Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 13: Thankful for the Ranch

Note: There will probably be a few spoilers in this one too, so if you have an episode waiting on your DVR, feel free to come back later.

At the beginning of this episode we see the entire team file into the kitchen, broken-hearted after Justin's departure.  Kaylee, after her attempt to throw the weigh-in, seems to have a change of heart. She decides to give the ranch another chance and see what she still has to learn.  All of the players feel tired of the gameplay, and we find out that this is one of Kaylee's reasons for wanting to go.  They all resolve to be grateful for the time they have left on the ranch but to stop trying to control everything.  I thought this was a great attitude to take.

As if to underscore this theme of being grateful and going with the flow, Allison has a surprise for the contestants. After she shows them a video of the day they all found out they had been cast for the show, she asks if they have ever though about what happened to the 12th team, the duo that didn't get cast on the show after making it through the initial casting.  Vance and Leann, dressed in white, come in to show them what happened to those people who didn't make the cut.  To make it onto the show, they have to weigh-in and show that they have lost at least as much as the person with the lowest weight-loss percentage, Kaylee, who has lost a little more than 25% of her weight.  We don't have any idea how much they weighed before, but it's pretty obvious just looking at them that they have not lost as much as the people on the ranch.  They have lost a respectable amount of weight (30 and 45 pounds) but have not approached the crazy numbers of people who get to make losing weight a full-time job.  The White Team leaves right after the weigh-in.  I thought that they should have been given just one workout with the trainers to help them see what kind of things they were capable of if they pushed themselves.  The cruel lesson seems to be -- "If you hadn't made it on the show, you'd be like these guys." I know that it's the reality, but it seemed like a lot to put the White Team through for such little benefit to them. At least they didn't have to take their shirts off.

There is a kind of weird pop challenge this week, with two players from each team carrying small rubber balls across a field on a big flat board with a hole in the middle of it, suspended on two long sticks.  It's sort of like a stretcher. Players have to try to carry the balls without dropping them and then maneuver the balls through the hole into a basket.  It looks very difficult.  Kaylee and Austin, though, seem to have it all worked out. They work together really well and beat everyone else in getting their 10 balls in the basket.  (I wonder, is there off-screen chemistry between these two youngest contestants?) The team that wins gets a 1-minute advantage in a later challenge and the team that loses has to spend a week off-campus.  It is close but the Red Team ends up losing.

Jen and Courtney have to spend a week away from the ranch.  They are given a budget of $1000 to spend and lots of options on how to spend it. For example, they can choose to have a personal chef cook all of their meals for them for $700 or have a fully-stocked kitchen with BL-approved foods for $500 or shop for themselves for $300.  They decide to shop and cook for themselves.  They easily decide on a gym membership for another $300.  To have one day with their trainer Brett would be $200.  There are also some spa treatments, phone calls home, and a dinner out on the menu.  Jen, who doesn't seem to have clicked with Brett, suggests they work out on their own and use the money for phone calls home and spa treatments and a "girl date" of dinner out. Courtney seems to agree, but in a confessional interview, she says she didn't want to go along but was afraid to speak up.  Brett has to feel totally dissed, since they end up having $50 left in their budget, and if they had cut back on their phone calls and skipped dinner out, they could have had their massages and still worked out with him.  I thought, though, that one day with a trainer, even the best trainer, might not be enough to make a huge difference in their weight loss.  And, I have to say that I agree with Jen, Brett does  not seem to be a terrific trainer.  His workouts don't match the intensity of Jillian and Bob's.  Brett is a good sport and gives them a workout plan to follow on their own.  They end up staying at a luxurious house and seem to fully enjoy their time off-campus.

They come back for the big challenge: An Easter Egg hunt.  This is where the whole alternate reality of the show gets funny.  It was probably January when they did this challenge, but they had to pretend to be all excited about Easter egg hunting and a "sneak-preview" screening of an Easter-themed animated movie that was probably not really made yet, maybe just a few scenes.  They were all excited to meet some handsome movie star I didn't recognize.  The team that won the egg hunt got tickets to the movie premiere.  The movie looked awful, at least from the scenes we saw.

The egg hunt was pretty basic. They searched a big field for painted wooden eggs (that's what they sounded like, anyway) and one Golden Egg that was supposedly "worth its weight in gold."  Olivia finds it and is dismayed to find out that it's not immunity, it's not extra pounds at the weigh-in, it's "THE ONLY VOTE." If any team but Blue loses the weigh-in, she gets the only vote.  Hannah likes that idea, but Olivia isn't happy. Both Rulon and Jay know that they have to win immunity to be safe, because if Hannah is up for elimination with either of them, they can count on going home.

At the weigh-in, Hannah unfortunately does not lose any weight. Whether this is on purpose or not, it gives the impression that she is trying to throw the weigh-in so one of her teammates gets sent home. There may be future repercussions for that.  She also tattles on Rulon for eating "a whole bag of tortilla chips." And sure enough, there is footage of him eating chips and salsa in his bedroom like it was his job.  Everyone said that they knew he was "eating crap" but didn't say anything to him because he's an Olympic athlete and should know what he's doing.  The thing is, Rulon was an Olympic heavyweight wrestler.  Eating well might not have been part of the deal for him.  Also, he told Jillian last week about his feelings of unworthiness, and that conversation may have stirred up feelings that he felt the need to numb.  He doesn't lose much, and Jay pulls a good number.  It looks dire for Rulon until Courtney and Jen weigh in.  The week off campus hurt both of them.  Courtney loses 2 pounds, and Jen loses nothing.  They come to the conclusion that the decision not to "buy" Brett is what hurt them, but would one day with him really have changed anything? My guess is that the real problem might have been the decision to eat out.  Even though their choices were stellar (swordfish salads, no dressing, extra greens, with lime), their sodium is completely controlled on campus. Who knows what kind of marinade might have been on the fish?  Jen seems happy at home, though, and she continued to lose.  We get a scene of her shopping with her girlfriends for the first time in a "normal" store.  She tries on some really weird, stripper-suitable outfits.  Hopefully her friends talked her into choosing something a little more subdued off-camera?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weigh-in report: A hopeful trend


Notice that my last three weigh-ins have been losses. It's kind of a nice change of pace.  I was down 0.4 this week, almost half a pound.  For the last three weeks, I have been committed to tracking every day no matter what. In the past, I would get over my points somewhere in the week and stop tracking. Here's a hint to all the newbies out there: You don't eat less because you're not tracking.  I was over my points the last three weeks but apparently still had enough of a calorie deficit to lose a little. 

