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Back from my weight-loss rumspringa!

(I had written a great blog post a couple weeks ago, but I forgot to hit "save" and the whole thing went ka-blooey and I got ticked off and didn't feel like rewriting it, so here we are today. Hiya!)

The Amish and Mennonite communities have a rite of passage called rumspringa, where some teenagers in the sects sow their oats for a bit before coming back into the fold (or not -- I've seen those TLC reality shows).

Anywhoozle, I kinda did that the past few weeks, but instead of oats I used popcorn. And really good granola, and basically anything that could fit in Tiny Tum-Tum.

I’ve been using the LoseIt app and WW, but the 6-month membership to WW had run out as did my interest. I was realizing that those magical zero-Point foods weren’t wielding their magic anymore, and I was just eating random hard-boiled eggs and tangerines because ZERO! Listen, food is food, and the plan is great and all, but I have a finite amount of real estate inside me (going from a McMansion to a studio) and I really can’t be eating food and not counting it.

I also discovered that carbing it up and not counting said carbs led to a gain of 3 pounds from March 17 to April 1. Not a huge gain, but a gain nonetheless, and I am not into backsliding.

So I’ve pared things down to the LoseIt app now and vowed to count everything I consume.

What else am I doing?

Better meal planning: None of this willy-nilly foraging in the kitchen stuff.

Tuna salad

Better meals: I can get pretty lazy with eating, depending on protein bars, protein shakes, protein tortilla chips, protein waffles -- you get the drift. Some of those things just don’t leave me satisfied, so I stocked up on cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, and tuna packets for “lazy” protein that is more satisfying and “food” like. (That's a Thai chili tuna packet and some chopped avocado over salad greens.)

Jillian body rev

An Active April: I had been half-assing my workouts and to fully-ass them, I made a pledge on Instagram to do something -- anything -- every day this month. I pulled out my copy of Jillian Michaels Body Revolution from 2012 and am committing to that for the month. So far so good. I’m three workouts in and really enjoying the half hour workouts.

So, lemme tell ya, it doesn’t take much to turn this ship around: Those 3 pounds I found on Monday are just about gone as of Wednesday. I don’t know if it’s because I’m smaller, or my metabolism is better or what, but I can turn things around pretty quickly now and it’s gratifying.

Gail 0419

I spent all of Wednesday wearing my Athleta size 10 petite jeans and I felt pretty darn bad-ass.

(I’m growing my hair out a bit from the big December chop and I feel a bit like that guy from “The IT Crowd.”)

Gailface 0419
Gailface 0419

OK, not quite, but growing out haircuts is the worst.

In other news…

I got a new job! I’ve been freelancing for the past decade and the hustle game has never been my thing, so starting Monday I’ll be on the alerts desk at CBS Sports Digital. I’m really psyched because I have always loved writing headlines and it’s sports! Everybody loves sports! So no hard news (I’ll leave that to the husband). I'll still continue doing stuff for Fit Bottomed Girls because I lurrve them and it's fun.

I’ve been sorting out my office wardrobe, since working from home plus losing over 90 pounds means I have a lot of bummin’ around stuff but not much for working around people who aren’t your family or dog. Thank goodness for ThredUp, Poshmark and sales at Athleta, Old Navy and Loft (those are my go-to stores now). It still blows my mind that I'm in sizes 10, 12 and medium now. I haven't worn those since I was in my 20s.

I’m also perusing my lunchbag and container stash because I’ll be bringing my own stuff. It’s much easier to deal with my tiny stomach and its many likes and dislikes without wasting money on takeout food.

So, to use a phrase from my mom, that's what's new in the zoo.

Three cheers for getting the heck out of the 200s!


I was waiting until this morning to step on the scale because I thought "Why not have the entire nation shoot off fireworks for this?"




And that was after eating restaurant food last night! Granted, all I had was half an appetizer eggroll, one nacho and the insides of a blackened shrimp taco, but still.



So now we come to the part of the show where Gail tries to figure out her "goal weight" because for YEARS I used to just say "Oh, I'd be happy just to get below 200!" 

