Monday, January 31, 2011

Zero Progress

Frankel, your plan didn't work for me.

My instincts suck.

I guess it could work for me if I wanted to maintain my weight, but I don't wanna do that. I wanna lose it! So at the end of this week my weight is the same, my measurements are the same, and my face is fixed with a sour expression (Although that's normal for me.) Yoga wasn't intense enough for me. My sister did a good work out with me, but my other attempts barely made me sweaty. Although, I am bendy now. [Rick kept grinning at me during up-dog.] Anyhoo, it wasn't enough to drop the El-Bees.

New plan from the February 2011 Redbook issue...

...coming soon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Redbook:

Dear Redbook:
I hate the flab on my arms. Do you have any suggestions for toning my arms?
Oh wait, you already did…
Hello “The Better-Than-Nothing Upper-Body Workout”!
It’s a very simple move brought to us by Andrea Mitchell, a trainer and mom from New York City (via the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook). Simply do push-ups at a 45 degree angle against the kitchen counter. Shoot for 3 sets of 10 reps. And it isn’t an arm-only workout. It works the chest and abs too (67). This is brilliant, because I am almost always in the kitchen, cleaning it, cooking meals, and baking snacks for the kids. As a mom, I’d say this is perfect for my busy schedule.
Thank you, Andrea Mitchell and Redbook.
Arms-Like-the-Fins-of-a-Stingray…(but not for long. [wink])

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 4: Instinctual Dieting

Most of us recognize Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York City. She’s an up-front new mom with a New York Times Bestseller and can-do attitude. Having followed the first couple seasons of New York Housewives, I was really excited to give Bethenny’s diet a try; I mean would you look at her! So skinny and perky and gorgeous. Anyway, I was excited (note the past-tense) until I realized that much of her plan revolves around following one’s instincts. Well that’s fine for you, Bethenny, but I don’t trust my instincts. My instincts lead me to a pant size that my daughter can’t even count to. (Not true. My daughter is in kindergarten and can count to one-hundred and does so constantly. I have never fit into size 100 pants, if there is such a thing. What would that even look like? Mr. Kool-Aid?)
Frankly, Frankel, your plan scares the hell outta me.
[deep breath]
That said, I read and reread Bethenny’s Q & A session (see p. 119 of the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook) and here’s what I deemed the Instinctual Dieting Plan:
·         Treat your diet like a bank account. (OK. Calorically speaking? I can do that. I know from research that an active woman, like me, should eat between 1200-1500 calories a day in order to lose weight.)
·         If you want something high in calories like…I don’t know…say—and this is just off the top of my head—brownies, then balance the rest of your meals so that you don’t exceed your caloric intake. (Got it.)
·         Don’t binge. (It’s the “Food is Fuel” mentality. No problem.)
·         Don’t eat out of emotion. (Well that’s easy…three out of four weeks of the month. [nudging my female friends in the ribs])
·         Don’t eat your friends. (Wait. That can’t be right.) Bethenny says, “Food is not your best friend or enemy” (119). (I was way off. But if food were my biggest enemy I'd buy it a cat. [nudging my Gleek friends])
·         Yoga for 40 minutes 2-3 times a week. (cake. But I’m not as flexible as I used to be. I used to be pipe-cleaner bendy, now I’m more like sterling silver flatware. When I'm old will I be as bending as plastic flatware? [sigh])
·         Flat-belly move: Boat pose. (Yeesh. Looks confusing. But the side-planks took an inch off my waist, so I’m a believer.)
Instinctual dieting, huh? Well, Redbook, you haven’t steered me wrong yet. In fact, in the three weeks I’ve been on the Redbook Experiment, I’ve lost 6 lbs, an inch off my waist, and an inch off my hips. I guess I can try trusting my instincts. My favorite quote from Bethenny--the quote that gives me hope in succeeding this week-- is, “Diets are cookie-cutter, but lives are not” and that my friends is the diet gospel truth.

