Friday, April 30, 2010

30 in 30 Challenge: Days 11 & 12

Sorry for not posting yesterday.

I was feeling very tired and lethargic yesterday. I had done some cleaning for about an hour, but none of it was strenuous. I didn't feel like it really "counted." Luckily, my husband needed to measure out a course for a 5K race we're helping with, so I walked with him and chalked it. It's a looped course, 3 loops around plus a little extra loop, so we ended up walking about 1.5 miles. I am sure it was at least 30 minutes of walking, bending, chalking. If not, I think I got enough activity between that and my housework to feel OK counting it as a 30 in 30 day.

Today I did Day 3 of Week 1 (I am stretching this program out a bit because I only ran 2 days last week) of the "Bridge to 10K Program." It was 40 minutes of running and about 15-20 minutes of walking. I was very tired after the last time I did this workout, but today I slowed down a lot and felt better. I also got some walking in when I visited a friend in Ann Arbor and went to lunch. With graduation weekend, I had to park pretty far from our meeting place.

Today I bought a new trisuit and got my new bike handlebars installed. I tried the bike out and talked to the bike shop person. He kept saying I would feel even better once I "built more flexibility." I finally said, "I think I'm pretty flexible, but my belly feels like it is getting in my way." He finally admitted that trimming down is part of what he meant, and that he has this problem too in the spring after a winter of not riding as much. He looked really sheepish when he said this -- but for some reason I found it kind of funny and not at all offensive, especially since he had tried so hard not to say it.

I'm really hoping that if I ride more, I will "build more flexibility." That kind of flexibility would also make me feel a little better in my trisuit, which is more flattering than the old one but would look better if I were a little more "flexible."

How are you all doing? Feeling flexible?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

30 in 30 Day 10: April 29

Hey, we've hit double digits!

I have been feeling tired-but-wired all week and decided to give myself a little break. I just walked 30 minutes today in the cool sunshiny morning. It was nice.

Am wondering if this yucky feeling is the result of bumping up the dosage of my allergy meds. May experiment to see if dialing back down will help...

Hope you're feeling better -- would love to hear what you did today.

The Biggest Loser Week 15: Taking it to the Streets

This week on "The Biggest Loser," contestants are told that they are headed to the fattest state in the U.S. to help inspire "some of the biggest people in the country." The show uses that phrase over and over again, but never seems to make the connection that if Texans are the fattest people in the U.S., and the U.S. is the fattest country in the world, then Texans are the fattest people in the world.

I was just happy to hear that the fattest state wasn't Ohio, though I doubt we are far behind.

Contestants go in teams to Texas radio stations to talk about their experiences on the show and to recruit participants for a Biggest Loser 5K run/walk. The Gray Team, the Yellow Team, and the Leftover Team of Daris, Michael, and Ashely, all recruit people for the event. Of course, since it's TBL, everyone who particpates has a shirt that matches one of the teams' colors, though I'm not sure how they decided who got what color shirt. Contestants have some time with their teams to psych them up for the 5K, and then the race starts.

Each contestant has a different strategy on how to approach the race. Ashley walks and runs with a group of people in pink shirts, talking about how she never thought she could do something like this and that they could do it too. I don't know if it was my imagination, but it looked like some of the people she was with, especially those who were thinner than her, were getting tired of her advice by the end of it. Michael seemed to be jogging/racewalking, and he had his own groupies. Koli ran up and down the course, walking and visiting with people along the way. He probably did much more than a 5K. Daris decides to race it to see how fast he can do a 5K. We learn he has done the distance in an incredible 21:40 on a treadmill, but has never tried to run one outside. For a guy over 200 pounds, 7-minute miles is lightning speed. He smashes his record and finishes just a few seconds over 21 flat, which means he did 6-something minute miles the entire way. (I race at 10-11 minutes per mile, just for reference. Daris could almost finish two 5Ks in the time it would take me to do one). I was really impressed with him. Sunshine seems to have also run her own race, then turned around to find her dad, O'Neal, who was way in back with some of the slower walkers, smiling through his knee pain. O'Neal's group finishes in about 1 hour, 12 minutes, and then everyone realizes that there are two people still out on the course. Koli and Sam run back to find them (luckily with camera crews and walkie-talkies, they know exactly where they are) and finish the race practically carrying C.J., whose 20-something daughter had been staying with her and trying to keep her from quitting. At the end, C.J., who looks to be in her early 40s, crossed the finish line in just over 2 hours and said, "I can't even walk in the Wal-Mart, I have to take a scooter, and I just finished a 5K." There was not a dry eye in the place -- even big, tough Sam wipes tears from his eyes. We learn that C.J. in her daughter have started working out every day and have each lost about 10 pounds since the episode aired.

I know the show has lots of faults, but it does seem to make a real difference in people's lives. I am struck, when we see old footage of Daris and O'Neal, not just by the physical changes but by the changes in how confident they look. In some of the earlier seasons, I don't think this always happened -- people figured out ways to game the system and then, when they got back to the real world, regained a lot of the weight. In recent seasons, I think the trainers have figured out how to use physical challenges and "head work" to prepare people for the reality of life after weight loss. It has become a cliché on the show that if you don't figure out why you gained the weight in the first place and address those issues, that you will just gain the weight back.

I've been there, done that, and am still trying to make that connection. I think I need a one-on-one with Jillian. If she didn't kill me, maybe she could help me figure out how to take off and keep off the last 20-30 pounds.

Bob goes to a health club and leads people through a modified Last Chance Workout. I don't see any life-changing stuff going on there, because the people involved were already at the gym, but they seemed excited to work out with him.

Jillian goes with one of the contestants from last season, the woman who had lost her whole family in a car accident, to a high school to talk to the kids about health and weight. I was struck by Jillian's choice to wear 6-inch stillettos to speak to a high-school assembly. At first it's the same boring stuff: Kids spend x amount of time with technology instead of playing outside, this generation may not live as long as their parents, being overweight is unhealthy. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. This stuff didn't seem like it would really motivate high school kids or anyone else.

Then Jillian started taking questions from the crowd, and one girl talked about how she was told she'd never be thin, never be happy, never get to do the things she wanted to do. That really struck me. Sure, some of the other kids, the ones who picked on her already, probably laughed at her even more. But if this girl already believed she was worthless and doomed to unhappiness, what difference would that make? Jillian asked her to "give me one good reason why you can't have the things you want," and the girl just started repeating that this was what she had learned. Jillian spends some time with her trying to convince her that she doesn't have to helplessly accept what other people tell her about herself.

