Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 17: Short and Sweet

Note: There will be a few spoilers here. Since I'm a little late with this, I'm assuming you've had time to watch the recordings.

This week's episode was only one hour long. I usually like the show in its shorter format, but this time, since it was Favorites Week and they had brought some of my favorite players from past seasons back, I would have enjoyed a little more time with the alums. I suppose it would have just been in the form of a Subway integration, though.

Even with the shortened format, there seems to be plenty of time showing Austin's reaction to his dad's elimination. It doesn't seem to take long for him to realize that even though he feels sad that his dad is gone, this may be the first time he has had the chance to make decisions on his own. As I have said before, it always seems to be a good thing when a contestant's parent goes home.  I'm sure all of these parents are trying to give their kids what they need, but as Bob and Jillian said in this week's episode of The Jillian Michaels Show, the parents are almost always sabotaging their kids, either through enabling behaviors, excessive criticism and attention on their weight, or more likely, both.

This week we finally get a little bit of camera time with Irene, who is this season's Biggest Loser so far and who is only two pounds away from her 100-pound milestone. I'm not sure why she gets so little attention on the show. She is beautiful and also seems to have a really great, sparkling personality. She does seem a little shy, but every now and then she seems to light up and we see how great she is. Her smile is genuine as she leafs through photos from the New Zealand trip, realizing how much her life is changed. She also has some one-on-one time with Jillian, who finally gets her to realize how much she is selling herself short and not seeing all of the progress she has already made, whether or not she hits an artificial 100-pound milestone. Jillian also challenges her to fight for herself. I'm not sure if she just means on the ranch or whether there is a situation at home where Irene is not fighting for herself. I suspect the latter, especially after reading in Irene's profile that she gained 90 pounds in a year and a half.  I actually got a little scared seeing Irene suddenly getting so much attention, because that usually signals that someone is about to go home, and despite the show's neglect of her, I really like Irene, and if there is bad mojo to deal with at home, I'd like her to be able to put it off for as long as possible (and maybe have a nice cash prize to cushion the blow).

When the contestants get to the gym, they are greeted by Ali Vincent (Season 9) and Sam (Season 10).  We learn that Sam is now a trainer at Fitness Ridge, and Ali is a motivational speaker.  The contestants work out with the alums, and they also get a couple of recipes, a really tasty-looking quinoa and black bean salad and a wrap with the ubiquitous Jennie-O turkey.

The challenge this week is even more fun, because Tara (Season 8?) is back to compete with the contestants in a classic challenge: Contestants race while pulling a car (with driver!) on a racetrack.  The winner will get a cash prize, their picture on a Wheaties box, and also get to go to a NASCAR race as a guest of one of the drivers (I didn't recognize him but I don't follow NASCAR so he might be really famous).  Tara has started a foundation to (what else?) combat childhood obesity.  [Side note: I have nothing against the concept of fighting childhood obesity, but it seems to me that as soon as we declare something to be a "crisis," it suddenly gets even worse. I don't notice any really helpful outcomes of this latest "War on Fat," just a lot of unwelcome attention on kids who are probably already feeling enough pressure.] Tara is one of my favorite past contestants, so I can't help but root for her against Rulon, who seems to think he has this competition in the bag.  It comes down to a photo finish, and Rulon is visibly upset that he lost.

I can't help but think that this latest disappointment helped prompt Rulon's decision to leave the show for "personal reasons." He is suddenly filled with the need to go home and be a good husband. As Bob says, Rulon was set up to be the star of this season, but he hasn't ever seemed completely on board with the program. Between the secret eating in his room and his occasional outbursts at the trainers, I don't think he has really made as much progress on the internal work of weight loss as he has on the external part.  He is only 15 pounds from his goal weight and since most of his original Red Team buddies (besides Kaylee and Austin) are gone, I think he saw the writing on the wall and decided he didn't want to open himself up to future potentially-embarrassing experiences like getting beaten by a woman in an individual challenge.  We don't get a "Where is he now" video on Rulon so it's hard to tell what was going on in his head.

Even with one person voluntarily removing himself from the show, there is still a weigh-in and elimination to deal with.  Austin does really well in his first post-Dad weigh-in. As I feared, Irene is one of the ones up for elimination, even though she hits her 100-pound milestone.  Sisters Hannah and Olivia are in the #1 and #2 spots.  Kaylee is the other player up for elimination, with a two-pound gain.  Considering the previously-established alliances, the best Kaylee can hope for is a tie, and since she has the lowest percentage of weight lost, she goes home this week.  Considering her goodbye nuzzle with Austin, I was really shocked to see that when she said she was going out with someone that she thought we'd recognize, it turned out to be Vance from the White Team, who was brought on for one show and just as quickly sent home. There is a cute story on her new romance on  She seems to have gotten a handle on her weight loss while on her own, and also said she has moved to a new state.  I was not at all surprised to see that her aspiration was to become a mixed martial arts trainer.

