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September 2014

I think I'm losing my 'fat sweater'

Something weird has happened the past few weeks -- while the scale hasn't budged, my clothes are fitting a little looser and I'm 





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No, that's not a metaphor for my metabolism -- I am literally going around the house and making it slightly warmer.

If you know me at all, you know that is FREAKING CRAZY.

I'm a fan of having my living enviroments feel like a meat locker.

But lately I've been feeling colder, and not just in my thyroid-addled feet. Like cold all over. I've also felt muscles bulging in places where before I felt, uh, fluff.

I think my body is shedding its "fat sweater" and I'm totally cool with that.

Like really cool. Somebody toss me a blanket.

Do the tighten up

That headline sounds crazy but that's what I'm doing today. YES! I'm still sticking with Dr. Ian Smith's "Shred" book plan and I'm entering week 2 today. I still haven't really gotten on the scale because (OMG, this sounds awful) I'm afraid of it right now, even though I have no reason to be. My clothes aren't tighter, I don't feel bigger, but I don't feel smaller either. 

Ick. OK, enough of that neurotic crap. Seriously, it's crazy making.

I was super cranky while grocery shopping yesterday and it was because I was finding it hard to keep up with all the meals and snacks on week 1 of the plan. I think all that "meal time now, snack time now" was making me probably eat more than I really and truly needed to. I don't wake up at the crack of dawn and I have to wait an hour to eat after I take my Synthroid, so some mornings breakfast doesn't happen until 10 or so, which many people call "mid morning." 

I read through the book again and saw that the snacks can be optional -- it's just a way to make sure you're eating every 3 to 4 hours. 

I decided to tighten up on my eating plan and focus on the meals this week and only add in the snacks if they're truly needed. What I do like about the plan is that there are 4 meals throughout the day, so there's no reason to be hungry. 

I also tend to let a "few calories over" get away from me, and if you're eating 4 meals and 3 snacks a day, that can add up to not losing weight. Dr. Smith even addresses that in the book:

"Fifty calories here, 20 calories there add up to be a significant amount at the end of the day. You're working too hard to get lazy and cavalier about your calories or choices." 

I fall more into Camp Cavalier, and if I am going to make this HAPPEN I can't do that.

Time to do the Tighten Up.

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I promised myself I would stick with this for a month, and while my flighty brain kept wanting to chuck it all and do something new, I decided to tighten up the tightening up instead. 

Because I'm all about ending the crazy making.

And now we dance ...


The highly distracted gal's guide to losing weight

(Note to readers: This is not a "starting over" post because I have not stopped anything. It's a "knuckling down" post.)

See that headline up there? That's totally what I should have named my blog because THAT IS WHAT I DO. And it has gotten me nearly nowhere.

I say "nearly" because I am crushing it in the strength training and working out component of all this, and I have actually gotten smaller. People who haven't seen me in awhile say nice things, to which I reply:

"Thanks? I guess?"

Every now and then I'll step on the scale and jump off all angry. It has not budged.

So, why.

I'm a big fan in the laws of thermodynamics because

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So, my guess is there are too many calories going in and not enough going out. I'm not even gonna B.S. you with the "muscle weighs more" or "the hormones" or every other excuse I've used over the years.

Why do I say "highly distracted"?

Gurl, have you


seen my

home office?

Those are all fitness and diet books and workout DVDs.

There are a few quote-unquote diet gurus I really trust, one of whom is Dr. Ian Smith. Yes, he's on TV a lot and writes a lot of diet books. But he's a Harvard/Columbia/University of Chicago-trained physician and his philosophy is delightfully nonsense free. 

I decided after "winging it" for too long that I need to follow something (and not for three days). 

So I'm starting Day 3 of Dr. Smith's "Shred" book. There's nothing magical about it, but what I like about it is that he switches the size and variety of the meals around, which makes my ADD-addled brain happy.

 Plugging a random laundry list of healthy food into My Fitness Pal is absolutely fine if you're maintaining your weight or trying to get a handle on how many calories you consume in a day. I'm doing this because I need to trust his process right now instead of my "non-process."

"Hmm, what can I eat?" as I stare into the fridge, and like some saddlebagged Glinda the Good Witch I reply "Why, you can eat whatever you want within reason, dear!" 

"You've always had the superfoods -- now go sprinkle hemp seeds on everything!" 

As Dr. Phil says "How's that workin' for ya?"

It wasn't.

So now I have a plan, in a book full of bookmarks. And I am promising myself that I will follow this plan for AT LEAST a month (not three days) to see if it works for me. I never really give anything enough time to embed into my life because I want miracle results now. (Aaaaand, I get another diet book in the mail that promises to be THE ANSWER). 

OK, Dr. Smith, you're with me this month. Let's see how it goes. 

Carrots and celery

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I like to make "OK, this is IT!" statements on the one thing that's going to fix everything.

Like I'm about to do now.

But honestly, this took like 3 minutes of prep work and saved my bacon last night. Here it is:

Carrots and celery

A Tupperware container of carrot and celery sticks. How old school. (I suppose a Mason jar of kale would have been trendier.)

Last night was the season 16 premiere of "The Biggest Loser" and I was writing my weekly recap (which I am now doing for Fit Bottomed Girls -- yay!). 

As I write the recap, I have been known to nibble through the process, which is not good. Knowing my habits, well before the show began, I grabbed the bags of carrots and celery, cleaned and cut everything and plopped it into a large container. I then gave myself permission to eat those things with abandon (because, really, now ham can you go on carrots and celery?).

