Friday, January 30, 2009

Know Thy Enemy: Elastic Pants

While watching What Not To Wear (guilty pleasure) last night, Clinton uttered a savvy observation: Elastic Pants* are bad not only because they are just generally unflattering, but also because they contribute to denial over weight issues. Specifically, he pointed out that Elastic Pants--as opposed to fitted waistbands--won't let you know if you are gaining a few pounds and need to take action accordingly.

Oh, that is so very true. And then some.

I admit to having owned many, many pairs of Elastic Pants. And Elastic Skirts. Not only was I blind to weight gain while wearing them, they often times contributed to my delusion that I was even losing weight. After all, they seemed loose-fitting. And if I binged on a dozen hot wings and cheese 'n bacon fries, the Elastic Pants were forgiving and never let me feel uncomfortable or bloated (or guilty) when I was stuffing myself.

Really, how can people gauge their weight within any reasonable degree of certainty while wearing size XXL sweatpants? I know I didn't.

Don't get me wrong. I am all about comfort. I still have a couple pairs of Elastic Pants. I am wearing a pair right now. However, no longer will I wear them during my active hours. A few months ago, I got rid of my last pair of dress Elastic Pants that I used to wear to the office. No more. As part of taking responsibility and being a big girl now, I am wearing the specific size I am. A size that begins with a number, that doesn't have an "X" in it. And if that waistband should ever cut just a bit too tightly, then I'll know that I need to do something about the weight gain and not engage in another game of denial. know, the pants shrunk in the dryer or something.


On a related note, What Not To Wear is featuring makeovers of women who lost a ton of weight. Tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST, there will be a composite of past weight loss makeovers. So far, the results have been pretty amazing and I recommend the shows to anyone who is interested and willing to overlook the snarky attitude of the show's hosts.

*Capitalization engaged to underscore the absurdity of this fashion turd.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ghost Boobs

I noticed tonight that my chest has shrunk down a cup size. The D-Cup cleavage passed away in its sleep sometime this past week. Peacefully.

I am sure that if I could talk to them now, my ghost boobs would tell me, "Don't be sad. It was for the best."

"It was time to let you go."

So rather than shed a tear over my lost (er, losing) cleavage, I am going to try to celebrate this loss. With song:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ode to the Steamer

Today, I sing the praises of my steamer:

This cheap little contraption has made a huge, positive impact on my eating habits. It is simple to use and produces some mighty tasty veggies. It even saves money when I buy fresh veggies on sale and, by pre-steaming and then freezing them, cuts down on waste due to early spoilage.

Here's how I use it:
  • Roughly chop up veggies and throw them in the basket.
  • Fill a large pasta pot with about 1-2 inches of water.
  • Cover pot and bring to boil.
  • Drop veggie-filled basket in pot of boiling water and cover. Keep it boiling.
  • Leave in pot for 5-6 minutes and remove.
That's it.

Most types of veggies are cooked perfectly enough so that they're neither too crisp or too mushy. And the colors are eye-popping. They transform into technicolor versions of themselves after just a couple minutes in the steam bath.

This weekend, I steamed a bag of baby carrots, two stalks of broccoli and about 3/4 lb of green beans. I then portioned them into 5 separate containers of some spicy thai-style brown rice that I whipped up earlier and popped them in the freezer. These bad bundles of veggie goodness will now serve as part of my lunch for the rest of this week. And it only took me 15 minutes.

I really prefer this over buying frozen. The convenience factor variation between fresh and frozen is negligible. Plus, I am in control since I choose not only the type of vegetable, but where it comes from. Thus, I can make better ethical decisions about the food I eat, including buying organic, from local farmers. With frozen vegetables--hidden in those wasteful plastic bags--you simply cannot tell where the vegetables were farmed and processed.

And the bonus? The steamer made adding extra portions of veggies into my daily meals effortless and enjoyable.

I could practically make love to my steamer. Maybe I should give it a name. Maybe I could call it...Xavier. Or Brock.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In: 1/21/09

OK. This morning I weighed in at 171.2 lbs. That's exactly one pound down from last week.

