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September 2011

August 2011

Tunes for Tuesday: Ship of Fools, by World Party

While on the elliptical yesterday, I thought I'd start a new feature on Shrinking Sisters -- Tunes for Tuesday. They're not just great songs, they're great songs to workout to!

The inaugual tune is one from way back in 1987 -- Ship of Fools by World Party, possibly the BEST. POP. SONG. EVER. Lots of '80s music doesn't hold up very well but this one does, in all respects. Lyrics are thought-provoking, chorus is sing-out-loud-worthy, and the video is sobering (and I may or may not have had similar hair to Karl Wallinger back then). Plus, it's a great cooldown song for the elliptical.

Please to enjoy (that phrase never gets old, does it?):

PMS kicked my butt

Don't mean for this to be an "anti-motivation Monday," but in full disclosure mode, I gained that weight l lost last week. I'm still down the pound that I lost on vacation, but the other pound or so was swept away in a swift-flowing current of late-night CNN watching and garlic rolls.

Grizzy bear I'm not discouraged because I know exactly why I went up on the scale and it has to do with a ravenous grizzly bear, fueled by PMS and -- dare I say it? -- increased exercise. (That's me, at left, looking for chocolate in the kitchen last week.)

Our new after-school routine is to hit the gym -- the kid is in his second year of middle school and still hasn't had a P.E. class, so we're schedulling our own. We didn't slack off one day and even threw in a spirited battle of Dance Central on the Xbox on Saturday.

But I think -- and this is only speculation fueled by a little research -- that the increased exercise makes me a little hungrier.

The week before, when I worked out four times, I also saw that my calorie level was lower. This past week I definitely ate more, which showed up on the scale. I also have the PMS Grizzly Bear to thank for that.


Am I discouraged? Nope, because I know what to do. Keep exercising, because that's really good for me (and the kid), but be smarter about my food choices and choose foods that keep me fuller longer. Among those: yogurt, whey protein smoothies, berries and almonds.

Bonus giveaway stuff

Want to win a $25 Subway gift card? You only have a couple of days for my giveaway HERE. And if you live near a Publix, you can win a $25 Publix gift card HERE.

Wanna try Oven Crisp Chicken? It's a Subway giveaway

Those sandwich artists at Subway love Shrinking Sisters and we love you, so here's a shot to win a $25 gift card from Subway to check out its latest creation, Oven Crisp Chicken.

Subway_Oven_CrispWe tried it for dinner last night (and again this morning for breakfast), and found that the chicken was well seasoned, substantial, and a nice variation from our usual turkey breast order.

I loaded mine up with every veggie they had, plus a squirt of mustard. My 6-inch sandwich on 9-grain wheat was 400 calories. How do I know? I plugged everything in to Subway's cool "My Build" sammie calculator. It's nice to know that you can make your meal exactly how you want it and not be surprised by the nutrition stats.

The next morning, the sub was just as good, albeit not as crisp, but that's to be expected. And pickles for breakfast is a great wake-up call.

But you don't have long to try it -- the Oven Crisp Chicken is only available until Sept. 30.

So, about that $25 gift card ... want it? Just let me know, in the comments section below, your favorite sub toppings. Mine is ... everything. When you use Subway's My Build calculator, you'll find that ticking every vegetable box will set you back all of 10 calories, and your sandwich will be BIG.

Extra entries (not required but extra fun!):

  • Tweet this message: Win a Subway giftcard from @its_gail of Shrinking Sisters (1 entry)
  • Like Shrinking Sisters on Facebook (1 entry)
  • Give @its_gail some +K on Klout (1 entry per +K)

Deadline for the gift card giveaway is noon ET on Wednesday, Aug. 31 (Shrinking Sister Carol's birthday!).

Disclosure: I received a $25 gift card from Subway to try out its new sandwich for this post. Opinions expressed are my own. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.


