Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Journey Continues

scaleI have stepped up my efforts at weight loss and, as a result, have a whole lot less time to blog. I am still trying to figure out how to balance everything I need to do with things I love to do. I guess it will all work itself out in the end but, in the meantime, be patient with me. And here is an update on the weight loss progress and some new things that are helping.

Dancing – I am taking 3 classes at the Broadway Academy of Performing Arts, a new studio that opened recently in downtown Knoxville. As I have said before, I have to have fun when I exercise or I won’t do it. I have always loved dance from the time I was very young so this is right up my alley. And I have found that the classes are a very good workout and I am burning between 300 and 600 calories per class.

On Sunday nights I take a Hoop Dancing Class. Remember Hula Hoops? Well, this is not your mother’s hula hoop. The hoop is larger and slightly weighted. And dance moves are incorporated so it’s not really just standing there, circling your hips. There’s arm hooping and twirling and tricks. I am still very much a beginner but I love doing it and it’s getting me out and moving.

On Monday nights I take Sizemology Dance. It combines jazz and hip-hop and, although it’s designed for larger women, it really is for women of all sizes and ages that want to learn to dance but might be embarrassed to go to a “normal” dance class. It involves choreography and we learn a new routine every week.

On Wednesday nights . . . Zumba. Many of you have heard of Zumba which is sweeping quickly across the country. It combines Latin dance with aerobics and it is very fast paced and very challenging. My daughter and my friend Robin have been going with me which makes it a fun girl’s night out and they also keep me motivated.

Eating more local fresh produce and being more aware of where my food originated – This is a big change for me. I am all about convenience and getting in and out of the grocery store quickly. I am taking the time to cook really healthy low calorie food, to read labels, to count the calories and make sure they are healthy calories. And even though it means more trips and most of the time it is out of my way, I am buying fresh ingredients from local markets and stores and paying attention to how the meat and poultry was raised and processed.

The Bodybugg – The bodybugg is a high tech calorie tracker as well as an entire fitness and weight loss program. You have probably seen the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” wearing bodybuggs on the show. You wear the armband all day and night and it captures every step you take, every calorie you burn, the duration of activity, etc. It is very accurate and kinda fascinating. You can check it on a display throughout the day but you hook it up to the computer and it uploads the data to an online program where you can do all sorts of things. You can also track what you eat and do all sorts of analysis on your day. I am using it to ensure that I am burning the correct number of calories over what I take in so that my weight loss is consistent. And to get an accurate count of the calories I burn at my classes and any other extra exercise I do.

All this is adding up to progress. From Thanksgiving to January 4th, I did not “diet” even though I was careful. I gained back several pounds but I jumped right back in after the holidays and have lost those pounds and more in the last month. I feel amazing and my doctor has eliminated one of the two hypertension medications I take. She retested my thyroid and it is normal now. I have had only a few “hot flash” episodes where previously I was having them daily. My clothes are getting loose again which makes me happy. I am down 4 sizes in my jeans. I feel really good. And the total lost is 43 pounds. I am trying not to obsess about the scale in an effort to hit the 50 pound mark but it is so close I can taste it! I’ll keep you updated!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The More That You Read . . .

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

~Dr. Seuss

Reading Reading has always been a love of mine. Not in the way it is for many people. I see those who carry around 3 and 4 books at a time, who devour every new, hot novel as well as classic literature, who curl up on quiet, cold Saturdays with a good book, who find sanctuary in libraries and bookstores, who can converse on the details and differences of Hawthorne, Austen, and Dickens. None of that is me.

I do read all the time. My mother read to me from the time I was an infant. I started reading when I was 4 and by the age of 5, I couldn’t wait until our next trip to the library. When I ate breakfast, I read the cereal boxes, then newspapers. Later, I enjoyed novels occasionally but my attention span didn’t allow for it very often. I’m still that way. But I did, and still do, enjoy novels and non-fiction. Over the years I switched over to magazines and the internet (blogs, social websites, news sites) for my reading. When I am sitting in front of the TV, I am also reading something – either in a magazine or on the computer. I read every night when I get into bed, falling asleep as the book lies open where it fell from my hand as I drifted off.

When I purchased my Kindle, I was not sure I would like it but what I found was that, not only do I love it, but I read more. I have actually let my subscriptions to several magazines lapse and I am reading more books than I have in many years. I can carry my Kindle with me in my purse and pull it out while waiting anywhere.

What have I enjoyed reading lately?

