My favorite lunch buddy from my last job. My running partner, who moved to the wilds of western Indiana.

27. Who was the best new person you met?
I really like the new chair of our department. One of my regrets of 2010 is that I didn't make any great new friends. It's hard but worth putting some effort into. Something to work on in 2010.

Hope you close 2009 with a bang and have a great 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Weighing in: Up, down, up...

I seem to be very good at maintenance:

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

I am not surprised, though, my adherence to the program has been pretty lax. Once I don't count something instantly, laziness takes over.

The Weight Watchers iPhone app page on iTunes says that the developers will be adding Good Health Guidelines and weight tracking to the app soon, at least when I look at it on my iPhone. That will help a whole lot. I can't track those on my phone and I can't be bothered to carry around the little paper tracker. I am terrible at keeping things in my head, but I have good results when I do those every day.

If I can just maintain through New Year's Day, I will be happy. Yes, I am just like everyone else. I'm OK with that.

I am happy that I was able to go to my regular meeting today, which is much better than any other meeting I've attended in my area. I liked the topic for today, too: Celebrate your successes.

What are your big successes for this year? Mine are that I have incorporated regular exercise into my routine and that I have dropped a clothing size, even though I've only lost 3.8 pounds since I joined Weight Watchers. Before you think "vanity sizing," my old clothes are looser. So that's a big victory.

Next week's topic is goals (not surprisingly). What are your goals for the new year? Let's not talk weight loss goals, let's talk behavior goals -- behavior we can control directly, while weight loss is fickle. I'm going to think about mine and make that my next post.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Run/bike safely

Driving home on a dark road at ten p.m., I saw something weird on the side of the road. It looked like two little white things jumping up and down. It took a few seconds to realize that they were the reflective stripes on the back of a runner's shoes. She was totally invisible until I was within a few feet of her other than those two pieces of reflective tape.

I know I have been guilty of this one myself on some of my dark morning runs in the past, but now that I've seen it from the driver's seat, I won't do it again. It would only take one driver who didn't notice you until it was to late to cause a potentially fatal accident.

Light-colored clothes don't cut it in the winter dark. You need light. I bought my husband a reflective vest because he sometimes does late road runs. There are also flashing battery-powered lights you can attach to to your clothes or bike. No one will criticize you for being too visible.

Be safe!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 20, 2009


We had our "race day" at swim practice today. I did several of the events: 200m free, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, and the big relay (everyone did a 25m free lap). I didn't even try the butterfly -- I still really don't know how.

I have no memory for numbers so I can't give exact times. I think I got a 3:39-something for the 200. The backstroke was in the high 50s and so was the breaststroke. I think my 50m free was in the mid 40s. I looked online to try to find some reference times and found this list someone created -- considering this was my first pool race in forever, I'm within shooting distance of the "B" times, and that's not too shabby. I was not the slowest person there today in most things (maybe the backstroke, where I have crummy technique), and a lot of the people who are slower than me chose not to race today.

I have to get over my gym-class-era fear that people will be laughing at me or mad if they have to be on my team. We're all adults, not junior-high students.

My favorite part was diving off the blocks. Fun! And it was also fun to push myself. I thought of this as a baseline time trial, to give myself a starting point for improvement.

I would like to get better on my flipturns. I think I lose a lot of time in them.

Oddly enough, other than a couple of minutes' anxiety, I didn't really think about how I looked in my swimsuit. There were guys there in tiny little Speedos, so I couldn't have been the most ridiculous even if I had tried.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thyroid med update -- for those who are interested

As I said before, in all the many lab tests Dr. Pushy ordered, one did turn up something -- the thyroid antibodies test. A followup test ordered by my current doctor revealed a similar result, so she recommended treatment with a low dose of levothyroxine to help stop my system from attacking the thyroid. On the low dose (25 mcg.), I was feeling a little more energetic at first but then things seemed to level out. At my latest appointment we discussed upping my dosage, and I decided to go ahead and try that.

No dramatic weight loss, though the books suggested I shouldn't expect that. What I did experience at first was a little boost in mood and a lot more energy. I try the higher dose tomorrow, so we'll see if I feel a difference again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Meeting hopping again

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

Since I had to miss my meeting Tuesday for the big potluck, I went to yet another different meeting yesterday in a different center. There is a center right next door to the place I take my yoga and Pilates classes. I walked right out of my Yoga/Pilates mat class today and weighed in.

The leader of this meeting was kind of kooky. She was one of those people that suddenly has REALLY BIG EYES when she is making a point. She seemed vaguely familiar, and I'm sure that in all my comings and goings to Weight Watchers, we've crossed paths before. She was definitely enthusiastic and seemed to have a pretty dedicated group, but the meeting just wasn't my style. I'm happy that my regular leader is a little more down-to-earth.

Unfortunately, potlucks are not great for weight loss. Still, I am down a little since last week, though not back to my previous low. I am looking forward to the holidays, but even more I'm looking forward to getting back to normal food and a normal schedule again. It's just too hard to hit all these parties and keep things where I want them to be. I went to another party tonight and had a little fling with the bowl of homemade snack mix, which was sitting at my right elbow.
My points have been a mess lately, but I'm trying to focus on at least doing the Good Health Guidelines every day and trying to stay sane at the parties. Next time I'll try to step away from the snack mix.

In better news, I got a bunch of my Christmas shopping done today. For fun I tried using a pedometer application (iTreadmill if you're interested) to see how far I was walking. In the first mall, I walked 1.4 miles (it stops and starts itself so you can still get an accurate read if you walk, look at a shirt, walk a little more, look at some jeans, etc.) and then I forgot to use it at the next couple places I went (an outdoor mall and Target). My guess is that I walked about 3 miles all in all.

I also tried on lots of clothes -- I am a terrible Christmas shopper because I want to buy things for myself. I successfully bought gifts for other people, but I also ended up with a pair of jeans, two sweaters, some new undies, and a new coat! Not to mention the storage ottoman I bought at Target (I'm tired of seeing our laptops lying around the living room when we're not using them)! Clothes are fitting better and I'm enjoying shopping more, which is good for the self-esteem but maybe not so good for the pocketbook. I tried on a bunch of jeans at the Gap. Depending on the style, I can either fit into a 12 or a 14. I ended up buying a pair of "Sexy Bootcut" dark rinse in 14 -- they just looked better to me than the styles I could manage to wear a 12 in. The tag is on the inside, right? I don't feel the need to shoehorn myself into a smaller size to prove a point. I am feeling more comfortable with this whole weight-loss process -- it may not be speedy, but I don't feel like I'm in a hurry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Double curveball

Just as I was getting ready for my Weight Watchers meeting today, I got reminded about a work potluck -- DURING the meeting time. I should have skipped it, no one would have noticed. Instead I missed my meeting and ate a bunch of dumb stuff I didn't need. It's also hard to count points for a potluck, have you ever noticed? It's so easy to load up a plate with a bite of this and a little of that. I did manage to take a nice pile of raw veggies, but I had an almost equally-large pile of various bite-sized dessert things.

I made roasted chicken and a baked potato for dinner and had it with some more veggies and hummus. I put some apples in to bake with the chicken, which came out nice and soft.

It's a bummer to start out a week like this, but I just blogged about not getting caught up in perfection, so I'm practicing what I preached and trying to figure out how to log what I ate.

Luckily I got in a run today while listening to the latest Two Fit Chicks installment, so that will cover at least one or two of the cookies. I am going to try to hit a meeting tomorrow after my Pilates/Yoga class -- there is one right next door -- before I rush off to another lunch meeting.
I promised in my last post to talk about getting started on a fitness program. I really think now is the time, rather than January 1 -- start while there is no illusion that you will keep everything perfect this time. There is no such thing as perfect. Each moment we have an opportunity to make a different choice. All those choices become our lives.

So the first thing is, what do you want? Anne sent me "Last Holiday" for my birthday, and even though the character Georgia is not living her life fully at the beginning of the movie, she at least knows what she wants with her "Book of Possibilities." What do you want to accomplish with your fitness program? Do you want to be able to play with your grandchildren? Do you want to be able to shop all day? Do you want to master a new sport? Do you want to train for an event, like a 5K? Do you want to fit into your skinny jeans? Whatever you really want, visualize it. I have "treasure maps," collages that I use to help me visualize my goals. One of the images from last year was Jillian Michaels doing a push-up. Thanks to my TRX class, I can actually do a push-up now. It doesn't matter if your goals seem silly -- I would recommend keeping your treasure map away from prying eyes and be really honest about what is going to get you excited about fitness.

