Posts Tagged With: kickboxing

The Right to Bare Arms (and Stomach, and Thighs…)

As the summer months officially come to an end, I decided it was finally time to step back on the scale.

And, unsurprisingly, I was greeted by an additional five pounds.

It’s what I was expecting, given my week-long jaunts in Vegas, Atlantic City, and Orlando, the endless string of barbecues and late-night fro-yo runs, my less-than-rigid workout routine. Now that I’m back into the swing of things — my long-awaited return to Weight Watchers, first and foremost — I’m fully confident that I’ll ditch those extra pounds (and then some) in no time.

That’s what still continues to amaze me. For the first time in my life, if I see the number on the scale nudge up a bit, I don’t panic. I don’t say “the hell with it” and start eating everything in sight, as I’ve done so many times in the past. I simply chalk it up to a few (okay, maybe more than a few) poor eating choices and lackluster workouts, and I pledge to get back on track ASAP.

I can finally acknowledge that I’m strong enough to lose (and re-lose) weight. I believe in myself. Who knew?

The truth is, this summer marked a whole new leg of my weight loss journey…even if I didn’t actually lose any weight. Whether the scale is moving or not, it seems nearly every day I’m slapped with a new realization about my body and just how much has changed.

Yesterday, for example, on a somewhat chilly afternoon that didn’t exactly warrant capri pants, I was amazed to pick up a pair of jeans from last year and easily slip them on. No lying on the bathroom floor trying fruitlessly to yank the zipper up, no jamming my rolls of flesh into the too-tight waistband, or rubbing raw indentations in my stomach after I removed them. I stepped right in, zipped them up, and was on my way.

And all this after so many years of having to buy a larger size for school every September, or sheepishly “losing” last season’s jeans, or — I’m ashamed to admit — destroying more pairs of pants than I can count when my denial about needing a larger size led to popped buttons or seams that blew open.

For the third September in a row, I’ve been able to re-wear clothes from the previous year, and that, to me, is an ultimate victory.

But this summer, perhaps my greatest achievement is that — for the first time in my 26 years of existence — I was confident enough to sport a bikini top at the beach.

Now, before you get too excited, let me preface this by stating that I had to search far and wide for a top with the extra coverage I still craved (athletic-style suits did the trick!), and I still felt the need to camouflage my generous thighs and loose, stretch-marked paunch with a high-rise skirted bottom. But who cares? I’ve worked hard for the body I have at this very moment — even if it isn’t “perfect” — and I don’t care who sees it.

Then there’s the fact that it’s almost surreal to me to do a load of laundry and fold my size small — SIZE SMALL! — tank tops from Old Navy. My summer uniform once consisted of baggy t-shirts or short-sleeved polos hidden beneath cardigan sweaters, for fear that anyone should catch so much as a glimpse of one of my behemoth, saggy arms. I sometimes can’t believe that I’ll slip into a strapless dress or racerback running tank and walk out the door without a second thought. My Muy Thai uniform is sleeveless, and where I would once be mortified to be waving my bare arms around for all the world to see, now I can look in the mirror — even at my loose tricep skin — and accept the way my arms look. Sometimes, at just the right angle, I think they even look pretty strong and muscular.

Oh, and then there’s the small detail that I ran not one, but two races this summer. And I already have a few other 5Ks lined up for the fall. At my very first race, a four-miler on the Fourth of July, I met my goal of jogging the entire course. Granted, I wasn’t the fastest runner, but it didn’t matter — I gathered up my courage and was able to squash my self-doubt long enough to cross that finish line, and I’ll be damned if I let 10-minute miles spoil that.

Did I mention that I even had the audacity to wear shorts to that race? Me, good old “Thunder Thighs,” wearing shorts. In public! Oh, the humanity.

Bikinis, shorts, tank tops — and, certainly, running races — were things I never thought possible. I was, after all, a 22-year-old shopping in the Women’s Plus section for swimsuits, and constantly pretending I was cold to justify wearing long sleeves or ankle-length capris in August. There was a time not too long ago that I couldn’t run a single mile without gasping for air, and now I’m breezing through 5Ks as if it’s completely normal for me to be running alongside other athletes.

