Progress Pics

Friday, August 28, 2009

Naked Guns

After a kick-ass day yesterday, I really needed to relax. First I exercised with THE BIGGEST LOSER boot camp dvd, THEN I went to the gym and did my circuit there. By the way, I can now pull 120 pounds on the seated row! My back is getting incredibly strong.

Anyway, last night I took a hot shower and was hanging out NAKED ---watching TV with my husband. I looked down at my gut and noted, with great joy, that there are now TWO rolls of flab sitting on my lap when I sit down.

If you've never been really heavy, you might be wondering why two rolls of fat is a cause for celebration! Well, I'll tell ya! Back when I first started, my stomach was just one enormous blob that started under my breasts and took up nearly my whole lap when I sat down. There was no crease or extra roll where some semblance of a waist would be. It looked like I was 8 months pregnant with quads or quints or something........

So, last night I happened to be sitting there naked, looked down, and realized with great joy that...

A) My gut no longer starts under my boobs

B) My gut is now divided in two by the beginnings of an actual WAIST

C) The upper roll, above the newly-forming waist, is much smaller than the lower roll and will
probably dissolve away over the next month or two

D) The lower gut, while still quite large by any standard, is much smaller than it used to be

Inspired by this discovery, (and since I was already naked anyway) I went into the bathroom to really check myself out. Other changes were delightfully noted:

For one thing, the fatty tissue that makes up the boobs, with me, used to continue AROUND the circumference of my body as a giant roll of flab morphing out from the boobs, wrapping around my body and reaching almost to either side of my spine.

Now, this hideous breast-extension roll only reaches about half-way to my spine on either side and overall, is much smaller, as is the roll below it which hangs above my waist. My thighs seem literally about half the size that they were when I started and my arms and back are definately developing muscle.

When I had progress pics taken last month, I had one taken of my back WITHOUT a shirt on. At some point in the future, when I feel enough progress has been made, I will show the first "back shot" along with an update. Don't worry, I'll put a warning at the top of the post for those who have a weak stomach.

Anyway, I am working hard and doing well!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Yoga Pose -- LOL

If you are familiar with yoga, no doubt you have heard of the pose called "downward-facing dog," which is pictured at the left.
Well, I have been doing simple stretches for 6 weeks so thought I'd try some actual poses today. Note to self --- when you still weigh about 300-plus or minus, do not allow your mind to write checks that your body cannot cash --- lest you catapult yourself across the living room, landing on your glass coffee table-- which miraculously doesn't break, but your back nearly does.
So, I invented a new yoga pose today called "downward-facing whale." I don't suggest you try it unless, A) you are at goal weight and B) your parents were circus performers and you are accustomed to being launched about the room.
Oh well, I am still on track with the food and exercise, although I won't be trying any other new things in the near future.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Worth a read

As I am concentrating on "eating clean" I was delighted to come across this post by another overweight blogger.

'cuse me, has anyone seen my butt?

Well, I bought the book, the NEW RULES OF LIFTING FOR WOMEN -LIFT LIKE A MAN, LOOK LIKE A GODDESS by Lou Schuler. It is designed to move women away from the candy-ass exercises most of us waste time doing (and wonder why we barely get any results) to exercises that really boost your metabolism and firm up your body.

I just started, so I am on phase one. If phase one is this hard, I shudder to think what's going to happen when I advance through the work outs. I did a session last night and I don't think I have to worry about what my ass looks like anymore --- because I think it fell off during my second set of lunges. LOL

For those who have never had the agonizing pleasure of doing dumbbell lunges, visit the link below, which is a Youtube video of a fit guy doing them. If you are as out-of-shape as I am, it hurts just to watch this guy.

Actually, because of the high body weight I started with and the old knee injury, I actually took things very slow and practiced the movements of lunges, squats and dead lifts (without any weight) for almost a month before I actually started adding weight. These exercises strengthen the whole body, even the core, and will really help you gain strength all over your body.

Some of the exercises, like the prone jackknife, I simply can't do at my present body weight and level of UNfitness. I make substitutions for the ones I can't do (yet), being honest and making sure that I am challenging myself to the limit of my abilities and not giving myself permission to wimp out.

