Leveling Up, and Which Way to the Beach?


“That way to the beach.”

This morning I leveled up to Week 4 of Jillian’s Ripped in 30. I can tell that this is definitely going to be a hardcore module, however since it was my first day I had to spend the first 10 seconds of several of the moves figuring out what I was supposed to be doing. I suspect that Wednesday when I do it next I’ll be working the hardest I have so far. I will let you know if I’m sore after today, I’d be surprised because many of the moves were complicated enough that I felt like I needed more time just to figure them out, but they’re definitely going to be doing the job they’re intended for (making me sweat, grunt, and curse all at the same time).

Last night after I got out of the shower (before getting ready to go out with friends) I started doing some bodybuilder poses for my husband, just being silly and to see if we could see any results whatsoever. You know the bodybuilder poses, right? There’s the “Hey, which way to the beach?” pose… (When I do this pose I point with the front arm and grunt out, “That way!”


“6 PM on the nose, ma’am.”

And then there’s the “What time is it?” pose… That’s some hardcore watch checking!

And finally, everyone’s favorite, “Hey, look at this pouch I found!”

Anyway, I didn’t look like these guys, but he DID note an obvious change in my physique. When I flex it is wholly obvious that I’m building some muscle mass in my arms, shoulders, chest, traps, and legs. I was kind of surprised to see some of the muscles pop out that did.


“This pouch, is it not sparkly?”

My legs are always going to be difficult to see changes because I have such a large amount of excess skin and cellulite (exacerbated by there being too much skin) due to my weight loss, but even there I could see quad muscles shaping up in there underneath it all. My arms have the same issue, however I could see my triceps starting to make an appearance on the outside. when I press my palms together and press.

(And finally, everyone say it with me – UGH I hate how WordPress handles image files. Ugh.)


Planning Around My Hard Week

I had to be in the office this week, completely disrupting my exercise schedule. As I mentioned earlier, I shifted to doing my workouts in the evenings the moment I got home from work, then getting on with trumpet practice and dinner and other evening things.

Today I was able to work from home again, so back to normal. But, since I’ve been eating in restaurants with my co-worker who is in from out of town this week, I felt like a little extra oomph might be a good idea so I went with a full hour workout this morning.

That’s pretty much all I have to report – I had a schedule shake-up and I worked through it. I’m such a creature of habit so these sorts of changes really cause me to draw on the super-planning powers to try to figure out a way to still do all the self-care things I need to do.

The other thing I noticed is that after a day of sitting in an office hunched over my laptop my shoulders and neck tends to be pretty tense and sore, and doing a hard workout at the end of that really makes it feel better! Getting blood flowing loosens things up and keeps what might have turned ugly (possible migraine?) into feeling better. I must keep that in mind the next time I’m feeling tense and sore and worn out. Even though I started my workouts thinking I really wasn’t “feeling it,” I did them anyway and got rewarded by feeling better.

Work(out) Schedule Juggling

Really quick update today. I’ve been apprehensive about how this week was going to go because I need to actually be in the office for work every day from Monday to Friday – completely upsetting my routine apple-cart! Over the last 6 months I’ve been working from home exclusively and doing my workouts in the morning, but sometimes they need me there in person to test stuff I’ve designed or collaborate with people who are building my designs. Hence this week, and my apprehension about my inability to do my workouts, and worry that with entertaining out-of-town co-workers I wouldn’t have time to exercise at all!

Yesterday went about as well as I could have hoped. I got into the office early, worked all day heads-down with my team, and got home around 4:30pm, with the understanding that I’d meet up with them for dinner at 7pm. That gave me just enough time to do my Jillian workout DVD (25 minutes), hit the shower, then practice my trumpet for 40 minutes before touching up my makeup and heading out to dinner, where I ordered an appetizer and soup for dinner.

I’m very pleased with how I managed yesterday and I’m looking forward to continuing this pattern of good problem-solving for the rest of the week. How’s your week going?

