The good, the bad and the ugly

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I was asked this a few years back when I was having my home refurbished. The contractor asked me these questions. I opted for the bad news first because I wanted to end the news on a more positive note. The bad news that day was my ceiling was caving in. The good news was, he could fix it. I knew a ceiling couldn’t be healthy when the darned thing was curved…downward…and what looked like dry hay was creeping from the corner.

The end result was I had a beautiful home, shiny, updated and strong from the foundation to the roof. And it all came at a price. The dollars, time and being forced to live in a spot in one room for several months was difficult at times. I felt discombobulated. My ground chakra had no wiring. The mess before the unveiling put me outside of my comfort zone for a few months, but in the end I was more comfortable and ultimately happier. I remember standing in that home and looking all around and marveling that I was in the same space but not in the same space.

Before the construction could begin the deconstruction had to happen. The discomfort had to happen. The inner exchange, the daily negotiations changed, which had to happen. Re-modeling a home is a lot like remodeling a life. The bad news is some areas of my life are caving in, but the good news is…I can fix it.

That good news is really good news! Have you ever been in the company of someone who is actively living and making choices to better themselves? If not, then you really should begin your reconstruction with your circle of friends and acquaintances. Sure, the person who is listening to Zig Ziegler for the thousandth time and is telling you how wonderful life is and on top of that they actually lost weight during the holidays can be challenging to one’s psyche especially if one just bought a size larger pair of jeans because of the holidays and one has no idea who Zig is other than the papers used to roll Cigs. It is so easy, so natural to continue in your own flow even if the flow drops into no-man’s land, where nothing grows and nothing new ever happens.

How does one re-model their life? Which walls come down, which rooms are re-utilize and what is the new decor? The bad news is that all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else. The good news is all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else!

Commercials are on overdrive for weight loss products and clinics and shots and suctions. I often wish I could have a constant companion telling what to do, what to eat and to knock the food right out of my hands if I am over calorie budget for the day. I often wish I had someone there to insist I go to the gym, pick out the right clothes, point out that I need to meditate. And, yes, I know that I am my own constant companion, and that is where things turn ugly!

Being our own contractors is challenging, but finding the answers to the problems needing to be solved, such as a ceiling that is caving in, is the stuff of life. We must be careful who we chose to help us, which tools to use and in the end the price paid. Change is never easy, change is ever constant and change can be extremely uncomfortable.

But in the end, it is all worth the new digs.

In Celebration of Cellulite!

Just kidding. There is no reason to celebrate, unless you are a true Pollyanna, I could say this: I have my health and I am alive!

Now to find a shirt that covers my upper arms and clothe the rest of my 52 year-old self in some cellulite-cloaking garments. I feel like, on a cellular level, my body has really let me down in this department; the How I Store my FAT department. Truth is I could play dot-to-dot for a while on just my backside. I think I could end up with an amazing impressionistic painting! Hey, maybe that is the silver lining? I could go the way of Farrah Fawcett and use my body as the medium to put paint on canvas…or not.

Though I cry FOUL, I know genetics plays a part, along with cupcakes. Skinny Minnie stores her cupcakes in the cupboard, I store mine these days on my upper back. I saw the Dr. Oz shows on cellulite as I DVR each one and watch when I am alone and can take my notes in peace. Each time I hear the Dr., the news is that  basically, I need to just lose the weight.

Thanks, Dr. Oz! Duh!

Creams do not work! Running five miles a day does not work unless you are NOT eating cupcakes afterward! Sensible diet and exercise and over time, the APPEARANCE of cellulite will diminish a bit. To quote the Star magazine (I only read them while in line at the supermarket) even skinny models have cellulite! Yeah! I feel better…okay, no I don’t.

Cellulite of the Stars

Cellulite of the Stars (Photo credit: Better Than Bacon)

I have noticed the new treatments being marketed for those if us in a war with cellulite. Yes, for your life savings you could have a dimple-free butt for a week. Just ask the Kardashians. How can I get in on the studies for treating cellulite? I would do anything except let go of my before picture. Is that too much to ask Ms. Scientist? Sign me up! Forget animal studies: the way I see it my cellulite is not human and needs no signed waiver.

