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November 2012
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January 2013

December 2012

Keep it simple, superstar.

Empty bottles
Tossed them in the trash this morning.

See those empty bottles? I dumped out the contents this morning, flinging two "miracle" supplements in the trash.

And -- poof! -- there goes my magical thinking.

They were just two of the many supplements hyped by a certain TV doctor. I had tried and tossed many more supplements that he suggested, and all they got me was nauseous and lighter in the wallet.

I'm sticking with a multivitamin that has plenty of vitamin D, fish oil, and an occasional boost of calcium. That's it.

I went jogging with the dog yesterday (my mutt is not a great running partner -- he was on the tree and fire hydrant tour), and one of my favorite No Doubt songs came on the iPod -- "Simple Kind of Life." 

"Simple -- that's what it has to be," I said to the dog, who really isn't all that interested in my weight loss ramblings. His diet is definitely simple -- a bowl of low-fat grain-free dry food and the occasional Milk Bone.

I tend to make things more complicated than they need to be -- fistfuls of vitamins and minerals, certain superfoods I should be eating, ticking off boxes for drinking water, weighing, measuring, logging, journaling, tracking, counting, uploading, downloading.

And did any of it work this year? I'm exactly the same weight as I was this time last year.

I need to strip back a few layers and keep it more simple. It won't be easy but it definitely can be more simple and less fraught with anxiety.

And fraught it is -- every week I step on the scale, the number is accompanied by a brief and angry "AARGH." 

I did that again this morning when I stepped on my shiny new Withings scale. I am not one of those "throw out your scale" kind of people. Instead, I like to see the numbers behind the main number -- what my body fat and muscle numbers are doing. 

The scale helps to keep things simple by hooking up to a Withings phone app, which also keeps track of other tools, like Bodymedia armbands. You can check your progress with charts on the app, and if you have a Bodymedia, you can also track your activity and sleep efficiency.

I've got the exercise pretty much nailed down -- five days a week, half of it strength training and half cardio. 

But the food -- I can unravel an entire day of good eating with a late-night trip to the kitchen. How to stop that? 

With some well-planned little "snack kits." I'm going grocery shopping soon and my cart will be full of fresh produce and clean proteins. I'll then haul out all little plastic containers and portion out my kits. Simple.

More and more I keep hearing the same refrain -- the word diet needs to remain a noun and not a verb. It's also something that comes up in the work of my favorite weight-loss hero Robert Ferguson. He has a follow-up program to the Food Lovers Fat Loss Program called Diet Free Life. The whole point is to stop "dieting" and start eating normal portions of regular, clean, healthy foods in a balanced way. It's a far less neurotic way of looking at eating. 

Proteins, carbs and fats -- all the major players are there and almost nothing is forbidden. If you want fries with your burger, then fine -- eat SOME fries and ditch the bun. Simple. If you want salmon and broccoli for dinner, then have it, but have a palm-sized portion of salmon and make sure you have enough broccoli. Simple.

Pink gatorade towelI never, ever, ever think about throwing in the towel -- that would be ridiculous. In fact, I want a new towel -- specifically one of those cute pink Gatorade towels. (I need one and can't find them anywhere!)

I'll be kicking off 2013 with a simple workout -- the Commitment Day 5k with my sister, her daughter and my son. All we need is sneakers. Simple.

And every night I will take time to recommit to my simple plan with a simple snack and a simple glass of water.

I like the phrase "keep it simple, stupid" but I changed the phrase in the headline. No one should refer to themself as stupid. 

What else will I be doing in 2013? Here's a peek, which I'll be writing about this month:

  • Studying to become a Weight Loss Specialist.
  • Putting my money where my mouth is.
  • Writing down my goals with a concrete, realistic timeline.
  • Making most of my carbs plant based.
  • Firing up my willpower muscle.
  • Having someone else do the cooking for a week.

Those are just a few of the tasks this month. And now, a lovely little simple song:


Put your money where my mouth is

Candy cane
Christmas time in a school office is a happy time of year. Kids are taking mid-terms and are off campus before noon.  And good-natured parents are being ever so generous with holiday goodies.  Cookies, candy, fruit (much appreciated!) covered in chocolate (dammit!) and towers of treats. 

But enough already!  I am very glad when Jimmy brings in a box of “Big-Box-Best” chocolate-covered cookies, but so did his friends Steven, Billy and Maria. There is never a shortage of cookies in a school office -- ever.

What you don’t see when we happily accept your child’s gift is us stuffing it into a cabinet crammed with four other boxes of “Big-Box-Best” chocolate-covered cookies

When I go to the gym, I don’t sweat anymore.  I break out in a candy coating.

The best thing that happened yesterday was when a parent came in with a $20 bill and offered it to our school’s fund-raising drive for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that cookie money would go instead to the Sandy Hook Elementary Support Fund?   What a great blessing that would be to the families who are suffering an unimaginable loss.

I am past the sugar saturation point.  Thank you from the bottom of my candy-coated heart for your well-meaning cookies and candies.  Time for a candy detox.