I think that the other thing that has made a difference was switching my Spinning class from one I was halfhearted about to one that I really like. I am pushing myself more in those classes twice a week, and that seems to have made a difference. I can see a difference in my thighs, which have always come in second to my stomach as my least favorite body part.  I also think that getting more sunshine these last few weeks has brightened my mood and helped keep me away from the comfort carbs.

I'm feeling strong and healthy and happy right now.  The scale might still say I'm a little heavier than I want to be, but I'm working on it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 12: Let's Twist Again

Note: If you still have not watched this episode on your DVR, beware.  There are some important twists in this recap that will be spoilers. Proceed with caution!

Just when players had gotten used to all working as one big group, the game gets shaken up again.  Each trainer will have his or her own team of three, determined randomly by players picking up dumbbells with one of four different colors hidden on the bottom: black (Jillian), blue (Bob), red (Brett), and green (Cara).  They get to pick in order of their percentage of weight loss, but going first is no advantage since it is completely random.  There is no way, short of psychic ability, to tell which dumbbells are associated with each trainer.  Since there are 12 spots and 11 contestants, the team that ends up short a player will get to choose one of the eliminated players to bring back.  Most of the players are happy with their choices, but a couple seem a little disappointed.  They end up this way:

  • Cara's Green Team: Kaylee, Austin, and Ken
  • Brett's Red Team: Jen, Courtney, and Justin
  • Bob's Blue Team: Moses, Olivia, and Irene
  • Jillian's Black Team: Rulon, Hannah, and ?.....
Hannah lobbies for Arthur for a little while but Rulon vetoes that idea and Jillian seems to agree. Arthur's insecurity brought a lot of unnecessary drama to the house.  He seemed to do better losing independently than he did on the show, where his losses were lackluster. Someone that big can really drag a team down if he isn't pulling stellar numbers.  Arthur's a big threat for the at-home prize, so he's probably better off financially not coming back.  The only other player mentioned is Jay, and though Rulon has his doubts about bringing back someone who could realistically compete with him for the Biggest Loser title, he also seems to agree that Jay was a good guy who only went home because of Arthur's shenanigans.  They don't reveal their choice until the weigh-in, probably to give the producers time to make sure that their chosen player is both willing and able to return.  Whatever player they bring back will have immunity the first week and will not count toward the team's weigh-in numbers.

Each of the trainers has a chance to take the small team off-campus for a change of scenery.  The choice they make tells us a little about the trainers and gives us all something new to look at.

Jillian takes her team to her fabulous beachfront home for a workout and some heart-to-heart. Rulon reveals that he never felt worthy of love so he could never fully accept it, even from his wife.  It really helped me understand why 12-step programs require people to develop a relationship with a higher power: No human being is ever going to be able to be perfectly loving all of the time, so it's too easy to take any fight or conflict as a sign that you are unworthy of love.  On-camera, players and trainers never talk about God, but I bet that they do off-camera.  Hannah is off running on the beach while this conversation happens, but I am sure she got her chance for a one-on-one with Jillian too.

Bob takes his contestants to Crunch, where he has been doing a Spinning class since before the show started.  Contestants have to sit up front while the hardbodied regulars cheer them on.  It's clear that Moses has not gotten as much cardio training as some of the other contestants because of his limitations.  He seems to do just fine keeping up with the class but it pushes him out of his comfort zone. I think this is the best part of mixing up the trainers -- forcing contestants to try something new that will challenge them.

Brett's team technically stays on campus -- they go for a hike in the hills surrounding the ranch.  All of them seem moved by the beautiful scenery and the chance to reflect on how far they have come.  Justin seems especially affected by the changes in himself. He realizes that he is finally the man he always wanted to be.  

Cara's team, predictably, goes to a boxing gym. She doesn't seem to know the trainer working there, but it has a gritty, Rocky-esque feel, with graffiti scrawled on the walls and unglamorous institutional-green walls.  Cara works out with Kaylee. Because Austin seems to be doing so well with his boxing training, he gets a chance to spar with the trainer.  The trainer coaches him through the fight but it does seem that Austin holds his own. He is definitely not just a fat kid anymore.  We get absolutely nothing on Ken, and I don't think that's a coincidence. He does not seem to be adjusting well since his stay at home and he and Austin don't seem comfortable around each other. Plus, events later in the show seem to prove that Ken isn't much into teamwork.

A big and important moment in the show is Kaylee's realization that she is ready to go try her luck in the real world.  She confides in Cara that she's ready to leave.  She's not the girl who hung back and was too afraid to stand up for herself. She's ready to take on some real-life challenges.  Cara tries to talk her out of it, "A fighter stays in the fight until the fight is over." Cara's one-note identity really shows its limitations here.  To put it into terms she could understand: It doesn't seem to me that Kaylee is a fighter quitting a fight -- she's a boxer who's done enough sparring and is ready to get into the ring. 

