Monday, May 30, 2011

By special request: Learning about shame

Shauna asked me if I could talk more about the online course I took based on Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  Brené is a researcher who studies shame, mostly women's shame, and writes books that help both mental health professionals and ordinary people understand why coming to terms with shame is so important.  I think the best way to learn more about this work is to check out Brené's blog, or better yet watch the video of one of her TED talks, where she tells a great story about being asked to speak at a country club. When the woman who was organizing the event realized what the talk would be about, she ordered a change of topic.  She didn't want a discussion of how shame gets in the way of happiness, she wanted a talk on how to live a beautiful, happy life.   The talk is a disaster, Brené said, because the how-to is no good if you "don't talk about the stuff that gets in the way."

After listening to both of Brené's books as audiobooks, I was interested in learning more, so I subscribed to the blog and found out about a several-week online class through Hopeful World Publishing, with a portion of the proceeds to go to building schools in the developing world. I thought this was a good chance to go deeper with the material and to do some good in the world at the same time. There was also an online course community where people could talk about the material.

I ended up finding that the class community was too large to really be engaging. Everyone seemed to be trying hard to be heard. I posted a few times and then gave up, because I just couldn't keep up with all the activity there.

I did really enjoy the audios that went with the course, which went deeper into the material about shame and how dealing with shame is the key to a more authentic life.  Brené's definition of shame is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Shame, she says, is most often associated with the fear of being associated with an unwanted identity.  I have a great example from a recent blog post on "Now the plan is this..."  Our charming author with the completely unfathomable name was doing one of her long runs for a marathon when she encountered two other runners:

They were moving well faster than me of course, everyone does but I was feeling ok so there was a bit of "Hi!" "Hi!" and I thought nothing of it.About an hour later, near the end of the trail, the two women breezed past again. "Hi!" said I again. I'm known for my originality. Keep going! said the one I didn't know.There was a pause as I took this in.Keep going???Keep going??? I left home at 5.30am! GGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!
What's the unwanted identity here? Our heroine is not a newbie runner, but the "Keep going!" suggested that she was. Newbie runner (and the sense that she looked the part) was the unwanted identity that may have caused some shame and definitely caused anger.  She wanted instead to be recognized as the serious, experienced, four-time marathoner that she is.   I have been in this situation more times than I can count, and I didn't have as satisfying a resolution as she did.  I can't speak for her, but I don't like to be thought of as a newbie runner not because I think there's anything wrong with being new (I think it's awesome), but because I don't like the implication that I look unconditioned and out of shape.

The audios went into some interesting discussions on how to react to these situations (don't attack, don't shrink away, don't puff up, take some time to think before you do something you will regret), but also explain why these situations are so hard. Our brain deals with these shame-inducing situations the way it would if we were suddenly attacked by a stranger wielding a baseball bat -- fear, panic, fight-flight-freeze.  Our rational brain, we learn, is completely "offline" in these situations, because if we really were being attacked, intellectualizing about it would be disastrous. That's why we always come up with the right thing to say several minutes later, when our rational brain recovers. These reactions and feelings are common to everyone, at least everyone who has the capacity for human feelings. Interestingly, I just read The Psychopath Test, and one thing that distinguishes us from psychopaths is our ability to feel shame. So the key is not to wish it away, but to learn to handle it better and to recognize when we are feeling shame so we can avoid lashing out or otherwise reacting in a less-than-optimal way.

I would definitely recommend the class if it repeated. I enjoyed listening to the audios on my walks around the neighborhood. I didn't keep up with all the journaling exercises, but I did learn a lot.  If you want a less expensive option, you might consider signing up for the year of reflections course at Hopeful World.

I also recommend the books: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be  and Embrace Who You Are and I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About  Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power as well as the video The Hustle for Worthiness. I learned a lot about myself from all of these.  You can also find a lot more videos and information if you Google Brené Brown.

Lose It! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, May 23rd

 

Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, May 23rd

for Jen S
Daily Summary
Budget Food Exercise Net +/- Weight (lbs)
5/23/11 1,659 2,178 392 1,786 128 179.8
5/24/11 1,656 2,235 381 1,854 198 179.4
5/25/11 1,651 2,250 680 1,570 -80 178.6
5/26/11 1,651 2,563 843 1,720 69 178.6
5/27/11 1,651 2,828 513 2,315 664 178.6
5/28/11 1,651 2,105 284 1,822 171 178.6
5/29/11 1,651 2,314 445 1,870 219 178.6
1,368 calories over budget for the week
Gained 0.2 pounds this week
Nutrient Summary % Calories
Fat 702g 38.2%
   Saturated Fat 224g
Cholesterol 1,711mg
Sodium 17,522mg
Carbohydrates 1,886g 45.5%
   Fiber 221g
Protein 674g 16.3%
Exercise Summary Calories
Yoga 20 Min 43
Pilates 1 Hour 40 Min 284
Running 1 Hour 40 Min 1094
Circuit Training 45 Min 443
House Cleaning 1 Hour 25 Min 241
Lawn Mowing 25 Min 177
Walking 1 Hour 15 Min 245
Stationary Bicycle 1 Hour 15 Min 1012
Total 3538
Report generated by Lose It!. For more information or to sign up for your free Lose It! account, please visit http://www.loseit.com

Sunday, May 29, 2011

For those still following this thread...

...the cat is doing better. He has stopped vomiting so much (once in the last three days instead of at least once a day) and is eating like he's making up for lost time. He looks fatter, though it doesn't somehow translate to weight on the scale. (I will gladly give him some of my weight on the scale.) I am really wondering what is going on.  This is the progress of events in May: He seems fine, he vomits blood, he goes to the emergency vet, he goes to the regular vet, he looks better, goes back to the vet, he looks like he's on death's door and we start thinking about euthanasia, he has a slightly better weekend, back to the vet again, he looks a little better, goes to the vet, looks worse, gets scheduled for an ultrasound to see if he has cancer, looks better, I cancel the ultrasound, and now he's getting fat and happy.

I'm not complaining about him seeming to get better, I just have no way of making sense of what is going on. I am hoping his renewed appetite and energy means maybe he is getting better from whatever is wrong with him.  The vet could very well still think this is cancer playing tricks on us. I will know more on Tuesday.  I think this is a life lesson in just enjoying the good times, but I think I'm failing, because I keep trying to read the tea leaves, "What does this all mean?"

About the feeling fat post -- I was at a Pilates workout where there were three of us there, one very thin person who is in training to be an instructor, the class instructor, and me. I had taken an interval workout class the day before and my muscles were sore, and I was not doing well in this class. I had eaten a light breakfast and was feeling hungry and exhausted after the workout, but a masochistic past self had signed me up for a second class twenty minutes after the first, not enough time to grab a snack in between.  I scrounged some old lozenges out of my car to get a few calories into my body so I could make it through the second workout.

I felt better after having lunch, but I am still at a higher point on the scale than I'd like and am feeling frustrated that I'm not making more progress than I am.  I have been adding in strength training, which I thought was the missing link, but I don't seem to be losing anything, and even the body fat scale has such wild swings that I'm not confident that I'm adding muscle yet either.

As someone posted in the comments, feelings aren't forever.

I am happy, actually, that I'm doing this on my own and not with Weight Watchers. If I was going to weigh-ins in the mood I'm in now, no one would want to be around me. LoseIt is pretty fun, too. A few people have friended me and some are posting encouraging comments, which is really nice.

Tonight we had thought about a walk or a bike ride, but the weather is too stormy and unpredictable. I have to admit, I like having an excuse to relax a little instead. I went for a run this morning and I think that's enough for me for today.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Feeling fat and discouraged today

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel good about my body. Sometimes going to an exercise class makes me feel strong and confident, and sometimes I just feel like everyone is thinking about how huge I am.

Sorry for the downer post, but I believe in telling it like it is.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Update on food and exercise

I thought it was about time I posted something about health and fitness on this blog. I don't want everyone to think I'm just sitting around staring morosely at my cat. (He has actually been doing better lately, vomiting less and having a better appetite. I think he may even be gaining weight, which for him would be a good thing).

I had been pretty sporadic with Lose It for a while, but I am actually doing a good job of logging everything this week.  I'm still working on bringing the calories down. Geneen Roth says that people who struggle with their weight fall into two categories, too rigid and too undisciplined. I think you probably know by now that I fall into the latter category.  I am trying to do this from the inside out, as Renee Stephens would say, working on my motivations and beliefs as well as my diet.  I am still feeling good about my decision to stop using Weight Watchers -- I feel that Lose It provides just as good a system for logging my food, and the meetings had stopped feeling helpful to me. I'm sure Lose It and other weight loss apps have cut into Weight Watchers bottom line quite a bit.

The exercise is going better. I have been doing more Spinning classes and a little less running. I signed up for an interval strength training class on Fridays and I think that is going to help provide the missing piece I have been needing.  Lose It says I have already burned almost 2300 calories through conscious exercise.

