Monday, May 31, 2010

A realization and some summer goals

I was listening to more back episodes of "Fat2Fit Radio" today, and one was all about goal-setting. I actually listened to a few episodes in a row, so I'm not sure which one turned the light bulb on for me, but I realized that the reason that I had such a love-hate relationship with Weight Watchers is that for me, it feels very much like a diet, not a lifestyle that I can maintain. I can do it for a while and be very successful, but eventually I can't sustain it and I gain the weight back.  I got 22 points a day for my weight, activity level, age, etc., plus the 35 weekly points. On average, then, that's about 27 points for a day where I don't exercise. That works out to somewhere between 1300-1400 calories a day. Russ and Jeff say that people should not eat below their BMR, and have a calculator to tell you where you should be eating based on your goal weight.

Like many of their listeners, I feel a little skeptical, but when I actually think of the way I behaved on Weight Watchers -- eating within my points for a while, lots of slipping and beating myself up, then just completely not counting for a while -- a consistent and slightly higher level of calories might work better for me.  I am going to give it a try. I'm going to set my LoseIt! calorie level to the "Sedentary" level on the calculator, because it credits me for exercise, so it will allow extra calories if I have earned them. I'm going to give Russ and Jeff's way a try, because my current indecision has gotten me nowhere. I even found a new iPhone app, of course, to track my weight and body fat percentage so I can see my progress.

Another thing I need to do is to commit to actually doing strength training. I know I need to do it, and I know it will help my weight loss, but somewhere in my mind I have this idea that only cardio "counts" for weight loss, no matter what I've seen on "The Biggest Loser." Even in my own experience, my weight loss has always been better when I was lifting regularly and hard.  I have to get past the initial rough period, where lifting makes me sore and uncomfortable and makes it harder to do my beloved running or biking.  Then I know I will enjoy it. My trainer taught me some new kettlebell moves the other day, and I'm still sore from it. It also got my heart rate way up. I am going to do kettlebells on Mondays and Thursdays.

I have been feeling frustrated with myself and like I am a big failure because I haven't been able to lose. But I really haven't been doing the right things, I think.  I haven't been planning my meals, I haven't been doing my strength training. I have been running and biking and doing some yoga and hoping that's enough even with no real planning or attention to my diet. 

So here's my goal: I'm going to do all those things I need to do, with an eye to losing 10 pounds in 10 weeks. Tomorrow will be my starting weigh-in.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Looking like That Guy (or Girl)

I found yet another new podcast, Fat2Fit Radio, to listen to during my runs while I wait for my other favorites to update. Today I ran in what I think of as Bird Paradise -- a park that was going to be a golf course, but turned out to be too marshy or something halfway through the building process.  The park is now owned my my local recreational district.  There is a running/bike path which follows the planned cart path, a few trees, some would-be hills, a few ponds full of cattails, lots of wildflowers and weeds, and some marshy areas.  I see ducks and geese and lots of songbirds when I run.

Anyway, the episode I want to highlight is Episode 93: I Want to Look Like That Guy, about a documentary of the same name. I haven't seen the documentary (yet, though I want to), but it sounds like it's in the spirit of "Supersize Me," just in reverse: The filmmaker, Stuart McDonald, is a pretty average-looking guy in his late thirties who wants to see what it would take to look like a fitness model.  You know, the ones who advertise gimmicky products like the Ab Lounger, etc., giving the impression that if you just plunk down your three easy payments of $29.95 plus shipping and handling, you too can have that kind of body.

The interview was really interesting.  If you go to Stuart's before and after photos, you will see that he managed to do it and even participated in a bodybuilding contest, but he found that to maintain his body at 6% bodyfat required such an extreme lifestyle that it just wasn't worth the trouble.  To get ready for the competition, he had to watch his food so carefully that he just lived on "broccoli and protein supplements" for a while.  Even in the earlier phases, his food was so regimented that when he moved a potato on his menu from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., his trainer said he had to move it back.  He felt weak and grouchy on the plan, even though he looked good.

The lesson he said he was trying to convey was that the average person may be able to attain this kind of body, but it requires an extreme lifestyle that isn't workable for most people with real jobs and lives without the aid of performance-enhancing substances.

I like the Fat2Fit podcast because they find such interesting topics, though I was confused when several episodes after this one about how it is hard to maintain a bodybuilder lifestyle for the long-term, they interviewed someone who said that he can. I think they neglected to underscore the important point that this guy owns a pool maintenance business, so his job is a workout.  He isn't sitting at a desk 8 hours a day and then making up for it in the gym.  He does intense workouts in addition to his very active work.  Of course in a country with millions of people, you can find a few who are able to maintain the ideal.  That doesn't mean that we all can.

I think it's too easy to get discouraged looking at "That Guy (or Girl)" bodies.  All of us are different and our bodies are going to respond differently to stimulus.  The point that Stuart was making with his documentary, and that unfortunately was undercut by the later interview, is that for 99% of people, the fitness model body is probably not going to happen, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to be fit and healthy for your own body type while living a lifestyle that is realistic. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Biggest Loser Season Nine Finale

I haven't been enjoying the more recent TBL finales as much as the earlier ones.  For Season 2, which was the first season we watched, the cameras went home with the finalists for a few days to give us a sense of their routine while losing weight on their own.  There was actually some new footage.

Now the finale just rehashes the same footage that has been rehashed all season. How many times do we need to see Ashley fall off the treadmill or see the footage of her crying over the memory of her dad while she is, inexplicably, wearing a button tied to her forehead with string? I am sure that Daris is as sick as I am of the "I will make  you proud. And I will make myself proud, too!" footage of him on the scale for his first weigh-in at home.  All of it was great TV the first two or three times around, but it's like telling the same joke over and over -- it loses its punch.