It's official, I saw Tim Gunn in a Cinderella-style pumpkin carriage, so next week must be MAKEOVER WEEK! We will finally see Austin without the scruffy beard (though it looks from the preview that he kept at least some of the curls) and get to see the girls all prettied up.  I am hoping next week will be the full two hours, because this show combines the two reality genres I love most, The Biggest Loser and makeover shows.  I want to see every behind-the-scenes detail I can, and if we have to watch Tim Gunn chewing Extra Gum or digging into a cup of Yoplait Light to see that, so be it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Didn't go to my Weight Watchers meeting today

It didn't make sense to me to go to my meeitng when I'm not actually doing the program.  I thought I'd grade papers instead.  I lost 1.6 pounds since yesterday's weigh-in. The secret to making great progress is to have your first weigh-in the day after eating Easter ham.  That salt can be counted on for at least a pound of bloat.  Today has been a pretty good day so far, mostly because Spinning class created a nice deficit.

I decided to make my LoseIt! profile more public for a little extra accountability.  I wasn't comfortable using my real picture so I created a cute avatar instead.

Sorry for the stream-of-consciousness post. I should have something more interesting to say tomorrow, like maybe a Biggest Loser episode review.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Will you be my friend?

I started logging my food with LoseIt! today.There is a social feature that allows you to encourage your LoseIt! friends and see their progress.  If you use this iPhone/iTouch app and would like to friend me, my username is toledolefty (just like on this blog) at gmail dot com. I would love to have more people to cheer me on and to offer support in return.  From the LoseIt! FAQ:

What is shared with my friends?

  • The amount of weight (in pounds) that you've lost to date.
  • The number of pounds your're aiming to lose.
  • Your weekly calorie budget and each day's calories relative to that budget.
  • Your exercises, times, and calories burned (excluding sexual activity).
  • Recent activities such as weighing in with weight change.
  • The foods you have eaten in the most recent meal.
  • Favorite foods and favorite exercies
*We do not display your actual weight by default
Note: I have never logged sexual activity as exercise. Think of the dozens of calories that I might be missing out on! Still, no.

I'm actually friends with one of the hosts of "Balanced Living Weekly" on LoseIt! and it's interesting to see his posts. Other than him, none of my other LoseIt! friends are actively logging.

So far so good for me today. I have had breakfast, lunch, and a snack and I still have about 600 calories in the bank for dinner.  Knowing I was logging today got me outside for a run even though it was rainy. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I just cancelled my Weight Watchers account (again)

It's not as drastic as it sounds.  My big frustration with the Weight Watchers Monthly Pass is that they bill you so far in advance. It isn't even the end of April yet, and I was just billed through June 5.  So my "cancellation" just means, "don't automatically charge me in a week for all of June."  I am starting to think about wanting to leave Weight Watchers again and I want to have some time to make the decision without getting billed again for another month.

I know I have said in the past that I should never leave Weight Watchers because I just rejoin later, heavier.  That is the only reason I'm just thinking about leaving and not already committed to doing so.  I have not been successful following Weight Watchers.  I find it very hard to stay within my allotted points, even with the activity points I earn plus the Weekly Points.  When I do manage to follow it, I lose very quickly but am hungry the whole week.  I think the calorie deficit created by Weight Watchers may be high for someone who is as active as I am. The problem is, I have no way of knowing.  A woman struggling with 20 pounds called into this week's Jillian Michaels Show who seemed to be in a situation very similar to mine. She is also very active and doing Weight Watchers.  Unlike me, she sounds like she has been diligent in tracking and is not losing weight. When Jillian asked her how many calories she was eating, she didn't know, and she also didn't know how many she was burning. That left Jillian in a bind, she just couldn't tell the caller what to do next without that information. She did suggest the same thought I have had -- that Weight Watchers creates the kind of big calorie deficit that works well for losing lots of weight but not as well for losing small amounts of weight.  If I do leave Weight Watchers, it will be to use LoseIt instead to count calories.

I just don't know. I have heard the estimate that the new PointsPlus are equivalent to 40 calories each.  If that  is true, it would be 1440 calories per day plus any exercise points I earn.  That seems a little low for a baseline. I have tried "double journaling," using both Weight Watchers and LoseIt, and it's just too much work.

I'm still thinking and really don't know what my final decision will be. I will have until early June to make up my mind. During that time, I might still go to meetings temporarily while I'm figuring it out.  I want to give LoseIt a trial run for a few weeks. If I don't like it I have plenty of time to reactivate my Weight Watchers account.

Input is welcome, as long as you keep it constructive.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The beatings will continue until morale improves!

I saw the title phrase on a t-shirt and couldn't figure out where I had heard it.  I thought maybe The Princess Bride.  Wikipedia suggests I may have heard it on The Simpsons. It is what came to mind as I read Laura's post from yesterday (luckily today's seems more hopeful) and also as I reflected on my mood of late.