Motivation Monday: What's working

  Still floating on the high of losing two more pounds this week, I was thinking about why it's working right now. It really boils down to one thing:

Thumbs_up_largeNot lying to myself.

I was making a list of the things I was doing regularly -- writing everything down in my Fitbook, checking my activity with my BodyMediaFIT, weighing first thing every day -- and I saw a pattern.

I was being accountable and truthful -- not to a "weigh-in lady," not to an online message board, not to a trainer but to myself.

It's easy to forget to write down that handful of cereal or to blow off a workout or blame "water weight" on a scale fail.

But when I'm really on top of things, it's super easy to autocorrect. Eat out one night and the scale goes up. But I know it's sodium bloat so I'll eat less salt and more water the next day and that'll fix itself. Skip a workout and the scale stays the same. Workout the next day and see what happens.

I know "they say" not to weigh yourself every day, but it's working for me. For every action I do the day before, I immediately see the results of those actions the next morning on the scale. It's not stressing me out like a weekly weigh-in would do. The drops or rises are small and can be corrrected if they go up and continued if they go down.

I have no patience for the "drumroll please" drama of a weekly weigh-in. I don't want to go an entire week to see how I did. Back in the day, if the scale would go up, I had a bad week. By checking in every day, I get immediate feedback. Quarter pound up? No problem. Quarter pound down? Awesome, keep going.

And checking in with my food journal and activity monitor helps by letting me know how much activity and food I can take in and make the scale go down. I used to stress about not working out on Sundays but then I checked my BodyMediaFIT and found that my weekly power shop at the grocery store burns serious calories so I'm good with that bit of functional fitness.

So don't be surprised if this week I do a "stop the presses" post when I get to the BIG, FREAKING MILESTONE. That would be pre-baby weight. And since I just sent off "the baby" to his first day of seventh grade, it's about damn time.

Wordless Wednesday: Butter freakout

Risotto butter

That, my friends, is knobs of butter melting into a pot of risotto. I have never made risotto with so much butter IN MY LIFE. But I did not put the butter into the pot. That was the handiwork of chef Marco Pierre White, the original bad boy of British cooking. I and a bunch of other bloggers had the opportunity to cook with him, courtesy of Knorr, at the BlogHer conference in San Diego. And you don't tell Chef Marco to take it easy on the butter. But, hey, we added asparagus at the end, and it was delicious and I lost weight on vacation, so it's all good, right?

Internal Dialogue Theater: The Post-Vacation Chiller Thriller

Welcome to a breaking-news edition of Internal Dialogue Theater. In this nail-biting edition, Gail steps on the scale today after two weeks on vacation ...

Yikes. Here we go. You did everything you could, so if the scale shows a gain we'll turn it around. Maybe you just maintained -- that's not bad for two weeks away, right? OK, just get on the scale and get it over with...

I checked and then I checked again. I looked back at my Fitbook to see what number I wrote down the morning we left. Yep.

I lost a pound.


But really, I had a feeling I would do OK on the trip.

  1. We ate breakfast in the hotel room nearly every morning. Yogurt, apples, instant oatmeal and cereal were stashed in the mini fridge and ice bucket area.
  2. We went to the gym nearly every day. Since we're all members of 24 Hour Fitness, we took a short walk to the gym near the hotel. (But now I'm totally spoiled on Super Sports. Our 24 Hour Fitness is a Sport and we paid for a temporary upgrade so we could go to the gym in Costa Mesa.)
  3. We spent 14 hours at Disneyland. Believe me, that'll work off some churros (no, I didn't have any). Last year I wore my pedometer to Walt Disney World and logged a half-marathon in nine hours, so 14 hours? You do the math.
  4. I worked out with Bob Harper and Richard Simmons. 'Nuff said.
  5. I walked my butt off at BlogHer. Not only did I do a 5K one morning, I trekked throughout the hotel, convention center and surrounding neighborhood. San Diego weather is unlike anything else -- take it from someone who lives in a swamp. Wonderful weather just makes you want to exercise outdoors.
  6. I tried to make smarter choices at restaurants. It can be difficult because steamed vegetables can be tossed in butter, turkey burgers can be slathered with cooking oil, and garden salads can be automatically sprinkled with cheese and croutons. But it wasn't all steamed fish and dry toast. I enjoyed some fries, ate the majority of a Crumbs cupcake, indulged in a few cocktails and shared some guac and chips. (Note: Operative words are some, a few and shared.)
  7. I kept track in my Fitbook. That baby went with me just about everywhere, and when I didn't have room for it I kept track of my food on my phone, cocktail napkins or scrap paper and transferred everything to the Fitbook.

