Weight Loss Wednesday: Week Four


Last week, the bathroom scale and I were at an impasse as it displayed not one smidge of weight loss despite my calorie-counting, elliptical-swinging and weight lifting ways of the week before.

Bummed but not deterred, I soldiered on and increased my aerobic exercise time from 30 to 40 minutes at least 5 days a week. Take that, slow metabolism.

And at the advice of my all-about-fitness husband, "Mr Something", I  reluctantly weighed myself daily.

Here are my results...

7/21 -1 lb
7/22 +1 lb
7/23 +1.5 lb
7/24 -1 lb
7/25 +1 lb
7/26 -1 lb
7/27 -2 lb

I have learned that popcorn on the evening of 7/22 really drove a wedge between the bathroom scale and I on the morning of 7/23 - but it was short lived.

Through perseverance and dedication to my goal I have now lost a total of....
 ...one adorable Pomeranian!

It's taken four weeks to lose four pounds but I'm OK with that.
Four weeks would have happened anyway.

What I have learned this week...
  • Salt matters. Most of my increases in weight could be directly attributed to salt intake.
  • Awareness matters. Making better food choices requires awareness. Fuddruckers Kids Meal Burger with a fruit cup sounds minimal in calories - right? Not. 525 calories. Not that 525 is astronomical, it's just that I would have thought it would be less. So I ate the Kids Meal and had a nice grilled chicken salad for supper.
  • Exercise matters. My food intake is not all that much less than what I had been eating before, but Im thinking it's the exercise that is making the difference.

Free Advice: On Finding Your 'Scout'


 Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, 
kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, 
and reverent.
Excerpted from The Boy Scout Handbook
OK, so we might strike "obedient" and change that one to "cooperative" but all being equal, my advice on choosing a partner in life is to keep 'Scout Law' in mind.

Does your 'Scout' sport a two-headed snake tattoo, multiple lip piercings, a fondness for Heavy Metal music and only wear black? It doesn't matter. It's all about his or her character. The other stuff is pure gravy. What they like does not necessarily equate with who they are. But what if you don't have a 'Scout' in life yet?

We can all agree that a bar is not the best place to find Ms./Mr. Right. That being said, the reality is that it certainly doesn't hurt to look if you happen to be there. So....

How to spot a 'Scout' from across a crowded bar... 
  • They're eating.
  • They have decent table manners.
  • They are making eye contact with whom they are speaking.
  • They are (generally) standing/sitting up straight.
  • They are not shitfaced.
  • They smile on occasion.
  • Their eyes remain open (see shitfaced).
  • They do not have a wedding band on.
  • They do not have a 'tan line' where a wedding band could be found. 
By now I'm sure you are wondering...So, how do I go about saying "hello" to a stranger in a bar without making a total fool out of myself? Simple. The first rule is to maintain the qualities of  "The Scout Law" yourself. Then, recruit your server. Break down and buy an appetizer (not a drink-an appetizer makes a better first impression) for the guy/girl of interest and ask your server to tell them it's from you. Not a big deal. They do it all the time - don't forget to tip well.

Anyway...now it's up to your intended person to "Scout-up" and  be "friendly, courteous and kind". A decent Scout will swing by your table and thank you personally. If they are interested in getting to know you better, they may ask to join you -  if not - you're only out the cost of an appetizer and you didn't have to get up off your ass!

Uncomfortable about handing out your phone number to a stranger? Sign up for a second email account and use that instead when he/she asks..."How can I contact you?".

Oh, and if you are planning a date - meet them somewhere until you get to know them better.

PS: I married a 'Scout' and couldn't be happier.

Stay tuned for Free Advice-On Dating Your Scout"

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week Three


While minding my own business at work this past weekend, my friend Suzanne came up behind me and exclaimed, "Oh My God! I didn't even recognize you! I swear - your ass has gotten smaller! What have you been doing!!!?"  Thank you, Suzanne.