I think a lot of the emphasis of The Biggest Loser is to shift people from victim thinking to empowered thinking. I know that it might sound a little hokey to say this about a reality TV show which, after all, is primarily about making money for NBC. But this does seem to be the emphasis of the last few seasons: Working on building a new identity for the contestants by challenging their scripts of who they are allowed to be and what they are allowed to accomplish. It seems like a lot of the contestants' crisis moments come when they start to succeed, because they are afraid of losing the identity they had as "the funny fat guy" or "the best friend who won't get the guys" and are moving into dangerous territory. This week, Daris starts to have a tough time because he starts to focus on the "unfairness" of two teams still being intact and working and voting as a block. Jillian pulls his focus back to the things that he is in control of. "What is the primary goal here?" Daris might not be able to control the "game" of the show, but he is in control of his workouts, his food, and can ultimately succeed no matter what happens in the game.

After all of this drama, we have the usual elements of a Last Chance Workout (this time on the road in a pretty nice hotel gym) and a weigh-in (dramatically held outdoors in front of some big sports arena). This week, both members of the Yellow Team were out of town for a funeral during the Last Chance Workout, and not surprisingly, both end up below the dreaded Yellow Line. O'Neal, who has made a lot of friends on the show and has earned everyone's respect, asks to be sent home so his daughter Sunshine can continue, and the other contestants honor his wishes.

I liked O'Neal's "Where Are They Now" video, because they focused on all the things that he used to have trouble doing that he is now able to do. O'Neal is still an old guy, still overweight, but he can now put on and tie his own shoes with ease. He can be effective at his job in a way he couldn't before. He can get on his motorcycle and his wife can put her arms around him when she rides behind. I liked that they focused on this, because too many people believe that if you're not movie-star beautiful or didn't make it all the way to goal, you didn't succeed. O'Neal is a good role model for focusing on the positive changes.

Gray Team is the only intact team still left, and every week is potentially the week that Sam will get sent home. We found out in this episode that the remaining singles were starting to band together against the teams, so if it is Sam or one of the singles, Sam could definitely be the one sent home. The one person I see as potentially vulnerable against him is Ashley. She has voted against friends when they came up against Sam (Stephanie, Drea), so I don't think anyone would feel bad about sending her home. Still, though, I think that each of the individuals has to realize that a two-person voting block is too much of a threat to keep around at this point.

I really like everyone left, though, and the only question to me is who will win the big prize. My husband thinks Daris is going to win it all, but I'm still rooting for Sunshine.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

30 in 30 Day 9: April 27

I did my "Bridge to 10K" workout as planned: 40 minutes of running in total, with walking intervals mixed in. I'm feeling very tired this week and am just hoping to get through class tonight so I can get some rest. Thursday my car has to go in to the shop. It's stalling randomly. I feel like this was the one more thing I didn't need to deal with.

I cancelled my Pilates/Yoga class tomorrow because I have lots of work to do and I don't need the hour roundtrip drive to the studio. I'm going to do something at home, probably a yoga video or a strength workout. If the weather's nice, I may walk outside instead. I just need something quick to get my minimum minutes in and help me keep my head on straight.

Monday, April 26, 2010

30 in 30 Day 8: April 26

Today I kept my workout simple and restorative: I did a 45-minute yoga class. I had another busy weekend and my energy level is low. I had a great hour-long swim last night, and I feel comfortable with the idea of taking an easier day today. I am putting off my next "Bridge to 10K" workout until tomorrow, but at least I got my minimum of activity in.

For those of you who aren't able to do something every day, are you making it too hard on yourselves? Can you find 30 minutes to do something active, even if it isn't a "workout," to get your minutes in?

I personally don't believe that every workout has to increase your heartrate to X% of your maximum and leave you soaked in sweat. I love those kinds of workouts, but sometimes I like to take it a little easier on myself and give myself time to recover. I'm trying to build a lifetime habit here.

I'm also trying to remind myself that no matter how busy I feel, I need some time for myself and my own health. Hopefully that is something that resonates with you, too.

Review: Switch

I just finished "reading" Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard as an audiobook, and was blown away by the simple and powerful model of successful change. The authors use a really "sticky" image of a man riding an elephant as a metaphor for the forces that have to be managed in order for a person to make a change. The rider is our rational mind, the part of us that responds well to reason. The elephant is our emotional side, the part of us that is driven by impulses and emotion.

Of course, I can think of lots of ways that the model applies in business, but as a weight-loss blogger, I thought even more of how this model explains why weight loss is so difficult. I am especially thinking of this in relation to a weight-loss website I tried out recently.

The focus of this website is all about education: If we knew what to do, we'd lose weight. So they send out all of these informational and educational emails... what a serving size of each food group is, what kinds of substitutions to make for high-fat products, how much exercise to do. My rider is feeling a little annoyed by all of this information: I know all this, but what am I supposed to do about it? I can't control this stupid elephant!

According to the Heath brothers, willpower is a limited and exhaustible resource. Change can happen on pure willpower for a while, but when we're tired or emotional, we tend to "forget" all of our good intentions. Our elephant wins out over the smaller, weaker rider.

I don't need more lowfat recipes, I have thousands of cookbooks full. What I need, and what a lot of us need, is a way to get our elephants on board with this change. How do we motivate ourselves to make the change we want? And how do we keep that motivation going when we're tired, bored, angry, hungry, hurt, sad...

Besides the elephant and the rider, the authors ask us to look at the path they are on: Is it set up for success? Can we find ways to make the environment more friendly to the change we are trying to create? Can we build new healthy habits that take the place of our old unhealthy ones? Can we find ways to become part of a "herd" of other motivated people?

At first with the new website, I was highly motivated by the "herd" of other people trying to make similar changes. But the group participation sort of fizzled out and I realized I was posting a lot but not a lot of other people were, and I started to feel silly. I stopped posting, and stopped visiting the site. I still get the educational emails, but I don't even open them most of the time.

My favorite tip from the book was to "Avoid the Fundamental Attribution Error." That means that instead of blaming the person who has not successfully made the change (yet) as someone who is incapable or unwilling to change, we should focus on reshaping the situation to make success more likely.

One of the reasons I set up my "30 in 30" Challenge was to try to create an environment for success for myself and the other readers of this blog. I focused on one critical move: Get more activity. I made it more concrete and do-able by focusing in on one specific goal: Thirty minutes of activity a day for thirty days. I tried to shrink the change by defining it in terms that I thought could be fit into most people's schedule: Something more active than your typical daily activity, which could be something like running or just an intensive 30-minute housecleaning session. I figured that by doing it for 30 days, we could all build a new habit that would make it easier to continue on a more active path. So far it has really helped me to have a new "herd" working on this with me.

