Here it comes, a better version of me

Buried a few lines down in my list ‘o resolutions, I’ve endeavored to lose a few pounds this year. I set my goal at 25, but I am by no means married to that particular number. What I really want to happen is to again fit into my size 10 jeans. Over the last two decades, I’ve figured out that that’s the size I should be, the size in which I’m the most comfortable and confident in my own skin. For a brief while in late 2009 when I was still breastfeeding, that’s exactly where I was, with little to no effort on my part. (Oh, nursing.) Now, I’m at the upper end of size 12, which is not so horrible when you factor in my height of nearly six feet. (Did you know I was that tall? That always seems to take new readers by surprise, I’ve found.) But, I am not healthy. I am out of shape. And my clothes don’t fit. When I catch my reflection in the mirror, I see a schlumpy shadow of my former self. What better time to make a change than January, right?

Enter Jennie and her brilliant idea to rally together with a few other bloggers with similar goals in mind. At first, I was reluctant to throw my hat (and $20) into the Biggest Blogging Loser pool. The thought of weighing myself on a weekly basis sounded downright demoralizing. But I know myself pretty well, and I know that in order to be successful in my goal to lose some weight, I need to be held accountable. Soon, though, the contest attracted the attention of more than 100 people, and the top prize (highest percentage of weight lost over the course of three months) grew to more than $1,500. That’s certainly incentive enough for me to keep track of my calories and start some sort of fitness regime.

We’re about two weeks into the competition, and honestly, I still don’t really know what my strategy is, nor do I think I can actually win the whole thing. But regardless of the final outcome, I’m just really excited to be making some changes to my diet and already starting to feel better about my body. No matter what, as long as I stick with it, I’m going to be a winner in the end.

What I know:
I do not like counting calories.

I do not like the taste of “diet” or “fat-free” versions of foods I love. I’d much rather go without or have very little of the real thing than again drink a Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks. Gack, that was disgusting.

I love the natural high I get from an intense workout. I need to sweat, and a lot. I need to feel energized by the movement. I need to be inspired by an instructor.

I do not want to join or work out at a traditional gym.

I need variety of movement and really good music in my workouts.

I do not drink enough water on the whole, but especially on the weekends.

I hate sit-ups.

I really hate margarine.

What I am doing:
For the first week of BBL, I entered all of my daily calories into an online tracker, but not with the intention of keeping it up for the duration of the competition. Mainly, I just wanted to see what 1500(ish) daily calories looked like (what I need to eat in order to lose an average of two pounds per week), and now I have a good idea what I can eat, give or take a hundred calories.

In a typical day, I am eating for:

breakfast, coffee with raw sugar and fat-free coconut milk creamer (this is actually really, really good — more on that at Food Lush soon), a toasted bagel thin with a light smear of low-fat cream cheese OR a bowl of Special K Red Berries and 2% milk, water
a snack, 3/4 cup trim cottage cheese, baby carrots or a tangerine
lunch, a crisp romaine salad (I buy/slice the hearts) with a few grape tomatoes, half an avocado, 1-2 tbsp balsamic dressing OR toasted pita bread slices with garlicky hummus dip, water
a snack, 100-calorie cookie pack (TJs has some yummy oatmeal chocolate chip packs), decaf chai tea with vanilla soy or coconut milk creamer
dinner, a smaller portion of some protein, usually salmon, pork tenderloin, or chicken, with a side of steamed veggies, and a starch or side salad. The key here, I think, is the smaller portion. And cooking with olive oil rather than butter, as I’m wont to do.
dessert, 100-calorie Skinny Cow ice cream bar (these are quite tasty and satisfy my nightly craving for something sweet) OR a square or two of dark chocolate

So, I’m not going to give up butter. I’m just not. I absolutely detest the taste and mouth-feel of margarine, and like the aforementioned Skinny Vanilla Latte, I would rather have very little or none at all of the real thing. Ditto cheese. I am willing, however, to try turkey bacon, if I can just convince Roth to give it a shot, too.

To inspire myself to drink more water, I’m investing in a new water bottle. I ordered this one, the most I’ve ever spent on a container, but if it helps me with hydration, something I suck at, then it’s money well spent, I think.

I’ve worked out at gyms before, and with great success, but, for the most part, gyms feel sort of clinical to me. I don’t enjoy the lighting. I don’t want to wait for or wipe down sweaty machines. I don’t want to be beholden to a monthly membership. I’m much more keen to try a bunch of different fitness classes until I find one or two methods that really speak to me.