I'll take that, especially since I got a little loose this weekend by indulging in chocolate truffles, margaritas, mucho chips 'n salsa, and a South Indian lunch boo-fay.

The scale is still heading in the right direction. *whew*

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This Ass Is On Fire

I have no ass. Never did. So, when I packed on the poundage, my ass looked like an uneven stack of two lumpy, flat pancakes. No butter or syrup to gloss things up. How's that for a visual?

As I'm dropping the weight, my ass isn't exactly improving. Sure, it's getting smaller. But it's still pretty droopy and, well, shapeless and sad. I can't even say there's a shelf there. *sigh* I need some lift, some shape, dammit!

But, I'm working on it with the help of these two !FREE! videos. Check it:

SparkPeople Butt Workout

OMG...I'm Resorting to Instruction from a Ford Model. Help.

Both vids have been kicking my booty, even if they are humiliating and, well, indiscreet. Screw it. I will swallow my pride and get on the floor to assume the position of a feral dog with a territorial urge if it means results.

And, no. There will be no before and after pictures.

Let's speak no more of this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In: 1-14-09

Success! I bitch-slapped the plateau. I sucker-punched the wall. I put the smack down on that hump.

My weight this morning: 172.2 lbs!!!!!

Now, exactly how much I lost is debatable, since I am using my new Tanita scale. The old scale had me at 175 last Wednesday. When I got the new scale last Friday, I did a test read that afternoon and came in at 174.4 lbs. Then, the same scale had me at 175.8 lbs Monday morning, which is the time of day I normally weigh myself.

So, I lost between 2.2 to 3.6 lbs. Either way, I am back on track and am elated. The tweaks and extensions to my workouts paid off.

Now, I am just 13.2 lbs away from 159, which is the starting point to "normal weight" on the BMI scale. That's my next goal!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Check Out My New Toy!

I finally got a new scale to replace my clunky old one. Here it is:

The Tanita "See Your Body Better" Dual Memory Body Fat/Water Scale. With a compass in the stock!

After doing much research of various consumer reviews, I learned that Tanita is rated pretty high for accuracy. I can't say that it read differently than my old scale. It is, though, fairly consistent no matter how many times I step on it or where I lay it in my room.

What is uber cool about this scale is that it will monitor weight and fat readings for two different people. Just kick your toe on one of those buttons at the bottom, step on and it knows who you are.

Brilliant? Yes.

Scary in a HAL sorta way? Oh, sure.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Plateau Hell

So, I've been sticking to my normal exercise routine (30 mins moderate-to-high tension biking +15 mins of weights +15 mins abs/lower body strengthening), consuming between 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day. However, my weight stopped dropping right before Thanksgiving. While I'm glad I maintained and didn't gain poundage over the holidays, I am a bit frustrated by this stagnant period.

The internets tell me that I've got to step up my exercise game if I want to lose more weight again. I could drop my calories, but I'm not so sure that's a healthy option. Dropping the calories below 1,200 might mess with my metabolism and even trick my body into slowing down and storing more fat. Right?

Well, anyway, my game plan is to pump up the sweat factor. So, here's my new routine, bumped up from 5 days to 6 days a week, which I began in earnest last week:

1. 50 minutes biking (or other cardio);
2. 20 minutes of new abdominal exercises. I'm using the Spark People ab workout (15 minute video, with about 10 minutes of actual exercising), and run it through twice;
3. 15-20 minutes of new lower body workout exercises for the thighs, butt and glutes. These are some of the silliest-looking exercises, but my ass is on fire so they must be working.
4. 20 minutes of weight lifting. I alternate different arm muscles every other date, 4 sets each (about 15 reps, then 12, 10, & 8). I haven't added more weights (I'm lifting about 12 lbs right now), but I have added reps and one more set to my triceps routine to tighten up those bat wings.

