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The first time I saw Arthur’s video, I cried. I was so humbled and moved by his magnificent spirit and relentless determination.

A disabled veteran who was told he would never again walk without assistance, Arthur took back control of his life and his health.

His video went viral and has now been viewed over 6 million times.

Even if you’ve already seen it, watch it again.

What an inspiration he is.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

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Goal: Exercise 5 days this week

Days toward goal: 5 (goal met!)

Today’s Workout: Cathe Friedrich’s Muscle Max DVD

Top 10 Reasons I Eat:

10. I’m hungry.

9. I’m bored.

8. I’m happy.

7. I’m sad.

6. It’s a special occasion.

5. It’s Wednesday. Or Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or…well, you get the idea.

4. I’m stressed.

3. I’m with friends or family.

2. I’m alone.

And the number 1 reason I eat is…

I LOVE FOOD.

I really, truly do.

And yes, I’m sad when it’s over.

And because of that, I have real problems with portion control.

In my previous healthy life, the absolute hardest thing for me after I read “You: On a Diet” was implementing the whole “pay attention to how full you are” thing.

It’s such a simple idea. Eat foods that will actually fill you up (whole grains, lean meats, vegetables) and then pay attention to what your stomach tells you. When your stomach says “put down the fork and push away from the table,” do it.

Wow. What a concept. And it’s something I realized that, in all my years of yo-yo dieting, I had never once done.

When I was on Weight Watchers, it was all about counting points. Not only do I not particularly love to do math, the points system always left me hungry. Which then made me think about food even MORE. So I spent a lot of my day being obsessed with food and points and being hungry and how much longer it was til I could eat again.

I mean, really. Looking back, it’s jaw-dropping how much I thought about food…or the lack thereof.

So the idea that you could actually lose weight by eating good (emphasis on GOOD) foods until you feel satisfied (satisfied, not full…there’s a difference) — well, that was pretty much mind-blowing. And I was sure there was no way in hell it was going to work.

But it did.

At first it wasn’t easy. But once I actually started listening to what my body was telling me, it became second nature. And the results were absolutely liberating. It freed me from thinking about food all the time. It freed me from trying to calculate how many points I’d used or how many minutes I’d have to spend on the torture device treadmill to burn it off. It freed me from feeling guilty. It shut up that little voice in my head that says, “oh, man, you have really screwed up your diet AGAIN” and it allowed me to actually ENJOY my food instead of beating myself up about eating it.

Like I said, what a concept.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to resume bad habits and I have spent the last year and a half with my fingers in my ears going “LALALALALALA!” while my stomach was screaming at me, “STOP! STOP! For the love of God, woman, STOP!” But I am determined to pull my fingers out of my ears, tune back in and start paying attention.

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Goal: Exercise 5 days this week

Days toward goal: 4

Today’s Workout: 30/20 HIIT Workout from Cathe Friedrich’s To the Max DVD

I didn’t write a post yesterday. And I didn’t exercise.

I was too busy planning to become a lesbian (what? certain segments of the population tell me I can totally choose to become a lesbian if I want to) and leave my husband for a woman I just met.

Her name is Kayleigh. I’m not sure what her last name is, I don’t know much about her and I don’t really care. All I need to know is that she gives the most amazing massages and I love her.

Okay, okay. It’s possible this is a bit extreme.

Maybe the hubby would be open to me having a sister-wife instead.

If you’ve ever had a really good massage, you’ll know what I’m talking about. A talented massage therapist can truly work miracles and cause you, if only temporarily, to consider an alternate lifestyle.

I don’t get massages often. Certainly not on a regular basis. Usually, it’s only when I have a knot or catch in my back that I can’t work out myself, which was the case yesterday.

After I reluctantly left Kayleigh’s table, I started wondering WHY I don’t get a massage more often. I felt relaxed and the constant shoulder soreness I get from sitting at a computer all day was pretty much gone.