Week 3 Things I Couldn’t Even

I did Week 3 of the Ripped in 30 DVD again, which I’m totally loving. I don’t know if I mentioned it here or only on Twitter, but Week 3 is a big step up in difficulty from Weeks 1 and 2. I will probably be staying on this one for a while. She really pounds the shoulders and triceps on this one, and I’ve been good and sore since Wednesday when I did it for the first time.

I’m not even going to start to list the moves that I couldn’t even. Suffice it to say, a downward dog pushup is a stretch goal for me, I can get maybe an inch or two of movement there before my muscles fail and I fall on my head. So I’ll keep doing this week until I feel like I’ve gotten some improvement and increased range of motion on the moves that are currently killing me. I did do better today than Wednesday though, mostly because I didn’t have to spend as much time trying to understand what I supposed to be doing. I was able to spend more time failing to do what I was supposed to be doing, so that’s a step up!

My husband was working from home today too, and after my workout, as I was standing there dripping sweat, he pointed out that my abs were starting to form into a six pack. That’s not quite true – what he was seeing was two parallel ridges of muscle down the front of my torso, which aren’t new but which are now becoming more prominent. It’s less like a 6-pack of soda cans, and more like two bottles of wine standing next to each other. It’s a two pack! Of wine! Classy!

10 Ideas for Hardcore Diet Programs

Optifast, Medifast, and HMR are hardcore programs that demand hardcore focus, and in return deliver serious results. But what if you’ve never been hardcore before where food and exercise is concerned?  I’ve got you covered! Here are some of the mental tools, tricks, and ways of thinking that have helped me through a medical diet plan in the past and might help you if you’re currently participating in one of these hardcore weight loss programs.

1. First things first: police your environment. Put the food you CAN have into one place, like a cabinet that’s just for your food, and make that the only place you go looking for food. Keep non-program food hidden away and don’t go looking for it. One way to do this is to…

2. Create 2 categories in your head – your program food, and food that’s irrelevant to you. Yes, your kid/partner/co-worker can eat whatever he or she wants but what she’s eating? THAT’S NOT FOOD FOR YOU. You have to get your mind focused on creating a category of food that is FOR you – the stuff in your food cabinet – and stuff that is NOT FOOD FOR YOU – everything else. See if you can make it a mental game or trick to consider non-allowed food inedible – to you it’s made of plastic. “That cookie is inedible, it’s fake food that’s not for me, so I don’t even need to look at it. All my nutritional needs are being met by the program, I need nothing else.”

3. Do you have a slightly obsessive personality? Use your obsessive personality to get obsessed with your program – you know how when you cheat and you hate yourself it’s so dreadful? See if you can turn it around – if you focus really hard on planning, tracking your intake (journaling), doing your exercise, drinking your water, looking forward to your next meal of things you can have, you will both drive out the thoughts of things you can’t have, avoid cheating, and have no time for hating yourself. I used to hate myself all the time, like, it was an obsessive 24/7 job, but I found that focusing on making sure I was doing my program right quieted those voices and changed them into something supportive instead of corrosive.

4. Delayed gratification – if you’re good at it, then it should be easy to put it to use. Something looks tasty? It’s still going to be there when you’re done with this program. The world is not running out of (whatever thing is tempting you). Remind yourself that you already know what that temping thing tastes like – you’re not missing out on anything new or different or novel. (and most of the time, it’s not that great anyway – certainly not worth the feelings of remorse and hate that come with it)

5. Try not to let yourself get too hungry – if this means you have to eat your food at odd hours, do that, particularly if you have no choice but to be dealing with tempting foods – don’t handle them hungry. Make sure you’ve fed yourself before packing the kid’s lunch.

6. Hot beverages can quell a lot of cravings. I like hot green tea when I’m feeling cravings for something I can’t have. Tea in general is pretty good for that.

7. Chewing gum – sugarless gum. Pop it in your mouth when you’re craving something, usually the taste will wipe away the craving and give you something to do with your mouth.

