Sunday, January 30, 2011

My current skin care regime

Note: This is an honest discussion of some products that I have tried or am currently using. None of the products were provided for me to review -- I bought them all with my own money or my prescription coverage. Most of the links here are affiliate links, but I mostly provided them so that you can get information on the products in case you are interested.

I have a dermatologist's appointment tomorrow. This is a 6-week followup after being prescribed two topical prescriptions, Retin-A and Finacea. I had used Retin-A and had success with it before. The Finacea was new to me -- I had never been told I had rosacea before, but this dermatologist thought I might.

I still don't know if I really have rosacea, but I stopped using the Finacea after a couple of days because it burned my skin. It made me feel like I had just smoothed on a battery acid facial. I decided to give it a second try a little later, and it still was a no-go. I am sure I will hear some negative feedback about not deciding to continue with this, but I read the patient insert and it sounds like a lot of the patients in the clinical trials dropped out with similar complaints.

The Retin-A is fine, though it makes my skin very sensitive. I had to stop using , which I had liked, because it was too harsh and was giving me a rash. I decided to try and because it was recommended for use with Finacea, and if you could tolerate the cleanser and lotion after using an irritating product like Finacea, I figured it had to be pretty gentle. It is. I love it and the moisturizer, though I also use over it for the sunscreen protection.

I got introduced to the Dermalogica products by an aesthetician at my local Ulta. I was having some dryness due to the Retin-A and I was also having some breakouts. I wasn't sure what to do. I got the facial mostly in desperation. It really helped a lot, and it was very relaxing. The aesthetician told me that my breakouts seemed to be from sensitivity, not oiliness. She said my skin was very dehydrated and sensitive from the prescription products. She recommended a couple of Dermalogica products: besides the tinted moisturizer, she suggested a and the . I don't use the mist that often, but the booster is amazing. It really has changed the way my skin looks and feels. Everything is clearing up. I also decided to get the to help with any flare-ups in the future.

She also recommended that I buy a . I had one that came with some skin care products but it seemed to be too scratchy to me. Regular washcloths felt too scratchy too, so I ended up buying a multi-pack of so I could use a new cloth every day and gently remove the flaking skin, which seems to have helped a lot.

Hopefully the doctor will see the improvement that I see and agree with me that I don't need any more harsh products in my routine. I feel happy with what I'm doing now and feel confident that things will continue to improve.

I've also been using the to whiten my teeth. There is a whole you can buy, but for me, these touch-ups that are supposed to be just for maintenance seem to be doing enough. I had tried the various strip things and didn't really like them. With these, you just flip the little capsule over in its cardboard tube, squeeze it to activate the whitening gel, and then scrub it on your teeth with the little applicator. I had been doing them in my car (the rear-view mirror always makes me want to fix myself up) but it gets you a really weird look to do this in the parking lot. I thought I might start doing them before bed instead.

So America, the next time you see me, I will be a clear-skinned beauty with a dazzling smile.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 4: No Time to Waste

Because of the President Obama's State of the Union Address, The Biggest Loser was shortened back to one hour instead of the usual two.  I really like the show better in this format.  When the show was first on the air, it was a one-hour show.  When it was extended to two hours, we really don't seem to have gotten much extra content, just recaps after every commercial of what we had seen 90 seconds ago.  With only one hour, we were not treated as if we had a short-term memory disorder.  We also saw a little less whining and drama.  As much as I enjoyed the State of the Union Address, I don't think we need to have one every week.  But going back to the one-hour show or, alternately, having a two-hour show that was really two hours of good content, would be a nice development.

Even though the show was shorter, it was action-packed. The Ranchers had another temptation. This time they were confronted with a room that was filled floor-to-ceiling with temptation foods, specifically, the favorite foods of each contestant, which included: cheesecake, monkey bread, cake, pizza, ribs, fried chicken, cheeseburgers, and my old college favorite, macaroni and cheese from a box.  I was shocked to find out that the latter is more than 1,200 calories if you eat the entire box.  I used to do that regularly when I was in college, and I was really thin back then.  Contestants had to stand, in teams, in the room for one minute.  The person who ate the most calories would be able to send one team to the Unknowns' training facility. 
With the exception of the boxed mac & cheese (I got sick of it after college) and the cheeseburgers, I like all of the foods featured.  Even though it looked good, I doubt they were as tempting as they would have been normally because they were probably all cold.  They were also out of context: One of the contestants said that she loved her cheeseburgers when she was out with her friends having a beer.  Wolfing one down in front of a television camera would have been a very different experience.