“Such A Pretty Fat” – by Jen Lancaster. Also Jen’s books “Pretty In Plaid” and “Bitter is the New Black”. Jen is hilarious. “Such A Pretty Fat” is about Jen’s weight loss journey and she tells it with honesty and a great deal of humor. I also love her blog Jennsylvania.

The Lost Symbol” – by Dan Brown. I have also read “The DaVinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”. I love the intrigue and suspense.

Half–Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir” – by Jennette Fulda. Jennette is also very funny and honest about her struggles with losing almost 200 pounds. She also has a great blog, PastaQueen.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” – by AJ Jacobs. He also wrote The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World” and “The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment”. I haven’t started these yet but have heard Mr. Jacobs interviewed a couple of times and can’t wait to start reading them. Here is the description of “The Year of Living Biblically” from his website: The Year of Living Biblically answers the question: What if a modern-day American followed every single rule in the Bible as literally as possible. Not just the famous rules – the Ten Commandments and Love Thy Neighbor (though certainly those). But the hundreds of oft-ignored ones: don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Grow your beard. Stone adulterers. A.J. Jacobs’ experiment is surprising, informative, timely and funny. It is both irreverent and reverent. It seeks to discover what’s good in the Bible and what is maybe not so relevant to 21st century life. And it will make you see the Good Book with new eyes.

As you can tell, I lean towards humor. I like to spend my time around people who have a sense of humor about life so I guess it’s natural that I would like authors that do the same.

So . . . are you a reader? What books have you read lately? What do you recommend?

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Lack Of Self-Confidence Is Not My Problem

This time of year makes me just a little crazy. TV shows tell you how to set your resolutions for weight loss, commercials are non-stop for gyms, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig, and the new season for Biggest Loser has begun. I am sick of hearing about calculations for BMI (body mass index) and all the reasons Americans are fat. I am sick of hearing doctors and researchers and nutritionists tell everyone that they, and they alone, have the magic bullet, the way to make weight loss easy.

1971_sundayI do not fit the stereotype of the “fat girl”. I was not always fat. I was never thin growing up but I was not fat either. I had no problems fitting in. We moved a lot so I had to do a lot of fitting in. I was an athlete – basketball was my passion. I ate healthy. My mom was a great cook and she was very conscientious about nutrition and the need to try new foods.

When I left for college, I was not careful about what I ate but rather ate things that were quick and easy. I also enjoyed an alcoholic beverage on occasion . . . ok, lots of occasions. I no longer had basketball year round for exercise and did little to compensate by finding other exercise. Then I went to work in a restaurant serving home style cooking and, being a poor college student, ate all my meals there to save money. Then came marriage and kids and convenience eating - restaurants, drive thru’s, and microwave meals.

But I never lost my confidence in myself. I have always had some level of vanity – I have always worn make–up and fixed my hair, at least when I leave home to go somewhere. I try to dress fashionably and have my nails done. I have 12 pairs of Chuck Taylor Converse and love to create my own offbeat “style”, ignoring the fact that fat girls should never wear horizontal stripes. And on occasion . . . I look HOT! I have always felt relatively good about myself, no matter what my size was. I am smart and I never doubted I could do any job I wanted to do. People never shunned me, in fact I have lots of friends.

I have always thought of myself as just me, not a fat girl. Never did it enter my mind that someone would criticize me because of my weight because no one ever did. I had a husband that loved me and a great family and a wonderful job and beautiful kids. I would have loved to be thin but I was happy with myself. Until I wasn’t anymore.

As I see the commercials and watch the newest season of The Biggest Loser, I resent the stereotypes that are perpetuated. Sad, fat people who have no control, who must be saved by others. I hate it in the same way I hate movies that have the fat character who carries around a bowl of chips and dip the whole time, the boy who splashes all the water out of the pool when he jumps in, the girl who the boys make fun of behind her back when she has a crush on one of them.

I love The Biggest Loser and believe it can truly motivate people to get help when they can’t figure out how to help themselves but the contestants get bigger and their stories sadder each season. All fat people are not sad. Some of us have dated and been loved and really like ourselves but want to live healthy, active lives so we change our bad habits and work hard to get rid of the weight we so blindly allowed to take over. But people need to realize that being skinny is a lot like winning the lottery. It’s great and some things are easier but all your emotional issues are still there until you DO something about them.

Maybe self-confidence really WAS my problem. I was ok, my life was ok. I was happy. So I never did anything about the weight that kept creeping on. I have done something about it several times over the last few years but really only half-heartedly, because I felt like I SHOULD. But I am doing it this time and I am very serious about it.

And very confident.

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