Friday, July 23, 2010

A Bum Deal

I must tell you about a real milestone I hit at the gym tonight. I started off on the elliptical trainer, on the "fat burner" setting for my age and weight. I did that at level 16 (out of 20) for 33 minutes. After that, I rowed for 15 minutes on the rowing machine while I kept my eyes open for a treadmill machine that I could snag to finish my workout with a one-mile jog. It was a particularly popular night for treadmills.

At the gym I go to, there are approximately 16 treadmill machines that line the room in an L shape. Six of them are in the front of the room, right in front of the front window. The remaining 10 treadmills line the side of the room so the walkers'/joggers' rear ends face the wall.

Immediately behind the six window-facing, on-display-for-all-to-see treadmills is a line of two recumbant bikes and four elliptical trainers. Behind those are a slew of exercise bikes, rowing machines, stairmasters and some elliptical-looking machines that I have never tried, but seem to involve a hybrid of running and cross-country skiing.

Whenever I'm on the elliptical trainer, my favorite machine, I can't help but notice the backsides of all of the walkers and joggers on those six treadmills in the front of the room. After all, there isn't much to look at, except for the television screens displaying one of many barbecue cookoffs on the Food Network or the KFC World Cup Women's softball game.

There's the little old lady that is dressed in her street clothes walking on low speed at no incline. And the  40-something-year-old guy who runs super fast in his short shorts. There are moms like me trying to shed some extra weight walking at a fast pace on an incline in their capri workout pants and a long t-shirt to cover their somewhat jiggly bum. And, of course, there's the 20-something-aged girl with her blond hair in a ponytail, iPod strapped to her arm, jogging away with just a hint of a glow and not an ounce of fat on her perfectly taut body. Boy, do I hate her!

I always wondered why anyone would ever choose one of those treadmill machines in the front row. The only redeeming quality of their location is they are immediately behind the television screens so you can read the closed captioning better if you don't have a headset that can tune into a radio frequency to hear the audio.

Needless to say, since starting to work out at the gym four months ago, I have done absolutely everything I can to avoid ever being in the front row of treadmills. So as I was rowing on the rowing machine this evening, I was praying and praying that one of the other treadmills on the side of the room would open up so I could jog without anyone seeing my rear. Don't get me wrong, it's much better than it used to be. There was a time when I would jog and it would literally take my bum a few strides to catch up with the rest of me! Now, it seems to "hold its own" and keep up with my other body parts, which is definitely progress.

After I finished my 15 minutes of rowing, the only open treadmills were in the front of the gym. I had to make a big decision. Do I stick with my plan to jog a mile, or do I chicken out and go home 10 minutes early?

This would be a really lame blog post if I chickened out, and I knew it. So, I stepped right onto the second treadmill from the left in the front of the room, right next to the 40-something-year-old man running in his short shorts. I pushed start, and 5.0 for speed and ran. I worried about my backside being on display, but I tried to keep my focus on my iPod tunes and keeping in stride with mister short-shorts. I jogged for 12 minutes, exactly a mile. And I didn't die. And nobody laughed. At least not that I saw.

Just as exciting as my exercise breakthrough, I lost 1.5 pounds this week! This brings my total weight loss to 28 pounds. I've got 12 more to go to reach my goal.

Here's this week's picture:

And since I haven't posted it in a while, here's my pre-diet photo, taken at a Project Linus event on February 20th of this year. I feel like an entirely different person!

We are taking the kids to Disneyland next week, so my next blog post will be in two weeks. Hopefully I'll have double the results!

Until then,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Non-Scale Victory

I have been the model Weight Watcher this week. More motivated than ever to reach my 40 lb. weight loss goal by my 40th birthday (which, by the way is exactly one month from today), I religiously went to the gym every day this past week, except for Sunday, which I spent fishing for 7 hours with my son. And honestly, since he kept wanting to check to see if his bait was still on the hook every 5 minutes, the amount of time I spent re-casting for him probably ended up being a pretty good workout.

So you can only imagine my frustration when stepping on the scale this morning only to find I had not lost one single ounce. Not one!

I thought back to Tuesday's Weight Watchers meeting when Norma, our group leader, discussed our topic of the week: NSVs. NSVs are Non-Scale Victories, which Weight Watchers says show you're living more healthfully. "They're momentum-savers when the numbers on the scale stall," the cover of this week's hand-out says.

I had certainly stalled, so I decided to take matters into my own hands today and enjoy my own NSV. It started with a call from work to my 10-year-old son, Will.

Me: "Will, after work I want to go to the mall and buy a new pair of jeans. Will you come with me and take photos for my blog?"

Will: "Awww."

Me: "Oh, come on, I'll get you a treat."

Will: "What kind?"

Me: "A pretzel and/or a Mrs. Fields cookie."

Will: "AND or OR?" (Clearly, "or" was going to be a deal-breaker!)