I highly recommend this book and would not be surprised to see a special weight-loss-oriented Switch book in next January's new releases, but I don't see any reason that a creative person couldn't figure out how to apply the concepts that are here to weight loss or any other personal change project. The authors also cite Brian Wansink's studies on mindless eating as an example of how people can make changes just by reshaping their environments, which makes me want to revisit his site for some ideas on what to do next.

One of the cool things is that once you've read the book, there are some great free resources available for download to help reinforce the lessons of the book. That's nice for audiobook "readers" like me. There are a few podcasts which might make good workout fodder... I plan to download them soon.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

30 in 30 Challenge: Day 7

Wow! We are at the end of our first week of the 30 in 30 challenge. I know that there have been days when I thought about bagging my workout completely, but made sure to get at least 30 minutes in just so I could keep my streak going.

Today was one of those days, actually. I got up super early to watch some friends and family members do their first 5K race. There was a lot of walking and standing around, but I'm not sure how much actual activity I would count. I was so tempted to skip master's swim tonight because I was tired... but I knew that I had to get my 30 minutes in, so I took a little rest break (not an actual nap, but spent some quality time with my iPhone playing this addictive little game in bed) and then went to practice. It was a tough one, but it felt good.

Tomorrow I have yoga in the morning and would also like to do a "Bridge to 10K" workout in the evening. How was your first week? Don't forget, there is a prize at stake. I will select one winner at random from all the 30 in 30 comments.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

30 in 30, Day 6

Yesterday I rode for 95 minutes on my new bike. Today was Pilates Reformer (1 hour), some light strength and stretching work (10 minutes), and some focused housework (1 hour). Tomorrow is swimming, and I will also be cheering on some people at a big local race.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 23, 2010

20 years as a runner

Someone asked me the other day how long I had been running, and I realized with a shock that it has been 20 years since the first time I went out for a 5-minute run. Yikes! I still think of myself as a "beginner" at something I have been doing on and off for 20 years. I think that I feel like my pace makes me a beginner, but really, I'm not.

I just recently finished the "Couch to 5K" program as a way to recover from a running injury, and I was thinking about trying to find a 5K race to do. I had one planned, but decided to help out at the race instead of running it. I researched some other races and none of them really excited me. I'm really running now for the runs themselves, and not as training for a race. I may do the "Race for the Cure" this year, just because it's such a great event, but I'm more into the fun of participating these days than the whole competition thing. If I go from being an 11-minute-mile runner to being a 10-minute-mile runner, or even a 9-minute-mile runner, who besides me would really care? Do I even really care?

I still plan to do some triathlons this summer, just because they're so much fun. But I am not all that worried about my time this year, I just want to enjoy myself. This will be my eighth year doing triathlons, and I have participated in at least one short race every year since I started, sometimes two. I'm not a beginner at that either, but Iam and will always be a solid middle-of-the-packer, just like with running. I think that it's really fine with me. When I focus too much on time goals, I am just disappointed with myself instead of being happy that I'm doing something that is fun and athletic and motivating. What's the fun in that?

My husband is really into his running times and that's OK too, but my hero is a guy who belonged to the same triathlon club I used to train with who did the backstroke when he swam in races. The backstroke is not a speedy stroke. I asked him why he did that, and he said that he thought it was more fun that way.

Yeah, fun. Remember that?

When I trained for my first triathlon, I had no thoughts about time. I was just hoping I could do it and finish alive. Finishing that race is one of the few times I've felt pure joy and nothing else. Once I saw the results, all of these competitive thoughts crept in about how I could finish faster, do better. I trained really hard. At one point I even spent $300 on a wetsuit because I thought it could make me faster. I hated swimming in it. It was really tight and hard to get on. I felt like I couldn't breathe or move in it. Finally I got rid of the stupid thing after having it in my closet for years. Sure, $300 down the drain. But it's gone and not stinking up my closet anymore.

I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to want to improve. I'm just trying to find a way to work on it without making every race a test of how worthy I am to call myself a runner or a triathlete. In the same way, I want to work on losing weight without feeling like there's something terrible about being where I am now.

Not sure how to do it, but I would like to have my beginner's mind back. The one that said, "I'm really doing this, how fun!" instead of "Other people are doing it faster."

By the way, I'm not the first person to have pondered this problem.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 14: More Gameplay

You may have thought, like I did, that with Melissa gone, most of the games would be over. However, just like the infamous Ron and Mike team, there are two teams still playing where one player sees himself as the support person for the other player. O'Neal, for example, sees his reason for being on the ranch as support for Sunshine. He has, however, made some major strides physically. His knees were so bad when he got to the ranch that he needed help walking up the stairs to the big fake scale on weigh-in days. By strengthening his core and using his abdominal muscles to support more of his weight, he seems to have no problem with stairs now. And then there is Sam, who can't win because he doesn't have enough weight left to lose. Every single week he is in danger of going below the yellow line, because losing that last 20 pounds doesn't give him the big numbers he needs to compete with the other players. He is there as support for Koli, and Koli will do anything to keep him on the ranch.

Even eat 4,000 calories in one day on a weight loss show.

The temptation this week was a big one: Contestants had to eat every meal in a room filled with food. One side of the room had the usual healthy foods that the contestants eat. The other side had temptation foods. At breakfast, contestants faced down donuts, pastries, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy... Because the contestants were probably polled on what their favorite foods were before getting on the show, producers knew what they really liked. At lunch it was burgers and fries, chicken wings, cookies... Dinner was pizza and taquitos and more cookies... Contestants were in the room alone and the cameras were there to record exactly what they ate. They could choose to eat their normal healthy diets, or could choose to splurge. The contestant who ate the most calories for the week would have the only vote in elimination, unless that player is below the yellow line, in which case the elimination will be done the usual way.

Sam tells the camera that if no one plays the game, he will win, because he has the highest calorie allowance at around 1,800 calories. That floored me: I am shooting for around 1,800 calories myself, and I'm not a big, muscular guy like Sam, working out for hours a day. I am not sure how he does it while I struggle: Maybe it's the controlled environment, and the motivation of winning. It doesn't surprise me that the other players have a lower calorie count, since they have more body fat in reserve. Jillian often said on her podcasts that people with more to lose can handle having less calories, because their bodies are eager to use stored fat for fuel.