My eye is still bothering me. I am sucking it up and wearing my glasses and exercising anyway. I have four different pairs of glasses now, and one of them works pretty well for working out. My eye doctor says no contacts for a couple days yet. I have been using artificial tears and some other drops he gave me..

Sorry that I don't have more interesting news to report.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11: Finale!

Note: This is the finale review, so of course there will be spoilers.


This week's finale was the end both of my favorite season ever of "The Biggest Loser," and also marked the end of Jillian Michael's association with the show.  This was also the first finale with four trainers.  It was also the first time Jillian seemed truly happy and confident in her finale outfit. All of these factors meant that this was going to be a really big night for everyone involved.  After American's vote for Irene was revealed, it also marked a Biggest Loser first: This was the first time that three women were the three finalists competing for the big prize.  

I don't think anyone would have expected this, in a season with so many big guys with strong personalities and lots of weight to lose.  Interestingly, most of those guys chose to train with the new trainers, Cara and Bret, and only one of the contestants who made that choice made it to the final five, and none made it to the final four.  Rulon, the former Olympic athlete who was set up to be the favorite, dropped out of the show unexpectedly in Week 17, citing a desire to "go home and be a good husband." He did not return for the finale, suggesting that there was more to his decision than that. Austin was the only one of these big guys who made it all the way, and I think it was because he was young and amiable and not as tied up in the whole "Red Team Family" mindset of the rest of the group.  Jay, the only man in the final four, worked with Jillian and Bob except for the times that Arthur, through temptation challenges, was able to make him work out with the Red Team.  Jay had been a weight-loss machine at first, but in the last few weeks he seemed to lose focus, and he did not make his stated goal at the finale.

I won't detail everyone's weight loss here, but there is a great table on the Season 11 Wikipedia site.  Because there were so many contestants this time around, the whole show was rushed. Not all of the contestants got to talk.  Allison seemed to spend more time talking to the people who had lost the most weight. One thing I noticed was that a few people had seemingly stalled or even regained some weight when they left the ranch. My husband and I agreed that a lot of it had to do with how much support they had at home.  Courtney, presumably still running her family's Dairy Queen, had not lost any more since going home and had regained a pound.  Kaylee, who had said that her dad talked her into eating things she knew she shouldn't even when she was on the ranch, had regained 14 pounds since going home and also seemed to have withdrawn back into herself, which is a shame because she had developed such a sparkle on the ranch. I wondered if dating Vance, the White Team member who still weighs more than 300 pounds, had anything to do with the relapse.

The thing it was easy to forget is that even the contestant with the lowest percentage of weight lost, Q, at just over 20%, had lost a significant amount of weight, enough to be life-changing. I just hope that those who seem to be regaining find a way to stop the upward trend and find their way back to the lifestyle they learned. Others, though, did amazingly well. Twins Dan and Don, who hadn't done much on the show, got positively skinny at home.  Sarah, who was never a very memorable contestant, looked stunning. She was almost unrecognizable, and it looked to me like she had had some cosmetic dentistry. Her mother, Deni, lost a lot at home and won the at-home prize, beating out favorites Austin and Jay.

The three finalists, Irene, Hannah, and Olivia, had all done very well.  All three took their makeover week looks and tweaked them a bit:

Irene played it very safe with her outfit, going with a cute pink strapless dress with a full skirt.  She had gotten her highlights warmed up a bit and had also gone a little shorter.  I thought the effect was really cute.

I wondered if Hannah would keep her blonde hair or go back to her brunette roots. Though I was disappointed to see she didn't rejoin the Brunette Mafia, I thought Hannah looked much better with the heavy bangs softened a bit, and her color made warmer and more realistic-looking. Hannah has been my favorite all along, but I did not particularly like her choice of dress -- it looked like something from Star Trek, very short and tight and red with some unusual detailing and a sheer panel on the top showing a lot of cleavage. She said on another episode that she hardly ever wore dresses, and I think she was taking her cues on what to wear from Allison, who often does the short-tight-cleavage combo.

Olivia's finale look was really fun, a kind of retro sunburst dress in black and white. She had gotten her hair cut even shorter, into almost a pixie cut, and it showed off her beautiful face. Once I saw the three finalists, I knew Olivia would win.  It was closer than I thought, though, with less than 2% difference in the percentage of weight lost. The finale moment was very anticlimactic, as the show had run out of time, so the credits rolled as soon as the confetti flew.

I think it may also be the last season I follow closely, though I might tune in here and there next season. I am not expecting to be doing reviews. The reason is NBC's priorities when choosing female trainers for a show that is supposedly designed to help severely obese people.