Believe it or not, I am slowly but surely beginning to accept my body. I know I’m by no means thin, and I never will be. Maybe I have no business baring so much of my body at the beach or flapping my batwings in kickboxing classes, but for the first time in my life, I’m not constantly obsessing over how every little inch of my body looks at every moment of the day.

My tummy flap and jiggly thighs are clearly here to stay, and I’m finally making peace with the fact that I will never have the “perfect” body, no matter how much more weight I lose.

But guess what? I think I might just be perfectly fine with that.

The important thing is that my weight is no longer holding me back from anything I want to do or achieve in my life, and I’m excited to see just what else I can accomplish on my journey.

With or without the cooperation of a scale.

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I am Runner, Hear Me Roar.

When it comes to our diets, there are a few hard and fast rules that will help just about everyone drop a dress size. You know, like eat more celery and less Cheetos.

But when it comes to the day-to-day decision to break a sweat — because, let’s face it, there is no lasting weight loss without physical activity — I believe that every person is a little different.

For example, I have trouble mustering the energy to exercise in the evenings, while others wouldn’t dream of rolling out of bed at 5:30am to hit the gym. Some people like to tone up with yoga or Pilates, while I prefer to pant through a run or a grueling kickboxing session. While some can push through several hours of strength training at the gym (insane Biggest Loser contenders, I’m looking at you), it may not work for all of us. I’m lucky to be able to carve out 45 minutes for a sweat session 5-6 times a week, and some people get away with far less. And that’s perfectly fine.

That being said, I think there is one workout rule that applies to every single person looking to lose the weight and keep it off. And that is this: you must make fitness a part of your identity. If you want to truly commit to a regular exercise routine, I don’t think you can just pencil in a 30-minute walk four times a week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great start — but I think it takes more than a calendar appointment to make exercise a part of your life.

I strongly believe you need to find something that you love to do. It has to be something you can latch onto strongly enough that you won’t let bad weather or family responsibilities or work schedules or anything else stand in your way. I’ve been known to run in the rain, and have attempted to maneuver my car though six inches of snow to make my Muy Thai kickboxing class.

I recently returned from a vacation (Disney World!) where I gave myself permission to eat anything I wanted — ice cream, cookies, cheeseburgers, you name it. While traipsing through theme parks for six days is physically demanding, it was still nothing like my usual running/spinning/kickboxing regimen. So, big surprise here: I returned home to pants that suddenly fit a little more snugly. I was hungry all the time, and feeling way too lethargic to hit the track.

Because of my lack of exercise and unhealthy eating all week, I didn’t feel motivated or energetic…but most surprisingly, I didn’t feel like me.

That’s when I realized how much working out has become part of my identity. It has consumed my life in so many ways that without a daily bout of exercise — even if I miss less than a week — I suddenly start feeling like a completely different person. It’s truly humbling to realize that, before my weight loss, I used to feel this way all the time.

If I were to draft a list of all the qualities that make up who I am, “physically active” would be  right at the top. My being can no longer be summed up by my gender or what I do for a living. I’m also a runner and a purple belt.

I think my overzealousness at the gym in my earliest weeks of weight loss paid off in more ways than a scale could ever show. I quickly became a fixture on that elliptical machine, and it wasn’t long before people started calling me by name…and asking about me when I didn’t show up. That’s when I realized that others saw me as something of a gym rat, and that fueled me with the motivation to get stronger and tougher and fitter. I wanted to live up to that new perception of who I was.

When I started running, at first I considered it nothing more than a fast way to torch as many calories as possible in a short period of time. But it wasn’t long before I got bored with the monotony of pounding a treadmill. When I started looking at running as more than a weight loss technique, that’s when the habit really started to stick. I subscribed to Runner’s World.  I strapped on a Garmin sports watch.  I signed up for 5K races.  Suddenly, I was a “runner.” And now I can’t wait to lace up my Nikes.

I’m often asked to divulge the number of times I work out each week. But an active lifestyle is so much more than the hours you spend on a treadmill. It’s just way too easy to lose interest in working out and return right back to your favorite position on the couch. I should know…I work at a gym.

I tend to shy away from making all-knowing proclamations on this blog, but I truly believe that the only way to make fitness a lasting part of your life is to make it part of who you are.

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Become Your Own Cheerleader

When I first started losing weight, the compliments just kept on comin’. Friends and family — especially the ones who don’t see me every day — were constantly making a fuss about my shrinking body, showering me with “you look so great!” compliments and incredulously questioning: “how much weight have you lost?!”