Of course, a few of the contestants eat some of the temptation food. Ashley has a taquito and says it's "totally not worth it," even though it's only 70 calories. Victoria has a chicken wing. O'Neal eats two burgers without their buns and toys with eating fries and cookies -- but doesn't. And Koli forces himself to gorge every meal, looking sickened but determined to keep Sam on the show. He is gassy and uncomfortable as he tries to work off the extra calories in a late night session with Sam in the gym. I started to wonder if the stress, the extra calories, and the diminished ability to work out would end up hurting Koli in the weigh-in. Jillian is so mad at Koli that her head looks like it's going to explode. She thinks he's being codependent and that Sam would be fine on his own at home.

We have a mind-blowing challenge to interrupt the drama: Contestants are given a big pile of wooden 4x4s to build up to a TV-tower-type structure, which they then need to climb to get up to a flag. It is a really scary-looking challenge. The first one to the top wins a 1-pound advantage, and the contestant in last place gets a 1-pound disadvantage. I would have had a hard time knowing where to start. Michael has worked construction before so he thinks he has an edge, but he over-engineers his structure. He jokes, "I thought I'd put a railing on it, and maybe a nice chandelier..." The other players mostly do boxlike structures, and Sam, as usual, quickly takes the lead. But he tries to make the jump to the tower to early and almost kicks down his structure. He has to climb down and add another layer. Daris, who has never won a challenge before, manages to get ahead and win it. Sunshine, who had an unusual stairstep approach to the challenge, also does well. Unfortunately, just as she is coming down from getting her flag, O'Neal takes a bad fall, lands on his knee, and is in terrible pain. He is rushed off to the hospital, but seems to recover fairly quickly. Still, there is some concern that because he can't work out as hard as everyone else, he will be in danger of elimination. During this time we also see that Vickie, who entered the game late, is just not able to keep up with everyone else. The camera catches her leaning on the treadmill instead of walking on it a few times. We are given the impression that she is slacking a little.

The weigh-in was a nailbiter as always. Koli and Sam both did fine, no gameplay was needed. Sunshine, however, is under the yellow line for the very first time. So does Victoria. Because Koli has the only vote, he can decide to eliminate Sunshine, who is a strong threat to win, or Victoria, who he thinks has been taking it too easy. He has always said he likes strong competition, and he continues to live up to that by keeping Sunshine and sending Vickie home. Luckily, Vicky has her mom at home for support, and she looks fantastic in her follow-up video. Her mom, who has never spent one night at the ranch, looks amazing too.

It's really heating up! I feel like Daris, Sunshine, and Koli are all shoo-ins for the final four, but I'm not sure who #4 will be...

30 in 30 Day 4: April 22

I am going out as soon as I finish this post to do my Day 2 of "Bridge to 10K." It's a beautiful day for a run here and I'm ready to get into running clothes.

I weighed in today and was up 0.2 from last week. Hopefully this challenge will get us all moving in the right direction.

Later tonight I will be back with a Biggest Loser review. I want to get the run in while I'm still feeling motivated.

Tomorrow is Friday, one of my favorite days in the week. I think I might get my bike out for its third ride. Next Friday I am taking it back to the bike shop to get the narrower handlebars installed. (How is my butt so big if my shoulders are this narrow?) That should make a huge difference in comfort for me. Until then, I'm keeping my rides around 1 hour or less, because the width of my handlebars makes my shoulder roll forward and puts stress on it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ticket for BlogHer is sold (see comments)

I purchased mine at the early bird rate but decided not to attend this year. Will sell for face value, PayPal only. Email me if interested.

Shauna has one to sell (if she hasn't sold it already). There's also a BlogHer ticket swap page.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

30 in 30 Day 3: April 21

Today is John Muir's birthday, according to my Sierra Club calendar, so it would have been nice to do my 30 minutes outdoors. I did a yoga/Pilates class, then fiddled around trying to find the perfect cheap flight and hotel room in Washington D.C. for more than an hour, and then had to rush to work. It is beautiful out there so I hope some of you are able to do workouts outdoors.

One of the big ideas behind this challenge was to throw out the idea of the "perfect" workout and just get those 30 minutes in. Hope you're enjoying it so far.

Tomorrow will be another Bridge to 10K day, and I will have to do my workout early to get it in.

Work is interfering with my workout daydreams: long bike rides, garden rehab, monster decluttering sessions... I will really be glad when school is out!

30 in 30 Day 2 (late)

Yesterday was going to be a busy day, so I got out early and did my Bridge to 10K workout (4 runs of 10 minutes, with walk intervals between, plus warmup and cooldown. Today will be a Pilates/yoga class.

Great updates so far, everyone. Let's keep it up!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 19, 2010

30 in 30 Challenge: More details and update

Here are the details of the 30 in 30 Challenge:

At least 30 minutes of activity, every day. I believe that daily activity is the thing that keeps me most grounded -- when I let that slide, everything else goes by the wayside. When I am staying active, I also naturally do other things that keep me feeling good.

I think that as a species we evolved to be active and that a lot of our modern health problems are a result of too much butt time. I don't think that the 30 minutes has to be heart-pumping, "in-the-zone" training every day, though.

SO, if you want to participate, here are the details:

  1. Get 30 minutes of sustained activity, either all in one session or in 2 sessions of 15 minutes each, every day of the challenge. If you do more, great, but this challenge does not allow you to "bank" or "make up" exercise. This challenge is about daily activity. Just consider anything extra as a bonus for your body.
  2. Come here and post to tell us what you did so we can cheer you on.
  3. You will get one entry into a drawing for a $15 iTunes gift certificate for every day that you check in.
  4. On Day 31, I will randomly choose from all the entries and announce a winner.
What can 30 days of activity really accomplish?
  • If I walked for 30 minutes every day of the challenge, I would burn 2,850 calories.
  • If I did a 30-minute yoga video every day, I would be very relaxed and would burn 1,860 calories.
  • If I biked at 10 m.p.h. (slow pace), I would burn 6,210 calories.
  • If I spent the time cleaning my house, I would have a much cleaner house and I'd burn 2,490 calories.
  • If I spent the time gardening, I'd have a beautiful garden and I'd burn 3,720 calories.
  • If I spent the time playing golf and pulling my clubs behind me, I'd burn 4,080 calories and swear a whole lot.
  • If I spent the time swimming slow laps, I would burn 8,670 calories!
You get the idea. Besides the calorie burn, you will feel better, be less stressed out, and have more energy. When I work out every day, I also sleep better.