This leads us to expect some shenanigans at the weigh-in, and it does become clear that Kaylee intends for her team to throw the weigh-in.  She tells the camera that she's nervous because she asked her team to do "something hard" and hopes they are up for it.  She loses no weight this week, either because she rigged the weigh-in or because she doesn't have much left to lose.  Austin loses only a couple of pounds and Kaylee nods her approval.  When Ken weighs in, though, it's clear that he is not with the program. He has lost 7 pounds and Kaylee immediately starts crying because that puts the Green Team ahead of the Red Team.  There's some argument -- obviously Ken doesn't approve of cheating and is annoyed that this is the only way for people to leave.  Allie tells them that Kaylee is free to leave but that someone from the Red Team will still be eliminated.  Then Ken says something about how his wife has never seen him this thin, but no one is listening because they are all mad at him (besides, his wife doesn't seem like someone who would really care about his new lower weight).  A player on the Red Team has to go home and because Jen has immunity, it has to be either Courtney or Justin, and everyone loves both of them.  Obviously it would have been easier for everyone but Ken if he had gotten with the program and allowed Kaylee to have her wish. 

Justin immediately makes it clear that he wants everyone to choose him and not Courtney for elimination.  He feels he has found what he came to the ranch for. Justin has been a leader on the ranch all along and it's obviously hard for people to let him go.  A couple of people vote for Courtney instead, but enough people respect Justin's wishes that he heads back home to start "Justin's Call Out," a program for very overweight people at a local gym.  I'm not sure if he owns the gym or is just allowed to run the program there.  I wouldn't be surprised if "The Biggest Loser" had helped sponsor this initiative since they have been trying to push the "Pay it Forward" theme for a while now. 

Sorry for the late review! I forgot that I hadn't written one for this episode yet. I was having trouble deciding what to blog about this weekend and really wish I would have remembered sooner that I was a review behind. Can't wait until tomorrow's episode -- the show is really getting good!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How do you feel about cooking?

I was recently invited to a Pampered Chef party. I don't always enjoy going to parties where the goal is for you to buy things, but the hostess was a friend I don't see nearly often enough and of all the parties of that type, Pampered Chef is probably my favorite. Their stuff is thoughtfully-designed and high-quality, and you always get to eat well.

I sat next to the only person I knew besides the hostess.   I had just settled in with my plate to page through the catalog when this friend said, "I don't know what I will buy. I hate to cook.  I almost set my house on fire once."  This was news to me, but what was weird about it was that she seemed to wear her inability to cook as a badge of honor. When I decided to buy a batter bowl with a lid, she asked what I planned to use it for. I said it would be great for making pancakes because sometimes I make too much batter and then I could save it for the next day. "That's so cute that you do that!"

I like her and I wasn't offended, I just thought it was a weird position to take that anyone who cooked was indulging in a quaint and outdated practice, as if I were churning butter or something.  I asked, finally, after a couple of go-rounds of the "I don't cook" theme, what she did when she wanted to eat.  She eats out or orders in or makes something that requires minimal preparation.  I'm sure she still makes sandwiches and things like that.

I think that cooking is one of those things that a lot of women who take themselves seriously avoid. That's unfortunate. Cooking isn't "women's work," it's "people who want to be able to eat" work.  Who wants to pay restaurant prices and get restaurant calories at every meal?  Most of my meals are quick, because like most people who work, I don't have the time for elaborate food preparation. But in the time it would take to order and get takeout, you can usually make yourself something better than the food you're ordering anyway. There is also the magical slow cooker: Dump in a few ingredients in the morning and come home to a fully-cooked meal. I usually keep a frozen pizza and a bag of salad on hand for days when I really don't want to cook, but if you can make a frozen pizza without setting anything on fire, there are probably a lot of other things you can make, too.

I am trying to limit restaurants mostly to weekends as a fun thing to do instead of an "I'm too tired to fix dinner so I'll just order something" thing. I have noticed that once I get in the habit of doing that too often, my jeans start to get tight.

So where are you on the spectrum? Do you proudly declare your inability to boil water, or are you a wanna-be chef?  I am somewhere in the middle -- I don't really remember not knowing how to cook, and I enjoy playing the "What can I make with what I have" game and coming up with something creative.  But I'd never even think about writing a cookbook or working in a restaurant -- I'm not systematic and organized enough to make things come out the same way every time.

By the way, I spent way too much at the Pampered Chef party.  About $100. Now I guess I will have to cook at home even more to justify my purchases.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hormonal confusion

I have been on the birth control pill since November of 1988.  I'm 40 and I'm starting to wonder if I should think about a different birth control method.  Do I really need to have artificial hormones in my body every single day of my life?  It's not that I feel bad, necessarily, but I wonder if I might feel better without all the artificial hormones.  Would it be easier for me to get fit and lose weight without artificial estrogen? Would I have a better/worse time with perimenopause without the pill? I have so many questions I don't know how to answer.

I'm still young enough to get pregnant without reliable birth control, so figuring out another method would be one thing to consider. My husband has even said he would get a vasectomy if that was what I wanted.  After all, I've taken care of the birth control all of these years, so maybe it's his turn. 

The other, and maybe even bigger question is how I would feel without the hormones. What if I felt awful? I had bad periods when I was a teenager, but I have no idea what my body would be like on its own as an adult.  In a way, I'm already on hormone replacement therapy even though I'm not old enough to be in menopause yet.

Have any of you made the switch and if so, do you feel better? Worse? I'd be really curious to hear some stories from real people who have made this decision.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Motivation: What works for you?