But when my weight loss began to plateau, slowly but surely the compliments stopped. It’s only natural — everyone got used to seeing me at my current size, and really, how many times can you tell a person that he or she looks “amazing?”

To be perfectly honest, all of the attention made me a little uncomfortable at first. I wasn’t used to people ogling my body, and for the first time in my life, I was daring to show some skin in tank tops, (slightly) skimpier bathing suits, and — for the first time since I was old enough to buy my own clothes  — even girly little sundresses.

Still, when all of the excitement surrounding my drastic weight loss began to die down, I couldn’t help but admit to myself that I missed that adoration from others. Eating well and exercising had officially become just a regular part of my everyday life, and the pounds I had lost were old news.

I didn’t realize how much the constant praise from friends and family was truly motivating me to keep dropping pounds and look even better for the next time I saw them in person. Despite my headstrong, independent, “I don’t care what anyone else says” facade, I recently realized  just how much I do rely on others for validation — in my weight loss efforts, in my career, and in any new endeavor I take on…even kickboxing.

If an editor doesn’t call or e-mail to offer their accolades on how well-written my article was, I automatically assume it was a piece of garbage. If my Muay Thai instructors don’t say “nice kick” every five seconds,  I take that to mean I’m not progressing and and I’m undeserving of my next belt.

Thinking back, I can’t help but wonder if the sudden lack of “oohing” and “aahing” about my slimmer physique had something to do with my suddenly waning weight loss efforts.

It might explain why my perfectionist, Type A personality does so well in group exercise classes where there’s always the potential for positive feedback from instructors and classmates, and yet I often have a hard time motivating myself to hit the basement and crank out 100 crunches or lace up my sneakers and go for a run. For me, it’s a whole lot easier hearing a trainer at the gym tell me how fast I run than it is to congratulate myself for beating my own personal 5K time.

In fact, my boyfriend — who, thankfully, is never afraid to call me out on my issues — recently asked me why I care so much if other people think I’m good enough.

“Why can’t you ever just tell yourself that you’re doing a good job?” he asked.

Can we say…light bulb moment?

Why do I need someone else to tell me how great I look, how well I write, or how powerful my roundhouse kicks are? Why can’t I just look at myself in the mirror and confirm that I am, in fact, working really hard and — gasp! — acknowledge my own accomplishments?

So now I’m trying to become more aware of the negative thoughts that creep in when someone else doesn’t immediately pat me on the back for something I’m doing. Once I started tuning in to all the times I doubt myself or question my own abilities throughout any given day, I was amazed to discover just how often I’m making myself feel like a failure.

Instead of waiting for others to validate my efforts, I’m working on becoming my own cheerleader. I’m going to pat my own back, give myself a thumbs up, and root myself on as I hit the park for a run, make a healthy choice at a restaurant, or yank myself out of bed at 8am on a Saturday to go to Weight Watchers.

Don’t get me wrong — having the support of your friends and family is so important, and I will always owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who offered their encouragement along the way. But I also need to learn how to give myself credit and not rely solely on the passing compliments of others to boost me up.

I may not be at my goal weight (yet), and I may not be making big bucks as a freelance writer (yet), but what’s most important is that I am never, ever giving up…and I will get there.

Go me. 😀

What are some ways you act as your own “cheerleader?”

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The Winds of Change

(I thought this title was appropriate given the 55 mph gusts we’re experiencing here in New Jersey this morning).

Thanks to my efforts to acknowledge (and face) my fears, I’ve finally started making some changes that — believe it or not — may actually be making the scale move! I’m proud to report that I’ve lost 1.2 lbs at my weigh-in for the last two weeks in a row, after several weeks of gains or .4 pound losses. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but for me, it’s huge: I’m back down to a total loss of 86.4 pounds, and for the first time in over a year, I’m confident that I can (and will) reach my goal of losing 100 pounds. I’m determined to break out of my rut and do whatever it takes to realize this goal, and now I see just how easy this whole process could have been all along.

I needed to shake things up. It’s that simple.

Here’s how I’m doing it.

