Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 9: Ugh!

This episode really frustrated me. Two really annoying things happened. First, Melissa is back. And worse, my favorite player, Stephanie, seemed to be being bullied by Koli, Drea, and Ashley for no good reason, and then was eliminated in a vote where her supposed best friends voted her off.

The game is back to singles, with each player wearing his or her original shirt color. Bob and Jillian will now team-train all the contestants. The yellow line is back, and each player has to stay above it on his or her own, with no ability to lean on the team.

As is now usual on "The Biggest Loser," former contestants are given a chance to win a spot back on the show. At first, the players think that only one person will be brought back in a vote. Each player had a chance to plead his or her case. The bright spot for me in this episode is that instead of just turning this into a popularity contest, four players chose to give Victoria, a player on the Blue Team who never really got a chance to be on the show. "Three times, I have packed to come on this show," she said in tears, "and each time I have been sent home without even unpacking. Please don't send me home again." Michael, Drea, Koli, Sunshine, and O'Neal all voted to bring her back.

Of course, there was a twist. The rest of the players had a chance to win a spot back in a step-up challenge. The first player to 1,000 steps won. This challenge seemed unfair because so many of the players had bad knees and were not able to really compete. At first it looked like Miggy, Sherry, Lance, and Melissa all had a chance. After a while, it became obvious that Lance was holding himself back and his wife Melissa won easily. Let the nastiness begin. My feeling was that this challenge was set up to bring Melissa back.

We have our usual workout segments with Jillian and Bob beating the tar out of the contestants. Victoria does not seem 100% glad to be back on -- after all, she didn't have the chance to gradually get used to the workouts like everyone else. Still, she seems to have a sunny disposition and is making the best of it.

We see Ashley, Koli, and Drea all speculating that Stephanie threw the weigh-in where Ashley's mom, Sherry, was eliminated. Stephanie lost two pounds that week, which put the Black Team below the yellow line, and then she lost 9 pounds the week after. Personally, I don't know how they thought she could have planned for the Black Team to lose that week, especially when she wouldn't be 100% sure she wouldn't be the one sent home. My gut feeling is that Drea and Ashely are jealous that Stephanie is so much thinner and fitter than they are, and maybe all three of them are threatened by Stephanie's hinted-at romance with Sam.

Stephanie has a breakdown when working out with Jillian, probably because she feels the mistrust of the other players. In a scene that didn't quite make sense to me, Jillian tells her that the more she tries to control other people's reactions to her, the more they are going to mistrust her. The show seems to have been badly edited here -- we don't ever get the reasons that Stephanie feels threatened, we don't know what she is doing to try to control things that is causing all this tension, and we don't know what Jillian is suggesting that she should do/stop doing. My guess is that this haphazard scene is the result of us not being allowed to know about Stephanie and Sam. That probably is the source of Stephanie's insecurity, and maybe her friends and Sam's cousin have been making it clear that they are unhappy or jealous. It's hard to know for sure.

The weigh-in is pretty dramatic with all this built-up tension. Melissa and Victoria have immunity for their first week back on. Stephanie and Sam both have the lowest percentages, so they're in the position of being torn between their own interests and that of their partners. Sam trots out the "Steel Sharpens Steel" slogan that Darryl had used on Daris earlier, which makes me cringe at the corniness of it, but Daris nods his huge, innocent head approvingly. Stephanie knows she is leaning hard on shaky alliances, and her fears are confirmed when her two supposed best friends on the show vote to send her home. I knew she was in trouble when both of them trotted out the "For the first time in my life, I have to think about me" nonsense that always signals that someone is about to do something they shouldn't do. Ashely says she hopes Stephanie "understands." Stephanie is obviously heartbroken and understands only that Ashley and Drea were not really the friends she thought they were.

We do get a nice scene with Stephanie shopping at White House, Black Market (nice product placement) for a dress to wear for a night on the town with her friends and family. She gets to buy a size 12, which she is excited about, but at the finale, she hopes to wear a size 8.

I thought I had posted this yesterday, so I apologize for the late recap!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lose It! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Mar 22nd

Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Mar 22nd

for Jen S

Daily Summary

Budget Food Exercise Net +/- Weight (lbs)
3/22/10 1,446 1,703 245 1,458 12 173.2
3/23/10 1,446 2,254 751 1,503 58 173.2
3/24/10 1,446 3,597 300 3,297 1,852 173.2
3/25/10 1,446 2,076 0 2,076 630 173.2
3/26/10 1,446 2,199 354 1,845 399 173.2
3/27/10 1,446 2,351 165 2,186 741 173.2
3/28/10 1,446 3,082 833 2,249 804 173.2

4,495 calories over budget for the week

No change in weight this week
Nutrient Summary % Calories
Fat 677g 35.5%
Saturated Fat 193g
Protein 642g 15%
Carbohydrates 2,122g 49.5%
Fiber 148g
Cholesterol 1,886mg
Sodium 29,100mg
Exercise Summary Calories
Weight Lifting 20 Min 55
Running 1 Hour 0 Min 660
Walking 4 Hours 45 Min 901
Pilates 1 Hour 0 Min 165
Swimming 1 Hour 45 Min 866
Total 2647
Report generated by Lose It!. For more information or to sign up for your free Lose It! account, please visit

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's not a cold, it's spring allergy season. Whee!

