Archives for the month of: January, 2012

Two weeks ago tonight I decided not to eat again for 20 hours. I was going to weigh in at 5:45pm the next day, and I was determined to get my star for losing 90 pounds.

Long story short, I did eat but it didn’t matter because I was a pound and a half away, anyway.

I was so despondent about not getting that stupid sticker that I stopped tracking and started eating…whatever. Ate lots. I was walking up the stairs, stumbled, and turned around and threw myself down the stairs instead.

For people who have been morbidly obese, the weight loss journey is a long, slow hike. There’s ups and downs. That re-mapping, re-learning of how to eat, and how much, is a slow one. Because lots of times, we’re not eating because we’re hungry. We’re eating for fun.

Up next…how to replace what we do for fun.


BrainThere’s a saying that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I disagree. It’s 30% diet, 20% exercise, and 50% mental training.

Think about it. We didn’t get fat by thinking thin thoughts. When I was 267 pounds my first thought in the morning was “What am I going to eat today?” If I saw that donuts were on sale I’d think, “Two for one, what a bargain! I can’t miss out on a bargain like that!” If someone invited me to go on a hike I’d think,”What are they, crazy? I’m not one of those outdoorsy people!”

Of course that way of thinking is pure sabotage for someone on a weight loss journey. I believe the most important muscle we must build as we lose weight is our brain. Too many of us are “repeat Weight Watchers” or yo-yo dieters. Why? Because we haven’t mentally trained ourselves not to think like the fat people we once were. And it takes time to re-train our brains–which is why people who rapidly lose weight are unlikely to keep it off. They lost the weight but they didn’t lose the unhealthy thoughts.

1. Get rid of the monkey mind. You know monkey mind. It’s that little voice in your head that knocks you down. “Oh, that’s too hard, I can’t do that.” “I’ve tried before, diets don’t work for me.” “I’ll never lose weight.” “Look, you’ve lost 40 pounds and you still look fat. Why bother? Eat a donut.”

If you think like this, you won’t lose weight–because you’re setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. The most important thing to do when these negative thoughts come creeping in is to sweep them out. Shut the door. Why can’t you do it? Other people have lost weight–lots of it–and kept it off. Need some inspiration? Check out the Anti-Jared. He was over 400 pounds at his heaviest.

When that monkey mind creeps in–and it will, even after you’ve lost 20, 40, 80 pounds–remind yourself those are the thoughts that brought you to fat. Do you want to follow the monkey mind down that long, dark hall again?

2. Visualize yourself healthy. About nine years ago I went to a music festival where a big group of people woke at sunrise to do yoga on the lawn. I turned to my husband and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to be one of those yoga people?” Then there are all the outdoorsy people I used to see who loved to go hiking–they’d be talking and smiling as I trudged up the hill sweating, panting, and cursing. I hated them. And I envied them. Oh, how I wanted to be a smiling hiker!

Now I visualize myself as a smiling hiker, running 5ks and beating my time, lifting heavy weights and building muscle.

I picture myself fit and at my goal weight. That’s harder because the last time I was at that weight I was in high school, but I can picture other women’s bodies and how I might look and feel with them.

Have you seen the new Sherlock Holmes’ movies with Robert Downey Jr? In them, Sherlock rehearses each step of a physical altercation (usually) resulting in success–visualization!

3. Keep visualizing. It works. Repeated visualization and rehearsing imprints your brain and “re-wires” it–helping to get rid of that monkey mind. Visualization was a topic a few years ago during a Weight Watchers meeting and I thought it was cheesy hooey. You know, that touchy-feely crap. Two years later I’ve learned that the world’s top athletes use visualization as a form of mental training to prep themselves, and that neurological studies show that visualization really does rewire the brain.