Most of the contestants seemed anxious at being confronted with their old favorites.  A couple of teams held hands so they won't be tempted to eat anything. A couple said something like, "Looking at that makes me sick."  Arthur played up his interest in having a slice of pizza, but even though he was the only one who participated in the temptation, he grabbed a  fried chicken drumstick, which he figured was one of the lowest-calorie foods in there. He said he didn't want to get sent away from the Ranch where he felt he was succeeding. I could understand that. He chose the Green Team, a father-daughter team who had been leading the weight loss all along.  They didn't seem happy at the prospect of being the new kids at the Unknowns' gym, especially since they wouldn't have immunity.

Despite all the angst over having to leave the ranch, the Green Team seemed to enjoy their experience at the Unknowns' training camp at the Biggest Loser Resort in Malibu.  For one thing, they didn't have to cook or clean -- they had maid service and ready-made cafeteria meals with calorie counts.  I think that if we had more time, this episode would have been made into an extended advertisement for the resort.  The Green Team were good sports and got a warm welcome from the Unknowns.  They had fun working out with new people and new trainers. Even though they had to learn how to spar and use the new equipment, their training at the ranch had them in great shape, so they had a chance to see how they stacked up.

There was kind of a Price-Is-Right-meets-Biggest-Loser challenge, with the Green Team coming back to compete on behalf of the Unknowns and the rest of the Ranchers competing together. They had to guess the number of calories in one serving of each of the temptation foods.  It was a four-digit number. I don't remember the exact number, but it was over 8,000 calories.  The contestants had to put big numbers on a rack and then hoist the rack to the top of a big tower using a rope and pulley. It was set up so the bigger team had to pull harder to make it fair.  They started with the first digit and hoisted their number up.  If it was right, they got green lights and could go on to the next digit. If it was wrong, they were told whether they had to go higher or lower and got another shot.

It was close but the big team beat the Green Team.  They had been competing for letters from home, and the Green Team's loss meant that the Unknowns would not get letters. The rest of the Ranchers did.  We got to hear excerpts from a few of the letters.  Don's estranged son sent him a tiny piece of paper that said "You can do it." We heard more and found that his son had not "disowned" him in anger, but had found it too painful to be around his dad anymore.

We didn't get to see the weigh-in because of the tighter timeline, but some of the previews make me think I know who goes home next.  It looks like another person threw the weigh-in and purposely gained.  As someone said, that's an insult to all of the people who wanted to be on the show but didn't make the cut.

Looking forward to next week's episode!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weigh-in report: Another small loss

I lost 0.4 this week. Underwhelming scale progress aside, I feel like I am doing better with my food on most days.  I have been working on 5 veggie and 3 fruit servings a day -- it is tough to do consistently, but when I do, I feel much more satisfied with my food.  I have also been better at building my meals around Power Foods.  I feel like the new plan really pushes us to eat healthier, whole foods and I'm really happy with that change. I looked at a couple of health-related books with diet recommendations ( was one), and they were all very similar to the kind of eating that works well with the new PointsPlus program: Lots of produce, whole grains, minimal meat with an emphasis on shellfish and lowfat poultry, and healthy oils.

I have felt a shift in my mind if not on the scale. I really do see this change in my eating as a way of life, and I am working on weaning myself from the junky foods that still, despite all of my good intentions, appeal to me. When I eat clean, I feel better and more satisfied. The junk tends to only lead to more junk. Yesterday I indulged in some crackers and cheese for lunch instead of taking the time to figure out a meal based on filling foods, and I found myself snacking all afternoon. I think that's why I had such a lackluster weight loss this week.

I'm three pounds from my goal of getting that first 5-pound star by my first meeting in February. I'm not sure I'm going to make it, but I'm going to keep fighting the good fight.  Check out if you need a little inspiration:

The subject, Ben Davis, was on a recent "Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy" episode and is going to be on the cover of Runner's World in April.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 3: An End to the Mystery.

Warning: There is a spoiler in this post.  If you haven't seen the show yet, you might want to hold off on reading this until after you view it. 

