Body for Life: Week 2

I am two weeks into the Body for Life challenge, and considering that I was only able to get in one run this week, I am pleased with my progress.

First, the hard numbers:

* I have lost two pounds this week, and four pounds in total.
* I lost one inch from my hips and one inch from my waist this week (in total, I have lost two inches from my waist and one from my hips).
* My oversized boobs are just as oversized as they were two weeks ago.

I haven’t dropped a clothing size yet, but I have noticed that my current size is feeling less snug. There is a bit more wiggle room around the vicinity of my rear end.

This may seem somewhat paradoxical, but although I have my second cold in as many weeks, I actually feel healthier than I did before I reformed my eating habits. Yes, the snotty nose and sore throat aren’t great – me and my older son have been passing a cold back and forth like a football. But I have not had any cravings for junk, my energy levels have been a lot more consistent, and now that my body is getting used to smaller portions, I don’t feel hungry during the day and I’m not weighing myself down with large quantities of carbs.

Most of the recipes I tried this week were a success. Although I am following the Body for Life system, I am using recipes from the Precision Nutrition plan, and I love them. The recipes are reliable in terms of yield and cooking time (did you ever follow a recipe to a T, only to find that whatever you were cooking needed an extra 30 minutes in the oven?), and they are nutritious and tasty. There were a couple of misses this week, but they were misses because of personal taste rather than the recipes themselves.

As I said earlier, I only ran once this week. I had a high-pressure week at work, and then I caught a cold. The cold is on its way out, and work will be less intense this week, so I have high hopes for a more active week.

I still need to plan my time better and do more meal prep during the weekend. I am spending so much time on food preparation during the week that I am going to bed at a ridiculous hour. I’m afraid that if I don’t figure out a solution, this will not be sustainable. The time issue is definitely my biggest threat to this whole healthy eating plan.

How do you manage to maintain a healthy eating regimen? Do you have any tips on how I can save time during the week?

(Photo credit: Jamiesrabbits. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)



Body for Life: Week 1

A week ago today, I started the Body for Life challenge. I completely revamped the way I eat, ditching the carb-heavy lunches from the cafeteria-style shop downstairs from my office in favour of meals brought from home, consisting primarily of lean proteins and salad. In the evenings, I started making more of an effort in the kitchen, selecting dinners based on nutritional value rather than convenience.

At the same time, I have started getting myself into something resembling an exercise routine, following my post-half-marathon hiatus.

So, how has this all gone? Has my week been a success?

Well, in terms of hard numbers, I haven’t seen as much of a change as I would have liked, but the change I have seen has been in the right direction. I have dropped two pounds, and I have lost an inch from my waist measurement. I am off to a start, so yay!

I have had a surprisingly easy time where discipline is concerned, and I believe this is the result of planning. Last Sunday night, I meticulously planned out and wrote down what the week’s meals would consist of. Once I have a written schedule, I tend to follow it quite rigourously. I have not been tempted by all of the Halloween candy in the house, nor by any of the processed junk food in grocery stores.

In fact, I have been having something approaching fun in the kitchen, as I have tried out new recipes. To my astonishment, none of my cooking experiments ended in disaster, although there are some that I clearly need to practice.

The thing that killed me was time, and this makes me realize that the obesity epidemic can, at least in part, be blamed on the fact that many people just do not have enough time to accomplish everything. I don’t care what you tell me, eating healthily is a lot more time-consuming than the alternative. When I’ve just worked a nine-hour day and spent an hour and a half commuting home, it is so tempting to just throw some processed crap into the microwave instead of taking the time to prepare something that’s actually good for you. It is so easy to blame people for the poor eating choices they make, but honestly, in this day and age it is not easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Lesson learned: do more prep on Sundays to save a bit of time during the week. Even if I do that, it may take a while for me to adjust and do things as efficiently as I need to.

With Week 1 done, I am looking ahead to Week 2. The menu is planned, and I have some specific goals with regard to runs and workouts.

Check this space for another report-back next Sunday.

(Photo credit: Andy Roberts. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)



Body for Life: Starting the Adventure

Quite a few years ago, on the suggestion of my friend Adam, I entered something called the Body for Life Challenge. Adam, who was my chiropractor at the time, was entering the challenge himself, and he formed a little group of people who would take part and offer support and encouragement to each other along the way.