Which I am now.

We all know BMI is a joke, especially if you have a large frame and a lot of muscle, which I thankfully do, so I'm not going to base my target weight on that random number. The scale at the hospital spits out a target weight every time I step on it, and it takes a lot of parameters into account, like age, height, body fat, muscle, bone, water, etc. The last time I stepped on, I got a "predicted weight" of 169.4 pounds, so I'll go with that for now. 

And since it's the Fourth of July, we shall celebrate with a vegan hotdog and my favorite Sousa march!


'Don't even start.'

"Don't EVEN start." 

That's what I told myself last night around 10 p.m.

And it sorta worked. 

HoneydewI had a few honeydew chunks and then skedaddled out of the kitchen. Better than sitting on the sofa with a box of cereal or jar of nut butter, I figured. A lot better.

But what part of "Don't EVEN" do I not understand?

Was I hungry? No. I really wasn't. I ate a big ol' grilled chicken salad with black beans and corn at Bokamper's, plus three french fries from my kid's plate.

But I was still following my old nighttime pattern, one I really want to break.

After a few weeks of avoiding the scale and surrounding myself with diet books, I came to the realization that it's not WHAT I eat, it's WHEN, and the big WHEN problem is after dinner.

When I found myself in the kitchen, staring into the refrigerator, I gave myself the choice: "Pick whatever produce you want," so I went for the fruit. 

But not even starting should make things even easier. When I say "Nope -- done eating for the day," I won't have to make deals with myself.

I'm going to see whether simply not eating after dinner makes a difference on the scale.

(Spoiler alert: It will.)

Another thing that will help is me going to bed earlier, something that I have great trouble doing because I am a petulant baby. I WANNA WATCH THE TEEVEE!

Last night I went to bed at midnight, which is much better than I have been doing all summer. I plan on winding that back to around 11:30 tonight, and perhaps I'll keep going 'til I hit 11.

And exercise? Don't ask. 

My left heel is a freaking mess. I've had a cranky achilles for awhile now, and lately it's been really bugging me so I saw the doc and got an X-ray. My left ankle/heel area is a garbage dump of inflammation, heel spurs, and thickened tendons, all converging in a big house of pain at the insertion point. It's called insertional achilles tendinitis, and the good news is I start physical therapy on Wednesday. 

This better work.

Lick ... lick ... BOOM.

Dirty spoon

I used to joke that if I was ever a weight-loss success story on the "Today" show, instead of wheeling out wagons full of doughnuts or cheeseburgers, Joy Bauer would place a single teaspoon on the table as the reason why I once struggled with losing weight for decades.

A single cream cheese-and-jelly smeared teaspoon.

This week I am trying with all my spoon-licking might to make food and toss the implements in the dishwasher.

("What's the big deal? Isn't that what normal people do?" you may say. You are not me -- you have no idea how much Vidalia onion relish I ate straight out of the jar.)

This brings me to one of my favorite blog posts ever. Like ever-ever-ever. It's over at The Healthy Hausfrau, and it's titled "A Bite Here and There: What's the Big Deal?"

I'm sure I've mentioned it before (oh, wait, I have) but I referred back to it this week as I work to break my spoon addiction.

She tallies up those little calories throughout the day, which, in her list come to a staggering 770 calories of invisible food.


When my teenager was a toddler, he'd often leave food on his plate, as toddlers are wont to do. And I would eat it, as moms are wont to do.

(Come to think of it, he still leaves food on his plate because his hunger mechanism is not totally screwed up like some people I inhabit.)

But over time, he learned not to push the plate toward me -- probably because I have embraced the mantra and repeated to him, "I AM NOT A GARBAGE DISPOSAL."

I've gotten much, much better at this (see my 2010 post "The road to hell is paved with barbecue sauce") but I still slip up.

But today, I tossed that jam and cream cheese smeared spoon straight into the utensil basket.

I love lemons


I love lucy lemon factory
Once I came up with that headline, I had to make this illustration, right?