Cellulite lurks in the strangest places. It is ugly and not appreciated, unless it is on a skinny movie star on the cover of a magazine!

Crazy Idea (Those are Usually the Best!)

There are 20 days until Christmas: I can feel it in my bank account! Tis the season to go shopping, fa la la la la la la la la! And it is also the season to drink an eggnog latte, have that yearly piece of fudge and partake of anything wrapped in festive cellophane! Who can pass up banana bread in a mason jar, or pretzels dipped in white or brown or dark chocolate? Free food is everywhere, even the samples at the grocery store are bigger and sweeter. Who starts a diet plan in December? (Other than movie stars and Real Housewives?)

I have in the past, so I guess I am more real housewife than movie star. But this year, even though I am weighed down with some extra poundage, I just don’t have it in me to even attempt another weight loss journey. For the first time in my life I am thinking that I don’t have it in me to try again…unless….

Here is the big idea: what if I paid someone to help me lose weight? Get a trainer you say? Did that. Go to Biggest Loser Resort and work out for eight hours a day for a month? Did that. Hire a nutritionist? Hum..I could but it doesn’t fit my big idea. I have watched every episode of Biggest Loser (and I must say last season SUCKED! Thanks to the quitter contestants for that season!) I have also watched every episode of Extreme Weight Loss with that nice man who helps really obese people get thin. I watched The Swan, too. Creepy in a Honey Boo Boo kind of way. I knew it wasn’t right to enjoy the show because it exploited so many things, but I was trapped in front of that TV until the reveal every time.

I tried out for Extreme Makeover. I didn’t make the first cut. My dreams of lipo, and breast augmentation along with amazing training and diet was not to be within my reach.  No hair stylist, no fashion makeover. Sigh.

I am not fat enough or ugly enough to get the help I want. I am not TV worthy. There are millions like me…we just need some one on one help. Someone dedicated to us for a moment in time to help us get to where we need to be. Sure, twenty pounds isn’t as drastic as 120, but it means just as much health-wise and ego wise. Where is our show? Imagine how many contestants we could help in a month!

So I was thinking, personal trainers get paid a lot of money per session (no comments from POOR personal trainers please, I have your number per hour….hush!) After my sessions which were twice a week, I went home and ate badly.  I had little self-motivation (see above to what I have done to lose weight in the past) to stay in the game. I have not reached my goal weight in almost 20 years. Really? Yep, really. Remember I am not a movie star. Back to the idea…what if trainers or motivators only got paid per the pound lost? How would it work if I had a person in my life for the sole reason of helping me lose 20 pounds and they received payment only when I reached that goal?

Say the payment was about the same as two months of Jenny Craig cuisine? Would that be a job? I mean, there are millions of us buying tons of items that we hope will help….how about buying someone who really cares because if I eat that donut they won’t see a payday? Someone who I will be accountable to until the scale says the right number? Someone who wants to prove they can change a person’s life like the cool trainers on TV do every season? Someone who likes to blog and take pictures and sell ads and a possible future article here and there?

Before a painter can charge a ton of money for a picture they have to paint it first.

Get the picture?


Now I’m Cooking!

I have some pictures of a few dishes I made this last week. My favorite ‘go-to’ recipe is black beans and rice:

Drain and rinse two cans of black beans (you CAN cook your own!)

Place in a pot with some splashes of vegetable stock.

Add: onions, red bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, braggs amino

Cook for a while then add some fresh spinach. Put some freshly made brown rice in the pot and stir! You can serve it on a tortilla, on top of half of a sweet potato then topped with mango! The latter is so yummy! Here is a picture of it served as a chalupa, topped with avocado and some salsa.
















I also made a wonderful enchilada casserole. The recipe is in Engine 2. Basically, it is a layers of corn tortillas, mushrooms and spinach, then tater tots smothered in green sauce. It is so yummy!
















These are lemon pancakes, also taken from Engine 2. They are made with corn meal, wheat flour and use the zest and juice of two lemons. Use some real maple syrup on these and enjoy!