Today I did my planned yoga class and also got some bonus activity. It was a nice day so I went for a short walk and also did some of that strength training I've been putting off. Tomorrow's plan: I just downloaded the Bridge to 10K app, since I have completed Couch to 5K. I plan to start with the first day's workout tomorrow.

What did you do today? What are you going to do tomorrow?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

30 in 30 challenge starts tomorrow

I posted about this yesterday: To participate, just agree to do 30 minutes of activity for the next 30 days. It can be all in one session or divided up. You can only count 30 minutes for each day -- if you exercise for an hour one day, great, but it only counts for the day you do it.

Check in and let me know how you are doing. I am going to rustle up some kind of prize to give out at the end...

My plan for tomorrow: Yoga. The class is 45 minutes, but there is about a 10-minute relaxation at the end.

You could garden, go for a walk, play tag with your kids, stretch while watching your favorite TV shoe, vacuum every room in your house... The idea here is that we can all carve out 30 minutes for activity each day, no matter how busy we feel.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What a week!

I started this week already a little bit behind by not getting enough work done over the weekend. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were jam-packed with classes, meetings, and stuffing grading into every tiny free minute. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was at work more than 11 hours a day. Plus I wasn't sleeping right. By Wednesday night I was so tired I felt like someone had punched me in the face. My sinuses hurt and all I wanted was a real, good night's sleep. Luckily a bunch of my Thursday meetings got cancelled, and I was able to catch up on things a little, because Thursday night was the rehearsal dinner for my sister's wedding, and Friday was the main event. I don't tend to drink much most of the time, maybe a glass of wine or two, but last night I had 6 or 7 drinks, even if they were spread out over enough hours that I never felt tipsy. I don't think that vodka, at least the kind they were serving at the reception, agrees with me. How do some people drink every weekend?

When my life gets like this, everything tends to go by the wayside. First, I skip workouts here and there because I don't have enough time or energy. Then, I stop logging my food. Then, when I'm not being conscious about my food, I tend to slip back into the four food groups of Salty, Starchy, Sugary, and Fatty. I'm feeling really horrible right now, and I think that the snowball effect of letting everything go is the primary problem. If I had stayed up late and had too much to drink but hadn't eaten a lot of junky food, would I feel this bad? What if I had managed to stay on my exercise schedule? Maybe if I was exercising more I would have slept better?

I can tell you one blogger who is going to bed early tonight.

Starting tomorrow morning, everything I eat goes into LoseIt! for the next 30 days. No excuses.

I am also going to start a 30-in-30 challenge. For the next 30 days, I will get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. No excuses.

You can join me, if you'd like. What counts as exercise? Anything that gets you moving more than you normally would for at least 30 minutes. Since most of us get lots of screen time in, that could even be a heavy-duty housecleaning session or gardening. Playing actively with your kids could count, but not standing and watching them play while you chat with their friends' moms. It's really up to you -- you know whether you think something is exercise or not.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 13: Fat = Money?

This episode started with a very weird "pop challenge" where the contestants were tortured to win a relatively small amount of money. Each player had a round wooden tray on a high hinge and a goldfish bowl full of quarters. Players could stack as many quarters on the tray as they wanted, but they had to be the one to hold the tray up the longest to win. Each quarter would be swapped out (by Total cereal) for a $10 bill. Some of the contestants immediately started loading up their trays with quarters, but Sunshine had an unusual strategy: She didn't put much money on her tray, figuring she could hold it up longer if it had less money on it. She wanted to win, it seemed, more for the mental advantage that winning would give her than for the money. The difficulty of the challenge came from the stress on the shoulder from holding up a relatively high tray for almost an hour. It seemed no coincidence to me that the two players who won, Michael and Sunshine, were both tall. The sad part was that, although contestants could theoretically win $10,000 in this challenge, Michael won $1000 and Sunshine won $650. Total cereal got a fairly cheap ad for this one. (The contestants were supposedly interrupted while eating breakfast to participate in the challenge, and guess what they were eating?)

Why were contestants willing to put up with all this pain just to win a few hundred bucks? Apparently, they are all broke and deeply in debt. Terrifying financial guru Suze Orman, with her weird "I'm going to bite you with my freakishly white teeth" double-row smile and bizarre habit of Enunciating. Every. Single. Word. visited the contestants to tell them that she could predict their future by looking at their FICO scores. She apparently got it right last year when she predicted Danny C. would win. I'm not convinced, and neither is Ali Vincent. I agree that if your money is a mess, it's probably a reflection of other problems, but I think that Suze just got lucky last year. Even Ms. Orman herself backed off from her original prediction that Koli was going to win based on his FICO score when she learned he didn't count calories, and switched her pick to Sunshine.

Sunshine would also be my pick to win it all, though I think Koli could also make it to the final four. I am not as sure about Sam -- he is a super-stud and seems invincible, but he doesn't have much weight left to lose, and some of the other contestants are just getting started.

Contestants were sure to look thrilled at their chance to talk to a real, Oprah-approved financial expert, but their excitement seemed more genuine when Danny C. showed up to talk about his struggles with weight and debt.

After this segment, there was a much more exciting challenge. Contestants competed to win 2 very cute 2010 Mazda 3s. Participants had to run around in the rain to chase giant balloons with keys attached to the string, grab a key, and try it in both cars to see if the key would start the car. It was a long, wet, cold challenge, but eventually Drea and O'Neil won, though O'Neil said that he wanted to win the car for his daughter, Sunshine. I think that the moment he handed the keys to her was one of the sweetest moments I have ever seen on this show. I'm a big fan of both of them.

The rain continued as the contestants worked out in the gym, Danny C. working out with the contestants and reliving old times. Jillian decided that it was Victoria's week to have a breakthrough, and made her run sprints over and over again. Because Victoria joined the show late, she's still way behind the rest of the contestants both in fitness and in her level of awareness of the issues that got her to the point where going on this show seemed like a great opportunity. When Jillian successfully proves to Victoria that she can do more than she thinks she can by making her run 30 sprints in a row, instead of being proud of herself, the normally-smiling Victoria is furious with Jillian. Bob takes the other contestants outside to work in the rain and the mud while Jillian has a heart-to-heart talk and boxing session with Victoria, who realizes that she never felt like she deserved her parents love ("they deserved a beautiful child") or anyone else's. While the contestants were outside with Bob, they rebelled and dragged him through the mud. Bob is a fairly good sport about it and sics the raging crowd on the obviously terrified Jillian just as she and Victoria are coming out to join the group. After running back into the gym to tear off her fancy ski jacket, she realizes that resistance is futile lets them drag her through the mud, off-white Uggs and all. Then, of course, we have the Last Chance Workout revenge session.