Second, assess. What are you doing now? What can you do now? What do you like to do? Don't immediately plan to ramp up to a 6-day-a-week intense program if you are currently a couch potato. That's the way to become discouraged and maybe even injured. Don't decide to train for an Ironman when you've never done a race before. If you want to do an Ironman someday (great goal, but not for me, thanks), break it down: You will need to be able to swim. You will need to bike, and run. Are you doing any of those things? If not, pick one and start with that. Maybe train for a 5K or a long bike ride like the ones put on by the National Multiple Sclerosis society. But if you don't even own a bike, maybe start with a Spinning class before you go out and spend $1000+ on a brand-new ride. I'm a big believer in waiting to spend money until you know you're serious. I bought my bike for my first triathlon about 2 months before I did the race -- before that I trained in Spinning classes. I didn't need piece of equipment sitting in my garage making me feel guilty. If you think fitness purchases will motivate you, go to a friend's house and look at their $2000 NordicTrak clothes hanger. Use your goals to motivate you, not guilt!

Get help if you need it: If you're dealing with serious injuries, you may need to work with a physical therapist to determine what is safe and reasonable for you. I have gone through two or three bouts of physical therapy and it has always really helped me. Recently, because I was dealing with some joint issues that weren't severe, I talked to a personal trainer I know and trust who suggested some adjustments I could make to my posture. I knew her from some classes I had taken so I was sure she was knowledgeable and would give me good advice.

Next, make a plan for the next month. What are you going to do? When are you going to do it? When are you going to take a rest day (or days)? Plan activities that are fun and that will stretch you just a little. Sign up for any classes you want to take and then put your plan in your calendar like any other appointment.

Don't be afraid to start small and go one step at a time. As I said in my last post, I did daily walks for a long time before I tried to run. Once I had been doing the walks for a while and they felt comfortable, I signed up for a gym and started doing a simple strength training program I got out of a magazine. Then, after a month or two, I signed up for a yoga class at the gym. I liked the yoga class, so I tried another class.... The point was, I got comfortable with one step before adding or moving on to the next.

The biggest thing, though, is not to let setbacks start to build momentum. If you miss one day's workout, just do the next one. Don't wait a week so you can start out "perfect" again on Monday. If you feel frustrated and uncoordinated in your step aerobics class (like I did), try something else that sounds fun. Not every class is going to work for you: Sometimes the instructor bugs you, or the class is too crowded, or you just don't like it. Be patient with yourself, too. I still can't do all the reps with the instructor in my TRX class. I do what I can. I have gradually gotten better since the first class, and I know if I stick with it I will get stronger. That's the point, right? I don't tell myself I'm "weak" or "hopeless," I focus on how much I'm improving.

When you feel frustrated, that's the time to pull out that treasure map and remind yourself what you're working for. You can do it.

Seriously, though, start now. In fact, I'm going to quit typing and get dressed for my workout.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Putting it all together

I still haven't found a good solution to post my workout logs somewhere that is easily viewed by readers. I am not sure how many people would want to see that but I thought it might be worth posting my general workout plan -- this is what I'm planning to do in the coming weeks. I find it hard to operate without having at least a loose plan -- it's hard to know how to fit everything in without one:

Sunday: 30 minute run in the morning; 1 hour swim practice in the evenings
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 30 minute run OR 45 minute strength training class (still trying to figure this out)
Wednesday: 45 minute Pilates/Yoga mat class
Thursday: 30 minute run in the morning, 1 hour Pilates Reformer in the evening
Friday: 30-45 minute TRX class followed by 45 minute Group Cycling class
Saturday: Pilates Reformer

If you're just starting out on a workout program, this might seem like a lot of stuff, but believe me, I built up to this gradually. I spent a full year just going for morning walks before I ever tried to run, for example. I plan to do a post later on starting out, but my basic advice is just this: Start with what you like. Start small and work up to more when you're ready. Make it fun.

There are probably also hard-core athletes thinking -- Where are the long workouts? Where are the heavy weights? This time of year, I really just try to keep it fun. For me, fun is doing a lot of different things. And since I don't love to do traditional strength training in the gym, I do it in classes so that I get guidance from the instructor and have other people there to make it social. As far as the runs go, fun is keeping them shorter and picking up the pace a bit -- that also helps keep me from getting too cold.

There are some weak spots here -- just because of the way classes have worked out, I have a lot of strength-oriented things late in the week but not a lot earlier in the week. I think because I'm using body weight and not doing heavy-duty lifting for this strength training, it's probably OK to stack things up and then get my rest early in the week. I don't tend to be very sore after any of these workouts except TRX, which is the most challenging.

This past week I took Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off working out and skipped my Thursday run because I had a cold. I am planning to get a run in this morning but will take it pretty easy since it's been a while.

I know a lot of people don't plan rest days, but I like to have it in the schedule so it doesn't just feel like I skipped a workout. I will sometimes do a walk on my rest day if I feel restless and want some activity.

Oddly enough, I feel like I'm making more progress on weight loss since I scaled back on my long runs. Has anyone else noticed this weird phenomenon? I really think it's a combination of being more conscious of my food intake (no long runs to justify a "what the heck" attitude) and adding in strength training. I'd be curious to know what other people are doing for their workouts. Do you have a plan or just go by feel on a day-to-day basis? Do you stick to one activity or mix it up? Do you plan rest days?

Friday, December 11, 2009

New toys

My husband and I decided to get iPhones as an early Christmas gift to each other. I knew I would love the iPhone because I liked my Touch so much, but didn't realize how addictive a gadget could be. I love all the apps and love having one thing to carry around instead of two. So far my experience with AT&T has been fine, especially because I can use WiFi at home and at so many other places where I use my phone. 3G coverage around here is a little spotty.

I just had a birthday so I had a little extra money burning a hole in my pocket, so I just ordered a car stereo that will let me connect my iPhone.

Now I just need to do some Christmas shopping for other people!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Biggest Loser Finale: Lots of Surprises and Spoilers Ahead

For once, I watched "The Biggest Loser" live and didn't wait until halfway through so I could zip through the commercials. In a way, it was nice to have a few breaks during the show to be able to talk about it. If you missed it, you can watch all kinds of videos on the NBC site, including clips that didn't make it into the show.

The big news was that Amanda won the America's Choice vote to compete for the "Biggest Loser" prize. She looked fantastic. Liz looked sadder and grayer than the last time we saw her. I think she's had a tough time getting back to her old life.

I enjoyed seeing all the contestants, and it became really clear that they had started out with a really big group this time around once they started doing the weigh-ins. People who didn't look like they had lost much to me had actually lost 100+ pounds, they had just started out very big. You get so used to seeing the contestants smaller that it's easy to forget where they started. That's why the animated "befores" that walked out onstage with some of the contestants were really amazing -- you could actually compare the contestants side-by-side and see how far they had come.

The competition for the at-home prize was even more exciting to me than the competition for the final "Biggest Loser" title. There were some amazing weight losses among the at-home players, as player after player posted huge losses. For a while, it looked like Tracy was going to take the title, but then Rebecca smashed her record by losing almost 50% of her starting weight. You can see the full numbers breakdown on the season's wikipedia site.

I was excited for Rebecca. She seemed like a great person and she obviously worked like crazy. I don't like her new look much, because I think it makes her look old, but she was obviously thrilled to win and seems very genuine. The miniskirts and the blonde helmet hair don't suit her well -- it seems like she's trying to be someone's idea of a pretty girl, instead of just being her adorable self. But I think that a huge weight loss like that would add a lot of new pressures, and after some time she will figure it out. She seems too level-headed to let herself get knocked off-kilter for long. (I have to say that maybe being a dark brunette myself is coloring my perceptions here -- I loved Rebecca's old hair color, if not always being crazy about its style.)

I was glad that the much-hinted-at proposal was not between Daniel and Rebecca, but between Antoine and Alexandra. They seemed a little more ready for that kind of thing. They make a cute couple and they've had plenty of time together to get to know each other in real life. They also didn't seem to have brought as much baggage to the show as some of the other contestants.

Speaking of baggage, Abby looked radiant. I was happy to see her doing so well. Shay also seemed to be getting along fine, and was given a little extra incentive to keep losing -- Subway is going to give her $1000 per pound she loses by the next season's finale.

Both Rudy and Danny had lost a lot for the finale, but looking at the two of them, it was pretty clear that Danny had lost more. It was amazing that Rudy was able to do as well as he had -- we found out that he works 70 hours a week. I guess that takes away any excuse I ever thought I had for not working out. But Danny had lost a higher percentage and got the title. I think, though, that it is pretty clear that everyone who went on the show this season feels better off for it.

