Motivation Monday Feed

Another week, another pound

Down another pound this week, making 4 pounds in 3 weeks.

And yet...

All I wish it that it could be more.

But I need to get that out of my head because the consistency the past 3 weeks really makes me happy. 

At this point in most eating plans, I tend to get bored and start cutting corners, but I feel the opposite. As the weeks have gone on I feel more comfortable with my food choices and am planning my meals better so I don't stand stymied in front of the fridge at meal time. 

When I don't plan my meals, that deer in the fridge lights thing happens and my mind spins.

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This is the super special limited edition Fitbook.

How many dairy servings have you had? What sort of protein? Vegetables or fruit? Is it time for starchy carbs?

It's exhausting, so writing down my game plan in my Fitbook helps a lot. I tick all the boxes as I go along in my planning and eating so that at the end of the day I'm neither coming up short nor going over.

Instead of my willpower waning and mind straying, I'm feeling more and more secure about my choices. (It doesn't hurt that I'm listening to The Willpower Instinct audiobook again. Seriously, get it, it's great. I got the Kindle version and paid extra for the audio book part.)

I listened to some of it over the weekend and the takeaway of the chapter I was listening to reminded me to remember the "why" of changing my habits (namely, cutting out nighttime boredom eating). Why are you doing this? What is the ultimate goal? It forces you to look at the bigger picture instead of the short-term impulse cheese stick (or whatever).

Most of this process is between my ears, so going to the gym regularly is great but the brain workout is just as important, if not more so.

That's all I've got tonight -- gotta get the kid up early for band camp tomorrow. That means Mom's gotta hit the hay, too.


Nourished and hydrated

Down another pound this week to make a total of 3 pounds in 2 weeks. I'm happy with that.

(Just stopped myself before I started explaining why it could have been more. I need to stop doing that!)

I'm on Phase 2 of the super top-secret 12-week plan and there's more freedom in the dense carbs and fruits, but I'm still choosing to ignore stuff like breads, crackers, pasta and similar foods. But as for fruit, the universe has expanded to all fruits. Still, I'm going to choose ones on the lower end of the glycemic spectrum, give or take a frozen banana half in a smoothie.

I've also been eating a lot more real food. I can't remember the last time I ate a protein bar or frozen meal. Sure, they're quick and easy but the real food satisfies me more. 

Trader joes fresh cheese sticks
I am down to the last 3 cheese sticks in this package, which has gone into deep hiding in the fridge.

There still are a few quick grab-and-go snacks in my arsenal. I picked up some mozzarella sticks at Trader Joe's and they're different than most cheese sticks in that it's fresh mozzarella. Same calories and nutrition but really good. Sometimes I pair it with an apple or a cup of berries, sometimes it's just the cheese. The important nutrient for me to focus on is protein, so I make sure it's the centerpiece of all meals and snacks.

The meals and snacks I'm making have me feeling satiated and, well, nourished, instead of just fed.

I think the biggest impact on my health and weight loss this week has been getting in at least 64 ounces of water every day. That water bottle I bought gives me just enough visual stimulus to see how easy it is to get in those 8 glasses. 

That said, I should buy stock in toilet paper.

I asked my dietitian whether the body starts to adapt better to drinking all that water and she said, basically, no. Whatever. I'm still doing it because I've been feeling really good -- alert, awake and  hydrated.

My 3-month PMS finally subsided and my hunger signals are finally back to normal again. But since I have no idea what my hormones are up to, I asked my dietitian how I can deal with my hormonal roller coaster and she gave me one of her brochures on Hormone Friendly Diet Principles, so I have some lovely reading to do tonight. (For you, one word -- sweet potatoes. OK, that's 2 words, but sweet potatoes.)

On the fitness front, I decided to switch up my Tuesdays and Thursdays to DDP Yoga. If you're not familiar with DDP Yoga, it was created by former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page (DDP). I'd describe it as power yoga with some tai chi and isometrics to keep your energy up and your heart rate elevated. I wrote about it a few years ago and just stashed away the program. Then I lent it to my sister, who also stashed it away. I finally asked for it back and promptly stashed it away again. But I was cleaning out the office and found the set, so I decided to finally, FINALLY! use it. It's fun!