The last time Jillian left the show, in Season 2, the producers replaced her with Kim, who had no experience training obese people. She was presumably chosen just because she was blonde and pretty. At the beginning of this season, the producers chose Cara, a pretty boxer with no experience training overweight and obese people listed on her press releases. For next season, they have decided that Anna Kournikova, who also seemingly has no experience training obese and overweight people, would be a good choice for the next trainer.  Anna Kournikova never won a major singles title, and became famous more for being hot and inspiring an Internet virus than for her athletic prowess.  And by now, NBC should also know that athletes, even former Olympic athletes, aren't necessarily experts on fitness and nutrition for regular people.

I find this continued focus on female trainers' looks to the exclusion of all else offensive.  The male trainers don't seem to have been chosen for looks alone, they have serious credentials. There have to be thousands of trainers out there who would be more qualified to train the kind of contestants who make it on the show. Several of the former contestants have become trainers, so they could have even just closed the circle and chosen someone who intimately knew the methods used on the show with so much success. When Bob and Jillian are working out the contestants, it's obvious that they put an incredible amount of creativity into designing workouts and working around people's injuries.  A trainer with less experience is not going to be able to do that. A trainer with no experience working with the kind of severely obese people who make it onto the show will also have no resources to deal with the non-mechanical side of weight loss, the problems that caused people to get overweight in the first place.

I think even in the best of circumstances, this season would have been a tough act to follow. I fully expect it to be a train wreck now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Worthy of love?

Thank you for the kind comments on my last post.  I was really saddened by Debb's comment and it reminds me that I'm not the only one going through something like this.  Love does not come cheap -- sooner or later we either lose everyone we love, or they lose us.

I realized that the comment I made about the trouble I'm taking for a "perfectly ordinary tabby cat" might have sounded a bit strange. I was thinking of the rule that in cases involving pets who are killed or harmed, the maximum damages are the market value of the pet. The market value of an ordinary housecat is less than zero -- people have trouble finding homes for them.

Obviously that isn't the way that it works for most people -- what we feel for our pets can't be quantified like that. True love is unconditional.  I am understanding that better and better lately, as I think about how to make decisions about how much care to give my kitty. I am more concerned about the cost to him of chemotherapy (would he feel worse rather than better) than I am about the cost to me.

I think I have always thought that I had to earn love. Subconsciously I think I always am asking myself questions about that: Am I pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, talented enough, etc.? Popular culture doesn't help -- there is always the sense that women, especially, need to be on their toes to avoid being thrown over for a younger, prettier, thinner model.

It's a crazy, irrational way to think, if spoken aloud and examined for what it is -- a sick belief.  I have been taking an online course around the book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, which has helped to give me more of a language to understand this "hustle for worthinesss" and to understand that it's just part of being a human being to feel, at times, unworthy of love.

Luckily my cat is not a human being, so he suffers none of this lack of self-confidence. He has been complaining, a bit, about all the medicine, sometimes trying to smack the syringes out of my hand. He especially hates the IV fluids.  Mostly, though, he is taking things in stride and helping me to understand that you can be very loved even if you're just stretched out in the sun, taking a nap, and doing nothing at all to try to earn it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The irrationality of love

On May 1, I was having a quiet morning when one of my cats vomited a pinkish liquid.  He walked away and started sniffing a catnip toy like it was no big deal, but I was concerned. I grabbed a white paper towel, soaked up the liquid, and sniffed it. It smelled like blood. It was a Sunday, so I Googled "emergency vet" and told them what happened. They wanted me to come right in. I brought the paper towel and they agreed. Blood.

From that moment my life has been a little upside-down.  The vet listed all kinds of causes for the blood. It could be cancer, which because he is 14 years old, was probably the most likely cause. It could be an ulcer, it could be blood parasites. It could be that he swallowed something he shouldn't and that caused distress. He had anemia and a low red count. The vet wanted to hospitalize him immediately but since she didn't seem to really know what was wrong with him, I declined. I could watch him at home. I went home with medicines and was asked to bring him in later that day for another blood count.  Things seemed stable so after again being asked if I would leave him there, I took him home with me. Just as I was getting ready to leave, he vomited again, which led to more tests and more worry. I left with more medicines, a hefty vet bill, and orders to take him to a regular vet the next day.

After two weeks of vet visits, tests, medicines, and worry, the thing that strikes me the most from all of this is how little control I have felt over this situation. I have a PhD but the language of sickness and medicines is not my language. One of the vets uses language that is childishly simple, and I don't know whether to feel patronized or grateful that she is making an effort to speak plainly.  Side effects from two of the drugs we tried had my cat so distressed that last weekend, I was convinced that we were going to have to put him down and a family member was trying to talk me into scheduling it. He has since recovered to an almost-normal state but is still vomiting about once a day and he is very thin.

