Wednesday, September 30

Girl Power is found in your purse

Mother Nature- my foe. Stuck once again cleaning up the mess she has made, doomed to endure it for the next 6 days. No fun at all. You can read my letter to Mother Nature if you happen to miss her gift on my birthday, but if you are up to speed, then please, read on.

I have been on a kick of talking about sabotage lately, and I will continue with that later. But for today, in order to take my mind off the cramps that are making my ears ring, I am going to discuss girl power.

GP is a wonderful gift 40 weeks out of the year. The other 12, it’s wretched. Let’s do some math.

I started my frequent monthly periods at 12. I am now 32. 20x12= 240 weeks of my life that I have been bleeding. That’s a little over 4 years. SO FAR. Now, I did get pregnant for 3 years straight, but the 8 weeks of bleeding after each birth makes up for the time I missed while preggers. That’s also averaging out the months when I have had more than one period, and the time I tried the shot form of birth control and had a 40 day flood.

So, let’s say that I spend $10 dollars on pads and tampons for every period. 240 periods times 10 bucks a pop is $2400, not to mention bleach, ammonia, and stain sticks. And replacing underwear that has been bleached out one too many times and falls apart when I peel off the Always pad, like cotton confetti in the mall bathroom. Yep, it’s happened.

$2400 for a week long party for the next 20 years, complete with decorations, and a special invitation to those around us about a week before hand, warning them that this will be more of a pity party than anything.

What a waste of money. Seriously.

Girl Power is highly overrated.

I know that this has nothing to do with dieting at first glance, but maybe it has more to do with dieting than we think. After all, as women, we prepare for our periods. We make sure our purses are stocked with a portable pharmacy. We have pantyliners, pads, pads with wings, light flow tampons, regular flow tampons, and “I’ve given birth to 3 kids” big around as a tuna can tampons. We carry Midol, Advil, Aleve, and bottles of water to suck those pills down. We have those nifty heat pads that don’t need a cord, wet wipes, and some of us who have had exploding panties in the bathroom are even smart enough to carry around an extra pair in a Ziploc baggie.

SO what do we carry in our purse that help us diet in sticky situations?

Let’s figure out how to stock our purse like a portable grocery store and help us be successful when we are out and about.

1. Sugar free gum.

Ladies, this is our first line of defense when it comes to food. It helps us get the sensation of eating, gives us flavor, and helps curb those cravings. (Especially if it’s cinnamon, right Amy and Lee Ann? Hahahaha) I keep sweet fruity kinds, spicy kinds, and even the weird flavors in my purse at all times. No matter what I think I might be hungry for, I have a flavor to match.

2. Fiber One Bars.

I know these are more expensive than Nutrigrain cereal bars or granola bars, but there is a reason I like these for the purse. First of all, they are packed with fiber, which will hold off hunger longer than the granola versions. Second of all, any food that is in my purse has got to stand up to some fierce beatings. My purse is knocked around, sat on, squished, and laid flat during the course of any given day. The Fiber One Bars are tough little cookies. They don’t melt or fall apart or get squashed to the point of squeezing out of the wrapper. And they are deelish!!!!

3. Del Monte fruit 100 calorie fruit cans.
I know, taking a can in your purse sounds bulky, but so is carrying around a big can on your backside. Trust me on this. Fruit is my life blood these days. I eat it whenever I can. (get it? Can? I’m so punny!) Just make sure you keep a plastic spoon or fork in your purse to go with it. And don’t worry about a can opener. The fantastic folks at Del Monte made sure to put a lid that can be opened with your hands, just like a can of soda.

4. I would mention that you should always have a bottle of water in there too, but you already have it to suck down your midol….

So there you have it. Everything you need to get yourself through a trip to the mall. Period or not, your purse is important. It can keep you from having wild calorie attacks in the food court. It can save you from needing to walk an extra mile on the treadmill. Because this way, you will always be prepared:

When purse comes to shoving food in your mouth.

Sunday, September 27

Looks like Sabotage

Imagine it. You are out with your fella, and a gorgeous woman with a plunging neckline and surgically altered blessings walks by. What happens next?

Well, if your husband is breathing, he looks. He stops, if only for a brief moment, and thinks to himself silently, “Wow. What a great pair of owls she’s got!”

Most of us will do the usual smack-him-hard-in-the-stomach move and pull him on. But guys can’t really help it. They are visually stimulated by what comes into their line of sight, and their body reacts involuntarily to the sights. Chances are they won’t act on the thoughts (not like a hot woman would be interested in your man, especially if she knew what his farts smelled like or that ne never takes out the trash without a serious nagging session) but the chemical reaction is inevitable that he will look.

Now, what is it that separates women from men? We have better impulse control, right? If we look, it’s only to get ideas on how to dress our man better, right? Or is it possible that women are just as visually stimulated as men are? I think we definitely are, but perhaps not toward the opposite sex.

Tell me something, what happens when you see this?

Or this???

Stimulated now? Are those salivary glands active? Can you feel the need to run out and get a big old hunk of milk chocolate happy?

Yeah, me too. In fact, I lingered too long searching on Google Images to find chocolate pictures to show you. My big breasted temptation is a triple tempered chocolate concoction that has been blended and creamed until gooey perfection. I admit it. I had a 25 minute drool fest.

The fact is that we are influenced greatly by the visual cues we get when it comes to food. Have you ever noticed the fast food commercials that drone on and on when it is almost dinner time? What about that Taco Bell owns the TV stations after 10pm because they are open late for a fifthmeal? Or have you ever thought about the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are spent for food plating on magazine covers? Each morsel is placed “just so” in the hopes of selling their rag and you putting that same dish on your hips. If you think that you are above visual stimulation when it comes to food, I dare you to watch just one cake show on Food Network. Go ahead, I triple dog dare ya.

My personal favorite is Ace of Cakes. Sure, there may be some cake artists out there who are technically perfect, but I love the idea that power tools were used in the making of my confections and that they are filled with character and were surrounded by movie and kung foo references while they were made. Not to mention that Mary Alice is too cool for school. That girl cracks me up! In fact, when I hit goal and have a huge party, I often dream about having them make my big butt logo girl as a cake for the occasion, except that she is holding a silver platter of fresh cut veggies for me to eat instead of pigging out on the cake. OK, who am I kidding? I would never pass up Charm City Cake, especially if it was made for me. I suppose a carrot cake wouldn’t be so bad…the only saving grace for me is that they are in Baltimore, and I am way outside their delivery area. But you have to admit, that would make an awesome “I lost 100 pounds celebration” cake, wouldn’t it?

Sorry, I digress. But there is something about seeing cake that makes my tummy feel all gooey inside. Also in the make me gooey category are fries covered in cheese and bacon, and any hunk of meat that is smothered in grilled onions. (Oh, a must add to the list is the Wisconsin Buttery Burger at Steak N Shake. DO NOT ORDER THIS BURGER. It is divine beyond words, and you will never want to eat another burger ever again. I’m just trying to save you a week on the treadmill.)

Did you ever sing the song in Sunday School… “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see?” I have to tell you, there is no better diet philosophy we could hang on to. Our eyes like to lie to us. They focus on the calorie laden plate, and ignore the cottage cheese. On our thighs. In fact, our eyes are fantastic at making us see illusions. And I thought I would bring a few of them out in the open so we can bring the truth to light.

Illusion #1. What is on your plate is a serving size.
Heaven help me, this is the toughest lesson to learn. I keep thinking that somehow, the restaurant will magically give me only what I need on my plate. These servings are not for us striving for weight loss. A good rule of thumb is that your veggie portion should be bigger than your meat portion. Always try to eat the veggies first. And order a box to come with your main course. Sure, it looks tacky, but who cares? Thunder thighs in skinny leg jeans looks more tacky. Trust me. Don’t make me show you a picture of my first attempt at skinny leg jeans. It’s not pretty. I’m not suggesting that you bring a food scale to your favorite diner, but if you faithfully start using proper portions at home and get a feel for the amounts you should be eating, you won’t be deceived when you are out and about on the town.