8. If you have an episode where you get off track, the best thing you can do is accept that it happened, and use it to strengthen your resolve to not let it happen again. Don’t beat yourself up for too long. You’ve gotten it out of your system now and know how bad it feels so you can move forward even stronger, right?

9. Try breaking the cheating routine. If you know that certain situations or times of day lead you to stray, instead of trying to brute-force your willpower through them, change the script. You always wander to the refrigerator when you get home from work? Work stress makes you want to reach for chips? When you feel that urge, lace up your walking shoes and go for a walk around the neighborhood. You’ve taken yourself out of the situation and changed the scenery – nice!

10. Try not to get too bogged down in why you have overeaten in the past, or why you’re tempted to cheat. Focus on the present and your process. I have a thing I like to say, “WHY I eat doesn’t matter, WHAT I eat is what matters.” Instead work on your skills for avoiding tempting situations, planning ahead for each days’ food and exercise, and meeting all your program’s requirements. These are actions you can take that will build skills you’ll need once the program is over and you’ve started maintaining.

These aren’t meant to be the ONLY way, what I’m doing is trying to throw out a few new ideas or perspectives you might consider putting into your toolbox. Take what works, leave what doesn’t. I’d love to hear some of yours in the comments! How do you stay on track? What tricks, skills, and perspectives do you use to stay focused and on track?


DVD Review: Bob Harper Hates Your Guts

That’s not actually the name of the DVD, but it might as well be. It’s actually called Bob Harper Body Rev Cardio Conditioning. There’s also a sub-title: “Inside Out Method.” I’ve done two of his DVDs so far and I still have no idea what this means, or what defines this Inside Out method. He never mentions it.

It’s a full hour of hardcore cardio, just like the other one I did. Great for a Monday morning to start my week off strong. I’m not sure which one was filmed first, but Bob continues his efforts from last time at being a total dick. Yes, of course, when somebody’s asking you to do things that are uncomfortable there is a natural instinct to think unkind things about them. But he kind of goes above and beyond, by tormenting his backup dancers to failure in some cases. Now, one of them makes a rookie mistake, when he asks her if she’s “feeling it” in her legs she says “No.” Who does that?? That’s like demanding a giant target on your forehead.  He really ratcheted up the dickishness after that. There was also, like last time, the token male backup dancer who couldn’t even. That makes me happy, because on some of the moves I couldn’t even either.

I often think, when I’m watching these videos, that the backup dancers sometimes put up with a lot of BS that I wouldn’t. Now, obviously, they are getting paid to be there and yes, I will put up with more BS when I’m being paid. But after doing his home workouts I would certainly never invite him to my house for a workout and I would absolutely not pay him for a workout, like at a gym or fitness studio or something. I have strong boundaries about how I am willing to let people treat me, and even stronger ones about how I’m willing to be treated by people I’m paying. So hey, Bob, just FYI, you won’t be seeing me in person for a workout ever. Since I know you were staying up nights wondering.

In good news, he seems to have figured out that the lying tactic he tried before towards the end is a no-go, and stopped doing that. However, he starts the DVD with a little several-minutes-long pep talk and that’s unnecessary, and would get annoying if I were doing his workout multiple times per week. Obviously if I’m watching it I’m ready to work, I don’t need to be talked into it.

And finally, I feel like the level is about the same as the last one, I did need to take the modifiers on several moves (I’m never gonna be able to do a full pushup, it’s just a fact of my body), but I overall kept up and burned hard through the whole thing. There were a lot fewer lunges than the other DVD, but plenty of squats with his moves, and you can work them lower or higher depending on your ability, obviously. There are the holds in squat poses, and there are jumps, so it allows you to really work every type of movement and muscle. My workout clothes were soaked through by the end.

Bottom line: Hard workout, lots of pushup moves, planks, legs, and dickish behavior by the trainer. It’s got it all!

Will I do it again: Yeah, probably. Despite my grousing, it’s a good workout.

What’s Special About Me? Why Do I Succeed At This?