We don't have to wait long for our next TBL fix -- Season 9 is already well underway and will premiere in early January, just in time for all those New Year's Resolutions.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Knowing when to take a rest day

Rest days are a big feature of my workout plan. You might not guess it from reading all my crazy workout spotlight posts, but I love my days off working out too, and they usually leave me feeling energized and ready to get back with it.

Yesterday was my rest day and I thought I'd be pumped up to run today. Not so much. I woke up feeling achy in weird places, like my back and my left hamstring and the backs of my arms. I just couldn't seem to get it together. I felt completely lethargic. I decided to take a walk instead and did OK with that, getting in 40 minutes at 3.1 mph, according to RunKeeper. Not super speedy but not a lazy stroll, either. My eyes were feeling itchy and dry and my lips were chapped.

This afternoon I was so tired I was having trouble working up the ambition to leave work. And then my throat started to hurt and it all made sense. I had felt mildly crummy Sunday night and Monday too. My mood was really low and I had no energy. My husband had an ear infection last week and it wouldn't be surprising if I got some of those germs.

Even before I felt like I might be getting sick, I knew that it would be a bad idea to push it and go running. Normally even when I feel lazy there is a strong part of me that knows I'll feel better later if I "Just Do It." But today, it felt like going to run would be an act of violence against myself, and I am glad I listened to it. Even if I had managed to get out there and run, I would have felt terrible and it would have been that much harder to do it the next time.

The tricky part is knowing when it's one of those days when it's better to go even when I don't want to, and when it's one of those days when I really need to rest. After all, I don't want to talk myself out of every workout just because it's getting colder outside and I would rather watch TV or play with my new iPhone. But sometimes I just know, and today was one of those days.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Meeting today: Disappointing all around

I have a work-related commitment tomorrow during my regular Weight Watchers meeting, and I was anxious to find out if there were any exciting changes to the program, so I went to a meeting today. This was the meeting I started with when I rejoined Weight Watchers, and I am really glad I switched meeting. The same member that monopolized a lot of time with her pumpkin muffin recipe was going on and on again today, and her voice just set my teeth on edge. The meeting topic was boring -- holiday stress, again -- and the leader kept asking over and over whether any of us eat in response to stress. Well, it is a Weight Watchers meeting -- of course we do, and none of the antidotes are suggestions we haven't heard before.

There was no talk about any changes to the program until I asked. There were no changes, except that there are nicer-looking books and the trackers have wider lines in them. And, of course, there are new Member Kits and cookbooks and all that jazz. And there is a little pamphlet with tips and a recipe.

Yawn. Not worth going to a Monday morning meeting for, especially since I had a gain. I think it's a consequence of weighing in the day after a party and not anything to worry about. My birthday is coming up on Wednesday and we celebrated a little early.

I'm sick of the "Survive the Holidays" stuff I see everywhere. The problem is not a problem of survival. Our issue is getting through the holidays without popping a button on our fat pants, not managing to live through them.

Stress is a natural part of life. Let's stop talking about trying to distract ourselves from our emotions with knitting or cleaning house or taking a walk. Let's accept that we can survive a little stress. Let's notice our emotions and realize that if Uncle Fred aggravates me, it doesn't mean that either of us is a terrible person. We all step on each other's toes now and then and most of the time, we do it without meaning to. Sure, there are a few people out there who like to intimidate others and make them feel bad about their lives with nasty pointed questions, but mostly it is just social blundering.

And if you're doing too much: STOP. Maybe you don't need to send a holiday card to anyone who ever said hello to us and bake 4,000 cookies of 5 different kinds to give to everyone (who probably is on a diet too and really doesn't want the extra temptation). No one will hate you if, instead of poring through dozens of stores and catalogs and websites to get the exact perfect gifts, you get everyone gift certificates for iTunes or Starbucks or spa treatments or Here's a big anti-stress secret: People who love you do not want you to put yourself through the wringer or into excessive debt to please them.

I am hoping that the next 4 weeks of Weight Watchers aren't more of the same, but I'm imagining that they will be. I think that maybe the boring meeting topics might at least partly explain why attendance at December meetings is light.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Workout Spotlight: Hot Yoga

I got the latest O Magazine yesterday, and there was an article about a woman who was 83 pounds overweight, divorced, and deeply in debt and decided to change her life with 60 days of Bikram Yoga. I read it with interest because I recently did my first hot yoga class. Just like Spinning, the name Bikram Yoga is trademarked, so you can't call your workout that without going through special licensing and training procedures, so knockoffs of Bikram are usually called Hot Yoga.

I didn't think I would like it. I had heard Jillian Michaels talk over and over again about how much she despised it because it could make you dehydrated. I was more worried about being uncomfortable and stuffy, but there was a free class at my studio by a visiting yogi (who actually was Bikram-trained) and I wanted to give it a try. There were 30 or so people packed into the tiny hot yoga room, and an instructor whose face suggested she was in her late 50s or early 60s but had an incredibly fit body prominently displayed in a teensy leopard-print halter and miniskirt. I am glad we weren't required to wear the costume. We were supposed to wear shorts but I could only bring myself to wear capris.

Our room was only heated to somewhere in the 90s, but real Bikram studios are heated to 105. I felt very warm but not uncomfortable, and the heat really did help me feel more flexible. In India, where yoga originated, every yoga class is probably a hot yoga class. The instructor was excellent at cueing the postures, and because some of them were unfamiliar to me, I listened carefully to every word she said. I found myself more able to tune out my internal chatter because of this, but if I was, like the woman in the article, doing the same poses every day for 60 days, that monkey mind might creep back in. I really enjoyed the class because we changed poses frequently, but repeated sequences a few times so I got a chance to get deeper into the poses and push myself a little further once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing.

I am not sure I'd want to do it every day, like true devotees of Bikram, unless I had endless time to work out each day so I could get some variety in my workouts. I felt good for the rest of the day, though, not wrung-out and exhausted like I might expect. I did go swimming later that day and didn't notice being any more tired than usual.

As far as the woman in the article's transformation, I'm not sure that Bikram yoga had any special magic -- I think it was the act of stretching herself and committing herself to a radical change. I know that I have been in a situation like hers before, and the biggest roadblock for me was the inability to imagine a different future was possible. Once I was able to get past feeling stuck and hopeless, change could happen. I think the secret is to commit to something, preferably something radical, to unstick yourself and jumpstart that change process. If what you're doing isn't working, do something, anything, that will take you in the direction you want to go.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lose It! Online: Review

I love the new online interface for "Lose It!" with one huge exception: It does not allow me to post a link to my profile. To share my log with someone, they have to become my friend. That seems cumbersome and silly. FitDay offered a sharable link to the profile and I think that it would be useful for LoseIt! to do the same.

It does allow you to create and print some very slick reports, which would be great for sharing with a trainer or dietician. This is a really nice feature. I love the exercise summary (see above), which adds up the time you spent doing each activity and gives you a running calorie count.

I am finding it a drag to log both in Weight Watchers and this, so I will probably just use this one as an activity log and keep tracking my points in Weight Watchers online. I have a little hope that one of the changes coming next week might be some changes to the online logging for WW Mobile -- it would be nice if there were activity summaries and options to share your logs there.

Tuesday is my meeting, but since I'm an online member, I expect to see the changes tomorrow in my log. I'll be curious to see what they are and hear what other Weight Watchers think about them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Good Health Guidelines: A scary story

I was talking with a woman in my meeting who was almost to Lifetime. She just has to maintain for one more week to make her goal weight. "I'm doing really well," she said, "but I've lost a lot of hair." She said her daughter had lost hair too.

I said, "I remember I heard that's why they added the healthy oils guideline, because people were losing hair."

She said, "Really? That's the one I never get."

So seriously, Weight Watchers, cutting back on fat is a great way to cut calories, but keep it within reason. If you seriously can't stand to spend two points a day on oil, make the first two teaspoons of healthy oil a free food. I doubt you will see much of a dent in your weight loss by adding two points a day. Or at least make sure you're eating some foods with healthy fats, like peanut butter (not PB2, which has no fat), fish, avocados, or nuts. Your body needs fat to make hair, not to mention brain cells. I have had good weight loss on weeks that I followed all the GHGs to the letter even when I went a few points a day over. I think this was partly because I was skimping on real foods to make room for things like fat-free popcorn and treats like dark chocolate and wine. When I eat real food, I'm more satisfied and less likely to go grazing through the pantry.