Illusion #2. Those food commercials have no effect on you.
Lies, lies, lies! I have no craving for a half pound burrito until I see the commercial. And I don’t even like the Bell anymore! I never think about dipping my fruit in chocolate until I see an ad for those edible bouquets. And it is ludicrous to imagine that anything you purchase while still seated in your car with the window rolled down is healthy. I don’t care if you are ordering a salad. By the time you put on the croutons, dressing, cheese, nuts and frilly add-ins, etc., you might as well get out of your car and walk home to burn it off. But we are convinced by the genius spin of the high paid marketing departments that we can make healthy options at fast food joints. Let me be clear- we can make HEALTHIER options, but you are still doing better to bite the bullet and eat at home where you won’t be tempted by french fries that jumped ship in the bottom of the bag. As for those commercials? It would behoove you to get up and stretch your legs during the commercial breaks. Maybe go in another room and drink 8 ounces of water, or try to jog in place until the show comes back on. Anything but sit there and be influenced by those fast food commercials!

Illusion #3. If it says Low Fat, Fat Free, Reduced Fat, Reduced Calorie, High Protein, High Fiber, or any other diet buzz words, it MUST be good for you and you can eat all you want of it.
This is a really tough one to decipher. There are many benefits of going with some reduced whatever products. You can do well with shaving off calories and grams of fat from your diet. However, that is only if you keep with the recommended serving size. How many of you have consumed more than just one 100 calorie pack in a sitting? (Charlie is sheepishly raising her hand) By doing this, we defeat the purpose of the pack. In fact, we would have saved money by just buying the Oreos, because 20 servings of regular Oreos are the same price as 6 servings of the wafer thin imitations. Now, let’s look at salad dressings. Reduced fat dressings- at least the ones in my fridge- still can contain up to 8 grams of fat per tablespoon. Scary, isn’t it? If you have to have the taste of ranch, even the reduced fat kind, put it on the side. Then dip your fork in the dressing and get a bit on the tines of your fork before attacking the lettuce. It’s amazing how little you use this way! We are a nation of excess, and we have got to retrain our eyes to really look at labels before we dig in. Label reading is key.

I hope that you all will take a second look at what your eyes are taking in and the illusions we have talked about here. My goal is to give you keys to make changes that can last you a life time, not just while you are “on a diet.”
And keep those entries coming in for the Sentsy Giveaway! I love seeing everyone get involved and looking at how different your tastes are. It makes me wonder what your homes look like. Personally, I love they symphony warmer, and the white do it yourself one with the skull rub ons. Cause I’m rock and roll like that. You have till Thursday night to get your entries in!!!

Friday, September 25

Smells like Sabotage

Old business first. My weigh in was this morning, and I lost 2.6 pounds this week. Yee haw!

And the winner of the basket of goodies give away is... (does anyone remember that?) Lee Ann from Danville! (I’ll be getting with you later, Lee Ann, to work out the details!) Here is an excerpt from her winning letter:
Recently, I reconnected with an old friend …Turns out I'm not alone with the expanding housewife syndrome. She has been on a weight loss journey lately and has lost around 60 pounds!! She has motivated me to get serious again. I've been eating better and doing something I never thought I'd do...walk. She has a walking group here where we live and she actually got me to move. I have to tell you, that task takes someone special. But with her kind words, encouragement, and seeing her success, I have decided I can do this. I've just been going at it around a month and a half now, but I've lost around 10 pounds.
So I would like to share with you my friend and her success. I hope that with her honest blogging about her journey, she can motivate you too. She's a great writer, and has a fantastic sense of humor. I wish you could all meet her in person, because she really is one of the most awesome people. I think that once you start reading the blog that you will be able to recognize that just from her words.”

Congrats Lee Ann. Your letter was killer. And lots of folks came to me through your words. Thanks.

On to new business.

This is something I have been wanting to write about for a while. But I didn’t want it to sound like the scary teasers for the evening news, like “200 Chemicals under your sink that will kill you as you sleep!”

But what I am about to share is a matter that us diet girls need to explore in depth.

Is it possible that we are sabotaging ourselves and our diets and don’t even know it?

I say yes! Yes, yes, yes!

There are lots of “triggers” I have discovered in my own life that drive me to eat. Some of them may just be because I am slightly off kilter and a bit weird, but I think that a lot of these triggers are universal. And maybe we need to pay attention.

I don’t know how many of you understand the process of taste. Most of us know it goes in our mouths, then tastes deelish, then goes straight to our hips.

But there is a great process involved in how we taste our food, and we should nose it. I mean know it. This little definition is part of a transcript from a one of my favorite shows, “Good Eats” on Food Network. Alton Brown explains the science of food along with how to cook it. And I learn something every time. Here’s his take on tasting.

“Although our brains tell us that our mouths do the tasting, the truth is, the taste buds (points to tongue and says, “riayt heayr”) are blunt instruments compared to the apparatus up here. (Points to his nose.) Now, if you could travel up into your nasal cavity and fight past the hairs and all the other protective barriers, (shakes green slime off his hand), um, you would eventually find several tiny patches of exposed nerve ending which are actually the only parts of the human brain exposed to open air. Now aroma molecules travel up from the mouth and lock on to these nerve endings which kind of examine their shape, and then send the “intel” off to the brain. Now this is analyzed, of course, along with the more general data from the mouth and a flavor profile is formed. If you don’t believe that this works, just pinch your nose, and taste the peach, and then let go. See? Your nose, knows.”

So, we taste with our noses more than our mouths. I usually thought that if I tasted a morsel, that would spell disaster. But I never considered what could happen if I smelled things. Once I started paying attention in my house, I was amazed at what I discovered.

So let’s go through a few of the lessons I learned, find out what they are and how to change them. You may be surprised once you see what can affect your eating habits!

1. When you shop in the grocery store.
I don’t know about you, but from about 5am to 9am, our local stores are extra busy making donuts, rolls, and yummy breakfast stuff that can really blow your diet. Then, from 10am to about 8pm, they are roasting and frying chickens in the deli. All of these things can make a girl impulse buy food and eat it in the car. Or take it home for her family. (Even if she buys jelly donuts and her family only likes cinnamon rolls. Are you picking up what I am putting down?) Seriously consider when you are doing your grocery shopping and make sure that you shop on a full stomach, and don’t linger in delis and bakeries. If you think about it, unless you are having something sliced, there is nothing in the mega-mart deli that is good for you. If possible, the best time to go is about 11pm. That’s when the store smells of floor wax and cleaner. That sure doesn’t make me hungry, how about you?

2. Eau de Charlie
It amazes me how many of our products are filled with bubble gum, vanilla and cherry flavors. Everything from lip gloss and perfumes to bubble bath and body washes. When you surround your brain with these tantalizing scents, you mentally drool. And that tricks your brain into thinking you are hungry. That is self-sabotage. Look for mint and floral scents in your personal products. Need chapstick? Skip the cherry kind and get the plain. Yeah, it’s yucky. But it also won’t make you hungry. Body wash need replacing? Skip the Mango or Pomegranate washes and find an orchid or ocean breeze smell. The you won’t get a whiff of yummy goodness every time your arm comes close to your nose.

Girlies, let me tell you. This is a tough one. I am a candle- uh, freak…Yankee Candle has stayed strongly above the economy because of my neurotic need to keep the house smelling like freshly baked apple pie and a blossoming cherry tree. But what I found is that not only do I get the munchies when I am burning the smellerific candles, but when I blow them out, the smell of smoldering wick brings back many memories of birthday cake. (Yes, I associate the blowing out of candles with cake. Told you I’m weird.) Which leads to random cupcake purchases as I go to the grocery store at 11pm. In order to combat this whole vicious cycle and still keep your home smelling great, I think that we need to explore wickless options…

Ladies, I would like to introduce you to Maria, my super swell cousin and avid commenter on my blog. She is known as “M.” (Look through the comments. She’s just as crazy as me.) Maria is the modern woman’s Martha Steward (yes, I spelled it wrong because Maria has a servent's heart like you wouldn't believe!) She runs a tight ship with 3 boys and a husband, does ALL the family laundry in 2 days (I still don’t know how she pulls that one off), keeps a great sense of humor, and She has just become a “Scentsy” consultant. This product is AWESOME!!!! They offer bricks of scents that you put in warmers, no flame required. Their scents, while often based around food, have a certain aroma that keeps them from being overly perfumy, and even their Baked Apple Pie scent is one doesn’t make my stomach growl, while still being extremely pleasant. To help someone get a fresh start on their candle collection, I am going to give away a complete “Scentsy System” which includes 3 Scentsy Bars of your choice and a full size Scentsy warmer! It’s a $45 value!

