Progress Pics

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final Hot 100 Post and Year-End Review

I would be sad writing this post if there weren't a new challenge taking its place. I am talking about the Perfect 10 challenge which you can read about HERE.

Anyway, in terms of the Hot 100, with the food challenges, I would say that I had about an 80% success rate. I rarely "cheated" on my food plan and when I did, I got right back in the saddle.

My amount of exercise varied WILDLY from week to week, I was often below my target of five hours a week. Time-wise, I constantly felt overwhelmed. IN SPITE OF THAT, I lost over a foot of inches during the challenge. So this goes to show that doing what you can, when you can, is better than doing nothing. Having SOME progress is better than NO PROGRESS.

The Hot 100 challenge helped a lot and I am looking forward to starting the Perfect 10 challenge. I did totally suck ass at posting my updates when I should have. That, along with trying to fit in the exercise and other things in my life points to time-management issues and also just trying to do too much.

So I want to improve on that during the new challenge and the new year. I also look forward to reading the goals and challenges of my fellow bloggers.

Steve has a career and a family and his own health to deal with, yet he takes the time to organize and track these challenges. This is an incredible example of generosity-- which is another reason that I like this so much. Steve is generous in creating the challenges and then so many people here are so good about leaving comments for their fellow "team mates." I love how it all comes together and the spirit of the whole thing.

The fact that my gut will get smaller in the process is great too. The challenge insures that there is always something in your life that is bigger than your problem area. LOL

Now for a quick review of the year. Last year at this time,I wore a MEN'S size 5X and my hips were nearly 70 inches! I weighed 430 pounds and no doubt I was plannning what kind of fattening goodies Jeff and I would stuff in our jibs whilst watching new year's eve specials on TV.

My blood pressure was so high that I would get pounding headaches and you could actually see the blood vessels in my forehead pulsing like crazy. My cholesterol was through the roof and I was borderline diabetic-- my doctor at the time threatened to put me on medicine for diabetes. It was the diabetes scare that finally moved me to action. (That, and trying to fit my fat ass into TWO airline seats during my trip to the rez)

I started a low-carb diet in March, but I did not exercise until I returned from my trip to the rez in July. At that time, I did a 21-day fast and thereafter, modified my eating plan and began to exercise.

I have lost about about 4 feet of inches since July. I DID NOT measure myself back in the beginning-- so that is not the total inches lost for the year, that number, if I knew it, would be much higher!

I can now run a complete mile when I could barely walk earlier in the year. I brought my cholesterol down by 70 points, and my fasting blood sugar is down nearly 40 points. I am also on track for normal blood pressure. It is much lower than it was but not yet "normal."

My first visit to the gym was July 26th. On that day, on the machines, I set the chest press for 30 pounds and that was literally the best I could do. I now set that at 100 pounds. Leg press went from 120 pounds to 300 pounds, seated cable rows went from 60 pounds to 150 pounds, Lat pull downs went from 40 pounds to 130 pounds, and cable flies went from 40 pounds to 90 pounds. I really wanted to be able to pull 100 pounds on the cable flies by the new year-- I didn't make it-- I just can't do it. It is just out of the reach of my strength. No matter how hard I tried to dig, I just couldn't pull it-- maybe by the end of the Perfect 10 challenge?

I am finishing up the ChaLEAN Extreme program, which is one of my accomplishments for the year. Whether or not it is worth the money for someone to buy this depends on where they are at fitness wise and other factors. I will do a full review of the product this coming week in which I will be honest about who I think would benefit from it and who wouldn't. I will also outline my results.

I am preparing for a new weight lifting program which I will outline over the week end, and one thing that I will do differenly is that every time I work out, I will list the exercises that I did, the reps and sets, and the weights used. So this blog will start doubling as a training journal. When I am able to increase a weight, I will note it. So you will all be able to follow my progress in a more "real" way.

I am officially starting the new weight lifting program on Monday.

I will continue with my monthly progress reports with pics -- these I do around the middle of each month so I will post one in the middle of January.

I want to thank everyone who reads my blog and for those who take the time to comment. Thank you for your encouragement, insights and helpful information. If I had to make this journey alone, I would do it, as we gotta do what we gotta do.

But having you guys here makes this a little easier. Thank you for that! And happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A new year, a new challenge!

As the new year is just days away I have been reflecting on the past year and thinking about new goals for 2010. Steve over at Log My Loss has come up with a new challenge so that we can keep up the momentum we started with the HOT 100!

I was going to post about some of my goals for the new year (and some of them will make you laugh, so if you have to pee, go now) so I figure I will put the challenge goals and the new year's goals in the same post-- as the challenge goals support the long term stuff.

Ok-- let's start with the PERFECT 10 challenge goals-- I urge you to participate in this challenge-- it is only ten weeks and may help to keep your motivation up. Plus it is a good excuse to visit Steve's blog, which always offers useful information and motivational videos-- all for FREE.

So please, read about the challenge HERE and start planning your goals and strategies!


1) Begin the NROL program. What is this? It stands for THE NEW RULES OF LIFTING FOR WOMEN - LIFT LIKE A MAN, LOOK LIKE A GODDESS, a work-out program from the book by this name, written by Lou Schuler.

I read this book months ago as a friend of a friend had great success with it and even reduced problem areas that she thought she was truly stuck with for the rest of her life.

I began practicing the squatting and lunging (not easy at 400 pounds), printed a training journal designed for this program, joined the online forum for people following the NROL, and very quickly realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew at the time. There are a variety of reasons for this, some of which I'll explain here, as it may pertain to you or be helpful to someone here.

Reason number one, I had joined gyms plenty of times in my life but I was generally using the cardio equipment or the Nautilus equipment. I rarely used free weights (other than fooling around with 10 pound dumb bells to do triceps extensions). I never had any real plan or program at the gym other than a vague notion of wanting to look better or be more "toned."

The squats were killing my knees so I went onto "you tube" and watched a video of the proper way to squat. At that point-- I became concerned about my form and wondered if I shouldn't start with a more basic program that emphasized basics such as form and tempo and that came with DVDs to demonstrate the moves. NROL is a book and I was having trouble learning form from it.

The NROL is a 6-month program and once you get past the initial phase you need to lift heavier weights than what you might be used to to make it effective. You have to motivate yourself and be self-disciplined-- and you have to be honest with yourself about when to increase the weight.

At the size and level of fitness I had then, I realized that I wasn't ready for this program-- that's why I bought the ChaLEAN extreme program, which I am finishing up now. ChaLEAN eases you into the workouts, stresses safety and proper form while at the same time, asking you to push yourself.

Although I felt a sense of "defeat" at the time, it was the right choice. I wasn't ready for NROL then. BUT I AM NOW. I am re-reading the book, rejoining the NROL forum, and starting this program on Monday!

This is a 6-month program, but the beginning will probably be the hardest -- so this ten-week challenge will help to get me going. ChaLEAN won't be on a screen in front of me reminding me of proper form, setting the tempo, telling me to breathe-- I will have to do those things for myself.

2) Begin Training for the New Haven Road Race. This is a half marathon (13.1 miles) and takes place every year on Labor Day. As of the onset of this challenge, I have 8 months to prepare myself. Running on this day is one of my long-term goals for 2010 and you can read more about it below.

Suffice it to say, with New England weather I won't be able to train outside consistently until Spring. I HATE treadmills and refuse to use one. So it will be important that I keep my cardio up on the days I am not lifting.

As luck would have it, the challenge is ending just shortly before the first official day of spring-- so I will use it to keep me going through the winter. This isn't about just having the discipline to do some sort of cardio indoors or out as the weather allows-- but it is about my own attitude and accepting things not in my control and working around them.

I can get really pissy and almost take it personally when I am in the mood to walk and it rains or snows or drops to ten degrees. This is ridiculous, I know. I need to get myself to say, "Oh well, can't walk outside today, I'll do a Biggest Loser cardio dvd instead." My pattern is to get pissed when I can't do what I want and then do NOTHING.

I've been losing weight and made gains in my fitness in spite of ridiculous personality things like this-- but I won't be able to achieve what I want if I leave this in place-- so it is part of my challenge.

3) Lose 20 pounds by the end of the challenge. That would be an average of two pounds a week, which is quite do-able if I remain focused.

4) Improve sleep habits. Why is this here? Believe it or not, it affects your fitness, especially if you're trying to build muscle. Overweight people are more apt to have sleep disorders and poor sleeping habits.

