Friday, December 31, 2010

Mae: Week 11 weigh-in

Eesh, I am veeeery late with this post. I was debating whether or not to wait until Monday and post two weeks at once, but I thought better of it given that it's the last day of the year and all. I've been off track; I'm not gonna lie.

We held a pretty big party at our house catered completely by me just before christmas, which was a good thing because almost everything came from my beloved Cook's Illustrated 'healthy' cookbooks (nobody was the wiser). Everything was pretty much in check until that point, but the whiff of turkey and gravy was enough to put me over the edge. In addition to bacon, this was probably the one thing that I craved the most during the vegetarian years. Sigh.

I'm up a pound, but fear that this coming Monday will tell an even worse story. However, I have been exercising like a FIEND. I bought Wii Active 2 (post to come) and am in some serious squats hell: to the point of having to take Aleve in order to sit without crying!

Weigh-in: +1
Loss to date: 15

P.S. I've seen Annie more frequently than usual over the holidays (we're super busy professional ladies and all) and have to say that she is looking pretty goddamn amazing.

Annie: Dear 2011

Mae and I are going to Kick. Your. Ass.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annie: I ran for two minutes!

Haha, I know, big deal. But to me, it really is!

I've been reading John Stanton's book "Running," which I wrote about in my last post. One of the pieces of advice he gives is that you should look to increase your challenge to yourself in your workouts somehow every week or so, both to push yourself to improve and to guard against boredom.

At my stage of the game, I'm pretty sure that just getting back on the treadmill multiple times a week is taking care of improving things - so I'm not too worried about that. But I am easily bored when exercising, which is why I was always better at sports like tennis, which involve some competition and keeping track of score (even if I usually lost!) than individual, solitary sports like running. Once my mind starts to wander, I'm sunk.

Last week I added a couple of minutes to the duration of my treadmill sessions (now up to 42) - today, I added a couple of minutes of honest to goodness running: one at the 18:30 mark and one at 29:00.

I can't believe I will ever be able to run many minutes consecutively - but I've also read numerous testimonials of runners who've said the very same thing. Stanton himself talks about having started out overweight, running in the wee hours of the morning so his neighbours wouldn't see him struggling to make it from lamppost to lamppost. So we'll see!

The other thing that keeps me from getting bored? The new playlist the faithful Mo made for me! It has something like 76 songs on it, so I'm good for a couple of weeks before I run into repeats. It's great! She's going to make me a race playlist for Ottawa, which I'll hear for the first time that day - fun!

I've already requested that a song from my latest playlist be included... here it is (turns out I'm a Flo Rida fan - who knew?!). I dare you to sit still!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Annie: Excited and scared

As I've mentioned before, I'm planning to run a 5K race in Ottawa in May.

I haven't run more than a minute, consecutively, since my early twenties (and at that, I wasn't a runner - I was using a treadmill in a gym purely to burn calories). I think the longest I've ever run was 10 minutes.

While it's been kind of a mental thing for a couple of decades ("I could never do what runners do"), in the last couple of years it's been physical too, as my left knee has decided to give up on me. I had problems with that knee in university that led to many different therapies and two surgeries without a real "cure," and then generally took it easy on my knees for years as the problems gradually went away.

Suddenly in the summer of 2009, though, the problem came screaming back. I remember the moment I realized it: I was at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament with the faithful Mo, and started having trouble getting around in Montreal.

Was it caused by the strain of carrying my weight? I'm not an MD, but it would seem logical to me. At any rate, my knee hurts a lot of the time now, when it's been in the same position for too long (whether straightened or bent). It doesn't hurt that much when I'm walking on the treadmill, but it hurts a fair bit afterward. The good news is that both my GP and my rheumatologist tell me that running won't do any further damage to it.

I can only hope it gets less painful as the weight drops. If it doesn't, the road to this 5K is going to be very painful.

So, that's the scared part.