I think it’s because it feels so decadent. But it’s really not. Getting a massage on a regular basis is actually good for you.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage helpful for:

  • Stress relief
  • Managing anxiety and depression
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Blood pressure control
  • Infant growth
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Boosting immunity
  • Cancer treatment

If the Mayo Clinic says it’s good for you, who am I to argue?

But still, it’s hard to believe. I mean, face it, most things that are good for you don’t feel all that great at the time.

But not massage. It’s relaxing. It’s comforting. It’s pampering. It relieves stress. It alleviates pain. It gives you a sense of well-being.

And sometimes, it makes polygamy seem like not such a crazy idea.

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Goal: Exercise 5 days this week

Days toward goal: 3

Today’s Workout: Cathe Friedrich’s “Gym Style Back, Shoulders and Biceps” DVD

Okay, really, that’s not what it means at all. But that’s what it means to ME and that’s all that counts.

I’ve recently taken up Tabata workouts which are high intensity interval training sessions done in a 2:1 ratio. So, for instance, you work as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then start over. The benefits of this type of workout are pretty amazing. According to this article from Shape Magazine, “Doing as little as 4 minutes (or one “Tabata”) can increase your aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, VO2 max, resting metabolic rate, and can help you burn more fat (and make you look 200-percent leaner) than a traditional 60-minute aerobic workout. That’s right—4 minutes of Tabata can get you better fitness gains than an entire hour of running on the treadmill.”

And right about now, you’re thinking, “Really? Four minutes? That’s it? You’re either kidding me or you’re the biggest wimp in the world.”

To which I say, just try it and then let’s talk. That is, if you CAN talk because if you do it correctly, you won’t be able to talk. You’ll just be lying on the floor, cursing me silently in your ahead — assuming you’re still conscious, of course.

Now, you may be wondering why, aside from the obvious health benefits, I would do this to myself since I’ve already explained how much I hate exercise.

Because the only thing I hate more than exercise is exercising for long periods of time. For instance, if I’m on the treadmill, this is the conversation I’m usually having with myself:

This is so boring. I hate working out. I just don’t get why people like to run on the treadmill. For that matter, why do people like to run? I never get a runner’s high. I wonder if that whole “runner’s high” thing is a myth. Maybe runners just confuse “high” with “I’m going to pass out from boredom.” I wish I didn’t have to do this. I wish humans had evolved so they could burn more calories while sitting on the couch than moving around. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Then you could be all, “Wow, I’ve gained a little weight. Guess I’ve been moving around too much. Better go watch some t.v.” Ha! Yeah. That would be great. Okay, I’m probably about done. Holy shit! I’ve only been on this damn thing for two freaking minutes??? WTF?

So while Tabata may be intense and may make me feel like puking, in my head I know it’s only for a short period of time and then I can GET ON WITH MY LIFE.

Yes…I just said I’d rather feel like puking than work out for a long period of time.

I am seriously NOT kidding about the whole hating exercise thing. Just in case I wasn’t clear on that before.

Anyway, if you want to learn more about Tabata, here are a couple of links you can check out:

Tabata or Not Tabata?

The Unbelievable 4-Minute Cardio Workout

But please remember, I’m not your doctor and you really should talk to your doctor before starting this or any exercise routine and if you have an erection lasting more than four hours…

Er…sorry…wrong disclaimer.

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Goal: Exercise 5 days this week

Days toward goal: 2

Today’s Workout: Step Tabata Premix from Cathe Friedrich’s “To the Max” DVD

Wild turkeys – presumably not cold

Remember how I said that the last time I changed my eating habits, I went cold turkey on sugar and white flour?

That’s what I was planning this time around, too.

Of course, my timing sucks, what with my anniversary and Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s coming up.

But the crazy thing is that those occasions really aren’t that hard because there’s always OTHER things that you can eat during those occasions if you want to.

You wanna know what’s really hard? Parties at other people’s houses.