Me: "Okay, fine, you can have a pretzel AND a cookie."

So after I got off work, Will and I went to Sun Valley Mall in Concord to go to The Gap (and Wetzel's Pretzels and Mrs. Fields Cookies) to find mamma a new pair of jeans.

Since I began my diet at the end of February, I hadn't purchased any new clothes. The jeans I have been wearing are my Size 14 Gap "Boyfriend" jeans (they boast a roomier thigh, which tends to work best for me). When I wear them now, I have to cinch my belt so tight that I have a "ruffle" waist when I'm finished. Up until now, I hadn't wanted to spend the money on new jeans, knowing I'd be losing even more weight.

But, I needed a NSV, and my baggy jeans were becoming a bit embarrasing.

I wasn't quite sure what my new size would be. Realistically, I thought perhaps at best I would be a Size 10 now. But, just in case, I loaded up my arms with Size 12's and Size 10's, and I threw in one Size 8, just in case. I stuck with the Boyfriend Jean style (but in a capri length), my standby, but also tried the "Curvy" fit and "Easy Straight" style, which features a low rise, easy in the hip and thigh, straight leg opening, and stretch materials (the signage said it was just a tiny bit slimmer cut than the Boyfriend Jean, so I grabbed a Size 10 in those).

Photo Credit: Will Whitty

I also grabbed a few skirts and t-shirts to try on along with the denim. And Will and I headed into the wheelchair accessible dressing room, which would be of ample size to fit us both and provide room for Will to take photos. He knew the rule, though: "No underwear shots!" And while they are not in the camera, I'm certain the images of me changing will surely remain ingrained in his head and will torture him for life.

Will knew to stop taking pictures when I was in the process of changing,
so he turned the camera on himself. He does look somewhat disturbed by our outing,
but with a pretzel and a cookie, he did get a pretty sweet deal!

My fitting room strategy is to always try on the largest size first, so I can be pleasantly surprised if something  doesn't fit, and then can move down a size. But for some reason, I couldnt't find the Size 12 capri style Boyfriend Jeans, so I tried on the 10. Surprisingly, they pulled up pretty quickly, not getting stuck on those "Casey Thighs" I have been cursed with. In fact, they buttoned just fine and were somewhat roomy in the thighs. When I got them in final position, one thing was clear: the waist was WAY too big.

Size 10 Boyfriend Jeans...too big in the waist.

So, I rumaged through the pile of denim on the changing room bench and found the only Size 8 pair of denim capris in the group. I tried them on...and, drumroll please....THEY FIT! Holy cow (well, Skinny Cow), I never, ever would have thought I would have lost three pant sizes by now! Woo hoo, talk about a non-scale victory!

The Size 8 Boyfriend Jeans.

Those were definitely a keeper! I tossed them in the "to buy" pile. Then I got a little greedy and tried on the denim Size 10 mini skirt with the frayed edge. They were cute, but I somehow didn't feel quite ready for a mini-skirt. But, I asked the 10-year-old to confirm (or deny) my suspicions.

The aforementioned denim mini.

Me: "Will, do you think I'm ready yet for a skirt like this?

Will: "Do you want me to tell you the truth?"

Me: "Yes"

Will: "Not quite...but almost."

Gotta love that kid. And with that, the denim mini was discarded in the reject pile.

Changing Break.

I tried on a sampling of t-shirts, most of which I bought (in a size MEDIUM, not that ghastly XL that had been overtaking my closet!), and then tried on the Size 10 Easy Straight jeans with the Destructed Finish. Keep in mind, the Easy Straight Style is slightly slimmer than the Boyfriend jeans, so I felt okay with going a size up in these. They fit GREAT and the stretchy material is super comfortable. 

A medium pocket tee and Easy Stretch Size 10 Jeans: LOVE these!

Seriously, this was a no brainer. I LOVE these jeans. They went into the  "must-have" pile. I gathered up the two pairs of jeans, five t-shirts, and grabbed a super cute tote and sandals on the way out. After all, all sale items were an additional 25% off; how could I resist?!

And with that, Will and I hit the checkstand and were soon on our way to Mrs. Fields Cookies. They had a deal: buy four cookies and get one free. So, we got five to be shared by Will, Daddy, and Piper.

I got a Diet Coke.

But, more importantly, I got a No-Scale Victory that is going to keep me motivated, even though the scale stalled for me this week. My hope is that I will have a "Scale" Victory to report next week because I don't think we can afford for me not to.

Until Next Week,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Battle of the Bulge

My trip to Hawaii was a mix of business and pleasure, as well as the displeasure of seeing my brother Geoff off as he and his fellow Army soldiers were deployed to Iraq. It was so fun to spend time with both he and his wife, Girlie. However, right off the bat, I new I'd be in trouble diet-wise if I didn't stick with my plan of fish and fruit and do my best to squeeze some exercise in.