So, crisis averted. And that one-pound loss has me motivated to keep the streak going now that we're back.

A Richard Simmons bonus

Hey, want to see what that live Richard Simmons workout is like? Here's a sample from this past weekend. I wasn't there but Kenlie was, I think:

Get Fit Friday: The Richard Simmons experience, or OMG!

What exerciser over the age of 40 hasn't at one time worked out to a Richard Simmons tape? (And when I mean tape, I mean VHS, kiddies.)

So when Kenlie, who blogs at All the Weigh, suggested that we head over to Slimmons Studio yesterday to work out with the granddaddy of fun fitness, I immediately said yes.

The fam and I met Kenlie at her place and set out for a day of exploring Beverly Hills.

New balance shoes
We walked (samesies on our New Balance shoes we got at Fitbloggin).

Zoe saldana paps
We gawked (paps chasing Zoe Saldana at a salon).

Gail and kenlie
We talked (over lunch at Oliver at Sports Club LA).

Crumbs cupcakes
... and we ate cupcakes.

Those cupcakes were veering into "big as your head" territory, and I dreaded finding out how many calories each were (oh, around 700), so I passed off the last big chunk to everyone to taste (caramel apple, so it's fruit, right?).

Slimmons sign I took comfort in knowing that Kenlie and I would be burning major calories with Richard Simmons. I've done my share of Sweatin' to the Oldies so I know it can be a fun, effective workout.

This was most definitely NOT Sweatin' to the Oldies.

Richard appeared on the studio floor, a vision in I-don't-know-what. Some sort of mesh, applique and beading thing. He's smaller and much more fit in person than on TV -- really in great shape for a man of 63.

Richard ellens mom The workout, with his regulars (Ellen Degeneres' mom(!) at left), newbies and visiting personal trainers in town for the IDEA Conference, was an hour of intense aerobic dance, Richard Simmons style, plus 25 minutes of upper body work with hand weights and 5 minutes of abs.

Richard was literally screaming (in joy and motivation), a whirling dervish of energy, leading us in circles, pushing us in two big packs across the gym floor and having us hold hands as we lunged across the floor.

In the big circle, Richard stood in the middle, coaxing us to join him in leading the class, one and two at a time. Kenlie's aunt and I joined Richard, and when Richard points his finger at you, you step up your game and bring it.

Richard with us Ninety minutes later, we were all drenched with sweat, smiling and spent. Afterward, he posed for photos (that's my husband and I with Richard at right), hugged and kissed his fans and signed T-shirts (how can you not buy an "I Sweat With Richard" shirt?).

In the span of a week, I've had the opportunity to workout in person with Bob Harper and Richard Simmons -- could that be better than any cupcake?

After Kenlie's little "media moment," the first thing she did was fly to LA to workout with Richard. I can see why she wanted to return -- working out with Richard Simmons is a powerful experience.

Want to join a summer challenge?

I-Heart-Summer-SlimDown2 Just got some information on Everyday Health's “I Heart Summer Challenge,” a 2-week plan that begins Monday, Aug. 15.

It offers exercise and healthy eating tips through Social Workout, which has a phone app to keep track of your results.

Find out more info at