I've been thinking a lot lately about motivation.  Kim posted on her blog, listing the strategies that are and aren't working for her.  She said she's losing hers and listed some strategies that she said she has tried but that don't work for her:

  1. Self-talk
  2.  – telling myself I have to make a certain weight goal by a certain date makes it worse, and so does telling myself I need to eat healthier so I feel good when I exercise. I know I can still run even if I am following a crappy diet, so that doesn’t do the trick.
  1. Looking at “Skinny” photos 
  2. - having “inspiring” photos around doesn’t help. Even though they are of me when I was feeling my best, health-wise.
  1. Keeping a food journal
  2.  – makes me even more neurotic.
She also posted a photo of herself looking fit, cute, and trim. I posted a comment telling her so: "You look so cute (and fit) in that picture.I think the problem with all your “don’t work” strategies is that they are not coming from a place of self-love, they are coming from a place of 'fixing' yourself."


As I have posted here before, I am really trying to figure out a way to come at this weight-management thing from a place of self-love, from a desire to really take good care of myself instead of from a mentality of fixing what is broken.  I think long-term, weight-management would be a lot easier if it was about self-care instead of self-control.  I know some of you disagree with me that this is a possibility and feel free to post your comments that weight loss is never going to be easy. I don't think it will be easy, necessarily, but it will feel better if the motivation behind what I do is positive instead of negative.


Even Bob Greene, who always seemed like a self-control kind of guy, talked about how natural it was for people to seek pleasure in a podcast interview with Oprah.  He was answering a question from someone who approached weight loss from an all-or-nothing point of view and was not able to find ways to make healthy eating pleasurable.  Of course she was conflicted about losing weight if it meant not living a happy life while she did it! 


I know I could quickly lose weight by buckling down, cutting all distractions out of my life, and rigidly following a diet plan.  I did Weight Watchers that way the first time -- I was even happy that I got a migraine headache on Thanksgiving and couldn't eat.  But that kind of weight loss is short-lived. I outgrew my skinny clothes almost as soon as I bought them.  This time I'm not going to approach things from a "duty cycle" of self-punishment.  I want to focus on the dream of a satisfying, healthy life.


I am going about it a lot more slowly this time and if you look at my weight graphs alone, you would think there is no real movement there at all.  But I feel differently. I'm starting to make healthier food choices because I prefer them. I was at a party last night and had some "treat" foods and they didn't even taste that good to me anymore, and I woke up this morning feeling sort of crummy.  Everything I'm reading and listening to suggests that the kind of diet that the new Weight Watchers plan encourages (a healthy balance of protein and carbs, lots of fruits and vegetables, minimally processed foods) is the same way to eat to manage a whole bunch of my long-range health concerns: healthy aging and hormone balance (I'm 40), long-term cognitive function (my grandmothers both had dementia), weight management, healthy skin, athletic performance.  This isn't just about being skinny to me anymore.


I don't care how long it takes to lose the weight because this is the way I need to live for good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recipe: Falafel burgers

My husband and I are cutting most meat out of our diet during Lent. We're still eating fish, and as anyone who grew up Catholic knows, Sundays are not part of Lent.  This gives me an out for when I have dinner at my parents' house, which is almost never vegetarian.  I grew up Catholic and even though I'm not really Catholic anymore, I like the Lent thing as a way to test-drive a life change for a limited amount of time.  I think that eating less meat is definitely the right thing for my health and for the environment, and this is giving me a chance to try it out in a more committed way.  Though we are still eating some fish, I'm trying to do more truly meatless meals and try new recipes.  Today's recipe was inspired by a post on Mission Vegan. As you can see, they were very pretty.

If I had made 4 evenly-sized burgers out of this, they would have been 7 PointsPlus each, including the olive oil for frying.  Because I ended up making four of different sizes instead and choosing a middle-sized one, I'm counting the one pictured here as 8 PointsPlus for the patty, plus the lettuce (0), tomato (0), hummus (1), and Ezekiel Sprouted Grain with Sesame Burger Bun (4).  This was very filling, and I could probably have skipped the oven fries pictured here. I didn't have 3 whole garlic cloves so I used the chopped kind in a jar, and I don't think I put in enough. Next time I will add more.


Ingredients

 8 oz dry chickpeas, Rinsed and soaked in water overnight   
 4 medium scallion(s), Cut into inch-long pieces   
1/4 cup(s) parsley, chopped   
2 tsp baking powder   
1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour   
1 tsp table salt   
1 tsp Durkee Ground Cumin Seed   
1/2 tsp ground red pepper   
3 clove(s) garlic clove(s) (medium)   
4 tsp olive oil, For frying   

Instructions


Pulse everything except the oil in the food processor until well combined.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Shape into patties and pan fry each one in a teaspoon of olive oil, browning on both sides.
Bake on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once.

Down again





I logged every day this week. I went over my weekly points a bit but didn't use it as an excuse to give up this time. I need to remember that next time I'm feeling discouraged.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 11: All Together Now

After Sarah's elimination, the two teams are now even.  They are brought together to hear about the latest twist in the game: Instead of two teams, Red and Black, there will be just one this week, the new Blue Team. As a team, all of the contestants will be working together to try to lose more than 64 pounds.  They will train together, compete in challenges together, and all work together on their common goal.  I thought it was a nice change of pace from the usual competitive frenzy.  

Before the action gets started, Marci and Courtney have a heart-to-heart with Dr. H., who tells Courtney that she is now down to 35% body fat, which is average for women in America (that's less than my Tanita scale says I have, by the way).  Marci gets even better news -- she is now at her ideal weight. That's great news, but of course it means that the team can't count on much, if any, loss from her this week since her new goal is to maintain.  Dr. H. also meets with Moses and Kaylee, and Moses learns that his scary risk factors have all been reduced.  He still has quite a ways to go, though, and it still seems like he is overfocused on the tiny amount that Kaylee still has to lose rather than the 100 or so pounds he still could stand to drop. 

