Perhaps I write stories about events and experiences every week, but don’t follow up well enough regarding the outcomes. At least that’s what I’m sensing lately, what with readers sending me private messages (more of them in the last few months for some reason) and asking me, sometimes begging me, to tell them how this turned out or how that is going. So I’m going to use this time to tie up some loose ends that I may have left hanging out in the blogosphere.
I wrote a while back about how I had gained some weight (I lovingly call it baby fat) in the last six years (my oldest son is six), which was difficult for me to swallow, unlike Krispie Kremes, which are not difficult. I started training and competing in triathlons and endurance events way back in 1979, so for twenty-nine years straight I was able to eat anything and not worry about gaining weight. I was a mean lean 150 pounds. Then came our first child, followed eight months later by our second child, and the perfect storm took over my body. I was training way less, eating way more and way worse, and sleeping less, which theoretically promotes weight gain. This was happening to a guy approaching 50 (whose metabolism has taken a nosedive) who also has obesity in his genetic makeup. Let’s just say that at least half of my ancestors do not resemble stick figures.
Today I’m at 170 pounds, unable to run shirtless on the bike path, unable to fit into my favorite outfits. I’ve worn pants with buttons that have popped off or fasteners that have failed, using a belt to hold it all together. I wear loose clothing, leave my Speedos home when going to the beach, and make love in dark (or very dim lit) rooms. It’s pretty pathetic. I wrote over a year ago about losing weight being way up top on my list of New Year’s Resolutions. I wrote about the many ways I would work hard to lose the weight in a slow and sustained manner, and I resolved to get right back down to my 150-pound race weight.
That never happened. But life happened. Son number three happened. Being the consummate optimist, however, I sit here in July of 2013 and still believe that I can get back to my race weight of 150 pounds. Just twenty pounds. I’ve begun to cut out the unhealthy fat-laden foods. I’m trying to exercise more. I’m trying to eat fewer calories. Give me strength. I’ve been here before, talking the talk without walking the walk, and I’ve failed. All I can do is hope that this time I won’t fail.
I wrote last year about the conflict we were having with our home. Should we move to a bigger house away from the beach, or stay put and try to make it work here. We love our location by the beach in Santa Monica, but who’s to say that we wouldn’t be happy somewhere in the valley, where we could have more rooms, an even bigger yard, and maybe even a pool. It would take lots of cash to fix up our place, and where do we start? Everything needs attention, updating, and fixing.
We decided then that, for now, we would stay at the beach. And we’ve made great strides towards upgrading. Out with the old rotted picket fence surrounding our property, and in with a sleek sexy horizontal wood fence. We converted our garage to an office/gym, which theoretically should help me with my weight-loss efforts. Our office in the house is converted to our guest room (and our most frequent guest — frequent being every weekend so that Daddy and Papa can have Saturday date night — is our surrogate/friend). Our old guest room is in the process of converting to our eldest two sons’ room, complete with two bunk beds with desks underneath, new furniture, and plenty of storage bins so that toys can stay our of sight. And the room our two eldest sons have inhabited since birth, which is attached to our master suite upstairs, will now become our youngest son’s room. We’ve had every hardwood floor in the house refinished, and we’ve repainted the entire downstairs. We’ve had window shades installed downstairs.
Yes we still have to paint and change the carpet upstairs, landscape the front and back yards, paint the outside of the house, purge all of the junk that has collected in the last twenty years, and finally get a mind-blowing tree house built for the boys. But we feel so pleased in the progress we’ve made and the way everything looks. It feels like we have a new house in the best location. We’re happy. We still check out open houses on occasion, however. It’s good to keep our eyes open.
Sometimes Alen and I just look at each other, shake our heads and just say “Life. Wow”. Because you can have a plan and the best intentions, but then life will throw you a curve ball: a son with tonsillitis (it’s happening now), a son who won’t eat vegetables (we have one), etc. The best plan is to work toward your goals, giving it all you got, but be willing to change course and adapt to current conditions as they happen. And so I will continue to work hard, until I’m in shape and living in my dream home, cooking vegetables for my healthy sons. Or die trying.
Then, and only then, will we entertain the thought of adding rooms to our house and a dog or two to our life. And putting in a pool.
And building a guesthouse. And buying some artwork. And rehabbing our kitchen, so I can have a nicer place to avoid.