Being at a healthy weight is important for health, but so is giving your body the building blocks it needs to grow and repair itself. It's easy to lose sight of the real goal: Feeling good and being fit to live an active, happy life. Take care out there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Biggest Loser Week 12: The Final Challenge

Just as I feared, the final challenge on "The Biggest Loser" was a marathon.

I have nothing against the marathon itself, but I really think that a race like that should be done for your own personal satisfaction, not because you're forced to do it. I know how horrible a half marathon can feel even when you feel ready for it. From the way the contestants were running, with their arms held in tight angles next to their chests, it didn't seem like anyone had taught them proper distance running form, and I'm not sure any of them had run very far before they got their "care package" letting them know what their final challenge was.

On the plus side, though, it was not a race this time. Contestants were free to walk or run, or switch back and forth between the two as much as they wanted. Everyone who finished the 26.2 miles got a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The contestants also seemed to be getting plenty of support along the way. Water bottles appeared and disappeared. When Danny started having trouble with his knees, he was able to stop and get them iced down until he was ready to continue. There were also special support runners who appeared to help the contestants through rough patches: Friends, family, former contestants, Bob and Jillian. Everyone finished the race and won the $10,000 for the charity of their choice. Rudy ran the entire way and took a little more than 5 hours to finish. Amanda, though she had times when she was crying and said she couldn't do it, ran and walked and finished about 20 minutes later. Liz and Danny ended up walking a lot and taking some breaks, and took more than 7 hours to finish. When you consider that the contestants were used to working out 5-6 hours a day on the ranch, the marathon seems a little less extreme.

I think the reason for the marathon is to answer critics who say the rate of weight loss on "The Biggest Loser" is unhealthy. Juxtaposing footage of contestants looking fit and finishing a marathon with footage of them practically dying on the first day just walking or running a mile is a pretty definitive answer to that criticism. Obviously they are better off than they were before. Obviously they are healthier. Sure, it's not realistic to expect that people in normal situations could lose weight at "The Biggest Loser" rates when they're working and spending time with their families. That's why contestants are so nervous about returning home.

That was the other element to this episode: Footage of the contestants at home, struggling to maintain their weight loss routines in the environments where they gained their weight. Danny and Liz both seemed to be struggling to fit back into married life. (Thankfully, there weren't a lot of specifics given on this. The couples deserve some privacy.) Rudy had a demanding job and his daughter seemed to have severe separation anxiety. He said he had to sneak out of the house to go to the gym because she was so afraid he would disappear again. He also was learning to talk about his feelings for the first time with his wife, which seemed awkward. Amanda said she was finding it harder to stick to her diet in an environment where all kinds of food was readily available.

Despite all of these challenges, the contestants posted some impressive weight losses. Danny actually averaged almost a pound lost a day while he was at home -- 59 pounds in 60 days. Rudy wasn't far behind with 43 pounds. Liz and Amanda both lost 16, which puts them below that famous yellow line, with viewers able to choose which of them will compete in the finale. I tried to get on to vote for Amanda from my iPhone, but either it wasn't mobile-friendly or I wasn't looking in the right place. Voting is now closed.

I'm looking forward to the finale. As you can tell, I'm rooting for Amanda, but I really do think all four of these finalists are winners. We will also get to see how the at-home contestants did.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Weigh in and other updates

Today was Week 12 back at Weight Watchers for me. I weighed in at 170.6, down 6.2 from my original weigh in. It has been a bit up and down for me since I started, and I was happy that this week was back down a little. I can't attribute the loss to any great behavior on my part this week, so I think it may be that the thyroid meds are making a difference. I haven't noticed a major difference in the way I feel, but my mood has improved a littl

In other news, when I posted about wanting a simple, online fitness tracker with an iPhone app, Miss Klutzy asked why I didn't just use Lose It! since I liked that app so much. When I was using it before, it didn't have any kind of an online sharing component, but one has been added, along with cool reports and summaries. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an easy way to share a link to my profile, but if you would like to search for me, my email address on it is toledolefty at gmail dot com -- same address as in my profile here. I think you have to be a member to view other people's profiles.

I am not sure whether I will track both food and activity or just food, since I am still using the Weight Watchers iPhone app. I hate to try to track using two different systems.

I also tried out a cool app for the iPhone 3GS called RunKeeper. I used the free version. It works very similar to a Garmin or other GPS device. Here is the info for my run today (I decided to make the map private, so you have to trust me that it also mapped my activity). I was surprised at my pace -- slower than I would have thought, though I was going into a pretty stiff wind for about the first mile. It's interesting. Not sure I'd use it for every run because I don't want to get too wrapped up in things like pace when I'm really just trying to get out there and run.

I thought tonight was "The Biggest Loser" finale, but it's not. There is one more final challenge before the finale. Let's hope it's not another marathon!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Workout Spotlight: Masters Swimming

Tonight was my Masters Swimming workout. The "masters" in the title refers to age (18 and up) and not ability level. Our group has two workouts, one for the beginners, and one for intermediates, and I am swimming with the beginners. We generally have four or five swimmers in each lane, so we get a little friendly interaction with the people in our lanes as well as a workout.

In my last masters group, there was actually one person who was just learning to swim, but I think it would be hard to learn that way, because there is usually one coach for 30 or so swimmers. Private or semi-private lessons would probably be better in that situation. If you have some basic swimming ability, though, masters swimming is a great way to improve your skills and get yourself in the pool at least once a week. You can search for a group near you on the U.S. Masters Swim webpage. My group charges a fee to pay for coaching and facility use in addition to the USMS dues.

When I swim on my own, I tend to just do a bunch of laps. In tonight's workout, however, there were one-armed swimming drills, "Tarzan" drills (freestyle swimming with the head out of the water, really stretching arms out in front with each stroke, as if grabbing for vines), and kickboard sets with all of the different kicks. I am terrible at the dolphin kick, the kick used for the butterfly stroke, but even a bad dolphin kick works the abs like nobody's business. I know I will wake up feeling that one tomorrow morning! The coach was able to give me some feedback on how to improve that kick, and that's one of the benefits of the group -- the chance to get some expert feedback and advice.

I have heard that swimming is not the greatest exercise for weight loss, but I think it's a great all-over strength workout, as well as a great workout for your core muscles if you do it right. The water provides a lot of resistance and you have to hold in your abs to be able to move efficiently in the water as you rotate for the strokes. I think that as long as you don't go on the Michael Phelps diet (at least unless you are working out 6+ hours a day and have the metabolism of a guy in his 20s), it can be a great addition to your fitness program.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Looking for a good, simple online workout tracker

I am interested in tracking my workouts online so that I could post a link to my workout journal for blog readers who were interested, so I didn't have to spend the time writing blog posts about my weekly workouts to be able to share that information. I want something very simple. I looked into SparkPeople, but it looks like it is more complicated than what I want -- all I want is something that will let me track activity and duration. For example: TRX suspension training, minutes. Etc. Nothing that wants me to enter every single exercise I did and the number of reps. That's too much work for me.

The closest thing I've found so far is Athlinks "What did you do today?" I may use that if I can't find anything else.

I would prefer something that either had an iPhone app or a mobile-optimized interface so that I could journal right from my iPod Touch/iPhone.

Anyone using something they love? Drop me a comment or an email.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Biggest Loser Special: Where Are They Now?

I would have missed "The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now?" special if I didn't have a DVR. I had heard a while ago that something like this was coming up, but then I sort of forgot about it, and hadn't seen a lot of promos for it.

Luckily "The Biggest Loser" loves to do reruns, so you can probably catch it if you missed it. Sometimes they show up on The Fine Living Network about a week after they air on NBC, and Bravo also does reruns. For this reason, I won't do too many spoilers of the surprises, just give a few hints.

It was interesting to hear Dr. H. talk about starting the show. He said they didn't know whether they could take people who had never exercised and put them on an intense exercise routine, "We knew that professional athletes could work out like this, but they had been fit all of their lives." To me, that is the most impressive thing about "The Biggest Loser," that they are able to take people who don't think of themselves as able to work out and turn them into athletes. And besides the people who have been on the show, there have been lots of people who see the show and have started their own fitness programs.

I have to hand it to the show's producers. They didn't cherry-pick their successes and only show people who had maintained at or near their lowest weights. A few people were able to maintain at low weights, but they worked very hard to do it. I noticed that the magic number for a lot of maintainers seemed to be around 160 -- even if they had dropped more than that for the show to compete for prizes, this was where they "lived their lives." And even though some people might not think of that as success, I do. The contestants were able to live happy, active lives that were realistic for them. You could see a real light in a lot of their eyes that wasn't an act put on for the special. I think that was an important message to get across to people watching at home -- that you don't have to look like a fitness model to be a success.

