Friday, June 26, 2009

It’s easy. Really.

Yeah. I’ve been busy. And totally preoccupied with something HUGE that’s been happening to me since about March.

So I have this friend. I’ve mentioned him here before. His name is James. I call him JimmyBoy, or Rockstar, or Pex. But that’s not important to my story.

James and I have become such great friends since I treated him to Pho last September for his 21st birthday. Yep. He’s that young. But, as I do when declaring my own age (body: 37), I choke when I think of his puppiness. He is an old soul. Incredibly intelligent, wise, and articulate. I, on the other hand, am completely immature—welcoming silliness at every opportunity. So, we meet somewhere in the middle—I’d say about 26. And it works. We chat every day, hang out once or twice a week, and completely and unconditionally inspire each other to reach for the top.

That’s how this story begins.

When James and I first went to lunch, I’d say I weighed about 152lbs. I am 5' 5" tall, so yes—I was overweight to a degree. But I was completely comfortable in my own skin. I dressed my size (12), wore bras that fit, and had long, blonde hair. I worked it. I was not interested in making any changes to become smaller or more fit. I was completely content. So there.

Then James had an idea. What if I could be even more comfortable in my own skin? What if I could be better than I already thought I was? What if…?

I resisted. Hard. “No way. I am not interested. I don’t even want to hear your ideas for changing the way I eat or move. I am good, thanks.”

But, as we all tend to do even when we close our minds to new ideas, I considered little points he had made. Tiny suggestions—No dairy. No Coca Cola. No soda at all for that matter. No carbs after 2pm. No food at all after 8pm. I considered these points, but made no significant effort to make them part of my everyday routine.

Then, I’d say by February of this year, I was noticing myself drinking less Coke. Choosing less dairy. I wasn’t eating carbs after 2pm, and there was no way I’d put anything in my mouth after supper. James’ not-so-subliminal suggestions were working. His ideas were sinking in. And I was seeing changes.

By March, I had lost about 5lbs, and headed south for Spring Break at 147lbs. This was a great marker for me, as I recall the last time I weighed in below 150.

It was 2005. Andrew and I had joined a local gym, each with a personal trainer. I went from 163 to 147 in five months. Then I became pregnant with Jake. Had some early bleeding. Quinn started school, and I found every excuse in the book to stop working out. Jake was born, I shed most of the baby weight, but sat close to 160 until maybe a year ago. About the same time James and I became friends.

So by mid-March this year, I was 147lbs again. And thrilled. The week before Easter, I contracted a nasty, nasty stomach bug and lost 5lbs. 142? Could the scale be right? I mean, it was certainly no picnic, but really? 142??? I was determined to stay there, so I talked to James. “I am ready. Bring it on.”

James handed me a meal plan, adapted from one trainer Marshall Page had prepared for James’ Mom. It looked awful. I just about cried. But I kept thinking about the scale, and my focus to stay at, or blow past, the 142lb mark.

I tried the plan for a few days: Protein shake for breakfast with 1/2 cup plain oatmeal. Snack of 22 roasted, unsalted almonds and an antioxidant drink. Lunch was 80 grams of lean protein (chicken, tuna, eggs, etc.), lots of veggies and 1/4 cup of brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Another snack mid-afternoon of half an energy bar and an apple. Supper was lunch all over again, but no carbs. Plenty of water. No dairy. No soda pop. Nothing white.

Sure. I cheated. This meal plan was brutal. I am a foodie. I love my pasta, my Coca Cola, and Smirnoff Ice. I love to bake with the kids, and explore fabulous new restaurants with Andrew.

Focus. Focus. FOCUS.

I stuck with the plan maybe 80% of the time, which was huge for me. And I saw changes. I started tracking my weight at FitDay.com—a fabulous, FREE, online tool for marking your weight loss achievements. When I logged in for the first time on April 19th, my weight had crept up to 145lbs. I created my list of foods, and made sure to enter every morsel I ate throughout each day. My evening ritual included updating my FitDay profile after supper. A great way to get out of the kitchen as the boys were eating their dessert. Tracking every calorie makes you accountable for those cheats. If you want to see true progress, and be able to pinpoint your deficiencies, you need to be honest with yourself. If you ate a bag of chips, enter it. The next time you want to cheat, you ask yourself “Do I really want to confess this to FitDay? No? So put down the chips.” It works. Even just keeping a little notebook in your handbag will help you see where you are adding unhealthy calories.

On May 15th, and at 141lbs, I contacted Marshall Page for a personalized meal plan just for me (no more mooching off of James’ mother’s plan). James and I went together to meet him. I had actually met Marshall before. About a year ago I went to check out his training facility and was completely intimidated—likely the reason it took me a whole year to go back, but I was ready this time.

Marshall’s meal plan was even more rigid than the first. More veggies. No rice or pasta at lunch. No energy bars. More protein. And more water. Water. Water. Water.