I have been frustrated with myself because I look back at my Weight Watchers chart and I have just been bouncing around in the same range since I rejoined in September.  I just did a 10K leg in a 5-person marathon relay race this last weekend and I have been grumbling about my slower-than-hoped-for time instead of being proud of myself for finishing it on a very cold and windy (40 mph gusts) day.  It's as if I feel that this self-flagellation is somehow productive.  But it's not.  All it does is drain precious energy that could be put to better use in actually doing positive things to work toward change.

I think that pattern is fairly common, hence the title of this post.  Beatings never seem to motivate us or improve our morale, and we continue to try them anyway.  Not beating ourselves up can feel like we're letting ourselves off easy.  I have had enough negative role models in my life to know that the people who are always abusing themselves for the things they should have done seem to use it as a substitute for action, not a spur toward change.  I am not going to be like that.  I would rather be like the woman in my Spinning class who is 72 years old and still looks great.

So what's the secret to getting this right and making it work? Today's new Two Fit Chicks podcast has a clue. Special guest Lynn says that maintenance is not a "Hail Mary Pass."  I think that's the way most people, even those who are told to say "It's a lifestyle, not a diet," tend to approach weight loss, as if they can get it off as quickly as possible doing whatever and then figure out how to maintain it later. Here's a hint: If you're doing something you hate so that you can lose weight, what are the chances that you will continue to do that thing you hate once you make it to that magical weight goal?

I want to point back to my Energy Management post because that's how Lynn said she stopped her weight gain when she found it creeping up on her. She said she thought back to how she felt at her happy weight.  Carla also talked about wanting to feel like she could run, even though she doesn't like running. Both of them had the right idea, though, focusing on why you want to achieve your goal and looking for things you love to get you closer to it.  Some examples for me: Spinning classes.  Runs in the sunshine (now that we have some).  Trying new Weight Watchers recipes.  Keeping great food around so that something healthy and delicious is available if I need a snack. Stocking up on (zero-point) fresh fruit.  Eating only until I feel satisfied, not until all the food on my plate is gone and my stomach feels uncomfortably full.

I had a dream the other night and was fascinated by this woman in it.  She looked so familiar. After I woke up, I realized she looked like the self I'm trying to become. I'm really grateful that I had a glimpse of her (me).  It gives me something positive to work toward.

No more negative self-talk. Eyes on the prize, lovelies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 16: More Leaps into the Unknown

Warning: Spoiler alert!

Apparently, if you go to New Zealand, you are required to leap from as many high places as possible while you are there. In this episode, we see people paragliding (Brett), bungee-jumping from bridges (Allison, Rulon, and Irene), swinging over canyons (Cara and Hannah), tipping backwards over the same canyon in the "chair of death" (Kaylee) and, for the more timid, rock-climbing up a cliff and trying not to fall off (Jay and Austin).  This week the contestants are in beautiful Queenstown, and the theme for this episode was definitely adventure, and adventure is apparently all about heights.  Maybe it's because that's such a common fear?  The contestants, even the ones who were afraid, all seem to feel very empowered by their stunts. A few of them express that they spent so much time limited by their fears in the past that they are ready to leave fear behind.

Hannah, however unafraid she is to leap from anything high, even backwards, is terrified of the idea of returning home.  She spends much of her on-camera time freaking out about the idea of leaving the ranch and going back to her former life living with her parents. She confides in Cara, who gives one of her "be a fighter, be tough" speeches, which probably wasn't what was needed. Jillian was away for a family emergency, or she probably would have asked Hannah why, if she is so upset by the idea of going home, she would go back there.  She doesn't have a family of her own and she said something about living with her parents.  I checked her bio on the website and she is a human resources representative at a health-care firm. A good reliable job, maybe, but not exactly a glamourous job that would be difficult to leave.  Most of the contestants don't seem to have great careers, which is why they are willing to leave them for six months to pursue fame and weight loss on the Biggest Loser Campus. I wonder if, after being so dependent on her family after her accident, if she feels the need to support them now.  She seemed to come to a realization on a helicopter ride with her sister Olivia (Olivia won a challenge that was basically kickboarding down a very cold river and won immunity and the helicopter ride), and I wonder if Hannah has plans to move closer to Olivia's home in New York City.  I think Hannah is the most dynamic contestant on the show this time around, and I fully expect her to find an exciting new life, whatever happens after this episode.  She seems ready to take on the world.

Also spotlighted in this episode is Kaylee.  She says repeatedly that her dad leaving the show is probably the best thing that could have happened to her. I have always thought that parent-child pairs on the show do better once they split up.  A child, especially, does better when the parent goes.  Kaylee said she felt pressured to eat with her dad even if she knew that his choices weren't right for her, which is probably how she gained her weight in the first place.  She is another contestant who seems to need desperately to leave the nest when she gets home.  She looks so confident in her sparring sessions with Cara that I fully expect her to continue boxing, at least recreationally, when she leaves the ranch.  She seems to have really thrived under Cara's direction, which makes me feel like I have been a little hard on Cara so far.