Next weigh in is Wednesday. Oh man, I hope this does the trick.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Me, My Own Worst Enemy

I could sound off a litany of "excuses" as to why I got fat and didn't try to lose weight sooner. But most of those reasons lay right at my feet. Here are some of my more notable offenses:

1. Self-delusion:
  • I saw myself thinner than I really was. I was careful to only show pictures from the shoulder up, and always at an unrealistic angle. If I didn't look fat in a picture then I couldn't be fat. When other people took pictures of me (especially full-body shots) and I looked fat, I told myself the photos were just taken at the wrong angle, or in the wrong lighting.

    For example, here's me to the left. I thought I looked good. It might have something to do with the fact that most of me was hiding behind a sign:

Here's a more accurate picture of me taken later that night:

  • Working out gave me license to still eat bad food. I figured I could eat what I want since I burned off some calories. Inherent in this mindset was the assumption that I was burning a lot of calories. I wasn't.
  • I blamed clothing designers for ill-fitting clothes. If I couldn't fit into a size 16, it was because the designers sized their clothes too small. When I reached my peak fattiness, I could barely squeeze on a pair of size 20 Old Navy pants. I blamed Old Navy. I still remember spending hours on the internet searching for "undersizing" and "H & M" on Google. Eventually, I stopped shopping for clothes altogether. The conspiracy amongst the various clothing retailers was just too widespread.
  • Skipping meals saved me calories. Wrong. Not only did it screw with my metabolism, skipping breakfast (and sometimes lunch) only made me eat larger quantities of higher calorie foods later in the day. I failed to realize that my body needed to burn energy earlier in the day.
  • Issue avoidance. I didn't count calories and--despite having the internet tools readily at my disposal--didn't even bother to research the amount of calories I needed to burn to lose weight. I also avoided getting on the scale, instead insisting that the real measurement of weight loss was how my body fit in clothes. That obviously didn't work. See previous item.
2. Smoking. One would think that smoking would actually help keep the weight down, acting as an appetite suppressant. That's a big fat fallacy. Smoking kept me from getting a meaningful workout, as I tired out too quickly and wasn't getting enough oxygen. Smoking also fucked with my metabolism. I was either too wired or too tired, due to the nicotine and the roller coaster blood pressure it caused. It wasn't until about 3 months after I quit smoking that I started to feel somewhat "normal" again.

3. Drinking. This could also be characterized as another self-delusion, since I tricked myself into thinking that alcohol couldn't have many calories because it isn't a food item. Still, it's so important that it needs its own category. Alcohol has a gazillion calories. One 12 oz bottle of Labatt Blue beer has over 150 calories; a glass of Pinot Grigio wine (4 oz) has about 115 calories. Just a few of these drinks is enough to constitute a whole other meal. Given that I had, on average, about 4-5 drinks a night, that adds up quickly. My workouts didn't burn off all of the calories I was drinking (much less eating). No wonder I wasn't losing weight. No wonder I was fat.

There are, of course, more reasons, but these were the main culprits. My weight loss didn't start until I faced and corrected my delusions, quit smoking and cut out the drinking. Things naturally fell into place after that.

Of course, I still harbor some delusions. For example, I am prone to thinking that if I just keep exercising the same way, I will still lose weight. That's not true, as I need to step up my workouts to get over this plateau.

This is definitely a work in progress. But, at least recognizing some of the issues and becoming more self-aware is an important step in the right direction.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I started this blog as a way to motivate myself to continue a weight loss and fitness regimen that I began in earnest February 2008. So far, I've done fairly well and admit that bragging about my success is another reason I started this blog. Not because I'm vain (I am), but because reminding myself of what I did right will encourage me to keep going.

All of my life, I have been overweight. My smallest size was 12 but even then was brief--mostly in late high school and a couple of stray months between undergraduate studies and law school. My average size was 14. Then I graduated law school in 1998 and have been pretty much sitting at a desk since. As a result, my weight ballooned and I was busting out of the only size 20 pants that would still fit me. I don't know how high my weight got. I wasn't brave enough to weigh myself and face the truth. I also smoke and drank every night. So, yeah, there's that.

