Thursday, April 30, 2009

I hit the yogurt jackpot!


I got my prize from the BlogHer FAGE giveaway yesterday (You can enter too, it runs until May 6). I had to wait at home for it -- someone has to sign for the delivery, and I wasn't going to have a big cooler full of yogurt delivered to work.

What I won:
  • 2 containers of FAGE 2% Honey
  • 2 containers of FAGE 2% Peaches
  • 2 containers of FAGE 2% Cherry
  • 2 containers of FAGE 2% Strawberry
  • 2 containers of FAGE 2% Plain
  • 2 containers of FAGE 0% Plain
I have been a fan of FAGE for a while, though I don' tknow why they capitalize it like that. Maybe it's an acronym? I love the honey and the strawberry. I haven't tried the peaches or the cherry flavors, so I'm looking forward to that. I usually buy the plain so I can add in my own toppings (one favorite combo is a drizzle of honey, a couple of crushed walnuts, and a chopped dried fig), but the flavors will be nice for taking to work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Biggest Loser: Final cut

Just a warning, this is a super-spoiler post. If you don't want to know what happened on "The Biggest Loser" this week, go read my fluffy post from earlier today. I actually forgot that today was TBL review day!

This week was all about how much the contestants had changed in 17 weeks. They showed the contestants their first workout with the trainers and recreated some of the moves, demonstrating both how different they looked and how much stronger they were. Other than Ron, all of the contestants are so thin now that it's hard to remember what they looked like when they arrived. Seeing the tape inspired Tara to pull out a little black dress that she had brought with her as goal clothing, and it looked absolutely amazing on her. Helen also looked great in her skinny jeans, and Mike pulled out his goal jacket. I think that putting on real clothes helped inspire them, because those three were the ones who were in no danger of elimination. Amazingly, Tara has never set foot "below the yellow line," which is probably the only reason she made it to the finals.

The most annoying thing about this season is the contestants' tendency to choose to keep weaker players around instead of welcoming competition. Filipe and Ron had the lowest percentage of weight loss this time, and instead of keeping Filipe around, Helen and Tara chose to get rid of the person they perceived as the biggest threat. They must not know how to do math, because even though Ron hasn't lost a ton of weight yet, he was the biggest player at the start and still could surprise them with a huge weight loss. The final four contestants have a month to go home and lose as much as they can for one last pre-finale weigh-in. I don't think Ron going to step back and let himself be the next one cut. He is going to go home and use all the crash-diet tricks he knows to knock one more person out of the competition.

I'd like to recast the final four as:
  • Tara
  • Kristen
  • Mike
  • Nicole
That would be a competition worth seeing.

If there is a next season, I hope that NBC gets rid of the team idea. It seems to have encouraged a sort of gameplay that takes what should be a show about weight loss and turns it into Fat Survivor.

There is still something to admire in the show, though. The contestants have only been on the ranch for 17 weeks. In Week One, the contestants had to climb over one sand hill and they all struggled and had to help each other out. This week, they had to climb 17 of them, carrying a pack that contained 17 bags of sand equal to their weight loss from each week. They had to climb each hill and dump the sandbag representing each week's loss. The contestants all finished it (though Ron got help from his son, who carried his weight for him). It was meant to show the contestants how hard it was to carry that weight around, but it is obviously much easier to be a fit person carrying 170 pounds of sand in a bag than to be a person carrying 170 pounds of extra fat. This was underscored when each of the contestants had a follow-up visit with the show's doctor and saw how much their size, their medications, their health risks, etc., had changed in just 17 weeks. The show attributes this mainly to the weight loss, but it's clear that it's actually also because of the exercise and diet changes. Even before the contestants had lost a significant amount of weight, they were already able to ditch medications for long-term chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.

I wish the show would highlight that more, because I think that people watching the show could easily be led to believe that they have to lose 100 pounds or more before they would see any benefits, and that would be discouraging. If they focused more attention on how even a small weight loss accompanied by lifestyle changes helped the contestants, I think more viewers would be motivated into action.

Waking up to beauty

It's easy to wonder, in the dead of winter, why anyone would ever want to live in Toledo, Ohio. The great economy? The intelligent leadership? The clouds roll in to our area in October and don't seem to leave until the middle of March, so in the wintertime it's easy to feel depressed, especially since we have those long dark nights to contend with.

The flip side of that, though, is the way that spring bursts onto the scene with little explosions. The weather doesn't gradually warm up here -- we get slammed into summer with almost no warning, and then a day or two later it's chilly and damp again. I wrote about my hot, summery run on Sunday, but yesterday it was damp, cloudy, and in the high fifties again. The flowering trees had all started to bloom, and they looked gorgeous against the gray-blue clouds. I noticed redbuds and dogwoods and apple and crabapple blooms, as well as the bright baby-green and tiny red leaves on the non-flowering trees. It was a good day for my bright-blue spring jacket. The daffodills sprinkled through the park were done flowering, but all sorts of green undergrowth is starting to pop up.

We also have all kinds of migratory birds back in town. The mallards are nesting right now. We have goldfinches all kinds of other little finches, bluebirds, woodpeckers, and a lot of others I can't identify.

The good thing about a climate like this is that we all know we need to take advantage of the good weather while it lasts. It's weird to have the furnace on one day and consider turning on the air conditioner the next, but I think I enjoy the drama.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oddities

I did a yogurt giveaway on my blog and then I won a yogurt giveway at BlogHer. Tomorrow morning before noon, I will be getting a case (not sure how big of a case) of FAGE delivered to my door. I am guessing it's a mix of flavors like the ones sent to bloggers to review. I still have one last container in the fridge, which I will probably have as a snack today with berries so that I am ready for my new supply.

One of my Weight Watchers meeting pet peeves was that people would claim to "never" use all of their points. Once a person in my meeting said she couldn't believe how many points people got for a week. I asked her how many she usually used and she said, "Oh, I don't count." My sister said some woman at her meeting was describing the reasons for her success. "I never use my weekly points, but then once a week I go out and get a big order of onion rings. I don't count them." Her leader, apparently said, "Psst! You're using your weekly points!" My other sister couldn't believe I go over my points. She said she never goes over her points but that she doesn't count alcohol. Since she owns a bar, my guess is that she goes over her points too. I am apparently looking like a glutton only because I'm being honest.

It's been weird working out in the heat. I did a one-hour run on Sunday, which is the longest I have done so far. I felt fine while I was doing it, but I had a headache for most of the day. It's hard to stay hydrated in this weather. Luckily we're getting a cooling-off spell.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Non-Scale Victories

I thought it might be worth talking about some NSVs since I've had my ups and downs on the other kind. My Pilates Reformer instructor (not the one who made the weird comment, my usual instructor) said she noticed that my face and waist looked thinner. I told her that I had only lost a couple of pounds and she said that it still showed. I appreciated that. We have to wear form-fitting clothes for that class so the instructor can check our form, so it would make sense that she would notice a change before other people do.