Among the many other reasons to care about this is GH or GROWTH HORMONE -- which helps your body build muscle and increase strength. Your pituitary gland releases GH in spurts, THE BIGGEST OF WHICH RECURS WHEN YOU SLEEP. Hence, proper sleep is essential for someone who works out regularly. You won't get the results that you want if you are spending hours in the gym every week but not getting enough rest!

(By the way, alcohol consumption interferes with GH release which is why body builders avoid it. I don't have a problem not consuming alcohol so I am not making it a challenge)

I made the sleep thing a challenge as I have suffered with insomnia since I was a kid and I have noticed that when I try to lower my calories to push a greater weight loss -- the insomnia pattern gets worse. I have also noticed that a lot of cardio makes it worse too. Instead of being tired after a good run, I am more apt to lay awake.

I can't pretend to know the solution for this or even if there is one. But I want to find different ways to push myself towards good bedtime routines and getting enough sleep.

You may have noticed that there are no food-related goals among my challenges. Not to rub it in to those who still battle with over-eating, food cravings, binge behaviors, etc. - but I don't have stress or issues with any of that right now and haven't for quite awhile. Christmas reaffirmed for me that I can "cheat" when I want to and return to my program at will, without a problem.

I am not trying to imply that I have lifetime immunity from over-eating or gaining the weight back. If I had that, I would package it and become a millionaire overnight! But right now, food is not the issue; discipline and intensity with exercise are more important.

I'd be giving myself an easy assignment if I made it about food and the point of this is to be CHALLENGED. Pushing myself with the exercise and dealing with weird personality and mood things are harder for me to address than the food-- so that's what it's about for me.


And, as I said, some of these will be FUNNY (I think so anyway), so if you have to pee, go now.

In the past, vague, candy-ass goals got me no where! So I've made an effort to be specific and colorful. Here goes:

1) My wedding anniversary is July 9th. I want to be able to wear a black cocktail dress and heels by then and to look GOOD in it. We always go out for dinner on our anniversary. We haven't been going to "dress-up" places for the past few years for the obvious reason that I looked like shit

2) Become MISTRESS LORI-ANN. Hey, I asked DH what he wanted for x-mas and he said for me to keep going until I can wear a dominatrix outfit. I was about to laugh when I realized that he probably wasn't kidding. He wasn't.

No, he doesn't want to be spanked or degraded, he just wants to see his 6'3" wife in black fishnet stockings and a leather body suit. So this is an important goal and if I achieve it I will post pics of my outfit.

In my most recent progress pic in the side bar, I am wearing a shirt that says MOTIVATE DOMINATE. This is a joke between us-- that the shirt is a prelude to the stockings and high heels-- now you are in on the joke too. But I am serious about achieving this nonetheless.

When it gets close, I may even plan a romantic evening or week-end get-away during which I spring the outfit on him. I will let you know. Obviously, this is a ways off. LOL

3) Prepare for the New Haven Road Race. I am no spring chicken. I smoked 2 packs a day for twenty years and have abused my body pitifully over the years. I don't know if it is realistic for me to complete a half-marathon 8-months from now or even beyond that.

I am going to train for it as if I am going to do it and I will mail in the application in the spring. If it gets to be close and I assess where I am at and HONESTLY think I shouldn't do it, then I will run the 5k they have there that same day. One way or the other, I will run that day.

Merely thinking that the half-marathon would be "hard" or embarrassment over the likely possibility of coming in LAST aren't reason enough not to do it. When Spring gets here, I'll have to be consistent with the running and do an honest assessment of my abilities when race day approaches.

4) Visit the Cadillac Ranch. What is the Cadillac Ranch? It is a fun country restaurant and dance club where you can get line dancing lessons and have fun making a fool of yourself. It is amazing what a hit this place is here in Yankee-ville.

I've always wanted to drag my husband there and get him all liqueured up and out on the dance floor, then bring him home and...... well, er um... you get the idea. And so, this year, it's gonna happen! Maybe I'll wear my dominatrix outfit underneath my country dress! LOL

Anyway, when you're really FAT you tend not to go out and do fun stuff like this, assuming that you're even physically capable to begin with. That has to end this year. For too long, I've denied myself the pleasure of of going about and making a complete ass of myself. I'm doing it this year, and that's it!

You can read about the Cadillac Ranch HERE.

5) Go to concerts. We LOVE music and haven't been able to go to concerts. I couldn't fit in the seats. At the Meadows, there are "lawn seats" but try getting up and down off the ground at 430 pounds-- no graceful way to do that.

And so I'd love to surprise DH with some unexpected concert tickets.

6) Go to the movies. Again, couldn't fit in the seats. I haven't seen the inside of a movie theater in about ten years. So in 2010, I will go to the movies even though it costs a lot these days.

7) Buy some slutty clothes. When I get to goal, I have no intention of "acting my age." Fuck that! Where is the fun in that? I am not putting myself through all of this shit to wear wool suits and baggy jeans. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, girlfriend is gonna buy short skirts, jack-up-the boobs bras, and a variety of clothes that are too tight, too short and totally inappropriate for someone my age. Don't say you weren't warned! LOL

I have some other goals, like improved health and overall fitness. But somehow, those alone won't always get my ass out of bed and into my running shoes on cold, dreary mornings.

I needed some goals with some juice to them and that I know I can make happen if I work hard. What are your goals for 2010? Are you joining the perfect 10 challenge? C'mon, get going. Don't be a wimp!

Have a great day!

P.S. Anyone know where I can get fishnet stockings to fit 37" legs?

Weigh-in at Docs & Work-out with Drew

Ok kids-- it is the moment I have been waiting for-- and somewhat dreading-- the weigh-in and blood pressure check at my doc's today.

Jeff, my DH, weighed himself at the gym on Sunday and put on ten pounds. I don't think that is a true "fat" gain. He had been eating much less carbs, like me, but has been cheating wildly for two weeks. When I eat that many carbs, I immdiately pile on a bunch of "bloaty" weight that comes right back off once I return to the right kind of eating.

So DH gaining THAT much, even bloaty carb weight that is temporary-- made me nervous about my weigh-in today. I told you all that I wanted to be under 300 for the new year-- with all of the Hot 100 commitments-- this was the main thing I hoped to achieve.

By now you're probably saying, "Alright already, give us the dang numbers." Ok, I lost 9 pounds since my last visit in November, making my weight 298 -- so YIPPPPEEEEEE, I made it! I will start the year 2010 under 300 pounds and I am beyond thrilled!

My last weigh-in was a few days before Thanksgiving. So even with lousy holiday eating and being half-ass with my exercise for almost two weeks, I STILL lost 9 pounds in four weeks. Not bad.

We checked my blood pressure and went over the blood work from my last visit. Last time, my blood pressure was 158/88, this time it was 142/74-- that's with a drug called Avalide that my Doc thinks I should be able to wean off of as my weight comes down.

My total cholesterol was 174; my HDL (good cholesterol) was 45. My doc would like to see that improve even more (as he likes to see the HDL at at least 50) but thinks it will get there over time by itself, so long as I keep exercising and eating the way I do-- Salmon 3-4 times a week and flax with the oatmeal must have SOME benefit!

My triglycerides were 113 and anything under 150 is supposed to be good. My fasting blood sugar was 96. Doc said he would have liked to see that lower because of diabetis in the family. He told me to watch the sugar and carbs-- which, I do.

One potential issue is that my bloodwork showed a sluggish thyroid. He retested it today and if that blood work comes back sluggish too, he might consider giving me thyroid meds. My mother had to have this and lost 50 pounds the minute she started taking it.

I both want and don't want to have to take meds for that, if you know what I mean? It would be cool to take a pill every morning and effortlessly peel off more weight than what I've been losing. On the other hand, I've been averaging 6 inches of weight loss per month without any pills. And I wouldn't want worry about a sudden massive weight gain if I had to go off the pills.

He wants me to have a mamogram and a colonoscopy before I go back for my next check up, which will be February 23rd. Changing my Doc was one of the smartest things I did this year. I love the guy!

I was hoping for more than a nine pound loss, but I am under 300, finally, and that's what I wanted more than anything as a Chrsitmas present to myself.

After the doc's I went to meet my son Andrew at his gym and try some new exercises with him. He is actually my step-son, but Jeff and I both hate that term, so I just call him my son.

Anyway, he has battled with weight too and in the process got certified as a personal trainer. He is in college now, doing his own work outs, plus working with clients. Andrew is one of the reasons that I am able to push myself as I do. We tend to NOT want to do that. Having someone around to remind you of how strong you are really does help.

Our gym won't allow you to bring in your own personal trainer, so I visited Drew's gym. I wanted to try some things where it helps to have a "spotter" and I wanted to try some things that I haven't tried before-- like using the smith machine.