I really get the sense that NBC is phoning it in, raking in as much cash as they can for as little expense as possible as they wind down the TBL franchise.  I noticed that there were no casting announcements during this year's show, which suggests to me that, as I suspected, Season 10 will be the last season.  Jillian is moving on to other things with her new show and her quest to become the next Oprah.  There is now a Biggest Loser spa to take the people who think that the only way they can ever lose the weight is to get on the show -- visiting the spa is probably economical in comparison to leaving your job for months at a time.  I am guessing that if the spa does well, there will be franchises.  I'm not sure what Bob's plans are, but I can imagine him switching over to a celebrity clientele.  Maybe he will help Kirstie Alley lose her weight next time she regains it back. Maybe Oprah will kick Bob Greene to the curb and hire Bob Harper instead.

The only thing that provided drama during this season finale was watching the 23 weigh-ins (all the contestants, plus Shay, who hadn't lost a lot in the last year) and seeing how much everyone had lost.

I was very sad for Koli, who was not chosen for a finalist spot. I was torn between him and Daris. Koli had been imagining that confetti moment for the longest time and would have had it, if he had been the third finalist. He lost a larger percentage of his weight than anyone else.  He didn't do a very good job of pleading his case, but it didn't really matter -- Daris was such a heartthrob that I don't think he would have had a chance anyway.  Daris looked really good in his jeans and sportcoat, but I thought Koli's pink pants and tie were a strange fashion choice.  There was a weird moment when Alison reminded everyone, again, that Daris had never had a girlfriend before getting on the show and then had him point out his new girlfriend in the audience. Daris had one of his weird adolescent breaking-voice moments when he said, "Yes, I have a girlfriend, and she's beautiful!" The girl was beautiful, but she obviously wasn't thrilled about being on TV.

The contestants who competed at home were brought out in groups of four.  All were dressed up and it was fun to see them in clothes other than their Biggest Loser t-shirts.  None of the clothes the non-finalists wore stand out to me as exceptionally bad or exceptionally good.  Most contestants had something in their original t-shirt color, though Maria chose to wear black instead of white, which was probably a good decision.  I was surprised that people who didn't look that much different to me had lost so much.  You can get all the weigh-in numbers at the season's Wikipedia page. It seemed that some contestants, like the twins, had stopped losing when they left the ranch. The biggest success story, to me, was Cherita, who never stayed overnight on the ranch but lost almost a third of her body weight completely on her own.

There was some suspense with these weigh ins.  Ashley's mother, Sherry, had a great number.  Melissa looked for a second like she might challenge her, but she didn't lose as much as I had thought.  She didn't get knocked out of competition for the at-home prize until the second-to-last group came up to weigh in.  Darrell, the dad from the Black Team, beat her, and then was beaten out by Koli.  Koli did win the $100,000 prize, but you could tell he was still really disappointed.  When Alison asked him how he felt, he said, "I just want to go home and be with my family," and his eyes were welling up.  That's the danger of  building up drama for live television -- no one really can predict how things will turn out. 

When the finalists came out for their weigh-in, it was pretty obvious that the only way that Michael could lose was if they weighed him in wearing the pie-plate sized glittering skull belt buckle he was wearing.  Daris weighed in first and had lost an impressive 48.55% of his body weight.  Ashley looked good and was obviously happy even though she didn't win.  She just beat Daris with 48.93% lost.  Michael had actually lost more than half his body weight -- he lost 264 pounds to weigh in at 262. He had his confetti moment and then the camera cut away.

Something that surprised me was looking at the Wikipedia page and realizing that only 4 of the contestants ended up in the "Normal" BMI range at the end of the show. Even Daris still qualifies, barely, as "overweight." Because the show keeps having larger and larger people on, fewer are "movie-star gorgeous" at the end, though many of them look good and seem a lot happier.

I'm looking forward to seeing Jillian's new show. I'm ready for something new. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A few updates

I felt like with my long stretch of nothing but 30 in 30 posts and Biggest Loser updates, that some of you might actually be looking for some updates on how I'm doing.

As you can tell from my last post, I have been trying to unravel the mystery of why I seem to be so stuck in my weight loss efforts.  I have been listening to podcasts, reading anything that seems relevant, and playing with the new LoseIt! update. I find that time and again I go over my planned calories and then wonder why my weight is stuck (or even heading the wrong direction).

It's not for lack of exercise. I have been keeping up with the spirit of 30 in 30 and even tried my first kettlebell workout -- my inner thighs hurt for four days.  I have been continuing with Bridge to 10K, which is getting tougher as the weather warms up.  Today I took my new bike out for a spin.  Soon, outdoor laps start at my local pool, which I loved.  It's so much more fun to swim under the sky than under a roof.

I will be taking a blood test on Friday to assess the change in my dosage of thyroid meds.  I will be seeing my endocrinologist in a couple of weeks and we'll discuss the results. I think that the new dose is helping, though. My mood and energy level have definitely improved over the last few weeks, though it could also be because there is so much more sunshine or because classes are done.

Even with classes over, I have been going to my office every day to meet with people, interview prospective students, work on my research projects, or prepare for my fall classes.  Still, it's a nice break not to be grading papers and getting ready to teach for 4 hours a night.

Overall, I feel like most things are getting better. I went clothes shopping yesterday, though, and was quite disappointed with my not-at-all-ready-for-summer body. I was hoping to be down at least a few pounds and looking better in shorts by now.