I don't know why I didn't realize this earlier, but the "cold" I have been babying for the last few days -- runny nose, sore throat, stuffy head, plugged ears -- is just my allergies acting up. I was trying to puzzle it out because the only time I was outdoors in Boston was when it was raining, so I couldn't imagine how I would have come into contact with cats, or pollen, or dust.

Then I remembered my allergist's overflowing bucket analogy. I had the stress of travel. I flew in recirculated air, being exposed to all the junk everyone had with them. I spent most of my time in a hotel, which was probably dusty. I ate junkier food than usual. I was tired and stressed. I drank alcohol. I ran out of my unscented products and used the hotel's lovely-smelling Bliss toiletries. Also, no yogurt or other probiotic foods to help keep things under control.

Bingo. Bucket is too full, body rebels.

I pulled out my this morning, which was something I started using early on in this process but stopped using because it was so uncomfortable. It really works, though it is pretty disgusting and, like my husband said, seems like "something only really weird weirdos would use." It really worked. I feel a lot better. I used my Nasonex after I neti-d, successfully combining East and West treatments. If you have allergies, I really recommend trying it.

I had been not exercising because I felt crappy, but if this is just my allergies, I have to buck up and get to it. There is no way I'm taking off the entire spring season, just when it's finally starting to get nice outside. Sure, the pollen is out there, but the cats and dust are in here!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Biggest Loser Week 10: Everyone Has to Go Home Sometime

This week, not only did Sherry go home because of the vote, everyone on the show went home. When Michael goes back to Chicago and we see icicle lights and bow-covered evergreens, we get a pretty good idea why this was "Home Week." But there's another good reason for it -- it gives contestants their first taste of what their challenges are going to at home and then get a chance to go back to the ranch to figure out how to deal with them. We also get a little peek at what contestants' real lives are like. Contestants (other than Sunshine and O'Neal) haven't been home since they weighed in with their family, friends, and sometimes whole hometown watching.

Daris goes back to an enthusiastic town in Oklahoma ready to cheer him on. At the beginning, we learned that even though he is 25, he has never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl. He actually asked a female friend of his to go out with him for a night on the town -- they had only been friends before, but obviously the feelings are more than friendly on his side. She seems impressed with his new confidence, and even though they seem a little awkward together when they're holding hands, just asking her out was a big step. He also does something I've never seen anyone do -- does a straight-sober Karaoke number and actually sounds OK doing it.

Of course there are the required meals out to eat, where everyone but the contestant seems to order big ;plates of cheesy appetizers and deep-fried munchies. Ashley dutifully ordered plain tuna and steamed spinach at her favorite restaurant, which sounded pretty horrible, but contestants have to watch their salt as well as their calories. Drea has an even harder task -- ordering a healthy meal at a bowling alley. She gets a salad, which surprises me because I didn't know bowling alleys even sold salads. One contestant (I can't remember which one) took a big plate of tempting-looking food, smells it, and said, "That's the stuff that made me fat," and walked away. It's obvious that their attitudes have changed a lot. We see Sam's mom making a huge breakfast of eggs, sausage gravy, biscuits, and bacon. I thought, "How could she make all that stuff when she knows he has a weigh-in coming up?" until I saw the integration coming. Sam pulls out his Verizon Blackberry with its exclusive "Biggest Loser Healthy Swaps" application and figures out a better breakfast choice for them (but doesn't tell us). In another integration, we also see Lance playing "The Biggest Loser" for the Wii with his kids, and genuinely having fun being with them.

Michael has a tough time, because his grandmother is still in the hospital, unconscious and unresponsive. He wants to be with her but he also knows that to stay on the show, he needs to work out and take the time to make himself healthy meals.

There is, of course, a challenge for the contestants while they are home. They each get an identical exercise bike, box of mini-cupcakes, and a video. When they pop the video into their players, Allison explains that each of them will be racing to complete 26.2 miles in the shortest amount of time. The cupcakes, of course, are a temptation to let them add time to another person's score. Eating 100-calorie cupcake gives contestants the chance to add 5 minutes to another player's time. The winner will get $10,000. All of them start at the exact same time, and each has a family member on a conference call so that everyone can get live updates. We see that Ashley, Drea, Lance, and Micheal eat cupcakes (Melissa, of course, eggs Lance on and we remember why we don't like her), but the rest decide to let the best The race was really exciting. Sam begins and ends, of course, in first place, but Koli and Lance aren't far behind. Sunshine finishes seconds behind the boys. Stephanie, Drea, Ashley, and Michael round out the field. Everyone who ate cupcakes identified Sam as a threat, so he ends up in 8th place. Maybe because they always compare him to Sam, no one thought to give a penalty to Koli, so he squeaks out with the win. I was glad to see him beat Lance, because it was obvious that Lance and Melissa make a good living, while many of the other contestants look like they could really use the money. Lance was at his most unlikeable during this challenge, getting everyone to root against Sam instead of for Lance.

Then, of course, we have the Main Event: The weigh-in. The blue team has mostly good numbers, but both Michael and Daris lose less than they should have for their weight. The black team's weigh-in goes really well. Sam, as the last one to weigh in, only has to lose 2 pounds to win the weigh-in for the team. Just by looking at him, I knew he would get more than that, but 14 pounds!? On someone as fit-looking as him, that just seemed amazing.