4. Set multiple goals. Losing a significant amount of weight can be overwhelming for anyone. My long-term goal is to lose 120 pounds and to get healthy and fit. Over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve set–and reached–many other goals. Losing 10% of my body weight. Losing 50, 75 pounds. Running one mile without stopping. Fitting into a size 14. Running a 5k. Tracking every bite for a week.

I’ve been going to the gym for a whole four-and-a-half months now, so I can speak like an expert about gyms. Well, if I can’t do that, at least I can tell you exactly what to do to be obnoxious. Being obnoxious at the gym is a fun, passive-aggressive way to take out on other people what you wish you could do at work, right?

1. Go lock-free. Who wants to be fettered with a six-ounce lock? They take time to open and are a waste of money. Just throw all your crap in a locker and go. Stack it all up and don’t worry if it falls out when someone opens the locker. Why would they open your locker, anyway? It’s full–they can’t use it!

2. Show off your body. Walk around the locker room naked to air dry. Doesn’t matter if you’re thin or fat–if people don’t want to see your naked body, they don’t have to look at you. Go ahead and do your hair and makeup, then sit down with your bare naked butt somewhere and check your Facebook account.

3. Spray away. Lots of gyms ask members to clean the equipment with some spray cleaner. Even if the sign says “Do not spray cleaner directly on the equipment” go ahead and spray away. Especially on the treadmills where people are breathing deeply. Spray that crap everywhere–work up a good cloud so the machines are nice and clean. Now you’re ready to start exercising!

4. Use the equipment and mats. Use it all. Stockpile medicine balls, dumbbells in all ranges, mats, kettle bells, etc. You never know when you might want to use something and you wouldn’t want to have to wait for someone, would you? Also, if your routine calls for one weight, take both. And hold onto it through your whole work out, even if you only need it once.

5. Talk on your cellphone. You don’t need an explanation, do you?

6. Take 5. Or 15. Grab your smart phone and go rest your muscles. Lay down on a mat and check your messages. When people come in who look likeĀ  they might want to use a mat roll over and pretend to stretch a little. Or, sit on the incline bench/leg press/chest press/etc. and play a game. Breathe heavy every now and then so people know you’re resting.

7. Talk loud, talk proud. Shout out to people you know as they pass by. Start up a conversation with the guy next to you on the elliptical about the game or Kim Kardashian’s booty–speak up so he can hear you over his music. If you came to the gym with someone have a loud raucous discussion telling lots of jokes so you can have big laughs.

8. Let your kids play. If your kid doesn’t want to go to the Kids Club don’t sweat it. Grab a stability ball and let them roll around on it. The rowing machine is a fun time for them. If you have two kids they can play catch with a medicine ball. It’s okay if they’re noisy–they’re having fun!

9. Be disparaging. Talk about how much you hate January and the fat people who show up at the gym after New Years. Be sure to repeat yourself every time a fatty is using a machine and you have to wait for it. Don’t they know they’re just wasting their time?

Someone in the locker room at my In-Shape gym convinced me to go to the spin class this morning at 8:15. I agreed because I’ve been curious about spinning, but have you seen those crazy people in there? They are covered in sweat. Their faces are contorted. They stand up on their bikes and their little legs whir around like blender blades. They are bicycle maniacs.

And this morning I joined them. Just the warm-up alone kicked my ass. Do you know you’re supposed to squat above the seat and pedal at the same time? And then stand up and “jog”. And then sit on the hardest seat ever, spinning your legs and keeping your “watts up.”

It got to a point when I couldn’t go any further. Done. Spent. Wanted to walk out the door. But I didn’t. You know why? Not because I knew I was working towards a goal. Not because it was going to make me healthier. Not because I didn’t want to do the “walk of shame”. The only reason I didn’t stop and walk out the door was because there were about ten people who got turned away because the class was full. How selfish would it have been to take a bike that a real athlete wanted?

I wanted to quit. Instead of quitting, I modified. Instead of standing, I sat. Instead of squatting, I sat. I pedaled hard. I pedaled harder. I sweat. And sweat some more. And I argued with myself. A lot.

