12 months of bad eating and not exercising looks like this. I won’t let myself give up.



I could dwell on the negatives. Instead I’ll give myself a bravo.

It’s been a long time since I I’ve been in the Becoming Sydney mindset.  I hit 100 pounds lost and thought I was fixed.

Guess what?

A near 50-pound weight gain in a year proved to me there is no fixed.

Today I weighed in with a 3+ pounds weight loss.  Now I’m sitting in the changing room,  hiding in a private changing room that is,  in my gym. I’m trying to psyche myself up to get out there and get to it.

Here I go.

Last weekend I grilled a whole bunch of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the week. I was afraid it might be the last good grilling weekend, plus, I wanted lots of chicken for us to have for the week so we didn’t fall back on take-out.

I love a good chicken salad–you know the kind, with creamy mayo and crisp celery…yum. I wondered if I could make a lighter version, and ended up with a cross between a chicken and Waldorf salad.

Chicken Wally Salad
Serves 2-4, depending… 🙂

2 Cups Chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 Cup chopped celery
1 Cup chopped apple (I love a Honeycrisp or Fuji apple)
Curry powder, salt & pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (the salad should be moist, but not overly dressed or runny)

Serve on its own, on top of lettuce, sprinkled with a few chopped almonds and/or raisins.

I was talking to a woman who knows me professionally. She has a few pounds to lose, and was telling me she feels she’s lost jobs because of her “stature and size.” I never thought of her as overly heavy and told her so. Our discussion eventually touched on my obesity when I said, “You knew me back when I was at my heaviest. I was BIG.”

She asked what prompted me to “take the plunge” and I gave her my usual answer of being tired of being out of shape, unhappy with my body, and painful knees.

She said, “Yeah, well, I can’t afford gastric bypass,” with the implication that I’d had it.

When I told her that it was through Weight Watchers and exercise she seemed surprised–not at the success of method, but that it hadn’t been a surgical procedure.

I still have 30 more pounds to lose. Sure, I’d love a magic pill/procedure/fairy dust to take it off instantly…but there’s nothing out there that will instantly change my behavior, habits and thought patterns.

Because of that, I’ll keep plugging away at it my own way. No bypass, no pills, no fairy dust.

I hate you Trainer Paul. At least, that’s what I was thinking at the end of my session last night. I wanted to hurl the $#*&!@! heavy weight (three pounds) I’d been waving in front of me in figure eights for hours (thirty seconds).

Three pounds? What? That’s nothing.

Yep. After not working out for three months I’m basically starting over. Sure, the figure eights were at the end of the session, having done push presses and L raises and lateral lifts etc., but these were just 30 seconds of figure eights. I had to go down from an eight pound weight to a five pound weight to a three pounder.

I’ve never used a three pound weight. When he handed it to me I just laughed. And struggled to keep it up. I gritted my teeth and breathed hard. When he said “ten seconds” I tried harder.

At the end of the session I was wiped out. Sweaty. Surprised at the amount of strength I’ve lost.

But not defeated or depressed. Instead, I’m determined. I’ve had a glimpse at what I can do when I work hard and am in control. I liked what I saw. Confident. Healthy. Fit.

At the end of the session Trainer Paul put the puny weights away for me and smiled, “Welcome back.”

There are lots of weight loss inspiration stories in the media. Valerie Bertinelli. The Biggest Loser. Kirstie Alley. Jennifer Hudson. Jack Black. Kirstie Alley. Okay, that last one was mean. But was it?

NPR recently posted some pictures about a woman who lost 160 pounds and her dressing room photos that show the journey. What I didn’t see were the up and down photos–just the constantly shrinking woman. And those photos are great inspiration for “this is what you can do”. Yes, I too, can lose 160 pounds. But in two years? Six months? Not me.

It’s been three years, three months since I started this go-round with getting healthy. Year one was a lot of weight lost. Year two was the maintenance year. Year three was 25 pounds lost, going to a gym, getting a trainer, and then sliding back to where I was at the beginning of the year.

Now I’m in year four, and I’m working on the mental side of it.

It was depressing to see just how fast the bad habits and lack of self-control came back. One week of vacation and poof…I was on the downward spiraling slide of laziness and gluttony.

If I’d taken dressing room pictures last weekend you wouldn’t see a smile or a proudly tilted chin. You’d see annoyance, frustration and the beginning tinges of depression. No more size 14. No more clothes fitting well. Hello size 16 and shlumpy lumpy fit.

I started to slide into depression. I fed it. It grew. And I finally snapped out of it. Ham croissanwiches from Burger King with my morning commute weren’t going to make me feel better (in fact, they made me slightly ill.)

So I’m back to tracking, measuring and weighing. Back to the gym–that was hard. Back to Weight Watchers–weighing in and seeing the giant weight gain since July was harder.

17.8 pounds.


I’m owning those 17.8 pounds. If I don’t I won’t remember it the next time I slack off with tracking, measuring, and working out. Kirstie Alley understands what I’m talking about.

Last weekend I got a message via Twitter from @locust9 who lives in Sweden–a country where less than 10% of adults are obese:

switch out grains, only protein, no sugar. Weight will go away.”

At first, I thought, “Yes! That’s it. That’s what I need to be doing. It’s that easy. I can do that.”

A few hours later I thought, “Hell, I’ve been working at this for three fucking years. It’s not that easy. If it was, I’d be super-hero fit….”

A day later I found myself grumbling, “Who does he think he is, saying how easy it is to lose weight? What does he know, living in Sweden, the thinnest country in Europe?”

And then it hit me. He never said it was easy. Suzi Storm doesn’t say it will be easy. Weight Watchers doesn’t say it’s easy. I don’t say it’s easy. Losing weight is hard, no matter how much you have to lose.