Lance has seemed ambivalent about remaining on the ranch all week, and even though there is some talk about Michael not pulling his weight (sorry, couldn't resist) and dragging the team down, he plays the Fat Card. "Everyone else on the ranch is under 300 pounds, and I still weigh more than 400." I think that sooner or later Michael will be sent home if the team perceives that he's not trying, but with his grandmother sick, the team couldn't do it to him. Lance seems happy to be home with his kids, and in his "Where Are They Now" video, I even start to like him a little. Melissa, on the other hand...

I'm back

I landed at Toledo's tiny airport last night at around 8:30. I thought I was going to miss my flight from Detroit -- it wasn't that tight of a connection, but my plane from Boston was late and I had to get from the end of the A gates to the end of the C gates (I thought). Got halfway through C, and realized I was actually at C1. So I arrived at the C gate 15 minutes before my flight, panting, and saw the door shut. It turned out, though, that they hadn't even started boarding our plane, despite all the announcements that if you weren't on the plane 20 minutes before its scheduled takeoff, you would be cancelled. I felt kind of stupid. If I had missed the flight, I would have just had to wait for my husband to drive an hour north to pick me up, so I probably shouldn't have freaked out. I just wanted to be home.

I picked up a cold so I'm going to skip the workouts for today, and see if I feel better tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On the road again

I'm traveling and this is the first time I've had a chance to use a real computer and not just my iPhone. I have been in Boston for a conference since Sunday. Last night was the first time since I arrived that I left the hotel/mall/conference center complex. I went out for one of the most beautiful dinners I have ever had at Lucca. The portions were just-right sized, and even though I was a little stunned by the bill, I think it was worth it. I tried to do a little exploring today, but even with a raincoat and an umbrella, I decided it was too wet to run around looking for Freedom Trail landmarks. My 7-day T pass might not get as much use as I had hoped, but I am here for the conference, after all, and not just for sightseeing.

My food has been a little catch-as-catch-can while I've been here, but I have gotten plenty of exercise from all the walking, plus the intentional exercise I've done in the fitness center and pool.

I should be back on my regular blogging schedule on Thursday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lose It! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Mar 15th

Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Mar 15th

for Jen S

Daily Summary

Budget Food Exercise Net +/- Weight (lbs)
3/15/10 1,452 2,710 94 2,616 1,164 174.2
3/16/10 1,446 2,792 578 2,214 769 173.2
3/17/10 1,446 1,956 124 1,832 386 173.2
3/18/10 1,446 2,463 298 2,165 719 173.2
3/19/10 1,446 2,322 0 2,322 876 173.2
3/20/10 1,446 1,763 234 1,530 84 173.2
3/21/10 1,446 2,417 599 1,818 372 173.2

4,371 calories over budget for the week

Lost 1 pound this week
Nutrient Summary % Calories
Fat 692g 37%
Saturated Fat 170g
Protein 594g 14.1%
Carbohydrates 2,061g 48.9%
Fiber 243g
Cholesterol 1,302mg
Sodium 20,538mg
Exercise Summary Calories
Stationary Bicycle 45 Min 578
Weight Lifting 25 Min 69
Running 40 Min 440
Walking 2 Hours 25 Min 458
Pilates 1 Hour 45 Min 289
Yoga 45 Min 94
Total 1928
Report generated by Lose It!. For more information or to sign up for your free Lose It! account, please visit

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring snuck up on us

It seemed like it would never get here, but the crocuses are croaking in my garden, and all kinds of little green fingers are poking out of the dirt in my flowerbeds. I even ran in a t-shirt and capris in 60+ degrees and sun yesterday. I sweated like crazy -- my body isn't quite ready for the quick flip of the switch.

This is just a preview. We will have cooler temps over the weekend, but it was nice to get a couple of warm (almost hot) sunny days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 9: Sometimes It's Not Fair

This week started off with a trivia challenge, and the Black Team felt very confident that they could win. Two of the members of the Blue Team yukked it up for the camera about how dumb they felt and how much smarter the Black Team seemed than they were. The trivia questions were all from the latest Biggest Loser book. The prize was a day at a new local Four Seasons resort, where the contestants would get spa treatments and eat healthy but luxurious food. The Black Team seemed much more excited about this prize, but neither team wanted to lose, because it meant cleaning both the kitchen and the gym. There obviously is a cleaning crew that usually does these tasks, because we've never seen the kitchen and gym looking as bad as they did this week. The trivia questions are all pretty obscure, though, and after two overconfident guesses by the Black Team that opened the door for Blue Team to luck into the right answers, Michael wins it for the Blue Team by knowing how many calories are in an ounce of avocado (50, for the players at home). This avocado fact is followed up later by an integration where the Blue Team learns they can put avocado on their sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or salad dressing for less fat and more flavor.

We see the Black Team sulkily cleaning the kitchen and the machines in the gym, while the Blue Team gets massaged and slathered in masks and treated to tiny portions of beautiful healthy food. They seem most excited about just getting off the Biggest Loser campus. Black Team is obviously feeling resentful, but Jillian gets them sweating and working out hard and they decide they're going to do what they can to lose their "loser" mentality. When the Blue Team comes back from their mini-vacation and sees the Black Team flipping ropes and Sam breaking equipment because he's so studly, they quickly get serious themselves and sweat it out. Bob has them do some weird activity where most of the team makes bridges with their bodies while one player has to crawl through them -- I don't understand what the point of this was supposed to be, except to look silly on television. Mission accomplished there.

