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August 2013
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October 2013

September 2013

Embrace the struggle

Over the weekend, I realized that to really feel like I have a shot at losing the rest of this weight, I need to accept the fact that it's a difficult pain in the ass and embrace that pain in the ass.

And I'm cool with that. 

Weight doesn't "fall off me" -- it backs away, kicking and screaming. And then it runs back, clutching my leg (or upper arm) until I have to shake it off and tell it to "STAY AWAY!"

It can be enticed back with the simplest of things -- an extra piece of cheese, a spoonful of almond butter. So I need to remember how to make it go away and stay away. Throwing a kettlebell at it or strangling it with a resistance band are a couple of good ways. Lots of vegetables are good for scaring that fat away.

So it's difficult, OK? So I can't eat cupcakes. (So I sound like "Drunk Uncle.")

That's fine -- it's gonna happen. 

This is why you need a fancy scale


Better late than never, right?

This was supposed to go up Friday but I forgot to hit "publish" so here's the weekly weigh-in.

This is why I keep saying that if you use a scale it should tell you more than poundage. I stayed about the same with a dip on Monday, but as you can see by the Withings data, I'm building muscle and losing fat, which is more important than anything.

And I'm not the only one looking at my Withings and Fitbit stats -- thanks to the Withings newsletter, I found out about a free month of the Retrofit system. It's a one-on-one weight-loss plan that uses the Withings scale, Fitbit and Skype to really personalize the experience. I had my first Skype session with a Retrofit counselor on Thursday and it was great. There's no prescribed eating plan -- it's all based on portion control and behavior modification. We come up with a gameplan, and right now, mine is to tackle the nighttime snacking situation by actually planning a nighttime snack -- one nighttime snack -- and enjoying it in the kitchen at the table. No "paired eating" with the TV or Facebook.

The more I get into Retrofit, the more I'll let you know. But so far, I love it.

Success breeds success

Decided to step on the scale this morning to see how I handled the weekend, and I handled it.

Ladies and gents, I'm now at a lower number than I've seen since the 1990s, and instead of being nervous about keeping this up, I really think I can keep this string going. It feels like I'm really beating the crap out of this setpoint and will be able to push lower.

Digging further into the Withings stats, I've been able to lose this weight without sacrificing lean mass, which is the best way to lose. If you use a scale that only tells you how much you weigh, you're really missing out on the total picture. Frankly, I don't care how much I weigh; I care that I'm losing fat and preserving/gaining muscle.

(Here's the updated version of the scale I use; it even can read your heart rate and the air quality now!)

I mentioned this today to my doctor -- it was time for my yearly physical, and I'd been putting it off for a couple months because, you know, the scale. I wanted the number to be better but my doc was still impressed at the downward trajectory of the chart on his computer screen. I was around 15 pounds lighter than I was last year. 

I asked him if he had any advice on how to keep the snowball rolling downhill and his two suggestions were more protein and more HIIT workouts. 

So this week, I'm letting my results propel me toward greater things rather than cause me to freeze up and stagnate.

My week of kicking butt

Let's just say -- booyah.

Last week, the scale shot up, it freaked me out but I knew that I could fight off that gain because it was total B.S. (I have no idea what that means but it just felt that way.)

So I decided I would workout smarter and harder -- just not "more." 

More and more, I'm reading that HIIT -- high-intensity interval training -- is the best way to exercise if your goal is weight loss.

But I really like my 3-mile power walks!

So I decided to combine the best of both worlds. I started doing Shaun T's Focus T25 workout Monday through Thursday with a 5K on Fridays (or maybe the 5K on Mondays with T25 the rest of the week; need to keep things flexible). 

I'm just gonna do a cut 'n' paste on what the Alpha portion of the set involves:

  1. Focus-t25Cardio: 25 minutes of calorie-burning, sweat-drenching cardio.
  2. Speed 1.0: Ignite your quickness. Burn the fat. Fast-paced for fast results.
  3. Total Body Circuit: Focus on strength and resistance-without lifting a single weight.
  4. Ab Intervals: Cardio and ab intervals that shred the fat from your midsection.
  5. Lower Focus: Focus on your lower-body muscles-the key to burning fat and kicking up your metabolism.

So you do one of those workouts, then a 3-minute stretch/cooldown and, boom, you're done for the day. 

If you're doing the plan like it's laid out, you do one workout Monday through Thursday and two on Friday. Since I can't follow a set plan to save my life, I'm planning on doing one workout four days a week and my 5K once a week. Given the recent weather, if it's pouring all day, I'll do that double workout if I can't get outside. I could hit the treadmill at the gym, but I have discovered that's not why I love to walk. It's to get outside, check out the neighborhood, marvel at the flora and fauna and breathe in the jasmine or honeysuckle or whatever that great fragrance is in my 'hood.

I love these workouts! There's a little countdown clock in the corner and those 25 minutes fly by. Plus, unlike a lot of intense workout DVDs, there is one exerciser who does a modified version of the workout, basically lower impact. So that makes them COMPLETELY do-able, which is great for your workout esteem.

OK, so we all know that exercise is a small part of weight loss. Eating is about 80 percent of the equation. And I really haven't been doing anything mindblowingly different, just making sure everything goes into My Fitness Pal. Looking back over the week, I've been averaging between 1,600 and 1,700 calories a day -- more than I "thought" I should be eating, but I've been reading up on eating enough calories to lose weight and I decided to pump it up a bit instead of cutting back. But I'm not adding calories in cookies and chocolate frosting -- I'm making sure my meals are protein packed with healthy fats and high-fiber carbs. 