Now that Brett is back, he wants to take some time during the Last Chance Workout to show the women his specialty, capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that was disguised as a dance, apparently to lull the colonial overlords into a false sense of security.  The moves are beautiful and I would love to learn it, but it doesn't look great for weight loss. I wasn't sure it was the best use of Last Chance Workout time.

The contestants are competing as singles this week, so the weigh-in is particularly nerve-wracking. It doesn't look good for my fav, Hannah, as she edges closer and closer to the yellow line.  All the foreshadowing about her going home begins to make me nervous.  I want Hannah to get a makeover, not that she really needs one.  Everyone but Ken does better than her. I never really warmed up to Ken -- he has seemed moody and peevish in other episodes, but he gives a pretty moving speech about finally feeling accepted by the other contestants.  Austin tells tearfully how far his dad has come since arriving on the ranch as a "broken man." We don't get a lot of details here but I think the hints on earlier episodes have suggested that the marriage between Ken and Austin's mom is a troubled one.  We never find out Rulon's vote. Ken has enough votes that the best he can hope for is a tie, which would still mean that he would go home since he has lost the lowest percentage of weight.  It's telling that when he does his "where are they now" video, he appears with his kids and not his wife.  I loved that he decides to continue his adventure-seeking with his kids, and takes them paragliding. He and his kids seem happy, and I'm glad to see he is doing well at home.

I don't think next week is makeover week yet, so we still have at least one more episode of Austin's ugly beard.  By the way, it's time for me to get serious now, all of the women on The Biggest Loser are now weighing less (and looking better) than I do. The theme this week is tracking, and it's about time I got consistent with that...

Any predictions of who will be in the final four? My picks: Rulon, Hannah, Austin, and Irene. Irene is almost never on camera but she consistently loses week after week.  Same for Austin. Hannah and Rulon have been hyped from the beginning and both are incredible athletes.  I love Olivia but I think at some point she will want to go home to her husband and start making babies.  And Kaylee just doesn't have enough weight to lose to stay much longer.  I'm rooting for Hannah to win it all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 15: Taking the Leap

Note: Spoilers ahead

Not long ago, as one I'd like to comment on later.  It was a response to a mom who is overweight, hates to exercise, and doesn't like to eat healthy. She wants to know how to help her overweight daughter. "I try to go on walks with her or encourage her to eat healthy but it isn’t working and I don’t know what to do."  Basically, this question could be summed up as, "How do I get my daughter to do something I won't do myself?"  The obvious answer, become a positive role model for change, is not easy but it's really the only way.  Sometimes parents seem to think it's "too late" for them to change but that they can help their kids avoid their fate by talking to them loudly enough. 

I bring up this post because Bob and Jillian, in this week's episode of "The Biggest Loser," have a much simpler way of helping their contestants face their fears. On this week's trip to New Zealand, the contestants climb the stairs in the Sky Tower in Auckland to be confronted by a challenge: Get to the bottom the hard way or the easy way. It's either the stairs or -- flash to an image of a terrified Jillian Michaels outside the tower on a harness -- a controlled jump.  Jillian has said many times in her podcasts that she is very afraid of heights.  She screams, "Don't do this! This is not a good idea!" as she is dropped.  Rulon and Moses can't take part in the challenge because they are still over the weight limit and Jay can't either because he has a heart condition. The rest of them are free to choose.  Ken, who is already feeling sick just by being up that high, has no intention of doing it at first.  Hannah and Olivia are immediately game and seem to have a great time doing it, as does Austin.  I don't remember seeing whether Irene did it or not.  The big story is Ken, who is freaking out but decides to face his fear when Bob, who is also nervous about the whole thing, says he will do it if Ken does.  Bob confides later that he didn't expect Ken to take him up on the offer, but both of them make the jump and seem completely thrilled to have faced down their fear. At first I never thought I would do something like that, but watching Hannah and Olivia's fearlessness made me want to try.  I love the outfit they jump in -- it looks like a superhero costume.  I doubt I will be in New Zealand any time soon, but if I was, I might give it a try.  I would probably enjoy the other big adventure more -- the contestants got to help race another boat in a World-Cup-style sailing vessel.  That looked like an amazing experience.

Moses is very touched to find himself in New Zealand because his father was sent there by his family in Tonga to get educated, which ultimately led to Moses's family moving to the United States to have a better life for their children.  Bob takes Moses aside and "breaks the rules" by letting Moses call his father on Bob's cell phone.  It is a touching scene and since it ended up on the show, it doesn't seem that Bob got in any real trouble for this little deviation.  I half expected them to end up going to Tonga to visit Moses's relatives, but that never happened. As a result of the Blue Team winning a 5K challenge, though, Moses and Kaylee (Irene and Olivia volunteer to give her their prize) get to go on a helicopter ride and a dinner together in New Zealand.  The 5K had some very dramatic scenery, and the one interesting twist was that the entire teams had to finish together.  Jay's bum hamstring ended up hobbling his whole team, so it came down to Green and Blue, with Blue just barely beating out Green.