I've also noticed a small difference in how my clothes fit and how my body looks. I definitely have lost inches in my waist and maybe a couple in my thighs. My arms seem a little firmer.

Maybe the change is real or maybe it's just a little more confidence and better posture. Either way, I'll take it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ups and downs

Weight Chart


Apparently tickerfactory still has their graphs after all. I know it's not as pretty as the Weight Watchers one, but it's a lot easier to embed in my blog post. I'm not really surprised that I had an uptick this week. I'm still working on it. My goal is to be in the 160s next week. I did earn (and use) 40 activity points last week, including a Boot Camp last night that has me pretty sore this morning. I've been trying some new classes to use up the tail end of a package I bought that is expiring. Boot Camp is about as fun as it sounds -- lots of pushups. Though it's probably good for me to work on pushups, I think I'd rather do it on my own than in a class.

The weather here is getting so beautiful that I expect to be doing more and more of my workouts outdoors. I will probably keep doing Pilates Reformer, but other than that I see a lot less classes in my future once I finish out this package, especially since I need to be ready for my sprint triathlon in late June.

Oikos winners, I'm still waiting to hear where I should send your prizes. Also, thanks to everyone who has commented on my posts lately. It's nice to see so much activity here, and I really enjoy seeing how people respond to the things I write.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Biggest Loser Recap: Fear

I'm starting to feel like this season of TBL is dragging on forever. Still, there were a few interesting takeaways from this episode, all centering around fears.

The first one was Tara's fear of success. As fit and amazing as she is, she still seems incredibly insecure. I think Jillian's speech to her was exactly what she needed to hear: "You're afraid people are targeting you and that they're jealous of you? Welcome to being successful! Get used to it!" In desperation, she seems to be clinging to anyone she thinks might help her in the gameplay rather than counting on her own efforts to carry her through. I thought she showed pretty poor judgement in trusting Helen, who does not seem to be anyone's friend. Someone who chose her own interests over her daughter's is not the kind of person to count on in a crisis. I noticed that Helen's daughter has not come to any of the family reunion events on the show.

The next was Kristen's fear of admitting she wanted something for herself. I understand that superstitious fear of saying something aloud for fear that you will jinx yourself somehow. Or, as my husband suggested, the misguided belief that you can avoid disappointment if you pretend you don't really want something.

Finally, Mike's fear of expressing his anger at his dad for setting such a bad example for his family. I imagine that in a family where everyone is overweight (his mother, we found out, was also very heavy until a few years ago), it might seem disloyal to want to be smaller. We see how Max feels abandoned by his father and brother now that they're losing weight -- there might have been a lot of pressure at home to be part of the 400-Pound Guys Club and to pretend that you didn't mind being that big. If the whole family is living on fast food and pizza, it's hard for a kid to ask for something different. I thought Ron handled it well when Mike expressed how he felt -- and I'm sure there was a lot of that discussion that didn't make it on camera. I really feel like it was an important step in Mike's development to finally stand up to his dad, who seems to be hard to confront.

I was very disappointed at how the elimination turned out. The people I like seem to be systematically being eliminated from the show. Helen only got to stick around because no one sees through her whiny powerless act and realizes how ruthless she really is. I would have had a lot of respect for the players on the show if they had chosen to keep all the tough competitors around instead. Ron's choice to honor the letter of his promise to protect Kristen but violate the spirit of it (not only did he not try to convince Mike to vote for Helen, but he asked Mike to make sure that Tara would vote for Kristen too) confirmed my negative opinion of him. I'm afraid it might end up as Ron, Helen, and Filipe as the final three, and then I'd have no interest in watching the finale.

I had a pet theory on why Kristen was suddenly gaining weight, but if I was right, they didn't let me know. I was hoping she might be pregnant, since one of her reasons for wanting to lose weight was so she could start a family. She's had a few visits with her husband where there might have been opportunities. I noticed that she participated in the champagne toast when her family welcomed her home, though her mother (who talked about being sober for many years now) obviously had something else in her glass.

One thing I thought was put in for foreshadowing: Ron and Mike's confidence that Mike was going to have no trouble winning now that Kristen was gone. I am sure that they will be "rewarded" for their overconfidence. If Mike and Ron end up under the yellow line together, the other players would have no reason to keep Mike around -- after all, Mike and Ron had no compunction about getting rid of Kristen.

I am starting to wonder about the future of "The Biggest Loser." It seems to be losing steam as the focus shifts from weight loss to gameplay. I think the best possible outcome at this point would be to convert "The Biggest Loser" from a television show to a chain of weight loss camps. They have obviously perfected their system for taking massive amounts of weight off people in a short time, and I know a lot of people would pay big bucks for the chance to go away for a couple of months and come home transformed. As much as people see this as "unrealistic" and "unhealthy," it doesn't seem any more drastic to me than weight loss surgery. If they could get approved for insurance payments, TBL could be a gold mine and a really good option for people who were healthy enough to do the exercise.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Way of the Mindful Warrior

I've been doing yoga here and there with videos at home, but yesterday I took a class for the first time in a while. We did a Warrior series (see photo for what Warrior II looks like) and I was struck by the wisdom of this pose. The Warrior poses are designed to open your heart center. The idea of going into a battlefield in this pose seems a little silly, but I think the pose is meant to suggest a more spiritual type of warrior, one who refuses to let life's pain force her to close herself off from the world. Even after being hurt or disappointed, she goes forward with an open, brave heart, knowing her own power. She knows that to protect herself by closing herself off would be to deny that power and to miss out on too much.

This meshes nicely with a podcast I listened to today from American Public Media's "Speaking of Faith" series. Program host Krista Tippett spoke with author John Kabat-Zinn about "Opening to Our Lives." I had heard a little of it this weekend and tracked down the podcast so that I could hear the rest. He talked about how we can cause ourselves needless suffering by trying to get our lives "perfect" and then hold them there. "You can do this for a a short time, at great cost to yourself and others." Instead of trying to hold tight to a certain set of circumstances that "we percieve as desireable and the way that things should be," that we be mindful and open to each moment, "so that instead of running toward our deaths, we open to our lives." I really recommend listening to the whole show, it's truly beautiful and practical.