So, that's all I've got for today. 

Rock on, and heed the words of my new blog tagline:

For those of us who think visually, this may do the trick for water

First things first: I lost 2 pounds this week on my super top secret 12-week book pre-release plan.

{cue the balloon drop}

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Aside from the fact that my body decided that there's no time like the present to surprise me after 3 months (yeah, that) I soldiered through the PMS and followed the plan.

I also got in five straight days of exercise and threw in a Saturday workout just cuz I felt like it.

Blogilates water bottleThis week I'm building on my success by really focusing on the water thing. 

Oh, the water thing. I really, really don't drink enough plain, unfettered water. So I bought myself a gift -- yet another water bottle. I found it on Cassey Ho's Blogilates site and I knew I had to have it because it has markers for every hour from morning 'til noon. When you finish that side of the bottle, (it says "Do It Again") you simply fill it up and go from 2 to 6 p.m.

I got it in the mail right before we went to the gym, so I made up for lost time and drank the entire quart on the bike during my 10-minute warmup. (Note to self: Don't do that. It's hard to workout when you're sloshing full of water.)

But for those of us who think visually, having those one-hour hash marks to polish off makes getting the water down super easy. 

It's not a little sippy bottle; it's a big ol' chug bottle so the o-z's go quickly.

Today was the first time I drank 8 glasses of water in quite awhile and I intend to keep using my new gift to myself.

I especially love the message on the front of the bottle:

Bottle front

12 weeks. I can do 12 weeks.

Unproofed galley

That photo above? That's all I can show you of what I'm starting today. A certain doctor whose work I respect has a book coming out later this year and I agreed to follow the doctor's program for the next 12 weeks.  I had to sign a contract saying that I wouldn't reveal any details and part of the paperwork was a release for television. 

Which means it behooves me to knock this out of the park so I can be a shining example on the teevee.

The eating plan is a lot like what I've been doing so I'm not making any big changes to my diet. I'm just going to (drumroll, please) ...


I had to submit "before" photos wearing a sports bra and workout capris, shooting angles from the front, back and both sides. No flattering angles, no Photoshop. 

As I looked objectively at those photos I thought to myself "It is what it is. Look at it this way -- you'll never be bigger than you are right now." 

And while I've always said that while the scale hasn't gone down at least it hasn't gone up. I was looking over my weight stats on the Withings page and I can't really say that right now. From March 2014 to today, I've gained 10 pounds. Bleah. (Funny aside: Just as I was typing this sentence, the golf commentator on the TV uttered the word "Inexcusable." I feel the same way.)

I have no problem being hard on myself, so don't tell me that 10 pounds is no big deal because for me it is. 

Those 10 pounds really are inexcusable. Sure, there may be a few contributing circumstances (IT band problems lessening my cardio, the start of perimenopause, Costco-sized bags of leftover party snacks -- you get the picture) but at least I haven't had to buy bigger clothes, so there's that.

I'm really motivated to do well for these next 12 weeks. For the first time I think ever, I have outside sources depending on my compliance, and I don't want to let them (and myself) down. 

I went back off the electronic grid and returned to using my Fitbook. I pulled out a fresh, new Fitbook because each book is 12 weeks long, and I want to have a standalone document of this program. I'm also, for the first time, going to use all the pages in the Fitbook, not just the food journaling ones. I'm planning out my workouts and my meals, logging my measurements and writing down the good and bad of the week and what I hope to will accomplish.

I'm one meal down (a peach smoothie and coffee) and have a fridge full of produce. After I hit "publish" I hit the gym with my kid. I have vowed to drink more water and also vow to find a new hobby after dinner (like, perhaps, obsessive brushing and flossing) so that I keep the evening polar bear at bay.

And here's something for my FitBloggin' friends

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Remember that session I led about keeping the momentum going and blogging through the good and bad? I got a lot of great comments on my post-FitBloggin' blog post on that, and one of the comments, from Denise, asked: "Were you thinking about doing some sort of weekly link up or check in? If so, count me in."