Week 2 & 3: Results

160 lbs!
Weight: 160 lbs.
Hips: 43 inches
Waist: 30 inches
Exercise and Diet Plan: the Top Chef Recovery Plan (p. 116 of the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook)
Results: - 4 lbs.
Three weeks into the Redbook Experiment and I have lost a total of 6 lbs, an inch off my waist, and an inch off my hips! [doing a victory dance of Super Bowl proportions] I could not be more thrilled. You know what the best part is? People actually notice. I saw some old friends this weekend at a wedding, and I was blushing over the gushing. It’s so great that they noticed. Love you guys!
And who do I owe my success to? What is my weight loss secret? Redbook. They gave me a plan, and I executed the plan. Might I add, you rock the Casbah, Redbook. You rock the Casbah.
So I’m down 6 and have 14 lbs to go before I’m at my target weight: 146.
I never did add in my dress size goal, so here it is. When I started this experiment at the beginning of January I was wearing a 12 and I wanna be a size 8 one day. I don’t think I’ve worn an 8 since Jr. high school. 
I am still totally sick in this photo. A miracle it turned out ok.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sick Days [frowning emoticon]

When I started the Redbook Experiment, I didn’t really consider the possibility of getting sick. Not sure why. I was pumped to start my diet and illness was far from my mind. And two and a half weeks in the inevitable happened—I got a cold. I should’ve been prepared. I mean it happens at the end of every term. I get stressed from grading a hundred plus papers, posting grades, and prepping for the new term and either my face breaks out or I get a cold.
This week kinda feels like a failure to me. When my throat started feeling stratchy on Monday, I still managed to get in a half hour of trampoline jumping, a half hour of weight-lifting to tone my arms, and my side planks. Tuesday I felt icky, but still did the side planks. Wednesday after work, my throat felt like it had been raked through a cheese grater, and on Thursday my voice had gone from sultry/raspy to a squeaky whisper. I haven’t exercised the way I would’ve liked, but I’ve stuck to the diet plan.
And as far as results go, I still have a day left.
You’ll have to wait and see.
Oh, the anticipation!

P.S. I haven't received my Feb. Redbook yet, though I've seen it on the stands. [twisting mouth] [long sigh] [cheesey nursery rhyme voice...which is pretty close to the way I sound now. Like a chain-smoking fairy godmother] When oh when will my magazine come? When oh when will it be?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Top Chef Recovery Plan: Take 2

3rd Week, Same as the 2nd, a Little Bit Harder and a Whole Lot Worseer…that doesn’t rhyme.

brown rice = yum!

To recap, I am giving Lakshmi’s Top Chef Recovery Plan a two week try, because even though she recommends giving it three to four weeks, I still have another celebrity’s plan from the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook to try.
Still confused?
Breakdown of January’s Plans:
Week 1: Alison Sweeney’s “Shape-Up Week”
Week 2: Padma Lakshmi’s Top Chef Recovery Plan
Week 3: Padma Lakshmi’s Top Chef Recovery Plan
Week 4: Bethenny Frankel’s Yoga/Trust-Your-Instincts Plan (title a work in progress)
So this week, I’ll be focusing on these things again:
·         Run stairs for 45 minutes (I did it. I did it. [raising the roof] First time I tried, I ran stairs for 35 min! I was able to work up to 45 min. by Saturday! woot. woot. )
·         Trampoline jumping (Padma recommends jump rope, but all I had was the mini-tramp. I did this twice last week for about a ½ hour.)
·         And trim the tummy with side planks (I’ve only been able to hold the plank for 42 seconds. This week I’ll try to get to a minute. [fingers crossed])
Diet Don’ts:
·         No sweets (Aside from the sordid affair I had with a couple of brownies last week, I’ve done well on this rule.)
·         No red meat [sigh]
·         No alcohol (Not a drinker.)
·         No cheese, except low-fat cottage cheese (So I got fat-free cottage cheese and it was all right at first, but now I kinda gag at the thought. Truck through it, Rena.)
Diet Do’s (These are what Lakshmi actually eats for 3-4 weeks to take off the Top Chef pounds):
·         Veggies like peppers, onions, garlic, etc. (I’ve had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, lettuce, spinach leaves, and onions.)
·         Brown rice (Bought some. It's pretty good.)
·         Fish (I’ve had Tilapia, but now I’m out. Will get fish next time I go to the store.)
·         Egg-white omelets (Had one. Haven’t been inclined to have another yet.)
·         Spice up your food instead of loading it up with creams and butter. (No problem.)

