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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.


For this week’s What Would Sydney Eat (WWSE), I offer you a protein-packed Berry Smoothie. Yes, I’m probably the only 41-year old woman who has never had a yogurt-based fruit shake. That is, until today.

This smoothie pairs protein with carbs for a nutritious, tasty kick-start for your day. It’s great for people who like to start the day with something on the sweeter side.

Berry Smoothie

4 oz orange juice
1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Add the ingredients to your blender in the order listed; blend for five minutes to incorporate air and blend out chunks. Enjoy!

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 like  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?

Today I ran the Napa Rock & Stroll 6k Run. I was really nervous before I started. I wanted to do well for me. I wanted to run the whole 3.72 miles (I didn’t). I wanted to finish in under 50 minutes (I did).

I finished around the 39:40 mark. I finished well and fast. My husband and kids were there to cheer me in which was wonderful, and really helped–they got me to sprint to the finish line.

Tonight was trainer workout #4. I didn’t pass out or throw up, but there were moments all I could do was laugh, and wonder if I would pass out soon.

After the stretches we started with planks with a leg raise. I thought we were doing 15 of them, and when we go to 15, while the sweat started to bead on my forehead I thought, well, that’s tough. And that’s when Trainer Paul said, “Halfway done!” It was 15 each leg. And we did two @$#*&@! sets of these.  It was not my shining moment.

There were all sorts of other fun things, involving balancing and weights, and presses, and my puny muscles. We ended with these:

They were “turning step ups” or something like that. Seemed easy enough, and was, with 10 pounds weights. But Trainer Paul decided I could handle more…so I ended up with 20 pound weights. I was hauling an extra 40 pounds as I stepped up. I was STUNNED at how much it was in my hands, and that that’s how much more I want to lose.

That was my incentive to keep stepping up, even when I wanted to stop. Feeling all that weight, wanting to stop because of it, I knew that I had to keep going so that one day 20 pounds doesn’t feel like anchors pulling me down.

It didn’t matter that there were 87 young, lithe, healthy 20-somethings all exercising together around me in concert, like a bunch of gazelles. It didn’t matter that I lumbered like a hippopotamus. That when I did my bent over rows I saw a 40-year old gorilla in the mirror. Every time doubt and self-consciousness tried to sabotage me, I thought, “What would Sydney Bristow do?”

She’d just push herself. And so did I.


It was exceptionally hot today in Northern California. I had an event that I I normally wear a suit to, but it was too hot for it, so I thought I’d look for a new outfit. Above you see pictures of some of the clothes I tried on. To be honest, I thought it would be much, much worse. I am now a true 16, not a 16 W. The clothes I picked all fit me–the question was, what fit me best, what suited me, and what suited the situation? The only thing I didn’t photograph was a pair of what turned out to be skinny jeans, which looked ridiculous.

Care to guess what I picked to wear? (Hint, it was a semi-casual dinner…)

When I met with the gym’s fitness manager a few weeks ago her laid out how simple it was going to be to lose these last 40+ pounds in six months. Just exercise and eat no more than 1200 calories a day.



Simple, yes. Easy, no.

I didn’t get here because I enjoy little bits of low-calorie food. No. I got here because I loved large servings of french fries, big bowls of ice cream, and bacon and eggs three times a week. Red meat. Movie popcorn with butter. Beer.

And oftentimes, a workout for me was a 25-minute mile-long walk, one that left my legs humming from the blood pumping through my veins. And then, I’d lay up on the couch, cruising the web or watching something stupid on TV, like Suddenly Susan.

I want to be the woman who wakes up at 5am to go for a run. I want to be the woman who eats half a tomato on whole wheat sandwich and is stuffed. Who goes to the movies and doesn’t eat anything. Who is excited for workout class and at the end of a long day says, wow, I forgot to eat!

Will I ever be that woman?

Tonight I signed the paperwork to have a trainer twice a month. My plan is this will keep me accountable and showing up.

My trainer’s name is Paul. He just moved here three weeks ago from Ohio and is about 24 years old and as sweet and earnest as you can imagine a 24-year old new to California would be.

I think we were both mortified to have to take my measurements:

Weight? 196
BMI? 30.5 “That’s obese!” cheerfully proclaims my Wii.
Chest: 42″ (in sports bra)
Abdomen: 44″ (at belly button, *not* my waist)
Hips: 47.5″ (at widest part of butt)
Upper arm: 13″
Forearm: 9.5″
Thigh: 22″

He also measured neck (13.5″) and calf. Since I was wearing pants I’m not including my calf in this progress check.

As he stretched his arms wide to accommodate my girth all I could wonder was, how awful would it have been 75 pounds ago?

After a false-start yesterday in which I took Ringo (my four-year old bruiser) to the club closest to me only to learn they don’t have a “Kids Club” after noon on Saturdays, or at all on Sundays, we made it to the gym.

I like it.

This In-Shape facility is new and everyone seems happy. It’s big. It’s clean. And Ringo absolutely adores the Kids Club, which means I can’t fall back on needing to watch him as an excuse not to go–not when the kids section stays open until 9pm during the week.

I need to build muscle. My plan is to do a 20-minute cardio warmup followed by working on the weight machines, three times a week.

Today I got on the treadmill in the “Cardio theater” and stayed on for only 15 minutes. I was too excited about the weight machines to do that boring cardio stuff. After I stopped walking my legs were rubbery and it felt like the floor was moving below me.

Off to the weight machines.

Did I mention that no one’s required to run through the machines with you first? I had a bit of an idea of what I was doing, but thank god for the pictures and instructions clearly posted on each machine. I watched a lot of people, too, to see what they were doing and how they were adjusting machines.

Today I worked on arms and shoulders. Especially my triceps. A few hours later and they are already sore.

Sydney Bristow has great arms. Will my “bat wings” go away if I work extra hard on that area?