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Progress?

Okay, so this might not be the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve decided to share some of my progress photos today.  My fiance is a very smart man, if I haven’t mentioned that enough yet.  He has been taking progress photos since I met him.  At first I thought it was crazy.  Why the heck are you taking another photo of yourself in your underwear???  That is until I realized that it’s actually a fantastic way to see the progress you’ve made.  I took my first pictures back in 2009, and have continued to take at least one a year since then.  If you’ve never done it, I’d highly suggest giving it a shot.  Yes, it’s embarassing and sometimes very depressing, but it serves it’s purpose.  And maybe some day you’ll be crazy like me and decide to post them on the internet.

The reason that I wanted to share these photos was so that you could actually see some of the changes that have occurred in my body over the last few years.  Most recently, my 14 pound weight loss, but also the general transformation that has occurred since I became a power lifter.  I will admit that the changes are mostly subtle, but they are there.

(Click the photo to see a life size version of me and my love handles)

The first photo was taken in the fall of 2009.  I had spent the first half of that year training for Grandma’s Half Marathon.  I was nursing a nagging IT band injury, but managed to limp through the most intense and dedicated half marathon training round that I had ever done.  The result….a measly 4 minutes off the time I had gotten the year before with very minimal training.  That, combined with the fact that it was the hottest, most miserable race I had ever run sent me in a new direction.  I started doing more circuit based weight training in May of 2009 and backed off the running completely.  I wasn’t lifting heavy yet, and I was still only getting 1 hard weight training workout once a week.  The rest of the week was more cardio based spin classes and “boot camp” type stuff.  You’ll notice, I look the softest in this photo.  Yet another reason why cardio is not the answer.

The second photo was taken in May of 2010 just before my first powerlifting meet.  I had started to train diligently for the powerlifting meet in February of that year.  I had about 3 months of workouts under my belt- 6 days a week lifting heavy.  This is when I noticed the biggest change in my body.  I had a lot more muscle mass, my metabolism sped up, it was great.  Unfortunately, I didn’t test my body fat at that point, but I can assure you that it was much better.

The third photo was taken the morning of my meet this past Saturday.  You may have been able to see some more dramatic changes if I had taken another comparison shot before I started my weight loss journey back in February, but I didn’t.  I know I had a few extra pounds on me though, definitely at least 3 or 4 more than the shot taken in 2010.  Try not to be distracted by the fact that I’m wearing different clothes or that I actually have make up on (note to self, always put make up on before the progress photos).  I wish that I could just post the photo and the difference would be enough for it to speak for itself, but that’s not the case.  If you look closely though….there is progress.  My shoulders are actually wider than my hips in the last shot  when they were about the same in the other photos.  My abs are a tiny bit more visible, as are my clavicles.  My waist and my love handles are smaller.  My face is a bit thinner, and my legs maybe look a tiny bit thinner???  That last one might be a stretch, but I’m taking it.

So there you have it.  Now you have a full picture of where I started and where I am today.  It’s not perfect. I’m sure a figure competitor would have a much more impressive end result (and they’d be flexing), but I’m happy with it.  Hopefully this will further convince anyone that still thinks that weight lifting will bulk you up and make you look less feminine.  Personally, I’m much more comfortable in a bathing suit today than I was back in 2009 when I was on a steady diet of cardio and more cardio.

Do you take progess photos?  Have you ever showed them to anyone?  When have you looked/felt the best in your life and what did you do to get there?

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So here I sit, four days out from my meet.  I’ve met my goal weight, my lifts look promising, and I look better than I have in years.  So I should feel great, right?  I feel….rotten.  Not sick or anything, more rotten in a literal sense.  Hollow, weak, tired, and irritated.  I heard a story recently about a body building couple that found themselves in the same predicament.  They had trained their brains out, dieted like maniacs, and gotten great results.  They looked fantastic, best shape of their lives!  However, they were completely exhausted, crabby, and had zero sex drive. So even though they could scale mountains (or at least steep hills), impress even the most casual observer with their muscles, and undoubtedly give a stellar performance in the sack…..neither one of them wanted anything to do with it.  The mere thought of a romp in the hay was brining today’s blenderized chicken back up for a revisit.