1.) I signed up for my first 5K. FINALLY! I have acknowledged my ability to run 3.1 miles, and am ready to prove to myself and to others that I can do this. Thinking of my treadmill sessions and runs in the park as “training” as opposed to “calorie burning” is truly motivating me to go faster and farther. Best of all, it’s a race to benefit childhood obesity, a cause that couldn’t be closer to my heart. The only problem is I hastily registered for the event (because I didn’t want to give myself time to change my mind!) before realizing that May 1st is the day I’ll be returning from a week-long vacation to celebrate my boyfriend’s 25th birthday in Vegas…on a flight that lands at 6am. Yikes. On the one hand, having a 5K looming over my conscience while I’m whooping it up on the Strip might just help keep me on track, but either way, I know that I’ll be exhausted and jet lagged upon my arrival home. Regardless, I have my mind made up to run this race, and I know that if my time isn’t that great…well, there’s always the next one!

2.) I switched my weigh-in day. I’ve been weighing-in on Sunday mornings at 8:30am since I started my weight loss journey in November 2007. I’d go out to dinner on Friday night and (usually) Saturday night, weigh in the following morning, and then make the remainder of Sunday my free-for-all day, chock full of mindless binge eating. Because, you know, I had the whole week ahead to make up for it. Well, no more. For the past two weeks I’ve weighed in on Saturday morning at 8:30, right before my Muy Thai Kickboxing class. And guess what? I’ve lost more than a pound both weeks. Guess what else? I’ve magically stopped feeling the need for a “cheat” day, and — brace yourselves — I’m even tracking all weekend! Yes, that’s right. Without that “end of the weekend” weigh-in day mentality, I’ve started looking at my Friday night dinner out with my boyfriend as my last chance to stay on track before my weigh-in, and the weekend has suddenly become just two regular on-plan days. Who knew something so simple would make such a huge difference in my mindset, and my ability to start tackling my weekend eating issues once and for all?

3.) I’ve made protein my new best friend. I’ll be the first to admit that while I eat whole foods most of the time, before the PointsPlus program was launched, I was snacking on empty carbs just a bit too often. Who doesn’t love munching on baked chips with a sandwich, grabbing a handful of whole grain crackers on the go, or enjoying yummy whole wheat pasta dishes for dinner? I didn’t want to admit how much I relied on carbs — albeit “healthy” carbs — until the higher POINTS values forced me to start cutting back. Now I’m eating much smaller portions of cereal and brown rice, I won’t touch processed, ready-made meals with a ten-foot pole, and I’m committed to finding new ways to incorporate more lean protein, nuts, beans, and — of course — fruits and veggies into my diet. (Now I just wish I could learn a strategy to choke down fish without gagging). And you know what? I’m not feeling so hungry all the time, and I have more energy. I know I have some body fat to shed before I can truly admire some of these muscles I’ve been working so hard to build, and I think I finally figured out what has to be done.

4.) I fell in love with my new workout. I’ve already written about my Muy Thai Kickboxing class, but I cannot even express how much having a workout to look forward to — as opposed to mindlessly pounding the treadmill every day — has made all the difference. I leave that class three times each week feeling strong, powerful, and ready to take on the world. I’m torching major calories, I’m watching muscles sprout up everywhere, and I don’t even realize how hard I’m working out because I’m having so much fun. I’m now convinced that once you start looking at a physical activity as “training” as opposed to simply “exercising,” it really can boost your motivation to keep going to class and working towards your next goal (in this case, my yellow belt).

5.) I’m inspiring others. Okay, okay, so this last one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a change I made, per se’…but I like to think I had some influence on my boyfriend, who recently started eating healthier and exercising 4+ times a week. Truth be told, his newfound commitment to eat well, work out, and, as he says, “not die in 10 years,” has had more of an impact on me than he knows. I’m beyond thrilled to have a workout partner (yes, he even joined my gym!), but even more importantly, it means so much to me that I’ve been able to inspire him on his journey to better health. I know he hasn’t been feeling so great about himself, and I’ve worried about his health for years. But in the last couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of watching him completely change his life — he’s eating fruits and vegetables, for crying out loud! — and I couldn’t be more proud. Plus, now I feel like I have to set a good example for him, so it motivates me to keep making the right choices. He has always pushed me to be my best, and now I’m so glad that I can do the same for him.

What are some of the things you’ve done to “shake things up” when the scale stalls? I’ll take all the ideas I can get!