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I'm writing something in the next week or so for the FitBloggin' blog on that very topic and we'll either have that link-up or check-in there or here. 

So, I repeat -- Who's with me?

I've found my training inspiration!

I've been going to the gym really regularly for a few years now, but the extent of my gameplan has been "upper body today, lower body Wednesday, everything Friday."

At first I saw progress, but I haven't really seen much progress lately.

Then today, I decided to work out and lose weight FOR something. 

This fall's high school marching band season.

(But wait, aren't you a 53-year-old mom?)

Yes I am, but I have a son in marching band, and my husband and I recently stepped up our band parent game and joined the board of the band parents association. The past two seasons our participation consisted of mainly watching the games with the other parents, but our high school band is also stepping up its game and likely will be needing more help in the field crew, ie: band parents who schlep equipment around the fields.

Here's video of a field crew (not ours) in action:

If you haven't watched a marching band halftime show lately, it's far more than a bunch of kids marching in circles playing music. There are platforms, huge drum sets, speakers, marimbas, props, and screens involved, and the parents are the ones doing the work.

I've found my inspiration. 

This fall, I will not be sitting on the sidelines. I'll be schlepping.

Livefit trainer
I downloaded's BodySpace app to my phone and scheduled Jamie Eason's LiveFit workout schedule to it. Today was Day 1 and it was great to have a plan to follow. The workouts start off with four a week, then five, and finally six. The great thing is the app and the plan are free.

There's an eating plan, too, but I haven't looked too far into it yet. It's basically clean eating, which is what I'm already doing. 

It occurred to me that perhaps I need a reason to get the weight loss going again, and this summer training plan is just the thing.

I've just been going through the motions with no real reason or goal in sight, and now I have one!

Band parent shirt in a smaller size this year!

Not losing, not gaining, but feeling really good

This is meI hesitantly stepped on the scale yesterday and was surprised and relieved to see, basically, nothing. 

No gain, no loss.

In the super neurotic past, I'd beat myself up that the scale wasn't going down. But I haven't been working on that. And why should the scale go down miraculously on its own? 

I am not one of those people where "the weight just falls off!" (Who are those people, anyway?)

I've been more concerned about not running for the Rolaids or whining about feeling crappy. And after a few months of eating the way I've been eating, I think I finally have it under control.

I'm surprised at how much food I've been not eating and not gaining weight. I'm considering it kind of an experiment. 

I've also been adding back in some of the foods I've been avoiding, just to see how they make me feel. A sprinkle of cheese is fine. A container of flavored Greek yogurt bores me now. I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M WRITING THAT! It's just too sweet and makes me wish it was unsweetened yogurt, which is crazy!

Added sugar tastes too sweet now, and I've learned that if you're not hyper aware, you'll get hit with sugar bombs everywhere. Last week I stopped at a smoothie place that was new to me and ordered one of their green smoothies -- full of kale, avocado, and after I slugged it down, I learned, A BUTTLOAD OF SUGAR. I'm not exaggerating. I checked their website, and they add nearly 200 sugar calories to their smoothies. I was mortified but this, of course, was after I had it for lunch so I logged it and moved on, making sure not to touch anything with added or natural sugars the rest of the day. I've been really keeping an eye on sugars and working to keep each meal low in sugar. Smoothies are naturally higher in sugars from fruit and sometimes the protein powder, so if I do a smoothie I make sure the rest of the day is more "savory."

Wheat and peanut products still make me feel awful, so they're still on the "do no fly list."

Couple other things I've noticed -- my hair is shinier and my skin looks great. I think it might be all the avocado and almonds. Back in the olden days, I'd take the fat out of everything, so much so that I'd see it in the mirror. Back in the fat-free '80s, I was so fat free that the corners of my mouth were cracking and my doctor told me to add some fat back in my diet. I was MORTIFIED. I didn't even know how to do it. Thank goodness the Snackwell Years have subsided. 

