I Just Lost It (Again)

Four years ago I participated in a six-week, Biggest-Loser-Style fitness and weight loss challenge called Just Lose It at my gym, Stevenson Fitness.

I wrote a weekly blog post about the program and my process and how terrible it all was.

Actually, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it was because it was so damn hard. (And I’m not talking about the grueling workouts or the clean eating, I’m talking about the fact that I couldn’t drink wine for six weeks!)

But it was also awesome, because I lost 12 pounds, 4.2% body fat and a whopping 13.5 inches of flab. (Almost 4 inches were from my waist!) Then I continued on working out with my teammates and eating clean(ish) and went on to lose four more pounds. I even started running (something I had never done or had any desire to do) and ran in a 10K race. Yeah, I was rockin’ it.

Weight loss results
Me, four years ago partying it up after my final weigh-in

Well. That was four years ago. I managed to keep the weight off for two years, but then. You know how it is.

Eating healthfully takes planning and that takes time and who has that?

My plantar faciitis flared up again and I was unable to workout for a few months. (What did you say? I could have ridden the bike and done upper body? I can’t hear you because I’m plugging my ears and saying, “La-la-la-la-la.” Also. Shut up.)

And I got a new job a year ago that likes to keep its employees (very) well fed. (Turns out I forgot the word “no” was in my vocabulary when it comes to treats in the breakroom.)

Also, I was drinking a lot of wine. Like, one or two (or, okay, sometimes three) glasses a night. Not every night. But let’s say if a month has 30 days, then I probably had wine 28 of those days. So, okay. Every night.

And blah and blah and blady-blah-blah-blah. (Insert reasons and excuses here.)

So that 16 pounds I lost? It slowly crept back on. With a couple more. I found myself heavier than I’d ever been except for pregnancy and postpartum. Bleh.

And even though I obsessively got on the scale every single day (so it’s not like I didn’t know), I somehow managed to convince myself it wasn’t that bad. I mean, okay, so most of my pants didn’t fit anymore, but I still wore a medium top. (And the same shoe size!)

And then I saw this picture of me and almost cried.

Shane McAnally

And I’m not talking tears of joy because I’m with Shane McAnally, Nashville’s hottest songwriter and producer. And not because my bangs are all jaggedy. (Seriously, WTF is going on there?) Because look at my face. It’s so fat. And my face is always the last place I gain weight. It’s like my body hits maximum capacity and there is nowhere else for the fat to go, so it floats up to my face.

I knew it was time to get serious and do something. And since my gym was starting another round of Just Lose It, I decided to give it another go.

But as excited as I was to participate in the program again (well, maybe excited isn’t quite the right word), I also felt  a bit of dread. Not because I had to give up my beloved wine (okay, maybe a little because of that) or because of the hard work I was going to have to put in (okay, maybe a little because of that too), but because I felt like a bit of a failure. I mean, I succeeded in this program four years ago, and here I was again, three pounds heavier than when I started the first time.

Would everyone think I was a big loser (and not the right kind) for joining this program again?

As it turns out, it was quite the opposite. What I got was encouragement. High fives, and “way to goes” and “you look great.”

We all fall down. And when we do we have a choice: sit there in the dirt and cry about our fat face (as we’re stuffing it) or stand up, dust ourselves off, and cry about the wine we’re not drinking and the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt we’re not shoveling into our gullet because our mean trainer has given us a clean eating diet and making us do hard workouts six days a week.

Okay, that was a terrible analogy, but you know what I’m saying. The real failure is not falling down. It’s not getting back up.

So for six weeks…

I got up every morning at 5AM and did a seven minute workout that at first was really, really hard and by the end was (almost) easy.

I ate clean. (Bye bye wine, dark chocolate and break room goodies, and hello chicken, chicken, more chicken, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and quinoa.)

I recorded every thing I ate and drank in a food journal. (Boy is that eye opening. If you’ve never kept a food journal, you should try it some time. You’d be amazed at how much mindless eating you do throughout the day. At least I was.)

I drank an ocean full of water. Daily.

I weight trained three days a week at 6AM (good morning!) with these awesome ladies under the guidance of our trainer, the mean, terrible, awful awesome Christy. (I do not think there was one workout that I did not whine at her. Or swear at her. Or both.)

Just-Lose-It-Workout-Program
The Iron Maidens (Yes, you are correct. We rock!)

I worked out three days a week on my own doing sadistic cardio routines created by the Just Lose It evil masterminds. (We were encouraged to do our cardio as a group, but our schedules never seemed to line up. Stupid jobs and kids.)