I think that there is a synchronicity in the way that things are brought to our notice when we need them. I have been feeling irritable because certain things in my life are not settled the way I'd like them to be. Kabat-Zinn reminds me that nothing ever stays settled for long, anyway, and the Warrior reminds me that I need to move forward in openness and faith.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some thoughts on doing Weight Watchers... again

Until this time around, I've always done Weight Watchers in the traditional way by going to meetings. I collected the little booklets, I bought the Complete Food Companions and the Restaurant Guides (I have several different editions). Each week I dutifully weighed in and if it was a bad week, tried to make up some good reason. I loved the program when I was "winning" and losing on schedule. I felt grouchy and defensive if I was having trouble sticking to the plan and knew that the weigh-in would be a bad one. More than once, I stopped going to the meetings because I didn't like the way the receptionist delivered the bad news. Or maybe it was because I really didn't want to go anymore.

It's different doing the plan online and weighing in myself. For one thing, I don't have to sit through a meeting talking about low-points snacks and listening to my stomach growl because I didn't want to weigh my breakfast. It's nice not to have to answer to anyone but myself.

It takes away some of the urgency to lose fast and furious, for one thing. I am taking a different approach this time, focusing first on tracking everything, no matter how bad the news is. I don't use artificial sweeteners (except the occasional piece of sugarfree gum) or fat-free dairy products (yuck). Weight Watchers is tough without those things. I go over my points a lot of days, but I think it's more important to be honest with myself than keep a pretty journal with a perfect "score" each week. Knowing that I will be tallying it up often makes me think twice about what I'm eating. My next goal is to really focus on those healthy habits -- the water, the vitamins, the fruits and vegetables, even the healthy oils.

I have been feeling very good since I boosted my exercise and started tracking again. I have been eating more fruits and vegetables and getting more fiber in my diet. I've cut back on junky carbs (I haven't come close to eliminating them, but I've cut back). My energy level is up and I've also been sleeping better. I also feel like my mood has brightened. I attribute a lot of this to the exercise but I know that eating healthier definitely helps. Losing three pounds and seeing my waist look more defined helps too.

I don't have anyone clapping when I lose, but I get to take my time and treat this as a process. There's not as much of a sense of feeling "OP (on program)" or off. All this and a bunch of geeky tools too. I'm really surprised I didn't try it sooner.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A workout pet peeve

I took a Pilates Reformer class this week with a different instructor than usual. She was obviously knowledgeable and took us through some moves that I hadn't learned before. At the beginning of the class, she said, "I want you to spend the next hour thinking only of your body."

So far, great, right? But with each move, she said something like, "This move is great for getting rid of that inner thigh jiggle," or "This move is good for tightening up those droopy arms."

If I'm going to spend an entire hour thinking of nothing but my body, I don't want to spend the hour thinking about all the various flaws it has. I can do that quite well on my own.

Besides being discouraging, these kinds of comments also suggest an emphasis on how your body looks instead of how well it functions. I know we all want to look good, but if you're a fitness instructor, wouldn't you focus more on what each move can help clients DO? Like, "This move will strengthen your back and improve your posture," or "This move will help when you're carrying in 20 bags of groceries," or "This move will keep you running injury-free."

Thinking about muffin tops and thigh jiggles is no fun, whether I'm doing it on my own or with the assistance of a very nice-looking woman who obviously either has a terrible body image (she made several self-deprecating jokes about how she was "losing the battle" that didn't seem very funny) or who thinks that focusing on your flaws is somehow motivating. I know she's not the only one. I've experienced (and hated) the same thing in other group exercise classes. I have also experienced some really great fitness instructors who know how to stay focused on the positive.

Besides, if I'm there working out already, chances are I don't need to be "motivated."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Congratulations to the Oikos winners!

The Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt giveaway has come to an end and it's time to award the prizes. Congratulations to Joan, the winner of the grand prize package:


And Mich, the runner-up:


I will be emailing you both to get an address so I can send your prizes. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weigh-in day: The Weight Watchers gods were merciful

I had a very bad Weight Watchers week last week, enough to make the previous week seem like strict dieting. Once I got into the hole, psychologically it was harder for me to stay on track. I kept seeing those negative points at the top of my tracker. I really don't like the way they have changed the Activity Points -- I like to use those on the day I earned them, just like I learned long ago. One thing about of online tracking is that you're stuck with the way WW wants you to do things -- you can't get creative. Maybe that's a good thing, actually.


Anyway, I lost 2 pounds! In "The Biggest Loser" terms, I had a 1.16% loss. I'm hoping that if I get a little more discipline this week, I could be in the 160s.

It's really hard to find a nice, simple web graphing program. Tickerfactory used to have one but they seem to have gotten rid of it. I was able to get a screenshot of the weight tracking tool in WW Online. They also have a really interesting weekly graph that lets you see where you're using your points -- morning, midday, evening, anytime. They have plenty of tools for geeks like me to play with (though I've made my own spreadsheet to get the loss percentages and track a couple of other things). The goal weight you see on this graph is actually my 5% goal, not my overall goal.



P.S. I love all the discussion on my Biggest Loser recap. In response to Allison, I do like Mike. The only reason I am not rooting for him to win is I suspect that Ron would take a lot of the credit for it (and maybe also a chunk of the prize money) thinking that his gameplay, and not Mike's hard work, made the big difference in Mike's success. Also, you can still win free yogurt -- I have revised the entry requirements to make it easier for people to win.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oikos yogurt review and giveaway

This is my first blog giveway in a very long time. I have two fabulous prize packages up for grabs:

The Grand Prize Package


This package includes a coupon for a free 16-ounce container of Oikos organic Greek yogurt (available in plain or vanilla), a coupon for a free 5.3-ounce container of Oikos organic Greek yogurt (available in plain, blueberry, honey, or vanilla), $1.00 off coupons for four other Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt products, and a canvas drawstring Stonyfield Farm bag with a picture of a cow on it, suitable for holding magic beans or anything else you might want to keep in it.

The Slightly Less Grand Prize Package
This package includes a coupon for a free 16-ounce container of Oikos organic Greek yogurt (available in plain or vanilla) and a coupon for a free 5.3-ounce container of Oikos organic Greek yogurt (available in plain, blueberry, honey, or vanilla).

To enter: Post a link to this blog entry on your blog and then comment on this post with a link to the blog post containing your link. Post a comment to this blog entry with the flavor of Oikos you would most like to try. You can also tell me a silly joke in your comment but it will not increase your odds of winning. The winner will be selected with a random number generator and announced in my blog entry on Friday. I will also contact the winner by email (if your email is in your profile) to get an address where I can send the prize. U.S. addresses only, please. Enter by 1:00 a.m. EST on Friday, April 17.

Now on to the review.

I was contacted by a Stonyfield Farm rep after posting a comment to enter the FAGE Total sweepstakes at BlogHer with this generous offer:
Stonyfield Farm makes Oikos Organic which is the only organic Greek yogurt on the market today. As you probably know, organic means it's made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, and it's made from organic milk produced without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, or artificial growth hormones (ie rBST). We feel that organic is not only healthier for you, but better for the planet as well.