The big dustup this week is between Ken and Cara.  I haven't been a big fan of Cara's this season, but I thought the way Ken jumped at her was a little unfair, and wasn't surprised when Cara acted defensively. He didn't ask for specific changes in her training, he just suggested that he would be better off training with Bob or Jillian.  It seemed like there had to be a lead-up to this that we didn't see, because they ended up in a full-blown fight right away.  I wasn't sure what prompted this fight, since Ken has had some of the best weight loss of everyone on the ranch.  Cara decides to punish him by getting in his face and screaming at him at every opportunity and making him work harder than everyone else, which seemed to be exactly what he wanted.  I wish we had gotten more of the backstory here, because it just made both Ken and Cara look childish for starting off by screaming instead of talking to each other rationally.  There is a last-chance workout that makes liberal use of big tires and sledgehammers.  I can't wait to see these appear in gyms!

The weigh-in has some weird results.  Kaylee gains four pounds, but the other two members of her team do very well. Moses loses no weight. I wondered if, once again, it was the restaurant meal that did them both in.  Maybe Olivia and Irene were smart to give up their prize, knowing that restaurant food has historically been dangerous.  Jay from the Black Team also gained, but Hannah and Rulon do well. Traveling always causes some strange weigh-ins.

I was happy to see that Moses fell on the sword in this elimination, especially since he was the one who did not lose.  Irene was the biggest loser but Olivia had also lost two pounds.  She said that she wanted to lose weight so she could have a family. I'm not sure why she wouldn't be able to at her current weight, and if she is really "running out of time" at 35, she could have gotten home and gotten busy right away. I think that explaining things the way she did gave Moses a free pass to go home to his own family.  Moses comes back to New Zealand with his father (not sure if they also visited Tonga, if they did it was off-camera) and, since he is still too big to jump from the Sky Tower, bungee jumps from a bridge instead.

I think next week is still in New Zealand, but as Austin gets hairier and hairier, I am dying for Makeover Week to arrive. I hope all of the current women are still on the show by then, especially Hannah.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 14: Speaking up, stepping out

 Spoiler alert: There are some things that happened this week that I can't resist writing about. Consider yourselves warned. I scheduled this post for the day after I wrote it just to give everyone an extra day to view saved episodes on the DVR. When this post is published, I will be in midair on my way to a conference.

There are a lot of clichés in weight loss television.  "Weight loss journey," "make the inside match the outside," and the one that probably bugs me the most, "It's time for me to put myself first." It's not that I think that people don't have trouble with this, it just sounds so trite and I think it oversimplifies the whole issue.  People who get to three or four hundred pounds have been putting themselves first in a lot of ways.  They have put their immediate needs to numb their feelings out with food ahead of their friends' and families' need for a fully-functional, honest person to be part of their lives.  When I look at Arthur, who had a large pizza delivered to his house every day automatically, I didn't necessarily see a selfless person.  I saw a person who was hiding from himself and from other people. This week, Courtney gives the "I need to reach out for help and put my own needs first," speech.  It is probably true that she put her family's need for an employee at their store ahead of her need not to have fried food and ice cream in her face all day long while she tried to manage her weight.  There are people who work in stores like that who don't gain weight, though.  From some of the show clips, I think the real issue was the resentment and pain that she was hiding from her family, and maybe her need to protect them from what she was feeling suggests to her that she was putting them first. I also think, though, that it was her fear of conflict, not her parents' real needs, that won out in that battle.  We saw it firsthand last week when she agreed with Jen's plan to not "buy" their trainer but then later complained to Brett and to the camera that she didn't really agree with the plan.  I am sure that if she had talked honestly to Jen that they could have given up a couple of phone calls or the massage or the dinner out.  Jen might have benefited from that conversation, since the week ended in her going home.  Or Brett might not have made the difference after all, but Courtney would have practiced speaking up.  This week, she reaches out to her friends for help. I'm not really sure what she was asking them to do, because we don't see her working out with them, but maybe off-camera they all did some of their "homework" together.  