A couple weeks ago, I had the weirdest dream and I had to tell it to the Weight Shrink:


"I had a dream that I was eating lemons -- just that, lemons, and nothing else. As I ate them, I thought to myself: 'It's not bad -- I could get used to this.' 

"Oh my gosh, how pathetic is that?" I asked her. "Do I think that all I can subsist on is lemons? What kind of a sad diet dream is that?"

But she told me to reframe that dream a different way. What if I saw that dream as getting used to changes that would benefit me in the long term?

"In your dream, you were enjoying those lemons, right?" she asked. In fact, I was. 

I had recently bought a bag of organic lemons from the farmers' market and they were really wonderful. So maybe the dream stemmed from that.

Or maybe I was deficient in vitamin C? I tend to gravitate toward apples, bananas and berries as fruit goes. Citrus gets short shrift (and yeah, I do live in Florida, go figure).

Turns out, people who have sufficient amounts of vitamin C burn 30 percent more fat during moderate exercise than those who don't. And too little vitamin C has been shown to correlate with higher body fat and waist circumference. (Check here for the medical mumbo-jumbo.)

I had run out of my beloved True Lime packets but I had lemons in a bowl on the kitchen table, so I started throwing a wedge -- skin and all -- into my Green Monster Smoothie. You need to have a really powerful blender to make it worth your while and incorporate the entire thing, luckily, I have a Ninja, which is a beast.

I also have been making my own salsa because regular jarred stuff is full of salt. In the single-serve Ninja container, I throw in a couple of Campari tomatoes or a handful of grape tomatoes, a few sprigs of cilantro, a few slices of pickled jalapeno (a little heat and a touch of sodium), a quarter of a lemon, skin and all, and a big glug of white vinegar. Then I blast it in the Ninja and voila! The vinegar makes up for the lack of salt and it's really fresh and delicious. That salsa and a couple of extra-thin corn tortillas makes a great 2 Point snack at night.

I also like to put super-thin slices of lemon on chicken breasts before baking it. The lemons soften and caramelize while the chicken cooks.  

And since today is Earth Day, I'll mention that using the entire lemon doesn't produce any food waste!

I'm chalking this up to a happy coincidence, but since I've been dumping whole lemon chunks in just about everything, I lost 3 pounds of fat last week. That's important to note, because losing muscle isn't something I'm willing to do just for a good outcome on the scale.

Disclosure: Weight Watchers is providing me three months' online membership, but really, I've been an online member for the past few months, so bonus! People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

I really need to get out more

Funny thing happened last Friday. I spent the morning running errands, and after trucking through the outlet mall and Ikea, I got home and checked my Fitbit -- 10,000 steps and I hadn't even worked out!

I finished the day at 14,492 steps. Whaaaa?

Fitbit calories burned
Check out that flurry of activity!

 As a work-at-home-mom (WAHM, or as I like to say WHAM!), I often don't venture far from the house. Because of that, I can't get up over 10,000 steps unless I go for a 3-mile walk.

I really need to get out more!

That graph shows a healthier way to rack up the steps -- a little somethin-somethin' all day instead of hours in a chair, one hour walking, then more hours on my butt. 

Calories burned 2
The graph above was Wednesday -- a typical day for me, although I had a big morning out for a dental cleaning (whoo hoo!). Somewhat similar steps but most of the "good stuff" was concentrated in that patch of yellow.

So, how to build in more steps throughout the day ... 

I'm considering becoming an obsessive vacuumer and running the Hoover through the house every day.

Perhaps I'll take the dog out for a walk instead of just letting him do his business in the back yard -- he would LOVE that. That dude lives for walkies, but he's a lousy workout partner: he's terrible on a leash and always decides to drop off a giant steamer about halfway through. Then I have to finish the walk with a special package. 

I'm thinking about this more after reading Harley Pasternak's new book, "The Body Reset Diet" (Rodale Books, $25.99). The fitness aspect of the first part of his plan is simple -- walk 10,000 steps. And on days when I do a different type of workout, I often don't get up to 10,000. 