I would love to send you coupons for Oikos so that you can give it a try and maybe let your readers know what you think of it!
Since I love freebies and also want to eat more organics, especially when it comes to meat and dairy, I accepted. I recieved the items pictured above, plus a third coupon for a 5.3-ounce container, which I sampled. I chose the plain because I thought it would be the closest comparison to other Greek yogurts I've tasted, but the other flavors are sweetened with organic sugar. The honey, for example, contains: CULTURED PASTEURIZED ORGANIC NONFAT MILK, ORGANIC HONEY, ORGANIC SUGAR, PECTIN, ORGANIC CAROB BEAN GUM. CONTAINS FIVE LIVE AND ACTIVE CULTURES INCLUDING L. ACIDOPHILUS, BIFIDUS, AND L. CASEI.

The plain is much simpler: CULTURED PASTEURIZED ORGANIC NONFAT MILK. CONTAINS FIVE LIVE AND ACTIVE CULTURES INCLUDING L. ACIDOPHILUS, BIFIDUS, AND L. CASEI.

I decided to try the yogurt after my run when I was really hungry. I was a little skittish because it is a fat-free yogurt. I don't like FAGE's fat-free version because it's too sour, so I always buy the 2%. Going fat-free with yogurt doesn't save a lot of Weight Watcher points, especially if you add sweetener to it.

I tasted a spoonful of Oikos on its own and it was too tart for my taste. I added a teaspoon of my own honey and some chopped pistachios. It was good, but I think I would have preferred a lowfat (rather than a nonfat) version. I think a little bit of fat in yogurt takes the edge off the tartness and makes it feel a little richer. I may try one of the flavored varieties next time -- the honey is only 40 calories more than the plain.

Don't take my word for it, though, enter my sweepstakes so you can try Oikos for free. Again, to enter: Post a link to this blog entry on your blog and then comment on this post with a link to the blog post containing your link. Post a comment to this blog entry with the flavor of Oikos you would most like to try. You can also tell me a silly joke in your comment but it will not increase your odds of winning. The winner will be selected with a random number generator and announced in my blog entry on Friday. I will also contact the winner by email (if your email is in your profile) to get an address where I can send the prize. U.S. addresses only, please. Enter by 1:00 a.m. EST on Friday, April 17.

Edited: I realized that I was asking an awful lot for a few coupons for yogurt. So I changed the entry rules. If you would like to link to this contest, please do, but it's no longer a requirement for entry. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Biggest Loser: Makeovers!

I just can't do the no-spoiler zone anymore. Hopefully if you're reading this you don't mind spoilers.

The challenge this week, a walk on a zip line across a canyon, could have been an exciting one if there was any real competition here. It was sort of rushed through, and there was the usual outcome of it coming down to a contest between two players with the rest of the players just participating. Ron, however, took two or three steps, decided that since he could never win it wasn't worth trying, and quit. It seems like he's missed the point of this show. He obviously has seen his role as kingmaker for his son Mike all along and hasn't been that interested or focused on making changes himself.

This was Makeover Week on "The Biggest Loser," but oddly, the makeovers themselves were not that big a part of the show for a change. We didn't get much of Tim Gunn, though he obviously gave the players good guidance. Everyone looked fantastic. I really liked Laura's hair, and was thrilled that Kristen finally got rid of her skunk-stripe highlights. Mike and Sione's haircuts brought out the squareness of their jawlines.

There were some touching scenes when the made-over players saw their family members. I personally felt very bad for Ron's other son, Max, who was obviously torn apart because he was still so large and his brother Mike looked so good. The idea that the two of the players from the ranch are going to be able to go home and "fix" Max is an upsetting one -- they can help and provide support, but ultimately we all have to fix ourselves if we want to be fixed. There was a hint that next week's show is going to get into the issues behind Mike and Max's weight problems -- obviously there is something big going on in that family. We found out this week that Ron weighed more than 200 pounds by the time he was 9 years old, and more than 300 pounds by 15.

Laura was a big focus of the show this week. Jillian had hinted on her podcast that one of her contestants had a stress fracture in her foot and then continued to work out on it anyway while wearing the immobilizer boot despite doctor's orders. Obviously, that was Laura, because she ended up with an even more serious injury, a hip stress fracture. Luckily, the show is committed to helping her rehabilitate the injury, which seems like it would be a challenging one to deal with.

We're down to just a week or two before the finale, I think. That's why Sione and Laura's transformations after leaving the ranch didn't seem as dramatic as some of the others -- they had a lot less time.

I would like to see Mike, Tara, and Kristen as the final three. I have to say, I was originally rooting for Tara to win it all, but now I'm cheering for Kristen. Of all the remaining players, she seems to be the one who has her head in the right place.

Monday, April 13, 2009

If you like X, do X!

I read "The Simple Dollar," a personal finance blog, once in a while. Today the reader mailbag was filled with questions that followed this format: "I am doing X and feel happy with my choice, but my friend/relative/boyfriend's father tells me I should be doing Y." In a similar vein, a few weeks ago the author's readers tore him to shreds because they said his choice to purchase a new Prius instead of a low-mileage used car destroyed his credibility as a frugal blogger. Assuming that you have thought through your decisions, there is rarely a good reason to pay attention to the champions of Y. They probably don't have the same priorities that you do and they haven't done the research you've already done.

Just yesterday, one of my aunts complimented me on my hair. I said that I have been dyeing it for a few months now, and they asked how much it cost. They thought I was crazy I pay $100 every six weeks for a cut and a color touch-up (including tip). They of course do theirs at home. I've done that and I'd rather pay the money for someone else to do it -- dyeing my hair at home stains the shower curtain, the towels, and sometimes my pillowcase if I don't get it all rinsed out in the shower. It turns orange as it fades. The professional-quality dye lasts and makes my hair glossy and more manageable. I have gotten enough bad haircuts to avoid wanting to try a Supercuts-type place again, so I would still pay $40 for the haircut and tip. I'd have to buy the dye (probably about $20?) so I'd save a big $20 by doing it myself, assuming that the cheap store dye would last as long as the good kind. Personally, I'd rather have compliment-worthy hair and pay the extra money than have raggedy orange hair. I'm sure I'd blow it on something else (probably tissues, from crying about how ugly my hair was). My hair has always been one of my favorite things about my looks so I don't take chances on it.