Anyway, today is a cardio day -- 30 minutes of torture with Denise Austin and her skinny friends. Tomorrow it's back to the gym for more torture!! LOL -- I actually can feel myself getting stronger every week and can feel a layer of solid tissue forming all over my body -- it is just (still) covered with too much fat for anyone else to be able to see it. As the pounds come off, I will be more and more able to actually see the results of my hard work - and that's one of the things that keeps me motivated.

That's it for today kids! And if you run across my rear end, call me at 1-800-MIA-Butt.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Delicious meal!

Here is a pic of the delicious dinner I ate tonight...
Grilled salmon, baked sweet potato, and spinach sauteed with peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and mushrooms. YUMMY!
I have been on target with the food and exercise-- really kicking ass! Yahoooo! I really pushed myself tonight with my work out! Just hope I can see progress when I take pics next month!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Progress report w/pics

Well, it has been just over a month since I got back from SD and reaffirmed my commitment to return to fitness and maybe even be able to run again one of these days. Most of my weight loss has been in my lower hips and legs.

Before going to SD in July I bought three new tank tops, which I am wearing in the above shots, the one in the orange top was taken last week. Back in July, I could barely pull these tops down enough to tuck it into my skirt. As you can see, it now comes all the way down to cover my hips. So I definitely have lost quite a few inches there.

The shot in the purple outfit was taken while on the reservation in July. I had planned to use it as a "before" shot but I am wearing a skirt in that pic so you really can't see the changes in my legs and lower body. Nonetheless, here is the pic, taken by my friend Jeanne on July 7, 2009.
My "double chin" has really shrunk, and from the weight lifting and cardio there are changes in my body that I can see and feel but no one else would notice just yet. I took some other photos last week of my back (without a shirt) and some hideous side views in exercise tights -- which show my massive gut in all its splendor. I am not brave enough to show these now but will use them for comparison later in my progress.
I am on track with the food, weight lifting and cardio. This week I set a goal to increase my cardio by one extra session, at least. (I normally do cardio every other day). Well, I succeeded in my goal with an extra session with the aerobics DVD, PLUS, I fit in a few short after dinner walks that were only ten minutes each but added up to an additional 30 minutes of cardio at the end of the week. So, in total for this week I kicked my own ass in the gym three times, PLUS did 2 1/2 hours of cardio! YES!
I learned about where you can track your food easily and choose to make your food diary public if you wish. I started mine and have made it public to help keep me honest. There is a link to it in my links section here.
That's it for today!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Initial Weight Loss & Fitness Goals

One thing I don't want to do is to set the trap for myself of turning this into a race and setting unrealistic goals for myself. So my first goal was actually a year away when I set it last month.

Each July, I'll be going to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. When I went this year, July 2009, I had to pay for two airline seats-- one for me, one for my ass and stomach.

So, my first goal is to not have the humiliation in July 2010 of having to pay for two airline seats and of asking the flight attendant for a seat belt extender. It would also be great if walking from the plane to the car rental area didn't make me feel as though I had just run a marathon.

So THAT is my long-term goal. Eleven months away as of this post. I have already made progress and believe I will achieve my goal so long as I stay on track and keep my eye on the prize.

I would also like to be able to run again............... And I will work towards that too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My "Program"

Just in case anyone asks what I am doing to lose weight and to become fitter & stronger, I am writing it down here. For the most part, my "program" is a combination of body building basics and yoga combined with my own knowledge of what has worked for me in the past.

FOOD: As the body builders all preach, I eat 5 small meals a day. As I am carb-sensitive, I limit myself to two servings of starchy carbs a day and I make healthy choices by eating whole grains instead of processed foods. So when I eat starchy carbs, it is generally brown rice, Irish oatmeal, wheat germ, etc.

I go heavy on lean proteins such as chicken and fish, and I eat a lot of egg whites. I eat as many low glycemic vegetables as I want, within reason, but eat fruit sparingly as it contains a lot of natural sugar and I still have a lot of weight to lose.

Other than extra virgin olive oil used in moderation, there is no added fat in my diet. NONE. I completely eliminated any butters or spreads , including what most people think of as healthier choices, such as "Smart Balance," or fat-free cream cheese. When actively consuming products like that I tend to use more than I should, more often than I should - and then be in denial about it. So it is easier for me not to use them at all right now.