So you wanna know how you can win. There have to be rules, because I don't want to go to jail for fraud. So here they are!

A. You MUST go to Maria’s website at and browse around. Tell me which full size warmer you would purchase and what 3 scents sound most appealing to you in the comment section below. Make sure you include your email address if you don’t have a blogger account that will allow me to access your email. This will make sure you that if you win you get what you want and I have a way to get it to you.

Between NOW and Thursday October 1st:

b. Every comment you post on my blog gets you 1 entry into the contest. (Current, as in today, and new posts only please)

c. If you become a follower, that entitles you to 2 entries!

d. If you link my blog to your blog, that entitles you to 3 entries!

e. Send a personal email to 5 friends at a time telling them about my blog, you get 5 entries for the giveaway! (just CC my email on the letter to keep it ligit.)

I hope that you all have fun with this giveaway. Make sure you invite your friends to join in too! And good luck to you all!!!

Thursday, September 24

She Stole My Heart and My Cat!

Does anyone know what movie the title of this post is from? I'll give you a hint. Think Haggas.

Today seems to be a thieving kind of day. My friend Hillary over at stole an idea from one of her favorite blogs on how to make a decorative chalkboard with a second hand tray. My friend Mary over at stole a cue from another blog about it being the 7oth anniversary of the Wizard of Oz. (OK, it was actually from her post on Tuesday, but it fits my point better if I pretend it was today.) Therefore, I am going to do some stealing of my own. At least talking about it.

It's kinda funny, because I was debating about writing on this particular topic anyway. Mostly because it incriminates my family. Not in a going to prison kind of way, but more like a "my husband better have a good sense of humor" sort of way. Because it all starts with him.

Matt has been working out. A LOT. In fact, 3 times a week he stays late at work to hit the gym. Which is great. Unfortunately, he also read a book that told him in order to build the muscly bod he is striving for, he has to up his calories and grams of protein. In fact, he has to consume as many grams of protein as he weighs. Which is 177. With shoes. It's funny that when I weigh myself it is always first thing in the morning, buck naked, after I have peed and tried to poo, and before I take even a sip of water. He weighs in the middle of the evening, with shoes on, and hopefully jeans and a brick in his pocket. We weighed the same for a while that way, but now I am a couple of pounds over him again. I'm working on it though and am doing good with getting back in the habit of logging my food. If I nibble it, I scribble it. In a few weeks, I'll be back to being under him. (I better not expand on how happy I will be to be under him. You all might think I mean something else. And I most likely do.)

OK, back to hungry Matt. Poor guy. His food consumption has become something of an issue in the house. Mostly because he can't just eat anything. It has to be healthy stuff. No empty calories. And that means the stuff that I can eat while doing Weight Watchers, he can too. He just quadruples the serving. And then I have no food left.

Let's just compare for a moment:

Charlie's breakfast- a banana, coffee, and a bowl of Quaker Oats high fiber oatmeal with a splash of fat free milk.

Matt's breakfast- 2 bananas, a double serving of MY oatmeal, 3 cups of fat free milk mixed with scoops of nasty protein powder and 4 tablespoons of peanut butter, and some cottage cheese.
And a gallon of coffee with a cup of my fat free french vanilla creamer that this dieter cannot live without.

Charlie's mid morning snack- some water.

Matt's mid morning snack- chicken breast (yes, a whole one) with a salad loaded with my low fat dressing and tomatoes and a cup of shredded cheese.

Charlie's lunch- 2 cups of spinach leaves, with spray on dressing that is 1 WW point for 30 sprays (and it takes that much too) and cut up grapes for sweetness in the salad. Also 4 slices of shaved ham and an orange. And an ice cold glass of water.

Matt's lunch- Brace yourselves. This is gross. 4 eggs scrambled with cheese, MIXED with a cup or two of cottage cheese and a can of tuna. (I know, it turns my stomach every time he makes it. But he can't get enough of the stuff.) 2 more cups of milk to drink with more yucky protein powder.

Charlie's mid day snack- a handful of raw nuts and a bag of 94% fat free slightly butter flavored Styrofoam. I mean popcorn. And an apple. Oh yeah, and a glass of water. It isn't even ice cold at this point. I just have to wash the Styrofoam down.

Matt's mid day snack- lean ground beef, mixed up with cheese and a few more veggies, a cup of clam chowder soup, and a Pepsi. (You think I don't taste the sugar in your mouth when you kiss me, Matt???)

Charlie's Supper- a Smart One frozen entree, some salad, there's no low fat dressing left. OK, skip the salad. At least I can put some cheese on some, there's none of the cheese left either. I can at least have a glass of milk...nope, that's gone too. Between Matt and the kids, they drink over a gallon a day. I don't get a chance to get any. Screw it. I'm eating a snack size pack of Doritos. At least I still have diet 7up in the house!

Matt's supper- The last Smart One entree in the freezer, a bag of frozen broccoli with 8 servings of butter (because there is no cheese. He reminds me to buy more) and a HUGE glass of the rest of Charlie's diet 7up (even though he still has part of the Pepsi he brought home from work in the fridge.) And cookies. Any cookies (which are all the expensive healthier kinds) that are designated for school lunches, this man consumes.

It's no wonder they know me by name at the local grocery store! I'm forever running there at 9pm to get all the stuff we are out of. And I never have diet food left. There is some kind of psychology that must explain the phenomenon- if it looks like there is a lot of it, it must be fine to eat. ALL OF IT.

That being said, I am seriously considering buying a second refrigerator, putting in in our scary basement, and putting all my diet food in there. AND PAD LOCKING IT. Not to keep me out, but Matt and the kids. I can't afford to keep feeding people like this. And I also can't afford to not have healthy food. I just know how it is supposed to be portioned properly. Not to mention that if the food is in my basement, I will get extra exercise going up and down the steps every time I want to graze.

But I must admit, Matt is starting to bulk up, and his arms are beginning to swell with the muscles of Popeye. So maybe I ought to just shut up and deal with it. Keep running to the grocery store. By the time I hit goal, we will both be much improved people with great bodies!

And as for the weight...I wish I could tell you I was doing fabulous and dropping pounds like crazy. Once again, however, my body responds to slow change. Sunday morning, after the Japanese restaurant and a cocktail or two, I was at 182.8 which felt awful. I was down to 180.4 this morning. Better, but still not in the land of 170's. Yuck. Which is why signing up for the WW again was necessary. I'm following the plan 100% again, and that means I just need to be patient and let it start falling off me, one pound at a time. Ug. I am going to have the blog going forever at this rate!!! But it could be worse. I could have given up by now. And that would be way worse.

All rightie. To the grocery store! Tally Ho!

Wednesday, September 23

Pain, Pain, Go Away

I don’t know why pain is so relative. I can go many days without thinking about homeless people. Or starving nations. Or hurting folks who need a hand.

Then suddenly, you see someone you know in the throws of devastation, and suddenly, everything comes flooding into your thoughts. You look at the world with uncovered eyes. Your ears perk up and you hear what people are truly saying. Your heart breaks with them, and it makes you remember that being a human is a wonderful thing, and how lucky you are.

One thing that writing this blog has shown me is that we all have wounds. Deep wounds. It just happens as a part of life. You have someone betray you at work. You are going to lose a special friend and there’s nothing you can do. Your children make bad decisions and face consequences that you wish just go away. Your eating is out of control and now you need to lose triple digits to get healthy. Sometimes, people, life just sucks, and there’s no way around it.

What do you do when life gives you a wake up call into reality and you have pain?

Somehow, we have to face the pain and turn it into something beautiful. We have to press ahead, even though “up ahead” is pitch black.

The good news is, we should always be a flash light for one another. That’s the saving grace of crappy situations. We can help one another. Whether it’s a well timed word, slipping of money into someone’s hands, or just taking a moment to listen- WE ARE OUR OWN BEST SUPPORT.