And I’ll leave you with a little video I did a couple of holidays ago:

This is where leftover party food meets its end

Crushed chips
Took my hostility out on a particularly tasty bag of leftover pumpkin tortilla chips this morning.

We had a holiday party at the house and had a lot of leftover snack food. Gave a big bag of it to the husband to take to the office, but the teenager requested that we leave some around for his enjoyment. (He has had portion control ground into his system since birth and actually knows how to enjoy a small dish of potato chips ... I know! Crazy, huh?)

I started doing the "magical eating" thing of only eating broken chips and realized that broken chips have the same damn calories and carbs as grown-up chips. So I exercised the "scorched earth" policy on them with a rolling pin.

Now instead of a tasty bag of chips, I have a chicken coating product. You wouldn't sit down with a spoon and a box of Shake 'n Bake, would you?

Would you?

(Don't worry, kid -- your kettle chips are safe.)

Willpower instinctAnd what's tastier than chips? How about a book on willpower? I'm going to be reviewing the book "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It" for BlogHer next month and, wow, this book couldn't have come at a better time.

You can read my review next month.

New South Florida fitness show to bring a sweaty start to 2013

Miami fitness tv
Trainer Roberta Rachkovsky has been involved in fitness since she was 5.
Miami Fitness TV photo

Got an email the other day from Calibe Thompson. In addition to being an "electro-reggae" artist, she's also co-executive producer of a morning fitness show that will premiere on South Florida TV station WSFL just in time for your New Year's resolution.

 "Miami Fitness TV" will air Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 a.m. on Channel 39 starting Jan. 2. If you're not up at the crack o' dawn, then set your DVR to workout later.

Yep, it's an old-school free, over-the-air morning exercise show. 

The workouts include:

  • CCX-Treme (Cardio Core Xtreme): Plyometrics with core emphasis.
  • Power Cardio: Light weights and body weight resistance training.
  • Vinyasa Flow: A relaxing style of yoga, heavy on stretching and breathing.
  • Yoga X (Xtreme): Yoga poses are held longer for maximum strength and sweat.

After hunting around for fitness shows ("I noticed I couldn't find Gilad or Denise Austin on local cable!" she said), Calibe brought the idea to some partners.

Roberta Rachkovsky will lead the show's workouts.

"(Roberta) cares deeply about fitness and about making sure people take care of their bodies (she calls it your machine) the right way for a long and healthy life," Calibe said. "Her regular gym classes are like a fitness DVD. She's very charismatic and good at verbal instruction, and coming from an entertainment background myself, I knew her energy and personality would translate well on camera."

"We're very excited about the whole thing, and grateful to have the support, especially of women in the South Florida community," she said. 

Here's a sneak peek at what to expect:


Feelin’ so fly, like a cheese stick

Apparently, I’m not the only person who thought the lyrics to “Like a G6” had to do with mozzarella. I found plenty of parody videos on YouTube that prove that, and you will be rewarded with one if you read on...

Anyway! I’m all about the cheese sticks this week because I’m Carb Stepping.

What’s that?

That is part of Robert Ferguson’s new Diet Free Life system, and I was privileged to have him send me the system so I could write about it.

But before we get to steppin’, a little background.

I’ve long been a fan of Robert and his sensible approach to weight loss. If the name sounds familiar, he co-developed the Food Lovers Fat Loss System, an infomercial staple since 2008. The idea is that you don’t have to give up eating your favorite foods to lose weight. 

Robert is no longer involved with the company that markets the system and decided to develop a new system based on the latest research from his own Diet Free Life center in Ventura, Calif.  The principles are similar but are a little more detailed.

Here’s where Carb Stepping comes in. It’s an option he offers as a metabolic jump start and as a way to discover how many carbohydrates you can enjoy while still losing weight. It’s perfect for people like me, who I like to refer to as “metabolically jaded.” I’ve been eating healthy since healthy eating was invented, so it takes A LOT to get my body to go “Hey, let’s release some of this excess weight.”

You take this plan a week at a time, starting with a pretty darn low carb limit. After a week, you weigh yourself and if you’ve lost weight (pretty much a slam dunk there), you increase the amount of carbs you can eat. And so on until your body “hits the carb wall.” If that happens, you reduce the carbs a bit until you get to a place where you’re still losing weight and you stay there until it’s time to Carb Step again.

I like the idea and, believe it or not, I’ve never cut my carbs way down before, so this is something that my body isn’t used to, and it’s used to a lot.

StringstersEnter the cheese stick (not the name of a calcium-rich Bruce Lee movie).

Today is Day 1 of Carb Stepping and cheese sticks are my friends (and my favorites also have trivia questions!). So are the carton of Egg Beaters and my collection of mustards. And the giant clamshell of baby spinach! Can’t forget that. Since I’m supposed to eat every 2 to 3 hours, the hunger pangs have been manageable, and I’ve been drinking lots of water because often, one can become a little, ahem, backed up with lower carb plans.