I went to multiple Happy Hours and only had club soda with a (teeny-tiny) splash of cranberry juice with a lime squeeze. (Make that Unhappy Hour.)

Also I stopped drinking wine. And eating chocolate. (Oh, I said that already? Sorry.)

It was terrible.

But also. It was amazing.

I felt great. (When I wasn’t achy and hungry.)

I slept great. (Turns out not drinking wine and being physically exhausted from grueling workouts helps you sleep. Who knew?)

And about half-way through, I started looking great.

In the end I lost 14.4 pounds, 6.9% body fat and 14.75 inches! (5 inches from my waist alone!!!) Even better than the first time. (Okay, okay, I had more to lose this time. But still.)

And did I mention that it was a contest? We competed as a team. (Sadly my awesome team, the Iron Maidens -great name, right?- were robbed and did not win.)

But we also competed as individuals and guess what? All that hard work, clean eating and whining about not drinking wine paid off, because I was the biggest loser of all. (Meaning, I was the winner!)

So, yes, I am a big loser. (Exactly the right kind.)

Just-Lose-It-After-Photo
Me, trying to recreate my Just Lose It post-final-weigh-in photo from 4 years ago. Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on with my hair, and I still have (more than) a bit of toning to do, but I’m still kind of rockin’ it.

 

 

 

Just Lose It: What It’s Really Like to Join a Six-Week Weight Loss Competition (Week 6)

I am done! My Biggest-Loser-Style 6 week Just Lose It Weight Loss Challenge is O-V-E-R, OVER! My final strength workout was yesterday (on a Sunday morning at 7AM thankyouverymuch!) and my final weigh-in is tonight at 7PM. And yes, I will have a margarita in my hand at 7:05! (Well, maybe not until 8:00.)

Margarita-on-the-rocks-with-salt
Hello Lovely. I’ve been waiting six long weeks for you.

Last week I was down another pound, bringing my weight loss at 5 weeks to a total of 9.2 pounds.

I have been really, really good this week by not obsessively getting on the scale every single morning like I have pretty much done every single day of my adult life so I would be surprised by tonight’s results. For me, not getting on the scale every morning was even harder than not drinking wine. Yeah, that hard. Go ahead and say it – I am a freak.

And remember last week when I said I was going to take it up a notch? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Plus I didn’t have a choice, because Holly, our nutritionist, apparently takes it up a notch on the final week as well. She took away our whole grains (goodbye brown rice and quinoa) and replaced them with watermelon and grapefruit. I mean, I love fruit, but using fruit as your carb (and not the fermented kind made from grapes) for four meals a day – it gets challenging. (Not to mention a tad bit gassy. Ahem.)

And she took away my beloved Clif Builder Bars. My delicious, easy to grab, don’t have to plan or chop or measure, afternoon meal was taken away from me. Why, Holly, why?

And not only that, we were told to drink 3-4 cups of dandelion tea each day. Drinking dandelion tea is supposed to help your body’s natural detoxification process by breaking down fats during digestion and carry away waste.

Ummm…  hello, I haven’t had a drink in six weeks (okay, except for the wine tasting in Week 2. And another about-to-expire Groupon dinner that included a glass of wine in Week 4 that I neglected to tell you about). But still.

AND I’ve been eating really, really clean. I’m pretty sure I’m about as detoxed as I’m ever going to be.

Have you ever tasted dandelion tea? The box says it tastes, “pleasantly roasted, sweet and slightly bitter.” I say it tastes like you went running and took off your sweaty socks and shoved them in the corner of your gym bag for a week and then dipped them in water and started sucking on them.* Only worse. Perhaps that’s what they mean when they say “slightly bitter.”

What-dandelion-tea-tastes-like
Would you want to drink this?

One of the women on another other team said the only way she could drink it was to let it cool and then chug it. It’s a little like Survivor when they have those gross food challenges – just swallow it as fast as possible and don’t think about it.

Survivor Food Challenge
This is what I feel like after chugging my dandelion tea.

Of course I shouldn’t complain too much. Even with the added restrictions this week, I’ve been eating a lot. Here is a photo of my four meals yesterday:

Eating clean
That’s a lot of food!