This week's challenge was kind of interesting.  I would not have done well with it, even though it isn't physically hard. Each team gets a flag and has to choose among several black squares to find the one-mile mark on a specific walking course.  The winning team will get a night out on the town, "Hollywood style." Allison says that with all of the miles they've logged on the treadmills, bikes, and the Presidential Mile loop, she hopes they will have a pretty good idea of what a mile looks like.  The contestants only have 15 minutes to complete the challenge, so they can't really carefully pace it out, although several of them try.  Once they realize that they are running out of time, though, most of them start to run.  Courtney says how happy she is not to have teammates to argue with here, she can just do her own thing.  The Green Team places their flag the furthest out.  The two younger women on the Blue Team run ahead together with the flag and place it close to the spot Green and Red have staked out. Moses comes up and says that he has paced it out and the mile mark is really a ways back, but his teammates overrule him.  The Black Team literally runs out of time, and has to place their flag way back from where they think a mile would be.  That "mistake" pays off, though, because all of the other teams put their flags too far up, and the Black Team has actually come closest to the real mile.  The losers all have to clean the campus.  I am assuming that there is a staff that usually cleans the campus, so I think this was played up for the cameras. The kitchen is a huge mess, but we don't see them actually clean the gym.

It's funny to me that the Black Team is actually afraid to tell Jillian that they have won the challenge, because they know she won't be happy about them leaving campus and eating out at a restaurant.  They wait until the end of the workout to tell her, and predictably, she goes ballistic.  Bob is happy his team has to clean because they will "burn calories."

Jillian also has a heart-to-heart with Rulon about his late-night binges in his room.  He says that he feels like he "deserves it" after his long, hard workouts in the gym.  Maybe he is just very hungry when he gets back from the workouts, or maybe he is stirring up some feelings he doesn't like, but the videos we saw of him eating the chips do not give the sense that he is really "treating" himself.  He doesn't look happy, just mechanical.  Jillian says she will help him learn to incorporate higher-calorie foods in his diet so he doesn't feel deprived. I think there is more to this conversation because it all sounds a bit fake to me.  Maybe what actually happened is that Jillian upped his calorie allowance (if he was eating out of hunger) or maybe she referred him to the show's counseling staff (I assume they have one) for his emotional issues.  I think the conversation we got was staged to cover up the real issues, but I can respect that some things might have come out that the show is keeping from us to protect Rulon's privacy.

It is pretty fun to see Hannah all dressed up and girly for their night out.  Her escorts seem a little more low-key about it. Each of them has a new outfit waiting for them in their room.  I don't know what the Biggest Loser's fascination with sweater vests for guys is all about, but Rulon looks uncomfortable in his to me. Do sweater vests hide bellies?  I have never thought they were flattering on big guys and thought Rulon would have looked better in a dark untucked shirt.  Jay gets the more traditional suit with a dark-colored shirt underneath. Hannah's dress is pretty, black with sequined long sleeves, very flattering.  I thought it might have looked better without the tights underneath -- maybe that is trendy or maybe it was cold outside. Or maybe Hannah has varicose veins from being overweight?  She gets to wear some skyscraper heels that she seems pretty excited about, but they look painful to me.  Their night out doesn't seem to be all that big of a deal. They ride in a limo to downtown Hollywood, walk around a little bit in front of the lights, goof around with the hand and footprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and then go out to dinner at the Geisha House. Sushi is low-calorie but rice and soy sauce could make them retain water before a weigh-in, so they are pretty careful and have it with no rice. They have some crab legs with a "citrus sauce" instead of butter.  They share a couple of salads.  They drink some sparkling water.  

A young blond guy is eyeing Hannah and the two guys decide to "go meet someone" to give him a chance to talk to Hannah.  I could believe that he is interested in Hannah, because she is beautiful (and he isn't all that cute, at least to me) or that he was attracted by the cameras and given the scoop by one of the crew members, who encouraged him to talk to her because it would make a good scene.  Hannah seems flattered but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of chemistry on her side.  I think it was a good representation of one of the issues that is going to face contestants when they leave campus -- they suddenly have new, more attractive bodies and they will get more attention.  Hannah handled it all very well, I thought.

On campus, as the Blue Team winds down their workouts, Bob brings in three big brown bags.  He puts one in front of each of the contestants, and similar to a scene from last season, the bags are full of the kind of crummy food the contestants used to eat. This time the emphasis is on the calories added by condiments: Ranch dressing, ketchup, and sour cream.  The contestants poke at the food but don't seem at all interested. I'm sure it was cold and not all that appealing after a hard workout.  

For the last chance workout, Cara steps a little outside of the fighter routine and sets up firefighter workouts for her crew.  Brett and Courtney do the same kind of workout they seem to always do: The ropes, the tug of war, some treadmill running.  Courtney impressed me on the treadmill -- she has some speed.  Brett is especially motivated this week, because if Courtney leaves the show this week, so does he.  When Jillian works out with Rulon, we see some serious stunts that remind us of this guy's athletic ability.  Handstand pushups?  On the Blue Team, Bob pushes Moses outside his comfort zone. 