I am a little concerned that the dye won't hold up as well now that I'm swimming again. The pool today was really heavily cholorinated. I washed my hair three times just to make sure I got it all out and conditioned it really well (I also spend the extra money to buy good shampoo and conditioner, by the way). Today was my longest swim so farthis year -- a total of 2250 yards, with 40 yards of nonstop crawl to simulate my half-mile swim in the triathlon. Even though I'm only swimming once a week, I think this is the part of the tri I feel most confident about. I haven't been out on a bike yet because it has been too cold here. I've been running enough that I'll probably be fine, but the run is always hard because it's the last thing, so I'm working my long runs up too just to increase my overall endurance.

I saw a man at the pool today who had an interesting solution for the lap-counting problem. He had two small plastic containers -- they looked like pudding or baby food containers. In them were some thick black rubber washers. I think he was transferring a washer from one container to the other every 50 yards (down and back). I thought this was clever, but I'd recommend that if you try this, you choose something that floats in case you drop it in the water. The lifeguards wouldn't be amused if you were using pennies or metal washers.

I did

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter feast

Today was not a good Weight Watcher day, in fact, though my points reset on Thursday, I have burned through more than my 35 weekly allowance. This should be the part where as a good weight loss blogger, I talk about how disappointed in myself I am and how I'm going to do better, etc.

Except that I'm not going to do that. I had one goal for this weekend: To track as honestly and completely as possible, to enjoy the holiday and my time with my family, and to get back on track on Monday.

And also not to be surprised or angry at any gain I earned.

I am glad I have my family near enough to spend holidays with them and I enjoy eating with my family. The only thing I regret, actually, is that today I misjudged my appetite and ate past the point of fullness and spent some time feeling uncomfortable and distracted.

I was really looking forward to a Peanut Butter Egg, despite all the peanut butter mess earlier this year. I haven't felt any ill effects, so I'm guessing (hoping) that the products on the shelf are clean.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dreams of weight loss

Frances has a new blog and I love the inaugural entry. I think she succinctly and precisely describes the thing that flips the switch from "I should lose some weight" to a true and deep knowledge that you genuinely want to lose weight and a confidence that you can and will.

Motivation, as she describes it, is temporary and external:
I want to be thin for my daughter's wedding or my 20th reunion is coming up. The dieter either gives up because she realizes she won't fit the fantasy evening gown in time or she gets down to her cheerleader uniform size but eats the entire breakfast buffet.
Dreams, on the other hand, are different. Dreams are a telegraph from the future self you want to become:

I've also discovered I have some dreams and that dreams had gone missing in my life in the last six years of relapse. I want to move to Seattle. I want to move to Seattle in order to hike and ski. I want to write a novel. I want to stop being the Queen of Weight Loss and Weight Gain.

They're really good dreams because they're infinite. The Cascades hold more than one hike and one novel, I hope, will lead to another. There are thousands of things to talk about besides weight.

I think that a lot of people are afraid to dream. If we're asked what we want, we often reply with things: A new car, a bigger house, more money, a better job. I think that the biggest dreams are not about stuff like that, but about who we want to be and what we want our lives to be like.

A career counselor once gave me an exercise to do that helped me think about this. You can think of this as a sort of reverse past-life regression. Imagine yourself in five years. You wake up: Where are you? Who lives with you? It's a workday. What's your morning routine? How do you get to work? What kind of place do you work? What kind of things do you do? What kind of people do you work with? What are your plans for the weekend? Move through your day and see yourself interacting with people.

How would all this change if you let go of what is "realistic" and let yourself think about what you really want? How would your ideal future self react to the reality you're in today?

Please be sure to stop by Frances's blog and read the rest for yourself. I've just hit a couple of the hightlights here. Sweet dreams!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Geared up for success

Yesterday I felt all geared up for success on my run. I had my new jacket and my new shoes. I had a new set of headphones for my iPod because the earbuds that came with it only stay in if I wear a hat. I went to my favorite place to run.

It was a beautiful day so I wasn't wearing the jacket for long. The headphones, even though they seem to have gotten crummy reviews, were just what I wanted -- they stay in my ears, they don't block ambient noise, and they were comfortable for a whole 50-minute run.

I got a little carried away and probably ran too fast. I made it through the workout just fine, but for the rest of the day I was tired and a little headachy. Still, getting through this run made me feel more confident about my race in June. I expect the triathlon to take me about 1 1/2 hours, more or less. Though it seems counterintuitive, a triathlon feels easier than a road race of the same length, because you're switching activities and using different muscles for each of the events. So I am confident that by late June I'll have the endurance I need to get through the run.

The shoes definitely made a difference. My toes hurt a little at the very end of the run but were fine by the time I drove home from the park.

I've been trying to save money and pay down debt, like just about everyone else I know, but these three purchases -- shoes, headphones, jacket -- are things that will make my running more comfortable, so I feel like they were worth it. The shoes, especially, were a necessity.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Weigh-in and "The Biggest Loser" update

D reminds me that I forgot to post my weekly recap of "The Biggest Loser." How fitting that I post it on my first weigh-in day since starting Weight Watchers. There are a few TBL spoilers ahead, so if you haven't watched yet, enter at your own risk.

First, my weigh-in. I earned and used 39 Activity Points for the week. Now the bad news: I was over my Weekly Points Allowance by 41.5 for the week. So I was happy with the 1-pound loss this week, and hope that I'll be able to have better numbers for next week. In Biggest Loser terms, my weight loss this week was 0.58%. I have 17 pounds left to goal. In addition to the 10% goals they used to have, Weight Watchers has added a 5% goal. I'm 7.65 pounds from my 5% goal. I think this week was a good start.

This week's "The Biggest Loser" started with what I think was an unreasonable reaction by Ron to Sione, Phillipe, and Helen's votes for him last week. He seems to think his son Mike needs him there to keep losing, but the truth is that Mike is doing just fine, and probably would benefit from a chance to stand on his own. Let's look at this realistically: Ron is probably just as controlling of his family at home as he is of his "family" on TBL, and his sons are hugely overweight.

Control seems to be the drug of choice on TBL, however. This week, the temptation was a chance to win total control of who stayed and who went home. The catch was that to compete for this prize, the contestants had to search for it in a bunch of covered trays scattered all over the gym. Some trays had sugarfree gum and money, others had high-calorie foods like cupcakes and donuts, and only one had the "golden ticket" that allowed the single controlling vote.

Not surprisingly, with all the tension surrounding gameplay, most of the players went nuts. Tara got stuck eating more than 3,000 extra calories. You could tell that the players who ate the most were feeling terrible. Even before they started working out, Tara and Phillipe looked pale and sweaty and the expression on their faces was pure agony. After all those weeks of mostly clean food, it was obvious that their bodies did not react well to a sudden sugar and fat overload.

