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I think I speak for all females when I say that shopping for clothing can fall into two categories:  a fabulous, stress-relieving experience or a raging beat down of your body.  We’ve all heard other women talk about themselves in the dressing room, and we’ve probably engaged in that kind of talk ourselves.  From “Wow, I need to lay off the pasta” to “I’m never eating again”, shopping for clothes can sometimes turn us into a mess of self-depricating emotions.

When I started the Weight Watchers program, I can’t really say I was hung up on getting to a particular size-I was much more hung up on getting to a particular number on the scale.  Honestly, I’m not sure why, but it never really occurred to me that my clothes would soon be too big.  Now that I’ve reached the number I had in mind, I’ve had my work cut out for me in the closet.  After weeding through my clothes a few weeks ago, and creating piles and piles of clothes that might never fit again, I have to say, I started to feel some anxiety around the size issue.

There is a lot of conversation around whether or not sizes for American clothing have changed.  As we all know, sizes vary depending on the store, brand, cut, etc.  For instance, when I bought new pants this weekend, I ranged from a size in the single digits to a size in the double digits.  Everything fit just fine, it just fit differently.  But that’s not where the anxiety I’m talking about comes from.

I’ve found on recent shopping trips that my brain simply can’t get used to the fact that I need to take smaller sizes into the dressing room.  I’m still grabbing the same old sizes I wore when I was 17 pounds heavier. My mom and sister look at me like I’m crazy, lol.  In the dressing room, these clothes look ridiculous, but there is still a voice in the back of my mind whispering, “You might need these when you gain it all back.  Don’t waste your money on the ones that fit.”  I’ve found that I often have to be forced to go back to get the smaller sizes, or someone literally has to get it for me and make me try them on.

I know this is all a side effect of  disordered eating.  I simply cannot come to terms with the fact that I’m wearing sizes I never even dreamed I’d fit into.  My brain doesn’t seem to want to let me think that it’s real-even though I can see the results, there is still something telling me that I’ll never fit into clothing of a certain size.  Whether it’s the fear that this weight loss thing is just a phase or the pre-conceived notion that only “skinny people” wear these sizes, shopping for clothes has proven to be a totally different experience for me.  While I’m pleased with how things look, and I’m definitely pleased to see single digit sizes, the whole thing just causes so much anxiety for me that it’s hard to enjoy the results I’ve worked so hard for.

How have other people gotten used to losing weight and needing clothes?  Does the anxiety end, or is it something we just need to work that much harder to overcome?

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Just when I think I’ve been pushing myself to the limits when it comes to working out, I find a new DVD that makes me wonder if I’m ever really working hard at all.

Similar to the HiiT video, Cathe’s Cardio Core Circuit incorporates a lot of plyometric movement that has your heart pumping within the first few minutes.  The DVD is set up into 5 intense little rounds.  When I first started, for some reason I thought it was 7 rounds, and I honestly didn’t know how I’d get through them.  There are 3 cardio drills that are done for 30 seconds each, and then repeated.  After that, there is a small session of intense core work.

Regarding the cardio, there is a LOT of jumping and bouncing around.  Honestly, if you have any kind of lower body injury, such as knee or ankle pain, I really would not recommend this workout.  Knowing you only have to do each move twice and then you move on helps to keep you motivated, however, it’s definitely not for beginners.  There were a few points where I had to stop just to try to get my breathing back on track.  I’ve never found myself wishing for jump squats, but to be honest, those were a welcome break after some of the other moves!

The core moves are very advanced.  I’m sure I’ll work up to them, but Cathe does a lot of squat thrusts and push up type things that have always been very hard for me.  She does provide some modifications, though, and those will have to do for now!

