Sometimes Losing is Good

One of the inevitable outcomes of a crappy few years is the slow and steady erosion of health and fitness.  While some people run off to the gym to work through stress, there are those of us who run for the wine glass and the remote.  I can’t say exactly when I let myself go, but gone I have!  It wasn’t that long ago that I regularly attended yoga classes and watched what I ate.  It’s kind of scary to think of how quickly I was able to pack it on and loosen it up.  Yuck.  I think what happened with me is a confluence of events initially launched by the passive act of turning forty.  Up until then I had the ‘thoroughbred’ of metabolisms.  I could have eaten a horse, actually, and maintained my svelte figure.   It was enviable and remarkable really, and as a result, I appeared to be one of those skinny girls we all secretly hate.  I became indulgent and lazy.  Then along comes the big 4-0, a few babies birthed on either side of it, and I’m not so smug anymore; more like snug.

I’m going to admit here to having tried a few radical measures to drop the ‘offending fifteen’ as I’ve come to address them.  First, there was the ambitious attempt at preparing for a sprint triathlon.  I should have known when I had anxiety training in the lap pool, that open water would turn out to be the deal breaker.  Next was ‘40 days of Yoga’ which was going gangbusters until my husband took a three-week business trip in the middle of it, leaving me without early morning child coverage.  Then somewhere along the line I joined Gold’s Gym with my pals, but unfortunately discovered that I don’t like to work out in a fishbowl.  The most successful effort was also the most radical: Beyonce’s Lemonade Diet.  She didn’t invent it, but she glamorized it when she lost 20 pounds doing it before filming “Dreamgirls”. Seriously, though, who doesn’t want to look like Beyonce?  It was ultimately a colon cleanse, and it works great, yet it’s not for the undisciplined.  I lost the weight on it, but as I faced those tough few years (see my previous posts “Surviving Unemployment” and “When Someone You Love Dies”) they steadily and stealthily crept back.   Little *bleep*s.

Enter: Medi-Weightloss!  I’d heard about it from my OBGYN when a few years ago he sauntered in to examine me 60 pounds shy of when I’d seen him the year before.  I was duly impressed, but skeptical he’d keep it off.  So when he came in at my annual exam the following year looking lean and fabulous, I sat up and took notice.  I asked him all about this program thinking maybe my husband or I might need it one day.  He said it was doctor run and really worked.  I stored that information away, and never forgot it.

Fast forward two years and I’m staring down bathing suit season with my love-handled hips and muffin top belly mocking me.  It’s time for the big guns to be brandished, so off I go to the local Medi-Weightloss Clinic in Warwick, RI under the auspices of researching a story for this blog.  After filling out my paperwork, an adorable Medical Assistant named Zoey called my name and showed me to a room.  For the next hour she ran through various tests.  First she weighed me – obviously – then she measured my height.  This data was then put into a special electronic device that I stood on which spat out a diagnostic (Tanita Slip) having to do with body fat percentages.  She told me by reading it I would see that I fell within the range of fine, or, not overweight.  I told her I knew I was not obese, but that my goal was 15-18 pounds of weight loss.   Next, I had an EKG, blood drawn, my blood pressure checked, and my pulse listened to, all while chatting easily with this adorable woman.  She also measured my waist so we could see my progress going forward.  Zoey hugged me goodbye since she felt we had connected (I don’t think it’s policy), and said the doctor would be in to see me next.  In came Dr. Gaffney, also delightful, who listened to my heart and lungs, checked my pulse on my legs and then my thyroid, etc.  I have to say, the exam was thorough.  Then she went over the program with the packet Zoey had given me.  She explained that I would come weekly for an exam and a shot of vitamins, and one time between for an additional shot.   She produced a zippered tote bag with a water bottle (that I love now), my supplements, a food journal, and Keto Sticks.  We talked about the sample menu in the pamphlet and how I was going to eat only protein that first week in the amount of 500 calories a day, along with tons of water.  That initial visit was the pricey one: $268 less the $25 coupon from the Patch.com site, but it includes a full physical and blood panel.  Subsequent weekly visits are $70.  I went off then to shop for the deli meats, shrimp, chicken breasts, etc. I would be eating, as well as Smart Water that I needed to drink once daily.

The week went well.  I returned for my shot midweek, and was in and out in ten minutes.  When I checked my ketones on day four, I was in fact “in ketosis”, which is when our bodies are using fat for energy.  Woo hoo!  My first weekly visit involved a weigh in that showed changes in a few areas: According to the Tanita Slip (analysis of body composition) I’d lost five pounds of fat, my body fat % was lower as was my BMI (Body Mass Index).  All good.  I saw Dr. Gaffney again and she showed me the new diet for week two which includes vegetables.  Never has a cucumber tasted so good!  The plan was to keep to the 500 calories, but now I get 2 helpings of veggies and a healthy fat each day such as 12 nuts or ½ an avocado.  Yum!  One of the best outcomes from this experience is that I have developed a greater appreciation for savoring flavors – you have to when you eat less often and less variety.  Back to my exam, the doctor then reviewed my food journal, and we discussed integrating exercise going forward.  Oh, and there is no alcohol in the first month of the program, but caffeine is allowed.  Did I mention that they called me mid-week each week?  I ended up having questions that they promptly answered for me.