The weigh-in comes down to the Green Team vs. the Red Team, which means the two new trainers.  I really think they are not pushing the contestants like Bob and Jillian are.  They seem to be doing the same kinds of workouts, at the same intensity, as they did at the beginning of the show. Bob and Jillian are pushing the contestants harder and harder as the show goes on. I think that's why, when the eliminated player says "That's OK, it must be meant to be," that Bob and Jillian both seem angry and say that it's not the way it's supposed to be.  I think they are thinking that if Courtney had been training with one of them, she would not have been eliminated and her weight loss would not be stalled.

Courtney goes home and, unbelievably, the welcome home party is at her family's Dairy Queen.  I wouldn't think that "Our daughter got dangerously obese eating here" would be a great advertisement for the place. We do see her talking to a regional manager about getting more healthy options on the menu, like frozen yogurt. I think, though, for this kind of stuff, portion control is probably more important than having lower-calorie ice cream.  I just took a look at the Nutrition Fact Sheet, and the Mini Blizzards are all under 200 calories, which is reasonable for ice cream.  I didn't even know they had a Mini Blizzard.  Maybe it would be good for them to advertise the more reasonable options on the menu.  Sure, most people who go to Dairy Queen are not going there for a healthy meal, but it would be different than the "if you want to be healthy, just stay the h*** away from this place," perception I have of DQ. Thanks, Tina, for correcting me on this. I should have known it was too good to be true. My original impression of DQ still stands.

The best part about this is that Courtney is speaking up and asking for things that would help her, which might make a big difference in her life.  Hopefully she will find a way to either work there without it triggering her or find a different career path.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Excuses, Part II

In case you think my last post was totally mean, I get the excuses. I have used and continue to use all of these, except the "very young children" one, and this summer when I go help my sister out by babysitting her newborn, I will have a chance to give that one a try.  I weighed in today and I was up, and the excuse I'm going with was sodium in my food last night (pizza, Mich Ultra, and onion rings is not an ideal pre-weigh-in meal).   The excuse I had last night was "I have been eating healthy all day and I'm really hungry."

How do we get past excuses? Let me tell you a little story:

When I was taking a class designed to prepare me for writing my dissertation, I gave a string of excuses to the prof about why it was going to be really hard for me to get it done.  The biggest one was that I had a very demanding job and that I had a hard time writing when other people were at home.  He looked at me and said, "It's all about priorities, Jen," and then went on to the next topic.  At the time, I thought he was a heartless, clueless jerk.  But how did I eventually get the dissertation done and graduate? I made writing it my number-one priority.

Around the time of the conversation with my prof, I was talking to my husband about how he should take a class during the summer.  He said he was going to be teaching summer school (half days) and couldn't work and do a class at the same time.  I had been working full-time and taking classes at the same time for the last 5 years at this point, and every time we talked about me quitting my job and taking a graduate assistantship to pay for my tuition, he had said he didn't think we could afford it.  After that conversation, I realized that I had been stacking the deck against myself and made the decision to check into student loans and apply for an assistantship.  The job I was working at the time left me drained and frustrated every night, so a 20-hour-per-week assistantship was a breeze.  I expanded my horizons and got great experience that helped me get my next two jobs, including the one I have now. After the year was over, I was only about halfway done with my dissertation.  I was able to get a 10-hour-a-week assistantship for summer, enough to pay for the credit hour I had to register for to keep my dissertation going. I wrote every morning in my pajamas and got the dissertation done and graduated. I'm still paying on the loans, but they aren't that bad since I only took them out for one year. Once I got creative, I found a way to make things work.

I think when we get to the point where we really believe something is at the top of our priority list, nothing can stop us. We can find a way around any excuse. We don't need advice, we just need to realize our own power and make our own goals a priority, and then rearrange our lives accordingly. Simple, right?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Top 10 excuses for staying fat and unhealthy

I was excited to see that there was a new episode of "The Jillian Michaels Show" podcast, but not as stoked when I saw that the topic was "Save Money, Big Time." Jillian has done this topic to death on her podcasts.  "Buy in bulk. Buy frozen. Look for farmers' markets..." yadda yadda yadda.  It isn't that these are bad tips, it's that she seems to think that if she gives them enough times, people will stop posting nasty messages to about how healthy food is too expensive.

Jillian, buddy, please listen to me for a second. I know you are a problem-solver and that you want to save all of those fat, unhappy, unhealthy people who keep saying they want to make changes but can't because healthy food is too expensive, or whatever else they are complaining about.  You have to realize that these people don't want answers, they want excuses so that they can keep living the way they are now. You know as well as I do that it's not as simple as putting down the pizza and picking up a dumbbell. The kinds of changes you make on "The Biggest Loser" are as simple, and as difficult, as rearranging a person's whole life so that healthy habits fit better in it than unhealthy ones.  There is nothing easy about changing your whole life.