Back in early 2006, as I was nearing the midpoint between my 30's and age 40, I realized I had to do something or the weight gain would continue. I started a vague program of exercising and watching what I ate. While I had good intentions and it definitely helped me from at least gaining weight, it wasn't well-structured. I started by buying an exercise bike and pedaling for 15 minutes, 3-4 days a week. I switched from greasy, saucy lunches to turkey sandwiches and soups. However, I was drinking wine every night. I was still smoking (I did later quit the following year). And I scarfed food like a Roman bulimic on the weekends. I just assumed that 15 minutes of exercise every other day was going to cancel out the other bad habits. of many delusional tricks that my subconscious pulled on me.

Things came to a head last February '08 when I became ill with the flu and went to the doctor's office. After stepping on the medical scale, the nurse announced that I weighed 220 lbs. This was the first time I weighed myself and it put me in utter shock. Up 'til this point, I tricked myself into thinking that I was losing weight and just had to be under 200 lbs. I went home and weighed myself again on my crappy Homedics bathroom scale. Even worse--it said I was at 230 lbs! I had no choice but to admit that my weight loss plan needed urgent and extreme tweaking if I was ever going to lose weight. By "no choice" I mean I had no more excuses. Continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result was indeed--as they say--insanity.

Immediately, I did the following:

1. Cut down the drinking to no more than two carefully measured 4 oz. servings of my beloved wine a day. I later cut out all weeknight wine.

2. Amped up my workouts as follows, beginning at 6:00 every morning:
a. 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week
b. 15 minutes abs every other day
c. 15 minutes lower body (butt, thighs, glutes) alternating days
d. 15-20 minutes weight lifting 5 days week (different muscles alternating days)

3. Maintained a food diary by logging my daily calorie intake on the website The Daily Plate.

4. Reworked my food intake. No, I didn't join Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers or get on the Atkins Diet or whatever. Rather, this involved intuitive eating and common sense: serious portion control and only eating until I was satisfied, not full. For instance, I no longer ate everything on my plate when eating out. Instead, I took half of it home. No soda or other sweet drinks, just water and green tea and some juices to get my needed potassium and other womanly nutrients. I monitored my daily calorie intake to make sure I was burning off more calories than was being ingested. It really was disarmingly simple. I cannot rationalize my way around that formula. Nope. Plus, I still got to eat what I wanted, just in reasonable amounts.

Despite my past excuses ("oh, I have a bad thyroid;" "boo hoo, my metabolism went down the shitter since I quit smoking;" "now, I couldn't have eaten that much."), the weight came off.

I have stuck with the workout schedule. It is like a habit now, a part of what I must do every morning before going to work, like showering and doing my makeup. It is so ingrained that I feel like crap if I don't workout that day. I guess what they say about 21 days is true.

I am not sure how much weight, exactly, that I lost since I started. There was initially at least a 10-lb discrepancy between my home scale and the doctor's scale, and my home scale is wonky (per my Wednesday Weigh-In, I was at 175). But I know that I lost at least 60 lbs. over the last 11 months.

I am now down to the same size I was since I got married 14 years ago, and can fit in that dress again:

Here I was at Geneva-On-the-Lake in the summer of 2004, after gorging myself on ice cream and various other boardwalk junk food:


And here I am just this past summer at the same resort:


I do still have a way to go. My goal is to lose at least another 30 lbs. Lately, it seems harder to lose those last pounds and I have hit a plateau. Indeed, I haven't lost any weight at all since mid-November 2008, despite maintaining the exercise and calorie control. Of course, this is quite common, and I'm working to step up the workouts. But, it's difficult and very frustrating to have lost that momentum.

In future blogs, I will discuss what I am doing to improve my fitness and diet, and offer anecdotes on my past experiences. I will report my Wednesday Weigh-Ins. Why not? I've already embarrassed myself here. But mostly, I will probably bitch and complain and obsess.

Now, let's see how 2009 plays out....