This week Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia preside over a cooking challenge. Teams of two -- each pair made up of one member from the former Red Team and one from the former Black Team -- compete to create their favorite healthy dish for the guest chefs. You can get the recipes for the dishes the contestants made on the website. Hannah really played up her crush on Curtis Stone for comic effect the whole time.  I am guessing that most of the recipes came from the Biggest Loser cookbooks, but the team that won seemed to have made their recipe up themselves.  The prize could be a big one: The team that wins each get the Biggest Loser meal delivery service for the entire time between their arrival back home and the finale. Having all of their meals portioned out for them could be the difference between winning and losing.

Since the teams are combined, the trainers decide to switch teams and train the contestants they haven't worked with yet.  Bob and Jillian seem to enjoy training the big guys, and the former Black Team gets to try out the boxing/mixed martial arts stylings of Cara and Bret.  It's obvious that Bob and Jillian are the tougher trainers, as the former Red Team struggles through their workout and the former Black Team seems to have fun trying something new.

The team competes together in a horrible physical challenge to win five pounds in their weigh-in.. Players have to follow a rope buried deep in the sand to answer trivia questions about the show (mostly players' weight-loss stats).  Players tag in in pairs to work together -- after each question, two more players come in.  At first they do it easily. Rulon can just yank on the rope and pull it up.  As more players join the challenge, the rope is buried deeper and deeper.  Hannah injures her hand digging in the sand.   They just make it across the finish line in time and win the advantage.  Now they only have to lose 59 pounds as a group.

The weigh-in is a dramatic nailbiter. At first it seems easy for the players to average 5 pounds of weight lost each.  Sure, Marci and Kaylee will have trouble losing that much, but there are enough big players to pick up the slack.  As a few players start to have bad numbers, we realize this is not going to be as easy as we thought. 

I won't reveal the ending because it's not important to the plot, I will just say that toward the middle of the weigh-in, it became obvious what would happen.  

Final note: Jillian posted a link to a video of a deleted scene between her and Austin that gives some insight into what happened when he and Ken were at home.  He said he tried to spend as little time at home as possible so he would have to face what was happening with his mom and dad. When Jillian asked about it, he said it was the same stuff that got him to over 400 pounds. At the same time, he felt guilty for leaving his mom behind with her problems with food.  I really feel for him and for his mom. This situation can't be easy for either of them. 


Taking time for restorative exercise

I have to admit I get a charge out of intense workouts.  Spinning classes, running, hour-long practice swims.  Those things are fun and give me a charge.  Part of it is that intense workouts help relax my mind. I also get a charge thinking of the massive calorie burn.  I am having so much trouble staying under my Weight Watchers points target that I try to make up for it with exercise.  Plus, I want to do a triathlon this summer, which means I need to work hard to be ready to compete in all three sports.

Last week I went to one of those Extreme Interval classes, sort of a circuit-training-bootcamp thing.  I had no trouble with the endurance part -- I could run or punch or kick forever, but the strength stuff was very hard for me, especially all of the pushups and all of the impact on my bare feet. For some reason, I decided to go for a run after this class.  I was feeling a little insecure about not feeling like I could keep up, and I hadn't gotten a lot of running in lately. I told myself that this would help flush out the lactic acid so I wouldn't be too sore.  Wrong. What it did was make my calves feel like they had been beaten with baseball bats.  This class/run combo was on Friday and I am still feeling some residual soreness.  I skipped my swim practice last night but even this morning, I woke up feeling awful.

Today's workout was supposed to be a strength training class at the YMCA. I was all dressed and ready to go when I realized that it wasn't the right for me today.  I went for a walk outside instead, and I am going to do a yoga class this evening.  I don't think I have been giving myself enough time to restore and renew.  It wasn't just the right thing for my body today, it helped get me off the rat wheel of feeling like I have to burn, burn, burn all of the time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bouncing around





Liveblogging from my meeting location right after my weigh-in. As you can see, I'm still on a plateau of sorts. It's more of a motivation plateau than the kind people usually talk about.

I am doing great with my workouts. It's just staying within my points, or even sticking with tracking.

Sorry for the sideways graph, but you get the picture.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More reading: The Gifts of Imperfection

 I am "reading" Brené Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are using Audible.com's iPhone app. I was really struck by her definition of perfectionism.  I found it on her blog:

Perfectionism...is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's that simple. Perfection is not about healthy striving or being our best, it's how we protect ourselves. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.
My first experience with rejecting perfectionism was when I was in my doctoral program. I was working full-time and going to school, so I adopted the motto, "Sometimes done is good enough." At the time it all felt a little like cheating. Aren't we supposed to always do our best? But I knew that if I tried to do everything perfect, I'd never finish. I credit my ability to put aside perfectionism with my successful completion of my degree. We always are told to do our best, but sometimes doing our overall best means setting priorities and giving each thing only the time and energy it really deserves.

I find myself struggling with perfectionism most when I'm feeling unsure of myself. If I have a big event one day, I will find myself trying on and rejecting half a dozen outfits, making a complete mess of my room and a bigger mess of my head.  Logically, I know that my choice of shoes is not going to have much of an effect of how the department meeting goes.  Perfectionism is pretty illogical, though, if you think about it.

I think the flip side of this might also be a problem. Maybe the book gets to this later, I'm only about halfway through. But I wondered if some of us might have a literal "twenty-pound shield" instead of a figurative one. Those pesky extra pounds can be such a convenient protection from the "Who Do You Think You Are" Police.   Except that they're not, really.

Perfectionism is just one of the topics in this very enlightening book.  I like it even better than I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn't).  The new book focuses more on the art of living a "wholehearted" life, one that is authentic and imperfect and happy. It's really a very practical look at the things that stand in the way of living a happier, more authentic life. I wholeheartedly recommend it (pun intended).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 10: O, Captain! My Captain!

Couldn't resist the literary reference. Alternate title: "We're Turning The Biggest Loser into a Giant MUD PIT!"

Note: Again, here there be spoilers.  Please proceed with caution.