Padma does this workout and diet plan for 3-4 weeks in order to lose 10 lbs. Theoretically, I’ll be able to lose 5 lbs, since I’m doing it for half the time. Since I’ve already lost 2 lbs in week 2, I think this is a reasonable assumption. Let’s just hope I don’t start giving “bedroom eyes” to a bag of chocolate chips.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Drawing the line

Since I am trying the Top Chef Recovery Plan for two weeks instead of one, I’m saving the results post for next weekend. In the meantime, here’s a healthy eating secret that Redbook tipped me off to:
Grocery Shopping the Redbook Way (see p. 152 of the Jan. 2011 issue)
The secret is to draw a mental line down the middle of your grocery cart. Then as you shop fill up one side with produce and the other with everything else. According to the article by Karen Asp, people who do this tend to buy “102 percent more produce” and way less junk food! (152)
I put this tip to the test; I went to the store, drew my mental line and filled up the cart. Only thing I forgot is my camera, blast it. (That’s why I unloaded the groceries on my kitchen table for the photo.) As you can see by the pic, this method worked for me. I feel like there’s so much more fresh food in my kitchen and refrigerator than ever. But it’s not just beneficial to me. My kids benefit by getting more fruits and veggies in their diet too. And my kids like it! They were thrilled to eat the Clementines—which they call, “baby oranges”—and grapes are always a favorite. Thanks, Redbook.
And now…confession time. [eyes averted, downcast, a quiver in my lip. Background music: “So you had a bad day…” by Daniel Pewter]
I had a bad, bad, bad day. And I ate…[hard swallow]…two…[direct eye contact]…brownies. [voice raises at the end of “brownies”.]
I’m so sorry, readers! I wish I could take it back.
Was it good, you ask?
No. No. No. Not at all. It was just food. I didn’t even like it. I had a craving.
How did it happen?
Our eyes met across the pantry. At first it was innocent. Just flour and cocoa and sugar. Some butter. A couple of eggs—you should’ve seen the way those eggs wore that carton. [eye contact breaks. A half smile.] But then there was a bowl and a spoon. Measuring cups. That’s when the heat turned up...350 degrees. And 18-24 minutes later, I had my mouth all over it, devouring the chocolate sin like a feral beast.
I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it again! Can you ever forgive me?
Would Padma Lakshmi forgive me?
Lakshmi: “Be patient with yourself and give yourself compassion. It’s about consistency” (117).
So Padma forgives me. But what about Alison Sweeney? Surely she’d throw me to the curb for my diet cheating, right?
Sweeney: “You didn’t fail your diet; it’s just one day in your whole life, so tomorrow, make a better choice” (116).
Alison! Oh! [hand to heart. Tear in one eye.] Thank you. I will do better. I swear. I bought brown rice and garbanzo beans to rededicate myself. No more cheating.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Week 2 Mid-Week Progress:

Padma Lakshmi
I miss cheese.
But seriously the Top Chef Recovery Plan is working! I’ve already lost another two pounds! Thank you, Padma, and thank you, Redbook!