Sherry is obviously feeling the pressure this week because her fellow mom Cheryl is gone and she's the only older person left on a team of twenty-somethings. Her daughter, Ashley, admits to Jillian that she feels obligated to take care of her mom all the time, and has ever since her father died. There are hints that Sherry was very depressed after her husband died and Ashley took on the role of surrogate parent. Jillian says, "The way to be a confident person who takes care of yourself is to start doing it," and marches her over to have a talk with her mom. Sherry seems relieved to have the air cleared -- as audience members, I'm not sure we fully understand what Ashley has been doing that she plans to stop doing, but both Ashley and Sherry agree that they need to start living their own lives and stop being overly dependent on each other. This seems to be a hint of things to come later in the show.

There is a second challenge with hunky celebrity chef Curtis Stone, who is starting to seem less hunky and more annoying every time we see him. Lance is wearing what looks like a twisty tie in his Horrible Beard because he has been warned that there will be cooking involved. Each team has to make an appetizer, main course, and dessert with just 12 ingredients, and they have to take turns choosing ingredients from a big table of things. Unfortunately for the Blue Team, Italian Stallion Michael has been called home to spend time with his sick grandmother, so they are missing their best cook. Sunshine tries to pick up the slack, but there are some creative cooks on the Black Team, and though they lose the main course round because of some undercooked wild rice, they win with their appetizer and dessert. The challenge is for a whopping 5-pound advantage in the weigh-in, which seems to be the producers' attempts to throw the Black Team a bone and help them beat their losing streak.

Unfortunately for Black, the weigh-in does not go well for them. Sam has a better week, but Stephanie has another small loss. The other women do well, but even with the 5-pound advantage, it's not enough. Blue Team has huge losses this week, including a tearful milestone for Koli, who gets under 300 pounds and also surpasses 100 pounds lost in 9 weeks. It all comes down to Michael, who has been traveling. Black Team has a tiny hope that he won't have lost because of the bloat from flying, but he dropped 11 pounds even on a trip home, so Black Team goes back to the elimination room.

Despite a plea from Sherry, who has been hoping to be the next Helen and win the whole thing, she seems destined to be the one to go. The Black Team has alliances -- Sam is immune because he lost the most, and the three young women have promised each other to stick together. It's mean, but I had been rooting for her to go home, not only because I think Ashley will do better without her mom as a distraction, but because Sherry's garish makeup was really bugging me. She continues to lose at home, and is down to 138 pounds in her "Where Are They Now" video, which shows her kayaking and living it up in Tennessee.

Next week, all the contestants are going home, which always makes for an interesting episode.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm famous

If you haven't already (and why haven't you?), check out Shauna and Carla's latest podcast, which references a recent post I wrote about body image. I was really touched to be featured in the podcast, and Shauna and Carla had some great ideas about how to deal with what is probably a very common issue.

They say this is "a healthy living podcast for the people," so send them topic ideas or your "Blogger News" to .

Summary for the week of March 8

Weekly summary reports still aren't sending, so I'm using screen captures instead.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I might just swim to the moon

I found an event that looks really appealing called "Swim to the Moon." It's a 5K open water swim. I'm really excited about the idea of trying something like this -- something I have a pretty good idea that I could do, but am not 100% sure that I could do.

I talked to my swimming coach and he thinks it would be a challenge but that I could do it. He said that to estimate the difficulty of a swim, you can consider what it would be like to run four times that distance. So a 5K swim is similar in difficulty to a half marathon. He also reminded me that we swim almost 2 miles in our one-hour practices.

I think if I can keep my shoulder healthy, I could do it. They give you 50 minutes per mile to complete the course, and in other open water swims, a mile takes me about 30 minutes. I would slow down to do a longer distance, but probably not that much.

I haven't registered yet, but I'm thinking really seriously about a swim to the moon.

By the way, if any of you were wondering what happened with my Wii Fit decision, I decided that it would be much more useful in the winter. I will wait until fall to buy one. By then I should know if there's a newerfasterbettercooler version that I'll want to get instead.

For spring, I would rather buy a new bike.

New Age B.S.

I heard the worst argument against health care reform yesterday that I think I've ever heard. I was with a friend having breakfast, and she said that she was not a fan of "being forced to have insurance." We used to work together at a university, and she still works there, so I said, "You have insurance."

"I know," she said, "but I'm a spiritual being having a physical experience. If I get sick, I've created that, so I should be able to fix it. Going to the doctor just introduces illness into people's minds, so I don't want to pay for hypochondriacs."

"What if you get in a car accident and break a bone," I asked. "Should you be able to heal that too?"

There was a little more than that, but it was clearly making us both angry so she changed the subject. I was really angry, because we had just been talking about my sister, who had preeclampsia -- if she hadn't gotten immediate medical attention, she and my nephew would have died. I also have many other relatives who have serious health problems. I'm going to have a thyroid ultrasound tomorrow, because even though I feel fine, several blood tests have shown that my body is attacking my thyroid. Apparently none of us are enlightened enough to keep ourselves healthy.

I have some New Age leanings myself. I make Treasure Maps to help me clarify my goals. I have learned to trust my intuitions, because there have been plenty of times when I've "known" something was going to happen and then it came to pass. I'm the kind of person who thinks about someone right before they call. A reading from a psychic actually helped convince me to apply to the job I have right now. But I also think those things can just slightly tip the scales in the direction they were going anyway. I don't believe, contrary to what "The Secret" suggested, that I can get myself a brand-new car just by visualizing myself driving it. There also has to be reasonable action on my part to make good things happen.