This week, we finally get introduced to the Mystery Trainers. The info I had found on them turned out to be correct, with one interesting addition: Mystery Man Brett Hoebe was an overweight teen before getting involved in martial arts and training himself into godlike proportions. Mystery Woman Cara Castronuova was a poor kid who grew up to be a fairly competitive boxer, but doesn't seem to have any training credentials or experience to make her an appropriate trainer for morbidly obese people.  When asked what she brings to the show, she says, "I'm a fighter." The contestants seem to like her, though.  Maybe she will turn out to have more substance than she seems to have. Instead of seeing the trainers on this team working with contestants on their issues, we see the Yellow Team giving some tough love to a couple of other male contestants. I would have been annoyed by this -- Rulon may have been an Olympic athlete, but on the ranch, he's just another obese contestant. I would have rather seen the trainers take the lead and start going deeper with these contestants. Everyone knows that diet and exercise result in weight loss, but the  people who end up on The Biggest Loser have issues that go beyond laziness and a love of pizza.  These players have a few weeks of immunity, which would be a great chance to start working on some of those blocks.

There is a challenge that pits the Unknowns against the Ranch players in an egg-balancing contest. They are separated by a partition, which is weird, since they have met before and there doesn't seem to be a reason for the mystery.  The players are competing for a chance to have dinner with Curtis Stone and compete in a challenge for a 2-pound advantage at their next weigh-in (the Unknowns can save their advantage for after their immunity period is over). The Unknowns decide to give the chance to the Pink Team's Denise, who is one of the older players on the team and who hasn't had great weight losses.  Courtney's mom Marci, from the Aqua Team, manages to beat out all of the other Ranch players, even as the Unknowns hurl their eggs over the partition.  Curtis Stone cooks a dinner for the two women, who seem so starry-eyed at his Aussie hunkiness that they ooh and ahh over the dinner he makes, which is just a salad, quinoa, and pan-seared fish.  I notice that Marci doesn't eat her entree -- maybe she doesn't like fish?  He makes them poached pears with Greek yogurt for dessert.  They are supposed to guess how many calories the meal has.  Marci guesses first, and even though Denise had originally thought the meal was higher than Marci's guess, she guesses a number 20 calories under Marci's guess to try to steal the win.  It turns out that her original instinct was a better guess, and Marci wins the advantage.

Back at the Ranch, Jillian talks to the Purple Team and finds out that Hannah had big sports dreams as a teen that were sidelined by a car accident. Her goal, and her father's goal for her, was to compete in the Olympics, but when that dream was crushed, she just gave up completely on fitness and health. Jillian also talks to Dan and Don. Dan has struggled with grief since his son's death, but says he doesn't need to talk about it, because he doesn't want to bring anyone else down. Jillian tells him he can't succeed without working through this issue, which offends Dan, who just wants to lose weight and doesn't want to be psychoanalyzed. He seems determined to leave the ranch after this.  I know I said that I would keep this spoiler-free, but Dan and Don manage to mysteriously gain 9 pounds each this week, which suggests a clumsy attempt to throw the weigh-in.  This turns out to be a lucky break for Arthur, who had a terrible week because of limitations and antibiotics.  

Dan seems to do well at home on his own. Let's hope that he can keep the weight off on his own too. He has obviously burned bridges with Jillian and everyone else on the show.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The week started out fine...: Weigh-in report

I was down 0.2 this week -- not much, but I'll take it. I almost weighed in with my sweater until the receptionist reminded me. If I had kept it on, I would not have seen a loss and I might have gained. 

I took my leader's suggestion to heart and used Power Foods as the basis for my meals and snacks for the first few days this week. I had great results -- not only did I keep my points more under control, but I felt more satisfied and just generally better. The weekend, as usual, was where things unraveled.  This week's topic of using the weekly points sensibly is really relevant to me: Plan ahead, check points values first, control portions, add power foods to help fill you up.  We were all given a rubber band to remind us of the concept of flexible restraint. (I tried to put it on my wrist as an anchor, but it irritated my skin.) The flexible is not a problem for me, it's the restraint part.  Others in my meeting seemed worried at the idea of using those "extras," which is harder for me to understand.  Why make this program harder than it has to be?

One woman in my group is doing amazingly well. She has probably dropped two sizes since I rejoined, while I still have been bouncing around but mostly staying the same weight. I decided to use one of her suggestions this week -- have a fruit and a vegetable with each meal and snack. I didn't have either with breakfast, but with my lunch I had 4 veggie servings and a fruit (I bought a chicken and hummus wrap, which had veggies in it, and also bought the veggies and dip (minus the dip), almost two cups of veggies), which makes up for breakfast. In the spirit of flexible restraint, I think I will shoot for 5 veggies and 3 fruits a day and allow myself to be flexible about when to have them, though I will have at least one serving of produce with each meal or snack. I just can't see myself having carrots with breakfast, and though a veggie omlette would be okay, I wouldn't want to have to fix eggs every morning. 