By Susan Howard
Instead of my usual blog about health and fitness, I wanted to take this moment to honor one of my clients who in the past 6 months has melted away over 40 pounds. My clients are constantly inspiring me to do better and I thought it would be nice to highlight her journey. She is, I must let you know a busy mom of 2, a full time doctor, as well as a women that goes out on girls weekends and dinner dates with her husband. I’ve heard about these profound weight losses and have watched the shows where someone drops half their body weight, but I want to give the regular busy Joe or Jane an insight to how it’s really done. She asked to remain anonymous, but here it is in her words.
Me: “What is the most significant thing you’ve changed?”
Her: It is impossible to isolate one, single change. So, I will take a minute to ramble on about a few key differences in my attitude towards food and exercise, and in my daily habits.
1) I think I’ve had significant weight loss success because I made important changes to both my eating habits and exercise routine. I know people who go to the gym religiously, but do not change what or how much they are eating, and then act surprised when they don’t lose weight. Conversely, some people calorie restrict but remain completely sedentary, again without achieving significant results. I felt it was important for me to approach this as a complete lifestyle overhaul and to make healthy changes both in my eating AND exercise habits simultaneously.
2) I did not immediately over-restrict, but gradually decreased my food intake over time. I started out by cutting back to 1700 kcal/day, which is actually still quite a bit of food, and was able to loose a good deal of weight without feeling deprived or hungry. After a few months of eating 1700 calories and feeling quite satisfied with this regimen, I cut back to 1500 kcal/day by making just a few small changes (dropped 1 yogurt and 1 serving of almonds), easy. A few months later, I dropped down to 1200 kcal/day on most days, and 1500 kcal/day on days when I exercise, which is the routine that I maintain today. I like the variation and the idea of a little reward for exercising (a frozen yogurt and a serving of rosemary and sea salt marcona almonds.)
3) I found ways to keep eating my favorite foods, just in smaller portions. For instance, having a large latte with low fat milk (not skim!) is something that I enjoy immensely and look forward to each morning. I have easily incorporated it into my diet such that I have one every single day. Likewise, I have a 150 kcal dessert every day – Cadbury cream egg? Why not? Handful of goldfish (55 to be exact)? Of course! Small wedge of decadent cheese? Absolutely. I’ve come to a place in my thinking about food where I am satisfied having 1 cream egg, and no longer feel a compulsion to eat 5 or 6. I can have 3 bites of Trader Joe’s chocolate pudding and feel content. I never thought I would be the person who could stop eating after 1 or 2 bites, but that is exactly who I’ve become. I have complete control over my intake of food now. I’m not sure how I was able to make this profound attitude change it just came gradually over time with lots and lots of practice.
4) I threw out the “must do a solid 45 minutes of cardio” mentality, and replaced it with a love for and understanding of the importance of strength training. This is where you, Susan Howard, have been an invaluable and completely integral part of my weight loss journey. My body feels and looks different because for the first time in my life, I have lost weight by routinely engaging in light to moderate strength/resistance training in combination with moderate cardiovascular exercise. My husband has commented several times on how I seem more fit and look different/better than I have after previous weight losses. He maintains that my overall body composition is different/more toned/healthier looking than it has been in the past, even when I weighed less than I do now.
5) I gave up my gym membership! Susan told me, “The best gym is the one that you use.” Well, I wasn’t using mine at all, due to a serious time crunch with a full time job and 2 kids. So, for the first time in 25 years, I gave up my gym membership and started working out at home, this was the best fitness change I’ve ever made. I now know that I can achieve better results at home with a spin bike (for 10-30 minutes of cardio) plus a mat, a set of 5, 8, 10 and 12 pound weights, a 4 pound medicine ball and a resistance band than I ever achieved pounding away for 45 minutes on an elliptical machine at the gym. By working out at home I am able to take advantage of golden opportunities for exercise (do it while the baby is napping! Or while the kids are gardening with dad), prefect for a 30-60 minute home workout, but would not have allowed for a time-sucking trip to the gym. I also vary my workout every time I exercise, so as to avoid boredom and to be challenging different muscle groups. This is where having a regular meeting with Susan has been invaluable, because it allows me to constantly be adding new exercises and to be tweaking old ones as I grow stronger. My years of extreme gym boredom and monotony are forever gone!