This week's weigh-in was really dramatic. Sunshine weighs in first, and I think she will have a great week as usual. Instead, she has a loss low enough that she spends the rest of the weigh-in fighting off tears, afraid she will be sent home. Everyone knows she's a threat to win it all. Most of the contestants have great weeks, and she feels more and more hopeless as the weigh-ins go on. Then Drea weighs in with an even lower percentage, and it looks like it will be Sunshine and Drea. That would be bad for Sunshine, because Drea has been around longer and has more alliances. I think it was interesting that both women who won cars had crummy weigh-ins. Sam weighs in last and has lost nothing. It's not surprising, because other than some loose skin, Sam looks like he has nothing left to lose. Sam is a huge favorite with everyone on the ranch, so Drea gets to take her shiny new car and go back to Ann Arbor to a huge crowd of family and friends.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lose It! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Apr 5th

LoseIt! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Apr 5th

Daily Summary

Budget Food Exercise Net +/- Weight (lbs)
4/5/10 1,213 1,414 190 1,225 12 175.8
4/6/10 1,202 2,045 373 1,672 470 174.2
4/7/10 1,202 1,366 124 1,242 40 174.2
4/8/10 1,198 2,261 0 2,261 1,062 173.6
4/9/10 1,203 2,429 0 2,429 1,225 174.4
4/10/10 1,203 2,571 914 1,657 454 174.4
4/11/10 1,203 2,585 415 2,169 966 174.4

4,229 calories over budget for the week

Lost 1.4 pounds this week
Nutrient Summary % Calories
Fat 629g 38.1%
Saturated Fat 217g
Protein 588g 15.8%
Carbohydrates 1,717g 46.1%
Fiber 210g
Cholesterol 2,087mg
Sodium 16,568mg
Exercise Summary Calories
Stationary Bicycle 45 Min 373
Bicycling 1 Hour 0 Min 748
Walking 30 Min 95
Pilates 1 Hour 45 Min 291
Swimming 50 Min 415
Yoga 45 Min 94
Total 2017
Report generated by Lose It!. For more information or to sign up for your free Lose It! account, please visit

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Triathlon training update

So far I have registered for one sprint triathlon this June, but I am considering a second sprint in July and a super-sprint in May. I am also considering a 5K open water swim in August.

The reason that all of these things are under consideration is that I'm waiting to see how my body responds to training before signing up for a bunch of events. I recently had some problems with pain and numbness in the toes of my left foot -- that now seems to be mostly under control, though it flares up occasionally. I am almost all the way through the Couch to 5K training plan I used to ease myself back into running after rehabbing the injury. I'm also having some issues with my right shoulder.

I got a little something that I'm hoping will help with the shoulder problems, once I get the final part in. This is a Trek Women's Specific Design bike, and it fits me really well except that the handlebars are too wide. The bike shop didn't have a narrower set in stock, so they let me take it home as is and they are going to call me when it's ready. I already took the bike out for an hour yesterday, and I can tell that the handlebar swap will make a difference. I do appreciate the carbon fiber in the fork, seat post, and in the seat stays -- my old bike was all aluminum and I felt every bump in the road. On this one, my bum shoulder was the only thing that gave me any discomfort -- the bike fits me so much better and I felt like I could ride forever.

The rest of the training is going pretty well. With triathlon training, the hard part is always figuring out how to get all the necessary workouts in. I am still having trouble getting the strength training in, even though I know I need it. The running, biking, and swimming are obvious essentials. The yoga and Pilates classes I do are classes, so I feel more obligated to go if I sign up. I have been getting in at least one Spinning class a week and one swim workout, though I'd like to bump both of those up to two a week.

This is a busy time in the semester for me, and I'm hoping that when school is over (in only 4 weeks, can't believe it), I will have more time and mental energy for training. I'm hoping I can also get the injury things figured out. I can't help but think they might be related to my thyroid issues. I have appointments with the allergist and an endocrinologist coming up, so maybe one of them can give me some insight on how to feel better.

Sorry for the boring post, but did I mention that I have A NEW BIKE?

Is weight loss the same if you purposely gained?

Through iChange, I came across this story about Juliet Kaska, a personal trainer who purposely put on 30 pounds for a "Human Diet Experience" where she will try 10 different diets for 2 weeks each and report back her results. Most of the forum posts about it on iChange expressed the same feeling I had -- that someone putting on weight purposely and then taking it off is not likely to face the same struggles and self-esteem issues that get in the way for a lot of us who have this problem "for real." Some posters even expressed anger that someone would think they could understand what it's like to be overweight and dieting by doing a stunt like this. In the back of my mind, however, I wondered if it would be as easy for Juliet as she thought it would be. She said, "I know that the body itself is easy to shape, and that it’s the human part of us—what’s inside—that often constitutes our limits." I think that's a major part of the equation too, and it may be more formidable a challenge than she thinks.

The blog isn't great, it's obviously written on a Blackberry, so posts are short and lacking in detail. Some interesting things emerge, though. Partway through her experiment to gain the weight, Juliet "freaked out" and started dieting again, and had to regain 9 extra pounds. I was thinking that if she added the weight purposely, it might not feel "real" to her, but if it's causing anxiety, that is pretty real. A list of side effects she posted on gaining the weight (and a second one posted later) includes not only physical effects, but psychological ones as well.

When she actually gets to the diet part, she also posts about experiencing some of the same challenges that a lot of other dieters have experienced:

Why couldn't I be happy this week? I thought about this many times, and saw no clear answer until just now, as happiness struck me like cupids arrow. I do not want to be told what to do. As I stomp my feet and cross my arms as my inner 5 year old. Week 1- I committed to following the diet sample menu to a T and this felt like someone telling me what to do. "How dare they", again says the 5yr old. So this leaves me, us with the question: Is it our inner child who needs to be on a diet or is it us. Is the failure of "diet" a failure of our own personal self- our psychology- our psychosis?
She also wrote in other posts that her friends thought she wasn't fun when she was dieting, and that she found herself avoiding social situations where she couldn't feel in control. I think that we can accept that Juliet, without meaning to, got herself deeper into the psyche of a dieter than she thought she would.