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Fighting Fear

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started to realize just how much fear has been holding me back. In my weight loss, in my career, in my relationships…in my life in general.

Last night I earned my orange belt in Muy Thai kickboxing. For two weeks I fretted about not being able to remember the form we had to memorize to “graduate” to the next belt, about not being able to throw a proper left hook or right elbow, and — most of all — I was terrified of failing to break a wooden board with a knee strike.

After it was all over and I was presented with my new belt, it occurred to me that I’ve become so used to doubting myself and assuming that I’m not good enough that I actually lost sleep over losing a battle with…a 16 inch piece of wood.

How did I let myself become so hard-wired for fear that even the most minor step I take out of my comfort zone causes such extreme anxiety? Why is it so difficult for me to tell myself that I can, in fact, accomplish something…and that I’m worth the effort?

For the past two years, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a rut in my writing career. I’m sitting back and letting the same editors come to me with assignments, because I’ve been too afraid to pitch the editors at my “dream” publications. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate my regular editors and I absolutely love working with them, but all this time I’ve been riddled with fear that editors at other publications will laugh at my ideas or tell me I’m not a good enough writer to contribute to their magazine. So I just haven’t bothered trying to introduce myself or to pitch them new ideas.

That’s why I recently signed up for an on-line course about generating new ideas and pitching magazines held by a very successful freelance writer, and a big part of the first week’s lesson focused on fear: how easy it is to let the fear that your ideas are “stupid” stand in the way of getting your writing published, landing new clients, and building a lucrative freelance career. Once I started tackling the class assignments — which actually required me to silence the “I won’t succeed, so why bother trying?” thoughts that are constantly rolling around in my mind — I realized that it all boils down to one word. Fear.

I now have a list of more than 300 potential article ideas, I have seven new queries in the works, and I’m getting ready to send them out to a few of the magazines I’ve always wanted to write for. Because, after all, what’s the worst that could happen? They don’t like my idea?  I’ll just try again.

For the past year and a half, I’ve gained and lost the five pounds over and over again, and let myself fall into the same eating and exercise routines. I’ve convinced myself that I simply “can’t” lose any more weight, and started to believe that I’d never reach my goal of losing 100 pounds. I’ve been trying to break this plateau for so long, but have I really been doing everything I absolutely can to get the scale to budge? In hindsight, I’m not so sure. I’m proud that I’ve been maintaining my weight loss, but for the most part, I’ve been afraid to radically change my eating habits or workout routines because…well…what if I still fail to lose any more weight?

I dreaded the launch of the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus, because it meant re-learning a new program and a different way of thinking about the food I eat. And, yes, it meant forcing myself to abandon some of my old ways (like snacking on baked chips all the time or eating heaping servings of brown rice at dinner). But guess what? I’m eating “cleaner” than ever; my entire family has stopped nuking processed meals for dinner on busy weekdays, and I’m no longer craving carbs all the time. In fact, I look forward to my 3pm banana break every day. Who knew?

It took every ounce of courage I could muster to walk into that karate studio and try something new. I was afraid I’d never be able to keep up, or that I wouldn’t fit in with the other students, or that the instructor would laugh at my pathetic excuse for a roundhouse kick. In fact, if a friend hadn’t given me a gift certificate to the karate studio, I might never have brought myself to sign up. It was new, it was scary, and — let’s face it — martial artists can be big and tough and intimidating.

But I did it. I’m having a blast, the scale is moving again (slightly), my muscles are tighter, I feel strong and powerful and confident, I’m actually going up to people and introducing myself…

And I can’t believe my fear almost stood in the way of it all.

In a few short weeks, my mantra has transformed from “I can’t” to “why not?” What the heck have I been so afraid of?

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Eat More to Lose More?

Is there anything more infuriating than stepping on the scale after what you thought was a perfect week on your diet and exercise plan…only to see the number move in the wrong direction?

On the other hand, how do you react when you end up dining out four nights in a row, weigh-in in the following morning, and discover that you’ve actually lost two pounds?

You start eating more. That’s what you do.

I’ve had more than a few comments posted here (thank you all!) about the possibility that the scale got stuck because I’m not eating enough. And as much as I advocate Weight Watchers’ traditional “everything in moderation” approach — and I’ve always eaten all of my daily allotment of POINTS — I still tend to get nervous when I’m in danger of exceeding my target value for the day, or when I start jonesing for something that’s not especially POINTS-friendly.