The show focused on all kinds of successes. There were some segments highlighting some of the romances in the contestants' lives, and even weddings, including those who met on-screen (Matt & Suzy) and off (Neil). Several of the contestants have also competed in races, sometimes in big groups. I was especially teary-eyed to see the clip about Matt's Ironman race. Many are now working as fitness trainers, touring as motivational speakers, or volunteering to help spread what they learned to other people in their communities. Some talked about feeling better-equipped to do their jobs and take care of their families. Ali has written a book, which I plan to read and review at some point.

As I said, the special didn't shy away from talking about contestants who are struggling. Matt and Suzy talked about the weight they've regained, and how they want to turn it around so they can be good examples for their kids. They still seem to be keeping pretty active (especially Matt), but they admit that it's a lot harder in the real world than it was on the ranch. Bob also pays a visit to a contestant won the "Biggest Loser" title but who's regained most of his weight and talks to him about how he can turn it around. What I liked is that when this contestant said he was reluctant to go back to "the strict life," Bob said he shouldn't, that he needs to find a lifestyle he can live with day-to-day instead. At first glance, it actually seems to be better to be an also-ran on "The Biggest Loser" than the winner: Three out of seven of the winners (Ryan, Matt, and Eric) have regained a sig nificant amount of the weight they lost. But the other four, including the three women who won (Ali, Michelle, Helen, and Bill), seem to have maintained pretty close to their finale weights. I think it may come down to what motivated them to lose. I didn't see Season One, but Matt and Eric both seemed to be really motivated by the competitive aspect of it all. Ali, Jim, and Michelle seemed to focus more on changing their lives. Helen is sort of a hybrid.

One of my favorite segments was seeing Mike from last season looking like a fit, happy college kid. He and Ron seem to be doing fine, and better yet, Mike's brother Max got a chance to go to the spa at Fitness Ridge over the summer and has lost some significant weight. I was always sad for him because he saw his dad and brother go away and come back fitter, and he was left out of it all. It was great to see him getting some help to get started. They didn't say that the show had sent him, but my guess is that he got to go either free or at a reduced rate as part of a trial of the new "Biggest Loser" branded spa experience, since he appears in the commercials for it.

I'm sort of sad to know that Jillian was in Michigan twice and she didn't come visit me. Doesn't she know I'm her biggest fan? But of course, if she came here, she might want to work out with me, and I know she'd crush me like a bug.

I really thought the special did a good job of both showing the challenges of losing and maintaining weight while still showing that it is possible to change your life. Though a "Biggest Loser" program wouldn't be realistic for people to do in the real world, I think the show can help us all see that our limits probably aren't anywhere near where we think they are. That doesn't just have to mean weight loss -- I liked that the special showed people living their dreams in all kinds of different ways. The message of the show is to figure out what you really want, and then do whatever it takes to get it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Biggest Loser Week 11: It's the Final Countdown

This was the all-important week where the final four contestants will be chosen. Bob and Jillian rightly focused on getting the contestants ready to transition from the artificial environment of the show to their real lives, with all the problems and complications that come with those lives. At first, all the contestants gave "Miss America answers" that they were going to have no trouble getting their fit on at home, but then after some prodding, Danny admitted that he was really scared.

There were a couple of little "moments," like Amanda and Bob having a heart-to-heart and Danny and Liz talking about how great it was that they were able to support each other. I felt like these were awkward to watch and went on for a little too long. I was waiting for Allen and Rudy to have their own "moment," but it never happened, and no one cuddled with Jillian either. I felt like Amanda had real feelings for Bob but Bob saw Amanda as mostly another contestant, albeit a really pretty and engaging one. Liz and Danny's ended kind of weirdly, like a couple on the telephone where neither wants to be the first to hang up. "Thank you," "No, thank you," "No, thank you." If I were the director, I would have yelled "CUT!" a lot sooner on this one."

Interestingly, they had a segment with Suze Orman about financial fitness this episode. I wouldn't have thought about it, but it makes sense: Many of the same issues that contribute to out-of-control weight gain also contribute to financial messes. Being afraid to face reality, for example, or not having a sense of security. Danny especially seemed to equate his weight problems with his financial problems. All along he has suggested that he sometimes feels like a failure as a husband and a father, and as a TV cameraman, he may not have a secure and stable income. There was a financial quiz that focused on the costs -- to employers and employees -- of obesity, but there was no mention of the fact that discrimination also plays a role. I was stunned by the figure of 4.4 billion dollars spent on the U.S. on gastric bypass surgery, and also of the $1,000,000 cost to the average person of being overweight for 40 years. Suze Orman sort of looks scary to me, with all those teeth, but the contestants appreciated the advice and really appreciated the $3,000 - 4,000 emergency fund each one was able to earn during the quiz.

There were some inspiring workout segments that showed the Day 1 contestants struggling, and the Week 11 contestants smiling through what was now an easy workout. The fact that they have come so far in 11 weeks is just stunning -- sure, the weight loss is great, but the achieving the kind of fitness they've built in 11 weeks would take a normal person in a normal situation years.

There was also the obligatory challenge where they carried their old weight and "tackled" their former selves. This time the challenge had a football theme, with the contestants harnessed to a barrel that contained 10 footballs, each of which represented 1 week's weight loss. For Rudy, they had to somehow make the first football weigh 28 pounds. The contestants had to run to the end of a football field, which lifted the barrel containing 9 of the footballs and carrying the first one, and drop off the Week 1 football on the 100-yard line. Then they ran back, dropping the barrel so they could pick up the next football. At the end, they ran to the end of the field and knocked over a tackling dummy that had a life-sized picture of them from the first day. Allen was the only one who really knew how to tackle, and it was fun to see him make his big hit when he won.

Because of the Danny-Liz-Rudy-Allen alliance, Amanda knew that she had to have a great weight loss week to have a chance at the final four. Because she is one of the fittest contestants, she was able to really work hard in the gym, doing lots of running. After a dramatic weigh-in, in which Danny finally set his own record of the most double-digit weeks of weight loss in a row, Allen and Liz ended up below the yellow line. Amanda got to cast the final vote. I like Allen and really wanted to see him in the final four, but Amanda had more of a friendship with Liz, so that was what made the difference in the end. As much as Liz talks about how her tendency to give to her relationships has been a problem to her, it also turned out to be her biggest strength in this game.

Allen looked great and seemed really happy to be back with his family and have a chance to give back to his community. I stayed tuned to Leno so I could see more of Allen, and he had lost even more weight and looked terrific. The interview with Leno wasn't all that interesting, though, and I turned it off before the "Cooking with Charles Barkley" segment.

Next week is the finale. I think I'm rooting for Amanda.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Weight Watchers program: Wish list and wild speculation

It's no big secret. Every December, Weight Watchers introduces its new program materials. I think they do this in December, when meeting attendance is generally lower, so that all the leaders have a chance to get any questions or problems figured out before the big January surge. Every now and then, a post comes up on the Weight Watchers boards about it, and everyone basically tells the Original Poster (OP) to shut up and wait until the program rollout. If any real information did leak onto the boards, it would be quickly swept away by the moderators, because what's the point of rolling out a new program if you can't generate some excitement with it?

Sometimes the changes are major, like when the Core option was introduced. Sometimes the changes are minor, like when the Core option was renamed the Simply Filling Technique. Sometimes there are just fiddly bits around the edges, like changing the look of the program materials. Each time, there is an opportunity to buy a whole new Dining Out Guide and Complete Food Companion. I had three or four different versions at one time.