So maybe all of this calorie-counting, weight-training and elliptical-swinging for the past 21 days is doing some good but it's sure as hell not evident on the High Altar of Weight Loss...the bathroom scale.

My weight loss this week? Zip - Zero - Nada - Zilch - The Big Goose Egg - Squat.

But I will soldier on. My commitment is to lose 20 pounds and I will do it. I don't care how long it takes me. My drive to succeed is bolstered by knowing that controlling calories and exercising regularly decreases my chances of acquiring Type II Diabetes and/or Alzheimer's Disease by at least 25%... and when you are pushing 55...that's nothing to sneeze at.

So I turned my weight loss (not) dilemma over to 'Mr. Something', my sweet husband who is all about fitness and asked him to explain why I have not lost any weight...

Me: "So I haven't lost a pound in two weeks and I've been working out at least five days a week and not eating anything more than 1500 calories a day ((except for when I went off the wagon a couple of weeks ago) - what's up with that?"

Him: "You had popcorn last night. Sodium. Two glasses of water retained equals 1 lb weight gain."

Me: "But popcorn doesn't have a lot of calories."

Him: Sodium. How often do you weigh yourself?

Me: "Once a week. On Weight-Loss Wednesdays. Do you think I'm building muscle?"

Him: "Nope. That takes at least six weeks. Weigh every day. Watch the fluctuations from day to day."

Me: "I'm afraid I'll become obsessed with the scale."

Him: "You already are."

Yes, it's true. The bathroom scale and I have had a proverbial love-hate, on-off obsessive relationship since my early teens. Oh, I've placed it out of my sight, I even had Mr. Something hide it from me but it always came back. Taunting me on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor by it's very existence. There were times when I would refuse to step on it for fear that the displayed number would dictate just how I would feel about myself that day. That is why I choose to weigh myself once a week.

This morning, Mr. Something advised me to try to "make nice" with the scale by weighing daily and embracing (my word - not his) the weight fluctuations as a natural flow in life, accepting the changes in body weight that occur daily and recognizing that a body weight increase of two pounds overnight is not fat.

Dr Phil has a "Script of the Month" that he posts in "O" Magazine that has given me an idea...

Dear Bathroom Scale,
Avoidance has not been working for me and since we have to see one another every day, why don't we try to be friends? I am choosing to weigh myself daily and accept the numbers you show me are just numbers and do not reflect my value... Hopefully, we can move forward and repair our fractured relationship of the past

Things I have learned this week...
  • My fitness center is located around the corner from Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream. I bring a piece of fruit with me to eat immediately following my workout - it gets me past Baskin-Robbins safely.
  • We've all see the book "Eat This - Not That" but I have found "Cook This - Not That" at my library and it has some seriously fantastic recipes. This past week, I made Coconut Shrimp (200 cals), Lamb with Tzatziki (260 cals), Steak Nachos (360 cals) and Chili Mango Chicken (240 cals). They were all very tasty and easy to make. Leftovers were for lunch the next day.

A Public Service Message to "Personal Trainers"


A few weeks ago, I joined a local gym where I was repeatedly offered "a complimentary session with a "Personal Trainer".  I declined. I do not have anything against Personal Trainers and I have never watched an episode of The Biggest Loser but I have seen this lady on its previews...

...and she scares the bejeebers out of me.

I'd rather go it alone - just a personal choice.

Anyway, I've been observing the 'Personal Trainers' at my gym and based on what I have seen, my decision to forego "Personal Training" was a good one. 

"To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity" Friedrich Nietzsche

How in God's name can any professional fitness trainer think that by forcing a middle-aged, overweight, unconditioned person on to "Jacob's Ladder" would be helpful? Have you ever seen one of these things?