So, all that said, I'm super great at maintaining.

So as May comes to a close, I'm making myself a to-do list for June, which includes:

More stretching and yoga: My IT band issues keep flaring up, but it's only on the days when I forget to stretch. I need to make that a bigger priority. So more stretching! I've dug out some stretching and yoga DVDS, and I'm going to do them once or twice a week.

More switching up the cardio: The physical therapist said repetitive motion is not my friend, so I've been switching up my cardio. I've thrown in some Zumba, Hip Hop Abs and step, and I don't tighten up after those because my legs are moving in way more different and fun directions.

More water: Because, duh.

Focus on fat loss: I think it's time. I've done enough "experimenting" and "free eating" and "seeing" and now that I know what bothers me, what doesn't and what sets me off (SUGAR), I'm ready to tighten up the portions and the frequency and the snacking and get to work. 

A moment of silence, please, for the Angry Polar Bear

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Remember the Angry Polar Bear? 

I introduced you to the bear back in September 2012 but it had been around much longer than that. I fought with it, tried to ignore it, made deals with it and sometimes was tackled by it.

Until recently.

I can't find the bear. Sure, I'm still working through the muscle memory of reflexively walking to the kitchen at night, but then I look in the fridge or the pantry and I go "Ehhhh, no. Not hungry. Really not hungry."

There is no bear to wrestle with (sorry, I'm just not writing "with which to wrestle"). I went to elementary school in Chicago -- we put "with" at the end of everything. ("Wanna come with?")

A major part of what my dietitian is doing is tweaking my hunger hormones back to normal -- but what is normal? I've been dieting since the age of 10!

OK, so she's tweaking my hormones to act like they're supposed to act. So I'm not hungry 24/7, ravenous late at night, craving sugar all the time. There are specific nutrients that help coax hormones back into working like they're supposed to, and they include things such as calcium d-glucarate, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and  L-glutathione. 

Yes, extremely geeky. 

Hormone-Reset-DietI sat in a few nights ago on a webinar by Sara Gottfried, M.D., who is a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in natural hormone balancing. The webinar was actually for doctors and other medical professionals but I hopped on, hoping to make sense of terms like dyscircadianism, leptin resistance, and dysestrogenism. I found it fascinating, and also noticed that a lot of the nutrients she mentioned were in Meryl's supplements. I also ordered a copy of Dr. Gottfried's new book "The Hormone Reset Diet" (HarperOne, $27.99) so I could jump into more hormone talk geared toward non-medical professionals.

You also can hear a great podcast interview with her HERE at The Model Health Podcast.

I find this all fascinating because I thought I was doing all the right things and taking all the right supplements -- but I was getting nowhere. Yes, I lost 30 pounds but then I got stuck and stayed stuck until now.

And what's most different now is that I don't feel like I have to struggle or fight or count every calorie or macro or feel bad about not working out every day. I'm not eating anything I don't want to eat, I get to make smoothies every day, I can fairly easily eat at a restaurant from time to time, and my body is finally telling me "Yes, you've had enough food. You can stop now."

I don't think I've ever heard my body say that.

So, farewell Angry Polar Bear. I will not miss you.

I'm very glad I don't give up

Never never never give up mug

Got myself a new mug today to celebrate the fact that I do not give up. (I also bought brussels sprouts, lemons and a rainbow of hummus). 

I was commemorating the 2-and-change pounds I lost the first week of my dietitian-prescribed 2-week "detox cleanse." And I know it sounds corny but I feel like I'm detoxing. 

That sad, powerful craving for yogurt and cheese has waned (although the ad for the Irish cheese had me wistful). I don't miss wheat at all (well except for those Cuban sandwiches I bought for my guys). The sugar thing isn't a real issue but MAN! is it hard to find unsweetened non-dairy, non-soy creamers. I've kinda settled on either unsweetened cashew or flax milk (believe me, I've tried all the nut and seed milks this week). 

But as you can see, the craving landmines are more situational. I don't sit around pining for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a slice of pizza. But when those situations and occasions spring up, I nimbly sidestep them, even on my birthday.

