The On/Off Switch

March 20, 2015 2 comments

I’ve known for a long time that to successfully diet I have to switch my mindset into ALL DIET ALL THE TIME mode. I also know that if I try to lose some pounds without accessing the On/Off switch and setting it to On, I will fail. Here’s what the On/Off switch does:

When it’s set to ON, I can diet without much effort. I have absolute control over what I eat, and exercising makes total sense. I can easily ignore foods I shouldn’t be eating, even if you shove them under my nose. I have absolute control and I make the best decisions. I journal my food, and I track my exercise with ease.

When it’s set to OFF, dieting is an exercise in failure. I cheat with bits and bites of non-supportive food. I sabotage my own efforts, as I’ll take a little bit of everything (see, I think I’m dieting because the portions are small, but if I’m having some of everything it doesn’t matter how small they are) and fill up on foods with high-caloric density (just a little bit of each!). Exercising seems pointless and too much effort.

Here’s what I know about the On/Off switch:

  • I seem to have no control over when it gets hit. I can hope and wish that it will switch up when I decide to recommit to a diet and exercise program, but I can’t control it. If it doesn’t switch to On, then my efforts may keep me from gaining, but I won’t lose.
  • Even if it’s ON, small setbacks can flip it back to off, so I know that it’s important not to weigh daily when it’s on (shh, don’t disturb it, it’s doing its job!)
  • I can occasionally make it switch to on, but only by having a severe reaction to my own gluttony and a really high weight on the scale (basically, only if I’m disgusted enough with myself).
  • Lack of results will eventually switch it to off, if it’s on, without massive intervention and effort on my part.
  • Every time I’ve successfully lost any weight, the switch has been on.

I wish I had some control over the damned thing. Right now it’s set to on, and it has been since Monday. The best I can do is try to keep it that way as long as possible by staying on track, making the right decisions, and journaling. I have to ride this wave as long as I can.

More Travel Weight Management

March 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Hello Dahlings! I’m back! If, uh, you even noticed I was gone! I went to South America for two weeks – my first time! I started with two days in Quito, Ecuador (lovely!), spent 5 days in the Galapagos Islands (breathtaking!), then to Peru for the Cuzco/Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu/Lima circuit (mind-blowing!) for the 2nd week.

The food in Ecuador and Peru would probably be best described as heavy – lots of meat, starches, sauces, and dessert served with just about every meal (or maybe that was just my tour?). Seriously, a dieting nightmare. When I weighed in this morning I was pleased to find that I weighed exactly the same as the day before I left. I can only credit the extremely heavy level of physical activity on our tour (hiking! swimming! snorkeling! hiking! more hiking! walking! more hiking!), watching my portions (esp being relentless about not feeling the need to clean my plate), and the touch of food poisoning I had in Peru for about 2 days. Really knocked me off my feed for a bit there. It all came out even in the wash. Yay!


A red-footed booby, Galapagos

Man I’m exhausted though – this trip was more like an expedition or trek than a vacation. 10 airplane flights in 2 weeks, and we visited 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! I am jet-lagged, tired out, and desperately needing some down time. So today I am taking it. Here are 2 representative pictures for your enjoyment!


Machu Picchu, just as it began to rain

Not the Result I Was Looking For

February 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Pretty discouraged today. Of course, I probably shouldn’t have stayed up until 2:30AM last night binge-watching Broadchurch.

This morning I weighed in to find that all my hard work on the 30 Day Shred program I’ve been doing has resulted in a gain of 3 pounds. I was already as high as I wanted to go! I know, I know, it could be muscle but that seems extremely unlikely that I’d create 3 pounds of muscle in a week and a half. It’s more likely water retention, as I am SO SORE right now. I did Level 2 two days in a row despite soreness in my shoulders after the initial day of it, and WOW I AM EVEN MORE SORE TODAY. My shoulders, arms, and neck are killing me today. It’s seems to be common knowledge in the fitness community (by which I mean the internet) that sore muscles retain water, and after a hard workout you can retain 2-5 pounds of water in your sore muscles. So, that’s what I’m hoping is going on.

Anyway, knowing intellectually what is going on doesn’t really blunt the visceral disappointment of working so incredibly hard and seeing a goddamned gain for your efforts. The injustice! The humanity! The disappointment! And other dramatic exclamations.

Also, a quick scan of the fitness community (read: the internet) informs me that I probably ought to lay off today, as I am sore enough that my form and range of motion would be compromised if I tried anyway, which is dangerous. A stroll around the neighborhood this afternoon is probably the right speed for me.

Ugh. *Sigh* Why is everything so complicated and annoying?

Day 6 of the 30 Day Shred

February 15, 2015 Leave a comment

I’ve continued doing the 30 Day Shred workout since my last post almost every day. I skipped yesterday because we went for a long hike, but I’m back at it today – Day 6. I’m still doing Level 1, but I think one more day at Level 1 (tomorrow) and I’ll move to Level 2.

I swear half the fun of the workout is my cats. They are incredibly helpful! When I’m doing pushups they make a game of running under my body. When I’m doing abs they like to supervise closely, sometimes running across me. When I lay down a towel for my head during abs the minute I get up the little girl kitty will attack the towel and wrap it up to kick at with her hind legs (so it’s a game for me to try to get it first). When I set my hand weights down the little boy kitty attacks them – the rubber coating on it seems to alternately fascinate and infuriate him so he has to bite it.