I can sympathize.  All sorts of personal interaction have become increasingly less attractive.  Conversations just seem like work, normal daily activities are just walking temptations that I’d rather skip all together, and any form a kindness just seems like a huge pain in the ass.  I would even say that I feel like I’ve had a full on personality removal.  My normally dry sense of humor just comes across as, “seriously buddy, just do us all a favor and shut your pie hole”, or “eff off, can’t you see I’m exhausted over here.”  I’ve lost my ability to even fake it, which is saying a lot.  I’ve spent most of my life claiming to be a master in the art of deception.  But now days, I’m just too hungry to care. 

“So you can take that cookie….and stick it up your a……”

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It’s official.  I met my goal weight this morning and was even a little under.  It was surprisingly anticlimactic.  I blame that on the fact that is was 6:30 am, and I’ve been in dieting hell for the last 2 months.  Nonetheless, I started this journey at about 147 pounds back in February (after gaining at least 2 fruit cakes worth of holiday weight).  This morning I weighed in at 131.6 pounds, 0.6 pounds under my official goal weight.  Fantastic.  It would be nice if that meant that I could finally exhale, but it doesn’t.  As much as I wish I could have taken a quick photo of the scale and emailed it to the meet director to prove that I made it, I do actually have to maintain this weight until next Saturdays weigh in.  That means another whole week of no pizza, no DQ peanut buster parfait, no PB snickers.  I’m sure I’ll survive though…I’ve been doing it this long.

Because meeting my goal weight wasn’t quite enough (for some crazy reason), I also got my body fat tested this morning. I’m not sure why I decided that it was necessary for me to know my current body weight, but I did.  I saw a caliper set in the gym owner’s office the other day so I conned him into testing me this morning.  I’ve had my body fat tested once before by a weakling at the hospital cardiac rehab gym.  I don’t remember it being at all eventful…just a test.  So you can imagine my surprise when I felt a softball sized chunk of my thigh being ripped off this morning!  The gym own came in with ice cold hands and zero intension of taking any sort of mercy on me and my poor little fat rolls.  He grabbed a fistful of fat on the front of my thigh, my stomach, and the back of my arm (tricep area)…TWICE.  OMFG…..did it hurt.  I was doing deep breathing exercises and everything.  I could not believe the fight that my thigh fat put up when it got tugged on.  Apparently, it truly enjoys hanging out in its snuggly little home…tightly cuddled against my other thigh.  My stomach wasn’t too bad, but the back of my arm also similar to chewing glass.  Not a great experience.  I would not recommend doing it just for fun.  Yet another bit of evidence that I have completely lost my mind.

 

See….doesn’t look pleasant does it?

I’ve also gotten a couple of good workouts in this week.  I benched Wednesday night.  It was not my best bench workout, but I did it.  For the first time, I had a serious issue with keeping the bar straight.  Hopefully it was just due to some serious tightness that has developed from my building workouts.  I got a massage (another uber painful experience) last night hoping to remedy the problem.  I won’t know if it helped until I bench again on Monday, but I’m just going to say that it did.  This morning I did an odd combination of high box squats, close grip bench, and deadlifts.  I left the gym feeling like a rickety old lady….same way I feel on the last week of training for every meet.  Beat down, tired, exhausted, only now I can add crabby and HUNGRY to the list!!

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Cranialrectectomy

Admittedly, it’s been a rough couple of months.  I’ve experienced a range of emotions everywhere from pure excitement to absolute hatred.  I’d say I’ve average more toward the, “she’s seeing red folks” side of things.  I wrote last week about multiple insecurities that cropped up.  I’m happy to report that I’ve performed the preverbal “whack-a-mole” on all that nonsense and moved on.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still scared shitless about the meet and reaching my goal weight, but I’m a lot more confident about the hard work that I’ve put in to this.  All will not be lost if the scale tips 0.4 pounds in the wrong direction.  And if I miss my target lifts by a few pounds, life will go on.  I’ve worked hard for this meet, harder than I have for any of my other meets.  However I perform, it will be something to be proud of.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is going to be one of those times that I look back on and wonder….how the f*ck did I do that?  10 straight weeks with only a few slip ups (so they were GIGANTIC slips ups, but still few in number).  I know it’s not over, but I can honestly say that I’m proud of how far I’ve come. 