On May 23rd, I started at Marshall’s gym. I walked through the door weighing 138.6lbs. I was ecstatic!!! I could not remember ever being below 140lbs. I think I was around 125 in high school, but have no record of it. I was 160 when Andrew and I were married in 1998.

Marshall designed a 6-week weightlifting program for me. It incorporates two days of circuit training. On Saturdays, I do Part A: 25 Squats. 15 Bench Presses. 12 Power Cleans. On Tuesdays I do Part B: 25 Leg Presses. 12 Dead Lifts. 15 Incline Crunches. 15 Back Extensions. 16 Cyclones {on a wonderful training tool Marshall has invented and developed called The Tortoise—currently in production and will be available soon!}. Marshall’s goal for me was to complete seven rounds of this circuit, increasing weights as he deemed appropriate.

After my first workout, I could not move. I thought I was going to pass out on the way home. My body had never felt so exhausted and alive at the same time. For the next few days, my muscles were screaming “Thank you!” Walking up and down stairs, even sitting on the toilet {sorry} were excruciating, but incredible! I loved the feeling that my body was working so hard 24/7.

By Tuesday, I was ready for Part B. Deadly, but wicked good. The Bench Presses killed my arms. I could barely turn the steering wheel to get home. Drove right by the bank instead of depositing a much-needed cheque, as I could not reach my arm out the window at the drive-thru ATM.

These first few weeks, Marshall would increase the weights on each technique. I started at four rounds the first week, then five, then jumped right to seven rounds in my fourth week. By the end of my fourth week I weighed 134lbs, and was seeing major definition in my abs, shoulders, arms and legs. I had gone from a size 10 to a size 8, and was feeling like a completely new person. Andrew would hug me and say “I can’t believe how TINY you are!” Trust me. Nobody has ever called me ‘tiny’ before.

This Saturday will be the last day of my first 6-week program, then Marshall changes it all up again. New muscle groups. New pain. New goals. I have gone from three rounds of 25 Leg Presses at 70lbs to seven rounds of 25 at 180lbs. Two rounds of 25 Squats at 75lbs to seven rounds of 25 at 110lbs. I am finishing all seven rounds with increased weight on every technique. It is fascinating what my mind and body can accomplish. And as Marshall keeps telling me “You’ve only just begun!”

Today, I sit at 132lbs. I am wearing size 6 shorts, but they are feeling loose on me today. My shirts and dresses are Extra Small, and {sadly, but I’ll accept the compromise} my bra size has gone from 34DD to 32D. I am a completely new size and shape—both in body and of mind.

The nutritional plan has become easy. Once you plan and shop for each meal, you become used to what your choices are. The fun is in the challenge to change lunches and suppers up bit so as not to become bored with it all. New seasonings. New prep techniques. New veggies.

I do allow myself the occasional cheat: Dinners out. An extra glass of wine {I am allowed a 4oz glass of red with dinner—only 100 calories!} On days I completely lose focus, I suffer for three afterward, trying to get back on track. But if I decide to splurge, I do so for taste, not serving size. When you work toward calorie restriction, and start to see the direct and immediate effect those cheats have on your goal, you only need one bite to satisfy the cravings, if any at all.

When people ask how I am making these changes, they wince when I say no dairy. No carbs after 2pm. No white foods. Low-glycemic fruits. Loads of fibrous veggies. It all adds up. Maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the day by eating 5-6 smaller meals, including about 20 grams of protein at each meal. Drink 3-4 litres of water a day. Take your vitamins. Build your lean muscle mass. You will have more energy all day long. You will see changes in the way your clothes fit. Your moods will even out. As soon as you start to see results {and you will within the first week}, you will find insatiable motivation to continue.

Most importantly though—above everything else I have said here—surround yourself with people who support you. I have lost track of the number of times I have hugged Marshall at the end of a great round. Or the number of times I have called James to tell him my day’s weight. Or the number of times I checked myself out in the mirror after buying my first-ever pair of size 6 skinny jeans. Or the number of times Andrew has remarked at how tiny I am. Or the number of times I have told myself “I am doing this.”

It is easy. And YOU can do it, too.
If you need a cheerleader, contact me.

1 comment:

  1. LOL- it sounds like me -- I love it - no need to eat a lot of anything - wow- thanks - I eat once a day usually at nite at about 6 - nothing again until noon the next day - veggie and fruit smoothie and the samll - samll amount of protein etc etc etc - fabulous feelings of accomplishment -- thanks - feels good physically and menatlly - wow - love it - lift a little weights evey other day - walk - I have great endurance for all things - thanks again - best John Rhodes - i am 177 and I got out of the Mairne Corps in '68 at 187 after a year in Vietnam when I didn't eat at all for 13 months - fabulous

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