That being said, I have a dear friend who decided it was finally time to get on the weight loss wagon. And she is terrified of it. I completely understand, too. I was exactly where she was 9 months ago. This dieting is scary business, and we all know it. We have to refocus our lives, change our priorities, and learn to move from living to eat into eating to live. It’s tough.

Last night, about 1 am, I woke up with a song on my heart. Many of you may not know this, but music is my one real passion. I’m not good enough to take on American Idol or anything, but I can carry a pretty decent tune in my bucket. Anyhoo, this friend was on my heart, and her song came to life within me. I thought I’d share the lyrics tonight, considering I know many of you out there are hurting so much. I think I will let the song speak for itself.

It’s called “The Stone Around My Neck.”

"The road up ahead seems to stretch out for miles
And morale is decidedly low.
I’ve been in this place one too many times
And I’m scared to head where I should go.
I’ve been the token for all that is broken
And I gave up on me a long time ago.
Yet hope springs again though my courage is thin,
Do I dare to just go with this flow?

I’ll just take one little step, get one foot off the ground
Get one foot in front of the other,
Just make one small move that could turn your life around,
One little step. Now take another.

Looking behind the past leads you astray
And tells you that you won’t succeed.
But the past is the past and it cannot outlast
A future you dream you’ll achieve-
Cause I’ve seen the fire that fuels you desire
To blaze into trails so unknown.
Let this conviction conquer all these afflictions.
Tap into the strength that you’ve shown.

Just take one little step, get one foot off the ground
Get one foot in front of the other,
Just make one small move that could turn your life around,
One little step. Now take another.

The pendulum’s swinging between the extremes
Of failure or victory sweet-
You don’t think life’s tipping the scales in your favor-
But it is…if you’ll just move your feet…

Just take one little step, get one foot off the ground
Get one foot in front of the other,
Just make one small move that could turn your life around,
One little step. Now take another."

Sunday, September 20

The time has come...

It isn't pretty. Not at all.

Last night's little trip into Japanese cuisine land left me with an extra 3 pounds. Which means that I am back up to 182 and some change.

Don't get me was totally worth it. I fully believe that you must still have a life while dieting. You need to make exceptions to the rules sometimes in order to not go crazy or feel deprived. My rule of thumb is that things like celebrations and parties are reason to indulge a little.

Being bored is NOT an excuse to indulge.

As you all are completely aware, I have been struggling with the same 5 pounds for a month and a half now. Probably longer if I stop and count it up. Which I won't. Not today. Maybe once I hit 170 I can look back with fond memories of how I fought valiantly for over 6 or 7 weeks and finally beat that stubborn plateau. Till then, the proof is in the low fat sugar free pudding.

Now, I am still doing good with the measurements. I am comfortably into size 12 pants, and my goal jeans are able to be zipped while I'm in an upright position. That is progress.

And although I don't believe that health is all about your weight, I am really sick and tired of seeing 178-182. Mostly because I know that I am better than that. I am able to achieve much more than I have given myself credit for. I can beat this. Which means one thing.

It's time for an all out assault against fat. Kids, Charlie is at war.

So what does that mean, exactly? It means that I need extreme accountability. So I signed back up for Weight Watchers online. It had to be done. I don't journal my food unless I am using the online tools. I can eat 24 points a day, which means no more high fat- low fiber- crap food for this girl. Back to healthy fruits and veggies, lean meats, and water. Lots and lots of water.

Part 2 of my war against fat is finding a way to really work out again. Not just the Lotte Berk either. But really pushing myself. Which means I need Jillian again.

You may recall in the post "Charlie's sweaty balls and the YMCA" that my Jillian Michaels is the teacher of the "Wake Up with Fitness" class at the Danville Family YMCA. She was the best thing that ever happened to my diet. When Tricky Nikki and I were attending her class, I was really cruising on the weight loss and shrinkage. But when our financial scholarship for the membership ran out, we weren't able to afford a membership there. Matt and I are trying really hard to get out of debt, and with only his income supporting our family of 5, it's just not something we can swing. But like many of you have encountered for yourselves, we are just over the limit of getting help. It really sucks being mostly broke.

So I emailed a plea letter to the director, asking him to sponsor my family. It's risky, because he may not even notice the letter in his inbox. But if there was ever a girl in need of a Y membership, it's this girl. Hopefully he will take pity on my situation, and see all the good I have done so far. Not just to make myself healthier, but helping others out there who needed a nudge. Or a shove.

I don't want to stay where I am. I want to keep losing. I want a healthy body mass index. I want the scale to be my friend, instead of the evil arch enemy of my mornings. I want to keep walking in the right direction towards my goal!!!

Speaking of stepping, I forgot to post a picture of the shoes that I painted for last night's outfit. I am doing that now, for those of you who are curious. I have an obsession for altering shoes. This is the second pair I have conquered, and I keep finding new ways to make them new and fresh. Anyhoo, I hope you like them!

Saturday, September 19

An Animal on the Prowl

Maybe my horrormoans are raging, but the idea of sexy has been on my mind a lot this week. And since you shrinkites took away some fun ideas about how to incorporate sexy into your life, I thought I might show you firsthand how I am implementing sexy into tonight’s festivities. We are going to a high class Japanese restaurant in our neighboring town of Champaign, to help Tricky Nikki and my brother celebrate their 5th anniversary. Congrats you two. (Jason, don’t knock her up this weekend. Tricky Nikki has been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last 4 years. And she's tired of gaining and losing that 30 pounds of baby weight. She looks super hot now, so I know it will be tempting. But resist, dear brother, resist!)

The last time we all went out like this, it was the celebration of their 1st anniversary. We went out to dinner, then hit a few of the old stomping grounds from when Nik and I were both single. And it was a very fun night. We danced, had a few cocktails, and generally recaptured the essence of our youthful selves before the ravages of pregnancy and adulthood stole our misguided thunder. The boys (Matt and my brother, who was home on leave from Iraq) bet Nikki and I that we couldn’t consume numerous amounts of Jello concoctions, and we showed them that we were winners. While I don’t remember much after that, I know that the boys (who were stone cold sober) have had great fun teasing us for the last 4 years about our antics that night. (Including a very wobbly version of the Electric Slide. Hey, it was all the rage in 1996, and the Midwest is 2-5 years behind the trend, which means that in 1998, we were ahead of the curve!)

While tonight I have no intention of getting ripped off my butt like before, I am excited to do a few things tonight. One of those things is trying Japanese cuisine. This will be a first for me, because I am a sturdy Midwestern girl through and through. Meat, potatoes and salad with a roll suit me just fine. While I don’t have a torrid love affair with gravy as some people in my family do, there are some wonderful aspects of midwest simplicity that can’t be beat. So tonight I will be stepping out of my usual comfort zone, and trying something new. I have no clue what to order, but I’ll figure something out.

Next on the list is expanding my style wings. Fashion is extremely important when you are in transition between fat and sexy, especially on a celebratory night like tonight. I found a rocking sale and scored a dress for $7. Yes, $7 people. I was ecstatic! But I didn’t have any shoes to match the dress, so I made some. I had a pair of old taupe heels (with a pointy toe) and some fabric dye. I pained the shoes and gave them a broken in leather look that compliments the dress perfectly.

About the dress…now, you all know that I still have issues with the upper arms. While Lotte Berk seems to be toning them nicely, they are still jiggly. And not tiny. But sometime in the near future I am going to have to embrace this body once and for all. I need to appreciate it and be proud, considering where it came from.
I was watching Dr. Oz this week and he did a special on a mother and daughter who suffered and conquered breast cancer together. He gave them a fashion makeover (courtesy of my favorite stylist Tim Gunn) to help them celebrate their journey. And it got me to thinking…

(this is the part where you all cry in unison, “Uh-oh! Charlie’s been thinking! Look out!)

Do I have an outfit that celebrates how far I have come on my weight loss journey? Something that screams Charlie and embraces all the curves that are almost in the right places? Do I have a dress that makes people look twice when I walk by and shows them a confident woman who has accomplished what she once thought was impossible?

I looked in my closet, and there was no such dress.

So after perusing our sad mall here in Danville, I was left with only a few options. And a tight budget. I found a couple of dresses that might work, and headed into the dressing room. A decision like this can’t be made on a whim. I needed visual confirmation.