I thought instead of trying to puzzle out what Weight Watchers actually planned to do this year, which would probably be impossible, it might be more fun to say what I would like Weight Watchers to do (short of making chocolate and wine 0 point vegetables):
  • Customizable Weight Loss Goals: It would be nice if you could customize your weight goal and get a corresponding points allowance. With the holidays coming up, it would be nice, for example, to set my goal to just maintain from now to January 1. With a paper tracker and the maintenance booklet, it would be technically possible to do that. You could just follow the recommendations for someone at their weight goal. It would be a really nice option to do this in eTools automatically and/or have an option in the quiz where you set your points target. You could adjust back up at New Year's, when you were feeling motivated. I don't know about others, but once I am over my points, it requires a stronger act of will to keep tracking, as stupid as that is. This option would make it easier for people like me to stay within range.
  • Revisions to the Good Health Guidelines: Are two servings of dairy really necessary for everyone every day? I'd rather up my fruits and veggies and drop my dairy to one a day. And do you really need two teaspoons of liquid oil each day if you also eat foods, like nuts and avocados, that contain healthy fats? Also, how about a little more clarity on the whole grains? Weight Watchers has a good track record of keeping up with new health research, so I think it is possible that we will see some revisions here.
  • Ditch the Weight Watchers Junk Food: The two-point bars, smoothies, and other snacks they sell in meetings have to be designed for superlong shelf lives, so they don't taste all that great and they're full of chemicals. Maybe it would be better for Weight Watchers to get out of the junk food business. It seems to go against their Good Health Guidelines, which focus on whole foods, to sell this garbage at the meetings.
  • More for Maintainers: I think it would be great if Weight Watchers set up once-a-month regional maintainer meetings where people could specifically focus on the challenge of maintaining. The idea now is that maintainers attend regular meetings to serve as a good example for the rest of the members, but what tends to happen is that they either weigh in and leave or they disappear for a few months and reappear 10-20 pounds heavier, like I did. Maintainers could still attend regular meetings but they might feel more motivated if they knew they were going to be meeting with other maintainers instead of sticking out as the only skinny person in the room.
  • Improvements to the iPhone App: I think you should be able to track your Good Health Guidelines on it, and your weekly weight. As it is, it's only a supplement to the website, not a substitute.
I don't have a lot of suggestions because I feel like it's already a solid program. I will go out on a limb and say that I don't expect any major changes this time around. Anyone else care to throw their hat in the ring with some wild speculation? All the cool kids will be doing it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What to do about my meeting...

Tomorrow is my regular meeting/weigh-in day. I know my weight is not down from Thursday. It may well be up. I have had a disaster of a not-quite-week since then, feeling completely unfocused and not particularly motivated to eat right or exercise. I had workers in my house today and will have them here again tomorrow.

That was the actual post I started to write tonight about how I wasn't sure how to handle my meeting, especially because with workers in the house, I really didn't want to leave for the meeting. So what should I do? Do it? Skip it? Say "anything goes" until after Thanksgiving? Then I got the brilliant idea to look for a meeting in the early morning so I could go and be back in time for the workers. Then, as I was doing that, I realized there was a meeting at 6:30 at my regular center. It was 6:00. I felt scuzzy from sitting around all day and had just eaten dinner and had eaten handfuls of salty cashews right out of the bag in the afternoon, but I knew I needed to get out of the house before I decided that next week was going to be a complete loss with the holidays and gave in to the idea of not tracking.

I took a quick shower, put on a somewhat cute outfit and makeup, and went to the center with wet hair. I decided to do the "No Weigh In" option, because after a not-so-great few days (I just weighed in on Thursday) with dinner still digesting, I didn't want to face the scale. I just needed to give myself a signal that this floundering around had to stop. I don't think I've used the no-weigh option before, because I always sort of felt like the weigh-in was the whole point of the meeting, but the point of the meeting is to get motivated and have a chance to be around like-minded people with the same goals. Thursday's meeting didn't really do it for me, but tonight's was better. The people there seemed down-to-earth and the leader was sincere. I even picked up a cookbook on sale for $5.

Tomorrow I take my first dose of my new meds. I really do think that worrying about the whole thyroid thing on top of the epic home-improvement projects and the impending Family Time just seemed like too much to handle. But it's not, really.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving:
  • I'm grateful to have a doctor who took the time to listen to me
  • I'm grateful to have health insurance and prescription coverage
  • I'm grateful to have a home that I love
  • I'm grateful to have the resources to do the home improvement projects that needed to be done
  • I'm grateful to have a family I love and the chance to spend time with them.
Most of all, I'm grateful I figured out a way to pull out of the tailspin this time. Thanks for reading.

Recipe: Toasted Peanut Butter Oats

I finally found a way that I like oatmeal. The secret is toasting the oats first, before cooking them, and then adding some peanut butter, which is my favorite thing in the world. I'm not sure where the idea of toasting the oats came from, but I got the idea to put peanut butter in them from Jenna's blog. She is always making oatmeal with all kinds of goodies.

I apologize for the lack of pictures. The next time I make this, I will come back and add them if I remember.

I used Bob's Red Mill Thick Rolled Oats. I prepared them according to the package directions, but with a twist:

While I boiled the 1 cup of water and dash of salt (for one serving) in a small saucepan on the back burner, I toasted 1/2 cup of the oats in a small skillet on the front burner over medium-high heat, stirring them with a wooden spoon so they would toast evenly. The oats start to smell really good when they toast, and that's how you know they are ready. For me, it took about the same time as it took for the water to boil.

When the water boiled, I dumped the oats into the boiling water. There are some small dark specks that seem to be a part of the oat that toasted faster than the rest. I was afraid they would give the oats a burnt taste but they didn't. I reduced the heat to medium and stirred gently every few minutes for 10 minutes.

When the 10 minutes were up, I turned off the gas, dropped 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on top of the oats and covered them. I let them stand for about 2 minutes off the heat to absorb the rest of the water and melt the peanut butter a little so it would be easier to stir in.

Then I uncovered the pan, gave everything a good stir, and poured it into a bowl. I sliced a small, ripe banana on top and dug in.

I had this (and 14 cashews while I waited for the oats to cook) for breakfast yesterday after my run (I had a slice of toast with butter before my run) at around 8:00 before going out for a busy shopping day. I didn't get hungry for lunch until 2:00!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Test results

My test results came in the mail yesterday. I still have high levels of thyroid antibodies and everything else looks borderline, so my doctor suggests taking a low dose of synthetic thyroid hormone. I have to call in tomorrow with my pharmacy information.

I am curious to see what the effects will be. I am also going to read as much on the condition as I can so I know what to do to help the medicine work.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Workout Spotlight: TRX Suspension Training

Today's workout was great. I am taking a TRX Suspension Training class at my local YMCA on Friday mornings. The TRX is a strap system that allows you to use your own bodyweight as either resistance or assistance in lots of different exercises. The classes I've taken have focused mostly on strength, but the TRX website says they can also be used for speed and agility drills. I even remember seeing the TRX being used on "The Biggest Loser" a season or two ago.

What I like about the workouts is that you can adjust the difficulty of the exercise by changing your body position. Today we were doing back rows and I moved my feet closer in when I got tired to make things a little easier. If you're super-buff, of course, you can also adjust to make things more challenging.

You can get these things for home use, but at my gym they have them anchored to the studs in the wall or hanging from metal ceiling beams. I might be a little nervous about getting it properly situated to hold my weight if I was setting it up in my house. If it was not secured, you could fall flat on your face. It does look like it would easily attach to one of those big jungle gyms everyone else in the suburbs seems to have, but I didn't inherit one of those from my house's previous owners. Or, if you happen to have a tank lying around, you can use that as an anchor.

It's hard to do the TRX justice so I thought I'd share another video to help you get the idea. This trainer goes through enough different exercises to give you a sense of the possibilities.

If your gym offers these classes, give one a try. I'm really enjoying them, and they make you feel delightfully hardcore.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm such a cliché

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

Up again. Crap. To make it worse, we had a super-perky substitute leader from another center. Even though I missed my regular meeting, I tried to choose a meeting with the same leader, but she was out. I hope she will be there Tuesday.

I knew that I had lost my focus last week, and that I had slacked off not only on the Good Health Guidelines but on journaling in general. So in one sense the weight gain is not surprising. It does seem like this is all more of a struggle than it should be.

I saw a new doctor yesterday for a new-patient consultation. I had not considered her as an option because I knew her personally from a fitness club, but I talked to her after my last experience and she thought it would be fine. I brought a copy of my bloodwork and she was concerned with some of the thyroid-related results. She ordered a second test and included some other measures of thyroid function. She suspects I might have borderline hypothyroidism. The symptoms she mentioned -- weight gain, fatigue, constipation -- seem like common enough things, but then I did some more reading and I have other suspicious symptoms: Vertigo, moodiness, dry eyes, sluggishness, tightness in the chest.

I am waiting a little anxiously for the test results. I got yesterday and it suggests that even with treatment, I'd need to do the same things I'm currently trying to do: Eat right, exercise, manage stress, take the appropriate supplements. If I do have a thyroid issue and it gets addressed, it could make this all a little less of a struggle.

Or, it could turn out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me and I just need to get motivated and work harder. That's OK. I don't want a chronic health condition.

I just want to know the truth, and what to do about it.