This week's episode begins in the elimination room after Arthur's departure.  The teams are each asked to choose a captain who will be making some important decisions on their behalf.  They need to choose a strong leader that they can all trust. Not surprisingly, the Red Team chooses Justin.  The Black Team chooses Marci, who has become the designated team mom.

One of the first decisions is that only one player can prepare the team's food all week.  Marci chooses Olivia, and Justin chooses Ken.  Both teams seem happy with these decisions.  The cooks are able to get the rest of their team to be responsible for cleanup.  Since the contestants eat many times per day, responsibility for food prep is a major time commitment.  Olivia realizes she's not getting her workouts in so she moves a Spin bike into the kitchen.  Ken uses his turn as cook to talk the guys into measuring out their foods, especially things like salad dressing. The guys have, apparently, been sloppy with measuring their portions and counting their calories.  Ken also realizes how hard it is to run a household. He seems to have had some struggles with his relationship with his wife when he was home, and I wondered if this gave him a new insight into what her life might be like.

Another decision that the captains get to make is that on one day, at least, only two of the team members will be able to work out with the trainers.  At first I thought that this applied to the whole week, but later we see both teams going through their usual last chance workouts, so I think it was just one day.  I'm not sure if the players work out with the trainers every day or just a few days a week. I know that they are assigned "homework" to do in addition to their trainer-led workouts.

Marci chooses Sarah because she has been anxious about working out since her terrible car accident, and Hannah to help support her since Hannah has also been in a car accident.  Hannah doesn't seem to be much support, though. She is obviously angry about being lumped in with Sarah, who isn't as athletic as the rest of the Black Team members.  I was impressed with Sarah for not seeming to take this anger personally.  It has been obvious all show that Hannah is an incredible athlete, but this decision by Marci seems to have brought up her old insecurities after her Olympic dreams were ended by the car accident.  She and Jillian work this out together.  In the meantime, Bob devotes all of his attention to Sarah, helping her work through her fears.  I really wondered if she was bumping up her body's stored memories of pain when her workouts got uncomfortable. Until this episode I didn't know that doctors had told Sarah that she might never walk after her accident. She said that once she got to the point that she could walk, she was afraid to push any farther.  Bob's magic seems to work on her too. Both team members end the workout on a high note.

The Red Team trainers have gone to a lot of trouble to set up a workout for the whole team, putting together backpacks with the weight each player has lost and planning to put them through the workout they did on their first day. It's a classic Biggest Loser thing to do, but it's usually done toward the end of the season.  I felt sorry for Brett and Cara because it's starting to feel like the shows are being edited to make them look foolish. (The post on MizFit's site soliciting a new female Biggest Loser trainer really adds some weight to that suspicion.)  Brett and Cara say they are going to use "Never Forget Your Past" as a theme for the week, because the contestants' weight gain last week suggests that they went home and forgot everything they learned.  No, they didn't. They went back home to the same problems that made them fat in the first place, and if they didn't have good strategies for handling those problems, they were bound to struggle.  Kaylie and Ken are chosen to work with them, and they do seem to appreciate the attention. Putting the weight back on really seems to affect Kaylie, who says she knows she is thinner but she still feels like the same fat girl.  I really felt for her.  This is also the part of the show where we see Ken wrestling with his marriage and how to maintain his focus on healthy living when his wife "has not been able to share that journey yet."

Later, Kaylie and Moses get a visit from Brett, who is concerned with Moses's poor performance at home.  Moses keeps talking about how he needs to be there for Kaylie, but Kaylie seems to be doing just fine. It's Moses that is still seriously overweight, and yet when he went home he said he "focused on enjoying his time with his wife," as if enjoying his time with her had to involve overeating. At some point Kaylie seems angry with him, and I can see why.  It has to be frustrating for him to focus on the little weight she still has to lose instead of the 100+ pounds he still needs to lose. I think that, rather than his need to "do it for himself" is the problem -- he's too focused on fixing everyone else and doesn't see himself honestly.

This week's challenge is an obstacle-course-type event, with teams asked to navigate across a muddy field using some vendor-supplied steps so that they don't touch the mud.  It reminds me of the "Hot Lava" game we used to play when we were kids.  If any player touches the ground, the whole team has to start at the last checkpoint.  Since the Black Team has one extra player, Marci has to choose someone to sit the challenge out. Weirdly, she chooses Courtney, when it's pretty obvious that Sarah is the weakest player.  Two players are stationed at checkpoints along the course and don't join in until later. This gives The Red Team a way to minimize the time that Ken has to be in the game, since he is their least athletic player.  The most notable thing about this challenge is how much better the Black Team does with a designated leader. For once, instead of everyone going their own way, one person is calling the shots. Not coincidentally, this is the first challenge they win.

As my husband observed, the team that wins the challenge seems to lose the weigh-in. This week, the Black Team had several players with very small losses.  Marci is very close to her goal weight and is all ready to throw herself on the grenade, but didn't expect that she could win immunity and make it impossible to carry out that plan. Marci berates herself for not thinking that through, but what could she have done? I suspect Marci's major issue, like Moses's, is control.

Interestingly, even though the Black Team seemed angry that the Red Team would choose who to send home based on loyalty instead of who "needed to be there," they chose a player who was obviously still struggling with a lot of issues and severe muscle atrophy just because she joined their team late in the game.  Luckily, Sarah seemed happy to be home with her husband and seemed to be doing very well.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Weight Watchers on the road

I am traveling this week and thought I wouldn't be able to attend a Weight Watchers meeting. I have been struggling lately and really wanted to feel like I was doing something right. On a whim I used the Weight Watchers iPhone app's "Find a Meeting" tool just to see what was nearby. There was a meeting within 5 minutes' walking distance at a church an hour from when I checked. It was the only meeting there all week. I had nothing particular going on, so I decided to attend. I had my Monthly Pass in my wallet. I didn't even change into lighter clothes, because it wasn't really the weigh-in I cared about, it was that feeling of resetting my week.