Breakfast: eggs with mushroom and asparagus (and just a tablespoon of fat free feta – shhh, don’t tell Holly) and one whole grapefruit, Lunch: turkey and roast beef rolls filled with avocado slices, pepperoncini and onion (the only thing missing is the mayonnaise and bread) and 400 grams of watermelon, Afternoon Meal: Greek Yogurt with raspberries (ugh 2% – the whole fat is my heaven & I will go to my grave defending its healthful deliciousness, but I’m being “good” this week), and Dinner: grilled salmon and shrimp, roasted sweet potatoes, grilled zucchini and mushrooms, green beans and salad (a fantastic meal if I do say so myself, but a nice buttery Chardonnay to accompany this meal would have been nice).

And of course three cups of old sweaty gym socks dandelion tea.

savor-your-tea
There was no savoring. I think they need a tea tag that says “Chug”

Yeah, I know that seems like a lot of food, but in this program you work out hard. And this week I skipped my rest days by running intervals on the treadmill. (I’d tell you not to tell Phil, but he caught me both times – that dude is always at the gym.) For those of you who don’t know what interval training is, it’s where you workout reallyreallyreally hard for a minute or two (I do two) and then cool down for a minute or two (I do one). So I run faster than I am comfortable (6 MPH) for two minutes and then speed-walk (4 MPH) to “cool down.” Rest Day Schmest Day.

Plus… look what I can do:

Yeah, three of ’em! Am I awesome or what?

Be sure to come back Wednesday when I reveal my Just Lose it Fitness Challenge results. I’m almost as excited to find out what they are as I am to taste that margarita!

If you missed a week you can catch up here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, & Week 5.

 

 

*My teammate Jennifer actually came up with the dandelion tea-gym sock analogy – I must give credit where credit is due.

Margarita photo courtesy of By Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons, dandelion photo courtesy of slgckgc via Creative Commons, Survivor Caramoan photo featuring the dreamy Malcolm Freberg borrowed from RealityNation.com

Just Lose It: What It’s Really Like to Join a Six-Week Weight Loss Competition (Week 5)

I am five weeks down with only one to go on my Biggest Loser-style Just Lose It fitness challenge at Stevenson Fitness.

someecards.diet

At one of our 5:30 AM workouts the other morning, one of my teammates (you don’t get to know which one, I’m discreet that way) said, “I feel terrible. I was very naughty last night.”

“Did you have wine?” I asked excitedly, my eyes widening and the corners of my mouth starting to form just the tiniest bit of drool.

“No, I ate two fist fulls of Smart Start cereal. And then I felt so guilty. I don’t even know why I did it.”

smart-start-cereal
This doesn’t look very naughty to me!

You know a nutrition plan is tough when you feel guilty about “binging” on whole grain chock-full of antioxidants cereal. (If you could call two fist fulls a binge!)

But the truth is the eating plan isn’t tough. It’s just restrictive. The food is getting a little boring.

We’re coming into the home stretch. Just a week until our final weigh-in and I won’t lie, the 5th week has been the hardest so far. At least for me.

I’ve had a few stressful nights where I really could have used a glass of wine (or two fist fulls of gluten-laden carbs). 

And worst of all I’ve hit a plateau with my weight loss. I was actually up point two pounds last week. Up! Point two! And yes, I know it’s only two tenths of a pound, and that’s nothing, but trust me, I’d be just as upset if I lost only point two as well. How in the hell did I gain weight (even the teeniest tiniest bit of weight) when Phil has us running around the building four times and doing these impossible push-up-pike combos with our feet on some wheelie board? And don’t you dare tell me it’s muscle. I just want to see that number on the scale drop. Dramatically.

And look like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Yes, in six weeks. Is that too much to ask?

It is?

Oh.

If I’m honest (with you and with myself) I will admit that while I haven’t “cheated,” little habits have started to slip back. Licking the cream cheese for Marley’s bagel off my finger. “Tasting” food as I cook. Putting a bigger serving of carbs on my plate than I should. Using more than a teaspoon of olive oil on my salad. I mean a teaspoon?! Come on!

Healthy-Dinner-Biggest-Loser-Style
Too much salad dressing and too many delicious roasted rosemary potatoes. (But I did pull the skin off my chicken. Just so you know.)

Oh, and I never did give up my one cup of morning coffee with cream and sugar. (Oops.)

So this week, my last week, I’m pumping it up a notch. Goodbye beloved delicious so-full-of-cream-it’s-practically-white coffee. Hello black tea with lemon. Goodbye balsamic vinaigrette. Hello salads with lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil. Hello measuring cup. Hello food scale. And Marley? You can make your own damn bagel.

I have one more week with this Just Lose It program and I am in it to win it! I want to lose at least two pounds this last week and I know I can do it.

Even if it kills me.

Be sure and check back next week for my final week and final weight loss results. And if you missed a week, you can catch up here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.

