January 29, 2010
I have a new client who, having just turned 50, gave herself six weeks of personal training for her birthday. She is training with me at 6am two mornings a week and has been very dedicated.
At first glance she is still in relatively good shape, having retained most of her physique and all of her personality from her high school cheerleader days. Her goal is to lose fourteen pounds by March 1st, a very realistic goal. Like many women in her (our) age demographic, she is not very overweight, but with one or two pounds per year creeping up, she was heavy enough to have a strained relationship with her waistband and to feel like a C- bodywise.
After three weeks passed and several thousand additional calories had been burned in our predawn workouts, I was stumped because the scale had only budged one measly pound. I encouraged her to keep a food diary to chart her eating. Last Monday, she handed over her diary and in one glance, my heart sunk. I knew she was suffering from the dreaded chronic disease that is sweeping this country more insidiously than any swine flu. This syndrome alone is responsible for keeping millions of folks (and me occasionally) stuck at a higher than desirable weight. It’s called “Blow It On The Weekend Binge” Syndrome.
Take a peek at her journal from last week:
Started my day at 5:30 a.m. Toughest part was the first five minutes out of bed, but found it was well worth it. Got my day (and week) off on the right foot. Got on the scales and am determined to lose 2 lbs by next Monday! Ate 3 well-planned meals and ended it with a good night’s sleep. This week’s going to be different!!
Met with Penny and started Day Two with a bang. My weekend bloat is finally gone and feeling strong. Although she is quite shrill at 5:59am and I find that coffee helps me make it through the morning. But I’m still sticking with my food plan and resisted cookies the kids brought home from the bake sale. Yay, Me!
Took a long walk with the dog to start my day right. Very busy with driving carpools but I was smart and brought some healthy snacks in the car so I wouldn’t shovel food into my mouth from the pans on the stove when I got home. Good for me for having a plan.
Ok, 5:30 came very early this morning, but since I already paid for it, I couldn’t cancel my training session. And so glad I didn’t because I am really feeling stronger! Ran out of healthy snacks at home so I made sure to stop at the grocery store on the way home so I don’t blow it by eating the left over chocolates that I forgot to throw out.
Whew. It’s finally Friday and I am Woman Hear Me Roar! I really have some momentum going into the weekend. But. I am feeling like I need a little reward for such a dedicated week of working out and eating right. Penny said to lay off the liquor if I want to see the scale drop but, hey, I won’t see her until next Tuesday. One goblet of Pinot Grigio can’t hurt. Plus I deserve it. It’s Friday, right? Then the kids ordered pizza on one condition, that they wouldn’t let me have more than one slice, but of course, I am the boss so I accidentally finished off 2 more pieces in front of them and 1 more in the kitchen and about 4 crust bones that I found in the box. Then, since I’d already ruined the day’s calorie control, I finished off the Oreo Cookie ice cream in the freezer.
No weigh in today because #1 I feel bloated from all that pizza and #2 that would remind me of my goals that I was supposed to but didn’t stick to. Plus my head hurt from either the wine or the carbs so I skipped my workout. Not to mention the gym is a zoo on the weekends. So to avoid the hassle, I just hung out on the couch until dinner. Then since I’d lost all my motivation, and since we were at a great restaurant, I had 2 more (ok, it was 3) glasses of Pinot and although Penny had recommended ordering first at a restaurant so that I wouldn’t be tempted to order what everyone else was having, I didn’t want to be rude. And after actually hearing what everyone else was ordering, I couldn’t resist. But Man, were those Stuffed Shells delish. Then since I can’t drink coffee late at night, I had to be polite and order the cheescake, so my girlfriend wouldn’t think I thought she was being a pig by ordering dessert for herself. Oh well, so I blew it today- it’s Saturday for Criminy Sakes. Can’t a girl have a little fun once in awhile?
I don’t know which felt bigger this morning- my head or my belly. Ouch, that food certainly didn’t taste good enough to justify the gross feeling I woke up with. I sat morosely in church and vowed to start again tomorrow. And since I’d already blown it I took the kids to McDonalds for lunch (much to their silent, delighted shock) and ordered up a Big Mac and a chocolate shake (small) to help my hangover. Oh yeah and it was cheaper to order the Super-Saver meal instead of just the burger and shake so I had fries too-to save money. What a mind screw! I promised myself that I’d skip dinner to make up. Went home and took another nap although I’d had 9 hours last night. Woke up in a fog and since the kids wanted Chinese food for dinner and I was too whipped to cook, I said “Sure, why not!” since it seemed healthier than McDonald’s, really. Sesame Chicken doesn’t actually have 900 calories and a day’s worth of heart-clogging fat. Does it?