I have had my second weekly visit, and it went much like the first.  I was down another 4 pounds (more than ½ way there!) and all the other numbers on the Tanita Slip were lower, too.  I feel great.  I now have control of my weight, and the process of getting it where I want it.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to anyone, but particularly to someone quite heavy.  I think the clinics do a great job making sure their patients stay healthy and safe through the process, and that’s critical. Unfortunately, even as a growing franchise, there are a mere 80 locations across 22 states right now, so not everyone has one nearby.  Six more are opening soon, and I hope that trend continues, because this country needs a solution.  Did you know “that two-thirds, more than 190 million Americans are overweight or obese?  Obesity-related diseases are a $147 billion dollar medical burden every year, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years.” Shocking, isn’t it?  (Read more at: Battling Obesity in America)

Although I’m about halfway to my “goal weight”, I know I can get there.  It’s going to take about a month in my case.  That’s pretty quick if you ask me, considering how long it took to put it on.  In total, I spent $466 on the program, which I think is money well spent – especially since I didn’t have to buy new warm weather clothes to hide under.  Also, if you were due for a physical anyway this would be a great way to get more bang for your buck. This turned out to be a wonderful experience, and I hope more people try it.  Here’s the website if you or anyone you know wishes to shed some pounds.

The happy outcome for me is that I learned good eating habits, and I no longer fear the beach, my bathing suit, or a tank top.  I’m free to enjoy the glorious Rhode Island summer instead of agonizing over how to dress for it. What a relief!  Who knows, maybe I’ll take up surfing…

 

Please share a weight loss success story you have.  Let’s encourage each other to be “losers” together!

 

 

 

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My 5 Favorite Exercises I Learned From My Personal Trainer

As many of you know, I am on my journey to lose 30 pounds.  I am down 8 pounds with 22 to go!  I am currently participating in Weight Watchers (again), and I have been seeing a personal trainer at the YMCA.  Here are my five favorite exercises that she’s taught me that I enjoy AND that I feel make me much stronger .  My trainer has also measured me recently, and I lost two inches in my hips, an inch and a half in my waist, and at least an inch or more on all my other measurements.  Sometimes it’s nice to see other measures besides the scale.

Favorite Exercise #1:  The Yoga Boat Pose (for abdominal and core strength) – I do this while watching TV

1. From a seated position, bring the legs straight up to a 45 degree angle.

2. The torso will naturally fall back, but do not let the spine collapse. Make a “V” shape with the body.

3. Bring the arms out straight in line with the shoulders.

4. Balance on your bottom (the sit bones).

5. Stay in that position as long as you can, take a break, and repeat.

 

Favorite Exercise #2:  The Yoga Plank Pose (for arm and spine strength) – I also do this while watching TV

 

1. Get into the position you would take if you were about to do a push up.

2. Press the forearms and hands firmly down, do not let your chest sink, press back through the heels.

3. Keep the neck in line with the spine and broaden the shoulder blades.

4. Stay in that position as long as you can, take a break, and repeat.

 

Favorite Exercise #3:  The Kettlebell Swing (for hip, back, and thigh strength)

 

1. Stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart.

2. Lean forward at your waist slightly and bend your knees so as to go into a semi-squat. Keep your back arched and head facing forward steadily.

3. Try a light kettlebell first. Let you arms hang loosely and raise the weight with both hands over your head and inhale. Then, swing the weight with both hands in between the legs towards the back of you while exhaling. Move the kettlebell using power thrusts from the hip, thigh, and lower back muscles (powerful hip snap on every rep are musts).

4. Complete 5 to 10 sets of 20 reps of kettlebell swings with a minute pause between each set of repetitions. With heavier weights, inhale on the swing between your legs and exhale when you raise it above your head.

* I bought my Kettlebells at Ocean State Job Lot for pretty cheap, but you can get them at any sporting store.  I started with 8 pound weights, and now I am up to 20.  You will be sore after the first time you do this.

 

Favorite Exercise #4: Bosu Ball Leg Strengthening Exercises (for the core and leg muscles)

 

1. Place the ball rounded side down.

2. Step up on the ball and at first just maintain your balance (feet should width apart).

3. After achieving balance, do shallow squats, not dipping too far down, as that can cause knee damage. Your arms should be straight out in front of you.

4. Do ten reps if possible, take a break, and repeat.  You will also feel sore after the first time doing this exercise.

 

Favorite Exercise #5:  Exercise Ball Sit-Ups (for your abdominals)

 

1. Choose an exercise ball. If you are short, choose a small one. If you are tall, choose a larger one.

2. Sit on the exercise ball with both feet on the floor.

3. Roll backwards on the ball until your back is parallel with the floor and your knees are at a 90-degree-angle.

4. Place your arms either crossed over your chest, hands behind you neck with your elbows bent, or straight out over your head–depending on the amount of challenge you want.

5. Suck your abdonimal muscles in to activate them.

6. Using your abdominal muscles, pull yourself up to about a 45-degree-angle from the ground and then slowly lower yourself back down.

7. Do as many as you can (until is burns), rest for 30 seconds, and repeat.

* There are many other exercises I do with the exercise ball.  I got mine at Ocean State Job Lot, but you should be able to get them at Walmart or any sports store.

 

Stay tuned…….I will be posting many of my other 5 Favorite Things in weeks to come!  Good luck with your exercises.  I guarantee if you do these at least 3-4 times a week, you will feel MUCH stronger in the next couple of weeks (and probably lose some inches as well).  I can do all these at night while I am watching my shows.  I also do them after my 30 minutes of cardio at the gym!  Lastly, an added bonus of these exercises has been the fact that I do not ned to see my physical therapist or chiropractor anymore for my lower back pain!

* What are your favorite exercises?  I would love more ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

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Kristin Wheeler