How are the rest of you doing? Hanging in there?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Finding the Center

I have been mulling over a MORE magazine article I read a little while ago, "Time for 'Stacy's Mom' to Hang Up Her Thong?"  OK, the title stinks.  But the article digs into an interesting issue.  The title refers to a Fountains of Wayne song about a "hot mom," and the article's writer seems to be saying that as her teenaged daughter ventures into dating, she needs to figure out a way to step away from the role of flirtatious, attractive woman and become just a mom.

If my daughter had become the hottie in the house, then what was I, aside from her chauffeur? My personal definition of good mothering has always included not just supporting my daughter but stepping aside for her. When she made the basketball team I went from being knowledgeable former player to mom in the stands, cheering her efforts; it was unthinkable that I would bellow free throw tips from the bleachers or do anything else to show her up. Yet when it seemed time for me to sit down in the stands and play frumpish, middle-aged mom, I balked. . . .  I noticed something happening to myself and my friends as our kids edged into puberty: Even though our knees creak a little more and we find ourselves with reading glasses, we still feel young, or at least youngish. Unlike so many of our mothers when they were our age, we don’t view ourselves as over the hill, and we see no reason why the rest of the world should, either. . . he problem is we live in Desperate Housewives times. The cultural norms of beauty for every female between 13 and 90 are roughly the same: smokin’ hot babeliciousness. To be beautiful, pretty, handsome or any of the old-school definitions of attractive pales in the face of hotness. The choices seem to be, cultivate your MILF-ishness (which might mean competing sexually with your own daughter, which is downright creepy, not to mention high on the list of dubious parenting practices), or live out the rest of your life wearing fleece.

Later, she talks to a friend who throws out all her lacy thongs and replaces them with white cotton granny panties after she discovers her daughter's sexy undies in the laundry.  I have a real problem for me with the idea that these are the two choices. Who wants to try to try to look -- and worse, act -- like a teenager through age 40 and beyond?  Do we really have to send out signals of universal sexual interest and availability to avoid a life of fleece and frumpiness?  My problem with both of these is that they're reactionary -- either we desperately need the attention of men to prove that we're worthwhile or we're sending out a big "NO" to everyone before they even ask.  No thought here of how the author could build a sense of confidence and a feeling of attractiveness from the inside instead of flirting with teenaged boys. No sense of how to feel sexy for yourself and for the people you choose to involve yourself with romantically instead of the world at large.  I don't think there is an easy way to figure this out -- it's something that I have been struggling with myself.

I have also been reading Geneen Roth and listening to "Inside Out Weight Loss," and both seem to deal with this feeling of an empty center. I think one of the reasons that weight loss continues to be a struggle for me is the question of who the new me would be.  The last time I got to goal weight, I felt a lot of pressure to put on a persona that didn't feel like me -- how would I prove I had "made it" if I didn't wear clothes that revealed my new body? What if I wore something that was slightly big or insufficiently fitted and people thought I was putting the weight back on? At the same time, I really didn't want to attract admiring glances from icky guys at the gas station.  I had the new body but not the confidence and sense of ownership I really needed to maintain it.  When I was really overweight, I felt like I attracted snotty glances at the supermarket and a lot of unwanted advice from family and friends.  At my current weight, I enjoy a certain level of invisibility.  Being 20-30 pounds overweight is so normal in this country that no one pays attention to it.

I think it's hard to commit to leaving that comfort zone.  It would mean figuring out a way to create a new self-image that is more inner-centered, less focused on other people's opinions. That figuring out does not seem to be a mental activity -- no matter how much I try to think the problem out, I only come up with pat admonishments to "be myself."  I think that this kind of discovery requires a different kind of processing. In one episode of "Inside Out Weight Loss," the host asks listeners to imagine a "Wonderful Me" who has figured out our problems.  We don't have to know the answer, we just have to picture what someone without the problems would look like, act like, think like, be like. 

One thing's for sure: I know she wouldn't look like Stacy's Mom or be wearing sweatpants.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

30 in 30 Wrap-Up

A quick note: The challenge was never 30 pounds in 30 days.  I couldn't have even dreamed of doing that.  I have never been a quick loser and wouldn't be able to sustain the kind of restriction that a goal like that would require. I actually am up a couple of pounds, in fact. I weighed in today at 175.

The focus of this challenge was on behavior, not on results. I wanted to see if I could sustain 30 minutes of activity for 30 days that included some really busy times: The last week of classes. Travel. Visits to see my nephew.  I did that -- there was one day out of the 30 that I didn't get 30 full minutes of activity in.  There were a few days when I did the absolute minimum or used housecleaning as my activity because I needed a more orderly environment to feel sane. However, most of those days, I did more than 30 minutes of activity, and much of the activity was intense.

I can't say I'm not disappointed that this challenge didn't result in weight loss, however, I know I didn't pay enough attention to the other side of the equation -- food.  That is my next step. I don't binge, but I sometimes snack too much or overdo it a little at meals. I am also hoping that if my thyroid condition is a factor in the stagnation I've been experiencing, that upping my hormone dose will help get things moving again.  I am more interested, honestly, in suppressing the autoimmune response that is damaging my thyroid.  My doctor thinks the new dosage could help there.

I'm not going to do another 30-day blog challenge with a giveaway, though, at least not for a while. My blog will return to its regularly-scheduled programming.  30 days is a long time to write about the same thing!

Thank you to everyone who participated and commented.  I already contacted Carol, the lucky winner of the $15 iTunes gift card, and will be sending it as soon as I verify her email address.