I can’t say I’m seeing any change in my body yet, but it has only been a week. I may be imagining a slightly tighter abdomen, but it could just be optimism and rose-colored glasses wanting to see something for all my work.

It is getting, if not easier, then more tolerable. I’m still working incredibly hard, I still sweat buckets and I’m definitely getting a hard workout. I’m able to work up to the more “advanced” effort exercises most of the time (I’m never going to be someone who can do push-ups from the toes, and I’m ok with that – hey, today I was able to keep doing pushups the whole time for the first time), and my endurance is definitely coming up. I’m pleased. I’d recommend this program for anybody who has physical ability to do a hard, challenging workout. It’s definitely the most difficult workout I’ve ever done. I’m enjoying it.

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The Soreness Report

February 11, 2015 Leave a comment

In my post yesterday about the 30-Day Shred workout I mentioned that the first time I did the workout left me so sore all over I was practically crippled, and I said I’d let you know how my second time went.

Well, I don’t know if it’s a “my body” thing, or this is more common to others, but after shredding it yesterday again I’m completely fine, not sore at all.

I’ve noticed this is a pretty normal thing for me – the first time I do a new workout I’m very sore afterwards, but never again for subsequent sessions. So – no soreness today after hitting day 2 of the 30-Day Shred.

Do you find the same thing happens to you? Or do you get sore every time? Or…something else?

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DVD Review: 30-Day Shred

February 10, 2015 2 comments

You guys know that I usually run for my regular exercise. Well, Saturday it was pouring down rain so I finally unwrapped a workout DVD I’d purchased several months back for just this purpose. I’d read good reviews of Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred program, so it seemed worth a try for somebody who is already a Pretty Big Loser. (ha! See what I did there?)

First off, the plan is that you do this workout every day for 30 days. It’s a short 20-minute workout, so most people should be able to find the time to work that in every day. Theoretically. There are 3 levels of workouts, and I started with Level 1, with the intention of doing it progressively more vigorously for several days/weeks before moving to Level 2, then Level 3. There is a somebody to watch and emulate whether you’re doing easier or harder versions of the moves (I stuck with easier, obviously, for the first time).


Pre-workout selfie. Ready to shred!

You need some hand weights (I used 5 pounders), and the workout consists of a short warm up, then 3 circuits of:

  • 3 minutes of strength
  • 2 minutes of cardio
  • 1 minute of abs

Then a short cool down and you’re done. But when you’re working it, you are not resting ever and it is a TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH workout. I followed the lady doing the “easier” workout for beginners and I indeed felt shredded by the end. For somebody who can run 5 miles at the drop of a hat, I thought I was in pretty good shape to start with. I was nowhere near ready for this workout. Twenty minutes and I was completely soaked with sweat. Which led to…


Post-workout selfie. Soaked and dripping in just 20 minutes.

Two straight days of muscular agony. I’m not kidding, I was so incredibly sore on Sunday that going to the bathroom was a painful prospect as the sitting motion caused me to physically moan. SO SORE. Every part of me was sore – legs, arms, abs, chest, hell I think even my jaw was sore Monday morning.

I did it again today, and I suspect that my body will have adapted, and also I was more aware of taking it a little bit easier than I had, so I don’t expect to be as sore tomorrow. Which is good because I can’t live like that. Which brings me to…

You’re supposed to do it every day for 30 days (it’s only 20 minutes!) to see best results but dear god – I’m not ready to die. Maybe after the initial workout and two days of soreness I’m now ready to do it every day, I’ll know better tomorrow.


My intrepid assistants.

And finally – my kitties were on the job helping me every step of the way. Grabbing my butt while I squatted, standing on my abs while I crunched, and wrapping themselves around my arm while I lifted. Today they added a new trick of attacking my towel if I left it on the ground. I highly recommend feline assistants with this workout.

So, in sum: This is a good, hard, quick workout that will kick your butt. I don’t expect to lose any weight, because that’s not what working out is for, but if soreness is truly weakness leaving the body, I expect to be stronger ASAP! And I’m going to keep using this workout because there’s no question in my mind it’s doing what I need it to do.

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You don’t need a thing to do your thing

February 3, 2015 Leave a comment

There are so many high-tech gadgets out there for somebody who is into fitness and exercise and eating right! How do you decide which ones to spend your money on?

Well, before you even start deciding, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to. At all. You don’t need any of the fitness wristbands, apps, trackers, pulse monitors or other wearables to exercise and get healthy. People have been working out and eating better JUST FINE for decades (centuries? millennia?) before any of those things were available.

You don’t need them. You may want them, you may like them and what they do for you, and that’s totally cool, I certainly wouldn’t discourage you from using something you find valuable and fun! However, if you don’t have any of those things yet and maybe don’t have the extra funds to get them, don’t for a second let that delay you from doing the healthy things you were considering doing.

Here’s a list of the high-tech gadgets I use:


I don’t use a wristband, I don’t carry my mobile phone along on runs to track my distance or speed, I don’t log my food in an online app. Probably because I started losing weight and keeping it off before any of those things were invented. Yeah, sometimes before or after a run I’ll check my distance on gmaps and note my time on a clock, but that’s about it.

None of the new devices are necessary for eating right and staying fit. There are always workarounds that are free or vastly cheaper than a gadget, for whatever it is you’re trying to do. Don’t let the companies selling them convince you otherwise. Get out there and have fun! It won’t cost you a dime.


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