Does this sound like anything that happens in your life?If weekends are why you are not losing weight try these tips.
Think of them as your
Weekend Beat the Binge Survival Guide
1.Exercise. Do something active each day. The earlier the better.
2.Plan ALL your meals ahead. It’s a pain, but weekends are too loosey goosey and if you want to weigh less (or at least not weigh more) on Monday, you need to know what food is on your menu for the day. Nuff said.
2a. Tell a someone in the house what your food plan is. Just to have a bit of accountability.
3. Don’t engage in all-or-nothing thinking. If you eat something off your plan, get right back on your regimen at the next meal.
4. Stay motivated. Do this by giving yourself a non-food treat, like a manicure or a massage or a matinee.
5. If at all possible, have sex! After all it IS the weekend.
6. Lay off the liquor. Only if you want to lose weight, sleep well at night and/or feel good in the morning. Otherwise, have some.
7.Order first in a restaurant. If any one thinks you are rude for jumping in, maybe they’re not good enough friends to be spending your weekends with.
8.Weigh yourself on both weekend mornings. Just so you are not in denial or delay-the-truth mode.
When was the last time you woke up on Monday feeling terrific and energized? If it’s been a while, promise me you’ll give my Survival Guide a try. If you can start to manage your weekend eating, your Monday mornings will be something you might actually look forward to. Did I mention, you may also lose a pound or two.
January 22, 2010
I invented a new word to describe myself; I’m a DECYCLER. What’s a decycler and how can you too decycle? Well, this is when you USED to reuse everything. Until you heard the new scoop on plastics. Decycling is something you now must do.
Formerly I was a recycling convert. But now that I’ve spent the last several years re-using AND re-washing (in the—gulp— dishwasher) every plastic container that crossed my hands, the FDA this past week has come out with some alarming connections between plastics and evils like cancer, obesity, diabetes and asthma. And if the FDA says it’s bad…it’s r-e-a-llly bad.
You can read more about it here, and in last week’s New York Times article although the bottom line is to throw out all recyclables with the number 7 on the bottom, to never heat or freeze any plastics (especially baby bottles! argh-too late for me and especially in the dishwasher-ah, come ON now!) and to pitch any cracked plastic as well as never eat canned food again (maybe not such a bad idea in itself).
I mean it, People. You really should decycle, but only if you’ve noticed how many more cancers and obesity are prevalent in today’s world compared to when we were kids. Go to your kitchen right now and decycle, by pitching all the supposedly recyclables BACK into the re/decycle bin.
Me? I bagged up any and all plasticware in my kitchen (“Good-bye! Good-bye, Beloved Tupperware!”) then I went out and spent $20 on some Pyrex glass containers at the local Stop & Shop. Another good option is old fashioned Mason jars. Remember them? Any one do any canning way back when? Or wax paper. Do you remember wax paper? I hated wax paper- it was what the poor kids packed in their school lunch. Talk about coming full circle!
And since last week was Throw-Back week on FaceBook for posting old pictures of yourself and if you still don’t believe that I’m an Appalachian girl, here’s my rant from last year about being a new (and now passe) recycler….”Hi, My name is Penny and I’m a Recovering Recycler”..