My goals for this week: Write down everything I eat in my paper tracker and try to get all my healthy checks. I will be in meetings and not as in control of my food, but I will do what I can. I even stopped at a drugstore today and bought multivitamins so I can check that box.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Review: Chocolate and Vicodin

Note: I bought my copy of Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away with my own money.  After all, what are friends and blog readers for if not to support each other's ventures? I should have ordered a signed copy through FlyLeaf Books, but I wanted to get my money's worth out of my Amazon Prime membership before it expired.  My review is unsolicited but may be a little biased because I am a fan.


Jennette Fulda knows more about unsolicited advice than almost anyone. After undertaking two of the best ventures for attracting other people's opinions -- losing weight and dealing with chronic pain -- I think she could complete her study of busybodyness by getting pregnant, preferably with octuplets through artificial insemination.  I don't have children but I have observed through my sister's pregnancy and early motherhood experiences that you get lots of opinions about that too.

One of the more interesting things about Chocolate and Vicodin is the way Jennette uses her experiences as a blogger to frame the book. Each chapter begins with one or two actual emails from readers (identities disguised, of course) suggesting her headache might be caused by everything from a problem with one of her chakras (pp. 44-45) to wireless internet (p. 147) to irregularity (pp. 172-173). All of her readers want desperately to help her figure out the cause and treatment for her headache.  I seem to remember sending in one or two ideas myself, and I feel a little sheepish after I read how much pressure all of this advice seemed to add to her stress.  While she waits for her insurance company to clear her requests for conventional treatments, she tries a handful of these suggestions from her readers.  She even made a video about it:



She takes an interesting approach to these treatments: "I had started to view my medical appointments as work I had to do to earn my 'piss-off policy' for that treatment. It was like earning patches for my sash when I had been a Girl Scout. I would go to the acupuncturist, give it a good try, and then when it didn't work I could tell everyone who had suggested acupuncture to piss off: (pp. 138-139).  "Why couldn't she just decide for herself that it wasn't for her without shelling out the bucks for acupuncture?" you might think.  I'm not going to judge, because when I had my house on the market for 9 months without a buyer, I went to a Catholic bookstore to buy a statue of St. Joseph to bury in my yard just so I could tell my mother's neighbor I had tried it (and in the desperate hope that it just might work, which it didn't).  When you have a problem that solicits unwanted advice, you get the feeling that everyone will think it's your fault you are sick if you're not willing to try a chiropractor or whatever voodoo ritual they suggest.

Besides, it wasn't like conventional medicine had much more to offer her.  Her doctors had her try all kinds of prescription medicines, get MRIs, and even spend several days home-administering an IV to see if those things would help her find relief.  There didn't seem to be a lot of great science on headaches to fall back on, just a lot of things that might work.  My father suffered from cluster headaches (referred to as "suicide headaches" in this book) for much of my childhood, and I remember him going through similar torture.  There just isn't a lot of great help to be had.

In the end, Jennette had to accept that a certain amount of chronic pain might just be part of her life and find ways to manage it with a minimum of suffering. Most of the things that helped the most were general wellness strategies like getting good sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising.

What makes this book fun and not at all a sorrowful slog is that Jennette maintains a sense of humor about her predicament and even a certain amount of gratitude, once she realizes how many people are living with chronic pain. And she even finds time to take a trip to Europe, headache and all.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 9: A Trip Home

Note: Sorry again, DVR patrol, but there will be some spoilers in this post.  Please come back and read it later if you don't want to find out what happened.


This episode begins right after the very emotional double elimination (and highly engineered Black Team weight gain festival) from last week's episode. The Red Team is brought in to hear that they are all going home for two weeks. Most of the players seem thrilled, but a few admit to feeling apprehensive. After all, as Ali reminds them, home is where they gained their weight.  In addition to losing their controlled, safe environment, there's a pretty good chance that many of them will be facing enablers, food pushers, and other serious distractions to their weight loss goals.  Ali gives them a warning that they will all be completing a 5K when they get back, in addition to the ever-present scale.  We see all of the contestants walk in to huge rooms full of cheering and crying people.  It's funny to see them in regular clothes. The hardest scenes to watch were the tearful young children reunited with their parents after such a long absence.  I am sure some of them are too young to understand why their parents have been gone for so long and it has to be really confusing and painful for them.

I'm hoping that the producers told the contestants to go back as much as possible to the lives they were leading before the show, including their old jobs. That is the only reason, in my opinion, that Courtney should have been working in her parents' Dairy Queen franchise while she was home. Though she seems confident that she can resist the temptation and even shows us the salad she is eating for dinner, let's face it, there is not much at Dairy Queen that anyone should be eating on a regular basis, and facing that temptation night after night would be hard for most people. I am hoping that when she gets home for real, she will find somewhere else to work.  Marci, Moses, and Kaylie have it easier -- Marci goes to work in a gym, and Moses and Kaylie go to Moses's physical therapy office and put some of their community members through a BL-style workout.  Kaylie seems really poised and confident, and her mother seems impressed with the changes in her.  
Austin goes home just in time to celebrate his 21st birthday with friends who put out a spread of pizza, cheese fries, and ice cream cake.  I really wondered about the sanity of the girl who shoved the cake in his face and told him he should try it.  I am hoping she was just playing it up for the camera and that there was a salmon salad off-screen somewhere.  We get very limited shots of Austin and Ken's home life, but see enough to notice that they are not the only family members with a weight problem.  We see scenes with the other contestants and their families. One of the most heartfelt is Jesse apologizing to Arthur for the turmoil he caused by being a troubled husband and a father. Apparently Jesse had a drug and alcohol problem that Arthur never knew about, even though Arthur lived with his father after his mother got fed up and left Jesse.  Arthur had to choose between his mother and his father and chose to live with Jesse. That was a big decision to lay on a 9-year-old boy.  This conversation seemed to be a real eye-opener for Arthur.