This is not the kind of video that I could do more than once or twice a week.  While it’s most definitely a FABULOUS cardio option, I was very sore in my legs the next day and even the day after that.  Make sure you bring a lot of energy to this one…you’ll need it!  While it’s certainly not impossible to the point where I’d need to turn it off, it’s a true challenge, but the rewards outweigh the pain 🙂

Between Jared’s birthday last Thursday and my mom’s birthday on Sunday, temptation has been all around me this past week.  From cake, to pizza, to a buffet brunch, it was practically unbearable.  Considering how often I get food cravings on normal days, I’ll admit this past weekend was a true test of will!

I recently found this great article from Fitness Magazine about controlling cravings.  I did know a lot of this stuff, but here are some things that were new to me:

Women are more vulnerable to cravings than men. Finally, proof for what I see played out in our house every night!  I used to tell myself that I craved sweets and bad food more than Jared because I was overweight, but science has an answer for me.  It seems that women in general have a harder time ignoring cravings based on the biological response to “eat for two.”  Interesting stuff!

Giving in to cravings can change our brains. Blame this one on processed foods.  Sugar, fat, and salt don’t come packaged naturally in things like fruit or even meat.  Processed foods help us get that hit all at once, making it harder to avoid them and choose the right bite.

We all have a food bliss point. This is the point where the level of sugar, fat and salt give us maximum pleasure, making them addictive almost in the same way drugs and alcohol are.

Read the full article on the Fitness Magazine Web site for some tips on how to control these natural cravings!  What strategies do you have for avoiding your trigger foods?

How many times can a girl possibly talk about Jackie Warner?  A lot, I tell you, because I just keep discovering quick, great workouts that really push me to my limits.

My boss was yet again kind enough to lend me Jackie’s Xtreme Timesaver Training DVD.  You may recall my recent lust over Fitness Magazine’s round-up of the best workout DVDs of 2011?  This one made the list in the “Ultimate Quickie Makeover” category.  While this is only a 30 minute workout, since it involves full body weight training moves, you won’t really be wishing for more when that 30 minutes is up!

After I first did this workout, my legs were shaking when I was done.  Like, shaking so bad I could hardly stand up.  Since Jackie works your upper and lower body simultaneously, there is a LOT of static holding for the lower body.  Some examples include holding a runner’s lunge while doing rear delt flys and holding a sumo squat while curling.  Each move is done for one minute per side (where applicable) and I do have to admit that some of those holds are extremely painful to hold.

Thankfully, as with most Jackie workouts, there are beginner modifications.  Even though I’m not a beginner, I sometimes still modify part of the movement.  The full beginner modification does not use weights at all, and usually drops to a knee, or doesn’t hold as deep.  For the runners lunge hold, I do end up dropping to a knee about halfway through, although for some reason I can hold almost for the full minute on my right side.

From a weight perspective, I will be the first to admit that I have a weak upper body and I feel the burn there before I feel it anywhere else.  Since you’re doing this moves rather quickly for a minute, I’m still only rocking 3 pound weights. On a similar note, Jackie is a huge fan of working the shoulders, and my shoulders are usually in a good kind of pain for a day or so after this workout.  I also feel it in my glutes pretty quickly as well.

My favorite move is the last one, where you’re leaning over and doing a shoulder raise, working both your obliques as well as your shoulders.  Feels fabulous, and I have to say I’m starting to notice some awesome oblique definition as well.  Some other great ones are the curtsy squat + punch combination and the bicep curls while lifting the leg up and down off the ground.

Although this is a strength training DVD, there are a lot of face paced moves in here that do get your heart rate up and leave you a bit breathless.  The whole point of the DVD is to maximize your workout in only 30 minutes, and the combination of strength moves and just overall movement makes that easy to do.

Check out a short preview below, and good luck!

Given the title of this blog and my previous posts, I think all of you know that Jared and I appreciate a nice, quality craft beer.  As I’ve mentioned, one of the hardest things about Weight Watchers for me initially was cutting out having a nice pint once or twice a week.  For the beers that Jared and I enjoy, Weight Watchers assigns 5 points to a 12 oz. glass, whereas wine is only 4 points for 5 ounces.  If I choose to drink during the week, I almost always choose the lower points value and go with wine, which eliminates beer almost entirely from my rotation.