I also love the smoothie ideas in the book. Last night, I made one with pear, banana, fresh ginger and JJ Virgin's chai-flavored vegan protein powder -- his recipe called for similar spices but JJ's protein powder had them mixed in already. The first five days of his plan you have three smoothies and two crunchy snacks (think celery and almond butter, not Cheetos). Then every five days you replace one of the smoothies with a meal until you're having a smoothie, two meals and two snacks a day. 

I still am tracking my food with Weight Watchers Online, because I need that accountablity -- the day can sneak up on you if you're not keeping track. 

I like this Harley/WW combo -- it feels familiar and really doable. It may be Harley's plan, but what he doesn't know is it's also "my" plan -- and it's my way or the highway.

Hey, I talked with Harley last week about his new book -- check out the video below:

 Disclosure: Weight Watchers is providing me three months' online membership, but really, I've been an online member for the past few months, so bonus! People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Superhuman calorie superhero!

Xena calorie princess_edited-1
Was talking with the Weight Shrink (lamenting, really) this week about how few calories I have to eat to get the scale to move. I’ve been basically maintaining the past couple weeks with perhaps a tiny loss. I went back over the pages of my Fitbook and saw that the calorie totals have averaged around 1,600.

The Weight Shrink herself has lost over 100 pounds, so I asked her: “How many calories do you eat to maintain your weight loss?”

“1,200 calories, and it sucks!”

Something to look forward to.

Now a 1,600-calorie eating plan is a weight loss plan for most people, but not me, for I am SUPERHUMAN!




I dug up a graph that I printed out a few months ago where I figured out how many calories I needed to eat to get to a certain weight in a certain amount of time – it’s the NIH Human Weight Simulator (you can check it out HERE). Upshot – 1,300 calories.

And you can’t argue with science – sure you can bitch about it but facts is facts, and this fact makes my stomach GROWL.

So, as a Superhuman Calorie Superhero, I need to figure out how to make those 1,300 calories as awesome as possible. In breaking up the calories over the course of a day, I came up with:

  • Breakfast: 300
  • Lunch: 300
  • Snack: 150
  • Dinner: 400
  • Snack: 150

Yes, I’ve known about this 1,300 calorie thing since February but it’s freaking hard to wrap my head around that puny little fingernail-chewing number.

So all I’ve gotta do is laugh. Laugh a hungry, hungry laugh, and suck it up.

Care to jump off a plateau with me?

Jump off a plateau
Happy October, everyone! Pumpkins are decorating store displays, boots have replaced flip-flops in fashion magazines and we're shvitzing like usual down here in the swamp.

Can you believe Halloween candy is already in grocery stores? Who the hell can keep bags of Snickers in the house for an entire month without ripping into them? My tactic is to buy Halloween goodies at the very last minute. I also tend to choose things like pretzels and microwave popcorn, so if there are leftovers they're not sugar bombs. And y'know what? The kids actually like them. 

Anywhoo, since it's the start of a new month, I thought it'd be fun to start a challenge, and I'm opening it up to everyone who has been stuck on a plateau. I've been farting around with the same 5 pounds for, ahem, two years and I'd like to get off this ridiculous merry-go-round. 

Let's all leap off our plateaus this month and set things in motion for the rest of the year, much of which is fraught with landmines loaded with cornbread stuffing.

It can be dangerous out there, and if we start with a strong October, we can power through the rest of the year. I'm already off to a good start. I've lost a couple pounds the past couple weeks and I feel like my head has been screwed on straighter than usual in regards to working out and eating.

Got any tips? Share them in the comments or on the Shrinking Sisters Facebook page. I'm going to change up my workouts to do more strength training. I was doing ChaLean Extreme twice a week but I'm going to increase it to three times a week and alternate it with cardio that I love (Turbo Jam, Zumba and Hip-Hop Abs). If you do what you love, you're more likely to want to do it, right?

So who's with me? My goal for October is 5 pounds. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it'll get me down lower than I've been in 15 years. And 5 pounds is totally do-able.

LET'S DO IT! (I'll leave you with a moving scene from one of my favorite inspiring dramas -- no, it's not "Hoosiers":)