At the very least, I am happy to have a doctor who is smart, asks the right questions, and makes thoughtful choices. That's a big relief.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Biggest Loser Week 11: Makeovers

For some reason, this week's episode was half an hour shorter than usual. The show felt a little skimpy -- we didn't get nearly enough Tim Gunn. Last time around, there was a real focus on the transformation, the process of selecting the clothes, the choices of hairstyle. This time, we got maybe a moment or two of conversation between Tim and each contestant. This time, instead of taking the contestants into a big department store, he took them each into a "boutique" he had created for each contestant inside a luxury hotel suite. We got to see him hold up a dress or a shoe or a jacket with each contestant and have a word or two, but that was about it.

The makeovers themselves were just okay. It seemed like the clothes chosen were much more understated than the usual TBL makeovers. I thought that Danny's powder-blue vest was the worst fashion choice. Actually, is a powder-blue vest ever a good fashion choice for a guy? The other guys wore much more slimming jackets. Rudy had to give up the beard, but he started growing it back immediately. Liz got sassy in an animal-print dress and a cute blonde hairdo. I thought Rebecca's haircut and black dress were a little severe, and the long bangs going straight into her eyes had to drive her crazy. Amanda didn't really look that much different than she did for the eliminations -- she got to keep her long blonde hair, and her outfit was pretty but fairly casual. None of these makeovers had the "Oh my God!" impact that I've seen on other seasons.

Maybe the reason was that they didn't want dramatic clothes and hairstyles to distract from the speeches that each contestant had to give to a crowd of TV Guide readers? It was a decidedly un-glamorous venue. A couple of the speeches were really touching but the rest relied on tired weight-loss story boilerplate: "I was always on the sidelines, never on stage," "I'm ready to continue my journey." The biggest drama came from the contestants being reunited with family members right before the speech. I felt an axe in my heart when Danny's daughter said "I can't wait to start my journey," and for a moment was afraid that a spinoff, "The Littlest Loser" show would be born, where children of contestants shed their baby fat. No no no no no. Hopefully the contestants' kids won't become hyper-focused on weight in the aftermath of their parents' transformation.

When the contestants got back to the ranch, they had to do a zipline challenge, where they pulled themselves from one hilltop across a deep valley to a second hilltop, where larger-than-life pictures of the contestants at the start of the show waited for them. Liz freaked out and uttered some pretty funny, but terrified, primal screams, but she made it. Once the contestants all got across (Rudy won, with Amanda right behind), they each unrolled a picture of their made-over selves over their old pictures. Allan admitted later to Bob that he had purposely thrown this and the last challenge to keep contestants from focusing on him as a target for elimination.

Jillian's reaction to the whole makeover thing was mostly, "That's nice, now let's get to the gym," but she did pick up on a story from Rudy's speech about how his sister had gotten gravely ill when he was 12 and died a few years later. She grilled him about why he had never brought this story up before, and managed to find out that he was shuttled around to various family members while his sister was in the hospital. She pointed out that he lost his sister and felt abandoned by people he loved at the same time. This was about when he started gaining weight. Now, she continued, he can't let people get mad at him because it makes him feel too alone, so he hides his feelings from people and eats instead.

The truth of Jillian's analysis really came out at the elimination, which was between Rebecca and Liz. Rudy casts the deciding vote to eliminate Rebecca because of something she did five weeks earlier, and she is understandably hurt and confused that he had never mentioned this to her in all the time since the incident occurred, and only mentioned it as she was leaving.

I stuck around through some of Leno to see what Rebecca looks like now, but other than the opening monologue, the show was so incredibly stupid that we recorded it on the DVR and watched cooking shows until the show was over. Then we rolled back to Rebecca's interview. She was incredibly buff. Her hair looked much cuter than it had during the makeover, but I thought that her decision to wear a miniskirt was a bad one. She had the legs for it, but trying to sit on stage in a chair in a miniskirt with cameras rolling? Something a little longer would have been just as cute and a lot more appropriate. We did find out that I was right in my guess about a Biggest Loser romance between Rebecca and Daniel.

My money is on her for the At-Home Champion, unless Allan gets eliminated before the finale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Taking a break

I have felt frazzled and completely stressed out for the last couple of days. I did two workouts (a morning run and an evening swim) on Sunday so I took Monday off, but when I thought about running today I just dreaded the whole idea. So I took today off as well. It worked -- I'm already looking forward to doing it tomorrow.

It's hard to know sometimes whether I really need a break or whether it's just laziness and inertia talking, but today I could tell I really needed the break. I've had an unfocused and frustrated last few days and I needed a breather to collect mysef.

I had to miss Weight Watchers today because of a work commitment, but I'm planning to get to a meeting on Thursday. I will have to wait until then to see whether I will pay for the weekend's indiscretions on the scale.

MAKEOVERS on "The Biggest Loser tonight." Can't wait.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Workout spotlight: Pilates and Pilates Reformer

I thought it might be interesting, now that my Good Health Guidelines series is finished, to spotlight some of the more interesting workouts I'm doing, in case anyone out there is looking for something new and fun to try.

Yesterday's workout was Pilates Reformer, which uses a machine with springs and pulleys to provide resistance and assistance for doing various exercises. I found a good video on YouTube that helps illustrate how this works:

Pilates has an interesting history, and was designed as a physical therapy of sorts. I started with Reformer a little more than a year ago. Before I started doing Reformer, I had a lot of little aches and pains, most of which were running-related. I trained for my half marathon completely injury-free, and I know my posture has improved.

Most studios will want you to start with the mat exercises first. In the mat classes, you will learn the breathing techniques, the body alignment required to protect your spine, and learn exercises like The Hundred and Leg Circles that you also do on the reformer. Right now, I'm doing mat class once a week and Reformer once a week, because I think that the mat helps me get back to basics. Reformer allows you to use more strength to push the carriage around, while in mat it's all about alignment and focus.

My first experience with Pilates was at home with a video, This was a great way to start because I already knew some of the basics before walking into a class. When I started with this back in 2000 or so, Pilates had a reputation of being for dancers, athletes, and other very fit people, at least at my gym, and I felt too intimidated to take a class until I had some experience first. I would still recommend this video to people who wanted to try out Pilates on their own before taking a class. All you need is a thick mat to cushion your back if your floor is not carpeted, or even a yoga mat.

I now take Pilates at a studio where people of all levels, mostly women, take classes, so it's a lot friendlier. There are a lot of things to focus on: Spine alignment, tightening my abs and pelvic floor, breathing, keeping my legs tight, foot position, etc., etc. Classes are small and the instructors have eyes like a hawk and make sure to let me know if I'm letting something slide, which felt frustrating at first but now just helps keep me focused.

At first I was tempted to skip things like Pilates and yoga because I thought they didn't help with weight loss, but I'm seeing some real results. I can see (faint) signs of a six pack under my remaining inch or so of belly fat, and having strong core muscles has helped me continue to run and swim without being sidelined by injuries. I can also feel that those strong abs and back muscles help me when I'm doing other activities, like raking my yard or carrying heavy objects. Plus, I think all the mind-body work has improved my coordination. I don't feel like such a klutz anymore.

I would really recommend finding a small studio for your first classes rather than trying it at a place like the YMCA or a college recreation center, because the instructors are more likely to have taken specialized training in Pilates techniques. You might feel silly Rolling Like a Ball, but everyone else there will be doing it too. Like me, you may find that it helps you build all-over strength and flexibility while also adding a little grace and ease to your movements.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Health Guideline: Whole Grains

Welcome to the final installment of my GHG series. I've enjoyed the discussion so far. I didn't purposely save whole grains for last, but it is one of the more vague of the WW guidlines: "Choose whole grains whenever possible." If you take this literally, it's almost always possible to choose whole grains. If you walk into a restaurant and notice they have no whole grains, you could leave.

In reality, I don't always choose whole grains, even when it's possible. The one-point difference between white pasta, which I love, and whole-wheat pasta, which I don't particularly enjoy, isn't enough to convince me to make the switch. I buy wholegrain breads most of the time, but every now and then I enjoy a slice of sourdough or Italian or even a bagel.

Besides, when I think whole grains, I don't think of things made with whole grain flour, I think of actual whole grains. The Kashi pilaf pictured above is one of the tastiest whole grain products I've found. There is a Mediterranean Pilaf recipe on the box that is fantastic, and I've made variations on that theme by changing up the vegetables or seasonings. You can also add fruit and cinnamon and have a great breakfast pilaf or even a dessert. Kashi makes a lot of great products, including 2-point granola bars that blow the WW snack bars out of the water and have a lot more wholesome-seeming ingredients. The crackers and cereals are great too.