We were invited to a party at a friend’s house this weekend. It was an early afternoon party that ran through dinnertime. The hosts made unbelievably delicious homemade pizzas and they also had cupcakes and caramel popcorn. Other than some almonds, there was not a single thing there that fit into my newly adopted healthy lifestyle.

Now, I could have just skipped the food altogether. But we’ve already established that I’m not the nicest of people when I get hungry and frankly, parties that end in bloodbaths caused by crazed hungry women are never fun.

Or I could have followed the advice of the “experts” and brought my own healthy stuff with me. “Hey, nice people who invited me over, I know you went to all this trouble but could you just grill up this tofu for me instead?”

Yeah, sorry. Not gonna happen because, well, it just seems ridiculously rude to me. I was taught that if you’re a guest in someone else’s house, you eat what they serve. If they want to plate up a big ol’ steaming bowl of deep fried eel brains and monkey livers with chocolate sauce on top, you just figure out a way to choke it down. Okay, sure…if you have a medical condition that will send you into a seizure if eel brains cross your lips, go ahead and do the bring-you-own-bag-o’-salad thang.  Otherwise, respect your host and just eat what they make.

Because the truth is, one afternoon or one day isn’t how you got where you are now. And one afternoon or one day isn’t going to send you back to where you were. And being respectful and considerate of others who are extending a kindness to you is far more important than what the scale might say.

Just make sure your round up those turkeys and climb back on the wagon the next day.

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This week’s goal: Work out five days

Today’s workout: Cathe Friedrich’s Gym Style Back & Triceps (45 minutes)

I heard about Ernestine Shepherd a couple of years ago and was immediately, as my British friends would say, gobsmacked.

She is a marvel. She is an inspiration. And she could totally kick my ass (although I don’t think she would because she seems like a very nice, non-ass-kicking person).

Photo: Huffington Post

Ernestine is — wait for it — 75 freaking-years-old and holds the Guinness World Record for Oldest Female Competitive Bodybuilder. And, get this, she didn’t even start working out until she was 56! That’s like 25 years older than I am right now. Or 11. Whatever.

So every time negative thoughts or excuses enter my head, I think of Ernestine. I imagine her telling me that anything’s possible. I imagine her telling me that it’s never too late to start living a better life. I imagine her telling me that I’m strong and capable.

And then I imagine her kicking my ass. (In the nicest way possible, of course.)

After I originally read “You: On a Diet,” I tossed all processed foods from my diet including sugar and white flour (which is converted more quickly to sugar in your bloodstream). This may seem extreme to some people but after the first couple of weeks, I honestly didn’t miss it. Cravings for Krispy Kremes went away and I started feeling better physically. And then the most remarkable thing happened: I became a nicer person.

Now, those of you who know me are probably all, “WHAT? How on EARTH could YOU be an even nicer person than you already are?”

I know, I know. Hard to believe but it’s true.

Come to find out, it wasn’t all in my head. Awhile back, I ran across an experiment they did on students at Mr. T’s School for Troubled Youth. Okay, that’s not really what it was called but I’m too lazy to try to find that book and get the real name of the school. Plus, wouldn’t it be awesome if there really was a Mr. T’s School for Troubled Youth? When you arrived, they’d give you a bootcamp-style mohawk and Mr. T would be all up your face going, “I PITY the fool who goes to my school!” but once you turned your life around, they’d reward good behavior with super cool gold chains.

And speaking of good behavior (see what I did there?), this school found that by replacing the regular school fare of sugar, flour and dog food with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, things changed pretty dramatically. Kids had longer attention spans, their grades went up and behavioral problems went down.

JUST FROM CHANGING THEIR DIETS, Y’ALL.

Turns out that whole grains and complex carbohydrates break down more slowly and keep your blood sugar levels constant, which in turn keeps your moods stable and your brain sharp. So there is a real science to back me up when I say that I became a nicer person. While I am definitely not troubled (no matter what certain friends or family members say. They are liars who should go to Mr. T’s School for Lying Fools.Yeah…you know who you are.), I tend to go from a little hungry to I-will-eat-your-head-if-you-don’t-get-me-to-a-restaurant-right-this-freaking-second hungry. It’s not pretty as the following possibly totally fictionalized/possibly not account shows.