Thanks everyone, for playing along with me. I hope you enjoyed the challenge!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Belated 30 in 30 Finale: Days 29 and 30

Monday was Day 29, and I did a 45-minute yoga class.  I think I dozed off during Shavasana.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was Day 30, and I did another Bridge to 10K workout, which was 51 minutes of running and about 20 minutes of walking with the little bit of extra I did at the end.  I also signed up for a "Candlelight Yoga" class and attended the first session.  My instructor was wearing glitter and came across as a little hyper at first, but was such a beautiful, centered instructor during the actual class that I felt a little of my Yoga Ego melting away.  When she asked how the class went, I told her I loved it but I figured out that I needed to "stop trying to show off." We had a great discussion about our crazy brains.

Here's a great quote from her: "Our bodies represent our past, because they are made up of everything we have done.  Our brains are all about the future -- always planning, always thinking. Our only link to the present is our breath, and it's such a gift."

Really, it's Yoga Love at First Sight.

Today is actually Day 31. I did a 40-minute bike ride, which I guess counts as a makeup for the day I didn't get any exercise.  Tune in tomorrow for the winner of the $15 iTunes gift card (randomly chosen from commenters on 30 in 30 posts). I'm also going to weigh in tomorrow morning (I forgot today) and post the results. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling like I lost weight, especially after the weigh-in at the endocrinologist's.  I'm still glad I did the challenge, no matter what happens on the scale.

The Biggest Loser Week 18: The Last One Before the Finale

This week's episode started off with The Final Four in their new clothes, made up and posing while a montage of scenes of their progress played out on a big screen in the background. They were obviously told to stand with "game faces," but a couple of times they couldn't help but grin as they saw some of their prouder moments on the show.  It gave viewers another look at just how far they'd come. It might also have been intended to get them fired up to have a good month at home. 

Contestants go home to excited friends and family and triumphantly weigh in at the same location where they originally did their "walk of shame." Amazingly, Daris had predicted that he would lose 140-150 pounds before he came home, and he lost 151.  They all bask in the glow for a while, but then reality starts to creep in.  Ashley is overwhelmed by her phone constantly ringing and buzzing with messages from friends. Michael admits he is struggling to eat right at home.  We get a glimpse of Daris binging on cereal in his kitchen at 2:00 a.m.  Koli gets so overwhelmed with people wanting to catch up that he escapes to a friend's mixed martial arts studio in Las Vegas -- how crazy do you have to feel to go to Vegas for quiet?

Of course there is a challenge to keep them busy on their visit home.  Contestants find out that they will be doing The Biggest Loser Marathon.  If they finish (walking, running, crawling) they get $10,000 to give to the charity of their choice.  Daris is excited about the race, since he's the best runner in the group and seems to be the best runner who has ever been on TBL.  Everyone else just tries to figure out how they can finish it.  Ashley calls Michael and they agree to run/walk together.

They also get visits from their trainers.  Bob visits Michael and quizzes his overweight sister about her feelings about her own weight in front of the rest of the family -- and it's a big family.  I felt terrible for her, because she didn't sign up for the show.  I would have been happier if he had just invited her along to the gym or done something else constructive, instead of making her cry on national television.  Bob visits Koli in Las Vegas and rightly gives him a hard time about chickening out on his real life.  Koli says he can learn to deal with his family and friends after he wins, and Bob is obviously concerned that Koli could become another Eric, someone who wins the show but then gains all the weight back in the real world.   Jillian goes to see Ashley and puts her through a tough workout.  The funniest moment, though, is when Jillian takes a helicopter to go find Daris on his marathon training run.  The visits from the trainers seem to help everyone get more focused.

Even though I hate the idea of making contestants do a marathon on very little training, they all seemed to find the experience inspiring.  They each got met by the previous contestant they seemed to identify most with.  Koli, of course, got to meet Sione (who looked like he had regained about 40 pounds).  Michael met fellow Italian son Mike.  Ashley got to run with fellow pink party girl Ali.  And Daris ran with Matt, who was able to keep up with Daris's fast pace for an impressive 7 miles.  They also each were met a little later by a family member.  They ran the final 0.2 on their own, though.  Daris had struggled with injuries during his training but still came in at just over 4 hours, crushing Tara's previous record.  Koli came in around 6 hours, and Michael and Ashley finished hand-in-hand about 20 minutes after that. 


The weigh-in is dramatic. Michael starts off with a great loss, finally getting under the 300-pound mark.  Then Koli has a loss he's obviously disappointed with.  Ashley weighs in and beats everyone else to take the top spot, pushing Koli below the yellow line.  Daris's weigh-in was the most startling.  He had actually gained two pounds during his month at home.  He tried to say that it was because of his marathon training.  Bob and Jillian are furious at the idea that someone could claim that training for a marathon made them gain weight.  I actually knew what he meant -- training for distance events can really increase your appetite.  I think that Daris's binges might have been at least partly due to the fact that he was training so hard on so few calories at a very low body weight -- the binges could have started out with hunger.  He also seems to have a tense relationship with his stepfather, and I think that being at home was especially hard for him.

Both Koli and Daris had to plead their case, because the audience votes for the final spot in the finale.  Koli was very matter-of-fact, but Daris cried and admitted he would stay up at night and eat a day's worth of calories at a time.  I didn't vote -- I think they both deserve a chance. 

By this point, I really don't care who wins The Biggest Loser title. I like all four of the final four now. Ashley, who seemed whiny to me at first, has really grown up. So has Michael.  I, like Bob, am concerned about Koli. He seems to have very little confidence in himself, even after all he has done. I like Daris most of all, just because he is so good-natured and humble. Oh, and cute too. Daris is still worried that he will never find a girlfriend, but I bet he has 10 bags of love letters that were sent c/o The Biggest Loser.  I just hope that he can find a way to move into his own place and start building some self-confidence first.