The first dress was a little black number that I was really excited to try. As I put in on, though, there was a glitch. It wouldn’t zip around my boobs. And it was too big in the waist. And it looked awful. So back on the hanger it went.

The second choice was a red strappy dress that screamed sexy. However, once it was on, it also screamed “Richard Gere, I’ll show you how to drive a stick shift and give you 88 inches of therapy for the bargain price of $3000!” (If you didn’t get that reference, I am utterly ashamed of you.) After practicing the "jewelry box snap and laugh" in the dressing room mirror, the red “professional dress” went back on the hanger. At which point the dressing room attendant knocked on the door and asked if I was OK. I giggled and said yes, then asked her if she worked on commission. She, very confused, said no. Dang it, I was going to say “Big mistake. Big. Huge!” Back to the dresses.

All I had left in the dressing room was door number 3. And I didn’t like number 3. Everything about it was wrong. On the hanger I thought it would be the hooker dress to beat all. I didn’t like the print, I didn’t like the shape. But it was the right size. So I gave it a whirl. And I was shocked. Completely shocked.

Because it did fit. Perfectly. The print worked on me because of my coloring. And I didn’t look like I was for hire by the hour. In fact, I almost looked classy. Then, I looked at the price tag, and it was $7, which fit even better than the dress itself!

One of the things I love about this dress is how I feel in it. I feel thin. I know that I am not thin yet, but this dress is a step in the right direction. It has cap sleeves, but I don’t feel self conscious about my arms at all. It hugs the waist, which looks little because of the print. And the bodice? Well, my husband is going to enjoy the view tonight.

So, your project over the weekend is to find an outfit that you love. It can be in your closet, it can be new, it can be a friend’s. But you MUST find something to wear that makes you feel good! What is it? Tell me all about it! Where would you wear it? What do you love about it? What does it say about you and your journey to health so far?

Mine apparently says that I have unleashed the beast within. And I love it!!!

Wednesday, September 16

I want my sexy back...

Brace yourself. This is going to be a most interesting conversation, to say the least.

So up until this last month, sexy was a word completely deleted from my vocabulary. Sexy was defined as something I saw others portraying, but it certainly wasn’t something I embraced. In my mind, there is nothing sexy about back fat unless it is hiding in the deep recesses of my girdle. Stretch marks can be hidden in the dark, but if your husband mistakenly and innocently cradles your stomach, thinking it is one of your “girls,” it can completely ruin the night’s events. All the romance in the world can’t bring you back quickly from an experience like that. Not that I was mad at him, but rather I was mad at myself. Something had to change.

And that something needed to be: changing my mental attitude from considering myself overweight and chubby to become embodiment of sexy. I want to make myself clear here. This is not so I can lure in others, because I am quite content to be a one man kind of girl. But being sexy in your mind is pretty important. It can change your whole outlook.

It’s the difference between shaving up to the knees once a week, or shaving every other day past your thighs. It’s the difference between wearing a hooded sweatshirt to the grocery store in the middle of summer cause you are too lazy to put on a bra (admit it, we’ve all done it at least once), or putting on a bra AND makeup in case you see somebody you know and want to present the best version of you that you can (in the town we live in, it’s hard NOT to see someone you know at the store. Unless you actually do have on makeup, then you don’t see anyone remotely familiar and you get disappointed because you went through all the effort. At least you looked good for the security cameras!). It’s the difference between sweat pants with crocs and fitted jeans with a nice red heal. Are you hearing me?

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think that “sexy” has much to do with sex at all. It’s not about being uh…physically engaged with another person.

Sexy is learning to be deeply connected to yourself, to enjoy being you, and letting that joy spill over into the outward parts of your life.

Like food.

Yeppers, food can be quite sexy indeed.

There is something life changing about being attracted to your salad like it’s a green version of Brad Pitt (or insert another name of a person who is the epitome of sexy to you) and looking at that Totino’s party pizza like it’s Chris Farley. Sure, we all loved Chris Farley, and he’s great to watch from time to time. But remember the episode of Saturday Night Live when he was standing next to the beloved Patrick Swayze (I’ll miss him terribly) and they were both auditioning for Chippendale’s? There is no contest as to which one was sexier. So we have to figure out a way to make salad seem sexy to us. That’s what we must crave. That’s what we need. And making a salad sexy in our mind will make us feel sexier as well. And that will change everything- from our meal time habits to our actual bodies.

But it is most important for us to make the leap from fat to sexy on an emotional level. And here comes the hard part. How do we successfully sexify ourselves when we are in transition and don’t feel sexy at all?

I thought I would share some tips on how I have managed to change my brain from thinking of myself as a matronly mom to a hot mama, and have embraced the parts of me that I don’t really like at all…meaning my entire body.

1. Start from your drawers. Look in your underwear drawer. How many of your skivvies are older than your kids? (I admit, I still have a few from 10 years ago…) I don’t know about you, but some of my underwear could stand to see the inside of a trash bag. They have gone from white and crisp to grey and saggy. If your cotton undies have been bleached more times than your hair (or my hair, if you don't bleach), it’s time for them to go. Now, you also need to consider the style. When was the last time you purchased something with a little lace? Maybe a higher leg than your usual full coverage knickers? I’m not saying that granny panties can’t be useful, but if they are the only kind you wear 4 weeks out of the month instead of 1 week, then GET SOME VARIETY. No one else may see what you are wearing under your jeans. But if you have satin hugging your curves, you will naturally perk up your sexiness. It comes from the bottom up. In this case, quite literally.

2. Pretend you are the most beautiful person in the room. It’s easy to do if you are all alone. But if you are in a public setting, this is pretty useful. Just pretend you are like nothing anyone has ever seen before (in a good way, of course), look others in the eye, and SMILE. It’s important to remember that nothing is more powerful than someone who is genuine, so smile like you mean it. No beauty pageant Vasaline on the teeth smiles. If you reach out and take this step, people are going to notice that you have confidence enough to be real. And ladies, confidence is sexy. It may not make people buy you flowers or ask you on rendezvous to Paris (which is not our goal here anyway) but it will show people that you may have something wonderful to say, and that you are going to be a great person to get to know. Confidence is sexy.

3. It’s time for some diaper duty. No, not babies, necessarily, but it is time to pamper yourself. When was the last time you had a makeover? Most department stores offer makeovers at their cosmetics counters for free. So do companies like Avon and MaryKay. Learn a new make-up technique. Get a facial. Get a pedicure. The point is, you have got to take pride in you. As a mom, there have been many days when I was lucky to get a shower in. That has got to change. If you need to, ask a friend to come over and watch your youngins for an hour while you go upstairs and do all the girlie things we should be doing. Or call a salon and get a new doo. We just can’t be content to wash our faces and brush our teeth if we want to feel sexy again.

4. DO NOT, under any circumstances, fall into the trap of waxing or shaving bare…uh, you know where. I debated about talking about this, but you all love my honesty, so honest you are going to get. See, every 6 weeks or so, I get a little overzealous with my razor. And I always start off with the intent to just hit the bikini line, and trim things down. Trimming is good. Shaving is BAD. Not at first, when things are all smooth and fine. But day two, when you get a 5 o’clock shadow in your fruit of the looms, things are not so fine anymore. Worst part is, there’s nothing you can do besides wait till things grow out. And heaven forbid you start your period in that growing out stage and need an always. Stubble sticks and catches on the mesh lining of the pad and you wind up with discomfort to levels you never knew possible. Nothing is less sexy than me digging at my goodie patch trying to relieve the itching of a shave and a haircut on my two bits. Or succumbing to the relief that can only be found by applying diaper rash ointment to get rid of the irritation. (Works like a charm, but the ointment smells awful.) As far as the waxing goes, I have never been brave enough to get it done. I’ve had my eyebrows waxed, and I choose to pluck them myself instead. Besides, I have a hard enough time going spread eagle at the OBGYN, let alone in a salon where you know that gossip is the only form of communication. At least in the Dr’s office, they are sworn to confidentiality. Too bad they don’t offer some waxing services there…

So I hope that you will look for ways to incorporate sexiness into your life as you are changing and shrinking. Just my random thoughts for the day.