I’m hesitant to dip into my Activity POINTS unless I’m feeling famished, and all this time I’ve been hoarding my now 49 Weekly POINTS for my usual weekend shenanigans: a couple of dinners out, a glass or two of wine, and maybe even a shared dessert. Calories are much more difficult to count when you’re not the one preparing the food, but based on my rough POINT estimates, I assumed I’ve been maxing myself out.

It’s no secret to any of you that while I was able to successfully drop 90 pounds doing this, my system hasn’t exactly been working for me as of late. So then when I step on the scale and lose a significant amount of weight (for me) after eating far more than I normally do throughout the week — granted, I do make the healthiest choices possible while dining out, but still! — it makes me wonder if it might just be time to pull my head out of my rear and revaluate my current weight loss plan.

My activity levels have increased exponentially since I first began working out, so while I don’t see myself competing in the Olympics anytime soon, the fact that I can now run for miles without stopping and endure intense Thai Kickboxing workouts three times a week suggests that my inner athlete might just require a bit more fuel.

And now that I’m eating “cleaner” than ever thanks to the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program, there’s absolutely no reason why I should feel guilty for eating a few more ounces of chicken at dinner (as I did when I was enjoying the delicious Santa Fe Chicken recipe HAMILTONMKA so graciously shared!), or, god forbid, grabbing an extra snack when I feel my energy levels waning at 3pm.

Maybe my two-pound loss on the scale this weekend was a fluke, or maybe it was a message from the weight loss gods telling me that I should stop trying to restrict myself so much during the week just so that I can whoop it up on Friday and Saturday nights. Not only is that mentality not getting me the results I want, but it’s only feeding into my dangerous habit of bingeing on the weekends.

I’ll keep you posted on how this week goes. Bon Appetit!

So, do you guys find that you lose more if you eat more?  Fellow Weight Watchers, do you typically “save” your extra POINTS for meals out or special treats, or do you dip into them throughout the week as needed?


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Committing to New Habits

We’re less than three weeks into the new year. Raise your hand if you’re already struggling to stick to your resolutions, and find yourself slipping back into some old habits.

(Me me me)!

The good news? I’ve already started accomplishing at least some of my goals for this year: I’ve found a new workout that I absolutely love. I signed a one-year contract at my local karate studio for Muy Thai kickboxing. And anyone who knows my tightwad ways knows there’s nothing that motivates me more than the thought of not getting “my money’s worth.” No matter, though — I’m already addicted. I think it’s a riot that this season of The Biggest Loser is incorporating two new trainers: one is a martial arts expert, and the other a professional boxer. As I’m watching the contestants release all their stress, anger, and frustration by punching and kicking and pretty much fighting their trainers to the death, I’m feeling more and more confident that I’ve found the workout for me.

I’m also completely obsessed with the Nike+ Sportband I got for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) You tuck a little sensor into your Nike+ sneakers, and then a watch displays your time, miles, calories, and pace. I finally have an idea of how far I’m running — and how fast I’m actually going — while I’m exercising outdoors.

The watch also features a removable USB you can plug into your computer, and then track and share that day’s running stats with others. I love, love, love it, and despite the frigid, wet, icy weather here in the Northeast, I’m opting to skip the boring treadmill and brave the outdoors at least twice a week. Well, when I’m not throwing elbows and performing roundhouse kicks, that is.

Best of all, I realized that I’ve actually been clocking a pretty respectable time while running at least a 5K all these months. I’m thisclose to being confident enough to enter a group race; I’m already looking around for 5K runs in my area.

In other news, I’m having some mixed feelings about Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program. On one hand, I absolutely adore the fact that it’s forcing me to stop obsessively counting calories, and instead evaluate a food in terms of its actual nutritional value. I love fruit, and now that it’s “free,” I’m eating pears, oranges, and grapes like it’s my job. Finally, I can eat bananas without worrying about “wasting” 2-4 POINTs! I’m still chipping away at my holiday weight gain, but nevertheless, I already feel lighter, less bloated, and more energized now that I’ve essentially banished many of the carb-heavy packaged snacks and processed foods from the house.