Body for Life is an exercise and nutrition program that promises spectacular results if you follow the guidelines. The guidelines are quite simple. The nutrition aspect involves balancing carbs with proteins, and it follows the now-accepted protocol of six small meals throughout the day instead of one large one. The exercise aspect involves daily workouts, alternating cardio activity with strength training. You follow the Body for Life program for six days a week, and on the seventh you are free to eat whatever you like and sit in front of the TV all day.

I stuck with the program for about nine of the twelve weeks, and during that time I had phenomenal results. Excess weight melted off me, and for a while, my flabs actually turned to abs. Unfortunately, I was thrown off-track by a serious injury to my left (dominant) hand that required stitches, cortisone shots, and all kinds of other ugliness. Back then, I did not have what it took to get back into the saddle after a setback. I was completely derailed.

Although I gained back some of the lost weight after that, it wasn’t all a complete waste. Being on the program taught me some basics about nutrition and exercise that have stayed with me to this day, and of the fifty or so pounds that I lost, I gained back about fifteen. So as a program with long-term effectiveness, it’s pretty good.

I have been feeling a little iffy about my body of late. I run long distances and exercise several times a week. My eating is less than ideal but certainly not disastrous. And yet, I still struggle with my weight. I continue to fight with belly fat gained during my pregnancies seven and nine years ago. I have bat wings. My thighs wobble. My oversized boobs get shredded to bits on long runs, in spite of a good sports bra.

I hate to think what I would look like if I didn’t exercise. I mean, what does a girl have to do to be a normal weight around here?

In the wake of my decision to run a marathon three years from now, I have decided that I am going to reinvent my body. I will never be reed-thin or fit into a B-cup, and perhaps I will always have a little jiggle in my belly to remind me of the lives I had the honour of growing. But there is weight for me to lose. There are things I can do to lose fat, increase muscle mass, and be leaner and stronger.

Over the years, I have tried a number of different eating plans. I have sought the advice of a life coach and a dietician. I have attempted this thing and that thing. But none of it has worked, and it has been very frustrating. For someone with body image issues and a history of eating disorders, this is not healthy.

And so it makes sense to me to go back to the only program that yielded results, the only program I was able to sustain for any length of time. Yesterday, I started the Body for Life challenge again. I have recorded my weight and measurements, and I have had my “before” pictures taken.

This time, it will be even better than before. Because now, I know I will have the strength to pick myself up after any setbacks that may come my way. And when the twelve weeks are over, the healthy habits that I gain will stay with me.

I am not publishing my initial weight and measurements, but I will report back every week to tell you what I’ve (hopefully) lost, along with pictures that show progress. Hopefully they will look better than this:








If you really want to see my flabby bits in all their glory, you can click on the pictures for full-size versions

Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle’s long-suffering husband



GUEST POST: A New Journey Begins

This weekend, I decided that I had had enough of not being as healthy as I need to be. I catch too many colds and take too long to get rid of them. I am always tired and run-down. I don’t run as fast as I know I’m able to, and in spite of having lost a lot of weight, I’m still about twenty pounds overweight.

Since I was a teen, I’ve had a one-extreme-or-the-other approach to eating. Either I consume calories as if they’re going extinct, or I live on the smell of an oilrag. That I have psychological issues with food is without question. Part of my problem, though, is good old-fashioned lack of discipline.

My nutrition habits suck because I haven’t tried hard enough to fix them. This weekend I decided that I was going to turn over that particular leaf. Right after I made this resolve, I went to see if anything interesting was happening on Facebook. And there, right on top of my newsfeed, was a status update from my good friend Mimi, who had made a very similar resolve.

I emailed her excitedly, and we decided that as we strive to improve ourselves, we will swap guest posts once a month, to tell each other’s readers how we are doing in our quests.

Mimi is a special needs mom like me, only with way more special needs kids. She is patient and kind, and she knows the true meaning of friendship. I recently did the 2012 Blogathon alongside her, and I am so thrilled to be embarking on another challenge with her – albeit a challenge of a different nature.

Today, Mimi tells us what her goals are. I am delighted that she is sharing her journey with us.