A friend asked me Wednesday night what was special or different about me that I was able to succeed at something that has such a low success rate – namely, why was I able to maintain a large weight loss when so many others can’t?

I gave a fairly flip answer at the time – I have more self-discipline than the average bear – but the question has lingered and I think it deserves a longer answer, so indulge me for a minute as I try to pin this down.

Now, obviously, if we could figure out what’s different about my personality and bottle it, I’d be a millionaire without delay. So whatever that X-Factor is remains a little murky and mysterious, and possibly something that can’t be taught. But I’ll give it a shot.

First things first, when I said I had a lot of self discipline, what I mean by that is that I am completely on board with the concept of delayed gratification. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever delaying a small pleasure now to indulge in a larger one later. I don’t know if that’s something that is intrinsic or learned. What I do know is that had I been one of the subjects of the Marshmallow Test, I not only would have earned my second marshmallow, I probably would have volunteered to wait an hour in exchange for the whole dang bag.

Delayed gratification is probably the biggest part of the puzzle. It’s also something that you pretty much don’t need to embrace whatsoever in our modern culture. Think about how often you actually, truly have to wait and work for something in your normal daily life. Our society has made it almost completely unnecessary if you just can’t bear it. I blame it on easy credit. Back before easy credit, if you wanted something big like a car or a house, you had to wait and save and earn enough money for at least a down payment. Now you can buy a house without even 5% down if you look hard enough (or have a broker look for you – look, another thing you didn’t have to expend any effort to do).

Further, if you need some money you don’t have to wait for your paycheck or (heavens!) swallow your pride and ask to borrow from a family member or friend, you can just whip out your credit card. Don’t feel like cooking tonight? We’re going out – let somebody else do it! Don’t feel like going to the grocery store? They’ll deliver! Need some new clothes? Online shopping with overnight shipping! What I’m saying is that modern society and the internet have engineered things so that you don’t really have to work or wait for anything anymore, so it’s a skill that has quietly atrophied for a lot of people.

How do you learn delayed gratification? In my case the only thing I can pin it on is learning music as a child. Musical training is the ultimate delayed gratification – you practice and practice and practice for YEARS before you have anything worthwhile to show for it whatsoever. I was made to practice whether I felt like it or not. But, I think that anything you are made to do regularly as a child may be helpful in instilling an ability to tolerate delayed gratification, but I’m not sure. (There’s so much I’m not sure of).

Another quality that I think is a big part of my success is that I am very particular. Taken to an extreme some might say that I have compulsive tendencies. I actually think that one of the better upshots of the 18-month maintenance program that I underwent at the end of my HMR weight loss phase was that the behavior modification aspect of the program successfully installed in me the right triggers to direct my compulsions towards my health. That was only possible because I wanted those compulsions to be there. I actively engaged with the program as presented to me, and followed it to a letter, because I desperately wanted to adopt the behaviors and skills laid before me. It was important enough to me that I worked with the staff to rewire my brain and use the existing hooks already there (compulsive tendencies) to work for me rather than against me.

Which brings me to my final personality quirk: I have an overdeveloped sense of respect for and trust of authority. I’m a rule-follower and I always have been (to the eternal frustration of my husband, who is a bit of a scofflaw). Because when I went to the program I had already tried everything else out there, I walked in with the absolute conviction that I was incapable of managing my weight on my own. Since they were The Authorities on the subject, I was willing to give my will over to the program and exactly follow the rules because I trusted their authority. Time and time again I’ve seen people fail because they try to customize the program (whatever that program is). That’s not how it works. Why would you pay so much money for something that works and then change it to suit yourself when the reason you’re there is because you have a failing record at this? What makes you think you know better? If you did, you wouldn’t be there in the first place.

And I think that’s it. That’s why I’m a perfect storm of personal qualities for succeeding at weight loss and weight management. And now for the bad news: I don’t know if these are things that can be learned. So where does that leave us? I know there are other people with completely different personalities who have succeeded. I’d love to hear from you about what you think made the difference for you!