The next nine days, however, are likely going to be the worst nine days of my life. I’ve gone into craving overdrive.  I’m getting 5:30 am cheeseburger cravings.  Sunday night, I wanted a beer so bad I could honestly feel the tingling carbonation in my mouth.  This morning, I fantasized about every single delicious bite of a DQ peanut buster parfait.  The thought of a fountain pop is enough to make me weak in the knees right now.  I’m holding it together with a shoe string here, but holding it together nonetheless. 

 

This even looks like a good idea right now.  Seriously.

Thankfully, things in the gym have still been going well.  Monday was another great squat day.  I did 3×1 at 205 and doubled the last set, just to see if I could.  Then it was some dumbbell bench and RDLs.  Tonight is a heavy bench night and, of course, cardio. 

I’ve been in the gym on some sort of apparatus everyday since I wrote my whiny post last week.  One foot in front of the other…blah, blah, blah.  It has been dumb (yes, cardio is dumb…that’s the only effective way to describe it), but oh so entertaining.  There is the fake eyelashes girl that showed up at 6:30 am with her falsies and perfectly curled hair.  There was the scary anorexic that was working out in front of me and showing off every tendon and ligament in her body…eek!!  There was the skinny lesbian with her biker head band that “lifts” every morning.  I see her doing all sorts of curls and extensions, yet she remains as scrawny as ever.  Then there is the never ending supply of douchey quarter-squatting guys.  I should really start snapping pictures of them.  We should create of wall of shame website for gym douches.  Brilliant!!

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If you surveyed 10 million people, I’d be willing to bet that 99.967% of them would agree that dieting is a total pain in the arse.  And if you surveyed those same 10 million people (I’m all about a good sample size), I’m sure they’d agree on some basic expected outcomes of dieting:

            Lose weight…duh

            Increased energy levels

            Increased crabbiness

            And of course, increased body image and confidence!!

Yeah…..that’s what I thought too.  Boy, was I wrong (except for the crabbiness).  I’ll start out by saying, this is not your average diet.  I’m not trying to be a certain size or look a certain way.  My only goal is to see a certain number on the scale, and that number isn’t coming.  While I’ve lost almost 10% total body weight and noticed significant changes in my body, it’s not enough.  I haven’t been able to take one minute to enjoy the fact that my jeans are so loose they’re almost falling off, or that I’ve had to go buy new jeans in a smaller size.  I don’t look down at my newly peeking abs and get excited.  I just look a few inches lower and see all that I have left to lose.  And then I think about everything I’ve eaten in the last few days that I shouldn’t have- 5 extra almonds, a scoop of peanut butter, milk and honey in my coffee, that burger patty the other night…ugh.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to show up at the meet looking like this…

 

 Hot stuff eh?

I guess my point is that losing weight has actually made me much more self conscious of my body than I ever was before.  I was perfectly fine with how I looked before.  I was aware of the fact that I was hauling around some extra weight, but I was proportional.  I was comfortable- my clothes fit, I felt good, my fiancé ws happy with my shape.  I was very happy with how I looked.  Take away 15 pounds…..and I feel like a  flabby sack of sh*t.  Having to think about every calorie and measuring fat, carbs, and protein (to the effing gram) every day AND having to watch the scale like a hawk has turned me into a 13 year old girl with rock bottom self esteem.  I’m constantly fighting this nagging feeling of guilt over the food I ate and the cardio sessions that I missed.  It’s not fun kids.  I’m starting to feel a bit looney after almost 9 weeks of this business.

I’m sure it’s just a phase. I’ll eventually learn to define myself by more that just the fact that I’m still 2 pounds over my goal weight.  I’m also pretty sure that all this self doubt has a lot to do with the fact that I’m really worried that I’m not going to make my goal weight.  I seriously think that would crush me…after all of this….I can’t even imagine.