But does anyone else find themselves craving carbs even more? I never realized how much I relied on pasta and cereal and granola bars, and now that they count for a whole lot more (the POINTs for my Kashi GoLean Crunch have almost doubled), I’m reluctant to grab a Fiber One bar on my way out the door or snack on popcorn in front of the TV. I know I can still eat these foods, of course, and I do — it’s just more difficult to work them into my 29-POINT day, is all.

Meanwhile, I’m reading yet another writing book, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, and I started thinking about how the advice that’s meant to boost my success as a freelance writer (read: stop procrastinating) also applies to my somewhat lackluster approach to my continued weight loss. It lists some of the top productivity busters as: fear (yep); lack of short-term goals (correct); and perfectionism (is she writing about me, or what?)

I’m terrified of failing as a writer, and I’ve always been afraid of the unknown: life as a thin person. In my 25 years of life, I’ve never not been overweight. I stopped setting specific goals (like lose 15 pounds by my birthday) because I beat myself up if I don’t meet them, and my incessant need to be perfect is keeping me from sending article ideas to editors and leading to eating binges when I don’t adhere to every single aspect of the Weight Watchers program every single day.

Lately, that saying keeps rolling around in my head:

If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

I hate obnoxious cliches, but this one pretty much sums up every facet of my life that isn’t going the way I’d like it. I’m not making enough money as a freelance writer because I’m not actively seeking new outlets, and my weight loss has stalled because I’m not actively trying to change what I’m eat and the way I’m exercising.

It’s time to re-commit…to both my career and my weight loss efforts.

How are you all doing with your resolutions?

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2011 Resolutions

#1. To blog more.

Okay, so beyond my genuine promises to spend more time writing on this blog (and to update that two-year-old banner photo of myself once and for all), I’ve assembled a list of ambitious — yet, I think, still realistic — health and fitness goals for this year.

I recently posted a blog for CafeMom on this very topic, and I decided to heed my own advice when it comes to not declaring any more vague “lose weight” resolutions and calling it a year. I’ve been stuck at my current weight and my current fitness level for far too long, and now that Weight Watchers has rolled out it’s new PointsPlus program (more on that next time!), I’m determined to make this the year I finish what I started. It’s time to get to my goal weight, and tackle the following list of lofty health-related New Year’s Resolutions:

1.) Run a 5K. And I do mean “run.” This year I will prove to myself that somewhere deep down inside of me lies a real live runner who is more than capable of eking out 3.1 measly miles. I run almost every day — with the intention to burn calories and earn Activity POINTS, of course — but now I need to start making measurable time and distance goals…because I still have a hard time seeing myself as anything more than a fat girl in jogging tights. I have a feeling that the more I impress myself with my ability to run faster and farther, the more I’ll be motivated to improve — and, with any luck, I’ll finally develop the confidence I need to compete in a group race.

2.) Stop Binge Eating. I can almost guarantee that I routinely undo a week of hard work over the weekend, all thanks to my “I just weighed in this morning so now it’s time to gorge myself on pancakes, Chinese food, and Frappuccinos” attitude on Sundays. As much fun as it is to grant myself that one “cheat” day each week — for lack of a better term — I’m not doing myself any favors, and it has to stop. But instead of trying to quit my binge eating habit cold turkey (which clearly hasn’t worked for me yet), I’ll try planning for just one indulgence on Sundays: that way, I still get my “treat,” but I won’t completely ruin my progress that week and risk giving in to one of my oldest, most dangerous eating habits.

3.) Find New Workouts. A good friend of mine was kind enough to grant me a gift certificate for a month of kickboxing at my hometown karate studio for Christmas. I fully intend on using it for the Muy Thai kickboxing classes I tried a couple weeks ago. It’s an incredible workout, and what could possibly be more fun than releasing all that pent up frustration by punching the crap out of things? Just kidding. (Maybe). In other news, the YMCA I work for just opened a brand new, state-of-the-art wellness center and gym. It’s a huge facility, and I foresee spending lots of time testing out new equipment and getting back into spinning, yoga, step aerobics, and other classes I used to take when I first started losing weight.