I did have a couple items on the "no" list yesterday -- I had one glass of Riesling at the vegan restaurant, and instead of birthday cake, we went to TCBY where I had a serving of fro-yo made with Silk almond milk. 

And, y'know what? I felt kinda gross late last night. So it was back to business this morning.

The thing that has been freaking me out is not knowing really how many calories I'm eating in a day. I'm journaling my food, but I'm just writing down what I eat, not the stats of every food. It's making me feel more secure in my food choices knowing that I can eat like this and still lose weight. 

I also officially got over my ALL THE OLIVES AND ALMONDS! snacking of the previous week. I don't know if it's the supplements I'm taking or the food I'm not eating anymore but I'm MUCH more aware of my satiety. And I can stop!

This week, aside from Birthday Sunday, feels like it should be equally successful. I dropped 2 inches off my waist circumference and just feel better, which is the whole point of this. 

I don't know what to expect after this 2-week plan is over, but I can't wait to meet with Meryl again on Monday and find out.

Just when I thought I was out ...

Ha, ha -- just a little funny for those of us in the throes (maybe? who knows?) of perimenopause. 

But, hey, at least the 2 months of PMS cravings are gone -- silver linings!

The hormonal roulette wheel really messes with my appetite and cravings, so I just made an appointment with a registered dietitian who has, as one of her specialties, hormonal imbalances. 

A couple years ago, I applied to be on the Lifetime show "Mission Makeover," and while I didn't make the final cut, I've continued to watch the show, which is filmed in my neck of the woods. Meryl Brandwein is the nutrition expert on the show and I like her approach so I'll be seeing her on Thursday morning.

The appointment with the dietitian stems from my yearly physical last week. My doctor and I talked at length (yes, I get to talk at length!) about weight and health, and while he says I'm "perfectly healthy," he understands that I really, REALLY want to get this weight off. I told him all I want to do is get below 200 (so 30-something pounds), and he assured me that I can do it.

But he knows first-hand how difficult losing weight can be -- he once weighed over 330 pounds and lost weight only after having gastric bypass surgery. And while he has gained back some of the initial weight that he lost, he's nearly 100 pounds lighter. 

For him, the only way the weight comes off is to spend a couple hours at the gym six days a week and slash calories. But that's him -- he doesn't ascribe to a "one size fits all" approach to weight loss, which is why I like going to him. I have "fired" doctors in the past who glibly told me to "just push away from the table" and other such nonsense.

Why's it nonsense? Did you see THIS article last week? In a nutshell (mmm, nuts ...):

"Once obesity is established, however, body weight seems to become biologically 'stamped in' and defended," wrote Mt. Sinai Hospital weight management expert Christopher N. Ochner and colleagues from the medical faculties of the University of Colorado, Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania.The human body, evolved to endure through periods of food scarcity, has adapted a host of methods to ensure that lost weight will be restored, the authors say. It will respond to weight loss by powering down its use of calories as fuel, pumping out hormones to increase hunger, boosting fat storage capacity, and tricking the brain to demand overconsumption.

Some of my Facebook friends posted this story and found it depressing. I'm long past that feeling. Instead, I found it fascinating (because, science!), and when I saw my doc, I pushed a printout of the article into his hands and said "OK, how do we get past this?" He said with a laugh: "Surgery." But he also said that I don't qualify for surgery (I'M TOO SKINNY for that -- my words.)

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This year, baby.

So I need a solid plan. Because, people, THIS IS HAPPENING THIS YEAR. (Whoo! Made myself giddy just typing that.)

He told me, though, that for any program to really work, it should be supervised, and I agree. I'm not really good at "winging it," which is what I've been doing the past week after leaving Weight Watchers. I told him I had dropped the program because it wasn't working for me, and he agreed -- if it's not working, find something that does. 

So I'm hoping my meeting with the dietitian can produce a plan to circumvent my homeostasis and get the excess fat off.

I'll report back Friday. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to fill out a 20-page health questionnaire.

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."