The finale is next week -- be there or be square.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

30 in 30 Days 27 & 28: An Easy Day and a Harder One

Yesterday morning I went to support my sister by cheering her on in her second-ever 5K race. Walking around to watch her run was my main activity for the day, but I think I got my 30 minutes in between walking from the parking lot, walking to different spots to see her finish, and walking back. If not, there was also standing around and walking at graduation -- this was my second graduation ceremony as a faculty member, and it was fun to see students I had taught graduating.

Today was a better exercise day -- I went for an hour-long walk in the park, and went to my swim practice.  Usually I would count swim practice as an hour of swimming, but because my coach was doing more coaching than usual tonight, I would say it was closer to 45 or 50 minutes.  I had a couple of breakthroughs, including my first real flip turns (I have been doing something I thought was a flip turn but that really was more of a twist) and my first real butterfly.  So it was a more intense workout because I learned a lot.

I have to say that I appreciate the great, positive commenters I have on this blog.  It seems that the trigger for nastiness is when you get something for free or you make your living from blogging. I know that Shauna and Jeanette have gotten some mean ones, and just recently Jenna at Eat, Live, Run got a few that I thought were really out of line. I think that the more successful a blogger is, the more likely there are to be haters in the background. Since I just blog for fun and have not had wild success in my weight loss, I don't inspire a lot of jealousy in my readers. For the record, I get a $30 deposit every three months or so from BlogHer, which I use to buy stuff online or make loans through kiva.  Hopefully that won't inspire anger and hate in my readers.  I did get a mean comment once when I got a bunch of free products from a diet store and wrote a review, and I have to say that I politely declined when the store offered to send me more products to try.  I didn't feel like a few low-calorie snacks were worth the angst. 

Do you get nasty comments on your blogs? Do you write any kind of rebuttal or do you just ignore or delete them? Oh, and how about that 30 in 30 challenge? Still having fun with it?

Friday, May 14, 2010

30 in 30 Day 26: A Run, A Doctor's Visit, & Reading in Bed

This morning I got up and did a Bridge to 10K workout. I just went up a little in run time -- this week, I do three 17-minute running intervals with one-minute walks in between, plus the warmup and cooldown walks.  I felt pretty tired for the rest of the day -- I think my body is still recovering from my trip. 

I hope that's the reason that the scale weighed me in at 177 today at the endocrinologist's.  I really liked him.  He explained a lot of things to me about what's going on with my thyroid and said that I can't expect to see the antibodies go away in future tests -- once they are there, they're there.  He did another ultrasound on my thyroid and there are a couple of nodules there.  He couldn't tell if the largest one was on my thyroid or my parathyroid.  He wants to have me try a higher dose of the thyroid medication, get a blood test, and come in for a follow-up visit.  We talked a little about my weight and he was very matter-of-fact and nonjudgmental about it. I have samples of the new dosage to try out -- he said that I should wait to fill the new prescription until I know how well I tolerate the much higher dose. I will be taking 137 mcg of Synthroid, up from 50.  He said that was a moderate dose for someone of my height and weight.

I had some thoughts about buying flowers to plant since it's such a beautiful day outside, but I felt lethargic and sleepy, so I decided to read Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything in bed and took a little nap.  I'm hoping that my energy will be better tomorrow.  I am working on a review in my head of the book and will probably post it in the next few days. I have read other Geneen Roth books but this one is much more down-to-earth and practical than the previous ones and has a little more focus on the how-to and whys of her program. 

I'm just trying to get myself out of the house and moving now... wish me luck!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 17: The Final Four

This was an all-important week on "The Biggest Loser." When we last saw Daris and Ashley, they had made a deal with Michael to keep him on in return for his loyalty in future votes. Obviously, since Sam is at his goal weight, this seemed like a fair vote, and Koli, who all along said he was not a gameplayer, seemed angry that they had made the choice to keep someone who was "a threat" instead of Sam.  I think he underplayed the threat Sam posed as support for Koli. He was angry at first, but luckily he seemed to get over it.  The advantage that Ashley and Daris thought they were getting was neutralized, because this week there was a Red Line instead of a Yellow Line: The person with the lowest percentage of weight had to go home, no vote.

Michael had a tough week, because he got all caught up in the fact that he was almost sent home and that he has already "lost an overweight person" but still probably has 100 more pounds to lose.A lot of this episode was Bob trying to get him to see the progress he had already made instead of feeling like a failure for still having so much to lose.  Who would have thought it was possible for anyone, even a 500-pound guy, to lose almost 200 pounds in 16 weeks?  Still, instead of trying to talk Michael out of his feelings, I would have liked to see Bob let him work through them. The last thing TBL contestants need is to feel that they have to apologize for their feelings. They have already talked on the show about how eating can be a way of stuffing down "unacceptable" feelings instead of feeling and expressing them, but then Bob gets Michael to say "I'm sorry" for getting mad that he still has so much to lose?

We had some interesting special guests this week: Helen and Eric, both past season winners.  Helen has maintained her unbelievable weight loss, but Eric gained almost all of his back and is down 70 pounds again. The contestants all looked really uncomfortable at having an example in front of them about how it can all go wrong.  Kudos to TBL for addressing this, which has been a criticism of the show for a long time. Eric said he focused too much on winning the game and not enough on building a lifestyle.  Helen also talked about the difference between losing on the show and exercising 7+ hours a day, and real-life maintaining, which she manages with 1-2 hours of exercise a day. That is a lot, much more than I do most days, but I can see that someone with Helen's past experiences could think it was totally worth it.