And the video I was going to make? Well, let’s just say that my hair (which is no longer pink but a really odd color) didn’t look so hot on the movie we tried to make. So this weekend I am going back to my usual blonde. As soon as I do, I will get back on the vlogs.

Till then, however, I have decided that wearing a hat is sexy…

Monday, September 14

Famous First Words

If there was one thing I could say to someone starting a diet, just like this girl was 1 year ago...what would I say?
Would I tell her that buying 100 calorie packs of imitations Oreos can make you go broke and they will never taste as good as the originals?

Would I share that walking is the best way to exercise, and you can do it anywhere, as long as you have good shoes and good music or great conversation?

Would I tell her that the best diet secret is to stuff yourself with determination and to stock up on it like its toilet paper?

Hmmm, these are all good tips, to be sure. But they aren't really what I would share with someone who is on day one of her diet. What is the most important thing I can say, one year into this crazy journey, that might give a new dieter the upper hand to help change her life?

This is gonna hurt.

Yes, that is exactly what I would tell her. Not to fill her full of fear, or make her run screaming from steamed vegetables (not that I would blame her for running), yet I think the statement - this is gonna hurt- is a fair statement to give her edge she will need to keep going.

If someone had told me in the beginning of my twenties what being a parent is really like, the late nights, the fighting among siblings, the practicing of name writing on walls with a Sharpie marker, I would have still had kids. In fact, even after managing a munchkin driven life for 9 years now, fully knowing how hard it is, I still want more pint sized tornadoes to add to my chaos. The difference is that now I am better prepared than I was when I first started shooting them out in 21 shotgun salute formation, because I know that parenting is tough.

I know there will be sleepless nights with teething babies, toddlers with ear aches, and that every nice shirt in my closet is a potential napkin. I know that my kids will say embarrassing things. They'll ask tough questions like "Mommy, why did God give women long boobs?" when they see me streaking in the living room to the basket of clean clothes where my bra is located. I know what I am getting into now. But knowing what it's like doesn't change my mind. It just makes me realize the importance of owning more than one set of washers and dryers, and the necessity of at least 2 toilets in the house. And of course a sound proof tower so I can lock them up (Rapunzel style) when they hit puberty and members of the opposite sex start calling. Don't think I'm gonna budge on that one either.

So it would only be fair if I told someone the truth about dieting. The truth that all the diet gurus out there gloss over, which makes a woman feel inadequate after she realizes it, which will send her on a tail spin of yo-yo dieting for the next 20 years, until she owns a complete set of jeans in every size between 6 and 26 (and still has nothing to wear, of course). It would be the right thing to do, telling the truth, like I wish someone had told me a year ago. And I think I'll practice what I would say to her right here.

"YAY!!!! I am excited that you are starting a new life of dieting, and I will be here for you, to support, encourage and assist you however I can. That is what I do, free of charge, because I want nothing more than to see you succeed and feel like you can do anything. But I'm not going to lie to you. What you are about to embark on, this new diet...well- this is gonna hurt. In fact, this is going to hurt worse than you can imagine.

This is going to hurt your body, because you have to make it work harder than it ever has before.

This is going to hurt your wallet, because crap food is cheap, and fresh food is going to cost you a lot more.

This is going to hurt some of your friendships, because some friends will ask you to 'live a little' and entice you to eat things that could set you back a week, and will be put out if you tell them no.

This is going to hurt your pride, because the fact is that you won't lose weight every time you step on the scale, and it's going to make you feel like a failure.

When you do feel like a failure, it's going to hurt your ego to keep going forward, wondering with every bite if you have what it takes to go the distance.

But even when this diet hurts your body, you will find strength that you never knew you had, physically. Even emotionally and mentally.

When it hurts your wallet, know that you are saving your life with each day you strive for health.

When it hurts your friendships, think of how eating right and working out is the best possible way to 'live a little' and maybe try to drag them along.

When the diet plateaus and it hurts your pride, step into the jeans you wore when you were at your heaviest, and it will change your definition of what pride really is.

When your ego is challenged and hurt and you don't feel like going on, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You can't expect to change your body overnight. You have to work for it day after day.

So yeah, this is gonna hurt. But it's worth it.

It's worth embracing whole grains and fresh fruit and sweaty bras and fat girl yoga dvds and sore muscles and saying no to junk food- saying hello to a new lifestyle so you can shrink. The most amazing thing is while you are shrinking, you are going to grow like you wouldn't believe. And that makes all the pain worth it in the end. Not to mention your end will look better than ever!"

I just hope that whoever you are out there, embarking on your own day one, you will listen and be encouraged. It took me forever to learn these things, and I am happy to share them with you. You can do this. If I can do this, and I am the worst kind of dieter there is, then I know you can.

I am going to go do my painful Lotte Berk now, and I hope you know by now that I am happy to hurt. It means I still have a fighting chance to win! As long as I keep fighting and hurting, I may, one day soon, wear a single digit size. Till then, I'm going to look at how far I have come from this time last year... maybe I'll even make a video for you all tonight. Check back tomorrow to see some good clean fun about how much I have shrunk!
And if this is your day one...well, you have started your journey on the right foot. Just hang in there and make it to day two. That is your only goal for today. But you aren't alone!!! I'm hanging in there to make it to day 366. That's my only goal for today. And I'm doing pretty good so far!

Friday, September 11

You got a Lotte 'splaining to do, Lucy!

So if nothing else- Lotte Berk and her DVDs have changed my diet life.

Deep in the last moments of the DVD, right about the point where my unconscious state is the only part that picks up messages, the instructor (who looks remarkably like Sarah Jessica Parker's evil twin sister) challenges you to do the program for 20 days. It's subtle, but it's there. And one way or another, I picked up on that, and am taking her at her word- that I will SEE the difference in 20 days.

Yeah, 20 days of the most excruciating workout possible. Yeah, it really is Charlie typing these words. Tonight will be day 3 of the longest month of my life. I am documenting it because I am horrible at keeping records. (Ironically, that is the same reason I always mention my period on the blog. I now have an accurate record to help me remember my last 8 visits from Aunt Flow...) This way, I know how many days I have left before I either experience amazing results, or can leave a nasty review on Amazon. The rough draft of said nasty review is saved on my hard drive at the moment.

Now, I am sure you are all wondering...if it's so miserable and hard, WHY are you doing it for 20 days? Why not just chuck it out the window and stick with the fat girl yoga DVD?

Very good question!

Reason #1. It is probably good for me. All the hard stuff usually is. Besides building character and being consistent (something I struggle with all the time) it really is making me walk differently. Mostly because I am in pain, but also because the DVD has made me aware of the way I carry myself. I am beginning to think "elegance," which is a word not normally equated with "Charlie." I think about lifting my arms more gracefully, pointing my toes while sitting on the couch, and sitting up straighter. Sure, I still look like a cow on roller skates, but the point is I am trying!

Reason #2. It has changed the way I eat. Sad, but it took a really hard DVD to make me think "Uh, those fries look good, but if they mean I have to do that fricking fracking video for 10 more days to work them off, then I'll pass." Which is nothing short of a miracle.

Reason #3. Matt has taken notice of my rejuvenated attempt at losing weight and is helping me. (Note- I asked him to help) In fact, last night when there was left over Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper left over on the stove when I got home, I started to put it away and he thought I was going to consume it. (Which did cross my mind for a second) He flew into the kitchen and said "DON'T EAT ANY OF THAT! You will undo all the hard work you did today!" That is quite possibly the most wonderful thing he could have done. He was way sexier at that moment than when he gets all spiffed up in his "Nookie" shirt.

Reason #4. Lotte Berk DVDs made me do something I never thought I would do. Purchase specific vitamins for me. Lately, after I ran out of my generic One a Day Walgreen specials, I started taking Matt's, which are specific for men. While I admit that my prostate has never felt healthier, I figured that maybe it was time to get serious about the fitness thing. For real. So this evening, I perused the CVS aisles and bought some daily vitamins that are for supporting "physical and mental energy." Both of which will come in handy to continue for the next 17 days doing Lotte Berk. Physical energy because the DVD is TOUGH. REALLY TOUGH. Mental energy is because I spend at least 30 minutes mentally preparing to do the DVD, and that sucks precious brain power. I don't have as much these days as I used to.