But I’m psyched for two reasons – I know I’m going to lose weight this week, so I know I’ll get more carbs next week.

This experiment is forcing me to look at foods in a way that I never have before and it’s only a week, so the light at the end of the tunnel is somewhat close. And I’m not going to do the dumb “prime rib and butter” low carb thing either. I’m going to stick to lots of lean protein, low-fat cheeses and leafy greens.

And now, for a little entertainment:

A strongly worded letter to my metabolic processes and hormones

OK, I’ll keep this brief, and I’m not really sure who (what) to address this to, so consider this a mass mailing.

Finger wagging redI am disappointed in your incredibly efficient skills at keeping my weight at 238.

Listen, that may be your “happy weight” but it sure isn't mine.

At the same time, I’m also amazed at your efficiency. Seriously, all I have to do is go to a restaurant one time and you slap 2 pounds on me? Really? I ordered the fish! I didn’t eat the rice! I drank water!

Anyway, some changes are in order. We’ll call this a Performance Improvement Plan.

  • We will be moving more. We’re doing great with exercise but we’re still not super consistent. And sometimes we go a little too easy on ourselves. Research has shown that high-intensity interval training can goose the metabolism better than steady-state exercise and we’re looking for a BIG GOOSE here.
  • We will be lifting more weight. Muscles weigh more than fat, but they’re also smaller and more metabolically active, and that’s important to our 50-year-old innards.
  • We will be tracking better. Yes, the Fitbit is a fantastic way to track activity, but until there is a similar device that computes exactly how many calories we’re sticking in our piehole, we need to either write it down in our Fitbook or use a smartphone app. If that means accounting for calories after we’re officially done for the day, then so be it. You are only fooling yourself, and your ass speaks louder than words.
  • No late-night kitchen horseplay. I have seen you in the kitchen, snooping around the pantry, the fridge and the freezer, foraging for “healthy snacks” late at night. Go ahead and grab those celery stalks but keep the peanut butter jar where it is unless you plan to write it down -- you haven’t been writing that down. And I’m giving you free reign to eat all the celery you want without having to write it down. (Counting calories or Points for celery is ridiculous.)
  • We will be eating less. Yes, you will be hungry – we have gone over this repeatedly. This is the metabolism that decades of dieting has wrought and you will be hungry all the damn time – get used to it, hormones. Yes, it will suck.

 I will be checking in with you on a weekly basis to see how you’re doing, and I hope you take this criticism the right way because I love and respect you and want you to do better. I’d also like to keep you around as long as humanly possible.



The Management


Run (or walk) with your Biggest Loser faves: A giveaway!

As some of you may know, I'm a "Biggest Loser" fangirl. I've been watching the show since season 1 and have been writing about it since 2007.

I'm also a fan of 5Ks -- they're a totally achievable fitness goal for beginners, especially if you're an avid walker or want to step up your game to running.

When you combine those two things plus a giveaway, I get all giddy and all "I love this! It's totally in line with what I write about!"

BLrunwalkWould you like to take part in a half marathon or 5K with past contestants of the show? I'm giving away two registrations to The Biggest Loser RunWalk in Panama City Beach on Dec. 30 -- only a few weeks away.

Who will be there? Season 5 mother and son duo, Jackie Evans in the 5K and Dan Evans in the half marathon along with Season 8 winner Danny Cahill.

Aside from free entry into the race, you'll get a Biggest Loser RunWalk tech T-shirt, finisher's medal, goodie bag, water and sports drinks along the course and at the finish line, free downloadable photos and a post-race festival and concert.

And if you hang around town after the race, Panama City Beach will hold its Beach Ball Drop where an 800-pound beach ball will be dropped in celebration of the New Year.

Here are the official deets: and The Biggest Loser RunWalk are giving away (1) 5K admission and (1) half marathon admission to The Biggest Loser RunWalk in Panama City Beach on Dec. 30, 2012.

You have five chances to win. Perform one action below, then leave a comment below telling us which you chose. Each action equals an entry. Enter up to five times.

1. SIGN UP for the Biggest Loser RunWalk email newsletter

2. LIKE The Biggest Loser RunWalk AND Shrinking Sisters on Facebook.

3. FOLLOW @BiggestLoserRW and @its_gail on Twitter.

4. LINK to in the sidebar of your website/blog.

5. TWEET about this giveaway with a link to the race information: and giveaway page:

Terms: The Biggest Loser RunWalk Half Marathon/5K giveaway ends at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. You must be 18 years of age and a resident of the United States of America to enter. The winner will be notified by email and listed here. If you are the winner, you’ll have 72 hours to contact us and claim your prize. The giveaway is for admission into the race only. Travel expenses are not included.

Click here for more information about The Biggest Loser RunWalk Half Marathon/5K in Panama City Beach, FL.

Disclosure: I was provided (2) free coupon codes from The Biggest Loser RunWalk to give away to (2) entrants, plus admission to a Biggest Loser RunWalk near me. No other compensation was given.