This week's challenge was the usual "Put the weight back on" challenge.  Apparently there was a viewer poll to see which previous season's challenge like this to recreate, and contestants got to lug around a big bag with their before picture on it containing weights for each week, which they had to drag through a sand pit, dropping weight at each hill, then fling the bag and the last few pounds over a cliff.  Daris, who has become a superstar runner, outdid Tara's previous record on this by more than 10 minutes.  Sunshine and Koli finished almost neck-and-neck, and then everyone went back to help Michael and Ashley, who were struggling.

Daris won $10,000 for completing this challenge, which he traded for a 1-pound advantage in the weigh-in.  That's apparently the new going rate for 1 pound on TBL.

Participants get to watch some old footage of themselves with Bob or Jillian.  They all, even Michael, see how far they have come.  Michael also finds out from Dr. H. that his health is vastly improved, and his premature aging and stroke risk have already almost been eliminated by the weight he has already lost and the activity he does.

The weigh-in itself was dramatic.  Michael weighs in first and passes the 200-pound mark, a new record for the show. Daris's pound advantage was totally unnecessary -- he was in first place even without it.  Koli also has a good week.  Then Ashley weighs in and has a lower percentage lost than Michael.  She looks really worried.  Luckily for her, and unluckily for me, Sunshine only loses 2 pounds and is the one to be sent home.  She is very gracious, and says that she feels like a winner anyway because of all the changes she has made.

Sunshine goes home to a huge supportive crowd at her high school.  She looks great in her black-and-white dress with a yellow sash.  We get to see her throw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game.  Seeing her bounce the pitch in the dirt makes me happy that I'm unlikely to ever be asked to do something like that, but she looks great in her new, smaller Twins gear.  She has lost more than 100 pounds and seems really happy.

30 in 30 Days 22, 23, 24, & 25: A Chink in the Armor

Monday, as expected, I did plenty of walking in the airports.  I had a long layover in Atlanta and found that Concourse E had nicer food options and was a lot quieter than Concourse C where my gates were.  I used an iPhone app called Gate Guru to see what restaurants were available and found Nature's Table, which offered lots of salads and wraps. I also used the Metro to get to my hotel, so there was some walking on both ends of the trip.  I know why city dwellers are, on average, so much thinner than those of us who don't have access to public transit.

I had less success on Tuesday, when the walking I did was mostly from conference session to conference session. It was a big conference center, so there is some possibility that I got 30 minutes of activity in. I felt pretty exhausted, but that isn't always a good indicator when traveling.

I know I got lots of walking on Wednesday, when we visited Capitol Hill and went from offices on the House to the Senate side and back again. I also did a Metro trip for dinner and had a nice 7-block walk from the Metro stop to my hotel.

Today, though, I know I didn't get 30 minutes. I was up at 3:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. flight.  I did some amount of walking in airports but most of my day was either on an airplane or waiting for one. When I got home, I took a nap and then headed to a meeting for a charity board. I'm pretty tired from my trip.

So on average, I got my 30 minutes a day or more, but my goal was 30 minutes a day, and I definitely missed my goal for at least one day.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

30 in 30 Challenge: Weekend Edition Days 20 &21

Yesterday was my regular Pilates Reformer class, 1 hour. I did a lot of inner whining (this is hard, I'm tired) but I did it anyway.   I realized that when I'm feeling whiny, I can have a tendency to cheat in this workout, so I focused on giving it my best. I actually thought of how I feel when I watch "The Biggest Loser" and see a contestant leaning on the handrails when the trainers' backs are turned. No lazy exercising! I pay enough for these workouts that I want to get the most out of them.

Today I spent a day with my family and overdid the potato chips with dip and chocolate-chip cookies. I did eat a salad and some fruit too, which is a minimal victory, but it's hard to leave the goodies alone when I have a  lot of time around them.  I was going to just do a walk but decided to go ahead and do a Bridge to 10K workout, since I won't have time to do it tomorrow.  My calves are still sore from my impromptu sprint on Friday.

Do you realize that there are now less than 10 days left in the 30 in 30 challenge? I am finding that no day is too busy to squeeze 30 minutes of something active (even cleaning a messy house) into my day. 

Tomorrow will be a real test of that, as I will be spending much of my day in an airport.  But I figure that walking in airports is always good for some activity, plus I am visiting a city (Washington, D.C.) with public transportation and plenty of walking opportunities.  And I have a 3-hour layover in the Atlanta airport, which I think should give me time to walk around and find a healthy meal.

Hope you had a good, active weekend.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Review: Inside Out Weight Loss

I love to listen to podcasts when I'm running, and one day I had run through all the recent episodes of my old standbys (Two Fit Chicks, RadioLab, This American Life, The Biggest Loser Fan Podcast, etc.) and went searching for something new.  I found a few weight-loss related podcasts (some crazy fan of Jillian Michaels even took over her old podcast feed, so now you can get breathless discussions of JM gossip, news stories, etc., plus some of her old episodes).  I downloaded two or three episodes of each one, but Inside Out Weight Loss was the only one that really interested me.

What I love: This podcast is all about how to stop struggling with weight and make the process easier and more intuitive. The strategies seem simple but also powerful.  For example, she says that if we had no internal conflict about losing weight, we would have already done it by now. Some part of us must have a reason to want to keep us from succeeding.  We've heard that before, right? Well, here she also discusses strategies on how to get your whole self into alignment, including figuring out what the "gift" of being overweight is, and finding another way to getting the same thing.