So instead of giving solutions, I'm going to give the people what they want.  Excuses, and lots of 'em!  I will give really good excuses and lame ones, but there will be no pesky problem-solving here:

  1. I don't have enough time to (do whatever it is that I know I should do but don't want to do).
  2. Healthy food and gyms are too expensive.
  3. I have a bad knee (elbow, hip, shoulder, toe).
  4. I have a thyroid problem (hey, I actually do! but getting on meds has done nothing to help).
  5. I have very young children who take a lot of my time and attention (this is a very good excuse!)
  6. I don't want to look like those (bony, muscular, skinny) women I see on TV. 
  7. I don't like healthy food.
  8. I'd rather be fat and happy than thin and miserable (yes, those are the only two choices).
  9. I'm too tired.
  10. Jack LaLanne was healthy and look, he died anyway.
In other Jillian-related news, her book, , launched today.  I pre-ordered it but also ordered and did the cheapskate free super-saver shipping, so I will probably have to wait until that book launces,  I also see that it is available as , and can't wait until my new credits come online on the 11th.

Monday, April 04, 2011

In defense of feed readers

I just read MizFit's post about blog reading and felt I had to respond. But following the "If it's more than a few sentences it's probably a blog post of its own and not a comment" rule that I have established for myself, I decided to respond here. After all, MizFit does not sound anxious to learn about feed readers (one of which is Google Reader), and I respect that:
I dont have a Google reader. I, in fact, had no idea what a Google reader was until recently. Im still not sure how to create one and add blogs to it. Please to not enlighten me. From all I can tell said reader is nothing but a source of frazzlenessment/pressure.
I, however, find the feed reader to be a huge time saver. I don't have to click around to my favorite blogs to see if there is something new, and I don't get led on a down-the-rabbit-hole journey of going from this blog to that to that one and on to another one... that could go on all day for me.  It really is all about setting limits for yourself.  MizFit imposes her limits by ending the blog reading when the coffee is done. For me, there are a few ways I impose limits:

  • I populate my feed reader with blogs I like. If an author I enjoy links to another blog, I scan that blog to see if there are other interesting posts.  If someone makes an insightful and interesting comment on m blog, I click over to see if it seems like I'd enjoy reading their blog on a regular basis.  If it seems interesting, I subscribe.
  • I don't feel obligated to click links just because the author of a post put them in. I only click through if it seems like there is something truly interesting behind the link.  I don't feel obligated to comment on every post I read, either.
  • If there is nothing in my reader, that means none of the blogs I like enough to follow have posted updates.  This means there's nothing to read.  That saves me the time of clicking around to a bunch of blogs that have no new posts. 
  • I remember that no one is paying me to read blogs.  If I'm reading a post and it's just not grabbing my attention, I move on to the next one.  There is no requirement that my eyes have to go over every sentence before I move on.  Corollary to this rule: If the blog author has posted ten new updates since the last time I read, and none of them seem interesting from the previews in the reader, I feel free to click "Mark All As Read."
  • If I "Mark All As Read" too many times on a particular blog, I think seriously about unsubscribing.  I try out a lot of blogs for a while but if I find the posts boring, I don't feel the need to continue reading the blog.  I can always stop back and check it out again later.

I think the key is to keep this all fun and not for it to feel obligatory.  It shouldn't be a chore. I have noticed a lot less comments on the blogs I read and I think it's because most of us are using feed readers.  I do miss the more chatty community I used to see on blogs sometimes. 

What do you think, has the blogging community changed or is everyone just getting busier? Do you use a feed reader or just visit the blogs you like?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Spinning class makes me feel like I rule the world

I know people talk about the runner's high, but I don't know that I've ever really felt it. What I have felt is a pleasant, tired, relaxed feeling after I'm finished.  It makes me feel like everything is right with the world now that my run is done.  I think it's like hitting your head against the wall -- it feels good when you stop.  Not to say that I don't enjoy running sometimes, but it doesn't give me the floaty, happy feeling I would associate with "high" until after it's all done.  I have felt moments of euphoria when I was pretty fit and could run fast -- but that high came from the feeling of accomplishment and not so much from the running itself.

Spinning class does actually give me a high of sorts.  I feel incredibly strong and powerful and fit when I'm doing it lately.  I'm so much happier since I switched instructors. The old one really didn't have a lot of variety in her workouts. She wanted to do jumps or standing climbs the whole time because she was one of those thin people who really hated the way her butt looked and was using our class to help her work it off.  Unfortunate.

The new instructor has us do some very high-intensity segments, followed by recovery periods.  This makes the tough parts bearable because I know that the easy part is coming up and will give me a chance to catch my breath.  She also has fun music.

I have such a good time in those classes that I wonder if I might apply some of the things I like from Spinning to my running to make it more fun. Music I can do -- I always run with my iPhone and could switch from podcasts to playlists.  I have tried interval running in the past but lately my workouts are more of the long, slow type.  I think I'm boring myself. I have had a very hard time getting out to run because it's just plain dull.  I think I need to mix it up more.

Maybe if I play my cards right, I can have that runner's high after all. If not, at least it will still feel good when I stop.
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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