So he helped me through bench presses, squats with the smith machine, dead lifts, bent-over bar bell rows, calf raises, preacher curls, Lat pull down and a few others.

I squated with 85 pounds on the smith machine, did preacher curls with 20 pounds, lat pull downs with 130 pounds and can leg press 300-- which is MORE than I weigh now-- FINALLY! I can do seated calf raises with 125 pounds.

Anyway, he has a month off from college so I'll probably go back at the end of January to see if I can bench press and dead lift more. I will practice on my own.

Hope you're having a great day!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hot 100 Update, X-Mas Pics & other updates

Ok--so I am really behind in getting this stuff posted! LOL Better late than never, I suppose.

Here's my Hot 100 goals and how I've been doing

Exercise a minimum of five hours a week: The past two weeks have been horrific for getting any exercise done! Right around the time of the refrigerator disaster, my best friend was supposed to go into the hospital for one day to have her gall bladder out.

She suddenly disappeared and wasn't returning my calls. It was contributing to the melt down that I had, big time. Anyway, come to find out that she was rushed to the ER a few days before her surgery with acute pain in her side. She had an infected liver and other stuff going on that her small hospital couldn't deal with, so they took her by ambulance to a larger hospital where they kept her for 4-5 days. All that time, she couldn't call me. She didn't have her cell phone with her and that is the only place she has her phone numbers stored.

Anyway, all that time, I didn't know what was going on and I was freaking out and driving my husband nuts. Between that, the major snow we had (and had to shovel), the refrigerator disaster, and the normal Christmas busyness, I really sucked ass at getting anything done exercise wise.

You can count on one hand how often I've been to the gym in the past ten days or so, and the walking and other exercise hasn't been much better. All I can say is, I am confident that I can get back on track this week.

Eat Foods Rich in Omega 3's at least 3 times a week: I aced this.

Complete all three months of the ChaLEAN Extreme program: Still working on this and will post a review of the program when I am done with it.

Consume at least five fruits and veggies a day: I'm good here too.

Eat only when hungry: Well, er um, at Christmas parties and on Christmas day, I didn't do too well with this and ate too much and ATE A LOT OF CARBS-- which I am still paying for! LOL

One thing I have noticed is that I just don't feel well. It feels like I ate a jar of paste or something. I am guessing it is not being used to the carbs and fat I ate.

So it is good to be back on track -- we had salmon and butternut squash for dinner and I'll be back to my regular exercise schedule tomorrow.

Here are some pics from my holiday!

Our dogs Zeke (above) and Beau (below) wearing their candy cane "bone-danas."

Our son Tom. At 6'5" he's our shortest son.

Tom's girlfriend Michelle. She is in college and wants to be a nurse.

Here's Jeff with a friend. ATTENTION: Elvis has NOT left the building!

Tom with the dogs

Our daughter Sarah with Zeke

Jeff with Beau

My mother-in-law (age 91), Zeke and our son Andrew. Andrew is 6'7" or 6'8"

Michelle with her grand father, who is about 88 yrs old

I made this apple pie with paw prints in the crust for my friend Mandy's Christmas party. She has rescued 4 dogs and has a pet sitting and dog-walking service. The pie was a big hit!

One of Mandy's dogs attired for the party. This is Minerva, "Minnie" for short.

This one is called "Olivia."

Minnie's shirt. Too cute!

This is Gizmo, aka "Gizzy." He thinks he is a Doberman. LOL I LOVE those teeth!

Anyway, just wanted to get this posted as it is so overdue! Hope you all had a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Gift for YOU!

This is a story about tree day and it is a gift to my blogging friends who have given me so much this year. Tree day isn’t about a Christmas tree-- it is about a sun dance tree.

It is a “gift” for you because spiritual experiences are rarely spoken of in Lakota culture and are seldom written down. In the dominant culture it is our tendency to want to (verbally) share spiritual experiences with others, in Lakota culture it is the opposite.

One way to explain this is like when you hear a really funny joke for the first time and you laugh so hard that you can’t breathe. Then, as the joke circulates from person to person, you keep hearing it and, each time, you laugh a little less. Over time, the joke loses its power to amuse you and you do not laugh at all.

It is this way with spiritual things. Sometimes we have an experience that we KNOW within ourselves was a direct experience with God/spirit, we feel the touch of spirit and in that moment have no doubts.

Speaking about such things to unbelievers diminishes the experience and robs it of the ability to empower you. Held within and thought of with gratitude, the moment helps you keep your faith.

And so in Lakota culture, when someone shares one of their spiritual stories with you it is a sign of love and respect and shows that they believe you will honor the moments when spirit touched them, just as they will honor yours.

So with all of that said, I give you my story of tree day, 2009.


“They’ll never get this tree up,” my best friend, Jeanne, said, with tears in her eyes. “This is the tallest sun dance tree I’ve ever seen,” said someone else in the crowd.

To an outsider looking at the situation from a completely mundane point of view, the scene would have seemed pointless and impossible -- a bunch of Lakota Indians had cut down a cottonwood tree, transported it to the Sun Dance grounds, and with the help of a few visitors such as ourselves, were attempting to stick the tree in a hole in the ground and get it to stand upright so they can dance and pray around it for four days whilst going without food and water.

That is the mundane point of view, but of course there is more to it than that, as this story will explain. Sun Dance is an annual ceremony celebrated in the summer. The actual Sun dance lasts 28 days, but the last four days are the ones in which the dancing and most of the ceremony take place.

A person who is invited to Sundance (you must have an invitation) must spend some time preparing themselves for the experience. You never know what to expect when you attend a ceremony such as this and nothing but the experience gives you this knowledge.

During the sun dance, which lasts four days, the dancers do not eat or drink anything other than the sage water they are given during the sweat lodges that take place two or more times a day. From sun up until sun down, they dance and pray for everyone except themselves.

The day before this starts is known as TREE DAY. On tree day, either the medicine man himself or a helper goes to an area with trees to find the cottonwood tree that would stand at the center of the sun dance circle. Cottonwood trees are sacred to the Lakota because they are the trees that taught the Lakota how to make a tipi. Its leaves are shaped in the conical pattern of the tipi. Another reason the cottonwood tree is so sacred is because if you cut an upper limb crosswise, inside will be a perfect five pointed star which represents the presence of the Great Spirit and heavenly powers.

When the medicine man or the helper is guided to the right tree it is marked somehow-- usually by attaching a red cloth to it-- red being a sacred color, as all living creatures are red inside. That evening the people involved in the ceremony go to the tree and offer prayers before it is cut down.

During the Sun Dance, it is believed that the spirit of God will literally inhabit the tree to listen to the prayers and to reach out and touch the people there. The tree is cut down, usually by the men who have pledged to pierce during the sun dance (which I will explain another time). The tree is cut down in a ceremonial way that I don’t think I should write about. Suffice it to say, that the tree is not allowed to touch the ground-- ever.

The men move it onto a flat bed trailer and haul it back to the sun dance grounds where it is carried to the center of the Sundance circle from the west.

The dancers and their friends and family who will be there to support them during their prayer ordeal will have placed their prayer intentions into cloth bundles of sage and tobacco. As the tree is brought into the circle by the men, everyone ties their prayer bundles onto the tree.

Now comes the hard part. For every man who will pierce, a rope is attached to the tree. The tree must be placed into a hole and secured so that it will not fall for one year. The men stand on the west side and try to push the tree up, while the women hold the ropes on the eastern side and pull. The tree cannot be dropped or ever touch the ground.

This is a 30 or 40 foot tree, the weight of which is outrageous. When you are there observing this for the first time, you realize that from an engineering/human strength point of view, what they are trying to do is not possible. That is the point. Humans cannot do it. It is the people’s faith that raises the tree.

Trees reach into the earth with their roots and towards heaven with their branches-- and must do both in order to live. They teach us how to live and be strong and balanced. But when you cut one away from the roots for the sun dance, it is a reminder that for these few days, it is by spiritual power alone that we must live. Human and earthly resources cannot make the sun dance happen. It is a yearly renewal of your faith.

It took nearly four hours to get the tree up last summer. The more tall men that are present, the better-- they can push the tree up higher and help it have the momentum to go up. Traditionally, women do not do that part. But after hours of effort and given my height, the medicine man asked me to go on the other side with the men and help push the tree up.

After another hour of trying and praying, “Grandfather, Great Spirit, take pity on us,” I was exhausted, everyone was, we were about to drop when finally, there was a moment when I felt the weight of the tree leave my shredded up hands and I KNEW it was going up, up, oh my God, it was upright. I was in awe.