Don't rush out and buy this DVD yet, kids. I'll go first and see if it is worth your 12.99 plus shipping. I say the verdict will be when I measure at the end of the 20 days and then my body will speak for itself (unlike the complaining it is doing right now). But I figured you guys would appreciate an update on my daily humiliation. I mean daily progress.

On another note, I am sorry I haven't posted a video of my own yet. I'll figure something out soon. Maybe Matt can help me whip something together. (It obviously will not involve me eating hamburger helper!)

And finally, I wanted to encourage some of you who are on the fence about your weight loss journey...right now Weight Watchers has a promo going on where you can get a month free. This is a pretty good deal if you decide that you want to go to meetings and see people face to face. As for myself, I did really well using their online program, and that is what I recommend if you are shy like I was and don't want anyone to see what you weigh. It's a lot cheaper than the meetings, and if you need accountability, you know where to find me.

On the floor, immobile from doing my Lotte Berk.

Wednesday, September 9

Who the heck is Lotte Berk? And what did I ever do to her?

Someone on facebook mentioned that name. And it stuck in my head for some reason. “Lotte Berk.” Some fandangled California exercise program that really works, according to that person. At first, when I plunked the “Lotte Berk Method” DVD into my amazon cart, I was frustrated because I couldn’t remember WHO mentioned it to me. I am all about giving credit to people who give this girl a hand. But I just couldn’t recall who mentioned the name to me or when. I just remember seeing that name and associating it with something positive that may help me work out and lose weight.

As I do with any new exercise DVD that arrives via UPS, I let the package taunt me from the entertainment center shelf for a while before cracking the cellophane open. Last night, desperate for a good and challenging workout, I finally popped it into the DVD player to preview it first.

I have found that starting a new exercise routine is a lot like a blind date. Someone says “Hey, this would be perfect for you” and then once you get some time alone with the DVD, you realize that this person has no clue what they are talking about and quite possibly hate your guts. I have a few DVDs that I should sell on Ebay because after previewing them, I know that I will never ever ever accomplish them and live to write about it.

But after previewing the Lotte Berk DVD, appropriately entitled “Burn Fat Now- Muscle Eats Fat,” for a whopping 5 minutes- I was convinced that not only could I do this short workout, but it would be a snap. I completely overestimate my own abilities. I can’t classify this program as yoga or pilates, because it has a special brand of torture all its own.

The DVD starts by having you stand up and breathing while tucking in your pelvis and slightly bending your knees. Vainly believing that I was in “pretty good shape,” I figured this wouldn’t be tough at all. And it wasn’t…for the first minute. After that, however, the tops of my thighs started to get a little warm, and the abs (if you are holding yourself in correctly) began to do this rapid pulsing, alerting me that they were uncomfortable. By this point, the DVD was exactly 2 minutes and 45 seconds into the workout, and I couldn’t believe I was in pain from STANDING and BREATHING.

Next, the instructor had me pick up some light hand weights, holding that same tucked in pelvis pose, and do slow curls with the weights in hand. At first, I was thankful that the arm part was slow, as it was taking extreme energy to keep the pelvic region where it was supposed to be. The initial round of the curls wasn’t bad either. The second one, though, was excruciating. Everytime I lifted the arm to slightly above ear level, I could feel my armpit cramping. Yeah, my armpit. I never knew I had muscles in there before. I thought it was just hair follicles and sweat glands. But apparently there ARE muscles in there, and they were being used for the first time in their life. They weren’t happy about it either. I suppose I wouldn’t appreciate being disturbed during a 32 year slumber, only to be awakened by a sucker punch. But that’s precisely what happened, and they cried out in stinky tears.

We moved onto this fantastic part of the movements that can only be described as the “faux ballerina.” My whole childhood, I wanted to be a ballerina. I could imagine standing on my toes and wooing the audience with my graceful moves and swan like appearance. But Lotte Berk totally changed my mind on that career move, as I held on to the back of my computer chair and had to stand on the balls of my feet, heels touching each other, pelvis still tucked in, and bent the knees in a deep stretch. I did not anticipate needing to cling to the back of the chair for dear life, but I had to once the earthquake hit. Problem was, there wasn’t an earth quake for the rest of the world. I was the only one trembling out of control. It was such a violent tremble that I practically laid over the back of the chair, knees locked into an unholy position, and heels begging to be released to the floor. Once they were, and had a moment, they determined that the floor is where they should stay. As the instructor encouraged us with a fake smile to repeat the whole process, my heels somehow found a tube of invisible crazy glue and remained stuck on the floor, refusing to raise up the 5 inches they should have. The knees bent to a angle of 4 degrees instead of 90, and I still had to hold onto the back of the chair while attempting this position. Meanwhile, my thighs were still stunned by the whole process and trembled in fear and the pelvis decided that a little release of tension might do some good. Thank heavens I know enough to wear a Poise Pad while exercising. Dribbling on myself, I cast aside all respectable etiquette, and let it go. There wasn’t much, but I had no hope of making it to the bathroom in an army crawl, which my thighs reminded me would have been my only mode of self-transportation. I skipped the "Knee Dancing" portion of the DVD all together. It was not going to happen. Not to mention that my faux ballerina looked more like a dying swan song, shot in the legs by a sniper named Lotte who left me hanging over my chair in extreme distress and duress.

Finally, the instructor took us down to the floor for some final torture...I mean exercises. Using my elbows and hands for support, she expected me to lift up my body into a pseudo pushup move. The impossibilities of my body performing this seemingly simple move were just staggering. Not only were the thighs quite rebellious about it, but the armpits were still unreasonable and contracted so tightly the muscles within must have crawled up inside my shoulders. Which took me from attempting to be upright to landing flat on my face. Thank heavens my boobs broke the fall. At this point, my daughter Amy, who was reading on the couch, was falling herself- into fits of laughter. She called out from the safety of the couch, “Having a little trouble there, Mom?” If I could have moved, I would have flown over to the couch and drug her onto the floor to make her experience Lotte Berk for herself. But as I was confined to a “Help- I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” situation, she was spared the agony that had so easily and quickly crippled her mother.

I laid on the floor, willing my body to breathe through the throbbing and shakes of the earthquake within, and sang a few bars of Carole King, as I could do nothing else but move my mouth. I have never known that you could numb yourself from the waist down but still feel pain. People, it is very possible to do exactly that.

At this point, I quit trying to participate in the burn fat now. Correction, I was still burning and my muscles were on fire, but I have no clue if they were burning up fat or just me as a whole. Either way, I couldn’t have done the rest of the DVD if I tried. I mentally rededicated my heart to Jesus, because I was feeling the fires of hell first hand, and it was none to pleasant.

10 minutes after the DVD ended, I was still lying on the floor, and Matt jokingly made a comment that I should get up and move before I get stuck down there. Little did he know, that had already happened. Immobile legs, upset armpits, and wet pants, Lotte Berk had broken me beyond repair. No amount of Oreos was worth what I had just experienced. I don’t care if they are triple or quadruple stuffed.

Eventually I made it up off the floor, with some assistance, and was able to bathe and change my clothes. But I kid you not- my thighs trembled uncontrollably far into the night. Only after 2 Aleve and 3 Advil did they simmer down to the occasional tremor. Whoever mentioned Lotte Berk to me, I recommend you stay anonymous. At least until my armpits are back to normal. I won’t be shaving them for a while, lest I remind them how horrific that experience was and they cramp up again. I’ll go French before tempting them to seize up again. So I guess Lotte Berk really was the pits.

Sad thing is? I’m going to do it all over again today. I just can’t walk away from a challenge! But if there is any chance at all that this will change the way my body looks, I’m willing to risk it. Sometimes the torture is exactly what we need. And after whining about the fear of pain and sweat yesterday, I know that Lotte Berk is going to push me over that hump and get me whipped into the shape I desire. I just have to remove my brain from the experience and block it out. Kinda like an exercise induced PTSD.

Which of course stands for Pitts & Thigh Shaking Disorder. Thanks Lotte.

Monday, September 7

CHARLIE IS: Fitness Inept

Yep, you read the title right. I am calling it like I see it tonight.