I was thinking about it today -- I was so excited about that zero-points fruit, and yet I haven't been having more fruit than usual.  Why not take advantage of that change and have a little more of it? I hear pineapples are on sale at one of the local grocery stores, and when I got a skin treatment the esthetician said that eating pineapple reduces inflammation and can help with breakouts.  Eat more fruit, feel satisfied, and look better? That's an all-around win.

Just heard a great idea in my meeting

One woman set a goal to have 1 fruit and 1 vegetable in every meal. Something to try for this week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 2: The Home Team vs. The Away Team

In this episode, the team at the ranch is given a challenge: Beat the Unknowns working out with the Mystery Trainers in total weight-loss percentage, and win a week's worth of immunity for everyone on the team.  At first I wondered, why wouldn't the other team throw the weigh-in?  The answer? Both teams were also competing for $10,000 (to split, I assume, between the members of the team).

We get a few glimpses of the mystery team and the mystery trainers but we don't get to see their mysterious faces or get a great look at the mystery facility. Can you tell that I'm over all the mysery already?  We do get to hear the mystery trainers' voices, and the pseudo-Jillian has the annoying, girly shriek reminiscent of Kim from that one terrible season where Jillian was not on the show.  The pseudo-Bob didn't stand out as much to me.  There were the mandatory scenes of the members of the away team carrying Mystery Girl around as she screamed at them, plus lots of scenes of boxing-style workouts.  Everything seemed designed to make us forget that they are actually staying at a fitness resort, which is presumably pretty posh compared to the dorm-style accommodations on the Biggest Loser Ranch.  We do get a couple of touching scenes with the Gray Team but the producers are definitely emphasizing the Olympic-athlete-and-bounty-hunter partnership in the Yellow Team.

The one thing we find out about the whole mystery team is that they have a mean streak -- or else they were encouraged to do the macho-competitive jerky thing by the trainers and/or producers: They had two big boxes of donuts delivered to the gym.  Our home team takes turns stomping and jumping on the boxes, and that seems to be the end of it.  The players decide not to respond in kind, but to just work their butts off to win. Then everyone realizes that Arthur, the Biggest Player Ever in Biggest Loser History, is not in the gym with everyone else.  We get a glimpse of him outside with the donuts, actually seeming to consider whether to eat one of the flattened pastries, and then dumping the whole mess in the trash. I thought he was probably hamming it up for the camera, but he did manage to hit the right note of teasing regret as he said goodbye to the donut-pancakes.

I liked the scene with Arthur and Bob where we find out some of Arthur's backstory.  He was an all-around star athlete in high school, and sports were his life. Then he made the typical high-school bad decisions: Drinking, drugs, skipping school, sex, early fatherhood.  He said that he felt like if he couldn't do sports anymore, he didn't have anything to live for.  Bob actually says to him, "You were trying to kill yourself." And Arthur agrees, crying, knowing how selfish it is but realizing that it is true.  It was Biggest Loser at its best -- no artificial drama, just real-life misery that dragged Arthur into a passive, self-destructive rut.  We find out that he didn't even have to order pizzas anymore, they just called and asked him if they should send over the usual at dinnertime.  Just the notion that the pizza guy could always expect him to be at home tells us a lot about Arthur's life.

There are the mandatory check-ins with Dr. H., which, for some reason, do not seem to include the away team.  We are definitely supposed to be rooting for the home team, which seems odd if the new trainers are supposed to be taking over the show.  I thought the most interesting one of these was where he talked to the opera singer about the ways the extra fat could be compromising her voice. When he confers with the twin cops on the Black Team, he shows one of them the other's "murder weapon": A pile of cigarettes, sugar, and corn chips.  The fact that so many Biggest Loser contestants smoke should refute the popular notion that smoking is a good way to lose weight. It obviously didn't work for them, and now they have the health risks of both smoking and obesity.  Still, Dr. H is not great TV. He is too self-righteous and obviously has no clue of what the contestants are going through.  Jillian and Bob work because they empathize with the contestants instead of just screaming at them about how they are going to die (though there is still plenty of that).