Diet Progress:
I haven’t been eating the exact same things as Padma Lakshmi, but I’ve kept the “Diet Don’ts” rules and made the “Diet do’s” my own. Here’s a sample day’s meals:

BreakfastEgg white omelet Scrambled egg whites with veggies
Lunch – Broiled chicken (seasoned with Cajun spices) and sautéed onions and green beans
Snack – Almonds (I eat way too many of these), baby carrots, fat-free cottage cheese, or a Clementine
Dinner – A small bowl of pasta with Normandy blend of veggies or Tilapia with veggies

I’m going to look for Vietnamese noodles on Saturday when I go shopping for the week, and I’ll pick up some brown rice too. I wonder if Lakshmi’s line of HSN spices, Easy Exotic, can be found in any stores. The diet has been pretty easy I’d say, except that I really miss cheese.

Running Stairs – I am so proud of my workouts this week. I didn’t think I could run stairs for 20 min. much less match Lakshmi’s 45 min, but on Monday I ran stairs for 35 min! I couldn’t believe it. I know that by the end of this week, I’ll nail my 45 min. goal!
Side Planks (see p. 116 of Jan 2011 issue of Redbook) – The side planks are amazing. I haven’t held the sit up position for a full minute yet, but I’m slowly increasing the time that I do hold it. First time I held it for only 21 seconds; second time 30 seconds; fourth time 35 seconds. It gets easier every time. Also, it doesn’t feel effective until the day after, and then there’s this tightness in the tummy that is so rewarding. I really like side planks.
Jump Rope – Turns out my daughter’s Dora the Explorer jump rope broke over the summer and my husband threw it out. (Of course I didn’t think to ask him about its whereabouts until after I tornado-ed my garage looking for the thing. Grrr. [sidenote: I did find my missing Soda flip flop so it wasn’t a total waste of my time]) Anyway, I decided to use my mini trampoline in lieu of the jump rope. (Is there a coalition of women out there called “Mothers who pee a little when jumping on a trampoline”? There should be. MWPLWJOT for short. Curséd vaginal birth. And just think 10-12 years ago I used to tease my mom for this very thing. FOR SHAME!)

Louboutins I'll never be able to afford.
I’ve decided to carry over my favorite aspect of “Shape Up Week” by Alison Sweeny (Sidebar: Alison looked INCREDIBLE in that grey dress during the weigh-in on The Biggest Loser Tuesday night.) into this week by pampering myself. So, I bought a fantastic pair of four-inch heel sling-backs. Best day ever.
I’ve been thinking of ways to reward myself for getting down to my goal weight: 145 lbs. What I really want is a pair of Louboutins. But I’m only a part-time teacher with a part-time salary. I have too much financial sense to lay down a mortgage payment on shoes. Louboutins are probably a pipe-dream. I’ll think on this more.

Well friends and fans, keep cheering me on and watch for week 2 results. Thanks for all your support!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 2-3*: January 9th – 22nd

Weight: 164 lbs.
Hips: 43 in.
Waist: 31 in
Weight Loss Plan: I’ve deemed this week’s strategy The Top Chef Recovery Plan (pp. 116 of the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook

Imagine you had a job that required you to eat a gourmet meal every week. Sure, it sounds fab, but before you know it the calories add up and your pants need an elastic waist band.
This is the kind of situation Padma Lakshmi faces as the host of Top Chef. Fortunately she developed a way to drop the 10 lbs. she gains each season, and via Redbook, we now know her secret.
Here’s the plan that I’ve affectionately titled The Top Chef Recovery Plan. It isn’t much different from Sweeney’s plan, but there are addendums.
Diet Don’ts:
  • No sweets (Migraines have tapered off from last week, so I’m hoping I’ll lose my cravings for sugar this week.)
  • No red meat (In my dreams, I’ll be running towards a steak with legs to the Chariots of Fire theme song.)
  • No alcohol (I still don’t drink.)
  • No cheese, except low-fat cottage cheese (gulp)
Diet Do’s (These are what Lakshmi actually eats for 3-4 weeks to take off the Top Chef pounds):
  • Veggies like peppers, onions, garlic, etc. (Easy.)
  • Brown rice (I don’t even really like white rice.)
  • Fish (I love me some tilapia and salmon.)
  • Egg-white omelets (Leaving out the yoke seems slightly blasphemous, but I’ll willing to try it.)
  • My attempt at an egg white omelet. More like scrambled egg whites.
  • Spice up your food instead of loading it up with creams and butter. (Can do.)
While nursing, she also has:
  • Toast (Plain? Yikes.)
  • Grapefruit (What about clementines? Those count, right?)
  • Garbonzo beans (I don’t think I could pick out a garbonzo bean in a bean line-up.)
  • Turkey burger (Now, we’re talking.)
  • Vietnamese noodles with chicken or shrimp (You had me at noodles, though I draw the brows together at “Vietnamese”. We’ll see.)
Unfortunately, I’m not breastfeeding at the moment—never thought I’d say “unfortunately” about that—so I’d be cheating if I did the last five bullets. I’ll let you know mid-week how I’m doing.

Lakshmi doesn’t have a lot of time to work out because of the new baby and what-not, but really what woman does? We’re mothers, teachers, moral-leaders, housekeepers, chefs, bakers, gardeners, activists, employees, hobbyists, philanthropists, volunteers, and the list goes on. To fit in her workouts, here’s what Lakshmi did and what I’m going to do too:

  • Run stairs for 45 minutes (Uh…what? Seriously? I’m going to shoot for 20 minutes and work up to 45. Maybe. Ah, Geez. Why am I doing this again?)

  • Jump-rope (My daughter has a Dora the Explorer jump rope somewhere in the garage. It’s probably long enough for me too.)

  • And trim the tummy with side planks (I gotta hold it for a minute? A minute?!)

  • * Here’s the tough-y about Padma Lakshmi’s plan. She recommends doing this for 3-4 weeks. However, I still have another celebrity plan from the January issue of Redbook to cover, and I’ll need a week for that. So to really give her suggested diet and exercise plan a go and not compromise my Redbook Experiment, I’ll give her plan a 2 week try.
    And there you go. Maybe I’ll lose 2 more lbs. this time. Here goes nothing…but El-BEE’s.

    Week 1: Results

    Weight: 164 lbs.
    Hips: 43 inches
    Waist: 31 inches
    Exercise Plan : “Shape Up Week” (pp. 114-116 of the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook)
    Results: - 2 lbs.
    Post week 1, I’d like to give a shout out to Redbook and Alison Sweeney for helping me drop 2 lbs. and an inch off my tush! Whaaaat! [fist bump]
    Here’s what I learned about myself and my body from participating in “Shape Up Week”:

    1. I have killer sugar-withdrawl migraines.
    2. I guess cutting out red meat messed with my subconscious. One night I dreamt I was running through a wheat field with arms outspread toward a giant meatball.
    3. Turkish Get-Ups and I made-up and are BFFs.

    4. In The Biggest Loser: Cardio Max workout DVD, Bob loves his lunges and squats…and so does my ass.
    5.  I still think I need to cut back on calories for better results.
    6. Lastly, only 18 lbs. to go!

    164 lbs.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Mid-week[ish] 1 Progress