Kristen seemed the smartest about this temptation. She picked up a couple of trays and got stuck eating a few hundred extra calories, then realized that the prize just wasn't worth the risk. The person with the ticket could only vote you off if you were one of the two people who had the lowest weight loss percentage. Kristen said, "I'm going to make sure that ticket is no good with me." She realized that the best way to control the game was to keep her weight losses consistent. To use the ticket, you could not be at risk of being sent home yourself, so eating thousands of extra calories and then finding the ticket might not have worked anyway.

Laura won the ticket (and $5000) but didn't really seem to know how to handle the power. She wanted Tara to throw the weigh-in so that she didn't have to decide who went home... so what was the point, really? She was also really scared that she wouldn't have a good week and the ticket would be useless. It seems pretty obvious that fear and powerlessness are her issues.

You could easily divide up the players by their control issues:
Ron, Tara, Phillipe, Helen: Super controlling. Want everything to be their way at all times, know what's best for everyone. They're perfectionists and if they can't do everything perfect, they might as well totally blow it (thinking of Tara in one of her bad weeks).
Laura, Mike: Very passive. Want other people to take care of things and make decisions for them so they don't have to hurt anyone's feelings.

I don't see Kristen or Sione falling into either of these groups. They both seem to be really healthy and normal, at least compared to the other people on the show.They also have consistently lost weight and hasn't gotten nearly as wrapped up in the gameplay as other players have. I'm sure they have their own issues but they aren't obvious -- maybe they are different with thier family and friends.

(So which group am I in? I definitely have a tendency to be a controlling perfectionist, which is something I've been working very hard to change. One of my big victories this week with Weight Watchers was that I continued to track even once I went over my points. That's usually where I blow it completely.)

The challenge this week was really kind of boring. It was pretty obvious who the two finalists would be and the only question was who would be the winner of those two.

By contrast, the weigh-in and elimination were pretty dramatic this week, I think that Laura made the wrong choice on which player to send home at the elimination, and am pretty sure that decision will come back to bite her in the end. The eliminated player seems to be doing pretty well at home, though.

Next week is the big makeover event on TBL with Tim Gunn. Can't wait to see that one.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New shoes, questionable coffee, and anti-stink detergent

My new shoes are here! I am looking forward to doing my long run in them tomorrow. I slipped one on and I can definitely tell now that my old shoes were worn out. Thanks again to kilax to prompting my brain to think of the shoes.

Speaking of brain tricks, I have been having an upset and gassy stomach every day for the last week or so. I thought maybe I should give up my morning coffee, since that's when it started. Actually, my first thought was to blame Weight Watchers because I've been bumping up my fiber intake. It would be really convenient to give myself a junk food prescription, wouldn't it? But today I noticed that it started bothering me right after I had my coffee. I posted on twitter that I thought I might have to give it up, and a friend suggested some kind of Folger's brand that is supposed to be easier on the stomach. That made me think -- we try lots of different kinds of organic coffee, and we just opened a new bag earlier this week. So I am going to dump it and go back to a brand that didn't give me problems before taking the drastic step of giving up something I love that has almost no points (I put in a little Silk soy creamer, which is 2 tablespoons for 1 point). Hopefully it will do the trick. I'm totally willing to give up coffee if that's what it takes not to feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Not sure why I thought my drastic change in diet would be responsible anyway. As I said earlier in the week, I dipped into the negatives in my Weekly Point Allowance and never fully recovered. Still, I know I am eating less, even with the extra points, than I was on my own, so I expect a small loss, at least. Maybe a pound or two. I will post it here, no matter what, so come back tomorrow if you're curious to see how it went.

Today I tried doing my weight training before Spinning class and it went just fine. I was tired after the weight training, but a few minutes of an easy warmup on the bike before class started was all it took for me to feel energized again. Spin class was intense, and I was soaked with sweat, both from the workout and the heat from so many people crammed into a converted racquetball court. The JCC is not a luxury gym, but it gets the job done.

Finally, I have to plug this detergent, Win, which is especially made for technical fabrics. Regular detergent does not seem to get the stink out of these fabrics for some reason, and they had a teeny little bottle of detergent at Dick's Sporting Goods for $6.99. The bottle says it does 14 regular-sized loads, so that's a little expensive, but I finally tried it today and it does seem to have worked. I dumped every technical shirt and sports bra that I could find into the wash and did a load. It was easy to tell a difference in my gear. There was one particularly stinky shirt of my husband's that needs a second treatment, but he says it's better than it was (I didn't smell for myself). The smell seems to build over time so it might be something you only need to use every few washings. I recommend trying it, especially if you're a two-athlete (or more) family and have enough workout gear around to make a full wash load.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Specialty Running store 0, Lady Foot Locker 1

I tried to find a jacket at my local running store today. They have a bad track record with me and today was no exception. It's a small store and they don't carry a lot of inventory, and in my experience, I rarely find what I'm looking for in my size.

Quick rant: I wear a size large. I know that I have weight to lose, but I have to be very skinny before I drop into medium territory. I am a little taller than average and hippy and I have a big chest. I'm not large just because I'm fat. Really. Partly it is weight and partly it is body type. I would gladly trade my thighs in on the string-bean runner models but haven't been able to find a store that will take them.

I looked around and was not thrilled with the selection. Almost every jacket they had in my size was black and cost more than $100. I wanted a very light spring jacket and not rain gear, and I seemed to have trouble explaining what I was looking for. I found a size medium jacket on the sale rack that I kind of liked and tried it on just for grins. Weirdly, it fit me better than a large in the same brand of a different jacket, but both were too snug for comfortable movement. The third jacket, which did fit, was almost $150 and I didn't really like it. I told the salespeople that I didn't find anything I really liked in my size and left feeling really crummy. Like I was a Very Large Freakish Person Who Should Not Be Running. They had plenty of stock in medium, small, and extra small.

I went to Lady Foot Locker not really expecting to find anything. It was just a desperation move. I got very friendly help taking the one jacket that looked promising down off the wall. It was only $59. It was sky blue on the outside and had a yellow mesh material on the inside. It was made of a breathable material and had a hood. And it fit just right. Exactly what I was looking for. They were having a buy one, get one 1/2 off sale on apparel so I picked up a cute pair of yoga pants too.

I tend to feel not very welcome in specialty running stores, both because they don't seem to carry much in my size and because I feel like I am not perceived as a "real runner" by the staff. That latter part could easily be just my own insecurity talking. I know that a lot of people recommend that new runners go to a specialty running store to get their first pair of shoes, but in my experience, those stores just aren't friendly unless you look like you can do a sub-15-minute 5K. I hope that my experiences aren't typical. No one should judge a runner by looks -- I've passed lots of people wearing size xs in races and have been passed by plenty of xxls.