I have been feeding my cat turkey, steak, chicken, fish, whatever he will eat in the hopes of putting some much-needed weight back on him.  Sometimes by hand.  I have learned to give subcutaneous fluids to deal with dehydration from vomiting.  I have been giving one drug three times a day, two drugs two times a day. Recently we have added a probiotic three times a day, an iron supplement two times a day.  The diagnosis we keep circling around is cancer, and even though I am waiting for the results of one more last-ditch test, that is the most likely diagnosis.  I've already talked to the vet about the treatments available if that is the case.

For now I'm trying to stop myself from obsessively Googling everything related to his illness and trying to keep my life and his as normal as possible. I'm trying to keep him comfortable and happy and enjoy the time with him instead of just feeling grief and fear.  My exercise and diet has fallen off a bit but I know that for the sake of my mental health, I can't let it go completely. I have been listening to The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which may seem like a strange choice, but it satisfies my need for information but also reminds me that there is only so much I can control.

I know that to many people all of this trouble and expense might seem unreasonable to extend the life of a very ordinary tabby cat for a few weeks or months,or  maybe if I'm lucky, a year or two.  Love doesn't make a lot of sense. This seven-pound cat has a strong hold on my heart and I'm not quite ready to let him go as long as he seems happy with his little life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 20: The One Before the Finale

Note: All kinds of spoilers here.

This was one of those episodes where it's a good idea to have a box of tissues handy. Though the players are still fighting to win, the gameplay is long gone and the Final Four contestants have a genuine affection for each other.  They know that their time together is limited so this final episode is one big lovefest.  Hannah remembers Olivia telling her on the first day that even though they were a team, she was going to have to stand on her own.  She has become so confident that it's hard to imagine that she was the sister who felt so hopeless that Olivia had to drag her in.

What's interesting is that two of these last four contestants originally came on the show to support someone else.  Irene said she came to the ranch for her mom, who was eliminated in week one.  Irene said she walked on the ranch thinking her weight was no big deal, but now she realizes that she used food and her weight as ways to avoid facing some things in her life that really needed to change. Jay seems to have come on the show for his daughter Jen.  He had some serious weight losses early on, but when Jen was eliminated, he seemed to lose a little of his drive. Just last week he seemed to get it back.  Bob reminds him that he should continue his habit of writing his goal weight on his arm where he will see it every day, even when he's just maintaining instead of trying to lose.

There won't be an elimination this week, exactly. There are two secure spots, and two people who will be below the yellow line, and those two players have to put their faith in the fans, who get to vote on which one will compete for the prize.  The players seem to give it their all this week -- Jillian and Bob can try as hard as they can to deliver the beatings, but the players just keep on smiling through it all.

There is time for one last Jennie-O Turkey integration, a contest to design the best turkey burger for a group of tough critics -- kids.  Olivia tries to get creative with a bright green yogurt "slime" burger (predictably not a hit) but the rest play it safe by sticking to cheese and other more traditional flavors.  Jay reminds us that he is a brand consultant, and he plays it safe with ketchup and cheese but makes his "volcano burger" cool by making it in the shape of a cone and having the fillings spill out the top like lava.  He wins the $5000 prize easily, and he also gets to send the person of his choice for a two-week stay at The Biggest Loser Resort.  Jay says his wife will be excited at the chance to get jumpstarted on her own weight loss.

I was happy to see that there was no Biggest Loser Marathon this time around. It seems like that challenge just invited injury and trouble.  The final challenge this week is a Biggest Loser classic -- contestants simulate putting all the weight back on to drop it week by week, retracing their weight loss steps. This time the challenge is on a golf course and I have no idea how they made the little flags that they used weigh up to 16 pounds, but they managed somehow.  Players instantly remembered how physically difficult the weight was to carry. Irene's back and knees start hurting right away, and Jay feels like he can't breathe.  Hannah tearfully pushes through it to win a $15,000 home gym. The real prize is that she finally wins her first challenge of the season.

The weigh-in is only the halfway point of this show -- the real fun is seeing the contestants go home and reunite with their family and friends.  But weigh-in they must.

Irene starts off. She originally weighed 255 pounds, and weighs in at 144 -- 111 pounds lost.  She is thrilled even though she knows her 3 pounds this week may not be enough to be guaranteed a finale spot.  Though the prize money would probably change anyone's life, losing 111 pounds is a pretty amazing prize in itself.  I am guessing that her goal may be to just maintain or maybe lose a few more before the finale. She looks amazing.  She is also the Biggest Loser on the ranch, and I think has a good chance of winning the vote for the finale. I voted for her, at least.