I do believe that a negative attitude can bring bad things into people's lives, but more because of how that attitude makes them act than any mystical power that attitude has -- if they feel like they are doomed to ill health, they might not take the steps they can make to keep themselves healthy. If you watch "The Biggest Loser," most of the contestants had convinced themselves they would die young, so they smoked and drank heavily on top of their terrible food and exercise habits.

For most of them, their workup with Dr. H seemed to be the first checkup they had in years, so I don't think it was their excessive doctor visits that had brought bad health into their lives.

I do agree in some ways that the medical system we have is sometimes making us sicker rather than keeping us healthy. Our heavy reliance on prescription medications, for example, is probably bad for us as a society, not only because drugs have side effects, but because taking pills has become our first line of defense, when there are lifestyle interventions that should be a part of the treatment of most diseases. Antibiotics have saved lives but they have also created even more deadly bacteria that are resistant to drugs. Serious surgeries, like heart bypass, have gone from rare to commonplace, and it's hard not to wonder if they're being overused.

At the same time, I think it's a pretty callous thing to suggest that people shouldn't have access to medical care when they're genuinely sick. I have faith in the body's ability to heal itself from some conditions, but I see a doctor when I'm not feeling well. This seems like the sane thing to do.

My biggest resistance to the New Age belief system is not that it's weird -- I'm OK with being weird. It's that it can promote an attitude like my friend expressed, that you create everything bad that happens to you, from a sprained ankle to cancer. If you are healthy, it must be because you are more "centered" than people who are sick. But if you take that idea to its logical extreme, you are left feeling horrified. We live in a world where people are living in the midst of terrible wars, famine, and crushing poverty. Did they create this with their negativity? Are we updating the mentality that a rape victim "asked for it" by her clothing and behavior with the idea that she brought the attack into her life because she believed she deserved it? An article about Oprah and "The Secret" asked how such a belief system could be promoted in light of what happened to people at Auschwitz. And it's a really, really good question. It seems like a philosophy like this stems from a deep need to feel in control, added to unacknowledged fear and selfishness. When New Age vagueness intersects with a materialistic "the world is my catalogue" ethic, we become more focused on what we want than what we have to give.

Why not flip this from a "people deserve the bad things they get" to "doing good brings good." If I am prosperous, and I really believe that a positive attitude will bring good things into my life, shouldn't I be happy to give some of what I have to others in the firm belief that the abundant universe will continue to provide for me, especially when I have shown my own generosity? Shouldn't I have compassion for people going through difficult times, because I know that when I have had hard times, other people have helped and cared for me? Maybe I should recognize everything I have as an undeserved gift, and give even to people I might not feel deserve help.

That would be a real New Age.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Losing the muffin

I bought these jeans today. Gap is giving 30% off on denim if you bring in a used pair. I think, though, that they are about 5 pounds from fitting right. My goal for the rest of March is to lose the muffin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Fitness evaluation: The good news and the bad news

This month, my gym is running a special on fitness evaluations, $35 instead of the usual $65. I guess they want to get people motivated for the whole spring break/pre-summer freak out season. I didn't need a whole lot of pushing in that direction, but it had been a while since my last fitness evaluation, and I wanted to know if I had made more progress than has shown on the scale.

There is good news and bad news.

The evaluation today was almost exactly one year since my last evaluation, not six months or so like I thought.

The good news: I have lost body fat at every "pinch" site. My cardiovascular test improved from "below average" to "above average." My flexibility went from "average" to "above average." On the modified push-up test, I went from "fair" to "excellent." My sit-up test stayed at "excellent."

The bad news: My weight is exactly the same, to the 1/2 pound, as last year at this time. I dropped 1% in body fat percentage, which means I lost just under 2 pounds of fat while putting on the same amount of muscle. Not a stunning amount of progress in a year, is it?

I will say that the other results are pretty gratifying. And, I guess I know that my body fat scale is accurate, because it gives me exactly the same results.

I didn't really care as much about the evaluation as about help formulating an action plan. I knew that my weight and body fat were not where I want them to be. It's not even that I didn't know what I needed to do (add in strength training and more cardio), but I needed help developing a weight-training program, particularly one I can do with the equipment I have at home. I used to love weight training at the gym, but my new gym is not as well-equipped as my old one and it's always crowded. I think at least for now, home strength training is the answer.

I'm going to shoot for 6 days of cardio a week, with a minimum of 5. I signed up for a Spinning class on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to round out the other stuff I do. Here's my new plan:

Monday: Yoga class and Couch to 5K workout
Tuesday: Spinning
Wednesday: Yoga/Pilates class and Couch to 5K
Thursday: Spinning and Home strength training program
Friday: Couch to 5K workout
Saturday: Pilates Reformer
Sunday: Home strength training program and Master's swim class

I will be meeting with my instructor to learn my new workout next Thursday. In the meantime, I'll muddle through the best I can with my equipment on my own. I'm also going to start posting weekly updates again to keep myself honest.

Talking with my instructor today, I realized that despite my perception that I'm working really hard only to stay the same, I have really been slacking off a little. I think this new plan has a nice mix of activities and intensities. It seems a little daunting, but I'm feeling up to the challenge.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 8: Building Confidence

I usually DVR "The Biggest Loser" and start watching about 20 minutes in, because I like to skip some of the commercials for pizza and weight loss programs. However, the DVR can only record 2 programs at a time, and inadvertently, we had 3 programmed in. Somehow TBL lost the rock-paper-scissors game and was not recorded. I missed the first 19 minutes of the show.