I'm experiencing a lot of that myself. Since signing up for iChange, I am feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. I quickly realized that the "30-day Challenge Diet" was too restrictive for me, so I just committed to sticking to my calorie allowance. I did so well during the week and was down 1.6 pounds in just a few days. I did feel self-conscious though -- a lot of the other people in the "I Dream of Skinny" group were actually staying within the 1200 calories of the challenge diet. One person even posted something like, "Calories for today were terrible: 1700 calories -- eek!" My calorie counts were coming in closer to 1800-2000 on "good" days. I also felt resistant to the feedback that the nutritionist was handing out. I had a meal that was mostly vegetables and lean protein, but had two small redskin potatoes with a tablespoon of sour cream and some chopped green onions. I don't buy sour cream often, but I happened to have some and it sounded good. "Have you tried nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream? Tastes the same and it's healthier," said the nutritionist. This is what nutritionists do, right, give feedback and suggestions on swaps. But inside, I reacted as if I had been slapped. I wonder what is wrong with me to react so badly to what was very simple feedback.

Then the weekend rolled around and my food got worse: Beer and chicken fingers at a ballgame. A glass of wine and some cheese and crackers while watching Anthony Bourdain tour Paris. Popcorn at the movies. Lots of calories. I knew that I should be restricting calories more but I also wanted to have a "normal life." I could imagine the reaction of others on the iChange group who saw what I was eating and I felt humiliated and also a little rebellious.

I am wondering if it might be better for me to stop tracking on iChange and go back to tracking privately. I am really hating that iChange doesn't have a mobile app -- it is really hard to enter anything using my iPhone with its tiny screen. So either I have to scroll all around to enter food or I have to save everything up and enter it at once on a real computer.

I don't know what to do. I was making some good progress, but then that "human element" got in the way. Dieting sucks.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why do we blog?

I listened to "Two Fit Chicks: Episode 11" yesterday, their "Boys" episode. What I liked about this episode is that they did not turn it into a "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" analysis that made all men the same and all women the same. There was maybe a little of that, but mostly the lovely hosts and their guests all agreed that if there is a difference, it's because of social taboos against men expressing their feelings, not because of some essential difference between men and women. It turns out that a lot of us don't feel like the stereotypes accurately describe us, and maybe that means that the stereotypes are bankrupt in the first place.

That said, I don't read a whole lot of men-authored blogs. I think that mostly has to do with how I find new blogs -- usually through BlogHer, through people commenting on my posts (and I don't seem to have a lot of guys reading here), and through blog rolls of other bloggers I read.

There is one more reason: I tend to try out a new blog by adding it to my RSS feed, reading it for a few weeks, and dropping it if it doesn't interest me. If most men who blog really do tend to make their blogs less personal and more cut-and-dried, that might be one reason I don't have many of them on my blog roll. If a blog is just giving me information I could find elsewhere on nutrition and exercise, I find that kind of dull. I have dropped blogs written by both men and women that just summarized a bunch of articles and didn't really feel like they wanted to have a dialogue with their readers or with other bloggers. I like to think of all of this blogging as one big conversation.

By the way, I am fully aware that I might not live up to my own blog-reading standards. All I can say is that I try! When I started blogging, I started with toledolefty, a political blog. I haven't posted anything in a long time because I didn't have many readers and I felt like I was running out of things to say when I seemed to be shouting out into a void. When I started this blog, I didn't expect many people to read it -- who would care about my personal ups and downs? I was writing it as an outlet for my frustrated feelings and other weight-related issues that I didn't feel comfortable discussing with people in the non-virtual world. But now I blog because of the conversation I get to have with other people going through similar experiences.

I am definitely interested in broadening that conversation, so I am going to try out some of the "Boys" that Shauna and Carla linked to for us. I'd love to hear about any other great blogs that I might be missing.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 12: Crash Dieting

This week on "The Biggest Loser," there was a whole new twist to the game. In the center of the gym was a pedestal with a huge red button on it. When pushed, it set off a campus-wide alarm that sounded like a storm siren. Daris said, "Back where I come from, if you hear a siren like that, you grab a mattress and head for the bathtub, because the tornado's coming." Each player was given a tag with a number that was equal to 2% of his or her weight. When a player felt ready to weigh in at or above that number, pushing the button would alert the whole campus to come watch. The first player to push the button and make the goal would win immunity for the whole next week. Each player would only be allowed to push the button once, and as soon as one person won immunity, no one else could try. There was no penalty for trying and failing except that players didn't get a second chance.

As soon as I thought, "That's a terrible idea, people will do bad things to lose fast," Dr. H. magically appeared to explain to the contestants that while he had proven that losing large amounts of fat is safe, losing weight quickly through dehydration or muscle loss was not. He wanted to make sure that no one would do anything drastic. Of course, Bob and Jillian were all for anything that would motivate players to work extra hard to get the weight off.

Most of the players seemed preoccupied with the button and the chance to win immunity. Melissa, especially, seemed to be completely focused on it, and walked around asking people, "Are you going to push the button? When are you going to push the button?"

The first player to try her luck was Victoria, the player from the Blue Team who got back on the show last week. She quietly snuck off to the gym and pushed the button on Day 2 (or maybe early on Day 3) and really surprised everyone. Victoria seems so innocent and not at all a game player. She didn't make her goal, but she shook everyone up. Melissa is even more obsessed with the game than ever, and even Bob warns her that gameplaying can backfire.

In the meantime, as we wait for everyone to push the button, there is a pool challenge that was one of the coolest things I've ever seen on TBL. 1000 weights, 100 each in colors that matched the shirts for each of the 10 contestants, were scattered across the bottom of an Olympic-sized pool. They looked like painted hockey pucks to me. Each player had to get his or her 100 weights, no more than two at a time, on a tray attached to a scale. When players finished, they could go help another player. The player in first place won a trip for two to The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge. The player who came in last would have a pound penalty in the next real weigh-in. Sunshine beat Sam because of her serious swimming abilities, and then rushed to help her dad. When Sam finished right after she did, O'Neal was in last place, then Michael, then Melissa. Sam asked Koli if he needed help, but Koli was doing fine and said, "Help Unc" (O'Neal). When each player finished, they went to help O'Neal and then Michael.

No one helped Melissa, and Melissa lost. Players used this challenge to let Melissa know exactly what they thought about her.

Koli and Sam decide that they are going to push the button on Day 4. Melissa has the same idea, but the cousins beat her to it. Sam works out hard in a heavy sweatshirt and a a hat, wrestler style. He only needed 6 pounds to win immunity, but he gets 10.