Scene: Husband and wife in the cabinet hardware aisle of a big box store. Wife has half a dozen drawer pulls in her hand.

Wife: Okay, I picked out some drawer pulls. Which one do you like?

Husband (looking them over): None of them.

Wife: What?

Husband (shrugs): I don’t really like any of them.

Wife: What do you mean you don’t like ANY of them?

Husband: Uh, I mean, I don’t like any of them.

Wife: HOW COULD YOU NOT LIKE ANY OF THEM? THERE ARE SIX TO CHOOSE FROM!

Husband: It’s not that big of a deal. We’ll just look around some more.

Wife (sprouting horns): WHY WOULD WE NEED TO LOOK AROUND SOME MORE? THERE ARE SIX – SIX! – PERFECTLY GOOD DRAWER PULLS TO CHOOSE FROM.

Husband (putting hand on Wife’s shoulder): Sweetie, are you hungry?

Wife (jerking away): No, I am NOT hungry! Don’t patronize me! I just can’t believe I married a man with such terrible taste in drawer pulls!

Husband (in a tone one usually reserves for a wild beast or serial killer): Well, how about we go grab something to eat and then discuss it later?

Wife: FINE! But this has NOTHING to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with your obvious lack of good design sense.

Cut to restaurant. Wife is halfway through meal and looking somewhat sheepish.

Wife: So – haha! – I guess I was hungry.

Husband: Uh huh.

Wife: I’m sorry.

Husband: It’s okay.

Wife: Please don’t divorce me.

End Scene.

Yep…totally fictionalized.

But should this have actually happened and should these types of incidents have stopped after Wife gave up sugar and processed foods, you would understand why the husband and wife are still married and the wife did not end up in Mr. T’s Institute for Women Who Go Crazy When Their Blood Sugar Drops.

Artwork: StoryPeople by Brian Andreas

Remarkably, in the last year and a half, the one healthy habit I haven’t given up entirely is exercise.

I say “remarkably” because I truly, to the depths of my soul, hate it. Really. A lot.

I’ve never been athletic. I simply didn’t get that gene.

In elementary school, I remember wishing fervently that I would be diagnosed with a degenerative disease that would excuse me from gym class. (I’m not sure I actually used the word “degenerative” back then but who knows? I was a bright child.)

In 4th grade, I told my teacher that I had sprained my ankle so that I could sit out track and field day and avoid the embarrassment of coming in last place in every event. I doubt she bought my story (especially since I couldn’t keep straight which ankle was supposedly sprained) but to this day, I am grateful that she had mercy on me.

I tried participating in basketball but was called for traveling every time I had the ball. The whole dribble/run thing was beyond me.

And yes, I was the one who endured the humiliation of always being chosen last in every playground game.

As an adult, I joined and quit the gym more times than I can count. It was too smelly, too sweaty, too grunty. And I was sure that the gym rats were judging me, just as they had in grade school.

Then one day, after I had joined Weight Watchers for the 47th time, I decided to try working out at home. I heard of this DVD called “The Firm” (not to be confused with the Tom Cruise movie because who would work out to that?). It promised results in 10 workouts or my money back. Heck, what have I got to lose, I thought.

So I ordered the “Transfirmer” set, took my measurements and dared it to give me results.

And holy crapballs…it did!

Not HUGE changes after those first 10 workouts but enough to motivate me to keep going.

At first, even with that motivation, it was hard to make myself get out of bed an hour earlier but I would say to myself, “You can stay in bed and go back to what you were. Or you can get out of bed  and keep going forward.” And almost every time, I made the choice to move forward.

I wish I could say that I fell in love with exercise and sweat and grunting. But the truth is I didn’t. What I DID love was watching my body change. I loved seeing new muscles pop up. I loved watching my tummy get flatter. I loved being able to lift a grocery sack full of cans with little effort. I loved being able to go up the stairs without getting winded.