When I turned on the TV, Black Team and Blue Team were pulling semi trucks. Someone was also tossing crates into the back of one of the trucks. It was pretty clear that this was another challenge that would favor the Blue Team, and they were ahead of the Black Team by what looked like a small margin, but in semi-pulling terms was an insurmountable gap. Once they got to the finish line, they had to unload the crates and put together a puzzle with "pieces" printed on one side of the crates. The prize was free groceries for a year for the winning team. For a second, Black Team looked like they might catch the Blue Team because they were putting the puzzle together faster, but Blue still won, and Black seemed demoralized, because not only had they lost another challenge, but they knew they would probably continue to lose challenges.

Later in the show, though, a Black Team member said, "Earlier today, I was pulling a semi! Who would have thought I could ever do that?"

The focus of this show seemed to be to show the contestants that they were ready to go back to the real world. It was "Work Week," and the contestants had not only acquired day jobs at a downtown L.A. food pantry, including a long bus commute, but their gym now had limited hours. They would have one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening for working out, but that was it. They were experiencing a simulation of the life they faced when they went back home. The contestants quickly learned to sleep on the bus ride home (maybe not recommended if this were actual public transit) and get right into the gym even if they were tired.

I liked the food bank segments. Contestants seemed to enjoy their jobs, which ranged from sorting and arranging food to calling donors to thank them for their contributions. It seemed like a couple of people from each team had to choose various slots. There was a nice segment with Cheryl and Sherry working inventory and laughing together like Lucy and Ethel. We also got to see the contestants interacting with clients of the food bank and feeling really humbled by the realization that while they had been overeating, so many people were going hungry. I think that it also built their confidence to realize that they could help people and make a difference.

Another thing that really seemed to build their confidence was talking to one of the workers at the food bank. He was an overweight, overstressed guy with a family -- someone who reminded them of their old selves. He told them how much he loved the show and asked for tips. They offered a few, but the main thing they wanted to tell him was that he could lose the weight. I think this was the moment when a lot of them realized not only how far they had come, but how much their mindset had changed since their first days on the ranch.

Of course we had to have a Subway integration. Sam "forgot his lunch" and had no idea what to do. Luckily Stephanie remembered that she had seen a Subway restaurant nearby. If I've learned nothing else from TBL, I know that the correct order at Subway is a veggie sub on whole wheat with apples and a water. Surprisingly, they didn't end their meal with a stick of Extra Sugarfree gum.

We had a little vignette with Cheryl and Sherry where they talked about how close they felt. They were both the same age, 51, and both had overweight kids who were their partners on the show. Cheryl told Sherry that she felt ready to go home and continue losing on her own if the Black Team lost the weigh-in.

The weigh-in was fairly dramatic. We knew that it was unlikely that Black Team could win twice in a row, but at first, as some of the larger Blue Team members had low weight losses, there seemed to be some hope. I was really ready to see Lance go -- his voice and mannerisms and scraggly beard grate on my nerves -- but he pulled a 10-pound weight loss and was his team's Biggest Loser for the week, shattering the 300-pound barrier in the process. On Black Team, Ashley also got under 300 this week. The team had mostly good numbers, and if Sam had managed a 10-pound loss, Black could win again, but we could see when Sam was standing on the scale that he had already lost most of the easy pounds. He is starting to look like a bodybuilder, albeit one with a saggy belly from stretched skin. He only lost 5, so the team had to decide who to send home. My favorite Black Team member, Stephanie, had the lowest percentage, but the three young women on the team have formed an alliance and won't vote for each other. Sherry has immunity, or she might have been the one to go home. There is some talk about sending Sam home because his weight loss is starting to slow, but Sam is their only man and is a powerhouse in the challenges. I was not surprised that "Mama Cheryl" was the one who left. I think she wanted to go home and see the rest of her family. She seems happy in her "Where Are They Now" video.

At this point, I think the contestants, except maybe Michael, seem to have gotten their heads in the right place and would probably be fine if they were all sent home tomorrow. Now I'm just rooting to see my favorite people stay on the show (like Stephanie and Drea) and to see Lance sent home to his charming wife Melissa.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Two of everything

When I was a kid, I used to think it was funny that both my mom and dad used Secret antiperspirant. Sure, the slogan was "Strong enough for a man... made for a woman," but didn't that mean it was sort of womanly to use that kind? My mom insisted on unscented everything, so it wasn't like he would go around smelling like baby powder or flowers, but it still seemed funny. I think my parents didn't want to bother with two different brands of antiperspirant. My mom did all the shopping, so she got to pick the kind she wanted.

My husband and I not only use different brands of anitperspirant (mine is Dove unscented, his is Old Spice Red Zone) but different shampoos (I use Giovanni shampoo and conditioner, while he sticks to a 2-in-one dandruff shampoo) contact solution (I have gas permeable, he has soft disposables) and even toothpaste (I use Tom's of Maine, he uses Crest). We even prefer different soaps -- he prefers deodorant soap and that makes me itch, so I buy something moisturizing and unscented. Our bathroom feels incredibly cluttered with all of these different products.

Do those of you who live with a partner have this product battle of the sexes going on? Is it different when two women live together (maybe it's man-stink that is requiring all these heavy-duty products?) or are they still just as quirky? Inquiring minds want to know.