Picture credits someecards (They’re funny!) and Kellogs.com.

Just Lose It: What It’s Really Like to Join a Six-Week Weight Loss Competition (Week 4)

I’ve just completed my 4th week of my Biggest Loser-style Just Lose it program. At my 3rd week’s weigh-in I was down another 1.4 pounds. That makes 8.2 pounds in just three weeks – not too shabby!

But, I feel like other than bragging about my awesome weight loss all I’ve done is complain about this Just Lose It Program. Not only that, a friend of mine even commented last week that I need to lighten up on Phil.

I mentioned this to my teammates and they snickered and said that Phil deserves all the smack talk I dole out and I can lighten up on him when he lightens up on us. (Even though obviously the whole point of the program is for him not to lighten up on us so we can lighten up. Or become lighter. Whatever.)

biggest-Loser-Free-Weights
Instead of lifting wine glasses I’ve spent the last 4 weeks lifting these.

Moving on…

I like to think of myself as a positive person, so this week no whining about not drinking wine and kvetching about the torture of Phil. Just a few of the amazingly good things about the Just Lose It program.

Sleep

I have to admit I’ve been sleeping great since participating in this program. And sure, that’s because I’m physically exhausted, but that’s okay. I have a lot of stress in my life that prevents me from sleeping well at night. Falling asleep is not usually an issue for me, but I wake up around two or three in the morning and all of my stress issues (coupled with a good dose of hot flash night sweats) will swarm around my brain making it impossible to get back to sleep unless I took a preemptive measure at bedtime with my very good friend Advil PM. But since starting this program I have been sleeping like a rock without any aid from my favorite little blue pill. Well, a rock that has to get up in the middle of the night to pee. (Sometimes twice.) So maybe I’ve been sleeping more like a baby than a rock. Hmmmm, maybe I should look into adult diapers. Or not. Because even though I get up in the middle of the night to pee (for like two minutes straight) because of all of the freaking lemon water I’ve been drinking, I fall right back asleep the minute I get back into bed. I guess physical exhaustion has a way of turning off your overly worrisome brain.

The Clothes in My Closet

Some of the old clothes in my closet are starting to fit. So I think the high-waisted mom jeans from the turn of the century that for some reason I can’t seem to let go of because “some day they’ll fit again,” may indeed fit again. Which is awesome. I think. I mean, I can’t really see myself wearing them. (I’m way too cool for mom jeans right?)

I did fit into my old pair of workout pants that I love and adore. I even wore them to the gym last Monday. And then I realized that the elastic is starting to go. (And shut up. That is NOT why they fit. Maybe.) So when Phil made us run around the building (three times) my pants kept falling down. And when we were doing reverse pike on a stability ball I think I may have been giving Phil (and the rest of the gym) a nice show of my whale tail. (The high school boys who work out at my gym might be scarred for life.)

Whale-Tail-thong
This is not me. As much as it horrifies you to look at this, trust me if I showed mine, the high school boys at the gym would not be the only ones scarred for life!

Team Work

Except for a season of basketball in 5th grade (we lost every game) and a season of softball in 8th grade (we lost every game), I’ve never really been on a team. My kids have been on plenty of teams and sure, I know the importance of teamwork in theory, but I’ve never really experienced it firsthand before. Being on a team -especially my team- rocks. I’ve said it before and it’s totally true, I would never have come as far as I have in this competition without them. They help me stay strong. When I make a gorgeous steak dinner and watch my husband drink our favorite bottle of Costco $7 red while I’ve got sparkling water in my wine glass I remember that my teammates are doing the same. When we go to Concerts in the Park and the only thing in my red Solo cup is water, I raise a silent toast to my teammates. I’m doing this for you ladies.

Picnic dinner
All that’s missing is a red Solo cup filled with $7 red.

We’re coming into the home stretch. Just two more weeks. (And 336 more hours without wine.) At this point in the program it would be easy to slip back into an old habit or two. But I’m lucky. I have a great team to encourage me. I even have Phil to encourage me.

Motivational Postcard
Motivational postcard sent from Phil. I can’t believe he forgot to say that I was his favorite!

I can totally do this. I don’t want to let my team down. I don’t want to let myself down. (And okay, I admit it, I really don’t want to let Phil down.)

Be sure to check back next Monday to see how much weight I lost during week 4. And if you missed a week, catch up here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3.

Whale Tail photo credit: MoveTheLife via Creative Commons.

Free weights photo credit: Positively Fit via Creative Commons.