Weight Watchers does assign only 3 points to light beer.  However, I have never really found a light beer that is worth drinking.  The Bud Lights and Miller Lights of the world are not worth the points to me, so I thought I was doomed to cutting out beer altogether, unless we were celebrating a special occassion.

Fitness Magazine had a list recently listing the best light beers, which obviously caught my attention.  However, when I saw that the “winner” was Bud Light, I seriously had to question if the people that made this list even LIKED or understood real beer at all.  I almost chose not to look through the list at all, given their top choice, but I browsed through and found that Sam Adams Light was their First Runner Up.  Now, Sam Adams is a real beer.  Could this be possible?  I was intrigued to try the light version, and I’m happy to say that it is a fine substitute to my usual Stella, Yuengling or Magic Hat.

Sam Adams Light could certainly never replace the insanely hoppy, flavorful taste of a real craft brew, but for people that enjoy the taste of beer, it is most definitely a great alternative, providing enough complex flavor to make you feel like you’re indulging without the guilt and points.

Anyone else have any suggestions for a decent light beer?  Miller, Coors, and Bud need not apply……

Money is tight for everyone these days.  While some are fortunate enough to have a gym in their apartment building or work building, for those of us without those resources, it can be hard to justify a gym membership.  I’ve been doing home workouts for about 3 years now.  While it can be hard to find a video that makes you work hard enough to feel it, Fitness Magazine just made it easier for all of us with our own home gyms!

The Top 10 Workout Videos for 2011 breaks down the best of the best as far as home workouts are concerned, providing variety as well as a great workout.  From Bob Harper to Jackie Warner to Jillian Michaels to Denise Austin, this list really includes something for everyone.  Fitness Magazine even broke down the amount of calories you would burn, as well as what you need, and included a snippet from each video.

This is really one of the best resources I’ve seen in awhile.  After reading this list, I was super tempted to go out and buy all the ones I haven’t tried (I’ve tried Jillian’s 6 week 6 pack as well as Jackie’s XTreme Timesaver Workout).  While it can certainly add up, as some of these videos cost up to $20 not counting some of the equipment you might need, if working out at home is your main source of exercise, it’s certainly worth the investment.  For now, I’ll hope  that I win the pack of 10, although I’m sure that’s a long shot. 🙂

I haven’t checked to see if any of these are available on Netflix, but that’s another great option if you’re looking to try before you buy as well as find something that motivates you to work hard at home.  Thanks to Fitness Magazine for such a great resource list and for remembering those of us without access to gym equipment that still like to work hard!

I am fortunate enough to have an awesome boss who is even more committed to finding great workout options than I am.  And I benefit from this passion of hers, because she’s awesome enough to let me borrow the ones she finds so I can see if they are worth buying.  Our latest find comes from Cathe Friedrich.

Are we jumping?

Anyone who follows the conversations in the exercise and fitness world knows that high-intensity interval training is often recommended as the best way to burn fat in short, intense workouts.  Jillian Michaels bases a lot of her workouts on this philosophy, as do many other trainers.  It really takes your cardio sessions to the next level as far as I’m concerned.

Cathe’s HiiT High-Intensity Interval Training DVD certainly rivals other videos I’ve done with this method for intensity.  As in, it’s one of the most intense cardio routines I’ve done in awhile.  Below are the two options I tried on the DVD.

30/30: The 30/30 segment does require a step for some of the movements.  30/30 is broken into 30 second blasts with 30 seconds of rest and includes both a warm-up and a cool down.  As my boss warned me and I soon found out, don’t get discouraged by some of the step moves Cathe uses in the warm-up.  They are very fast-paced and hard to catch on to for beginners, however, the interval portion is easier to follow.  When I say easier to follow, I mean it’s easier to get the movement down, but certainly not easy to complete.  Even Cathe is out of breath and can’t talk after some of the blasts.  With a lot of jumping, this workout can be a bit hard on your knees and ankles, however, for 30 second blasts it is certainly tolerable.  I was breathing so hard after some of the blasts that I thought I’d never recover.  And that just feels good!