Counting laps when swimming

Just a quick post to answer Mich's question:

One thing that helps me count laps is that I always start on the same side of the pool, so there's an "even" side and an "odd" side. I also generally do groups of sets -- I used to do my workout as a series of sets of 4, but now I do them as a series of sets of 10, mostly because the 10s are easier for me to remember. I also do think of the numbers when I'm swimming. So as I'm swimming I think "1" as I'm doing the first lap, etc. I guess this answers Watching and Weighting's question too -- I count up, not down. I have gotten into the habit of doing a couple of kickboard laps as a break between sets, which also helps sort of set the number I'm on in my head. Yesterday, I did two kick laps after the first 10, two after the second 10, one after my set of 30, two more after the next 10, and then four after my last 10 (because I didn't want to end on a weird number like 76). I don't really count the kick sets as part of my mile because I do them at a low level of effort.

I do get confused sometimes, but not that often. Yesterday I wasn't sure if I was on 33 or 35 (as I was heading down to the odd side of the pool) so I just counted it as 33.

There are lap counting gizmos but I've never researched them. I don't know how -- or if -- they work or how much they cost. The ones I've happened to see in magazines always seemed expensive. I figure it's not that important to me. I used to get more confused when swimming was harder for me, because I was focusing so much on technical stuff that I had less brainpower left for counting.

Eventually I should really lengthen these out and mix things up. I've been doing all freestyle but supposedly doing the other strokes is good for balance and endurance. I have a decent backstroke and breaststroke, but my butterfly looks like I'm drowning in a washing machine.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Will race for motivation

It snowed last night, not much, but enough to cover the grass. Psychologically I had to give myself an extra push to get out the door for my swim, which makes no sense, since I am swimming indoors. I'm glad I had the race on my calendar because I enjoyed the swim once I got there, but I needed to think about race day to get myself out the door. No wonder I tend to put on weight over the winter and lose it in the summer!

I swam my usual mile, which is 70 laps in the pool I use, but just to mix things up, I did 30 of those laps (so almost half a mile) without stopping to rest. Since I completely stink at flip turns, I think this is as good an approximation of the swim I'll be doing in late June as I can get in a pool. It made me feel more confident that with 12 more weeks of training, I'll be fine. I love how I feel in the pool. I am much more graceful in the water than on land. Swimming is the one athletic talent I seem to have without working too hard at it. I have big hands and feet so maybe I was supposed to have flippers!

I think the big thing I will need to work on is the bike. I'm doing my Spinning classes once a week, but I'm looking forward to nicer weather so I can get out and ride. I am not enthusiastic about getting on a bike until it's at least 70 degrees out.

It feels like things are coming together nicely. Having something to train for really makes a difference. I'm not nearly as motivated if I am just working out to lose weight. Picturing myself on the start line and thinking about how I want to feel that day, now that's motivation!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Holy negative points, Batman!

As I said before, I'm still getting the hang of this again. I got myself in trouble with a couple of items today that I ate before checking the points values, which turned out to be a lot higher than I thought they would be. The whole grain waffles I've been making most weekends thinking they were pretty healthy (buckwheat and whole wheat flour, not too high in fat, flax meal mixed in for some extra fiber) were 8 points each when I put them into the Recipe Builder. My mom's chicken turned out to be 10.5 for 2 drumsticks (of course I eat the skin, that's the best part). Right now I'm 18.5 points in the hole for the week, which ends on Thursday morning when I weigh in. I've even burned through all 20 of the activity points I've earned so far this week.

The weird thing is, I bet I'll still lose at least a little, because using the estimated value of 50 calories per point, I'm still eating less than when I was tracking calories and I was maintaining or even losing slowly at that level. I'm curious to see what happens Thursday. I will keep my expectations low because this is sort of a practice week. I'll post my results, whatever they are, on Thursday sometime. I used my weight on this Thursday, 173, as a starting weight.

I got out for what I planned as a nice, easy half-hour run today, but I was running with my husband, so I think it went a little faster than usual. I was happy to be done. Kilax, thanks for the mention about the shoes -- I think mine are the right size, but once I read your comment I realized that they are probably shot. I've been running in them for a long time, more than a year. They are a discontinued model, the Asics Gel 1120, but I know from experience that switching models can be a pain -- I know I like these and don't want to experiment with something new and potentially waste money on something I don't like. I poked around and found them on Amazon for less than $60 with shipping and immediately ordered a pair. The new shoes should get me through the fall, considering I don't run every day.

I'm still looking for a spring running jacket. I want something lightweight, fitted, and breathable. I need an MP3 pocket but would also like other pockets for keys and a cell phone. I tried looking online but it's annoying to sort through all the fashion jackets and try to guess which ones would fit me correctly, so I'm going to check my local running shops. I breezed through one today but they didn't have much of a selection. I'm trying to keep it under $70 if possible. Give me a shout if you have any rave reviews of jackets I should try.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Weight Watchers and workout update

I have to say, it's going to take me a while to get back into the swing of things. It sounds dumb, but the switch from using the Activity Points first to using Weekly Allowance first makes it harder for me to feel like I know how many points I have left to use.

The main thing is that I haven't been eating like a Weight Watcher lately (not surprising, then, that I haven't been losing weight like one either) and so I've forgotten how to plan meals around the number of points I have. I get 22 points per day, which is not a lot. Yesterday, I had two slices of thin-crust cheese pizza at dinner -- that's almost 10 points right there. It's going to take some time to learn to adjust things again so that I can stay satisfied and still stay within my points. It helps that I've been getting more active and earning more points through activity.

I decided not to do the mini triathlon that I had been thinking about because my college is holding a 5K race the day before. If I did both, I'd have a hard time really enjoying either. I am going to do the 5K and wait and do a sprint triathlon (1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 3 mile run) in late June. Plus I'm planning to do a half marathon in October. Having the races on my calendar helps make me feel more motivated to get out there and workout, which is the whole point for me. I was telling my husband that the difference between us is that he trains so he can race, while I race so that I will train.

Speaking of training, here's my past week:

Saturday, April 4, 2009
Pilates Reformer class, 1 hour.
. . . . .

Friday, April 3, 2009
Rebounder (30 minutes) and TRX (25 minutes) class this morning.
. . . . .

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Did a 45-minute run today at the park. Felt a little tired all the way through but enjoyed the run otherwise. Now my toes are hurting in regular shoes... might have got more pounding than I thought during the run.
. . . . .

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Nice, sweaty 45-minute Spinning class.
. . . . .
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
AM Yoga with Rodney Yee (20 minutes) and did Diana's strength training routine (took about 40 minutes) this morning.
. . . . .

Monday, March 30, 2009
Swam more than a mile in the morning, walked 40 minutes in the park in the afternoon.
. . . . .

Sunday, March 29, 2009
Got up early to do a half-hour run in the park before going to Columbus. Felt great!
. . . . .