Calories, Leptin and the Van Ride “Home”

John would yell that phrase out a lot: “Let your body do what it is made to do! Don’t stop moving! Don’t think, just do it!” Then he would yell something like “hold it” and make me go lower, jump higher and “hold it” more.

Yesterday I went to the gym and did the treading exercise. I was shocked, in a happy kind of way. I was more than able to perform the exercise. It wasn’t easy because I pushed myself, but the strength I felt was refreshing. I felt strong, able, as well as lighter and tighter! What more can I ask other than lose the last 7 pounds? After treading I worked out my legs, then walked a few miles and did a few hundred lunges. I am afraid that the muscles I formed while hiking will dissapate…really, when I say ‘afraid’ I mean as anxiety because I have not ever maintained any weight or fitness for life. One of the thoughts that helps me is that I spent a lot of money and a lot of time to get to this level. A pastor once told me that a person’s heart is where their money is. My money was solidly placed on my bum to make it solid.

One message on every diet program besides “Results Not Typical” is that the diet program works only if a person follows proper diet and exercise. Is there truth in saying that IF the person just eats well and exercises, they don’t need the product? Like say…a stimulant, or a fat blocker? What good are those products other then just dousing one’s body with even more chemicals?

Calories in/calories out…end of story for most of us.

I learned that IF I am serious about losing weight and keeping it off, I need to keep track of all the calories I take in. So, I journal. Some crazy kids use their phone apps or their body bug. I just may become a crazy kid myself. But for now, I am using the old fashioned pen to paper method- like chiseling a stone these days. But it works for now. Second half of what I learned is that I need to learn what my resting metabolic rate is; how many calories I burn just being alive. Then add in the exercise and hopefully the calories used minus the caloric intake will add up in a week to a pound or two weight loss, with 3500 calories equaling one pound. I have 7 more pounds to lose, so I need to create a caloric deficit of 24,500 calories. Now, divide that by, let’s say, 6 weeks: I need to have a weekly deficit of 4083 calories, or the equivalent of walking 5 miles day, or just working out an hour and a half a day.


Yep! So why the tons of books and articles and yes, blogs?

Because most of us want a pill, I think.

Conversation in the van coming back from a hike: “Everyone of you in this van has a problem. Your leptin does not work. Period. Being overweight is because your stomach has no communication with leptin.” Now, if you are a Dr. Oz fan such as myself, you know that leptin is the hormone that communicates to your brain that your tummy is full. Grelin is the hormone that communicates that your tummy is ready for some chow. The van fell silent as the guest spoke about her doctor who informed her that being overweight was not her ‘fault’ and that the public has been horribly misinformed. Another guest spoke up, “I know I am not hungry when I go into the kitchen and grab another cookie. It is my choice. I KNOW I am not hungry, I eat it anyway. No hormone is making me eat that cookie.”

“You will suffer the rest of your life because will power is NOT enough,” proclaimed the leptin lady! “Not many people are as strong as you are saying you are!” (ouch!)

As I sat in the back listening to this conversation I was floored. The leptin lady had challenged our dietician saying she was not telling the guests the truth about their weight issues, that eating right was fine and dandy, but leptin will make them sneak into the kitchen at night a take food even though we are repeatedly told not to go into the kitchen as it is off limits to guests! And yes, that week there was a kitchen creeper- that damn leptin!

I immediately wondered if the guest who had so adamantly held onto the leptin theory had a doctor who was in on a leptin pill? Some drug that makes kitchen creeping a thing of the past? I wondered how many others in the van wanted to agree with the honest emotional eater who KNEW she wasn’t hungry but ate anyway. If a pill is not coming out that will deal with the leptin, you can bet your booty a book will. We can blame leptin, form support groups and maybe even get special rights.

And so it goes.

Food talks to our bodies in more ways than through leptin. Food effects us on a cellular level. We know that eating certain foods releases dopamine…leptin be damned, I am going to eat and get a fix sometimes! A good example of planning for my sweet tooth is that I ordered the pudding mix and tofu to make the parfait and pies from Chef Cameron’s cookbook o’ pleasure. I LOVED the parfait and chocolate covered strawberries. Both are on the menu this weekend.

If I sneak into the kitchen for more, I can just blame the devil, and his name is Leptin.