Jay has the furthest left to go of all the contestants and by all rights, should have a big number this week.  He loses 4, which he knows will not be enough. Still, he got to the ranch at 400 pounds, and he's going home 158 pounds lighter than when he started.

Olivia has a great weigh in, down four to 149. She is pretty tall so that may be her goal weight (I'm not tall, and I would be thrilled to weigh 149).  She started at 261 pounds and has lost 112.  Like all the women on the show, it's hard to imagine she was ever heavy because she looks gorgeous.

Finally, Hannah weighs in.  The sisters' goal has always been to finish together. Hannah steps on the scale as the only one who has not lost at least 100 pounds. She loses 4 for a total of 102 lost, and is also in the 140s at 146.  Again, I'm not sure if her goal is to lose any more or to just maintain for the finale.  She looks beautiful even with her blonde hair, which is starting to grow on me (but not the bangs, which Hannah doesn't seem to like either since she keeps them pulled back most of the time). Olivia and Hannah get their wish -- the Purple Team pulls the two sure spots for the finale.

It's fun to see everyone go home, but as soon as I see Hannah's homecoming, I think, "Everyone around you  is fat. Move away as fast as you can!" She has expressed before that she is concerned about going home to live with her parents and I would be too.  Irene says she has "some changes to make" and I wonder if the boyfriend we see her hug might be one of those changes, since he never appears again in the rest of the episode.  Irene's mom has lost weight at home and looks incredible.   Olivia's husband has also lost a lot, and looks like a young James Carville (not my type, but maybe Olivia likes the look).  I am hoping that Jen will provide Jay some support when he goes home.  Maybe they can work together for the finale.

They all get a video to watch, and at first I'm afraid they will sneak the marathon in, but instead, it's a video to help their family and friends realize how much is at stake -- not the prize, but the pain the contestants have shed along with the weight. I think the NBC execs hit on this as a way to combat the "just this once" temptations that family and friends might otherwise present.

I am really going to be sad to see this season end.  For the last several weeks, the show has been flawless. No stupidity and games, just a bunch of great people supporting each other.  Still, I can't wait to see how everyone looks at the finale. I also can't wait to see which of the two remaining contestants gets America's nod for the number three spot.  There is still a little time to cast your vote: Who will it be, Jay or Irene?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 19: Best Final Four Episode Ever

Warning, I just can't resist putting some spoilers in this post, so be forewarned and go check out the full episode video on the NBC.com site if you'd rather see for yourself.

After reading my grumpy post about the makeover episode (Hannah said she cried for about 10 hours when she first saw her hair), you will be happy to hear that I loved almost every minute of this week's show.  Of course there was a big emphasis on "how far we've come." Hannah and Olivia even pull out their 4X t-shirts and wear them over their current size, Small, just to make that point.  It is really hard to believe the changes they've made in 19 weeks. One of them has lost 100 pounds and the other has lost just a little less.  They are both really hoping to make it into the final four together.

I thought the "Final Exams" week thing was cute even if a little hokey.  Players were competing for $10,000 in a series of test with each trainer and one with Allison.  Bob's test was interesting, asking the players to teach him how to Spin.  I think I could have done pretty well with this one, but Olivia and Hannah were pros, as good as any instructor I've ever seen in Spinning.  Austin did pretty well too, but Jay and Irene were pretty hopeless.  Irene didn't give much instruction, and Jay decided to get radical and take off the seats.  Bob was roleplaying someone who hadn't ever been on a Spin bike before, and obviously was not impressed with Jay's attempt at creativity.

Cara's fighter test would have made me laugh as much as Hannah did. Cara looks like a little spider monkey, and she wanted to the contestants not to laugh or smile when she got up in their face and threatened to beat them up.  Even the girls have to have 50 pounds on her still, and so the effect was more comical than hardcore.  Only Olivia managed very well, but Cara was an easy grader.

Bret's test was a health and wellness quiz. Most of the questions seemed pretty easy to me but some of the contestants still got them wrong. How could Irene still not know what a macronutrient was? I have to say that I still really love her on the show and think she doesn't get as much attention as she deserves, though.

Jillian's "motivation test" was interesting. Jillian role-played a contestant who needs help getting motivated and the contestants had to help her.  Hannah realized early on that Jillian was feeding her all of the same stories and excuses that Hannah had told Jillian, and said that hearing it said by someone else made her realize how stupid it all sounded. Jillian seemed pretty impressed by all of the contestants.