When I look back, I can see myself at various weights.  Some bother me and others make me wish I was back there again.  Before I had my first daughter at age 19, I weighed in at a whopping 97 pounds soaking wet.  I had no shape to my body whatsoever, but as soon as I got pregnant, through those 10 months of pregnancy (yes, my daughter was 28 days late!) I gained 91 pounds!  That was a whole me that I put on!  I worked very hard to get the weight off, and I managed to get most of it off, I got myself down to 120 pounds and was happy there, but then I got pregnant again and up went the scale.  This time I went up to 150 pounds with my daughter and after her birth, I managed to get myself to GAIN an additional 10 pounds.  See, my daughter was born with Down Syndrome, so I was more concerned with her health, than mine at the time.

I got married in 1994 and my weight was 160 pounds, which I was technically happy with.  I had a little pudge on me, but nothing that I was embarrassed about.  But then I had our next daughter and I immediately put on the weight again, and this time with each pregnancy I had, the weight just kept piling on, I couldn’t get back down to 160 no matter how hard I tried.

I remember the day that I was at the doctors office and I stepped on the scale and it said “200” in big bright orange numbers.  I about died right there on the spot!  It affected me so badly that I started eating my emotions, and my favorites are carbs.

I have since given birth a total of 6 times and am currently sitting at 225 pounds.  Just in March I was 216, but I’m stressed, there’s no doubt about it, but to pack on 9 pounds in just a little over a month, that’s a problem to me.

So I decided that now at my age (44) I need to fix this problem for once and for all.  My doctor has promised to take me off of my diabetes medications if I can get down to 175, but I want to do better than that… My goal is 160 pounds, like I was 17 years ago when I married the love of my life.

I want to lose the weight not only for me, but for my family.  If I can do it, then it will show them that they too can do it.  My hubby is over-weight as well and I think this weight loss program that I started would be great for him too.  He had one knee replaced last year, and is going to have the other one done this summer, so if he could take some of the extra weight off his knees, they will last longer.

But really, I’m just tired of looking at myself in the mirror and looking pregnant.  I’m not fat anywhere else except in the stomach, butt and hip area, which is of course where all of women’s weight tends to go.

The program that I am doing is the CTS300 which is sold at Complete Nutrition.  I’m really excited about doing this program because I’ve seen the pictures of the locals who have lost the weight and I am more determined now than I ever have been before.  I’ve tried Weight Watchers, that didn’t’ work for me… So I’m hoping that this program does.

I have an exercise routine that I do two times a day, I walk the treadmill at various inclines for 20 minutes, 2 times a day and I carry two 5 pound dumbbells with me as I’m walking.  By the time I’m done, I’m glistening like a diamond ring – because women don’t sweat!  My thighs are usually on fire by the time I’m done on the treadmill, but that just means I had a good workout, which is what I’m looking for.

So I’m not looking at this as a “diet”, but more as a lifestyle change.  I’m changing the way I look at food now, and I think before I go reaching for something to put in my mouth.

Check out Mimi’s blog at Wife… Mom… Writer… All Blessings!


Leading The Food Revolution

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

Today’s story starts with Megan, the 15-year-old daughter of my friend Michelle.

In many respects, Megan is a typical teenage girl. There are celebrities she loves and those she cannot bear the thought of. She enjoys going to the movies, has dreams about the future, and when the time comes, she would like to wear a pretty dress to her senior prom.

Except that if things don’t change for Megan soon, there may not be a senior prom. Because in order to go to senior prom, you have to go to high school. And Megan is too sick to go to school.

When Megan started experiencing severe dizziness a couple of years ago, her mom took her to a string of doctors who were not able to identify the cause. Even a week of tests in hospital did not reveal why this young girl was so off-kilter that she had to rely on a wheelchair.

The dizziness was not Megan’s only problem. She had a prolonged bout of respiratory illness, her periods were problematic from the very first day, and she became unable to sleep for more than two or three hours a night, in spite of being constantly exhausted.

Eventually, doctors were able to determine that Megan had Fatty Liver Disease. It became clear to her mom, Michelle, that poor nutritional choices had led to this outcome.

But Michelle, who has endured a lot of hardship in her life, is not one to be beaten down. Instead of simply accepting Megan’s condition, she decided to do something about it, not only for her own family, but for her entire community. She started by setting up a Facebook group for people suffering from Fatty Liver Disease.

