Archives for category: Training


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


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.”

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

Yesterday I celebrated losing 95 pounds at my Weight Watchers weigh-in. The road has been long, filled with sweat and cravings, false modesty and humiliation, pizza and pudding. The group cheered, which I thought was very sweet–there were lots of celebrations yesterday, including a 20 and 30-pound loss. Afterwards a few women asked me a battery of questions, which I thought I’d share.

1. How long has it taken you? I started Weight Watchers in June 2009, so it’s been two years, nine months.

2. Why has it taken so long? Yes, someone asked this. In these days of Biggest Loser rapid weight loss and stomach stapling, people want instant transformation. It’s taken me this long because I’m not just losing weight, I’m changing who I am. I’m no longer the fat woman who scoffs at people who exercise, I am a person who exercises. I used to love to watch cooking shows and whip up big dinners filled with butter, oil, cheese and meat. No more.

3. How many pounds per week did you lose? According to my Weight Watchers e-Tools chart, I’ve lost an average of .7 pounds per week. But really, there’s nothing average about my weight loss. Some weeks I had big losses. There were periods in the first year when I’d have three big losses and then a gain, then three healthy losses and a gain, etc.  You’ll see in my weight loss chart that in 2011 from May 2010 to June 2011 I “Mastered the Art of Maintaining”. That means, over that year, I had a net loss of 2.8 pounds. But I kept going to meetings–I didn’t want to gain the weight back.

Weight Loss Chart

4. Do you exercise? I didn’t when I started. At 267 pounds I was just too out of shape physically and mentally to do much. I remember trying to learn swing dancing with my husband, but I was so out of shape that I gave up.  So what was the turning point? I got a pedometer and beginning walking CD by Debbie Rocker. 20 minutes of this optimistic woman in my ears. The first day that I tried it it was 85 degrees in August 2009 and when I was done I collapsed on the couch, thinking I would never be able to get into shape. But I kept at it, walking more after Debbie was done, adding weights, walk/jogging, and by Thanksgiving 2009 I completed my first 5k.

Now I try to get to the gym five times a week where I do cardio and weight training, with a goal of becoming a strong, fit woman. And I love how my body feels as I get stronger.

5. Is your family fat? Your husband? My husband is overweight right now. I pulled him down the unhealthy path–when we met years ago he ran daily (and I scoffed at him). But he’s on his own journey and I think he’ll be celebrating being fit and healthy by the end of 2012. My kids are in the normal weight zone, as are my parents. Family history and long-term effects of childhood issues are a different post altogether.

6. What do you eat daily? Can you send me your meal plan? I won’t send you a meal plan, because I don’t have one. These days I’m trying to eat six small meals a day, pairing protein with carbohydrates. A sample day might be:

7am: One slice Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with 1 tsp honey mustard and 1.5 oz low-sodium sliced turkey meat
10am: Handful of carrots and 10 almonds
1pm: Beef & barley soup
4:30pm: Small apple, orange and wedge of low-fat Laughing Cow cheese
6pm: Salad: 3 oz Skinless chicken breast, LOTS of spinach & arugula salad mix, 1/2 C brown rice, 1/2 bell pepper–sliced,  1 tomato quartered, 1/2 C steamed brocolli, handful of baby carrots, sliced purple onion. Dressing: fresh lemon juice & 1 tsp olive oil. I might have a little heel of bread with this to soak up the dressing.
9:30pm: 1/2 Cup dark chocolate pudding from Fresh & Easy

But, a sample day could also easily be:

7am: One slice Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with 1 tsp honey mustard and 1.5 oz low-sodium sliced turkey meat
4:30pm: Small apple, orange and wedge of low-fat Laughing Cow cheese
6pm: Four slices of pizza plus the piece my four-year old handed me, saying, “Here Mommy, can you finish this please?”
8pm: a bowl of ice cream, a candy cane, a handful of chocolate chips, and a stale cookie

7. Do you have special tools that you use? No. Yes. Sort of.

E-Tools. When I signed up for Weight Watchers’ E-Tools in July 2009 I geeked out on tracking, and it really helped. That first year I was a tracking fool. I used the recipe builder and activity tracker and participated on the 100+ Pounds to Lose message board a lot. Now I do my best to track daily, but if I’m honest, I’m at about a 30% success rate.

Polar heart rate monitor watch. This helps me track my activity, calories burned, and if I’m getting my heart rate in the zone I want it.

Good running shoes & an Enell sport bra.If you’re large-busted, the Enell sport bra is a god-send!

Trainer. Okay, Trainer Paul isn’t a *thing* but definitely joining the gym and signing up for a trainer has helped a lot.

Food scale. My $20 food scale was one of my best purchases. Weighing my food keeps me honest.

Other gadgets: I’ve tried all sorts of gadgets on my phone. The PointsPlus calculator from Weight Watchers is good. I have an Android so most of the other WW apps don’t work well on it. I’ve downloaded Loseit! but it’s just a tracking app so I decided to stick with e-Tools. Trainer Paul showed me the 6 Pack Abs Promise so I’ve downloaded it and will try it out today.