With most of the points in, it all came down to the final challenge, which was an integration and workout and one. Allison has them play the Biggest Loser game for the XBox Kinect.  I think this gizmo looks way cooler than a Wii Fit, because there are no controllers, just a camera.  It worked well enough to tell when the contestants were cheating. Hannah was doing so well on that one that a lot of the other contestants just  gave up.  Olivia was a close second so, because she had more points on the other tests, she beat Hannah out for the $10,000 prize. I figured it out and if Hannah had been able to keep a straight face when working out with Cara, she would have won the prize instead.

The challenge this week was a really tough-looking sandbag stacking contest.  Contestants had to pile up a bunch of sandbags to be able to climb a set of mega-stairs.  It looks like really hard work, lifting heavy bags overhead and then placing them all right. They are competing for a 1-pound advantage at weigh-in.  Austin wins it easily and secures an advantage that everyone thinks he won't need.

This week Jillian turns her laser-focus on Jay, but we don't find out that much about what has been behind his last few lackluster weeks.  The process seemed to work, though.

The weigh-in was really suspenseful this time. At the beginning of it, Allison says that Olivia has won $10,000 and Austin has won one pound. Both of them are given the chance to switch to the other prize. Both opt to keep what they've won. Olivia wants the money to help them start a family, and Austin wants to cement his place in the final four. It turns out that neither has chosen correctly.  It looked bad for Olivia, who looks like she is going under the yellow line with her sister.  Instead, Austin's pound isn't enough to help him win.  He only loses 1!  Jay finally pulls a good number again, and everyone seems to be feeling confident and happy.

Speaking of confident and happy, Austin gets eliminated but puts his knowledge learned on the ranch to travel to schools, speaking to kinds about obesity.  He looks good. It looks like he and Courtney plan to turn it into a joint venture.

One of  my coolest discoveries is that you can follow current and past contestants on twitter and "Like" them on facebook. Here is one good Tiwtter list that follows contestants, trainers, and other professionals:  It's fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at them all.

Next week the Final Four becomes the Final Two plus two the two the audience gets to choose from for the third contestant.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Weekend Update

It's actually an appropriate title, since I'm wearing my glasses that make me look a little like Tina Fey (I love, love, loved the audio version of Bossypants, by the way).  I thought I'd catch you up on a few recent storylines.

My eye doctor said that I would know my corneal ulcer was healing when my eye became less sensitive to light. Today I drove several hours and the sun didn't bother me when it peeked out from behind the clouds. I also feel less pain and scratchiness in that eye.  I am supposed to call the doctor tomorrow to tell him how it is progressing.

Tomorrow I also have to take my kitty back to check his blood counts. I am hoping to have good news there too.  He is acting healthy, if a little cuddlier than usual.  We are both looking forward to when he does not have to have his mouth forced open five times a day so I can squirt medicine down his throat.

I am going to try a short run tomorrow morning in my glasses.  I am logging my food again. I will weigh in tomorrow morning and face the music (and will post on Lose It! for the world to see).

Next week is my last week of classes. I have a boatload of grading to do and then I will be off for the summer. I have some projects I want to work on but one of my biggest projects this year is weight loss.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Taking a rest week

Laura complimented me on my recent post for staying on track with my food and exercise with my kitty sick and my corneal ulcer. But the week reflected in that post was a week where I was consistently tracking and exercising, even if I exceeded my target calories by a bit.  Actually, I have not been tracking my food since my kitty got sick, and I also haven't been exercising since I have been unable to wear my contacts, except for one yoga class.

I read a lot of blogs where people describe these crazy schedules and then berate themselves for not meeting every one of their weight loss goals.  I'm not going to be one of those bloggers. I will admit it, I gave myself a pass this week. It was a conscious choice to give myself a break on the food logging while I was worried about my cat.    I did my best to stay responsible with my food choices even though I wasn't tracking. I tried to put in my contacts to go to Spinning (when I thought my inability to tolerate contact lenses was just from dry eyes) and was in tears by the time I drove to the gym. I called the doctor from the parking lot and went right in. I have been giving myself eye drops several times a day, wrestling my cat to give him his meds five times a day, and getting less sleep than usual.

I'm feeling ready to pick everything back up. I may have to modify my exercise routine to deal with the glasses, but I can at least log my food and take walks.