Once the contestants get back to the ranch, they find out that when they do the 5K, they will be competing to choose their trainers again.  Most of the players want to keep their teams the same, but Jen, who was forced onto the Red Team by Arthurand was never a part of the Red Team Alliance, is determined to be one of the first to finish the race.  Arthur, of course, wants to stay on the Black Team too but knows that he is likely to lose the race.  Sarah feels really conflicted and says something kind of weird, "I like both sets of trainers. It's like having to choose between my dad and my mom." I wondered if she had been forced to make a choice like that when she was younger, but I can't find anything about it in either her or Deni's profiles.

The race is on some weird, nonmotorized treadmill with a curved base. If this race was product placement, it was a bad decision by someone on the Curve marketing staff, because these treadmills seem like torture devices.  The contestants really have to struggle to move them. A fw of them manage to run for short bursts, but most have to hold on tight to the railings, hunch over and push hard with their legs. I'm a runner but I would not want to try to run on one of these.  Jen is among the first to finish, so we know she will get her wish to switch teams. Sarah seems to be throwing the race, even though she knows she would be sent home in the next elimination if she goes back to the Red Team.  She said it was because she didn't want to pick trainers, but it's obvious that she feels responsible for Arthur.  Somewhere before it's too late, she decides that she does want to make a choice after all, and squeaks out a second-to-last finish. We know that Arthur will go to the Red Team, and this puts him at serious risk of elimination.

It's hard not to get swept away in the drama.  Arthur, Jillan, and Bob are all sobbing when Arthur comes out in his red shirt.  This is seriously Bad.  Then everyone gets to weigh in.  The Black Team has a great weigh-in, with every single member hitting double-digit losses. The Black Team is all women now, and as my husband noted, they probably had more control of the food in the house than the men when they went home.  The Red Team is all men, except for Kaylie, and because they're bigger, would have to average 17 pounds lost per player.  Instead, most had lackluster losses.  Ken and Austin don't do well, and neither do Moses and Kaylie.  In both families, it doesn't seem that they got the support they needed at home.  Arthur is, of course, the last to weigh in, and needs 18 pounds to beat Rulon.  Instead, he gets a 16, enough to get him under the 400-pound mark, but not enough to win immunity.  Bob makes one last plea for the team to consider Arthur's health in their decision, and then the Red Team goes to elimination.

The smart person to eliminate is Kaylie. She has very little weight left to lose and isn't likely to pull big numbers on the scale.  Arthur has a lot to lose and could be a huge asset. However, to be fair, he has been inconsistent and his weight would put them at a disadvantage if he didn't have a good loss.  It doesn't matter, though. The old Red Team sticks together and votes Arthur off.

All is not lost, though, Dear Readers.  I have often noted that, since the Couples thing started, the kids on The Biggest Loser do better once their parents get sent home.  Dan from Season 5's Orange Team and Michelle from Season 6 are just a couple of examples. I think that the Black Team did such a good job of taking responsibility for Arthur that he found it hard to take responsibility for himself. I was proud of Sarah for thinking about what was best for her in this case, because it turned out that going home was probably the best thing for Arthur. He had already lost 100 pounds before starting the show, so we know that he has the strength to lose on his own.  He learned a lot from his time on the ranch and after talking things out with his dad, had a better understanding of his issues.  When we see him at home, he has an amazing schedule. He is a stay-at-home Dad, so after his kids leave for school, he walks 5 miles to the gym, works out, and walks 5 miles home.  He also does all the cooking so he knows the food will be what he needs.  Arthur is going to be just fine.  No drama required. I really admired Arthur for doing what he needs to do to be successful. I'm sure the $100,000 prize is part of the motivation for him to stay home at least until after the finale.

What did you think of this week's episode? It was a bit of a roller coaster for me, but I'm glad things seem to be going OK for Arthur.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Weigh-in report: It's about time


I have been really struggling lately. I would track and count points for the first half of the week, then trail off  midway through Thursday.  I had slipped into the 180s, which was very frustrating for me since I was weighing in higher than I had started out back in September.  That's why I haven't been blogging about my weight lately. Can you blame me?

This week I committed to tracking even if I ended up over my points, and I also started to work on getting my points down. It paid off this week. I lost two pounds and I'm back in the 170s.  Now I just need to stick with it.

I'm also working on the "inside job" of weight loss. I've been listening to some great podcasts and books on the topic, and even bought a DVD called "The Inner Weigh" (review coming soon).  The video was good, but  some of the supplemental audio files that were given as bonus gifts with the DVD are even better, and I have been listening to them over and over.  I heard about the movie from the Inside Out Weight Loss podcasts, which I also recommend.

One of the best things I've listened to so far is Brené Brown's book I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn't): Telling the Truth about Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power. If you want a quick introduction to her theories, you can check out her TED talk. I am listening to the Audible version, but it is, of course, also available as a print book. I like to listen to audiobooks when I'm driving, and this one is really making me think.  Brown talks about the differences between guilt and shame, the way that guilt (about behavior) can be positive and help alert you to when you are acting in a way that conflicts with your values, but shame (about who you are) never gets you where you want to go.  Listening to this, I realize that it is not so much the weight I want to lose, but my shame.  I think that this is why the weight loss didn't "stick" the last time -- I lost the weight but not my fundamental sense of myself as flawed, unworthy, and inadequate.

That's what I think I need to change if I am going to get to a better place. It's harder than it sounds.

In the meantime, I'm already halfway through Chocolate and Vicodin.  It's a great read, and I will be reviewing it here soon, but don't wait, just go get it.
"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