Home Again, Home Again

There was one aspect of going to Fitness Ridge that scared me- going home! How many times have I been successful with weight loss only to fall down the slippery slope and end up looking and feeling worse than before? Leaving the confines of  The Ridge indeed scared me, leaving the dining room frightened me even more! I had my meals placed in front of me (with a smile…always with a smile, the kitchen staff rocks!) then when I finished, the plates were whisked away and washed without me having to witness it. I loved that part.

During my last week, I was to attend the Departing Guest Lectures. Thank goodness. Every fear I had was addressed. Meals? Work-outs? Expectations? Can I do this all on my own?

Jen is the life coach and she spoke about planning. It is all in the planning. One of the best aspects of The Ridge was the cuisine. Chef Cameron demonstrated a few dishes and sold the cookbooks with the recipes he used daily. One thing I noted was how easy the recipes were! How I could shop for the ingredients at my local store and NOT have to seek out some elusive spice to complete a tasty meal. Note to self: Plan the meals weekly. Shop for the meals weekly. Eat the portion allotted, count the calories and journal them daily!

I wonder, if while you just read the above note to self, you balked a bit. does that seem like a lot to do? Journal calories in? Does it seem that using some computer or phone application, or paper and pen to keep track of your daily calories my seem arduous? A bit too extreme? I heard one person complain during the “planning” lecture that she may become too obsessed with her food, the calories, the whole process.

She already proved the point with her size that, as Dr. Phil would say, what she was doing “wasn’t working for her!” She had an obession, and it was controlling her entire life- food.  Loads of it. This particular guest was at least 200 pounds over weight. She was asked if she planned any aspect of her life. Yes, she said almost every other aspect of her life was neatly scheduled. Work, kids, kids’ activities, dog, husband (this list is not in any particular order), home, social life. Interestingly enough, food was in control of her to the degree that it permeated every part of her life. Food had control- not her. When picking up the kids there was the trip through the MacDonald’s Drive-Thru, on the way to work she ate in the car, ate while at work because there was always food in the break room, ate at lunch, snacked after lunch- you get the picture. Obsession!

Time to mildly obsess, I think.

Planning every meal, every bite and then planning for the night out and the exercise before and after, puts me in the drivers seat of my life. Ha! Ha! You chocolate covered strawberry! I will eat two of you and be very happy about it…I do NOT NEED more! I may WANT more, but that is when my planning comes in. I can have more…tomorrow. Portion control was making me its bitch! Not today!  I spent a month not feeling any hunger pangs (after breakfast- every morning at 8:40 I got hungry while hiking, without fail!) and feeling completely satiated. For the first time in my life, for an extended amount of time, I ate well-rounded, fiber filled meals that fed my body and soul. (Side note: I cut out some of that fiber because I was contacted by the US Governmental Association Secret Ozone Protection Project, or GAS OPPS.)It is like finding the secret of happiness! It is so refreshing to be stronger than the allure of a raison bagel, or buttered pop corn. I can still reach out and take a bite of that bagel, or a handful of that pop corn, but you can bet I will account for those calories. If I need to run an extra mile…I will, because after one month of working out 6 to 8 hours a day, I can. I surprised myself while performing planks yesterday; I held them for a long time. I used to barely make 30 seconds, now at 2 minutes I am getting bored! Sweet!

Today I stand confidant. Today, my meals are planned, fitness is planned. I obsessed while planning because I wanted to be comfortable with it. Done. And now, like following a class syllabus, I know what needs to happen to be successful.

Today I am ‘treading’ at the gym. That is where one pushes their limits on a cardio machine for 5 minutes, rest for 5, then 4, then 3 and so on. Yesterday I ran 5 miles, did 100 lunges, 30 step-ups, 5 minutes of planks, and some arm exercises. I learned a lot from ‘my’ trainers at The Ridge. Today’s menu is: breakfast panini, turkey sandwich and stuffed bell peppers. Easy, healthy and yummo!

Can I keep this up? Will I?

 I have 9 pounds to lose and a broken scale (it was bound to happen, all the hopping on and off!). Check in- I promise to be honest.