Don't forget, tonight is "The Biggest Loser." I will be back tomorrow with a recap.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Still here

Just a few updates for those who are following along at home:

Running: The foot injury seems to have gotten a lot better. I'm still going easy on the running. Today was Week 5, Day 1 of Couch to 5K for me, which meant a 5-minute warmup walk, then three 5-minute runs interspersed with 3-minute walks, and a 5-minute cooldown walk. The C25K app makes following the plan a breeze. I love it. If you've never done a 5K or you're, like me, trying to get back into running after an injury, this is a great program to try.

Health: My thyroid tests last week showed that the antibodies are even more elevated than they are before. My doctor wants me to have a thyroid ultrasound to see what things look like. I'm hoping it's nothing serious. My allergist mentioned in passing that this could be related to my allergies, so that is something that might be worth investigating. The allergies have responded well to the meds and to switching to a fragrance-free body oil instead of a lotion.

Weight: This last week I weighed in at 172, not bad but not a lot of progress. I manage to log my food pretty consistently every week until about Friday afternoon, and then things tend to go south. My goal is to log consistently every single day of next week.

Mood: The sunshine and the running have helped, but I've still been feeling a bit flat. I think that's why I haven't had much to blog about.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Now the plan is this...

I like that blog title so much I borrowed it for my post, even though I still don't know what LBTEPA stands for.

It's March 4. I am still fooling around, nominally trying to lose 20 pounds but not really doing much about it. I am logging but not really limiting my food intake. I am exercising, but probably not as much as I should be. Since I had my foot injury and then all the physical therapy, it's been hard to get back on track. Right now the schedule is something like 3 Couch to 5K runs a week, 3 yoga/Pilates classes a week, and one Sunday swim that I've been a bit spotty about. I've added in a little bit of BOSU here and there.

I made an appointment for next week for a fitness evaluation with my favorite Pilates instructor. I did one about 6 months ago with a different instructor, but then I dropped off from doing the program she recommended -- I didn't have the right equipment at home and some of it was hard to do in the gym (like walking lunges). I'm going to bring in a list of the equipment I have at home and see if this instructor can plan a routine for me that I can do with the equipment I have. I'm also curious to see if I've made any real progress since my last evaluation.

I feel like I'm missing some piece of the puzzle, and I want to do soemthing about it before, like Tiny Glow said on her blog, I have to deal with "another fat summer." OK, maybe not fat. But another summer where the thought of wearing shorts gives me fits.

I also need to see if my thyroid medications need adjusting. I just got a blood test and the doctor wants me to have a thyroid ultrasound. Between the allergies and the thyroid condition, I have 4 different prescriptions now just to live a normal (?) life. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 7: Black and Blue

I missed "The Biggest Loser" during its Olympic hiatus. The only good thing was that I got to sleep early last Tuesday night.

This week's episode of TBL was jam-packed. First, we had the unfinished business of The Dumbest Challenge Ever. When we last saw Cheryl and Darrell, they were squatting under bowls of fire holding "torch stems" on their heads to keep the flames lit. It was pretty obvious that Cheryl had the advantage -- she is shorter and Darrell has bad knees. Still, Darrell managed to hold out for 6 minutes before dropping out. He and his daughter Drea seemed pretty broken up when he left, but in his "where are they now" video, he seemed happy to be back in his real life in Ann Arbor (hey, we're practically neighbors!) and was down a total of 120 pounds from his starting weight of 413 pounds.

This was also the week that the contestants split up into Black and Blue teams. There was a Memory-type temptation challenge to determine who got to choose the teams, and also allowed that player to choose one person to have immunity. If you have been watching TBL for a while, you know that a lot of players find the power to make decisions like this very tempting. There was a huge memory board with cubbyholes covered by identical blue TBL-logo cards. Inside the cubbyholes were either food items (like candy, muffins, and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches) or two "Golden Tickets" that would allow the player to make up the teams. There was also a huge pile of chocolate-chip cookies. If the player found two matching food items, he or she got to make the other player eat that food item, and also got another chance to make a match. If the player found the two golden tickets, the game was over with that player as the winner. If the player found two non-matching items, then he or she had to eat one of the chocolate-chip cookies.

Only two players, Drea and Michael, decided to play the game. At first, of course, no one was making matches, so they were eating a lot of cookies. It was interesting how several weeks of clean eating had changed their tastes. Both Drea and Michael said that after the first few bites, the cookies tasted disgusting to them. It was obvious that Drea was better at playing the game than Michael, and she made him eat a lot of junky food. Michael got lucky, though, and found the golden tickets, and had all the power. He was then told that, since there were 13 players, that he would have to choose 6 players for each team and one player to have immunity. That odd player out would be put on whatever team had someone eliminated in the first Black vs. Blue week.

There are a couple of ways to draw up the teams. It's probable that no matter what he did, he would have made a lot of players angry. That, I think, was why many players chose to sit out the temptation -- it's just not worth having that target on your back. To minimize the damage, Michael could have divided the teams as evenly as possible and then put himself as the immune wild-card player. That would have assured him the chance to stay another week and would have also given him the best chance of keeping the other players friendly. To make even teams, he would have probably had to split up couples, like the indestructible Tongan cousins, so some people would still have been upset. Instead, though, he stacked the Blue Team with the biggest players and put himself on it: Koli, Miggy, Sunshine, Lance, and Daris were all on his team. He put Sam on the Black Team, probably to avoid having a voting block on his own team. The other team members were Stephanie, Cheryl, Drea, and Pink Team members Sherry and Ashley. O'Neal, who is a big guy but also doesn't seem like a big threat to anyone, was given immunity and was the wild card.