Now, for the excited part. Despite the pain that follows every treadmill session, I keep wanting to do more. I feel so good when I get off it - I can understand where the exercise addicts come from (haha, though I am f-a-r from ever being one of them!). When I get off the treadmill I feel like I could do anything - including that 5K.

This Christmas, I was spoiled with gifts that will help me get there.

1. A book about running by John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room, that gives great tips for beginners as well as information to help more experienced runners train for longer distances.

2. A personalized training log book - the faithful Mo knows how I love to make lists and check off to-do lists to track accomplishments!

3. A new pair of Mondetta Performance Gear running pants.

4. A Garmin Forerunner GPS watch, which will help track my progress and motivate my performance as soon as I am able to get outside to run!

As if that weren't enough, I headed out to the Boxing Day sale at my local Adidas outlet last night and picked up new running shoes, 2 jog bras and another pair of pants (thinner fabric, better-suited to indoor treadmill running).

I am so excited to begin running, and still a bit scared that I won't be able to do it. I was reading testimonials from the Running Room's Learn to Run clinic in Stanton's book last night as I waited for dinner to cook, and heard the voices of women who sounded like they could have been me (never were runners before, at the beginning couldn't even run for a minute straight, were over 40, started running to lose weight), who came to love running and to enter races regularly.

I hope I'll be one of them some day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Annie: Weigh-in week 11

Before I get too excited about having had a good loss the week of Christmas, I have to recognize that I'll probably atone for my sins next week.

I planned far in advance to give myself Christmas Day off - that holiday is just too much about food in my family (deli meat subs for lunch, shortbreads and other sweets, and of course the major turkey dinner, which I was cooking this year), and I wanted to prove to myself that I could give myself the latitude to enjoy the day and then get right back on program (this is a problem I've had in the past).

So I enjoyed Christmas and all its calorie/carb/fat-laden goodness.

But then I was in a very, very bad place. I was jonesing.

Christmas night, after it was all over and I sat with Husband and my visiting parents in the living room, I couldn't stop thinking about the huge container of leftover gravy chilling in the fridge. It was easily the best gravy I've ever made (which I also said at Thanksgiving, now that I think about it - I'm getting really good at gravy, it turns out... dzam!)

You see, our family also has a Boxing Day hot-turkey-sandwiches-with-gravy tradition, to which I've added in recent years the most sinful fries you could imagine, from a local greasy spoon.

I couldn't stop thinking about how badly I wanted that hot turkey and fries. Christmas night, and then again Boxing Day as I drove home from taking my parents to the airport, I thought about it again.

Then I talked on the phone to the faithful Mo, who gave me great advice: freeze the gravy in little bags in single-serving-sized portions, then pull one out when you have some points to spare for a quick poutine or something.  Brilliant!

Except I didn't do it. I called Husband and asked him to pick up the sinful fries on his way home from work. He (gently and without judgement, I have to add) challenged me, asking if I was sure I wanted to do this, but I promised him it was just for this one dinner, then I'd be back on program -- and the treadmill -- on Monday.

So we had the hot turkey sandwiches, and fries, and gravy... and I was sated.

I went to bed feeling like crap, and was up in the night with the once-familiar but long since forgotten night sweats that are not related to hormones but, rather, excessive digestive effort... and woke up this morning full of renewed commitment.

Mae is coming over in a little while to play with Child while I get back on my treadmill, then we're having a fabulous Points+ friendly lunch of leftover turkey (of course!) salad made with fat free mayo, cocktail rye breads (3 pieces for 2 Points+!), raw carrots and the Hungry Girl Sweet Caramelized Onion Dip. It'll be a yummy, fresh, satisfying lunch for under 8 Points+, at least 4 of which I'll work off on the treadmill.

I feel great - and will have to remember how much I enjoyed this weekend's sins, as well as how much I didn't enjoy last night's atonement, when they show up on the scale next week.