Anyway here it is, along with my throw back picture. I’m the one on the left:
I was raised by parents who were both scared (and scarred) by the Great Depression. My father was the only son of an Ohio farmer who died when he was 17, leaving my dad as the man of the house and man of the farm. My mother was the youngest of a family of eight kids and her father died when she was a baby, leaving my Grandma a widow, to raise and feed, if you can imagine, eight children from the age of 18 years to 18 months, (without Costco!) and amidst the Depression. Both of my parents grew up poor although I never heard them describe it that way. My parents’ childhood activities, to my teenage kids, sound prehistoric. I might as well mention dinosaurs when I talk about how my Dad baled hay, milked cows and tended the hen house and how he spent the 3 hours before and after school, not playing soccer or X-Box, but doing farm chores. As I read that back to myself, it sounds prehistoric to me! My dad really did walk 3 miles to school, as annoying as that was to hear all throughout my own childhood. My mother still talks of homeless people she called hobos, who’d come to their backdoor with their hat in hand and ask for something to eat. Grandma Wilson would leave a sandwich or whatever she could skim from the already limited kitchen supplies for them to eat on the back porch swing. The JC Penney catalog was “recycled”- in the outhouse- in ways I’m sure Mr. Penney never intended and I still remember Grandma eating the core of the apple (!) and preferring the heel of the bread loaf, although I now suspect that she’d eaten the heel, the wing, the burnt piece, for so many decades that it was a reflexive choice. My mother was way ahead of her time when it came to not wasting ANYthing. She was the world’s best recycler before the word “recycle” had ever been invented. Along with my four siblings, I remember that Mom could never throw out an aluminum pie tin (the cupboards avalanched them if you opened a door too fast). She rinsed out baggies for re-use and even folded up gently used tinfoil if it appeared to have some life left. Leftovers were progressively re-served at each meal and stored in smaller and smaller containers even if there were only two bites left. To this day in a restaurant, Mom will ask the waiter for a doggie bag and often has to point to the small bites of left-over food to prove to the waiter there’s actually something on the plate worth taking home; “Here! Wrap up this one bite, here!” Cake batter bowls were barely worth licking after my mother scraped it bare.
Waste was a sin in my parent’s book and this was a permanent part of their psyche as unchangeable as their skin color.
Throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I made a point of what I now recognize as “uncycling”, simply because I’d had enough of my parents’ conservative lifestyle. What for them was a survival mode now appeared to my generation as cheapskate. I never took so much as a sweet-n-low packet from a restaurant (unlike Mom, God bless her) not to mention that doggie bags embarrassed me too much to ask for one.
No tinfoil, bag or baggie survived more than one use in my kitchen and I was proud of it. My not needing to scrimp and save felt better to me and seemed a symbol of my financial stability. The world offered me more, often more than I needed and I greedily (or so it seems now) took it, used it, pitched it.
Fast forward ten years. Our eyes have been opened- Thank you Mr. Gore-and we now know that there are not only Earth-friendly reasons to re-use and use less, but also the recent economic climate has given us more down-to-Earth reasons to spend less and save more. Recycling, either with or without a Depression, is vital. And isn’t it a testament to our (my) human capacity to mentally adapt that we (I) can change our (my) perspective 360 degrees on the subject of recycling. That someone like me can change my thinking in ways I’d never imagined possible- to think like my MOM! -That’s radical! It is encouraging for all humankind.
I chuckle to myself to think that my 20 year old self would be mortified that I now have a corner beside my dryer (same spot as Mom)that is stuffed with more plastic bags than I can use in a decade. I rinse out the bottom of the Tide detergent bottle to get one more load. I scold my kids to take shorter showers. I ask for doggie bags. And I eat the heel. I channel my mother on a regular basis as I refold, re-use and refill. I have to say this: Mom, you were right, even if you weren’t doing it to save the planet. I guess that’s what we call wisdom.
January 15, 2010
There are these nifty little pieces of paper that all of us carry around and trade back and forth, allowing us to get what we want without much effort or thought. And exciting new fitness research has shown that using these little pieces of paper can help us all, but especially men and especially cheapskates, to lose weight faster than any other weight-loss method known to humankind.
These pieces of paper are called money and Pamela Weiler Grayson gave me my fitness laugh for the day about a year ago by writing an article for the New York Times about what she calls Fat Betting. I love this idea.
She quotes several recently published studies saying that when money is on the line, people who’ve never before had weight-loss success are able to drop the ellbees.
Now I used to call this accountability but I’ve coined a new term. I think a better name for it would be
ac-COUNT-A-DOLLAR-BILL-ity. This idea gives a deeper meaning to the term putting your money where your mouth is or as Ms. Grayson calls it, “Putting your money where your fat is” and I like it. A lot.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the idea of losing (or gaining) money is a big carrot stick for dieters nor am I surprised that another important component of their success is regular weekly feedback, which I assume means getting on the scales every Monday morning.With witnesses.
There’s nothing more motivational than making a bet with some smirking, nudgey co-worker and having to take turns stepping on the scales with them once a week when losing your year-end bonus to them is at stake.