And now here I am, 7 years later, still getting out of bed and working out 3-5 mornings a week. I still have muscles, even if they’re currently hidden under a layer of sugar cookies and French bread. And yes…I still hate exercise. Really. A lot. But in this one area of my life, I’m not willing to go back.

About six years ago, I read “You: On a Diet” by Dr. Mehmet Oz and it scared. the. hell. out. of. me.

Because Dr. Oz doesn’t just say, “Eating bad is bad and eating good is good.” He tells you EXACTLY what all that disgusting crap you eat does to your body. And take it from me, it’s not pretty. There’s plaque and pitted arteries and diabetes and cancer. Oh, and WRINKLES! Did you know that poor eating habits can give you wrinkles? That, there, was the final straw.

The day after I finished the book, I changed my life. Literally. Went cold turkey on sugar and white flour and saturated fat. Replaced them with whole grains, vegetables and the good kinds of fat. And you know what? It was shockingly easy.

Okay, maybe the first two weeks weren’t easy. Maybe there were headaches and tiredness and crabby moods. And maybe, just maybe, I considered stabbing bad drivers in the eyes more frequently than normal. But once I got past those first couple of weeks, it was truly the easiest “diet” I had ever been on.

And that’s because I never thought about it as a diet or a way to lose weight. My focus was entirely on getting healthy and avoiding wrinkles. But lo and behold, guess what? I DID lose weight. In fact, for the first time in my life, I lost weight without even trying. Dr. Oz said it would happen and it did. Healthy eating, in combination with cardio and strength training, put me in the best shape of my life at age 40. Is that crazy or what? I mean, people are always, “eat right and exercise, blah, blah, blah” but who believes those “people” anyway? Well, I’m here to tell you, as annoying as it is…they’re right.

This whole new way of life was so effortless that I maintained a steady, healthy weight for about 5 years. No way, I thought, will I ever go back.

But in May of last year, something happened that changed everything.

My dad suddenly died.

Heads up: This is the part where I fall off the wagon and it rolls right over me.

Now, I do not come from a family who starves itself out of grief. Quite the opposite. When my grandfather died the year before, my aunt brought home 6 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to help us get through. That came out to roughly a dozen per family member. It’s just what we do. Food comforts us and makes us feel better.

And so when my dad died, I was all, “Damn. My dad died. I totally deserve to eat this entire sheet cake from Costco. In one sitting. Every day of the week. For a month.”

Then last September, my cat got lymphoma and died. And I was all, “My cat died, TOO? WTF? I totally deserve to eat this entire loaf of French bread with extra butter. And gravy. And maybe some ice cream.”

Then earlier this year — because I’m 100% sane and not the least bit crazy — I decided to quit my job and start my own business. Which made me all, “Man, I’m stressed out and home all day by myself so I should make sure I always have a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge. Or on my desk. Or in my mouth. Whatever.”

But hey…why stop there? What if life decided to top all this awesomeness off with a big ol’ helping of “Surprise! Your 67 year-old mom has Alzheimer’s disease”?

Yeah…if you need me, I’ll be soaking in a vat of chocolate sauce.

Now, I’ll be honest. I’ve kind of enjoyed giving myself permission to eat whatever, whenever over the last year and half. So what if I’ve gained 5 10 15 pounds or so? I mean, come on. Did you hear about my dad, cat, job, mom?

But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about those wrinkles. And how menopause is just around the corner. And how both my parents’ genes are conspiring against me. And how great it is to feel strong and healthy. And yeah, how much the vain part of me  likes trying on a size 4 and knowing it will fit.

So beginning tonight, I’m going to find that damn wagon and get right back on it. And starting this blog is the first step by helping me stay accountable. Some days I may just post about my meals and exercise. Other days…well, hang on for the ride because wagons have a tendency to be bumpy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go slather on some wrinkle cream.

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