What I hate:
  1. Only the last three episodes are available in true podcast form.  To get the rest, you have to figure out how to manually download them and then, annoyingly, the episodes are not available under "Podcasts," but are treated as songs by iTunes. I had figured out a way to manually get them from the RSS feed.  Now it seems that this feed has been taken down. It looks like you now have to listen to them one-by-one from the Personal Life Media site. There is a way to buy episodes in batches, or for $9.99 you can download a handbook with the basic information from Renée Stephens's website. I know that I shouldn't be surprised that the author wants to make money from her content, but I would rather that she set it up as a paid subscription through iTunes than all of this fiddly business.
  2. This is one reason I might not recommend buying the podcasts: Each of the early episodes has a long introduction that runs through a summary of all the episodes that came before it. Midway through the podcast there is a "break to support our sponsors." At the end, Renée promotes her consulting and speaking services, recommends that you log in to her Yahoo! site, etc.  So in each 30-minute episode, there might be 15 minutes of new content. I am hoping that in later episodes this format changes a little.

30 in 30: Days 18 & 19

Yesterday was a crazy day and my messy house was making me feel even crazier. I devoted a couple of hours to getting things straightened up, all the trash out, the laundry sorted, etc. It might be a kind of lame "workout," but it made me feel a lot better and I'm glad I took the time. It would have been a nice day for an outdoor workout, but I didn't really have the time to do that and straighten up too.

Today it was sprinkling and chilly, but I got rain gear on and went out to do a Bridge to 10K run. I decided to do it as an out-and-back run, and turn around when the little voice in my headphones told me I was halfway through the workout. However, before that, I saw lightning in the distance, and I decided to turn around. I was out in the middle of an open field. Then I heard the storm sirens. I yanked my headphones out of my ears and I really picked up the pace. I got about 37 of my 45 minutes in, but I did them at a faster clip than usual. I also cut my cooldown short, as you might imagine. My heart rate monitor says my heart was beating at 179 bpm at the peak and says the total workout time was 47 minutes, but I don't know exactly how much of that was walking and how much was running. I know I got more than 30 minutes of running but don't know how much more.

So anyway, I didn't get struck by lightning, which is always a good thing. Spring weather is so unpredictable! Anyone else getting caught in March Winds and April Showers in the midst of the May Flowers?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 16: Makeover Week!

Makeover week is always a fun week on "The Biggest Loser." The contestants haven't been allowed to do much with their hair for four months now, so some of the guys are looking pretty scary. Daris and Michael both have big, bushy heads full of curls, so we know that some serious changes are in store for them. Koli and Sam are looking a little rough too. Ashley and Sunshine both have pretty nice hair at the beginning of the episode, so for me the suspense was all about the clothes in their case.

This time, unfortunately, we didn't have Tim Gunn there to steer the contestants' fashion choices. Contestants were given $1000 each and limos to take them around to the shops. I got a little teary-eyed when Sam, Koli, Daris, and Sunshine all realized that for the first time in a long time, they could shop in "normal" stores. Ashley and Michael, who still have further to go, seemed a little frustrated about still being in plus sizes.

The girls' makeovers didn't really do much for me. Sunshine picked out a dress that looked like a banana with a zipper, and Ashley's outfit was very 1980s with long black tights and a black dress. Neither looked as good as I think they could have. The stylists straightened and then curled Sunshine's hair in a way that made it look overdone. I think she would have looked prettier if they had either flatironed it or just left her with her natural curls. Ashley's hair looked about the same as it always does.

The guys, however, all looked great. Even the big nerdy glasses and 80s-style knit tie Koli was wearing didn't take away from his great transformation. He looked very sharp in a jacket with close-cropped hair. Sam's jawbone looked chiseled with a new haircut and shave. The outfit he chose made him look like a professional athlete or a sharp, P. Diddy-style rap star. Michael looks so much better without his hedge-like 'fro. Daris was the biggest transformation, though. His hair looks great shorter, and he wore jeans and a Western-style shirt that made him look like a very hot cowboy.

The contestants all were surprised to see members of their families, who screeched in disbelief at the way they looked. Stupidly, I was surprised to notice that a lot of them had overweight family members. Michael's sister just broke down when she realized that she was now "the bigger sister," and Michael promised to teach her what he had learned.

The contestants and their families got a private concert from a singer who looked like a Barbie doll. I was too distracted by her tiny pink tutu to really pay much attention to the music. There was some amazing footage of the contestants at their starting weights, and it is really hard to believe how much different they look and act now than they did four months ago.

There was a really crazy challenge, where contestants had to climb the Jacob Ladder machines while suspended over a swimming pool. The first to quit would get a 1-pound disadvantage, and the winner would get a 1-pound advantage at the weigh-in. Predictably, Ashley dropped out first after three minutes, followed not long after by Michael. The other four held out longer. Sunshine was on the thing for over an hour. Sam talked about how Koli was going to hang in with him and then let him win, but Sam fell off and was out. It was Koli and Daris for more than two hours on these nutty ladders. Daris seemed to just get bored and quit. Koli looked surprised to have finally won something on his own, being so used to being in Sam's shadow.

Michael and Sam had the lowest percentage of weight loss in the challenge. As popular as Sam was, Michael got really scared. He really campaigns to stay on the show, saying "I'm only 5 pounds lighter than Daris was when he started." Poor Michael has lost almost 200 pounds and is still as heavy as a smallish Biggest Loser male contestant on Day 1. Koli and Sunshine both vote to keep Sam on the show, but Ashley and Daris were already talking about being sick of the Sam-Koli block, and have also seem to have made a deal with Michael in exchange for keeping him on the show.