The challenge between the two teams proves that teams that get along with each other are not necessarily as effective as teams that have a highly dominant leader.  The Yellow Team seems to be so dominant that they are able to get everyone else to just do as they say, and they figured out a great strategy to solve the problem:  Putting together rafts to cross a river and getting everyone across. They figured out that hooking together the rafts before putting them in would be easier than dealing with them in the water, and once the rafts were in place, it was easy to have everyone roll across. I was surprised to see them rolling and wondered why they didn't just crawl, but my husband reminded me of the physics of very large people trying to move on unstable surfaces over water.  They finished the challenge in record time.  The away team was informed of their time and then left to figure out the problem for themselves. Since no one emerged as a clear, confident leader, they tried all different strategies and had no real success. They tried to ferry the rafts across the sand one-by-one and then floated them out to the end of their unstable bridge instead of dragging the big piles closer to the shore. Rafts floated away, and no one seemed willing to jump in after them until too late.  People got tired.  By the time they had built the first half of their bridge, they had a hard time getting Arthur across it. They didn't even make it halfway across the river in the time that the other team had finished.  I think, to be fair, it's easy to forget that not everyone would have been strong enough to handle the huge piles of rafts as a group -- the away team had an Olympic athlete on their side, which gave them a huge advantage.  They won a three-pound bonus in the weigh-in.

Let's talk about that weigh-in: In the drama of the competition, I think we were misled a bit.  We were told that the Unknowns lost much more weight than the team at the ranch. We were not told, however, that the Unknowns had a higher percentage of weight lost, and even with the largest woman and largest man on the Ranch team, the Unknowns are probably heavier overall than the team at the Ranch. There were some great moments in the weigh-in, though. Courtney makes it under 300 pounds for the first time in forever.  We see Bob stand up for his team in a big way.  The confidence of the team grows, but will they beat the Unknowns? You will have to watch to find out...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mixed messages: Weigh-in report

I decided to start doing my own weigh-ins at home in the morning to check body fat as well as weight loss/gains. This morning I was down 0.6 from last week. I had breakfast and went to Spinning class, showered and went to my Weight Watchers meeting, where I was up 1.2 from last week.

The morning weigh-ins are controversial stuff. Weight Watchers doesn't suggest at-home weigh-ins, though they sell .  I do it because with a lunchtime meeting, there is more room for error than in my bathroom at home.  Differences in weights of clothes, differences in food intake amount of water drunk (I am not going to go hungry and thirsty until after 1 p.m.), especially in sweat and water intake during my workout right before my meeting.  This week, it helped me because I did see a loss (though small). I know that if I could start working on some serious losses, they would be enough to overcome these little X factors.

I had no right to expect a loss anyway. Yesterday was a bad day -- I had work to do but didn't get it done, and really hit the snack food, most of it salty. I also felt tired and discouraged.  I told myself to stop but I just kept picking at things. I should have had something more filling (which was the topic this week, by the way) instead of going right for the cheese and crackers.  I think focusing more on Power Foods this week will help. I took a tracker so I would have a list of them handy the next time I go to the store.

Today I actually did get some work done, which is why I'm taking the time to write this quick post.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekly goals check-in

I thought I'd revisit my daily goals, since my weigh-in is coming up tomorrow.  You can find the post where I talked about these goals here:

Track my food. I'd give this one a 7/10. There were a couple of days (like yesterday) where I had to go back and fill in after the fact instead of tracking as I went along. This made it harder to know where I was and how many points I had left.  I need to do a better job of keeping up as I go along.

Stay within my daily points plus earned activity points. This one is definitely key, but I am probably at about a 5/10 on it.  I dipped into my weekly points earlier in the week than I should have, which didn't give me a lot of wiggle room on the weekend.  I went to a party yesterday and overindulged (and didn't track as I went along), and I'm over my weekly points again. 

Check off all of my Good Health Guidelines. I haven't been keeping close enough tabs on this one. I'm maybe at a 6/10. That pesky multivitamin, which I can't take within 4 hours of my thyroid pill, trips me up many days.  The daily oils are also iffy sometimes.  And dairy, which is something I really need to work at if I'm going to get it consistently.

Get at least 20 minutes of activity every day. 10/10.  This is the easy one for me. I did my Cycle/TRX class on Tuesday and Thursday. I ran Wednesday and am going to run today after it warms up another degree or two.  I did a BOSU Yoga video on Friday.  I did Pilates on Saturday, and yesterday was swim class. Tonight I also plan to go do my yoga class. I think I have a nice, balanced program going, and I have some serious muscles developing.