Books: Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean series really jump-started me out of maintenance in June 2011.

8. What big changes have you made? Since June 2009 I’ve made a few changes, including:

I don’t stop at Burger King for breakfast.
I have black coffee instead of a venti non-fat, no-whip caramel mocha.
I bring my lunch about 90% of the time and when I don’t, I look for the healthy options on the menu.
When I go to parties, I *do* bring something healthy that I’d like to eat.
I’ve really cut back on drinking.
I exercise. Sometimes I hate it, but most of the time once I start doing it I enjoy it.
I don’t shop in the fat womens’ stores anymore. No more Macy Women. No more Lane Bryant. I went from a 24 to a 14. At a 38C, Victoria’s Secret can sell me bras again.
I do still get french fries, but a small instead of a large, and I balance out the rest of the day.

I don’t beat myself up for days where the fat girl comes back, and doesn’t exercise and eats everything in her path. Instead, I try to figure out why I’m sabotaging my efforts.

How did I lose 95 pounds?

I joined Weight Watchers
I started exercising
I kept at it.

I look pretty good. In clothes, that is.

And as long as I don’t jump up and down, I usually feel good about my body, too.

The other day, I was playing a jumping game with my four-year old.

My husband stopped what he was doing and got a funny look on his face, “What’s that sound?”

I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or to be mortified. It was my stomach flapping against me, slapping and clapping. Oh, the embarrassment!

Today I was changing and realized I still have a good long way to go. “Sigh.” I said. My husband said, “You look good. You’re not done, but you look good.”

After I laughed, he said, “When the only things that jiggle are your butt and your boobs, you’ll be done.”

Injured again!

It happened about a month ago, actually. I was reaching down for my purse in a restaurant and “ZIPPPP! Pingggg!”

It felt like someone was pulling hard on a long hair on the back of my upper arm. And it kept happening–this funny electrical buzz in my arm. Sharp. Insistent.

It was intermittent, this pain. I didn’t know when it would happen or what would cause it. But it hurt to run or jump or move my arm in just about any direction.

And then my fingers started going numb, so I went to the doctor.

Diagnosis? Tendinitis.

Wear an elbow brace. Ice it. Take ibuprofen. No upper body work for at least 7 days, and when you start, start slow.

As I said, it’s been a month, and it’s just starting to feel better. I’ve worked out a few times with my arms, and I’d love to start going heavier, but I’m scared of further injury. Am I injury prone, or doing something wrong?

It seems like right about now–six weeks into the year or so–we hear from lots of people that they’re cheating on their diet. How they did really badly this week. They might as well not bother, since they gained. Why waste money on Weight Watchers, since they’re not doing it any more? Why go to the gym, since they’re off their diet? And then, ultimately, they failed.

And they lament how well they did at the beginning. “I did everything right!” I tracked everything. I prepared all my meals on Sunday. I  worked out every day. I never used any of my extra Weight Watchers PointsPlus (my Weeklies, my Activity Points). I didn’t eat anything “bad.”

And then, Weight Watchers stopped working.

But of course it didn’t.

Life got real.

Losing weight is like marriage. First you have the honeymoon, where everything is exciting and new and fun. You track. You measure. You log your activity points. And you’re excited to see the big weight losses.

Eventually, as time wears on, there’s a familiarity that sets in. You get comfy in your sweats more often. You don’t feel the need to go out together all the time. You fall asleep before you can say goodnight.

Same goes for the weight loss journey. You take the tracking, measuring and activity for granted. And when the weight loss slows down, or reverses, many people don’t work through it to get back on track, but give up.

Don’t give up this time. So what if it takes a year, or two, or in my case, three to get to your goal? When you get there, you’ll have changed a lot of habits, and you’ll be much more likely to maintain–and live happily ever after.

Last week my husband and I met a woman who I found to be quite attractive. Later that night when we were home I mentioned how pretty she was.

My husband looked at me like I was crazy. “Her? She’s not pretty. Why would you say that?”

I didn’t understand why he didn’t think she was pretty. She was youthful, thin, and was good looking. Wasn’t she?

No, she wasn’t, he told me. She wasn’t ugly, but she wasn’t good looking. She was an average woman, neither pretty nor exotic, nor ugly or homely. A Plain Jane.

I didn’t understand it. How could she find her to be average? She was probably a size four. She’ s a runner. Of course she’s attractive.

It was only when I was driving home today, still musing over how wrong he was, that I finally understood the truth: I have been equating body size/shape with beauty.

She’s thin, therefore she’s beautiful.

I’m fat, therefore I’m ugly.

Only recently have I started to feel good looking even though I’m still very much officially fat. Only recently have I accepted compliments of “Wow, you look great” with a reply of “Thank you, that’s nice of you to say” instead of negating it. Only recently have I started to accept something completely new:

I’m strong, therefore I’m awesome.

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.