The other part of the goal is, of course, to move some weight around.  I actually managed to do a little bit of that yesterday.  It was a day of heavy singles for squats and deadlifts.  For the first time in my life, my squats felt awesome.  I was supposed to do 3×1 at 200 pounds.  It was cake.  I even doubled it on the last set just because I couldn’t believe how easy it was.  I was on fire…..that is until I set foot on the deadlift platform.  Eek.  My warm ups felt fine, until I got to 245…that felt HEAVY.  I was supposed to do 3×1 at 265.  I put 265 on the bar and seriously could NOT get it off the ground.  After having such a great squat workout, I thought the deadlifts would be no sweat.  I was pissed!  What to do now?  I put 245 back on and decided to just do 3×1 at 245.  I did the reps, but I just felt like such a nancy.  I should definitely be able to pull 265!!!  So I put it back on the bar and got it done.  I did it twice (2×1) just so that I could live with myself.  After seeing me suffer all night, eventually Uncle Jeff (the trainer) came by and asked me how it was going.  My response:  “I tried 265 earlier but I couldn’t get it because my vagina got in the way.  I tried it again later and got it though.”  Really???  Who says that?  I guess it’s true. 

Have you ever experienced negative results when going on a dieting adventure?  Tell me about it!!  Or,  have you ever been so pissed by not making a lift that you lost all ability to filter??  I’d love to hear the gory details.  It will seriously help me feel better about myself ; )

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Yet another ingenius use for duct tape!!!

I’ve warned you of the dangers of giving unsolicited advice.  But I am, of course, a giant hypocrite so I’ll be continuing my list of diet tips today.  I am aware that everyone is different, and different things work for different people.  Some people have zero issue with disconnecting themselves from food- seeing it strictly as a source of fuel, not pleasure or enjoyment.  Good for them.  I am not one of those people, and I know there are many others out there like me.  Maybe some of these ideas will help you, maybe you will think it’s all a load of crap.  Either way….I try.

  1. Pack a lunch. No, I don’t mean this in a “take a hike” sort of way.  I seriously mean pack a lunch, and a snack, and breakfast, and dinner if you have to.  Always keep good diet food on hand so that you don’t get caught off guard.  You know….”oh, I forgot my lunch so I’ll just swing through the drive through and grab a burger….just this once”.  I’m sure I look like a total idiot walking around with a bag of food everywhere I go, but it’s an essential part of this whole weight loss game.
  2. Never get hungry.  Another reason to always have good food on hand….hunger is your enemy.  If you get hungry, you are that much more likely to grab the nearest food-like item and shove it in your mouth.  This is when the 4 year old dust encrusted snickers bar at the check-out counter of the gas station becomes the most appealing item in the entire universe.  Or a four day old doughnut that was so disgusting that no one else would eat it suddenly becomes the most tasty and delicious morsel you’ve ever laid eyes on.  It’s amazing the tricks your mind can play on you.  If you do get stuck without any food when the hunger daemons start staging a war inside your belly, try to stick with things like nuts and jerky…not granola bars and other sugary snacks.
  3. Coffee is life.  I swear I should buy stock in Caribou coffee right now. I think I’m single handedly supporting the Midwestern region.  I drink it half strength so I’m not totally ODing on caffeine, but even a little bit helps.  It keeps me from obsessing about food and it tastes good.
  4. Cheat days are total BS.  People always talk about cheat days when they talk about dieting.  Lots of people thing they’re great, but here’s the reality.  You can do awesome all week long.  Then you give yourself an entire day of “cheating”, and you can flush your entire week of effort down the toilet.  That is if you’re anything like me.  I take one step down the “cheat for a day” road and something triggers in my brain.  One chunk of ear off a milk chocolate Easter bunny, and I’m toast.  I swear the sugar activates some sort of gluttonous disorder that forces me to drive to the nearest DQ and get a blizzard, then I find myself neck deep in a pizza, and before you know it I’m devouring a bag of cheese popcorn and washing it down with an entire 2 liter of coke.  WTF?  So instead of cheat days think smaller- cheat meals or even cheat items.  One step down the cheat road and then you’re right back on the suffering and punishment road of dieting.
  5. Lastly….in all seriousness, quit eating.  Not everything, just anything that you actually want to eat.  Chances are that if it tastes good or if you’re craving it in any way, you really shouldn’t be eating it.  So just put it down and forget about it.  Step away from the Cheetos.