The idea of competing to lose weight can motivate women but it is especially effective for men. Ms. Grayson attributes this to the snips and snails and puppy dog tails that boys are made of. Men are really just the grown-up version of those boys on the playground yelling, “Ha!Ha! Betcha can’t catch me!”, seeing who can run faster or climb higher.
She describes some friendly office wagers where 10 co-workers throw in $100 each with the biggest loser being the biggest winner who takes the $1000 jackpot and how losing weight is obviously the ultimate goal but that winning the bet is the reason they were able to put the cookie down.
There are actually some freebie websites (stickK.com, Fatbet.net and makemoneylosingweight.com) that provide the forum for people to make their wagers.
All aboard Cheapskates! Hop on the Weight-Loss Express! If moths fly out of your wallet every time you open it, this could be the way to your ideal weight. The cheaper the skate you are, the better I “bet” this idea works! The websites take your credit card info right up front, you pick a referee to monitor your weigh-ins and they charge you weekly for unmet goals that you’ve set for yourself. Genius!
I also chuckled at the brilliance of what Ms. Grayson called anti-charities. Bettors can designate someone they loathe to get the winnings if they fail to lose the promised weight. These have the highest success rate (85 percent) probably with Dubya’s presidential library the most popular anti-charity and Madoff’s defense fund a close second.
If that weren’t clever enough, then there’s the playing dirty. Imagine your adversary doing push-ups outside your office door or leaving your favorite homemade cookie on your desk. Call it the Meal-Mindscrew.
So this is what we’ve come to, America! Our greedy human nature is the ticket to finally losing the weight we’ve never before been able to lose. But hey, if you are motivated by the idea of losing-or gaining money, then go for it!
The current financial crisis raises the stakes even more and in my opinion this makes Fat Betting even more of a lure. If the mortgage is on the line, then suddenly those cookies will taste like dirt.
January 8, 2010
Ask Penny’s Workout World
Since this is the first blog post of 2010 (and of the decade!) I’ve decided to answer some of the most-interesting/most-asked Qs!
So here they are, in no particular order…
1. Dr Oz recently reported on a study suggesting that there is no genetic basis for the G-spot and that environmental or psychological factors may contribute to whether a woman believes that she has a G-spot. As a fitness expert and a woman, what are your thoughts?
I could have told Dr. Oz 20 years ago. There’s no G-Spot.
2. Do you get paid anything for sending out your weekly emails?
Noooo. I absolutely do not accept money (or favors, or free snacks…) in exchange for editorial coverage. So anything you see in my emails — whether it’s a link or editorial content — is PWW-approved. 100%.
3. Do you work out like all the time for hours and hours at a stretch?
Kind of. If you consider 45 minutes of cardio and and an hour of yoga 5 days a week “all the time”. It does help that I get paid to do it and don’t have the option of agonizing whether I want to or not. My peeps are waiting. Thank God. Although I always take two days off (although on one of them I write this newsletter so you have an idea of what I consider a pasttime) and I’ve been known to take a quick nap before the kids get home from school if I am tired.
4. How do you do all those yoga poses with two artificial hips?
I am lucky to be both flexible and fairly strong. At one point, six years ago I could do some very advanced poses but I do believe that some of the crazy poses (like my feet behind the head) contributed to the breakdown of the cartilage in my hips which were already too shallow (dysplasia). Many ballerinas in today’s ballet world have experienced the same type of deterioration in their hips (as well as Prince, Jane Fonda and Bebe Neuwirth). What made them good ballerinas/dancers also contributed to later hip problems. We are lucky to have a wonderful way to fix the problem. That’s why I NOW always go at the speed of my body and never go beyond what feels like my bodily limit. Plus in the photos it usually took me about 20 minutes to get into the final pose!
5. Do you really believe all the hype about how the foam roller alleviates muscle aches, eliminates tightness and can even get rid of cellulite?
Not only do I believe it, I live it! I roll on my roller almost every day and feel noticeably better every time. I think this kind of muscular release will enable me to keep living my active life long into my 90′s. But it won’t “get rid of” cellulite. It WILL reduce the appearance of cellulite though, which will make you look better. It’s a nice bonus to feeling better.
Good for you- You’re HERE! The first few workouts are miserable. Don’t listen to your head, which remembers how fit you used to be. Just DO IT. Even when you don’t FEEL like working out, go get your sneakers on, get your ipod and GO. Everyone must start somewhere.
January 8, 2010