Some white people from a church group who had been invited fell to their knees. The women and some of the men were crying. We had all taken part in a miracle, and everyone knew it.

Once the tree is up, those holding the ropes quickly fan out and keep the ropes tight to keep the tree from falling, while some of the men secure the base of the tree in the hole. This part is not easy either.

My friend Jeanne is native, but was raised here on the east coast and had never seen a sun dance before. At the moment that the tree went up the look on her face was priceless. I saw the light go on when she realized that she was in new territory and that the next four days would be special.

I told her ahead of time that once you attend a sun dance you are never the same again. Maybe she thought I was being melodramatic. Most people think that, until they attend for the first time.

The next four days consisted of one amazing experience after another. One of the most memorable ones for me is about butterflies.

Visitors to the sun dance try to provide support and resources that the Lakota do not have. Jeanne and I went out and bought a cooler which we filled with ice and drinks and put it near the drum and singers, which they appreciated.

The dancers are sequestered and do not eat, but all of the supporters and the drum group must eat three times a day, fire wood is needed for the sweats, etc. The Lakota are poor, they don’t have the resources for these things. People like us are generally led by spirit to provide for the sun dance.

So I did what I could. And I was praying a lot, especially about my weight and health. The first day of the sun dance, Jeanne and I went to our tents for something during one of the breaks and there were about ten butterflies hanging around the door to the tent. They weren’t on anyone else’s tent, only mine. I thought it was a little odd but ignored it at that point.

Later, their numbers had increased and this kept going on. The next day, we were sitting under the arbor where the supporters sit --- so their sun dancer can see them and be encouraged. And those same kind of butterflies kept landing on my legs and feet. Jeanne was laughing and said, “Look, your friends sent out a search party for you.”

We went back to the tent again at lunch time and nearly fainted as now the butterflies numbered in the hundreds. They were all over my tent, especially the door. I was afraid to try to get in there as I didn’t want to hurt them.

I couldn’t stand it anymore so I went and got some tobacco (a traditional sign of respect) and gave it to a medicine elder in return for what they would say about the butterflies. She said the butterflies were messengers of spirit that represent kisses from heaven. She said they were thanking me for helping the Lakota people. I cried all day.

All of the visitors and supporters were camping together about a hundred yards from the sun dance circle. That night, there was a violent wind storm, more powerful than anything I had ever experienced. When we got up in the morning, every single tent there had been ripped apart by the wind and people were sleeping in their cars. Tent poles were snapped in two. The field was littered with tent pieces and people’s belongings that had blown away.

But our two little one-man tents were completely intact. Not only that, but a box of supplies outside of our tent did not move one inch. Jeanne and I were in awe. So that is the way that our four days went-- and of course I cannot wait to go back.

Some of you who are not inclined to believe in spiritual things may be looking for “rational explanations” as to how a handful of people lifted a 40ft tree or why butterflies covered my tent en mass and no others or why everyone lost their tents in the windstorm except for us……….. But how about if, as a holiday gift to yourself, you choose NOT to look for “rational” reasons, but view these experiences as exactly what they seem to be and accept my telling you as a gift to inspire your accepting at least the possibility of a spirit realm.

Merry Christmas everyone!

This is the area where we camped and we harvested that wild sage you see there and brought it home. The Lakota call it PEJI HOTA meaning, grey grass.

~ Some things must be believed to be seen.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Day

Well, thanks to Craig's list we were able to get a cheap refrigerator last night! Whew!

Also, a kindness that we did months ago returned to us. We have an extra room on the first floor of our house that we rent to roommates. We were looking for a new roommate during the summer, right after I came back from the rez.

These two ladies (a mother and daughter) came to look at it and I liked them immediately. They are Korean and seemed a good match. But my husband was leaning toward a University of New haven student whose father was going to give us 6 months rent in advance.

Well, when I told those ladies that I had to discuss all of the applicants with my husband and would get back to them, the mother bursted out crying and explained that they had been living with a friend who died-- then the friend's kids came and kicked them out of the house with no warning.

The daughter works at Walmart and they had been living in their car. They have a dog and someone reported the dog living in the car- so animal control seized the dog--but felt bad for them and gave them 3 weeks to find a place to live before they would put the dog up for adoption.

They could not find a place. Most apartments here want TWO months security plus the first months rent before you can move in, and many have a credit check and will not allow pets.

So the mother was BAWLING and telling me how they looked for a place every day and would go and visit the dog, and that they had two days left to find a place or they would be forced to sign a paper releasing the dog.

When I called my husband at work to ask him if I could rent the room to two homeless women (one injured and unemployed-- as the mom had back surgery) and their dog; and by the way, they can't afford a security deposit; if he were anyone else, he might have said, "Are you out of your fucking mind?!"

But instead he told me that he trusted my instincts. I had just come back from the sun dance days before, and I honestly felt that Creator sent them to me as an assignment. I believe that this is how God answers prayers, through other people. Sometimes you are the receiver, and sometimes you are asked to be the instrument that delivers the answer.

So they moved in and have never once been late with their rent. They keep their room spotlessly clean. Every time the daughter gets paid, she buys my two dogs each a rawhide bone.

ANYWAY, they overheard my husband and I discussing the refrigerator and all of the other issues. They just gave me a Christmas card with $100 to buy our Christmas dinner. I did not want to take it. The daughter works at Walmart for goodness sakes. But they insisted,, saying we took them in when no one else would take the chance; and that they were able to keep their dog, so they are repaying a kindness, they said.

So now I can restock for Christmas dinner.

Also, Kat over at Fitmindbodyspirit, after reading my blog yesterday-- discussed it with her husband and they decided to provide Christmas dinner for the Lakota family whom I help. A $60 line of credit was phoned into their local grocery store this afternoon--- so our lakota friends will be eating well too!

So if you have a chance, visit kat's blog and tell her how wonderful she is! I just called the rez to tell them they would eat well on Christmas day and the grand ma bursted into hysterics. She said they will pray for Kat.

Anyway, I am emotionally and physically exhausted. We got up at 5am yesterday to go to the gym and didn't get done with our refrigerator escapade until 10pm last night. Then I had to get up early again today.

So I will end here-- I owe a hot 100 update but will post it tomorow. Just wanted everyone to know how things work out-- just like my own personal Hallmark movie!

Below is a pic of the son and grand kids in the family that Kat bought the food for.
They will be chowing down on Christmas day thanks to Kat!

Christmas Love to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sitting here crying

You all know that your amazon runner is not a cry baby. And I tend toward anxiety rather than depression. But here I sit. Crying.

Connecticut is usually in the top 3 wealthiest states-- so things are expensive here. 'cept we aren't wealthy. My husband is a carpenter. We have two kids in college and a high mortgage.

We have had extra, unavoidable expenses come up this month, plus a $1,600 tuition payment for our youngest son's next semester at college was due yesterday. It was paid. But our mortgage for the month of December isn't.

To top it off, our fridge just up and died yesterday. Last time we had it serviced it cost almost $500-- we aren't going to call a repairman for the third time in 5 years on a friggen appliance that cost almost two grand and should work better. It was a gift from my mom when we bought the house and is an example of how big fancy things can bring headaches.

So here I sit, the gluten-free items for my mother-in-law that I bought ahead of time for X-mas thawed out and are GONE. These came from whole foods and cost me a fortune. The Christmas ham is gone. EVERYTHING has to be thrown out.

Our Christmas dinner is gone. The remaining $400 that we have in our checking account to exchange a few small gifts with our kids and each other is going to have to go for the cheapest fridge we can find.

The way it looks, not only can we not exchange gifts but I don't even know how we can replace the food we lost and I have my kids and my mother-in-law coming for dinner.

What I also feel bad about is that for our favorite Lakota family (a very spiritual family whom I love) we always call their local grocery store and use our bank card to pay for a $50 - $60 line of credit for them so the mom can make Christmas dinner.

I don't see how I can do it--yet is is something I do every year and they count on it. Thursday would be the last day that I could do that for them and I don't see money magicaly appearing between now and then.

My husband has money automatically deducted from his pay for our kid's college fund and for our retirement-- as yale has matching funds for that. You automatically DOUBLE what goes into your reitirement fund. We cannot fund these two things, pay for our health and life insurance and also put much money away for short term. What short-term money we had we just took out to cover the November mortgage.

I can't see a solution to this. It looks like on christmas day I may be serving stone soup next to my empty refrigerator. I can't remember the last time I felt so terrible and so unable to solve something.

My eating is fine-- I am not over eating due to stress and I did walk/run and go to the gym this morning.