Lost this week: 3.2
Lost so far: 32.2
Still remaining: 67.8
Activity points earned this week: 17
Weeks to go: 41

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mae: Week 10 weigh-in

Unbelievably, I haven't gained this week. I was fully expecting to be up: it was a really weird week of ups and downs (not talking weight) and "seasonal celebrations" where making good choices were difficult.

I spent the weekend at the in-laws, which is always chock full of fried and crap food. Despite some initial protests by the Mister, I brought some of my standard and 'safe' food. My intention was not to be a rude guest, but I wasn't about to blow my points on food I don't even particularly like. Earlier in the week, I attended a play with some friends, and of course, there was dinner beforehand. The restaurant was one of my favourites, but I planned ahead and brought my dinner with me to work and didn't eat at the restaurant. I don't think I've ever done that before, and I felt pretty good about it after. The rest of the week was pretty much a disaster, so I'm more than happy about the end result.

Weigh-in: -1.0
Loss to date: 16

Monday, December 20, 2010

Annie: Weigh-in week 10

I was expecting to be up this week, because

1) it's water week, and
2) I snuck a peek at the scale last Thursday and saw I was down quite a bit, then snuck a sneak preview again yesterday and discovered I'd "gained" 4 lbs since Thursday's sneak peek (see #1).

So when I hit the scale this morning, I was the same as yesterday - which I thought was up a pound from last week - but which, I learned upon entering it into the WW online weight tracker, was actually down 1.2.  I'll take it!

Today was a great day - the faithful Mo is visiting, so I am enjoying my new iPod playlist immensely on the treadmill, not to mention excellent support, company, and new low-Points+ meal ideas!

We ate out at Applebee's today after mani/pedis, and I had the Spicy Shrimp Diavolo (same dish I had in America with Mae a month or so back). It was OK, but nothing to write home about - and 15 Points+. May not be doing that one again. I mean, the Points+ weren't crazy bad, but the meal wasn't crazy good, either. 'Nuff said.

But for dinner, I enjoyed not only the company of the faithful Mo but Mae, too! We had the Chicken Chilaquiles out of the America's Test Kitchen cookbook which Mae wrote about here - they were pretty awesome, if you ask me. We had a tossed salad with fat-free ranch dressing to which we'd added chopped fresh cilantro, and which also had avocado and fat-free cheddar in it- aces.

Here's the faithful Mo's photo of the chilaquiles leftovers - bet they'll be just as good tomorrow!

Lost this week: 1.2
Lost so far: 29
Still remaining: 71
Activity points earned this week: 21
Weeks to go: 42

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Annie: Man, that was GOOD.

I forced myself out of bed early this morning so I could hit the treadmill (3 days in a row - tomorrow morning I sleep in!). As I drove Child to daycare on my way to work, two thoughts struck me almost simultaneously:

1) I'm hungry, and forgot to bring something for breakfast, and
2) It has been two months since I last had a Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich.

Photo credit:

Now, given that two months have passed since this behaviour, I can admit to you now that before I began this year-long project, I probably ate those suckers at least three times a week. At least. Like, probably four.

I love them. While the one in the picture has sausage (which, for the record, I despise, whether on program or not), I like them with just egg and cheese, on that lovely biscuit which mysteriously tastes a bit like onions. Mmmmm.

So I thought, what's the harm? I've only used 2 of my Weekly Points Allowance (i.e. the points formerly known as FlexPoints), and it's better to eat at least some of them than not to...let's do it!

So I did. And it was just as delectably delicious as I'd remembered... maybe even more so because I hadn't had one in so long!

The best news of all: it was only 10 Points+! I mean, that's not nothing, but in a world of 9-point muffins, it's really not bad at all. Some good protein, some dairy, and I still have plenty of Points+ left for the day. I'll very likely dip into the WPA bank, but I wouldn't have to - this is a great position to be in. Awesome breakfast, no eater's remorse.