But, when you’ve got a large amount of weight to lose, it’s even harder, because you’re also having to change habits, mindsets, and attitudes towards food that are obviously problematic. When I hit rock bottom I was fat. REALLY fat. I needed to lose about 120 pounds. Now I have about 20-30 pounds to go, and I battle a lot of the same crappy lazy behaviors I had three years ago.

Last weekend I saw friends of the family for the first time in about five years. One of them is a woman who has struggled with morbid obesity for 30 years. She’s been going to Weight Watchers for a year and has lost 40 pounds–and whined at me that it was taking too long.

“Don’t worry about how long it takes,” I said,’Just work on changing habits day by day. Start trying not to think so much about food all the time. Work on changing your thought process so the weight doesn’t come back. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

She continued whining about how hard it was (and then ate about 20 really fattening cheese & pastry rolls that were about 5 points a piece…I know because I made them). Maybe I thought, maybe she would be happier to just do what she wants: eat. She’ll die a lot sooner, but maybe she’d just be happier living a shorter life as a fat woman enjoying her food.

Is that what I want? To die at 60 because I wanted to swill wine, shovel popcorn, and chow on hot fudge and frozen yogurt? Or do I want to be one of those serene people, waking up to practice yoga at dawn, go for a quick run at lunch, lift some weights before dinner? Someone who fuels their body so it can be strong and healthy, not eating for “fun”?

Yes, that’s what I want. I’m happiest when I’m healthy. Therefore I need to be healthy. It’s that easy.

It’s time to get serious with my workouts. I’ve got another 15-20 pounds of fat to burn, and I want to burn it off by the end of June. I know I can do it, but I have to work hard to do it. There are  some general rules to keep if I’m to be successful:

1) Weigh, measure, track: every bite and morsel needs to be tracked. I’ll stay within my points, aiming for average days of 1,300 calories.

2) Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans & lentils. Meat, sweets and alcohol will be consumed sparingly.

3) Be dedicated to exercise and strength training. That means running, abdominal work, and getting to the gym daily.

Here’s my workout plan for this week, Week 1:

Jog 2 miles (20 minutes)

Plie dumbbell squat, 3 sets of 15 reps, 45lb weight
Alternated with Dumbbell lunges, 12 reps, 15lb weights
Leg press, 3 sets of 12 reps, 100lbs
Leg curls (machine), 3 sets of 12 reps, 70lbs, alternating “toe positions”
Standing calf raises, 3 sets of 15 reps, 70lbs

Abs: Day 1

Jog 2 miles (20 minutes)
Chest, Triceps:

Pushups, 2 sets of 15 reps
Machine bench press, 3 x 12-15*
Incline dumbbell press, 3 x 12-15*
Butterfly machine, 3 x 12-15*
Tricep dips, 3 x 12-15*
Stability ball overhead tricep extensions, dumbbell, 3 x 12-15*

Abs: Day 2

Jog 2 miles (20 minutes)
Back, Biceps:

Prone trunk extensions, 2 x 15
Floor bridges, 2 x 15
Wide-grip lateral pulldown: 3 x 12-15*
Assisted chinups: 3 x 12-15*
One-arm dumbbell row: 3 x 12-15, 20lb weight
Lying T-bar row: 3 x 12-15*
Back extension: 3 x 12-15
Alternating dumbbell curl: 3 x 12-15*

Abs: Day 3

Jog 2 miles (20 minutes)
Shoulders: ….I need to work out this routine.

Abs: Day 4


Jog 2 miles (20 minutes)

Plie dumbbell squat, 3 sets of 15 reps, 45lb weight
Alternated with Dumbbell lunges, 12 reps, 15lb weights
Leg press, 3 sets of 12 reps, 110lbs
Leg curls (machine), 3 sets of 12 reps, 70lbs, alternating “toe positions”
Standing calf raises, 3 sets of 15 reps, 75lbs

Abs: Day 5

Meet with Trainer Paul

Abs: Day 6

Jog 2 miles (20 minutes)
Depends on what I do on Friday.

Abs: Day 7

On April 16th Weight Watchers star Suzi Storm had an online melt-down. I was a little surprised at the force of her meltdown, and that it came seemingly from no-where. But as I read back through Tweets and blog posts I saw it there…the strains of snuggling up to complacency. The slipping back into comfy old habits of too much beer, comfort foods, couch sitting.

And the resulting feeling of feeling like crap.

This morning that’s where I’m at. I feel like crap. On the day before Easter (17 days ago, but who’s counting?), I celebrated a 100-pound weight loss.

This morning I’m up six pounds.

And I feel like crap. Not because of the six pounds–that just annoys me–but because I’ve been eating dirty. Giant burritos with flour tortillas and carnitas. Tortilla chips and beer. Oreos. Ice cream. Bagels with cream cheese. Wine. Blueberry tarts. Frozen yogurt. You name it, I thought about it and ate it. A jelly donut.

I’ve gotten to the gym about twice a week, with insistence that I’ll exercise at home if I don’t go to the gym…but I haven’t exercised at home.

And to top it all off, I’m not sleeping much. Oh, six hours a night maybe. But I’m tossing and turning, worrying about the future, and my children’s future, etc. And I wake up…feeling like crap.

That momentary elatedness of “I lost 100 pounds!” has evaporated. I’m left with my normal, grouchy self.

What to do? Remember all the tools I’ve used on the path to 100. Visioning. Planning. Tracking. And reminding myself that nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Really. The physical impact of eating crap and being a lazy lump is HUGE.

So–back to clean eating and exercise. I hope sleep and positive thoughts will result!