I heard from an old friend whom I haven't seen in years and she is stopping by this afternoon for a visit. I need to pull myself together before she gets here. I can't be telling someone I haven't seen in years that life is shit right now.

I am usually optimistic when other people can't be. I am usually the one to find a solution or acccept what must be quietly. But I feel crushed by this and feel bad for my husband. He NEVER misses a day of work. Never. Yet it looks like the man isn't even going to have a Christmas dinner.

I was going to suggest going to the local food pantry to see if we could get help with Christmas dinner. But I was looking across the room at his face and I know that I cannot suggest such a thing. It would make him feel worse.

Wake me when chirstmas is over.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monthly Progress Report with pics

It's that time of the month again. No, not THAT kind of "Time of the Month." I am talking about my monthly progress report with pics. To refresh your memory, the pic above is how I looked last spring and the gal behind me in white is my BFF Jeanne.

The pic above was taken back in August 2009 for my very first monthly progress report, as I didn't start my blog until then. And the pic below was taken today, wearing the exact same clothes. Those are twenty pound weights that I am holding below and, yes, girlfriend CAN pump out bicep curls and overhead presses with that weight.

Although we are each our own worst critic even I can see that I am smaller around the middle and my neck area looks way different. Underneath the bra area near the sides you can see things starting to cinch inward instead of sticking out. The boob area looks smaller and more uplifted.

Now on to the numbers.........(tell the invisible drummers in your head to start the drum roll now).........

This month I lost another 1/2 inch off my neck, making it 16" now. For the first time since I started measuring back in July, my chest stayed exactly the same. My waist came down another 1 1/2 inches and I lost 2 whole inches off the hips. This is the most weight that I lost from around the middle in one month since I started, and since this is my problem area, I am thrilled.

I lost 1/2" from each upper arm and 1/2" off each thigh. My calves stayed the same. So I have a total of 6 inches lost this month, which is about what I have been averaging. I was hoping that because of the jogging, the number would be higher. In a sense, it is, because I've been averaging only 1/2 an inch off my waist each month and maybe an inch off my hips. This month, my losses in those areas are DOUBLE what they've been averaging-- so I am not unhappy.

My total inches lost since July --- 38 1/2! Wrap it up, I'll take it!

Since this is the last monthly update for the calendar year, I thought I'd throw in some additional stats. When I first started walking, which I believe was back in August, I could barely manage going around the block-- which is about 1/4 of a mile.

I mean it would REALLY kill me to the point that I would have to lay down when I got back and my head would be pounding-- you could actually SEE the blood vessels in my forehead pumping away. That was some scarey shit homies! Now I can walk 3-4 miles and be fine with it. PLUS, I can run a complete mile and I am working on the second mile.

My first visit to the gym, which I have logged as July 26th, 2009, I could BARELY do bicep curls with ten pounds, now I can do 20 pounds. I set the chest press machine on 30 pounds that day, I now set it at 100 and I up it to 115 for my last set.

Back then, doing flies with the cables I could barely eek out reps of 10 using 20 pounds. I now set that bad boy at 80 pounds and up it to 90 for my last set.

My first day on the seated row, I set the weight at 60 pounds and my back hurt for WEEKS but I kept doing it. I knew it was a weakness thing and not a serious injury thing. I now pull 150 on that and I need to raise the weight as when I did three sets the other night I felt like I could just keep doing that all night long. So, time to up that. No more backaches and my shoulders are ridiculously strong.

When I first started, I did my squats with no weight and I could barely get myself into a half-squat position. I was afraid of falling and of hurting my knees. Most of my weight is in the gut and things got to a real comical stage at one point as I could achieve squating down but barely had the strength to get myself back up as there was this massive gut sitting there holding me down. I now squat perfectly and go as deep as is possible, holding 25 pound weights in each hand. This has gotten too easy and I need to up the weight.

There is still enough fat on my arms that you can't see in a pic what is going on there but I've got biceps that are literally close to softball size, a good tricep starting to form, along with delts and definition between the bicep and the delt when I flex . Where the arm connects to the body, that space between the arm and the chest has developed a thick ridge of muscle that you CAN see if I take my bra off and flex-- which is something I'm not doing here, not even for you!

My BUTT has gotten totally rock hard from the squats and now that I'm running, that will finish the job. It is the one place on my body where there is almost nothing left that "jiggles." It figures, where my progress is best, I can't see it to enjoy it. LOL

Now here's a story that I have been holding onto for months-- I've been letting it percolate inside me and motivate me for months. I now feel ready to share it. When I first joined the gym, I think it was my first week there, I was sitting on the chest press machine.

There was a lovely young lady sitting acorss from me on one of the leg machines and the WAY she was looking at me is something I will NEVER forget. Never. No, she did not look at me with contempt, curiousity or disgust. Having been 6'3" and over 400 pounds, I was used to that. No friends, she looked at me with PITY.

PITY. PITY!! WHAT THE FUCK! I could not bear it. Somewhere deep inside, even at 400 pounds, I was Chickzilla-- the Amazon Runner and NO ONE PITIES ME. NO ONE! That was it, something snapped inside at that moment and I have never looked back.

I WILL NOT be someone that other people pity. Not just "no", but HELL NO! So when I want to pig out or slack off, I bring up the memory of that look-- I never want to see it again. I am chickzilla, the amazon runner, mistress of the steep stair, lifter of iron, pow wow dancer, runner of endless miles. I will not be on the receiving end of anyone's pity. Fuck that. Hell no, Hell fucking no. NO NO NO!

Yes, I have myself all worked up. I have a holiday party to go to on Saturday and if anyone dares to offer me a cookie they might find the entire tray shoved up their ass sideways. I can't look at cookies without thinking of that girl's face.

Ok, I shared. Hope it helps someone in some small way.

The pic above is my BFF Jeanne. We went out to a Thai restaurant for lunch today and yes, I did eat more carbs than I usually have in a day. I had pad thai, chicken in a ginger sauce and some of that coconut soup! Yummy! I LOVE Thai food and haven't had it since the summer!

Here we are together in the restaurant. It is hard to make out but my shirt says MOTIVATE AND DOMINATE. There is a hilarious story about why my DH bought me that shirt, but this is already a long post so I will save that for another day! Trust me, it wil be worth the wait.

It will be the new year when I post my next monthly update! Overall, I am happy with my progress for 2009 as it stands right now.

Be good to yourself!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Favorite Recipe

Just a quick post. I make an orange "glaze" for chicken, fish or pork that is really good, plus it is gluten and fat free.

Grill, broil or pan cook your fish or meat and put aside. In a large skillet or wok, plop in about a tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate per serving of meat and add a few splashes of low sodium soy sauce. Heat over med-high heat and mix until hot-- and you've got yourself a glaze.

Put the meat or fish in the skillet and turn to coat with the glaze. Great plain like this but we like it with fresh ginger. I first grate some peeled fresh ginger into the skillet (for this, I spray with oil)THEN I make the glaze as above.

Although this seems simple, it is VERY tasty and not very caloric if you don't go nuts with it. It contains some natural sugar so if you are diabetic or carb conscious you'll have to take that into account.

When I serve this to company they RAVE about it and everyone says the glaze tastes like something that would be hard to make.

DH LOVES this with salmon and we have it at least once a week. I keep a can of OJ concentrate in the freezer just for this. It is good when you mix some blanched broccoli or asparagas in with it and the meat or fish. It makes sort of an orange stir-fry thing-- very good.

I tried it with regular fresh OJ but it doesn't get as thick unless I cook the crap out of it and it is not as orangy.

I recently served chicken and brocolli made this way for company and garnished the top with some slivered almonds and served the whole thing with a side of brown and wild rice. Everyone went NUTS and hosed a huge seving plater of it.

I'll do a regular post tomorrow-- I am getting ready for the gym right now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advice From A Pro

A few weeks ago, I bought the book ARNOLD - THE EDUCATION OF A BODY BUILDER by Arnold Schwarzenegger, per the recommendation of someone on one of the body building message boards.

I read the book from cover-to-cover, high-lighting certain parts. Now I go back over it and skim it when I feel the need. No matter what I may think of Arnold as an actor or a politician, few would argue what he brought to the body building world when he picked up his first weight at age 15.

At that at time, Arnold weighed only 150 pounds on a 6-ft plus frame. Everyone told him that he was too tall and didn't have the right kind of body to build impressive mass. So much for what "they" say, huh?

Arnold ignored the naysayers and 30 years ago built a physique that is still legendary today and probably will be for decades to come. So I am inclined to listen when someone like this wants to give advice on reaching my goals-- which are no where near as demanding as becoming a world champion.