So I'm feeling better about this weight-loss project but still mystified about last week's gain. Setpoints are a monster!

Everybody's workin' off the weekend

Workin off the weekend
After Friday's craptastic scale reading, I've been trying to figure out what the heck happened. Seriously, I didn't do anything differently, except exercise more, and I gained 4 pounds in 10 days.

I knocked off a pound over the weekend but I'm perplexed and annoyed. Why does my body work so hard to stay at a weight it really shouldn't be?

So annoying.

I know I shouldn't focus on the scale, but dang it, I am, and I need it to go down NOW. I'm not getting to a "happy weight," I'm not losing "vanity pounds" -- these are "get me below 200" pounds.

If I were 6-foot-2 it might be a different story but I'm 5-foot-5 so I should not weigh over 200.

Am I discouraged? A little. Defeated? Heck, no. This is going to happen and happen sooner rather than later. I just have to set fire to my set-point weight.

Friday the 13th on the scale

Friday the 13th scaleface
First off, boo.

Yeah, that's 4 pounds in 10 days. I did dig a little deeper on the Withings site and saw that 2 of the pounds were in extra lean mass and I dropped a pound in fat. So I guess the rest is ... water? 

Almond butter? 


Lemme tell ya, there's nothing more soul-crushing than looking for jobs, freelance and otherwise. You apply, and your resume shoots into some rabbit hole, never to be heard from again. Or you fill out forms and take tests for freelance websites and they tell you you're not spectacular enough to write for them.

I've been up late trolling Craigslist and other job boards looking and looking and shooting out resumes and almond butter ... what?

 So getting on the scale this morning was fraught with dread, like a horror movie (see above). 

I really wasn't expecting the scale to jump like that -- I even stepped up my exercise. And therein lies one of my issues -- when I exercise more, I eat more!


I've also been hitting the sauce a lot lately. 

Not that sauce -- I'm talking soy sauce, salsa, hot sauce -- all salt monsters, and I feel it the next day when I wake up with the "puffies."

Couple that with not drinking enough water and you've got one salty Gail. My workouts have been literally blinding me with super-salty sweat in my eyes.

I thought that scale reading would wreck my day but, really, it didn't.

I've done all I can right now, job-search wise, so I'm going to stop obsessing about that, and with that I'll stop staying up late checking job boards and poring over my resume, trying to figure out what's wrong with it. 

Mopey = weight gain. There's no getting around it.

Good thing my husband brings me flowers instead of candy when he senses I'm extra mopey. He's awesome that way (and more).

I'm going to seriously dial down the sodium and increase my water, and I think next week's scale visit should be much better.

Barre3 standing slimOH! Before I forget, I need to tell you about a great DVD I did this week. The folks at Barre3 sent me some of their workouts and I finally did one of them this week, the "Standing Slim" 30-minute workout. The great thing is all you need is a waist-high thing to support you -- I used my bedroom dresser. You don't even need shoes. And I'm STILL feeling the effects of that great workout in my hamstrings and back side. Brought me back to my ballet class days of childhood.

Jawboning about the Jawbone Up from Best Buy

Hi, I'm Gail, and I'm a gizmoholic.

"Hi, Gail."

Over the years, I have tried out fitness tech gizmos that go around my upper arm, in my pocket, around my neck, and on my wrist.

So when Best Buy offered me a Jawbone Up to test drive, I said "But of course!"

I've been wearing it for the past week, and here are a few bullet points on it:

  • Jawbone colorsIt's stylish. I was sent a black one, and at first I was bummed because they come in a rainbow of cool colors, but now I kinda like the simplicity of the black one. It goes with everything and I can even wear it with somewhat fancy clothes. (Fancy meaning anything that's not workout wear.)
  • I can program it to wake me up in the morning or "goose me" when I'm inactive. I have it programmed to buzz me if I've been inactive for 45 minutes -- not necessarily to make me run around the block but to let me be more conscious when I'm zoning out on the computer or watching TV. And I have it set to do it during daytime hours, so nighttime vegging is OK.
  • Jawbone app screenshotThe phone app is superb. When the Jawbone Up first came out, it was iPhone only, but there's an Andoid app now and it's informative, thorough and pretty darn cute. It tracks your sleep and steps, lets you set goals for them, you can track your food with it or link it to other tracking apps, such as My Fitness Pal (yay!), and gives you fitness and healthy-living tips and hints, among other things. (Click on my screenshot at right for a better view.)
  • It has good battery life. The instructions say it can go up to 10 days without a charge but mine flat-out died after 7 days. I think I felt the "your battery is dying" buzz but I think I had it confused with the "get off your butt" buzz. That said, I'll just remember to charge it every 7 days. And charging only takes a couple hours.
  • It's a big ol' mystery unless you plug it in. This part I don't really like. I like my Fitbit One's little display that shows you how you're doing with the push of a button. If you don't jam this puppy into the headphone jack of your phone, you really don't know how you're doing.

But overall, I like the Up. You can wear it in the shower and sweat all over it (unlike my previous iPod Nano watch thingie, which flipped out at the first drop of sweat), so it seems durable.

One little tip: I spin the Up around to have the smooth side on the inside of my wrist when I go walking or running, because I found it would grab onto my clothing as my arm would swipe past my side.

Oh, geez -- it just buzzed, so I must get going. See ya in the gym!

Live better. Start now. Jawbone UP. Track your sleep activity, steps, calorie intake and more with the Jawbone UP wrist sensor and free mobile app. UP gives you meaningful, personalized insights so you can make lasting improvements to your everyday life.

Best Buy sent me the Jawbone UP for review with no additional compensation.