Then she started making radical changes to her own and her daughter’s lifestyles.

While Michelle acknowledges her role in making less-than-ideal food choices for Megan, she points out that many parents simply do not understand the implications of the foods that they and their families consume. As a society, we are so caught-up in healthy-sounding labels like sugar-free this-thing or low-fat that-thing.

There is no denying the fact that food manufacturers hire very smart marketing companies who can successfully deceive entire segments of the population into believing that something is good for you when it’s actually leading you to an earlier grave.

Michelle decided that it was time for this to change, and so she has spearheaded the organization of an event in her community that will teach children and adults about healthy eating habits in a fun and engaging way. The Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day is a global event being held in communities everywhere on Saturday, May 19th.

Michelle is organizing the event in London, Ontario. This day promises to provide entertainment and enlightenment for the whole family. Kids will enjoy such activities as making fruit or vegetable characters , while adults will learn how to make sense of those confusing nutrition labels and how to easily incorporate healthy eating into our busy lifestyles.

If you live anywhere near London, Ontario,  it is well worth attending this event. For details give Michelle a call at +1 226 234 4006.

And if you don’t live in London? Check out the Food Revolution website to see if there’s an event near you. It is going to be a global phenomenon on May 19th, with hundreds of public events and dinner parties in more than 300 cities worldwide.

Today’s children are the first generation who, on average, will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Michelle is determined to do what she can to turn the tide not only for Megan, but for other kids in the community.

Let’s all support the Food Revolution on May 19th. Together, we can truly change the world for our children.

(Photo credit: Denise Testa, JD Communication and Design)


Better Running Starts With A Kitchen Makeover

My 2010 Run For Autism

Two days from now, my 2012 training season officially begins. Over the last couple of weeks, I have gone running a few times and learned how to do the strength training exercises that have been prescribed for me. I have been reading through the plethora of material provided in my Precision Nutrition kit. I have been trying to prepare myself for this season, mentally and physically.

This weekend sees the final push, the last preparations before I start my training program. It’s kind of like preparing for a trip. You spend weeks or months figuring out where you want to go and how you plan to get there. You sort out details like visas and passports, you make lists of what you want to take, you sort out someone to take care of the dog. And then, for two or three days prior to your departure, you rush around in a frenzy of activity, packing your bags and confirming all of the details.

To follow the analogy, I am now in the process of packing for the trip and doing all of that stuff that brings all of the prior planning together and ties it up in a neat bundle.

Here’s what my weekend has in store for me:

  • Today, my kitchen is getting a makeover. I am emptying out the cupboards and repacking them. I will finally throw away the baby bottles that have been lurking unused at the back of the top shelf for the last five years. Now that I have decent pots and pans, I can get rid of the old dented ones with chipped handles and thereby add valuable space to my tiny kitchen. The fridge will be organized in preparation for tomorrow’s grocery shopping trip.
  • Meals for the next two weeks will be planned.
  • I will make a list for said grocery shopping trip. I will buy what’s on the list, and only what’s on the list. The husband will not be permitted to add unauthorized items to the cart.
  • I will go through the training program that my friend and coach Phaedra has given me, and I will add all of my runs to my wall calendar. I will also schedule them on my Outlook calendar. Once they’re scheduled, they have to happen, right?
  • I will get my home workspace organized in a way that it will stay organized. This will make it easier for me to get things done in less time. When my space is cluttered, my mind is cluttered and that doesn’t help anyone.
  • I will finally put away the mountains of clean and folded laundry that I have everywhere. I spend ridiculous amounts of time digging around for clothing that I could find in five seconds if I was organized.

This is a lot to get through in one weekend, but I am excited about doing it. I even have an incentive: if I do all of these things, on Monday I will reward myself with a new pair of sports headphones I’ve had my eye on, and this will give me a wonderful musical experience when I’m running.

I am looking forward to making new starts in my life. I am looking to creating some desperately needed balance, and doing things for myself that will make me happier and healthier. I have been languishing for too long in this feeling of being overwhelmed by my life. It feels good to be taking action and making plans.

I intend to post weekly updates on my progress, every Saturday. Come with me as I embark on this journey. It may not always be easy, and I’ll need cheerleaders along the way!