The thing that set me off was Michael saying he was doing this because, "for the first time in my life, I have to put myself first." I know there is a mythology of the selfless fat person, but Michael doesn't seem to fit that bill. He seems more like the guy who has never taken himself or anything else seriously, and is in deep denial that his actions have consequences. He is, of course, shocked that people think he was being unfair, when he admits in his interviews that he purposely set things up to make it easier for himself.

Jillian, of course, had a fit when she saw that yet again, her team was stacked with the smaller players and was mostly women. Every season she seems shocked that people competing for a huge cash prize don't play fair when given the chance to make choices. But to me, the two teams did not seem as unevenly matched as everyone thought. Stephanie is small but she kicks butt week after week. Cheryl is quiet and no-drama and also works hard. Drea is still pretty big and very motivated. Sam is a total stud -- he is the stronger of the cousins in challenges and even though he doesn't look like a fat guy anymore, still has some weight to lose. The former Pink Team has plenty of weight to lose and hasn't been trying very hard so far. Jillian's "We Are the Underdogs" routine might have been exactly what it took to light a fire under them. Blue Team, on the other hand, was stacked with big guys who don't ever seem to make the percentages that they should be able to in weigh-ins. Michael and Daris especially have not been very motivated this season -- they are both huge and should be able to pull big numbers. Yes, Michael is on track to set a weigh-in record, but he's also the biggest player ever to be on the show by almost one hundred pounds, so he should be! Lance is good in challenges but also has a serious lazy streak, and Koli seems to have a major confidence problem. Sunshine and Miggy, who are probably percieved to be the weakest players on the new Blue Team because they're women, are probably the most motivated ones.

Somewhere in here, there was a segment with Dr. H. and his new "Know Your Number" system with two of the players, Ashley and Sam. They have both improved their "Inner Age," but I think it's because both of them were heavy drinkers and smokers and TBL forces them to quit when they get on the show. I wasn't all that impressed with this segment.

There is a challenge where, to play into Jillian's narrative, the Black Team is at a huge disadvantage, because they are basically playing tug-of-war with a huge banner, hauling it up to the top of a building. It is set up to favor upper-body strength, and those huge guys can also just lean back into the ropes to pull up the banner. The Black Team misses out on letters from home, but Sam says, "We're here to lose weight, not to get letters. If you want letters, go work for the post office." That was the moment when I was sure the Black Team would win the weigh-in.

There was plenty of foreshadowing during the weigh-in to show that the Blue Team had been overconfident and that the Black Team could really catch them. Michael pulled a huge number and set his record, but the rest of the men on the Blue Team disappointed, and didn't even get 2% losses. Miggy had a low number, but I think she lost a higher percentage than Lance or Daris. Lance's percentage was the lowest by far. When the Black Team weighs in, most of their numbers are solid. It comes down to Ashley, who has to lose at least 8 pounds to catch the Blue Team. She hits a whopping 10-pound loss, so the Black Team wins the weigh-in, to the shock of the Blue Team. When you look at the numbers, though, both the percentage lost and the total weight lost were pretty close, so the Blue Team was not as much heavier than the Black Team as it seemed. Michael keeps crying and saying "it shouldn't have been us." He has immunity, so he knows he won't go home, but he seemed shocked that his sure-fire strategy failed him.

The elimination comes down to gameplay -- Lance has lost the least, but he's a strong competitor in challenges. Since Miggy's raw number is the lowest -- and since Michael is the only one who seems close to her -- she is sent home. She seems philosphical about it, and in her "Where are they Now" video, we learn that she is doing well and has started meditating to relieve the stress that she believed was sabotaging her weight loss.

O'Neal is now a member of the Blue Team with Sunshine. Next week promisess to be another exciting episode. Who needs the Olympics when you have Olympic weight loss?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Lusting after a Wii Fit

I have to admit, I was really skeptical of the whole Wii Fit as fitness thing. I thought it was a silly gimmick and not likely to be a really serious workout. I had tried the regular Wii and my brother-in-law's discovery of how to "cheat" in baseball by just flicking his wrist, rather than simulating an actual batting motion, only confirmed that belief.

I played with a friend's Wii Fit this weekend, though, and I am still sore two days later. I think it would be fun to have one of these as an addition to my in-home gym, which currently includes a BOSU, a few kettlebells, a couple of resistance bands, and lots and lots of videos, yoga mats and props, and a set of 3-pound dumbbells. Given the infrequency with which I use any of this stuff, though, and the high cost of getting everything I need for a Wii Fit (game console, extra controllers, Wii balance board, games), I'm thinking that it's silly to add another dusty item to the pile. I wonder if I'd be better off just using my existing equipment and gym memberships more. On the other hand, the games seemed fun, and might motivate me to get off my butt more often. My husband and I have been spending too much time watching TV and faffing around on our computers and iPhones, and the lure of this to me is that we might actually do this in the evenings instead of sitting around.

Wii Fitters out there, I want to hear from you! Do you use yours a lot? Does it seem to have made a difference in your fitness level? Or is it just another thing you bought that you don't use?
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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