 

Alright, I promise that will be the end of my pearls of wisdom for now.  In other news, my workouts have been going great this week. I think my body is finally starting to adjust to this weight!  Both my squat and bench workouts went well- 5×2 at 195 pounds and 5×2 at 140 pounds, yay!  If this keeps up, I think I’ll actually manage to put up some numbers at the next meet that aren’t even all that embarrassing.  Phew!

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Yet another classic!  If only going from the mail room to a corner office was that easy!!

 

Have you ever gotten a new pair of shoes only to discover the very next day that everyone on the planet is sporting the exact same shoes?  You never saw a single person wearing those shoes before you bought them.  The instant you swiped your credit card, however, and entire truckload was apparently unloaded in the middle of town and now every single person you see is wearing your shoes.  This happens to me over and over, shoes, clothes, cars, electronics, you name it.  I never even notice that particular brand/style/color until I own it, and then I see it everywhere.  I’m convinced that the same thing is happening to me with this diet.  I never really noticed who was gaining weight/losing weight or needed to lose weight until my entire life started revolving around it.  Now everything I do and see is some how tied to that little four letter word….diet.

A lot of people talk about losing weight.  They look for new workout plans, new diet plans, they get gym memberships, they buy goal weight jeans, the post pictures of how they want to look in a bathing suit on the cupboard doors, they do a lot of things…..but not always the right things.  I’m no expert, believe me. I’ve only tried to lose weight twice a few times in my life.  The first few tries ended badly with me losing too much weight.  This time around, I feel like I’ve found a pretty good balance of losing weight while preserving muscle mass, feeling better, and looking better.  So I thought it might be a good idea to throw out some quick tips just in case you might be one of the 47 thousand people that are dieting right now.  If not….please, for the love of god, go eat a king size Twix and some Reese’s peanut butter cups for me and wash it down with the most gigantic coke you can get your hands on.  Thanks!

  1. Quit eating.  Okay…don’t quit eating everything, but quit eating junk.  Can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Think more carrots, less cake.
  2. Start Drinking….ALOT.  Copious amounts in fact.  I wish I meant booze because that would surely make things a lot more interesting, but I don’t.  I mean unsweetened beverages.  Water is of course the best, but I drink a lot of Crystal Light.  Those little single serve guys keep me in business.
  3. Quit Drinking….completely.  Alcohol is not your friend when it comes to weight loss.  Drinks have a lot of empty calories, but it’s not just about the drinks themselves.  It’s also about the crappy food you eat while you’re buzzed or hung over, and it’s about the workouts you miss the next day.
  4. Eliminate all carbs except fruits and vegetables.  It helped me drop multiple pounds per week for several weeks in a row.  It’s not permanent, it’s not perfect, but it works.
  5. Go to the gas station and buy 10 packs of Extra Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream sugar free gum.  It will change your life.  They also have Strawberry Shortcake, Keylime Pie, and Tropical Fruit.  They are all fabulous.
  6. Chew gum or brush your teeth after you eat.  I find myself craving sweets after I eat a nice, salty (read pasty), hunk of chicken.  In order to nix the craving, change the taste in your mouth with minty toothpaste or tasty gum!
  7. Keep track!!  This is the one that I get the most eye rolls about.  Yes, it’s work.  But seriously, do you think the weight is just going to fall off without you having to put some effort into it?  Of course not.  Use an online calorie tracker.  There are tons of free options out there. I use MyFoodDiary.com because it works the best for me.  It’s not free ($9/month), but it has lots of great features that make it worthwhile.
  8. Keep your goals in mind.  Why are you losing weight?  I’ve always found having a very concrete and specific goal was a vital part of the process.  Pick one and stick to it.  Tell everyone about it so they will all hold you accountable.  Hopefully they will be there for you when you’re ready to sh*t can the whole process and belly up to an Anchor Burger.
  9. Don’t weigh yourself too often. It’s good to keep tabs on your progress, but don’t get too bogged down by the numbers.  I found that I was on too much of a roller coaster weighing myself every day.  Now I check in every few days just to make sure things are on track.  And if they’re not, I simply engage in a little blood letting in order to even things out.
  10. Quit eating.  Again, not everything, just anything that tastes good.

 

There you have it, my sure fire method for weight loss.  Enjoy!

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