I follow the common sense things like not eating fried foods, drinking a lot of water, etc.


I start each day with some basic yoga stretches. I can't do complicated poses right now so I just do what I can. The great thing about yoga is that you can make great progress in increasing your flexibility irregardless of your weight.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, you will increase your flexibility at a much faster rate than you will lose weight - so the yoga will give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem while you are waiting for the diet and exercise to kick in.

Three days a week I go to the gym and I really kick my own ass there. My primary focus is the free weight area but I do use the nautilus equipment too. I tend not to use any of the cardio equipment there. For one thing, I don't do cardio on the same day that I weight train. Secondly, I am not fond of doing cardio indoors. I would rather take a brisk walk or do some aerobics out in my yard so that I get fresh air and get to enjoy the scenery.

On the alternate days, I do my cardio. It is hard for me to keep a good pace up for more than 20-25 minutes so I often do cardio twice a day. I may follow an aerobics video in the morning and then take a brisk walk after dinner. If I can only fit in one session, I don't beat myself up about it, so long as I am doing at least 20 minutes every other day.

In terms of the free weight area at the gym, a lot of what I do comes from the book, THE NEW RULES OF LIFTING FOR WOMEN, by Lou Schuler. Below are some of the exercises I do consistently:

Barbell squat
Dumbbell squats, heels raised on plates
Dead lift
Romanian Dead lift
reverse lunges
bent-over row
dumbbell shoulder press
30-degree push up
dumbbell incline bench press
dumbbell two-point row
Triceps extension
Bicep curls
hammer curls
skull crushers
reverse crunches
leg lifts

In the Nautilus area, I faithfully use the seated leg press and the seated row. Then, depending on my time and energy level, I may use more machines to do lateral pull-downs, leg curls, preacher curls, etc.

The motions needed to do the squats, lunges and lifts were completely foreign to me and I was afraid of either re-injuring my knee or of simply not being able to to do these moves. Sooooooooo, I began "practicing" the moves with an unweighted bar and very light dumbbells.

It took about two weeks to feel balanced and natural in these movements and positions, and then I started adding weight to the bar and using heavier dumbbells. Once you get going, it feels great!

I did not indicate weight with the exercises above as I will constantly be improving so the weights will change. I will post about that as I go along.

Thanks for your interest in what I'm doing.

The Road to a 200-Plus Pound Weight Loss

The Former Runner

I was never what you would call "fit" until after I had my children and I took up running and weight training to get rid of the pounds I picked up having babies and quitting smoking.

As much as it sucks to contend with a life-long struggle with weight (I know, I did it), I would have to say it sucks even more to attain fitness and then lose it ( I know, 'cause I did this too). I can't go back to the runner I was, I can only go forward from where I am. This is my story......

Fed up with the forty pounds I put on while quitting smoking --- added to the 60 pounds I had put on during my pregnancies, I was looking for a way to get some pounds off without resorting to the same old boring combination of low-calorie diet and half-assed attempts at exercise.

A co-worker had lost 80 pounds and developed a good level of fitness through running and weight training. She encouraged me to try it every chance she got and gave me a stack of running books with training programs designed to take someone from walking to running. I was fed-up with how I looked and felt but just wasn't wasn't ready to make a REAL commitment to do something about it. The books collected dust on top of my dresser for months.

Shortly after Christmas that year, my friend Richie, who was only in his late 40's, was found dead in his apartment --- he had a massive heart attack. He was overweight and had been sedentary his entire life. I was stunned that someone so young could die like that. Richie was one of my "eating buddies." I had shared countless pizzas with him and numerous orders of greasy Chinese take-out--- would I also share his fate?

Immediately after Richie's funeral I went on a diet and began to read the stack of running books that my friend had given to me months before. I DID lose weight in spite of the fact that the only exercise I got was turning the pages of the books as I laid on the sofa reading them.