“Boy, I thought I was getting into shape. Guess not.”

“This sucks.”

“I can’t do this.”

“I hate this.”

“I’m the only one struggling.”

“They’re all laughing at me.”

“The teacher must think I’m a loser.”

“I’m a loser.”

But I finished. Later I asked the teacher if it would get easier if I kept at it. She said, “It never gets easier. Why would you want it to? You’ll always ramp it up, keep working at it.” And she told me it was okay to modify–that everyone does.

Guess I’ll see how much farther I can get next Saturday.

As I drove over to the gym this afternoon I realized I hadn’t been there in 10 days. All of a sudden doubt crept in. I was scared.

Ten days. Would I have the same strength as before? The stamina? Oh, god. What about the willpower? If I didn’t have strength and stamina, I wasn’t sure I was going to have the willpower to keep going. In fact, I was sure I wouldn’t. I could see myself pooping out of the treadmill early. Doing on one set of reps for my resistance/weight training instead of three. And basically, screwing up a perfectly good workout day.

Instead, I went to one of the classes. It was only 30 minutes. R.I.P.P.E.D. Express. It was a quick jolt of bouncy cardio (during which I just jogged and did high knees for most of the “Zumba” type dance moves) followed by 25 minutes of biceps, triceps, shoulders, squats and planking. I didn’t hate it.

What I did hate was the really horrible music. MC Hammer was the deciding track–I would have stayed for the second 30 minutes of “Abs and Assets” but I just couldn’t stand the loud, awful music. I grabbed my own tunes and hit the treadmill.

30 minutes of The Living End, Alkaline Trio, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes–with a little bit of 60s lounge cha cha music mixed in for fun–and I had a good transition back to the gym.

Yes, I did say cha cha music. I’m sure someone would hate my music too.

Super-Action Hero Training Tip: When you’ve fallen off the horse, try a class to get back on it. Find one you don’t have to sign up for multiples and just have fun trying something new.


In the last few weeks I’ve seen quite a few blog posts about “cleanses” and detox diets, and I’ve become intrigued.

Sure, I’ve heard of the lemonade diet and even created the concoction once to see what it tasted like. It tasted like warm water, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Yes, it was disgusting. And when one of my co-workers said she was doing it for two weeks I thought she was nuts, even though she said her doctor gave her his approval.

The cleanses and detoxes I’ve seen include Tosca Reno’s three-day beef bones broth cleanse, which is a basic fast supplemented by a beef & vegetable broth; Bon Appetit’s “Food Lovers’ Cleanse” which is a lot of eating–albeit clean eating; and a variety of nutritionists’ personal detoxes that include green smoothies, green tea, and other greenish things.

I’ve struggled with my eating habits lately. Some weeks I do fine, but others I fall off the wagon, hard. And I’m sick of it. I realized late Thursday night I wanted to kick-start my year with a detoxing cleanse of my own. This would be one that my husband would take part in, so it would need to be reasonable, nutritious, and hell of a lot more than warm water with herbs. It would need to be simple food, and most importantly, I wanted results. I envisioned us feeling refreshed, healthy, and wanting to continue on our healthy path.

Wondering about the results of the “diets” I turned to my Weight Watchers community, asking them if anyone had tried the two I mentioned by name above.

Bad wording choice. Instead of responses from people who’d tried them I received about ten responses from women who hadn’t tried them and lectured me instead on how bad they were for one’s colon and how if I just drink water and follow the “GHG’s” (good health guidelines) I’d be back to normal in no time. And they’re right–if I do eat clean and drink water, I’m GREAT.

Problem is, I still have the food brain of a fat woman. I love cheese. Ice cream. Wine. Pizza. Tortilla chips. Steak. French fries. Cheese burgers. Doughnuts. Maybe what I need to cleanse is my mind.

So my question is, how do I cleanse my mind?