One thing Arnie suggested is that you search for photos of someone whose body would be your ideal. This person's image should be a realistic comparison to yourself if you were at your best. In other words, if you are white and short and set out to look like Venus or Serena Williams that is not a realistic goal for you to attain.

Your ideal should be a stretch for you and really give you something to strive for, and yet it should not be beyond the realm of possibility if you worked hard enough. Arnie found his ideal in a body builder that was famous during that time named Reg Park.

Reg Park was Arnold's height and basic body style but had built up an incredible amount of mass and raw power. Arnie put pics of Reg Park all over. He lived, breathed and ate Reg Park until-- guess what? - One day he competed against his idol in a body building competition, and WON!

And so, I have been searching all over for the image of a woman that would inspire me. I am 6'3" so the image of anyone short is not going to cut it. Also, I will NEVER be willowy, not ever. There is a natural layer of muscle on my body that was there long before I ever thought of lifting weights. So there is a natural strength and a tendency to look thick and athletic rather than willowy-- and I have spent the past few months apologizing to my body for all of the years that I could not accept that! I have to work with what I've been given.

I found some amazons on the body building sites and message boards who are my height or taller. But some of them have taken the muscle thing a lot farther than I would like to do. If you're a tall gal like me and you bring your body fat way down after building a lot of muscle, well, that cut-up look seems too masculine on a tall gal. I prefer the look of a tall woman who has built muscle and definately looks athletic, but who has left enough body fat to soften the look.

ANYWAY, after much searching, the image on the top of this post is about the closest I've come, so far, to an "ideal" for me. The woman in the photo above is 1/2 an inch taller than me and weighs 200 pounds-- which is my goal weight right now.

Yeah, I know, those of average height marvel that a woman can weigh 200 pounds and look that fit. But that is what I am striving for. I am probably 20-30 years older than this woman, gave birth to five kids-- three of them triplets, had two abdominal surgeries and smoked two packs a day for nearly twenty years.

So is it realistic to think that I can look EXACTLY like her? Probably not. But, based on my body style, this would be my ideal if I were to achieve it, so I plan to get as close to this as is possible given my age and personal history. Like her, I am tall and strong with a tendency for large, thick muscles. I am small breasted at my goal weight, as she is. My calves seem thin compared to my thighs, as hers do. Our coloring is similar. So this is it. Her pic is on the cover of my fitness journal, on the cork board above my computer, on the refrigerator door, even in the van so I see it when we drive around!

As Arnie suggested, everyday, several times a day, I picture myself reaching my goals. I close my eyes and picture myself 6 months from now, shopping for new clothes to wear during my trip to South Dakota. It will be the height of summer and very hot-- so my arms and legs will be bare-- but I won't mind, as all of the running and weight training will have brought me to a point where clothes look good on me.

I see myself shopping for short skirts, sun dresses and shorts at my goal weight. I see myself around the time of my wedding anniversary in July, picking out a black dinner dress to wear out to dinner with my husband. I see myself wearing the dress with silk stockings and black T-strap sandals, and my husband being proud to be seen with me as we take our seats in our favorite restaurant.

Before I walk/run or work out, I think about all of these things, and I think about the sacrifices and hard work and determination and sheer force of will that it is going to take to get me to that point. If I put a half-hearted effort into my walking/running and go to the gym and do garbage reps with light weights then I will never achieve my goals!

The woman in the photo above did not achieve her state of fitness by being comfortable. She ate fish and egg whites when her friends ate pizza, and she refused to feel sorry for herself-- because she KNEW where she was going. She skipped the booze at the office parties and business lunches and ordered ice water with a twist of lime instead; she worked out- HARD - when she was weary and doing so was the last thing that she wanted to do.

She was not "comfortable" during cardio or weight training, she was out-of-breath, sweaty, tired, sore --- she knew that "comfortable" wasn't going to get her the results that you see there, so she pushed and pushed.

And so, I close my eyes before I exercise, and think about all of this stuff,and "see" my ideal and remind myself over and over and over again every day that my results are going to follow my efforts, Period. It is not realistic to think that your results will exceed your efforts. Not with this. Not with fitness. There is no way to be dishonest or to fake it here. Either your ass fits into your running shorts or it doesn't. End of story.

And this is what I think about everyday when I make choices about food and exercise and proper rest. And ya know what? Arnie was right. This has helped me a great deal!

If I want to stop shopping in the plus department and look good next summer for the first time in years-- no one is going to hand it to me. This is something that only I can achieve for myself and it is going to take sacrifice and hard work. This time of year, when I repeatedly have to stare-down plates of Christmas cookies and treats, booze, and carbs out the wazoo-- I may lose my way if I put my dream aside for the temporary pleasure of sugar cookies and glasses of wine. It is hard this time of year. Victory would not be anywhere near as sweet if the journey weren't this hard! I CAN do this.

So if you're having trouble focusing on your program because you aren't sure what you are fighting for. Get sure. Find an ideal for health and body image and keep it in front of you at all times.

Also, just wanted to let everyone know that I ran a complete mile today! YEA! I went to the beach/boardwalk where it is not HILLY like my neighborhood, just to see how far I could go at a stretch and it was just over a mile. So this is a proud day for me!

The weather here this week will be more tolerable than it was last week, so I should be able to get more walking/jogging intervals in-- and I am happy about that as I really feel like the running is what is going to help me get rid of the remaining fat.

Jeff went back to work today after being home sick yesterday. His being home threw off my schedule so I have a busy day to get on with! Be good to you today!

P.S. I didn't buy the Arnold book for training or nutritional tips. In that sense, the book is dated as they didn't know (for sure) some of the things about nutrition and body building that we know today. Even the photos are dated and that cracks me up. I bought the book because it is a story of determination to change ones body and what kind of focus that takes. From that point of view-- I enjoyed the book!

I'll be back.................... LOL


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Week in Review Fitness Totals

Hello Friends. Hope you all had a GREAT weekend! Here are my fitness totals for the week of Sunday, December 6 to Saturday, December 12.

The bad news is-- it was not a good week for walking/running outside. It either rained or was freezing (or both) just about every day. In spite of that, I got some walking with jogging intervals in-- just not as much as I would have preferred.

I got in 3 hours of walking/jogging, 1 hour at the gym and worked out with DVDs at home 4 times for a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes of exercise. The majority of fitness hours came from the fitness DVDs because of the weather.

One thing that sucks, timing wise, is that my ability to start adding the jogging intervals to my walks is coinciding with winter weather in New England. Today was the start of a new week and I wanted to get off to a good start no matter what-- so even though it was raining, I used an umbrella and did my jogging intervals anyway.

But I will do my best to tough it out till spring. I'll bundle up and use an umbrella to get out there as often as I can.

I did manage to finish the second phase of the ChaLEAN Extreme program and will begin the last phase this week! When I am done with that, I plan to try the 30-day shred with Jillian Michaels!

I put in an hour of upper body work at the gym today and pulled 150 pounds on the seated row. Thing is, that is no where near my maximum on that and I know it. I did 3 sets of ten and felt like I could have pulled more, so I will up it a bit more next time. This was the last exercise I did today and I had pushed myself on others and was wet and irritable from walking/jogging there with an umbrella.

One thing that happened today that DH and I laughed about on the way home. This cardio bunny was on a treadmill across from where I was using the chest, arm and back machines and she kept watching me. Then she came over and sat on leg machines directly across from me to get a better look.

I know the look all too well. When you used to be really heavy, as I was, you can have nearly a year of walking and weight training under your belt and have lost a great deal of weight already. However, since you are still heavy, people will assume that you are out-of-shape and have no stamina. They think that you are new to the gym.

So I see the look in this cardio bunny's eyes, the look that says, "No f*cking way is this fat bitch stronger than me." Finally, she starts following me on the machines to see what I have them set on, and trying to lift or pull what I can-- which is simply not going to be possible for some 120 pound woman.

People are so silly! It was obvious that she was VERY irritated and when she followed me on the chest cable fly machine, I thought she was going to have a bird right there, as I do 3 sets at 80 pounds with full range of motion, then I up it to 90 pounds and pull as far as I can, as I trying to reach 100 pounds by the first of the year.

I probably bench press more than that woman weighs, but because she is thin and cute, in her mind, she should be able to kick my ass on the machines and in the weight room. LOL Maybe she won't underestimate someone in the future because they carry extra weight.

On other fronts, DH is coming down with a cold and is taking Monday off from work. I already had a busy day in the works so in all probability, I won't be online much today and will have to go around and catch up on all of your blogs on Tuesday.