Eliminate negative self-talk and focus on success. I had been doing better with this one, but yesterday was a very bad day for the self-talk. I went around feeling like everything was wrong with me.  So I can only give this one a 6/10.

I didn't set these goals expecting to be perfect at them right away, but I could do a better job of keeping them in mind as I go about my day.  Something to work on.  I signed up for a mindfulness/meditation workshop that will take place on the next 5 Saturdays, and I'm thinking that adding this kind of practice would help me to be better able to focus on my goals and help get rid of some negative thinking habits. 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Review: A Course in Weight Loss

Note: Another unsolicited, uncompensated review. credit this month for the audio version of I read an excerpt of it in a recent O magazine issue, and the book itself was chosen as one of Oprah's "Ultimate Favorite Things."  In the forward to the book, Marianne Williamson gives much of the credit for the spirit and the direction of the book to Oprah.

I really found the main message of the book to be very powerful, that excess weight is a result of a spiritual problem, and that a spiritual solution is necessary to solve it.  Williamson has some powerful insights and suggestions on how to reach out for divine help for a problem you haven't been able to solve on your own. For those in 12-step programs, nothing here will be particularly new, but it is spoken in a fresh voice. For anyone familiar with Marianne Williamson's previous work, the ideas here are similar, though her voice is not as fresh as in , which is available free for download for people who have purchased A Course in Weight Loss if they go to Williamson's book site and register, along with some other free gifts.  I tried to use the coupon there, but realized that the $15 I was saving was almost completely cancelled out by the high shipping charges levied by Hay House.  I would suggest that people buy Williamson's books and CDs through , where the prices and shipping are more reasonable. Or better yet, go support your local bookstore if you still have one.

I can see Oprah's influence in the section of the book where Williamson insists that you need to go out and buy "a beautiful napkin," "a beautiful plate," "a beautiful spoon," "a beautiful bowl," etc. to be able to move forward in your weight-loss efforts, because you cannot use the old tools you have in service of the new you. But, oddly, you should also have candles in candlesticks, and it's okay to use your old candlesticks. It seems very Oprah to suggest that problems can be solved most easily by shopping for something new, but I think that they realized there was a limit to how many new beautiful things people were willing to go buy. After all, we'd still be eating at our old table and in our old house (hopefully transformation doesn't require a new house).

I would have found it more authentic if Williamson had told readers to create their own rituals for turning their problems over to a higher power, rather than insisting that hers were the only possible ones. In earlier works like , Williamson always seemed suspicious of dogma.  In this book, she introduces some of her own dogma about what foods are good and what foods are bad.  I also found her wording a little formulaic at times.  It seemed like somewhere along the way, someone told her that contrasting opposites made her sound wise, so over and over again she uses the construction "not only... but...." "not only on the outside, but on the inside too," etc.  I don't think I would have noticed this in the print version as much as I did in the audio version.  Another audio-specific comment: At times Williamson reads very fast.  At those times, her voice reminded me of something, and it took me a long time to place it.  Then I realized she sounded just like Linus in

Those comments aside, I do think there is serious, real help here, so much that I think I would like to get the print version so that I can go through the exercises more carefully (though I'm not sure I'm ready to buy all new dinnerware).  This is the book that I was hoping Geneen Roth's would be (in fact, that book had very little to say about God, Roth just seemed to think it was a title that would sell books).  Other than a few places where she focuses on weird rituals, Williamson doesn't focus as much on what listeners need to do with food as on how they need to live their lives so they don't need food to fill in the empty spaces.  

I realized that one thing that has changed since the times when I felt relaxed and at peace with my weight is that I have lost some of my connection to my spiritual life. I let myself believe that I was responsible for my successes by myself, which was a bad thing because I could then blow it all by myself.  I sort of woke up to this after listening to an episode of "Balanced Life Weekly" where Cliff shared a similar insight about his own struggles.  When I was doing well, I was letting go more of the day-to-day and listening to my intuition about what I needed to do next. Then I started to feel arrogant and selfish for thinking that God or any other power would help me with my problems when there was so much suffering in the world.  Something I heard on an helped me realize what the missing step was -- I wasn't being led to live a better life just for my own selfish purposes, but so that I could have more to give to the world.  I need to keep that in mind when I start to feel that I have to handle everything by myself.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Review: Glider Gloves

This is a totally unsolicited, uncompensated review. I bought the gloves with my own money.