Summary: Eat 1200-1500 kcal/day
Exercise 30-60 min, 3-4 times per week
20 min cardio + 30 min strength
Typical day’s food:
Morning: Large low fat latte
200 kcal breakfast muffin/bar
Lunch: 250 kcal Lean Cuisine
1 string cheese
Afternoon snack: 110 kcal Fiber one bar + 1 fruit
Late afternoon snack: Carrots + Light Laughing Cow cheese (35 kcal)
Dinner: 250 kcal Lean Cuisine
Spinach/Arugula Salad with 1 Tbl Girard’s Light Champagne Dressing
Dessert: 100 kcal Trader Joe’s milk chocolate bar
Optional (if exercised): 130 kcal yogurt (frozen or regular) OR 1 oz goat cheese on salad and 10 almonds
That’s all folks, not too confusing. That was her trail and she travels on to this day. Right on!
By Carol Rood
Today I had a conversation with my Wii Fit that had me saying WTF??
Let me set the scene for you: I came downstairs to see the boys off to school. Once they left I decided to check my weight on the Wii Fit. I get on the board…
Wii: “Well good morning Carol. Are you feeling refreshed today?”
Me: “Yes thank you.”
Wii: “So, how is Bluebell doing? I haven’t seen her lately.”
me: “She’s fine.”
Wii:”So how does Bluebell look to you?”
(4 options to choose from):
A. She looks the same
B. She looks skinnier
C. She looks bigger
D. I haven’t looked at her
I choose A because it is true.
Thinking it is a relationship counselor, Wii says: “Change is exciting don’t you agree? Maybe you should pay more attention to Bluebell.”
I was like, “Look here, I pay enough attention to Bluebell. Watch, I am going to call her and ask her. You’ll see, Missy!”
So I did. I called Bluebell.
I told her about the conversation I was having with the Wii and she laughed … and laughed. Really? I expected her to take my side. But nope….she thought it was hilarious. She was still laughing as I hung up.
So I turn back to the TV, hit the “A” button on the controller to move on, and the Wii says to me: “On a side note did you know that dogs become more motivated if their owners pay attention to them?”
Seriously? Now somehow it is MY fault that Bluebell looks the same??
I am NOT joking here people, I can’t even make this shit up.
Finally I weigh myself. And the Wii says, “Oh, you missed your goal. Do you want to make a new one? Maybe you need to work harder.”
me: “Listen bitch, I think I have had enough of your smack talk today! I bought you, I own you, you are mine, and I don’t want any more sass from you!”
I was a tough bad-ass talker. However, my actions were different. After I yelled at the tv, I meekly and quietly entered a new goal.
And the saddest part is that I will do it again next week.
You can also find me at: Coffee, Clutter and Chaos
By: Susan Howard
BURN 500 CALORIES NOW!
After over a decade of touting the benefits of working out for weight loss, I have come to realize that, unless you watch your diet, true weight loss will be an uphill battle.
Diet. I hate that word and I hope I am never on one.
As I use it here, I merely mean “calories in.”
Here’s why just exercise won’t work:
I’ll bet you aren’t going to celebrate finishing a big project at work by running a half marathon with your colleagues, but you might go to happy hour at TGI Fridays and slurp down three strawberry margaritas -1150 calories. (Many of their entrée items tip the 1000 calorie scale as well.)
In the middle of a huge fight with your significant other, you aren’t likely going to go on a 50-mile bike ride to console yourself, but you may eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk -1200 calories.
If you are feeling bored, lonely, tired, or any other emotion really, you probably won’t swim five miles, but you may very well eat a plate of chicken nachos at Baja Fresh -coming in at a whopping 2020 calories.
Point being this: it’s easier to unconsciously consume a large amount of calories, but likely you won’t accidentally burn a bunch. You aren’t going to turn around and say oh shit I just hiked for five hours; I was so angry, how’d that happen?
With restaurants and fast food chains serving such hugely portioned, high caloric fare, nobody’s got your back. (But me of course.) We as a nation are more obsessed with thinness, yet we are fatter than ever and growing. With Venti Cookie Frappuccinos coming in at 800 calories, Starbucks has become a malt shop disguised in a coffee suit.
The next time you are bummed out, down and out, out and about, falling down that slippery slope of food hell, grab a number and do a triathlon instead. Remember you got to pay to play.
How much should you eat in a day? Daily, women can take in about 1600 to 1900 calories and dudes should have about 1800 to 2200. This all depends on size and activity levels. How do I burn 500 calories, you ask? Don’t take them in. (If you do it will cost you one hour running on the treadmill.) There, they are gone.
Take a 30 minute walk after dinner, with your family, or a friend. You will digest your food better and it will set a great example for your kids. Make it a nightly ritual.