When the weigh-in rolls around, Koli, Daris, Drea, and Melissa all have terrible numbers. They seemed to have been the players most interested in the whole button things. They may have done something to sabotage their real weight loss, like Dr. H warned. Melissa and Drea end up below the yellow line. Melissa pulls her, "I'm not a threat," line, but no one buys it.

Melissa goes home. The final vote to keep Drea on campus came from Victoria, because Drea had voted to help her in the last episode. So, contrary to what Melissa thought, friendship does matter, even on TBL.

Biggest Loser Post coming soon

I have real work to do today -- sorry! Feel free to discuss in the comments. It was a good one and I can't wait to write about it, but I'm trying to be a responsible grownup.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Taking the bait: I Dream of Skinny Challenge

Holly at I Dream of Skinny posted a challenge for the blogging community: She created a group over at iChange, available through tomorrow from this link:

Like Holly, I was impressed that iChange didn't even ask for a credit card when offering the 30-day free trial. Our group has a nutritionist who will look at our food logs, post suggested meal plans, and offer general advice. We can also post messages for our group members or to the public message boards.

I checked out the upgrade page to see what the charge is for the real deal. Plans start at $19 a month, but you can try it for two weeks free (if you miss signing up for Holly's group). There is an intensive premium plan for $99 a month. That sounds like a lot to me, but it also seems like the fee buys a lot of services. If I were looking for something at that level, I would probably want to meet with someone in person, but some people might prefer the convenience of online coaching. The $19 a month seems like a pretty good deal, considering the level of interaction I've seen in our group. Here's a detailed review of it from The Sassy Pear.

What I like so far: The nutritionist working with our group has been really friendly and encouraging. I like being able to get and give support in a group of like-minded people. I like the members of our group. I like the to-do lists and badges. I like the thought of getting personalized feedback.

What I don't love: I am already logging my food on my LoseIt! iPhone app, and the logging interface is a lot simpler and quicker than on iChange. The iChange site is not optimized for mobile use, so logging from the website on my iPhone is not an option. What I'd really like to do is marry off LoseIt! to iChange -- then there would be a convenient app for logging on the go, and a really great community for getting feedback and comparing notes. (I only have one friend on LoseIt! and that makes me feel like a LoseIt! loser!) Logging on iChange is a multi-step process: First you click on "add" next to a meal. Then you type in all or part of the food name for that meal. Then you save it. Then you search for nutritional info that matches that food. Then you click on "I Ate This!", edit the serving size, and add it to your journal. I am sure I would not stick with logging unless iChange develops convenient way to do it than this. Maybe iChange will develop a mobile site or an iPhone app in the future (or buy an already-established one like LoseIt!).

I think that the 30-day challenge could help me shake up my routine a little, though. One of the things the dietitian posted is a checklist with recommended servings for each food group. I downloaded an app called Servings that allows me to track those servings on my iPhone. (The app was a little tricky to use at first, but I'm getting used to it). For now, I'm using that and LoseIt! when I'm mobile and planning to update on the iChange site each night. That's a lot of tracking in different places, though I think I can keep it up for 30 days.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Making it easy on myself

It was a big family-visit weekend for me. My sister was over at my house, looked at my overstuffed refrigerator and pantry and said, "Your cupboards are the total opposite of mine. I have Go-Gurts and Ho-Hos and your food all looks so healthy." It's not like I am a 100% virtuous shopper. I buy the occasional package of cookies or candy. Sometimes I get a pint of ice cream. I always have Kashi Tiny Little Crackers and usually have blue corn tortilla chips. I just don't keep a wide variety of snacky foods in my house. I try to make it easy on myself and keep things simple. If I have only one or two kinds of treats, I feel out of control. It's hard not to keep going back for a taste of this and a nibble of that if I have a ton of different kinds of snacks. I also don't like to have added sugar and artificial colors and flavors in things like yogurt and cereal. It just can get to be too much.

Not coincidentally, I had three days of food that was not my usual fare, and I know I overdid it all three days. I would like to be the girl who can sit next to the candy or Doritos and not give them a second thought, but I'm not. I find myself totally preoccupied with junk food when it's around. Even when I've already eaten more than I wanted and am feeling uncomfortable, there are certain foods that call to me. I had a lot of them around this weekend, and it was really hard.

I don't understand how people are able to keep cupboards fully stocked with snacks and baked goods and not feel tempted by it. If I have that stuff around, I will always choose it over the salad and fruit. Why make it hard on myself?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Making ourselves crazy

A friend at work and I were talking about our endless quest to lose weight. Her husband is a pretty ordinary-looking, paunchy middle-aged guy, but told her she would be "a knockout" if she lost 50 pounds and grew her hair longer. I said that in my experience, "even fat guys feel totally justified in commenting on women's bodies." Another, younger woman, heard our conversation and said that we weren't hanging out with the right kind of "respectful" men, and recommended that we listen to a .

She has a good point, I suppose.

On NPR I heard a story about how some women in Jamaica are taking "chicken pills" to give themselves bigger thighs and butts, which is what a lot of the men there like. The tone of the story was pretty incredulous that women would poison themselves to be big. There is starting to be a shift to a more Eurocentric, "anorexic" ideal there, but there wasn't much discussion about the lengths women were going to in order to achieve the new look, though there was some talk of the dangers of bleaching creams the women (and some men) were using to lighten their skin. My guess is that if women were willing to take arsenic-laced poultry supplements to please men, they will probably do something equally destructive to try to achieve a slimmer ideal.

I really liked an interview I heard on "The Biggest Loser Fan Podcast" with a former doctor who had worked in anesthesiology and chronic pain management. He found that lifestyle issues were causing a lot of the pain and chronic disease he was seeing in his patients, which inspired him to start a (now-defunct) podcast to help translate medical journal articles on lifestyle for ordinary people. He found that all the articles pointed to a "Magic Formula" of four factors: Not smoking, consuming a plant-based diet, getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. He said, though, that his advice to people would be to focus on the other three factors, and trust that the weight thing would be a consequence of building a healthier lifestyle. "Even after the first 10 minutes of exercise, your body is already responding better to insulin," he said, "before you've even lost a pound." He said that people motivated by the scale would ultimately get frustrated and give up. It's a good podcast, and worth a listen. He also talked about the negative affects of constant worrying and stress.

Like worrying about not having the "right" kind of body?

It seems that everything is pointing me back to the same place. It's about living a lifestyle I can be proud of, and hoping the rest of the things I want will follow. I understand this, but I'm still working on "knowing" it.
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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