My birthday is around two months from now.... think I'll do it again then. Yum!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Annie: It only takes a moment

After work today, I came home to get dinner ready for the family - Husband was off picking Child up from daycare. I had the house to myself.

As I set about getting things going, I noticed one of those big cardboard cups of popcorn like you get at the fair (Child had picked it up yesterday at Husband's office Christmas party). It was full of that wonderful, salty-as-all-hell, artificially-flavoured buttery goodness you remember from back when it wasn't illegal for the movie theatres to serve up servings of 50 cups of popcorn that could kill you.

In what seems now like a completely thoughtless gesture, I reached in and grabbed a mouthful - and then another, then another.

Then, the awful snacker's remorse hit - so I took another two mouthfuls.

I immediately realized the effect the snacker's remorse had had, and experienced a moment of clarity: it was either keep eating, or not.

So I chose not.

But I shivered at the thought of just how little it takes for me to slide back to my old way of thoughtless eating.

I was relieved to learn (when I went to journal it online later) that my cup or so of that sinful popcorn had only set me back two Points+; I actually felt like I'd gotten a second chance.

The key will be to keep conscious, so I don't blow it. 

Mae: Week 9 weigh-in

Pretty mediocre results yet again, and I'd be lying if I told you that this isn't really starting to bother me and undermine my confidence.  I'm averaging 1.6 pounds per week, and given the amount of work I'm putting into this, I thought it would be better. Exercise has dropped off again while our basement is undergoing a bit of a reno. I'm sure that getting that on track would help a bit? Also, Weight Watchers has (very stupidly, in my opinion) decided to roll out the new plan (in meetings) during Christmas. Yep, you heard that right folks - Christmas. So I won't be starting the new plan until January. I'm hoping that it will make a difference, but who knows. Sigh. 

Weigh-in: -1.2
Loss to date: 15

Annie: Weigh-in week 9

OK, I'm convinced.

Lost this week: 3.8
Lost so far: 27.8
Still remaining: 72.2
Activity points earned this week: 12
Weeks to go: 43

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Annie: Never mind.

Remember what I said the other day about how I'll never be able to eat all my Points+?

Never mind.

I don't know whether it's because I've started eating breakfast, but I'm a lot hungrier in the last couple of days, suddenly.

I have 2 Points+ left for the day, and am pretty sure I'll be dipping into the bank before bed - just too hungry. Maybe there's hope for me yet!

Annie: Chafed

Now that I'm making my transition from the bike to the treadmill for my 4x/week routine, I'm quickly discovering that I will need some additions to my wardrobe.

As you may know from previous posts, my sister is a marathon runner, so she has excellent advice on all kinds of things related to running, fitness, treadmills, diet, inspiration, dedication... in addition to, of course, all the other things sisters give important advice on!

So she has all kinds of great suggestions about what to wear, and when and how to wear it, to be comfortable running.  Her most important piece of advice: wear whatever you want if you're comfortable in it, and don't give a crap what anyone else thinks!

While that might sound like permission to wear whatever sloppy clothes I have around the house, the burn on the insides of my meaty thighs suggests that I need to find some proper exercise clothes. At my size, it's not at all about "looking good," because quite honestly, though I'm already feeling much better about myself, I'm not under any illusions that anyone would be finding my current figure in anything close to "form-fitting" garb even close to attractive. Not that it matters much right now: I'm on the treadmill in my basement, which I share with two people who love me no matter what I look like.

But could it save me from inadvertently starting a fire on the skin between my thighs during walk/run sessions? If the answer is even maybe, I'm in.

Where to shop?

My sister has a bit of a love affair going with the Adidas outlet store not far from my place - whenever she comes to visit, she stops in and picks up a couple of new additions to her exercise wardrobe.