Now, this young lady looks all straight-backed and happy but I've got to tell you, real people don't look like that on this thing. They strap a safety belt on first and hunch over while clutching each rung for dear life as they slowly trod up the ladder. Most last only a couple of minutes. So what good does that do? I've never seen anyone approach Jacob's Ladder of their own volition and I've never seen a "Personal Trainer" work out on one. Is this just a tool to make the average unconditioned person feel totally inadequate? I just don't get it. It seems to me that a treadmill, elliptical trainer or bicycle would be less barbaric thereby encouraging exercise as a way of life.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." 
~Leo Buscaglia
So what's with channeling the drill sergeant? 

Unamused 'Personal Trainers' standing with arms crossed, feet shoulder-width apart, barking commands to an overweight, exhausted client demanding "six more" crunches, all while they attempt balancing themselves on a fitness ball is just not pleasant.
Whatever happened to just being nice? Killing more flies with honey than vinegar? Civility? Politeness? All out the window where weight loss is concerned these days. Oh, Jack LaLanne...I miss you.

"Human beings are not meant to lose their anonymity and privacy."
Sarah Chalke

When I witness another human being who has just returned, breathless from a beating with Jacob's Ladder being directed to roll on the floor in front of me, I'm thinking they could use a little privacy for this exercise. It's one thing to be a fit, young and energetic floor roller - it's quite another to be an exhausted, fat and older one. 

I know that not all "Personal Trainers" are like the ones that I have observed lately.  But, if you see yourself in the afore-mentioned scenarios, please try to raise your compassion and sensitivity level a notch or two. It will most likely improve your client and referral base. Oh, and if you can explain the method to your madness re: Jacob's Ladder...I'm interested.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week Two


Well Hell.

I have not lost an ounce despite monitoring everything I've eaten and working out religiously for the past four days.

"But, I thought you were reporting on the past seven days", you might be wondering.

OK - full disclosure time...I fell off of the proverbial 'wagon' last week  AWOL from the gym and eating with free abandon for three days showed up on the scale today.

Bottom line: you play...you pay. It is what it is.

So, I'm proud to say that I brushed myself off and got back on that wagon three days ago. I'm feeling good about that.

Years ago, following an unsuccessful weight loss week and/or a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet, I would have thought "screw it", ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fries "to-go" and curled up with a pint of Haagen-das in front of the TV set before falling into a carb-induced coma.

Today, I'm aware of the fact that it's all about "consistency".

Consistently eating burgers,fries and ice cream = Weight Gain
Consistently controlling calorie intake and exercising = Weight Loss

The way I look at it is...I'll have good days and bad days but overall, my goal remains to be healthier and lose 18 more pounds.

Gotta go to the gym now... How did you do?

Bee Talk


My interest in honey-bees began with the great book..."The Secret Life of Bees" (the movie? not so much) And therein lay the depth of my bee awareness.                                                                                                         
It was not until one summer night, my sweet friend Maryanne casually mentioned that she was about to "buy a couple of bee hives" that I ever really gave much thought to bees.

My first question to her was..."Why?" quickly followed by a .. "You've got to be shitting me". She wasn't. 
I soon learned that my friend just happened to possess a wealth of knowledge on the topic. Who knew? Inspired by a fruitless pumpkin-growing season, she learned that the problem was not the soil, the seeds or the gardener but rather the lack of local bees.