So far:

I re-joined the weekly Yoga Mamma class I took in the fall of 2009, and on Thursday nights, I connect with myself and the mat alongside other moms.

I’ve tried two Nia classes over the last two weeks, and so far, I really enjoy the dance/martial arts-inspired methodology. It’s a little out there, in terms of the music and movement (sort of hippie-dippie), but it appeals to the long-forgotten part of memory that used to take dance classes.

I’m really interested in trying a bar fitness class, as Kerri recently wrote about, and just today, I purchased a Living Social deal for a four-class pass at a studio close to my work. I could go at lunch!

As mentioned in my list of resolutions, I’m determined to find a spin cycling class in Seattle not attached to a gym. I lost a lot of weight in 2005 just by spinning (five days a week — I was a leetle obsessed with getting fit before my wedding), and I just dug the vibe of the classes.

I have a Zumba class pass to activate, too.

Under the guise of For His Birthday (he’ll be 33 next Friday), I bought for Roth — but truly, I wanted it just as much — the Xbox Kinect (we already had the Xbox 360). I’d played with the controller-free console a few weeks ago at my company’s holiday party (we’re located right near Microsoft, so naturally, someone I work with is married to someone who works there, and voila! magically, there was a Kinect at our party!), and I really enjoyed the dance-y games. Roth had hinted at wanting it, too, so now we’re Kinect-ed. I hope to incorporate some sort of in-home exercise into my regime, too.

Really, I’ve got lots of varied options to keep me going over the course of the competition. As the weather gets better (oh, ha HA), I intend to do some swift walking, hopefully with Roth and Rowan by my side.

I also want to explore eating less meat, less often — could I possibly eat a mostly vegetarian diet and still feel satisfied?

So, this is my challenge over the next several weeks. I’m curious to know if anyone else is participating in BBL and what your strategy is, if you’re open to sharing. What else should I be doing?

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17 Comments

  1. Shannon

    Jen, if you really want to jump start this thing you should start weight training once or twice a week. After doing P90X and seeing how much weight training transforms your body (as well as get your metabolism in gear) I’m a total believer. It doesn’t take much; I have a set of 5lb, 8lb, and 10lb hand weights at home. Bands are good too but I prefer the hand weights. I do 12-15 reps (x3) on two to three muscle groups and then alternate the muscle groups the next time. (Biceps, Shoulders, Back, Legs, Chest) It only takes about 15-20 minutes and I can do it in front of the TV. I swear, it will make a HUGE difference quickly. Good Luck!

  2. I love those Camelbak bottles. I drink SO much more water when I carry mine around!

    I think eating a more plant-based diet can be really helpful in eating healthier and often losing weight too. I think planning your meal around your veggie and plant-based protein first (and then adding in animal products if you want them) can help shift the focus a bit. We have a tendency to pick our meat first and go from there, so adjusting the way you plan (even just a few days a week) can make it easier to transition.

    And I agree on eating butter. I would never go for the fake stuff–I’d rather have the real deal in moderation.

  3. Somehow I totally missed the BBL thing until it was too late, but it’s fun to watch all of you participating. I’ve joined the biggest loser at work a few times and I always suck it up. But recently I joined Curves and I’ve been liking it, and Mike and I have been trying to introduce more fruits and veggies into our diet. So while I may not win any contest, I’m hoping I’ll feel better. And I’d love to get into my size 10s too (I’m also currently a 12). Good luck to you friend!

  4. It’s so great that you can honestly lay out what works and what doesn’t for you. That’s key. Variety helps me. I liked Nia and my inner thighs are super sore. I want more!

    Let me know what you think of Zumba. It looks fun.

  5. It’s so great that you can honestly lay out what works and what doesn’t for you. That’s key. Variety helps me. I liked Nia and my inner thighs are super sore. I want more!

    Let me know what you think of Zumba. It looks fun.

  6. The Rec Center at PSU has NIA and Zumba classes that I can take for free. So let me know how you like Zumba, I might have to check thought out. I’m not participating in the BBL but I am working on losing a significant amount of weight. I want to get back down to a size ten (I’m barely a 12 right now, probably more along the lines of a 14). That’s my starting point at least, maybe a size 8, but I might be too thin then.

    I’m giving myself this whole month to kind of track what works and what doesn’t and then I’ll probably be doing a blog post on the whole thing.

    But yay to working out and getting back in shape!