The biggest size available there: XL (in some articles - in some others, L). I think XL is made for women sized 12-14 - so I am a l-o-n-g way from being able to buy anything there (or, I suspect, in any other normal athletic wear store).  So I set out to do some research - and was delighted to find a range of choices online.

Thank you, Internet

It's only right that the technology that allowed me to order sinful chocolate babkas from Zabar's will also help me drop the weight they contributed to.

First of all, here's a site that provides links to a number of different purveyors of plus-size exercise clothing in Canada.

Even more promising, to me: Go Figure, a business out of British Columbia that bills itself as "the leading Canadian clothing designer and manufacturer focused on active & fitness wear and accessories for women size 10 and over."

Apparently you can (presumably try on and) buy their clothes at a number of The Bay stores in BC - unfortunately, not yet in my neck of the woods. But the online store looks great to me... and I won't even have to pay duty!

I'm going to ask my sister for her advice on whether she spots anything in the descriptions or fabrics or anything that she knows to be better/worse choices, and then likely put in an order.

If you have any other suggestions about plus-size exercise clothing (either vendors or observations/personal experiences), I'm all ears!

Chafing, be gone - this road is too damned long to put up with you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Annie: Distrustful

OK, I know it's only day 2 of the new program, but I am having a tough time getting around how I'm going to lose any weight on this thing.

I've had:
  • supper (a very satisfying one of grilled cheese sandwiches - yes, that's plural - and vegetable soup)
  • a banana mid-afternoon
  • WW Smart Ones microwave mini pizzas for lunch
  • (early start - no time for breakfast - I know, I know!)
... and I still have 18 Points+ LEFT for the day?

That can't be right.

And if I add more fruits & veg to reach my required daily number of servings? No matter - they're free, so they don't help me get to my daily target.

A points allocation like this could lead someone to just round out the day with 18 Points+ worth of crap - and I'm pretty sure that's not what the program was designed to do.

I know the answer is to eat more, earlier in the day, but as this program is about fitting healthier eating in with your lifestyle, I will always prefer to trade breakfast for an extra 10 minutes of sleep. I tear out of here in the morning in a blast of mayhem - it's a wonder I have all my clothes on, much less remember to take something to eat in the car for breakfast.

Get better-organized, you say? Get up a bit earlier? Sure. I'll be 42 before long... if I can teach myself not to eat like a 12-year-old left home alone for the weekend, and if I can actually run that 5K in May, maybe I can teach myself to get my act together in the mornings, too. From where I'm sitting right now, it would appear to be the most achievable of the three!

In the meantime, I am going to be very, very interested to see what the scale has to say next Monday.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Annie: Weigh-in week 8

MAE!  We've been on program for eight weeks, and we're still here!

This week was kind of weird. First of all, I was trying to eat up things that were friendly to the old program and which I knew wouldn't be friendly to the new one (goodbye, my fair Kettle Bakes! OP: 4.5 pts  per half-bag, NP: 7 pts+ per half-bag).

Secondly, my exercise routine was interrupted by Child's unbelievable stomach flu, which hit around midnight Friday night and lasted until Sunday. While I didn't manage to get on either the bike or the treadmill on Saturday, I did do about 20 flights of stairs with laundry. Does that count? I'm saying yes, unofficially.

Thirdly, on Saturday I was consumed with washing Child, bedsheets, clothing (Child's and mine), and carpets, so spent a fair part of the day in barf. When not IN barf, thinking about barf, and smelling barf. So I wasn't all that hungry (make a note of that: on bad craving days, head to the local drunk tank!), and left about 8 of my daily points on the table. Not good.

Anyway, this is another week, and I'm blindly feeling my way around the new program. I had made plans for Child to go to Grandma's on Wednesday so I could attend a meeting with my favourite leader from back in 2003 to get the scoop on the whole new deal - but a friend let me know that for some reason, meetings in my town aren't rolling out the new program until the week of December 20th.

Yes, that's right - two weeks AFTER the online tools are made available to use, and in the week that contains Christmas.  WTF?