I'm glad that Sam went home. I like him and he is nice to look at, but he is at his goal weight, so what is the point of keeping him there? Also, Koli will do better now that he's not Sam's sidekick. Besides, we got to see footage of Sam and Stephanie in their new L.A. apartment, looking all cute and gooey-eyed at each other.

30 in 30: Sexy and 17

Actually, I didn't feel all that sexy when I was running today. I need to get some more capri-length pants with pockets. I wore long tights, which were a bad choice on a hot day, and none too flattering either, only because they had a pocket for my keys and my capris were in the wash. Or I could get a fanny pack (the horror!) for carrying my iPhone, my keys, etc. I think I'd rather die of heatstroke, or just buy some more capris. I wore a loose tank top but that didn't help much for comfort or flattery. It was in the mid 70s again today and I still have not quite acclimatized to the heat.

Fashion mumblings aside, I did do Week 2, Day 2 of Bridge to 10K today, which is 3 15-minute intervals of running with only a minute walk between intervals plus warmup and cooldown walks. I definitely got my minutes in.

I love that the app I use allows me to listen to podcasts. Today I listened to the latest episode of The Biggest Loser Fan Podcast and a few back episodes of Inside Out Weight Loss. Even though it was a pain to download the back episodes of IOWL, I think it was worth it. It's helping me with the mental aspect of weight loss. I downloaded the first 60 episodes and then the most recent few. The only annoying thing is that this podcast is like "The Biggest Loser," always recapping for you what happened in all previous episodes, so if you listen to two or three in a row, it starts to feel like a bit much. I will try to get a detailed review posted soon, but for now, I recommend you check it out for yourself.

Speaking of "The Biggest Loser," now that I'm done with some grading, I am going to post a review of last night's show. It was a good one -- makeover week!

I think I will try to get out on the bike tomorrow if weather permits. How are you doing with the challenge? Are you still keeping that momentum going? If you have done the minimum for all 17 days, you have now done 510 minutes of activity! That's more than a full work day.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

30 in 30: Sweet 16

I have a busy day coming up, so I got my exercise in early. I walked to my polling place and cast my ballot for Jennifer Brunner in the Ohio Democratic primary, and then walked back. It was a nice 40-minute roundtrip.

Make sure you vote today. Primaries are important. There also may be important state and local issues in your district. Low turnout is bad for democracy!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 03, 2010

30 in 30 Day 15: Whoa, We're Halfway There!

Couldn't resist -- I love Bon Jovi.

Just got back from the park, where I did Week 2, Day 1 of Bridge to 10K. I was surprised how long the 3 15-minute run segments felt. I had been doing 30 minutes at the end of Couch to 5K. Still, it was 75 degrees and I'm still getting used to the warmer weather. It was beautiful and sunny, with just a little breeze.

I hope you are finding time to get out in the May weather. My gym doesn't see much of me in early spring!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, May 02, 2010

30 in 30 Challenge: Day 14, Two Weeks In

Tomorrow will be the halfway point of our 30 in 30 challenge. Pretty exciting!

Today I planted some vegetables and watermelons in my parents' garden. We have a tiny backyard, so we just do a few tomato plants and some herbs at our place, but I planted red and green pepper plants, a cucumber, an eggplant, some broccoli, a few Swiss chard, and some beets. And watermelons. I want to get some seeds too: Peas and carrots and radishes. My parents plant corn, tomatoes, and zucchini. If even some of it grows, free groceries! I'm not sure how long I spent gardening.

I also did my masters' swim workout, which lasts an hour. He really worked us today. I had to do some butterfly drills (which I can't really do right and hate). We got to do four sprints, and I finished ahead of the other two people who were doing them all four times. Woot!

I found an interesting new podcast called "Inside Out Weight Loss." I have only listened to a few episodes, but I like it so far. I downloaded about 60 back episodes to my iPod (I hate that they show up in music instead of podcasts) to listen to while working out.

One thing I've decided is that I'm staying off the scale for the rest of the 30 in 30 challenge. I want to focus on improving my behavior instead of hoping to get away with mediocre behavior on the scale. First task: Journal everything, every day, no matter what. I will weigh in at the end and hopefully will see some results from my efforts with the challenge.

How are you doing? Any breakthroughs? Any good fitness finds?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

30 in 30 Challenge: Lucky 13

Today I helped out with a 5K race, but I wish I would have run it instead. It was a nice day for a run. I got out on my bike instead to try out the new handlebars. I wanted my friend to look at my old bike to see if she would like to buy it from me. She tried it, and it didn't fit her right. She liked my new bike so much that she thought she might go visit the same bike shop I did. In the process, I finally convinced my husband to try out my old bike (he had always said it would be too small for him) and it fit him very well, much better than it ever fit me. So he now has a "new" bike and can retire the used one he had, which was probably top-of-the-line technology in 1990. We went out and rode for about an hour.

My shoulder feels great, but I am still having numbness in the toes on my left foot, to the point of pain. I had asked the bike shop guy about it and he thought my cleat for my clipless pedals could be in the wrong spot. I tried moving it after my ride today. I will have to get out again soon and see if it helped. It's amazing how many little things can be adjusted to make a rider more comfortable. I know when I finally got a ten-speed bike when I was a kid, my parents just took me to a toy store and bought the one I thought was the prettiest. Maybe when you're 10 years old, fit doesn't matter as much. Now I want to do anything I can do to make myself more comfortable so I can ride more.

What are you doing to keep yourself going? Thanks for all the comments -- you are all keeping me motivated.
"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