Day 2: My brother and I had fun boogie-boarding on Oahu's North Shore.


Day 3: Geoff, Girlie and I spent the day driving around Oahu.
We stopped at Hanauma Bay to take this picture.

I never really realized until this trip, during which I got to spend five days with my brother before he deployed, how much my brother loves to eat! Fortunately for him, being in the army involves mandatory "PT" that typically includes running six miles each day. With a workout routine like that, you can stand to enjoy life's culinary pleasures.

But, I could tell from the moment my brother picked me up and took me to lunch at local hot spot -- Maui Mike's, which is famous for their fire-roasted chicken -- that I was deployed on my own mission. My mission was to survive my brother continually tempting me with all of the culinary treats Hawaii had to offer.

At our first feast, instead of choosing the Maui Wowie Melt Sandwich at Maui Mike's, which is shredded chicken with oozing cheese accompanied by greasy french fries (my brother informed me was their specialty), I chose shredded skinless chicken with barbecue sauce and no side of fries. Plus a Diet Coke.

After lunch, we spent some time shopping -- my brother loves to shop, which is great! -- and it wasn't before long that he appeared with an itty bitty Godiva chocolate bag with little nibbles of chocolate. Of course, he offered me some and, as a good diet soldier does, I resisted.

"You realize I'm on a diet, right?" I asked him.  "You read my blog. And besides, I'm saving my bonus points for Hula Grill on Saturday night."

"But you're on vacation!" He countered.

Me on my "cheat night" at my favorite restaurant on Waikiki -- Hula Grill

Throughout the trip, he offered me everything from banana lumpia and cookies, to Egg Fu Young for breakfast and caramel corn. Oh, and malsadas, which is like a donut but with the hole. Malsadas, which is lighter and less dense than a regular donut, are fried and best eaten while hot. It wasn't hard to find Malsadas Trucks (and shrimp trucks) in Hawaii. I stayed away because I knew they were the enemy and I was battling the bulge.

We joked about how his trying to tempt me with fatty foods was good training for trying to wear down any insurgents he might meet while deployed in Iraq. By my fourth night there, and after two sweaty, one-hour sessions at his gym at the Army Base, I gave in. It was his last full night before deployment and he wanted to go to a Thai restaurant for dinner. This was the evening we had originally planned to barbecue fish and I was going to make my Weight Watchers 2-point-per-serving corn and goat cheese salad.

But, Thai food won out. I rationalized that he was going to be away from home for so long and that perhaps I was being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud over the diet thing. I ordered Pad Thai, my favorite, and figured that since my brother was leaving for Iraq the next day, perhaps it would give him some enjoyment. He managed to score a free, warm tapioca pudding when the waitress learned he was headed to Iraq. I waved my white flag, picked up my spoon and had some. It was delicous.

So, when he offered to make me a Pina Colada after we got home from the Thai restaurant, I said, "Sure."  For heaven's sake, he had even included a pineapple do you say no to that?!

It takes exactly four days to wear down an insurgent, I informed my brother.

When it came time for his wife and me to drop him off at midnight on my fifth day there, it was surreal. There's no doubt that, while he would miss Girlie very much, he was definitely ready and excited to go to Iraq. He felt that until he actually deployed that he wasn't a "real soldier." This was an important step for him and he had been training for it for more than two years.

I was proud of him. But, it was so sad to see all of the army wives there waiting to hug and kiss their husbands for the last times in at least six months. (They'll be deployed approximately a year, but can take a 2-week vacation beginning in six months). And to see all of the sons and daughters in their pajamas, who waited there with the rest of us until around 3:30 a.m. when the last soldier had boarded the last bus...heartbreaking, simply heartbreaking. There was a moment when all of the soldiers were lined up in formation and there was one little boy who was running around yelling, "Daddy, daddy, daddy" trying to find his daddy in a sea of camoflage.

As Girlie and I drove back to their home on the base at 3:30 a.m., I had a much greater awareness and appreciation for the sacrifices that our men and women in the military make. But perhaps more inspiring was the sacrifice made by the families that they leave behind.

Geoff and Girlie saying goodbye

And suddenly, enjoying tapioca pudding and a Pina Colada with my brother the evening before he left didn't seem so sinful.

So proud of my big brother!

I'm happy to report that even though I cheated a bit more than originally planned during my week's stay in Hawaii, I lost 2.5 pounds since my last blog post two weeks ago. This brings my total weight loss to 26.5 pounds. I have 13.5 pounds to go to meet my 40-pound weight loss goal by my 40th birthday on August 15th.

Pretty sure this is against the rules, but I am on a mission!

This is definitely going to be a nail-biter down to the finish, and I've begun working out every day this week to try to throw my body's metabolism into overdrive. And I can assure you, my muscles are sore!

Here's this week's pic.

Until next week,