The Biggest Loser Season 11, Episode 18: Makeover Ripoff

As I said, this week was Makeover Week, and Tim Gunn arrived in a pumpkin carriage that had to have been borrowed from Disneyland and said, completely deadpan, that he was their "Fairy Godfather." He said he had three gifts for them, the makeover and two more that would be a surprise.  I have to admit that I felt a little shortchanged by this season's Makeover Week episode with Tim Gunn. It was another one-hour episode, and with all the commercials, it felt very short. I had hoped for a more traditional makeover show, where we watched Tim shop with the contestants and got to see some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of their transformations.  The focus here was all on creating a dramatic reveal, so we saw almost none of the kinds of scenes I was hoping for.

Instead the effect was very Disney Princess.  I actually wondered if the castle garden setting might be at the park or some movie set. The three women were put into very similar sparkly dresses of different pastel colors, the kind of gowns you would only see in beauty pageants or a show like this one. They each got a ride in the pumpkin carriage and, after a hug with Tim Gunn, got to see some of their family members -- Tim's second gift to them.  The first reveal was Hannah, and I have to admit that as a brunette, I was sad to see that they took this gorgeous fellow dark-haired girl and made her into a blonde.  She's still beautiful, of course, but the hair and makeup looked dated to me. Of the three, only Olivia got to keep her dark hair, but it was cropped into a short bob.  I think Irene's hair was pretty, all tumbling reddish-blonde curls.  Of course the guys got dressed up too. Jay and Austin looked handsome in their tuxes. Jay gave up the facial hair but Austin still kept some of his and his boyish curls were trimmed and highlighted.

It was sweet to see the families reunited.  Austin got to see his mom, who seemed much nicer than her earlier grouchy cameo on the show would have suggested. She seemed very proud of Austin and very supportive.  Irene reunited with her mom, who had been on the show with her at the beginning and seems to have continued to lose weight at home.  Hannah met up with her misty-eyed dad, and Olivia got to see him and her trimmed-down husband.  There was definitely a "last day at camp" feeling to it all.

It was comforting to see everyone back in their Biggest Loser outfits and minimal makeup again, and to realize that they really didn't look quite as different as I thought. Olivia's cute short hair seemed hard for her to work with in real life -- I have always had the same issue with shorter styles.  Their challenge this week gave them a chance to win one of two cars.  They have to dig keys out of car-shaped sandcastles and run to the end of a long pier to try to start the cars.  Irene won the first one, and she planned to give it to her mom.  I was hoping Austin would win the second, but instead New Yorker Olivia won it.

Then there was the weigh-in and Tim Gunn's third gift. I won't ruin it for you... but I will say that Rulon also may have contributed to this gift.

What did you think about the makeovers? I would have liked to see the contestants in clothes I could relate to a little better, but I also understood the appeal of getting glammed up to the max in sparkly, impractical clothes.  Sorry, guys, a tux is a tux.  Nothing to see there.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Lose It! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Apr 25th

For the curious, below is my Lose It! summary report for last week. This week I have been less successful in logging. I had some stress over a sick kitty, and logging (or eating healthy) was not on my mind. I am also having a semi-serious problem with my eye that makes it impossible for me to wear contact lenses. I have pretty thick glasses and I've never tried running or spinning in them. Without them, I'm pretty much blind.  I think I am going to take the intensity down a notch and focus on healing and on getting my calories more under control.

I got a massage this week and the therapist handed me some info about a monthly massage program that's $50 a month. Very tempting to permanently ditch Weight Watchers and reinvest the money in that instead. Considering all of my vet bills from the last few days, though, I don't think I need to find new ways to spend money.


 

Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Apr 25th

for Jen S
Daily Summary
Budget Food Exercise Net +/- Weight (lbs)
4/25/11 1,655 2,218 277 1,941 286 179.2
4/26/11 1,644 2,676 804 1,873 229 177.6
4/27/11 1,648 2,131 261 1,869 221 178.2
4/28/11 1,646 1,963 127 1,836 190 177.8
4/29/11 1,640 2,710 772 1,938 298 177
4/30/11 1,640 2,894 0 2,894 1,254 177
5/1/11 1,640 2,241 0 2,241 600 177
3,078 calories over budget for the week
Lost 1.2 pounds this week
Nutrient Summary % Calories
Fat 706g 37.1%
   Saturated Fat 202g
Cholesterol 2,195mg
Sodium 15,199mg
Carbohydrates 2,080g 48.6%
   Fiber 228g
Protein 615g 14.4%
Exercise Summary Calories
Yoga 1 Hour 127
Running 45 Min 509
House Cleaning 1 Hour 15 Min 212
Circuit Training 45 Min 443
Walking 45 Min 147
Stationary Bicycle 1 Hour 804
Total 2241
Report generated by Lose It!. For more information or to sign up for your free Lose It! account, please visit http://www.loseit.com
"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