Oh well. I'll get there when I get there. In the meantime, Mae showed me how I can change my iWatchr app to calculate the new points - that and the WW website will have to hold me until then.

Lost this week: 1.6
Lost so far: 24
Still remaining: 76
Activity points earned this week: 9
Weeks to go: 44

Mae: Week 8 weigh-in

Crazy busy; not too much to say today. Down, but not by a huge amount. I'm wildly consumed by the details of the new plan and am thinking of forking over the $ to attend to get the new materials. Truth be told, I really couldn't be bothered with going to the meetings, and I feel like this blog does much more for me than they ever did.

Weigh-in: -0.8
Loss to date: 13.8

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Annie: Treadmill

We bought a new treadmill a couple of weeks ago (smokin' deal at Canadian Tire), but it took us until this week to get a plastic runner to go under it. (The faithful Mo had advised it was a good idea to avoid putting a treadmill directly on carpet, which I have in my basement - the little fibres get sucked into it and can clog up the works over time.)

So today was my first activity points session on it - and I have to say, it was far, far more enjoyable than the same 35 minutes on my bike. I don't know whether it's because it's all new, but I actually enjoyed it!

I started out doing 3.5 mph, and quickly realized that wasn't going to be sustainable for 35 minutes, so slowed it down to 3.2, then back up gradually to 3.4, where I spent about 15 minutes before slowing down again.

My bad knee is quite stiff tonight - not great. But the good news is I was able to get booked for a cortisone shot just before Christmas, so hopefully that'll make the knee a little more cooperative for another few months.

It was satisfying to know I was sustaining a pace. That was one of the things that bugged me about the bike - every once in a while I'd catch myself slacking a bit, and would wonder how long I'd been doing that. This way, I'll at least be able to hold myself accountable for every session.

I hate calling it a "workout," it seems so lame. What's a better thing to call it, that doesn't make me think of the hairy spandex-clad ape-men at the Gold's Gym I attended for a very brief time in Montreal in the late 80s?

I have 8 points left for today, but am scared to eat them because they'll show up on the scale in the morning. But I left points on the table yesterday, too (story will follow, with my weigh-in tomorrow), so that's not a good idea.

Hmmm. What to eat?

Nighty-night, blog.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Annie: Danica's Daily

In searching around for some information about the new WW PointsPlus program (for which I was hoping to find a Canadian launch date, but no luck so far), I came across this excellent WW-related blog: Danica's Daily.

Her post from after she got the new program materials is very informative - click here.

Another post worth checking out: "Points Plus Shockers & Surprises."

Great site - advice, perspectives, recipes! Only drawback: her food photography makes me hungry. :o)

Annie: Could they be figuring it out?

For the first time this week, I wore an article of clothing in the next size down. It was a grey suit jacket (or "blazer," for those who don't pointlessly hate that word).

And a funny thing happened: on three separate occasions that day, people asked me about changes to my appearance.

First, late morning: "Did you change your hair? It looks really good!" (Important to note: I haven't changed my hair since approximately 1995, other than letting it go grey when I was pregnant with Child.)

Then, early afternoon: "Is that a new scarf?" (No - I've worn it almost every week this fall.)

Finally, late afternoon: "Are those new glasses? They look nice!" (Again, no - same glasses.)

On the last occasion, I joked with the man who asked "I was wondering when someone would notice - I shaved my beard!" (He doesn't know about the beard-phobia that keeps me on my bike.)

I generally wear my clothes baggy and my jackets long, to hide my size, so it's not at all surprising that people wouldn't notice the loss of what is, frankly, still a relatively small amount. But with the less baggy jacket, could people be noticing a change in my appearance related to my former 22.4 lbs, and not realizing what it is?

Maybe, maybe not. But that's what I'm telling myself!

Annie: New program explained on American site

Click here.

Also out today, a good related article in The New York Times.