  7. You have received some really great advice so far. I’m in the BBL. I have started weight training three times a week and filled the majority of our dinner plates with vegetables. I have a 7 month old, a 10 yo, and 11 yo. So 3 nights a week I go running with them outside of my normal runs. I also have turned off the tv and turned on the iPod during the evenings. We dance around the house a lot and burn calories from that and the endless giggles from watching all of our “awesome” dance moves. I’ve also made it a point to plan out all of my meals, and not just dinner. This keeps me from giving in to McDonalds. Good luck!!!

  8. I’m participating in Biggest Blogging Loser as well and I’m trying out weight Watchers, again. I know I can’t go for long stretches without the foods I love. The great thing about WW is it allows you to have those things, in moderation. You plan for a treat, either by getting in more activity or with more fruits and veggies. I’ve lost almost 9 lbs. in 2 weeks and haven’t felt unsatisfied even once.

    As for activity, Biggest Loser for Kinect. LOVE!!

    Good luck to you :)

  9. Ali V

    I’m doing BBL as well. It sounds like you and I have similar strategies. I’m with you on the margarine. Please pass the (well-salted) butter. I really despise a lot of low-fat, low-cal branded foods, so I’m focusing on portion size. Also, given that I usually overdo it on high carb options, I’m trying to cut out grains, pasta, sugars to the extent possible, without getting too crazy about it.

    I’m curious how you like zumba. I’ve watched nia classes at the studio where I take pilates sometimes and I’m worried it might be a little free form for me? I’m pretty self conscious and like structure, but the ladies appeared to be having a ball, so what do I know. For right now I’m sticking with crossfit (still a newbie) and putting time in on the treadmill.

  10. I am doing the challenge, too, and I don’t really have a direction, either. I’ve always found that counting calories works for me, as annoying as it is. When I stop counting, I start snacking, and things start sliding again. I need to get back to working out, but WOW, is it hard to get motivated after taking a month or two (maybe three?) off.

    Anyway, good luck to you with the challenge…I can’t wait to follow along with how it goes :)

    And, one last thing? I highly recommend the turkey bacon. It’s pretty amazing, I think.

  11. Jen

    All I can say is… Go you! Sounds like you are being honest with yourself, and that’s really important. I’ll be cheering for you!

  12. I just love you so much. And I’m so! excited for this joint and yet very individual journey we’re on, and you are going to look smoking hot in your jeans, and then some.

    Also: I have been subsisting on a mostly vegetarian diet for a month or so now and I actually really love it. I don’t miss meat all that often, and if and when I do, it’s of course readily accessible. I’ve been eating a bit of fish to make sure I get enough protein, but honestly, I feel better on a diet that features less meat.

    (And turkey bacon is pretty awesome, in my experience. Definitely not real bacon, but tasty!)

    All of that to say: I believe in you one-million percent (What? That totally exists), and I’m here for you every step of the way. Even on the days when we’re both so sore we won’t be sure we can actually take another step.

  13. Kelly

    I’ve been doing Weight Watchers online since August and am down 25 lbs. If you don’t want to count it is not for you (not to mention $$$), but I have gotten some good tips from the boards there.

    Don’t do anything to lose weight that you aren’t willing to do to keep it off (otherwise it will just come back on when you stop!) This is such a duh statement but I never really bought into it before…hence the yo-yo dieting.

    Decide what trade-offs you are willing to make. I’m OK with Brummel & Brown on my toast occasionally, but sometimes I just need real butter. Skinny vanilla lattes are disgusting, but somehow skinny caramel macchiatos are good (not as good as the non-skinny variety, but an acceptable trade-off). Olive oil isn’t lower calorie than butter but it is healthier (sometimes eating healthier/losing weight are not the same thing – I’m looking at you, 100 calorie packs).

    This may be difficult given the desire to eat less animal products, but eat more protein. I find I am a lot more successful when I really dial up the protein. If I just eat fruit by itself I’m hungry in 2 minutes, but if I eat it with some cheese, deli meat, or peanut butter, it sticks way longer (your cottage cheese is a good idea if you like it). If I eat a hard-boiled egg and a greek yogurt in the morning I do much better than with cereal. Something for you to play around with, maybe.

  14. Kelly

    Also, I’d wish you luck, but it’s not really about that. It’s about deciding that you’d rather be thinner than eat a pile of (insert favorite fattening food here) on a regular basis. However, those people who say that nothing tastes as good as thin feels must not like food as much as I do.

  15. I hope you love the bar class as much as Kerri and I love our class. Also, margarine should be illegal. Just the color of it makes me nervous.

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