I admit it. I was a "beekeeper profiler"and this is what I had assumed they generally looked like....
 Not this...
After several interesting conversations with my Beekeeping friend, I've learned more about bees than I ever thought possible. For starters...
  • You've got your Bumble, Carpenter, African Killer and Honey Bee amongst thousands of other bee species. Maryanne is 'sticking' to the 'Honey' variety. 
  • Bees make wax, honey and Royal Jelly. Royal Jelly is used in treating Grave's Disease (a disease of the thyroid). It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well.
  • Smoke causes bees to calm down. Always a good thing to remember. Just sayin'.
  • Environmentally speaking... urban areas are in dire need of bees. The numbers have dwindled to critical levels and bees are needed for propagation of plants and vegetables.
  • Honey made in your neighborhood is best for fighting environmental allergies.
  • If a bee is buzzing around you - stay calm and carry on. Flitting your arms, running and screaming really pisses them off. They are probably "drones" and are trying to protect the queen. They are not out to get you.
  • Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) is being used to help those with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Bees are our friends.
Treatment for Bee Stings:
  1. Remove the stinger carefully. Try to scrape it off with a credit card or something similiar. The reason for this is so that you don't squeeze more bee venom into you by pinching the stinger to remove it.
  2. Wash as soon as possible with soap and water.
  3. Ice, Tylenol and/or Motrin may help with pain.
  4. Benadryl can help with localized swelling and inflammation
  5. Word on the street is that some people have found a paste of vinegar mixed with baking powder helps with the pain and that meat tenderizer breaks down the bee venom thereby decreasing pain.
  • If you have any other type of response other than localized pain and swelling at the site - go to an Emergency Room. Difficulty breathing, swelling of lips, eyes, face are all indicators of a potential life threatening allergic reaction.

So there you have it. A little summertime Bee Talk. Have you any bee 'pointers'? 

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week One


It's been one week since I have committed myself to losing twenty pounds by changing my lifestyle and ...
  1. Entering every morsel that touches my lips into my (free) phone app called "Spark People". (They're also free online at www.sparkpeople.com)
  2. Exercising - when I can. Hey it's better than what I had been doing...nothing.
  3. Reporting back to you weekly on my progress - or lack thereof.
Drumroll please... for one who has been known to literally starve herself as a youth, thereby totally screwing up her metabolism, all in an effort to meet AmeriCanadian standards of "beauty" - I am proud to say that in this past week, I've eaten myself silly, exercised moderately and lost two whole pounds! It may not be a big deal to some, but it's huge for me. Especially the part about eating myself silly.

Believe me, I am so not a fan of "fat-free" salad dressings, melba toast or waving off the dessert cart. I really like food. That being said, last Saturday I ate 2 pieces of Tres Leches Cake (660 calories) and a couple of decent sized Rice Krispie Treats (350 cals) in one sitting. Gone was the guilt of years gone by, I simply entered my calories and sucked up the fact that I would have to have a supper that was less than 200 calories in order to stay under my limit for the day. I chose an iceberg lettuce wedge with Litehouse Blue Cheese Salad Dressing (80 cals/2 Tbsp), Litehouse Blue Cheese (75 cals/Tbsp), 1 tsp Bacon Bits and tomato. Big on flavor - low in calories. Win-win. Was the Tres Leches cake and Rice Krispies Treats worth the meager supper? You bet they were.

Stuff I have learned about food choices this week:
  • Summer is a great season for dieting lifestyle changes. Peaches, Mangoes, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Strawberries rule.
  • Want a cracker? Try a Sugar Snap Pea first. I'll bet it's the crunch you're really looking for. If not, try 98% fat free popcorn with a couple of sprays of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray if that doesn't do it for ya...go ahead, eat the freakin' cracker.
  • Didja know that one gallon of water weighs a little over 8 lbs. Therefore an increase of just 2 glasses of water = 1 pound. Cut yourself a little slack at the scale and don't let it dictate how you feel daily. Weigh once a week only.
  • Litehouse Salad dressings and Ken's Lite Salad dressings rock. Try Litehouse Caesar and/or Blue Cheese, Ken's Lite Asian, Honey Mustard, Rasberry Walnut.
  • Freeze grapes.
  • Light and Lively Vanilla Yogurt (80 cal) drizzled over Fresh Strawberries is the bomb.  

Stuff I have learned about exercise this week:
  • It prevents blood clots.
  • I made it a little easier by listening to a book on my MP3 player.
  • I joined a cheap Gym with air conditioning and Elliptical machines.
  • I don't exercise every day, just the days that SparkPeople tell me to.
  • I have started an exercise "Vision Board" to help motivate me.

 So, how are ya'll doing?

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...