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Letting my readers boss me around

I joined Weight Watchers Online today. I succumbed to the peer pressure from my commenters. I also thought it was a chance to try something new: In the past I always attended meetings. One of my sisters was doing it online and said it was only $65 for the first three months. That seems really reasonable, especially because I'll have access to the mobile tracker with my iPod touch. Plus, I won't have to deal with a whole new set of little booklets, because all of the information is online.

I had a chance to kick the tires a little today. The mobile tracker is OK, but not as slick as my beloved Lose It! application. I wish that Weight Watchers would develop an iPhone app so that I wouldn't need an internet connection to get to my tracker. The regular online tracker is much better and allows you to track your heatlhy habits (fruits and vegetables, water, etc.) along with your points.

One weird thing is that the tracker dips into your Weekly Allowance before using your Activity Points. I always used those points first on the days I exercised and then went to Weekly Allowance as a last resort.

It's going to take me some time to get back into Weight Watching mode. I started in the middle of the day so my breakfast and lunch weren't planned with Weight Watchers in mind. With calorie counting, the whole fat and fiber thing was not as important, and some of my favorite foods like peanut butter are now going to be harder to squeeze into my day.

I have one week to decide if I like it before shelling out the money for the three months. So far, I feel like it's shaking things up for me and making me more conscious of my choices, which can only help in my weight loss efforts.

Any other online users reading? My handle for the message boards, just like on this blog, is toledolefty.

Will work out for food

In case you haven't guessed from following this blog, dieting is just not my strong suit. I have a lot of habits that are really healthy, don't get me wrong. I don't like fast food. I eat breakfast every day at home. I like vegetables and I love fruits. I cook at home a lot and keep things healthy. I keep very little junk food in the house so I won't be tempted. If I want ice cream, I go out for one cone instead of buying a half gallon to keep in my freezer tempting me. I don't drink heavily -- usually if I have a drink it's one or maybe two. I don't binge.

Of course, I have bad habits too, or I wouldn't be here blogging about them. For me, the big downfall is snacking. I like salty snacks, especially. Cheese and crackers, Sun Chips, tortilla chips, Smartfood cheddar cheese popcorn, nuts. When I'm feeling anxious, I tend to want to eat something crunchy. I also tend to like starch-heavy foods like potatoes, bread, and pasta. Chinese food is the food of the gods. I also go to my sister's bar and eat tavern food once or twice a week, usually pizza but sometimes onion rings or fried fish. I like wine and beer with meals once in a while. Sometimes I enjoy my food so much that I eat a little more than I should. I have a sweet tooth and like to finish off a meal with a piece of dark chocolate or a cookie.

The thing that frustrates me after years of counting points and calories is how quickly it all adds up. Someone my size really doesn't get a huge calorie allowance. Fitting in the indulgences I like, even if they don't seem big, means that instead of being in a weight-loss mode of 1500-1800 calories, I can easily end up in a maintenance or gain mode of 2000-2500. I don't really know how people manage to do the 1200-1500 calorie diets that they blog about. I can do Weight Watchers for a while and get there, but it's hard and I'm really, really crabby. No one really wants to be around me when I'm in my first week or two of a diet. I hate the world.

It's not that my metabolism is slow, obviously. It's that my appetite and habits conspire to keep me about 15-20 pounds overweight. The only way I can manage to trick it into letting me lose is by working out a LOT. There is sort of a sweet spot with exercise where I'm burning enough calories to lose weight without bumping up my appetite. I'm working up to that point.

I just haven't learned yet how to manage things if I want to lose weight without doing so much exercise, or if I'm injured or sick and can't exercise. It's easier in the summer when there's all kinds of good produce around, but this time of year, it's tough. You can eat only so many apples and oranges.

Both my sisters are on Weight Watchers now and I'm happy about that. Type II diabetes runs in our family and we all tend to carry extra weight. It's not that they look bad -- they're beautiful -- but I want them to be healthy and feel good. I'm so tempted to join too... but I feel stupid spending the money on something that I should be able to do on my own.

I guess the thing that frustrates me is that I'm a person who is used to setting a goal and achieving it. In other areas of my life, I don't bellyache around and feel bad for not getting something done, I just do it. Why is this so much different? I keep trying to find a trick to make this easier and it really doesn't seem like there is one. The majority of people I see are my size or bigger, so obviously it's not easy for anyone.

I have made some small progress. Yesterday morning the scale said 171, which is down about 4 pounds from where I started. Still, I'd like to get things going at more than a pound a month! Hopefully the workouts will help get me there. I'm going for a run today, and it's supposed to be nice so I'll probably also get outside for a walk this evening.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Biggest Loser: They're Back!

Last night's episode brought back the three at-home players whose partners had gotten eliminated, thereby removing them from the show early: Dave, Estella, and Nicole. They were given the chance to win their way back on the show with a weigh-in. Nicole looked fantastic. The other two looked about the same as they did the last time we saw them. Guess who got a spot back on the show? It was obvious, though, that it's hard for an outsider to step into the weird, claustrophobic environment of the ranch, full of drama and gameplay. The scene with Tara talking to Nicole made my head spin -- Tara was talking a mile a minute and not really making much sense. It seemed like most of the conversations Nicole had with the players went about the same way. It makes you wonder what the contestants are going to be like once they get back to their real lives again. This season has been incredibly long and even more twist-filled than the usual show, and I'm beginning to wonder if my beloved TBL has jumped the shark -- I'm wondering what else they can do to keep things fresh and new if they continue with future seasons. It's such a cash cow for NBC that I imagine it will limp on for a while on Extra gum's dime, but if it loses it's audience, it's doomed.

Some of the "Alliance" players seem to have had second thoughts about hitching their wagons to Ron's star. They realized, I think, that he has been manipulating them in an effort to help his son win it all. I'd like to see Mike succeed on his own, so that Dad can't take the credit for his accomplishments. My guess is that Ron has played his "I need to be here!" card for all it's really worth. The remaining contestants who supported him seemed to do it just because they saw him as no threat.

The show also seemed to highlight the dangers of Ron's gastric bypass surgery. He got all the complications of the surgery without seeming to have benefited that much from it: He's still severely overweight even after weeks on the ranch. His physical activity is still incredibly limited. He still has diabetes and high blood pressure, and now the unused part of his stomach is developing bleeding ulcers. I don't know much about the long-range prognosis for weight-loss surgery patients, but I hope his experiences are extreme and not typical.

It was exciting to see Alli and Michelle back on the show looking great. Michelle seemed especially comfortable in front of the camera.

The challenge this week really was amazing. Bob's team seemed to have the advantage from all that yoga. You could almost hear Kristen chanting "Ooooommmmmmm."
"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