Pyramid Program: The pyramid segment does not require a step and is an AWESOME way to get your cardio in each week.  Cathe takes you up the pyramid, increasing the blasts and rests, then takes you back down.  Then you do it all over again.  Once again, there is a decent amount of jumping, and I certainly felt this workout the next day in my legs and even a bit in my arms.  The warm up is fun and energizing, and after completing the pyramid two times, you’ll definitely feel like you worked hard.

The only segment I did not try was the 40/20, with 40 seconds of cardio and 20 second blasts.  If it’s anything like the other segments, however, I’m sure it’s worth the work.

I’m not going to lie about it-these workouts are challenging, and if you’re just starting out, I would not recommend you start here.  However, if you’re looking to make big changes through a home workout, these should most certainly get put into your rotation immediately.  The only drawback is that the video is expensive-about $27 on Amazon, plus you have to buy a step to do some of the routines.  However, the overall benefits of doing a workout like this even just twice a week certainly pays off.

As a social media “specialist”, I hated this question.  “How do you measure success?”.  This is a question that all of us have faced on the job or in other areas of our lives.  I’m going to talk about it as it relates to Weight Watchers and the journey I’ve been on for the past 7 weeks.

One obvious way that success is measured on Weight Watchers is through weekly weigh-ins.  Goals are set, and once those goals are met, I would say it is safe to say you have been successful on the program.  Whether you just met your 5% weight loss or 10% weight loss goal, these are all certainly major successes to be celebrated along the way.

But what about the weeks when the scale doesn’t “move mountains” so to speak?  What successes can we look at as a reminder that we’re on the right path?  Below are some small milestones I’ve been keeping track of that help me reward myself when the numbers stay put.

1.)  Monthly Measurements.  Just because the scale isn’t moving doesn’t mean you’re not losing inches.  At the beginning of the Weight Watchers program, I took my measurements as part of the weigh in, and decided to track each month.  I’ll only do this once a month, because I don’t believe that inches fall off as quickly as pounds.  This helped me around week 4 when I did my first check in.  The scale hadn’t moved in weeks, but I had lost an inch all over.  It was this success that helped me get my mind off the scale, and move on to meet my 5% weight loss goal.

2.)  How do your clothes fit? This was an exciting revelation for me this weekend.  I knew my pants were starting to look a bit sloppy, when I noticed that the crotch of my jeans one day was practically hanging down to my knees.  When I went shopping, it felt SO GOOD to put on clothes in sizes I normally wear and have them be too big.  Moving forward with the knowledge that losing weight is going to put me into a whole new wardrobe is certainly annoying from a cost perspective, but boy does it feel good!

3.)  Confidence. Someone remarked to me yesterday that it seemed like over the weekend I had morphed into a different, funnier version of myself.  I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but I’ve noticed I’ve stopped the self-hate and carry myself differently than before.  I know that, no matter how long it takes to get to the weight I’ve set as my final goal, I am doing good by my body.  I can no longer claim that weight loss is out of my control, and I can celebrate along the way the accomplishments I’ve made.  Even though I know there are people saying, “I can’t tell she’s lost weight, what is she talking about???” I know that I have, and right now, that’s all that matters.  It’s taken me years to get to a place where weight loss could be a healthy personal decision, and that alone has given me the confidence to stop berating my thighs, hips, and butt and start embracing the fact that I’m doing the right thing.

4.)  Willpower. As I mentioned when I first started the program, willpower has consistently been a stumbling block for me.  Being on the Weight Watchers program has taught me how to take control where I formally felt out of control.  It hasn’t been easy turning down that second glass of wine at dinner, but the rewards are paying off.  Even though I can’t really measure how my willpower has changed, knowing that I’m able to walk away at a certain point proves to me that I’ve made some big changes in the past 7 weeks that will hopefully carry me through to my final goal.