I have not managed to make oatmeal in any way I like except in granola and cookies. There is something yucky about the flavor. I've tried steel-cut oats, rolled oats, old-fashioned oats, overnight oats... I've dosed them up with all kinds of things. I do, however, like Quaker's multigrain cereal, so it really must be something about cooked oats. I like raw oats in yogurt, just not cooked ones.

I enjoy a lot of other whole grains: Barley, quinoa, brown rice, etc. The only thing that keeps me from having them more often is the cooking time. I had a rice cooker but it never did a very good job of cooking rice and grains evenly. Maybe I need to try another model. I do have some recipes for cooking whole grains in the slow-cooker, so I should probably dust those off, especially now that the weather is getting colder and I'm starting to feel the call of comfort foods. A warm bowl of grains can be just as comforting as macaroni and cheese (ok, almost as comforting, anyway), I just don't always think of them first.

Any favorites you'd like to share?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Health Guideline: Multivitamin

After reading nic's post about the vitamins she takes, I thought I'd go ahead and cover this Good Health Guideline.

Weight Watchers recommends that all members take a multivitamin containing no more than 100% of the RDA of vitamins and minerals. Presumably, this is because dieters may miss certain nutrients because they are cutting back on their food intake.

No specific brand is recommended, though the One-A-Day Weight Smart vitamin used to be advertised in Weight Watchers Magazine and ads in program materials. (Weight Watchers' members seem to be a huge market force, and I wouldn't be surprised if the organization made more from ads in program materials like the Complete Food Guide and the coupon books they hand out in meetings than from membership dues.) It looks like that vitamin is now called Women's Active Metabolism, and the metabolism activators are both variants on caffeine. If you take your multivitamin while you are drinking your morning coffee, you're probably getting about the same effect. I tend to be a little skeptical of anything that claims to affect weight loss or metabolism, because there are so many scammers out there. (I am, in fact, concerned that this post will attract spam comments from snake oil salespeople.)

I take Country Life's Maxine for Women, which Jillian Michaels recommended on her much-missed podcast. I take the version with iron because I have had troubles with anemia in the past. Weight Watchers' guidelines would make this vitamin a no-no because it contains more than 100% of the RDA of certain nutrients. I also take 2 capsules of fish oil, a flaxseed oil capsule (it helps my eczema, read about it on the internets), and some extra selenium and vitamin D. I used to also take a because everyone said it would help save my knees, but to be honest, I quit taking it weeks ago and have noticed no difference at all. I started taking some of the extra supplements after reading When Your Body Gets the Blues and started taking the fish oil after hearing about the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids.

I am assuming that this guideline is all about nutrition and less about supporting weight loss, but the Body Blues research suggested that there could be some weight-loss benefit from supplementation, light, and exercise, as well as a mood-lifting effect.

There is still some controversy over whether vitamins provide real health benefits. I think that most vitamin consumers, like me, think that because vitamins may help and probably won't hurt, that we are safer taking them than not. It's really anyone's guess whether we're helping ourselves or just wasting the money we spend on supplements. I feel better when I'm taking my vitamins regularly, but I also tend to take them at times when I'm really focusing on other healthy habits, like exercise and diet.

Do you take any supplements? Do you notice any difference from when you weren't taking them?

The Biggest Loser Week 10: Two For the Road

This week the contestants learned that not just one person was going to be eliminated, but two. In addition to the Yellow Line, there was now a Red Line -- the person who lost the lowest percentage of weight this week had to leave immediately. The contestants above the Red Line but below the Yellow Line would be eligible for the usual elimination by vote.

This impending carnage -- one quarter of the remaining 8 contestants leaving, including the novelty of a no-excuses cut -- left everyone shell-shocked, but they immediately were thrown into a "pop challenge" where contestants competed for a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in by leaping up to pull tennis balls off three strips of Velcro, one at a time, and running to drop them into a bucket. I thought Allen would win easily, and he did win, but with Rebecca just three steps behind him.

Jillian panicked at the idea of Shay being sent home with 200 pounds yet to lose, and seemingly decided the best way to save her was to pump up the volume on the workouts -- more screaming, more sweating, more yelling. I couldn't help but be impressed by how incredibly fit Shay is, even at 300+ pounds. None of the other contestants were off the hook either, and the trainers used the drama to motivate the contestants, with plenty of yelling and screaming to go around. No one was spared, even the normally tough-as-nails Rebecca. Everyone had a chance to cry.

With everyone in a panic, the logical thing to do was to take the contestants to the circus for the stupidest challenge yet, jumping from mini trampolines through hoops onto big pads -- each hoop represented a player. Immunity was at stake, and it was another challenge that encouraged players to gang up on each other and eliminate the biggest threats first. Each player's name was on a hoop, and players got a point whenever someone jumped through their hoop. 100 points meant you were eliminated from the game. This was basically a variant of the baseball challenge from Week 7.

We start to see that there is a big split between the 4 players in their 20s and the four "older" players, most of whom look like they are in their 30s. Shay and Rudy have a misunderstanding -- he says he will wait to go after her until "the end," which she thinks means that he won't give her points until everyone else is out. Since Rudy is part of the "old" group and Shay is part of the young group, Rudy started putting points on her board when it was down to three players: Shay, Rudy, and Danny. Shay screams at him the entire time about having no integrity and being cruel and picking on her. It was ridiculous. Even though I thought he meant the same thing that she did, it made more sense for Rudy to be loyal to fellow old guy Danny after watching Shay and her friends systematically eliminate every player over 30. Rudy won immunity, and Shay threw him hurt and angry looks for the rest of the episode.

At this point you start to realize that Shay truly believes that she deserves a free pass from all the other players because of her extreme size and her horrific childhood. Shay might have been a victim when she was a child, but as I watched her abuse the other players if they didn't give her the special treatment she felt she was entitled to, I started to have less and less sympathy for her. She is an adult now, and she needs to start acting like one. Abby had a horrific tragedy and was more than willing to let the players send her home when she came up for elimination, she didn't play for sympathy. On one hand, I agreed with Shay and Jillian that she really needed the safety of the Ranch more than the other players, especially because we know that at home she has three jobs and a husband and two stepchildren to distract her from her own goals. On the other hand, we've seen contestants from past seasons who lost well on the ranch go home and regain their weight if they aren't able to transfer what they've learned to their normal lives, and we've seen contestants who got sent home do very well there. Bob and Jillian are the last people who should be promoting the idea that you can't succeed unless you are on the show. There are many people watching at home who need to believe that they can be very successful on their own and fit fitness into a busy life.

The weigh-in was dramatic. Shay was one of the first weighed in, and Allison happens to mention that Shay is only 17 pounds away from the 100-pounds-lost milestone. Shay laughs it off, figuring that is impossible. If she did hit the 100 pound mark, though, we find out that she would break the record for fastest woman to 100 pounds. Of course, because the contestants are really weighed in the morning and the scale we see them on is just a prop, Allison knew that Shay was going to break that record. The order of the weigh-in is carefully chosen for the most drama. When we see Shay lose 17 pounds, we know that she will be safe. But then, we see contestant after contestant have their best-ever week, and Shay creeps closer and closer to that Yellow Line, along with fellow Team Young member Amanda. Daniel weighs in last and has another disappointing week, slipping him under Shay as the Red Line elimination. To confirm my suspicions from last week, Rebecca runs up in tears and hugs him.

As Amanda and Shay are making their case for who should stay, I am sure that it will be Amanda who is leaving. She is looking great and seems to be one of the most level-headed contestants on the show. As I said to my husband as we were watching, "She probably has about 30 pounds to lose. She could do that with Weight Watchers, she doesn't need to be there." Amanda makes her tearful case sure that she is heading home, but to everyone's surprise, Shay is sent home. The final vote for Shay comes from Rudy, who might have voted differently if Shay had taken his "betrayal" during the silly hoop challenge in stride, but she says she has no regrets. Somehow I missed the "where is she now" video for Shay at the end of the show, but I found it online -- she has 6 trainers now who are helping her at home, and she looks noticeably thinner even though she still has a lot of weight to lose. Daniel also is still doing OK on his own and has "a girlfriend he hopes to introduce to America at the finale." Hmm, wonder who that is?

Next week, MAKEOVERS with Tim Gunn for Alan, Rudy, Amanda, Rebecca, Danny, and Liz. At this point I'm not sure which I'm more excited to see go: Rebecca's weird comb-over birds' nest, Liz's scraggly gray hair, or Rudy's beard.
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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