As some of you know, I am a hardcore outdoor runner. I find treadmill runs boring and I have plenty of good outdoor gear to keep me warm on winter runs, so I get do three-ish runs a week in the great outdoors. I only skip out if the temperature is below 10 or the conditions are too icy for good footing.

Until recently the one chink in my outdoor armor was my gloves. I bought the cheap stretchy gloves that come in bundles of three at Target.  My hands warm up quickly unless the wind is really bad, and I had never felt like investing in nice workout gloves until I heard Dr. Fitness mention on the Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy show that he had found some gloves that worked with the touchscreen on his phone.  Immediately, I decided that I needed iPhone-friendly gloves. I use the Couch to 5K and Bridge to 10K apps for my runs, and I was starting the workout in the car because I didn't want to take off my gloves in the cold, and I often got stuck listening to crummy songs or a podcast I had already heard before because I didn't want to remove my gloves to change the music.

I did a search on for iPhone gloves and found a pair that seemed like they might work and put them on my wish list. They didn't, so when I got them for Christmas, I ended up returning them (Amazon was nice about the refund). Most of the iPhone gloves were really expensive, so I kept searching elsewhere.

I found a link to Glider Gloves and liked what I saw. These looked like an upgraded version of my stretchy gloves. I don't love the color, and unfortunately they don't have other options available right now, but I thought warmth was more important than fashion.  Rather than buying them from the website, I bought them on eBay so I could use some money I had in my PayPal account. I also ordered my husband a pair, since he also runs and uses his iPhone.

Because I usually wear a large in women's gloves, I ordered the M/L and I'm glad I did. I have fairly long fingers and these gloves feel like they just fit. I think they may need to offer a larger size to fit most men's hands. I wore mine for the first time yesterday on a 20-minute run. The gloves were warm enough and kept the wind out much better than the gloves I usually wear. Best of all, they were great with the touchscreen on my iPhone.  I even was able to update my Weight Watchers log after my run. I think they almost work better than bare hands.  I didn't notice them getting sweaty, though my husband said his did and that the iPhone responsiveness wasn't quite as good when they were wet.

In seriously cold weather, these are tight enough that you could wear them under a warmer pair of gloves, but that would make them less useful as iPhone gloves. For my purposes, though, they were a definite upgrade from what I was using before. 

The only problem is that I wasn't able to order them in pink or purple.  I tend to do that to keep my husband from borrowing my gloves when his are dirty. He might borrow a black pair, but he wouldn't wear pink ones.  I'm hoping that once the company has a little more business, they will be able to expand their color and size options.

The Biggest Loser Season 11: Premiere

I actually never thought we'd be at Season 11 of TBL. I figured that by now, the brand would have been taken over by the Biggest Loser Resorts. Interestingly, early in the episode we find out that half the contestants will be working out with Bob and Jillian and half will be working with two "Mystery Trainers." The ones who work with the unknowns will have four weeks of immunity before four of them will be sent home. The others will be on the usual elimination schedule. Interestingly, the "secret location" where the contestants training with the unknown trainers turns out to be the new Biggest Loser Resort at Malibu.

I was able to find some information on the web about the mystery trainers, and although trainer Brett Hoebe seems to have some training credentials, I'm afraid that Cara Castro, a boxer and actress, may be Trainer Kim, Part II.  Blogger Lisa Johnson writes:

She is very pretty and a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion with amazingly gorgeous hair.  She has been trying to establish an acting career since 2007 or so and is represented by agents in Hollywood.  It appears, however, she has zippo for certifications.  I can’t find one single reference to a fitness certification anywhere.  I also couldn’t find a reference to her being a personal trainer anywhere.  I don’t know if she’s ever had clients in real life.
NBC's execs will never learn: Being a hot girl does not make you qualified to be a trainer for morbidly obese people. It might be an anti-qualification, as Fitness-Model-Turned-Trainer-Kim proved.  Even the new guy seems excessively interested in showing off his own body, which doesn't bode well for the future of the show.  Apparently some of the contestants working with the new trainers had good numbers in their first week, but we will see if they have staying power. 

The players participated in a challenge to win a chance to choose their trainers. I thought it was interesting that more than half of those who could choose their trainers decided to work with the unknowns and get four weeks of immunity, rather than picking Bob and Jillian. But Bob and Jillian were surprised that anyone chose not to take four weeks of immunity. My thought pattern was that the trainers would be a big determiner of your success, and a bad trainer could do more harm than good. But the flip side is that if you get four weeks on the show learning new fitness and food habits, maybe you would be enough in "the zone" to do well even if you got sent home, while the contestants on earlier episodes who got sent home early on often don't do as well.