I'll be posting my monthly progress report within the next week or so and I am actually looking forward to it. Hope you're all doing well!

Where the mind goes, the body follows!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hot 100 Update

This was another pretty busy week. Fitting in exercise with a lot of demands on my time from work and family is not easy-- but I did it. Here's my Hot 100 goals-- which I modified last week, and how I did:

Exercise a minimum of five hours a week: Without even checking my fitness journal, I know that I've got this! My totals aren't going to be the massive amount they were a few weeks ago, as my schedule right now won't allow that; but I know that I will have exceeded the minimum when I log my fitness hours for the week, which I generally do on Sunday or Monday.

Eat Foods Rich in Omega 3's at least 3 times a week: Again, I aced this. This is almost so easy for me that maybe it shouldn't even be a goal. Then again, there are plenty of times when we are busy and I don't feel like cooking, and DH says he'd be fine with some scrambled egg whites-- but BECAUSE of this goal, I'll quickly grill some salmon and throw a salad together.

By the way girls, I don't do most of the cooking because of anything like an old fashioned marriage. I do it for two reasons. One, DH works a physically demanding job with a lot of overtime, putting in at least 50-60 hours most weeks. I work from a desk at home and therefore don't mind being the one who does MOST of the cooking and cleaning. What I do can be stressful but it is not physically demanding.

The other reason I prefer to do the cooking is that Jeff simply isn't as good at it as I am. I have a flair for it. When people eat over here they almost ALWAYS ask how I can make low-fat, healthy food taste so good. Honestly, I dunno, it is just a talent I have.

Complete all three months of the ChaLEAN Extreme program: I am somewhat off schedule for finishing this before the end of the year, due to the flu I had last month and a super-busy week a few weeks ago. But I am on track for starting the final phase on Monday and I WILL take this to the end as I feel this program has helped a lot. When I am done with the program, I will do a post with details of my results and an honest review of the product.

Consume at least five fruits and veggies a day: I'm good here too. One thing that has helped is something that I started doing about a month ago. You all know that I gave up "fake sugar" of any kind. I do not drink soda or crystal light and I limit myself to one or two cups of coffee a day. I don't mind drinking water, especially in summer, but this time of year, I can only stand so much of it.

When I read Arnold's body building story not too long ago he talked about mixing orange juice with water and ice in a huge container and he would just drink that at the gym for extra vitamins-- no doubt this was an early, home made form of gatorade. Well, this gave me the idea to do this with grapefruit juice. Studies now back-up what our grand mothers used to say about grapefruit helping the body to break down fat.

So, for the past month, I drink 16 oz of grapefruit juice a day that I mix with water. Every morning when I get up, I immediately grab my fitness journal and put in 200 calories for the grapefruit juice and cross two fruits off of my requirement for the day. As I posted yesterday, I can tell that I am going to have a more substantial fat loss this month.

This is one of several things that are different so I don't know how much this new habit is contributing to my success, but I have been enjoying doing it and will continue. When I feel like splurging, I buy whole, organic grapefruits and make the juice fresh squeezed-- makes me feel like a princess!

Eat only when hungry: Last week I changed one of my goals from eating 5-6 small meals a day to eating only when hungry. I think that this was a good move, at least for the time being. My calories for the past week have ranged anywhere from 1200 to 2000 per day, with 1600 being about the average. Interestly enough, 1600 is the average most days irregardless of whether I eat two times or three or four times in a day.

All in all, the grapefruit juice, avoiding grains, the eating only when hungry and the jogging intervals seem to combine into a formula that has transformed my body into a fat-melting machine. I don't know how to explain it but I can actually feel my body melting the fat away every day.

I was losing steadily all along, but slowly these past few months. Now, even without a scale I can tell that the pace has picked up. I believe that when I return to the doc's at the end of the month there will be a substantial loss.

I am sure that as my body adapts to what I am doing now that the rate of burn will slow down again and I will have to tweak the formula if I want to keep progressing at this rate-- but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Right now, I feel in this wonderful state of grace that what I am doing is effective. I feel energetic and healthy-- something you may take for granted in your 20's or 30's but not at my age!

Anyway, what I have loved most about this challenge of Steve's is that it keeps me looking at things and being honest about how effective they are.

Have a great day my friends! Remember, where the mind goes, the body follows!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's About Freakin' TIme!

Last night DH was looking at me as I cooked dinner and said, "Your waist suddenly looks smaller." He kept bringing it up until finally I thought, "Oh, hell's bells, I just gotta know." So I went upstairs, peeled off my shirt and measured my waist, even though the time for my monthly progress report is a good week away.

I was shocked that my waist was down a good inch and a half to two inches from last month's progress report. So I measured my hips. Same deal-- down quite a bit. FINALLY!

What is so great about this is that these are my problem areas and they have been lagging behind in getting results. From day one I have consistently lost more from my chest and thighs than I have from the gut.

Plenty of months, the loss from my waist has only been half an inch and the hips not much better. When you carry most of your weight around the middle and that's where you have the LEAST amount of weight loss -- it can get pretty discouraging.

Numerous have been the times when I have taken my measurements for my monthly progress report and seeing the smallest change in the area that needs it the most, I would think, "What the f*ck am I bothering for? Why am I working so hard month after month for a lousy 1/2" loss off my gut while meanwhile, the 'girls' are disappearing?"

I would be so disappointed, so discouraged and fed up. BUT I NEVER GAVE UP. Never! I would indulge those feelings for awhile as they are understandable. But then I would reaffirm the need to persevere, to try harder, to keep going.

It looks like when I post my monthly measurements in my progress report for December, I will have the greatest loss showing in the middle of my body FOR THE FIRST TIME. At long last, after almost 9 months of effort, the weight is finally starting to come off the problem area.

The reason I am posting about this is--- what if during month 3 or month 5 or month 7 I had given up? If at any point I had let my discouragment, frustraton and impatience get the better of me, I would have robbed myself of the satisfaction that I feel right now.

We MUST persevere! We must keep moving forward! If you eat right and move your body the weight will come off. You cannot weigh yourself every 5 minutes and throw your hands up in despair every time 2 days goes by without a change you had hoped for. This is a life-long commitment!

We can do this!

You have to do what others won't to achieve what others don't


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Become a "try" athlete

The days have become weeks that became months and the time has flown by. Seems like only yesterday that I was a 400-plus pound woman who could barely get out of bed in the morning.

I never binge anymore and very rarely stray from my food plan. And when I say NEVER, I mean never. Numerous other destructive habits have vanished and I have been thinking and evaluating the WHY of it. I tried to get here before and failed. Why was I able to do it this time?

I see so many people on these blogs who suffer with the excess weight, obsessive food behaviors and all that goes with it. They have trouble getting started on a path of change, or they start but have frequent returns to binge-behavior or other behaviors that halt their progress and make them feel worse about themselves.

I have been trying to understand how I arrived where I am now, and also how to articulate it in a way that might be useful to others. I will be sharing my thoughts on this here and there, beginning with this post today.

They say there is no magic pill. No, there isn't. But that doesn't mean that there is not magic. There is, and it is in you-- it is just a matter of learning how to access it.

The Nike ads say "just do it." That's great for average people but for the morbidly obese, the binge eaters and others like us, there is no long-lasting transformative power in merely "doing." We should know, as we've been on 67 million diets and started so many fitness programs that we lost count years ago.

For me, (and I am convinced it applies to others like me) there is no transformative power in merely doing, the power is in the becoming-- in the being. Let me explain this a few different ways.

A diet is something that you do, as is an "exercise program." They are something that you do, NOT something that you are. As something that you do, it is just as easy to stop doing them, and eventually, we generally do stop-- and find ourselves back at square one-- or perhaps even FATTER than when we started.

As fat people, our sense of identity and self-worth is severely injured and impaired. Countless times we tried to change our identity from someone who eats too much to someone who is able to stay on a "diet," and each time we fail, we feel worse about ourselves.

In talking with former fat people who have become runners and body builders and kept the weight off successfully for years, I realized that diet and exercise are only effective if they are used as tools to help you become the healthy, powerful and energetic athelete that you could be.

You can start a diet on Monday and go off of it by Wednesday. But once you become an athelete, you are an athelete EVERYDAY and will be very likely to make choices that will support that instead of working against it.

I am not suggesting that we all try to become championship swimmers, ultra marathon runners or olympic-class body builders. That is not usually realistic for people with careers and family to deal with.

If you've always been fat, never have been atheletic, never played a sport then I understand that this would be difficult for you. It was for me too. I never before pushed myself physically as I have been doing now. I never knew my own limits. Didn't know what I could or could not do. Finding out, venturing into uncharted territory is empowering beyond anything else I have ever tried.