Eventually I realized that in some instances, knowledge is not power-- with fitness, the empowerment comes with the doing, not with the learning about doing. LOL I had to stop reading and get off my ass. It was hard, really, really hard, as I was still quite heavy and it was the middle of winter here in New England, but I bought a pair of New Balance walking shoes and started walking everyday - even in ice storms, I'd be out there --afraid of falling on my still-fat ass in front of the whole neighborhood, but I would do it none-the-less.

It took me a lot longer than what was outlined in the books before I could jog a complete mile with no walking. It was hard not to compare myself to what others could typically accomplish within a certain time frame, I was constantly discouraged, but I did not give up.

The day that I jogged my first complete mile was like nothing I had ever experienced before that. I had never asked so much of my body and was in a state of shock that it finally did what I had been wanting it to do for months. This accomplishment really raised my self-esteem and made setting new goals (and working towards them) a lot easier -- not in terms of the physical effort as you have to keep challenging yourself if you want to improve -- but mentally and emotionally it became easier to stick to my goals and binge eating became a thing of the past (for the most part - LOL).

To make a long story short, I eventually joined a health club and added weight training and yoga to my routine. Within 8 months, I was running 3 to 6 miles a day and put in two hours at the health club 3-4 days a week. I lost over 100 pounds. I felt and looked BETTER than before I had my kids -- as even though I weighed less back then I was not fit and didn't eat right.

I could run an 8-minute mile and I was so flexible that I could not only touch my toes but I could place the palms of my hands flat on the floor with no strain whatsoever on my legs or back. For someone who once weighed over 300 pounds and smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, this was quite and accomplishment.

Right around this time, I felt that I had reached a point where I couldn't progress anymore without some type of guidance and I was looking into getting a personal trainer. I am 6'3" - quite tall for a woman, and when I started using weights I discovered a thick, natural layer of muscle all over my body that had been there all along--- just covered by the flab.

I had managed to firm up in the gym without really knowing what I was doing -- but I had reached a point of wanting more. The running I did pretty much on my own with the help of books. But the weights I found more intimidating. I had no idea how to safely challenge myself but wanted to go further. I wanted to become even even fitter and was just about to take things to the next level when disaster struck!

While driving to work, a tractor-trailer evidently didn't see me when he was changing lanes and sent my mini van into a spin. From there it rolled across three lanes of traffic before coming to rest on the driver's side. I am still amazed to this day that I did not die that night or wake up paralyzed for life. I was not wearing a seat belt. The van rolled more than once yet never hit any other vehicles. Other than Divine intervention, I don't see how I wasn't either thrown from the vehicle or had my spine crushed when the van rolled.
You can probably guess the rest -they told me that my running days were over for a long time, if not forever, and the rest is history. I became depressed, began eating like a pig and gained back all the weight in record time. Just in case the original 100 pounds of excess weight were lonely, I gained ANOTHER hundred to keep them company.
My friend Jeanne and I started a non-profit organization to help Lakota Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, as poverty is really extreme there. In March of this year, we planed a trip out there to visit friends and contacts and to attend a Sun Dance ceremony that is run by a friend of ours.
I was MORTIFIED when I realized that I would have to pay for two airline tickets --one for me, one for my ass. Yikes -- talk about a wake up call! I went on a very low calorie diet in April but just couldn't seem to stick with it, so in May, I switched to a low carb plan.
I haven't been on a scale in years but estimate my starting weight at about 450 pounds. I believe that I lost about 40 pounds prior to our trip to South Dakota in July. It got a little easier to breathe but overall, no one but myself would really be able to tell that I had lost weight. The heavier you are, the more that you have to lose before anyone notices.
When I returned home from the reservation on July 14, I immediately went on a water fast, not just for weight loss but for health and spiritual reasons as well. I remained on the water fast for 25 days and began a program of brief walks and upper body "toning" work with very light weights. I was so out-of-shape and heavy to start out with that a few blocks is all I could manage with the walking and I'd be ready to keel over.
When I stopped fasting and returned to food, I started the plan I am using now which I will outline in a separate post. It is August 13, 2009 and I believe that I have lost at least 100 pounds since May of this year.
I was searching online looking for weight loss and fitness support when I noted that a lot of people on similar paths keep blogs and this seems to help them-- so I decided to do the same. And so I will log my goals, progress photos and achievements here, and hopefully make a few new friends along the way.