There are some very compelling contestants this time around, as usual. There is Rulon, a former Greco-Roman gold medalist.  His partner Justin is listed on the site as a "gym owner, city worker, and bounty hunter," and I don't think they really knew each other before getting on the show.  I find it surprising that both Justin and Marci own gyms but are obese enough to be on this show. Marci's daughter, Courntey, seems to have spent more time at their other business, a Dairy Queen, from her casting video. (By the way, have you checked out the instructions for casting videos? Now I know why the videos always seem so humiliating, because the instructions ask for that.  I guess they want to make sure people are willing to put it all out there if they are going to be on the show.)  There are identical twin police officers Dan and Don, who both have had tragedies related to their sons -- one had a son die of a drug overdose, while the other's son disowned him.  There is green team member Jennifer who just seems to kick butt. I think she's going to be another Tara. And of course, there is Arthur, who is over 500 pounds. Both Arthur and Courtney already lost over 100 pounds before being cast on the show, and are still the largest man and woman there.  Courtney is tough and determined and feisty. Arthur keeps flapping his huge hanging belly at Bob and Jillian when they ask him to do things, as if to say, "You can't expect anything of me, I'm fat." But he is able to do way more than I would have thought a man of his size could do, probably because he is still fairly young.

I know this show has warped my mind when I see 300-pound men weigh in and think, "They aren't that big, why are they on this show?" The women under 250 seem positively tiny. This is a very large cast, both in numbers and in starting weight.

The episode was really good for a premiere, other than the phony "mystery" of the new trainers.  Still, I'm feeling like this is the beginning of the end.  It doesn't seem like they can do anything truly new, other than bringing bigger and bigger contestants on. At some point they have to hit a limit of what's safe. 

Are you still watching? What do you think? Any favorites so far?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Does fruit make you hungry?

A couple of the members at my meeting were saying that though they liked having fruit as a zero-points snack option, they found that they were akways hungry if that was all they had for a snack.

When I was a teenager, if I said I was hungry, my mom would always tell me to have a piece of fruit. It was a healthy idea, but I found the same thing, that fruit made me actually feel hungrier than if I didn't have it. I don't like eating fruit on a truly empty stomach.

What I do like is having fruit with my meals or in that in-between stage where I'm not really hungry-hungry but could go for something to eat. Or, if I am hungry, I like to have 9 almonds or a string cheese (1 point) with the fruit.

There are people in my meetings who seem to be taking the fact that some starchy foods have more points now to mean that they should never eat them.  One woman said she felt like she was in ketosis. I really don't think the new plan, despite its emphasis on protein, was ever intended to be a low-carb plan. After all, it allows members have FRUIT for NO POINTS.  I think the idea is to reduce empty carbs (100-calorie packs and rice cakes) and replace them with more whole foods. But I still find room in my points to have my favorite sprouted-grain bread and even eat pasta now and then.  I think the whole carb issue is something Weight Watchers needs to clarify, maybe with one of their weekly booklets.

New Biggest Loser season starts tonight! I am going to try to get my review out tomorrow morning or Thursday at the latest.

New Year's Goals

I wasn't sure I would lose this week, because I didn't track very well. I had a surprise when my new nephew was born early -- not a huge shock as his brother was also born early -- and I went to visit him, his mom, and his big brother. I also had a late Christmas with my inlaws, including houseguests. It's a nice thing to have lost. I did manage to only miss two planned workouts, which I think was doing very well considering all the excitement.

Rather than leaving things up to chance, however, I have some new year's plans. I don't want to set a huge resolution for the whole year that will get broken almost immediately.  I'm breaking it down per Fat 2 Fit Radio's suggestions into daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

Yearly goal: At this time next year, I would like to be maintaining at goal.

Monthly goal: Make my first 5 pound star on or before my meeting on February 1.

Intermediate goals: 5% by the end of March. 10% by the end of May. Goal by the end of June.

Weekly goal: My leader asked us to track diligently this week and show her our trackers next week. That seems like a great weekly goal to me. Aim to lose 1 pound a week.

Daily goals: Track my food. Stay within my daily points plus earned activity points. Check off all of my Good Health Guidelines. Get at least 20 minutes of activity every day. Eliminate negative self-talk and focus on success.

Are you setting goals for the new year? Or are you still making resolutions?
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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