Food, whether pigging our or depriving myself of it, used to have such monumental power. It was the center of my universe. The Gospel according to Lori-Ann. Now it is just a tool to get my atleticism where I want it to be.

No, this is not going to be easy. Worthwhile things seldom are. Set a goal. See the athelete you can be and avoid anything that does not support that. Keep going until the day comes when you feel up to really testing your limits-- at that moment, walk a little faster, swim until you cannot do another stroke, up the weights on the bar, lift your legs higher while doing your aerobics dvd and don't stop, don't stop, don't stop and THEN---------

A crack will form in the door that's hiding the magic in you, the magic that will help you do the seemingly impossible with your body. Yeah, I know you might have been the fat girl or boy at school who hated gym, hated sports. That's because you thought you couldn't do it. There was no one around to tell you that you could and to guide you to that point, but there is now! I'm tellin' ya, you CAN do this. You CAN become an athelete and put all of this fat business behind you.

For myself, I am a bit older than some of you. I arrived late in the game so I don't have as many years left to enjoy my body and my health. For this reason, as I look toward the new year and ponder what my goals should be-- I have decided to take this to the limit and beyond.

It is no longer enough for me to get to goal weight and think of myself as an athlele-- I am taking this over the top. I am NOT allowing myself a comfort zone for any length of time, any time soon. Every time I reach a new level of strength and endurance I intend to go past it, to go beyond what I think I can do-- and to keep repeating this again and again.

So for 2010-- I am challenging one and all to become a "TRY" athlete. Don't just do, BECOME! Keep trying and experiementing until you find your path, then keep pushing until you can maintain a good stride. Nothing will stop you after that!

I don't know how to make "awards" or banners-- or else I'd make one to give to everyone who wants to give this a try.

If one person benefits by what I've written here, I'll be thrilled! Rock on, homies!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Significant Milestone Award

Good day my homies! I had a fantabulous weekend and seem on the way to achieving things that are blowing my mind!

At the gym I've been upping my weight whenever I can and I am making great gains of strength and development. Weeks ago, the "fantasy" started passing through my mind that, wouldn't it be great if I could pull 100 pounds on the cable chest fly by the new year? In my top shape back in my 20's I wasn't pulling that kind of weight.

As one week melts into the next, I keep inching the weight up........Imagine my shock yesterday at the gym when I upped the cable chest fly to 90 pounds. Yes, 90! Granted, I could only do 4-5 reps......... but who knows.... maybe by the new year I will be able to pull 100.

90 pound cable flies! I am a woman. Do you realize how jacked a woman has to be to pull that kind of weight? Holy crap, I still can't believe I did it! And that came immediately after a walk/run with plenty of LONG jogging intervals in the mix.

So imagine my sheer JOY when I logged onto my blog and found the Significant Milestone Award waiting for me -- a gift from my home girl over at 266.

Now, one thing you're not going to get from me today is any false show of modesty. I have been working my ass off to start running again and to beat my personal bests at the gym week after week. So none of that "ahh shucks" stuff today!

I EARNED this award. I deserve it! And I am displaying it proudly! I am grateful that I have it in me to work this hard and I am grateful for friends like 266, who UNDERSTAND how much sacrifice and effort I am putting out to achieve the results that I want--and who take the time to celebrate those milestones with me. You are a true friend 266 and I value that more than can be expressed!

This morning I took my 2-mile route around the neighborhood and I ran for just over 1/2 a MILE before I had to drop it down to a walk because of a hill. I am fairly confident that on a flat track I could run a mile straight or more without stopping -- and this is only one week into my running again.

I need to get going to get my ChaLEAN work-out in today. I gotta stay on track with that so that I can start the LEAN phase next week-- the final phase of the program!

I feel fantastic today and hope that you do too! Thanks for believing that I could do this even before I could! You guys rock!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hot 100 Update and Weekly Fitness Totals

Another week has gone by. Yikes-- the year's end is coming quickly! My doctor appointment with its weigh-in is three weeks from Tuesday and the new year will be later that week. I gotta stay focused! LOL

Here's my Hot 100 Goals and how I did for the week-- along with my new goal and some adjustments that I am announcing here.

Exercise a minimum of 5 Hours a week - I did this but will put the details in my weekly fitness totals below.

Eat Foods Rich in Omega 3's at least 3 times a week: I aced this, as usual. Thank God I love salmon, and flax seed on my oatmeal. LOL

Complete all three months of the ChaLEAN Extreme Program: This is a work in progress. I did all of my scheduled work outs this week and will include more details in my fitness totals below.

Consume at least 5 fruits and veggies a day
: There were a few days this week where I felt mysteriously "unhungry" and ate very sparse meals based on a small serving of protein and nothing else. So I probably didn't succeed in this.

Eat 5-6 small meals a day: When I made this goal I felt like this was something I needed to do at the time to avoid getting too hungry- which I feared would lead to binging. I no longer feel this way or have those fears -- so I honestly feel that I have outgrown the need for this challenge.

What I have actually done this week is to only eat when hungry. (Imagine that? what a concept) For instance, some mornings I wake up so ravenously hungry that I need to get downstairs right away and make breakfast.

Other mornings, I feel like I can wait to eat -- so this week, I did. Looking over my food journal, some days I ate 2 meals and no snacks. Some days I did not eat breakfast. Some days I did not eat lunch-- or else I would have my lunch in the middle of the afternoon. Other days I was hungrier and had all three meals and snacks too-- but never let myself go over my calorie limit-- even last Sunday when I was at that Birthday Party-- I did not have any cake, not even a taste.

So I am replacing this challenge with a new one-- which will be TO EAT ONLY WHEN HUNGRY for the remainder of the year. I will not eat based on the clock or based on anything except my own body telling me it needs fuel.

I believe that last week I mentioned a NEW GOAL of trying to get into the 200's before my doctor visit on the 29th -- which would mean losing 8 pounds. Well, I have been really applying myself to that goal, actually, to surpassing the 8 pounds to whatever degree possible.

So it's like I put myself in a 30-day boot camp. LOL! I dialed back the calories by only eating when hungry and only consuming MEASURED SERVINGS of the lowest fat choices available. No sauces, spreads, or treats or extras of any kind. NONE! I added jogging intervals to my walking and forced myself to walk and do the ChaLEAN and other exercises in spite of a busy work week.

This ultra strict, sparten regime is not something that I could ever maintain for any length of time and I know it. But I am going for it in the short-term to give myself the gift of being in the 200's on New year's eve.


Gym - 1 hr and 10 minutes
Walking with jogging intervals - 3 hours and 20 minutes
Cardio and ChaLEAN dvds- 2 hours and 10 minutes

For a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes of exercise. Not bad.

I SHOULD be starting the final phase of the ChaLEAN program on Monday-- but since I didn't do the chaLEAN last week, I am a week behind. So this week will be the final week of the PUSH Phase and I'll start the last and most challenging phase of the program next Monday.

One thing I am definately aware of is the increase in my strength and muscle size. There is still enough fat on my arms that looking at them, they seem like the same pudgy arms that I had two and three months ago. However, underneath that they change in composition more and more every week -- in a way that I can see and feel-- especially when I flex my arm muscles.

When my weight drops down enough for my arm muscles to be visible it is going to appear to everyone that I developed them over night. But actually, I've been working on this for months. Same thing with other areas. My arms and legs seem not to be getting smaller so much as swapping fat for muscle mass.

I shouldn't have, but I had the tape measure out to measure the dimensions of the medicine bags I was listing on eBay for a Lakota teen....... so yes, I checked my main measurements, even though my December progress report is still two weeks away....... and I lost 1/2 an inch of my waist and and inch off my hips. My arms also went down another 1/2 an inch.

The way it looks, I'll have more inches lost this month than the last-- so I am keeping my fingers crossed!

This coming week, barring anything unforseen, should be a good one for food and exercise. It should be an average work load and I have no social engagements or business luncheon meetings. I should have no problem getting the fitness hours in and staying the course with the food.

I have been thinking that if I get a one piece leotard type thing for my progress pics it will show the changes each month better than what I've been wearing. So if I can possibly get one before my next progress report in two weeks, I will. It is just a question of affording something like that. Money is ridiculous for us right now.

I surprised myself by starting to jog this week-- I didn't think I'd be doing that until spring........ So it looks like I'm setting myself up for some cold weather running as I cannot stand treadmills.

I wonder how long it will take me to run a complete mile................

Anyway, hope you're all enjoying the weekend! Be good to you today