How do you measure your own success in areas of your life that aren’t numbers driven?

Editors Note:  I realize that this is a controversial and touchy subject for some.  I ask that you read this with an open mind, and that if you feel the need to comment, comments are thoughtful, backed by truth and facts, and not accusatory.

I’m saddened by the recent news that, under the new GOP spending plan, $327 million would be cut from Title X.

To those of you that read news snippets, this proposal to cut federal funding for Title X is aimed at Planned Parenthood of America.

Title X, in short, is a government program that provides family planning services.  Priority for services such as contraception, supplies, and information is given to low income families.  Planned Parenthood is not the only place that receives benefits from Title X.

I know many people already know this, but I feel as if this fact gets lost whenever family planning and Planned Parenthood come to the forefront of debate:  people use Planned Parenthood for services other than abortion. Each year 3 million Americans rely on Planned Parenthood for health care.  Yes, health care.  Planned Parenthood spends 90 percent of its budget on preventive care and education, performing over one million cervical cancer screenings and 830,000 breast exams annually.  Nearly 2.5 million Americans receive contraception from Planned Parenthood, and 4 million are tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections at clinics.

In fact, I used it myself when I moved down to Washington, DC as a cheaper alternative for preventative screening and birth control.  And I’m not ashamed to say that.  No woman should be ashamed of the fact that she needs to take care of herself, and those with lower incomes or no health insurance should have safe options to do so.  Just like the rest of us.

Conservatives are looking to use the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services to strip them of all federal funding.  I’m not about to go out on a limb and say that every organization is perfect,nor am I about to say whether or not I agree with abortion, but cutting all funding based on one service provided is disheartening to me and dangerous for women and their families that rely on the millions of other services offered.

I remember during one visit for an annual check up at Planned Parenthood in the Silver Spring area of DC, I had to be escorted into the building because of protesters outside.  As I sat in the office looking at the other women there with me, I became very angry about this.  Since when is it a crime to take care of yourself?  I had half a mind to go outside and talk to the people out there, to let them know that just because I was sitting in this office did not mean I was looking into abortion options. I was simply taking care of myself.  I can’t speak for the other women there, but let’s remember that Planned Parenthood provides cancer screening, HIV testing, and other forms of preventative care that are a MUST for women of every age-not a luxury.

Title X was a huge step forward for women and men all over the country.  Before we go about cutting funding to places like Planned Parenthood and other safe clinics around the country, I hope that as a nation we can remember that, for those less fortunate, Planned Parenthood may be the only option they have to take care of themselves.  Lower income women and families are already struggling to be able to find affordable health care options given our current economy, and I feel like this just puts the knife in the coffin when it comes to the health care debate.

 

I recently saw in a Hungry Girl newsletter that the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services had announced new dietary guidelines to “help Americans make healthier food choices and confront the obesity epidemic”.   As a direct result of the fact that one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the US are overweight or obese, the Dietary Guidelines place stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

The press release I found stated that additional consumer-friendly advice and tools would be relased in the coming months, and gave a snapshot of some of the advice found in the Dietary Guidelines:

  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Compare sodium in foods and choose the foods with lower numbers
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

While this advice seems almost too elementary for those of us that subscribe to an overall healthy lifestyle, my biggest question for the USDA and HHS is how they plan to ensure this message reaches those in lower-income levels who may not have access to the same resources we have.  It is no secret that underprivileged children often have unhealthier diets, and honestly, I can see why.  Eating healthy is not cheap, and to be honest, it’s not often convenient.  Ensuring that Jared and I are eating healthy does take a bit of planning, and our grocery bill certainly isn’t cheap.

Although it’s nice to have these dietary guidelines that talk about the benefits of exercise and a balanced diet, I hope that the government plans to do more than issue a press release and a downloadable guide.  I admire the work our First Lady is doing in this regard, and only hope that the message can be spread to more areas in a fashion that is reachable and achievable for those less fortunate than us.

 

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