4.) Learn to Cook. No more relying on the microwave as my predominant cooking tool. The new Weight Watchers program frowns upon anything that comes in a bag, box, or can (carbs are now calculated for POINTS values, and we’re supposed to keep tabs on sodium). If I truly intend to commit to my healthy lifestyle for the long run, I can no longer rely on convenience foods — or, as is more often the case, getting someone else to cook for me. I’m a fairly intelligent person, I would say, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to invest in a few basic healthy cookbooks, or spend some time scouring weightwatchers.com for recipes, and teach myself some easy recipes and healthy cooking techniques. I know it’s what I need to do to jumpstart my weight loss again — and, more importantly, learn how to sustain my healthy habits for life.

5.) Be a Leader. A Weight Watchers leader, that is. I have a burning desire to help others take that first step on the road to weight loss. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the Weight Watchers leaders and members who encouraged and pushed and inspired me along the way. I know there are so many people who feel the way I used to: completely hopeless and “destined” to be overweight and miserable. But I’m living proof that it can be done — and I want to do my part to help others realize that. Plus, I think Weight Watchers rocks.

So, what are some of your health and wellness resolutions for 2011? Please share!

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Redefining Myself

Over the weekend, I took the first of three trial classes of Muay Thai kickboxing at a local karate studio. I’ve been looking for ways to shake things up for quite some time — not only in an effort to get the scale to budge, but also to ensure that I never get bored enough with my running-and-strength-training-six-times-a-week routine to lose interest and stop exercising.

This is something I’ve wanted to try for awhile…and I had a blast. I can’t wait to do it again. In fact, I’m already stressing about how I might even begin to make room in my budget for more classes.

In my conversations with the kickboxing instructor after class, I realized that I still have not fully embraced my new body or what it can do.

He referred to me as an athlete. He marveled at my ability to effortlessly complete 75 push-ups and 200 crunches with the rest of the class. He even complimented my arms — the body part of which I’ve always been the most self-conscious, and as such, the one I spend the most time sculpting each time I hunker down in the basement with my resistance band, kettlebell, and free weights.

He also insisted that I must have done this before (I assured him that I most certainly have not, beyond some watered-down cardio kickboxing classes at the YMCA). The intimidating tough-as-nails woman I was practicing punching and kicking drills with in class said the same thing. She called me a natural, and said I was ready to try much more than what the instructor allows newbies to do.

It was all tough for me to swallow. Of course I was thrilled by the compliments — and I have to say I was pretty proud of myself for holding my own in a class full of black belts and women who had been training for years.

But then there was another part of me that had trouble believing any of it. When the instructor started talking about how he “loves turning athletes into martial artists,” I convinced myself that surely he wasn’t talking about me. He’s complimenting my form and how well I did in my first class, and I’m telling myself that he’s just trying to sell me on paying for more classes. It’s his job to say those things. Right?

I may wear smaller jeans now, but in my mind, I’m still obese. I’m still sedentary. It’s a perception of myself that I can’t seem to shake. I’ve always been fat, and I spent my entire life assuming that I always would be fat.

I know it’s the reason why I can’t give myself credit for any of the physical feats my body can now accomplish.

When I beat my own time for a mile — I can finally do it in just under 10 minutes — I ridicule my big fat thunder thighs for holding me back. And when a ripped martial arts instructor comments on how muscular my arms are, all I can think about as is how much my loose arm skin flaps when I throw a punch. I’m just a fattie who’s trying to lose weight.

Meanwhile, nothing brings me greater pleasure than working up a sweat, and I’m thrilled when I wake up with sore muscles from the previous day’s workout. I run 8.0 speed sprints on a treadmill on at least a 5.0 incline, I regularly go on 8+ mile bike rides, and I’ve more than doubled the weight I’m lifting on the machines at the gym since I started working out.

I’ve tackled nearly every type of group fitness class, from spinning to Zumba to yoga. I collect new workout moves from my countless fitness magazine subscriptions like it’s my job. I have muscles bulging in places I didn’t know could have muscles.

I pound the pavement or hit the gym six times a week. My Christmas list this year consists of medicine balls and gliding discs, and new sports bras, sneakers, and running gadgets that can track my distance, speed, and calories burned.

I go out of my way to research and eat the foods that will help me burn fat and build muscle more efficiently, and that won’t weigh me down before a workout.

But an athlete?  No, not me.

Not yet.

*I’m the new Biggest Loser blogger for CafeMom, and I’ll also be writing “Healthy Living” posts on weight loss for CafeMom’s blog, “The Stir.”  You can find my stuff here.

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