    Diet: I know it’s a little past mid-week, but here’s the low-down anyhoo. My “Shape Up Week” is going stellar! The hardest challenge I’ve had so far is cutting out the sugar. The first day wasn’t so bad, but day two…by the afternoon it felt like someone was beating me in the cerebrum with a dumbbell. I had forgotten how addictive sugar can be and how painful the withdrawls are. Confession: When Tylenol didn’t work, I had a piece of toffee to make the migraine go away.
    "Turkish Get-Up"
    Exercise: I ran a mile and walked a ½ mile after work on both Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday and Thursday, I did my Biggest Loser Cardio Max workout for 30 minutes. And on every day this week (so far) I’ve attempted the “Turkish Get Up” that Alison mentioned with a five pound weight. It’s hard, but not because it was a killer workout move. Rather, it’s awkward. Each time I tried it, I had to carefully think through the move’s steps before making an attempt. It was sort like I was on the first date with a sit up and was self-conscious about where to put my hands. It isn’t a very fluid move, but I hope with more practice I’ll be more comfortable with it. (Maybe give it a second date. *wink*)
    Pampering Me: On Tuesday, I got highlights and a wax treatment on my hands. This is my favorite part of Sweeney’s plan.
    Weight: I’ve already lost 2 lbs and it’s only mid-week!

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    The Redbook Experiment: Brain Child

    For Christmas, my great husband, Rick, got me my first subscription to Redbook. I didn’t know he had such a great insight into my female mind—although, it might’ve been the subtle hints I’d given him.
    Me: I want Redbook for Christmas.
    Rick: OK.
    Now that I have my first copy, I am in love with Redbook. I love how the articles are targeted toward young mothers who don’t want to lose sight of their femininity, health, and professionalism in the spit-up-and-mashed-banana panorama that is motherhood. I am particularly drawn to the health and exercise articles. Why? Because, health-wise, I’ve had a chunky journey.
    After my first was born, I had trouble dropping the additional 50 lbs that I gained, and to make matters worse I was already overweight when I got pregnant with Lane. I struggled with my weight, watched it fluctuate with my moods, and tried a plethora of diets. Nothing worked. I didn’t lose much, and what I did lose I didn’t keep off. Soon, I began having other health problems, and I couldn’t get pregnant again. I was devastated.
    I visited with my gynecologist to see if he had any suggestions about getting pregnant, but the only suggestion he made was that I get tested for Insulin Resistance. So I did. Woe and Behold, I had it. I was in mid-twenties and nearly diabetic! I couldn’t believe it.
    Following doctors orders, I cut out sugar and most of my carbs and began exercising 3 times a week. I lost 7 lbs in the first week and 30 by the end of the month. But most importantly, I got pregnant with my son.
    Vin was born in the Spring of 2008, and I went right back to my diet and exercise plan. Barely any sugar. Barely any carbs. Regular work outs. In the years that I changed the way I lived, I lost a total of 55 lbs!
    But according to all the charts, I still have about 20 lbs to go. And I want Redbook to get me there.

    Week 1: January 2nd – 8th

    The Redbook Experiment
    Weight: 166 lbs.
    Hips: 44 inches
    Waist: 31 inches
    Exercise Plan: “Shape Up Week” (pp. 114-116 of the Jan. 2011 issue of Redbook)
    This plan comes straight from the beautiful Alison Sweeney, the host of one of my favorite shows, Biggest Loser. Sweeney says that if she needs to get back on track after a bad eating spell or to get ready for a photo shoot, she simply has a “Shape Up Week”, a week where she cuts out “alcohol, red meat, and sugar”. In addition, Sweeney works out every day of her “Shape Up Week”. The best part of the plan is how she also makes room for spoiling herself.
    My “Shape Up Week” Checklist:
    1.      No Alcohol. (No problem. I don’t drink.)
    2.      No Red Meat. (AHHHHHH!)
    3.      No Sugar. (Yeesh…but OK.)
    4.      Exercise every day (I’m gonna shoot for 5 days outta the week. I’ve got the Biggest Loser: Cardio Max work out video and my trusty treadmill. I’m going to try her suggested “flat-belly move: Turkish get-ups” as featured in the Redbook article. Sweeney also mentioned working out with good music. Nothing like B.o.b. featuring Rivers Cuomo’s “Magic” to boost my workout mood.)
    5.      Pampering myself. (Yeehaw! I’m gonna get my hair done and go tanning.)
    I’ll post my results at the end of the week. Wish me luck!
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