I am fitness inept.

This means really that I have no clue what I am doing when it comes to exercising on my own. Can I follow a DVD and get a good workout? Yes! Can I go to a class and sweat right down to my skivvies? You betcha I can! When left to my own devices, can I create a work out for myself or others that is challenging, safe, and burns calories?

Sadly, I must declare not. I have not one clue what I am doing.

I know where my core is. That is the middle part of me that never seems to go away. Do I know how to work the core so I see results? No, I don't.

I know where my abs are. So does everyone who has ever seen me since I had children. Do I know how to push those abs and tighten them up without hurting my back and neck? Absolutely not.

I can correctly identify my big butt. It's pretty simple, just reach around and point. I can hit it without much strain to my elbows. But can I do exercises that will shrink it down to the juicy, round, quarter bouncing rump I desire? Alas, I say nay, and it is a complete mystery to me.

Food I can lick. No pun intended. I know what works for me and what doesn't. I know what makes my body revolt and swell up quicker than a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade float. I also am learning the combinations that I can get away with and still maintain decent damage control.

But exercise scares me. Even still, one year into this whole process, and I hate pushing myself. I don't do it on my own either. There have been many nights during the OSCBB walking group that my super stealthy friend Lee Ann has tricked me into going that last lap because I was whiny and wanted to give up. She would engage me in my neurotic ramblings about wanting to just go home and keep me walking. Then she'd giggle half way through the final lap that we were almost done. Tricker. But I needed it. I keep showing up to walk and so does she. And she makes me go the final half mile. But there are many nights I wouldn't do it without her pushing.

What is it that scares me so much about exercise that seems to be holding me back? I know that it works. If you diet, you will see much better results if you exercise too. I have been preaching that same sermon to you all for months. But the queen of weight loss has allowed herself to remain in the dark about how to apply exercise correctly and has been dethroned by her own fears. What are those fears? Thanks for asking! I'd be happy to share them with you!

1. PAIN. Oh, not while I am doing the workout. That I can manage. It's the pain afterwords. The agonizing hurt I will feel the next day after I work out. This reason alone keeps me from giving it my all. I don't mind sharing that about 2 months back I did the Billy Blanks Bootcamp DVD for "blasting abs." And blasting it did. In fact, I was in such pain that I could hardly walk the next day. I walked very slowly during walking group that night and talked very little, for fear I would scream out in pain. People, it even hurt to pee. Do you remember the last time you worked your abs so hard that a basic function like taking a bathroom break brought you to tears? And forget about pooping. No sir, I willed my bowels to lock up for 2 days until I could at least sit down without almost fainting. That was no easy feat, either. The memory of that pain keeps me from giving it my best while exercising even today.

2. SWEAT. This may seem like a no brainer, because every human being who has ever exerted them selves a little knows that you will sweat when you work hard. But this summer, I have had a major aversion to sweating. Part of this is the extreme lack of central air we have in our crappy rental house. Our family has 2 window AC units that take the edge off the heat at best. Once you get really hot? Checkmate, my friend. Your goose is cooked. Literally. The other part of this sweat issue is the combination of swamp boob and tummy fire. Swamp boob was discussed in an earlier post, but tummy fire was not. It is the super high friction all us girls experience when our bellies hang over and rub the top of our thighs. Yes, for those of us with a little more than vanity weight to lose, we all have it. When you wear exercise clothing that keeps you tucked in, that area is pushed down and held tight, and ain't no air getting into those crevices. As horrible as it sounds, I have broken out many times even still this summer, right above the bikini line, because of that fat flap a rubbin'. Add that to my hot blooded nature, and you have a sweat factory that is prone to extreme perspiration and outbreak in uncomfortable places.

3. MY WHAT IFS. What if I do all the exercise and the tummy still doesn't bounce back and make me look like I never had babies? (Note- I can live with the stretch marks, it's the tubby flabby tummy I can't stand!) What if the tops of my arms don't shrink up and I have tons of lose arm jiggling everytime I wave my hand? What if I do all the wrong exercises and end up looking like a male body builder instead of a feminine girl? (Ok, I think we can all agree that THAT what if will never happen...)

My point in all of this is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am fitness inept. I have no clue what I am doing, or how to make it work best for me. I have DVDs, books, and everything at my disposal except for the personal knowledge of how to do what is best for my body. I have knowledge of my own fears, but no way of knowing how to overcome those fears that hold me back.

I need a hand from someone with experience in coming back from the edge of the scale. Someone who can't eat Twinkies all dang day long and never gain a pound, but has to fight like me to keep every single pound at bay. Someone who has learned how to transform their body into something that they can be proud of.

If you know of anyone who may be like that- can you give them my blog address and/or email? I have some questions for them that its high time I asked...

Thursday, September 3

Recap of my Drama Filled Week

First of all, I want to wish my super swell friend Hillary over at "The Other Mama" a happy birthday today. She is giving away tons of goodies this week, and if you haven't checked out her blog before, I am adding a button on the side of my blog so you can access her easily. This girl is almost is nutty as me. Which is why I adore her so durn much!!! Anyway, feel free to check out her blog and enter her giveaways. It's good stuff people. Good stuff. I know you'll love her as much as I do!

Next, this week has been packed to the brim with excitement. None of it has been the good kind, I'm afraid, but stress filled drama drama drama. Our van exploded the other night on our way home from a park where we were collecting leaves, and the kids got to ride home in the back of a pick up truck. They all declared it the best day of their lives, shouting "I'm free!!!" from the open truck bed. I remember a time when it wasn't illegal to let your children ride precariously in the back, sticking their hands out the side of the truck and leaning over to watch the tires. Many trips of my childhood were doing that exact thing, and I lived to tell about it. At least our kids got to have the experience once and no one had to go to jail or pay a fine. Hopefully, our good friend Joe will be able to fix the mess I have of Neve (yes, we name everything in our family. Her full name is Neve R. Working. You can read more about her idiosyncrasies in the post "How I burned 400 calories buying a scale.") and we will go back to being a 2 car family. Both of the cars are crap, but at least there are 2!

On the diet front, I am happy to tell you that I am 100% back on track. I am back down to 178, after bouncing around this entire month, and now I am determined to stick with it hard core till Christmas. Folks, I won't lie to you, there is no way at all that I will give up the delicious goodies that come around once a year. I'm just praying that no one gives us homemade fudge or divinity. Those are the only things I would eat until gone and lick the pan clean. But for the rest of September through December 18th, I intend to be good, and lose. I really would love to hit the "lost 80 pounds" which is only another 20, and with 3 and a half months, I'm pretty sure if I keep on the straight and narrow, I can do it. I needed a short break, I guess, to discover that the world still has all the delicious food I used to love. Yes, it is still delicious. Now, it's time to get back to business. Broccoli is once again in my good graces.

Couch to 5K? I keep doing week one. I'm just not a runner by nature, so the concept of running and taking "slow intentional breaths" is tough to master. I prefer to breathe like I may never breathe again. That feels so much more natural when jogging. So until I can re-train my lungs and body and brain to work in tandem, I will stick with week one. I'd rather be slow and steady than fast and in cardiac arrest. It's not a race, but a challenge. Oh, my! Is it ever a challenge!

And I am very disappointed with the pink hair. It keeps fading! I hate that! Although it was pretty fun volunteering at the kids' school today and hearing the kids whisper to my daughter "do you know your Mom has pink hair?" Yeah, Natalie felt like she had the cool mom. Awesomeness. And I was right. Matt loved it. Wants me to keep it pink for a while. How can I resist making him happy?

Finally, the smoking. Lord help me, I am a fantastic excuse maker. I have not been diligent about it at all. While I have cut down dramatically, I admit that I have not cut myself off from it. But tomorrow I will become Patchy for real. I promise. I'm ready. I can feel it this time.

So that's the current week. As usual, I am a work in progress. But that's ok. I don't mind. If I was a work in completion, then I wouldn't have near as much fun as I do in the progress stage! Hopefully, this weekend, I will find a new idea for a short video for everyone's amusement. I'll work on that. Till then, I'm cleaning house, eating right, and trying to run. Back on the horse and in the diet rodeo once again!

Much love to you all-
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