And I gave myself some parameters. No salt, no dip, no hummus, not even salsa (I'm trying again to cut down on sodium because I hate waking up with a salt hangover). Just the lovely organic vegetables. (Yes, I splurge on organic vegetables because I feel they taste better.)

So I had my pile of veg and a bottle of water flavored with a packet of True Lemon lemonade (sugar free and made with stevia). 

I made it through "The Biggest Loser" (and a glimpse at that horrific Marlins game) without resorting to pantry grazing and I felt great this morning. OK, sleepy but great. I felt like I was going to tank my meeting with my trainer but honestly, 10 minutes on the rowing machine actually gave me energy to power through the 30 minutes with her. I even powered through two 30-second planks at the end of the workout.

Carrots and celery -- it's my new nighttime jam.

Best trainer I've ever had

I don't have an extensive background working with personal trainers because EXPENSIVE! But I've worked with a few and the experience has run the gamut from chatty girlfriend to macho lunkhead.

I needed something in between and I found it with the trainer I'm working with now.

It's still expensive, so I've only committed to once a week for three months but so far my Friday morning sessions have been great. I do a little cardio warmup before meeting with her and then she puts me through my paces for 30 minutes. 

She's a big fan of compound moves, free weights, instability and not machines, which is great. She's a stickler for proper technique over speed, which makes any exercise more effective. 

Last Friday, I was introduced to the Roman chair. I had been trucking away on the back extension machine, but when I finally experienced REAL back extension work, I was amazed (and a little scared). I totally felt like I was going to fall on my head but my trainer assured me that I had leverage on my side. I like working out my back because the more I do it, the stronger my core gets and feels. 

She also showed me a great abs exercise that I now incorporate every time I strength train. It uses a stability ball and a dumbbell. I was trying to find a picture online but I couldn't so just imagine this setup:

Get on the proper size ball like this:

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Now, instead of just doing crunches like this, keep one arm behind your head and take your dumbbell (anywhere from 3 to 8 pounds) with the other hand and hold your arm straight out at your side, parallel to the floor. Then do your crunch and switch arms after one set of 15 (or however many you want). Having the dumbbell on only one side really makes your core work to stabilize and gets an extra boost to your workout. 

it certainly beats a bunch of ordinary crunches and is more effective, too.

OK, so that's the working out part -- I've had that nailed down for some time. I still feel like I don't have the food part nailed down but my trainer is helping with that, too, because she's not only a trainer, she's a registered dietitian, too. She's the one who told me to up my calories to 1,800 a day, and I've been doing that, but I have to admit I haven't weighed myself in weeks because I totally feel like it's going to be up instead of down. Funny thing is, my clothes aren't any tighter so I don't really have a reason to believe that -- I think it's all in my head and it's tough to undo DECADES AND DECADES of thinking one way. 

I'm a big fan of the site Coach Calorie, and it's a great resource for learning how to undo deprivation-based eating and eat up to a normal calorie deficit. I have the metabolic processes of a corpse so eating up to a fat-burning caloric deficit and getting my motor running is taking awhile. Here's an excerpt from one article:

"This is why it’s so important that you always try to eat as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight. Keep your calorie deficit small and you will maintain a healthy metabolism all through your weight loss program. A 15% deficit is about all you need to get things going."

And for me, that 15 percent deficit is really, really hard to wrap my head around. But I'm going to try. But I'm not going to pad my diet with garbage to get up to it. Instead I'm adding in more protein and healthy fats, and hopefully that'll raise my sluggish metabolism along with the strength training.

Like I say in my updated blog header "this is going to happen."

Purging but not binging on the diet 'garbage'

Spring cleaning came a little late to me this year. All summer I've been cleaning out the office, donating books and DVDs and tossing out old boxes and things that I felt I had to hang on to. Like this:

Trash can

I have an accordian file filled with various short-term diets that come packaged with DVD workout plans. I kept a few, just for snack ideas and some recipes that looked good, but a lot of them went in the trash because they had a caveat something like this:

The plan has a very low calorie level so it's suggested you take it easy during the duration.

Wait, what? 

You sell me a workout plan, then tell me NOT to do it while I'm barely eating for 3 or 5 or 10 days? 

I'm not going to tank my metabolism while your magic diet works its wonders. No one should eat 1,000 calories a day, even if those are 1,000 perfectly balanced calories.

I really don't understand why those crash diets come packaged with perfectly great workout programs. I'm guessing that people are clamoring for IMMEDIATE SUCCESS RIGHT NOW! and that little pamphlet with the skinny chick tugging on her loose skinny jeans is enticing. 

I don't know why I held onto those diet pamphlets -- possibly like weight-loss talismans. But there are no magic powers in those diets, so into the trash they go.

I met with my trainer on Friday and we were figuring out how many calories I should eat in a day, because I was SO confused. So she whipped out the science and came up with a number that surprised me -- 1,800 calories a day. She calculated it by plugging in my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) plus my exercise level. It actually made me happy because that "big" number gives me permission to log everything I eat.

Which sounds weird, doesn't it?

For years I've gotten really good at logging my calories until I hit 1,400 or 1,500 calories. Was I done eating? No, and those "invisible" calories never get logged. So using 1,800 as the upper level of my calories, I'm going to log every dang thing. I did it the past couple days and found it very doable.

On the days when I do a big cardio workout, I'll shoot for 1,800, on other workout days, anywhere from 1,600 to 1,700, and on days when I don't do anything, I'll keep it closer to 1,600. 

That's a "magic plan" I can get behind.