Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fitness Adventures: The NYC Great Urban Race!

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As you likely know by now, my awesome co-worker William and I participated in the NYC Great Urban Race this past weekend. Here's the recap:

I rode the new bike to the 79th St Boat Basin in Manhattan via the 59th St Bridge. At the base of the bridge on the Queens side, I saw a new "You Go Girl". I don't know who is responsible for this graffiti, but I always get excited when I find a new one to photograph. I especially love this one because it's pink:

You go Girl! (New one in Queens, at the base of the 59th St Bridge)

I arrived at the boat basin by 11am:

William arrived shortly after me. He did not, in fact, have a broken nose. He said it was hit during basketball and it still hurt but it appeared fine. (Thanks to those of you that offered to step in last minute!)

We checked in, signed a waiver, got our team numbers and posed for a photo at the finish line while we still looked fresh:

Posing at the finish line before the start of the race

Seconds after we signed a waiver, including a line about not drinking before the race, William said "Let's get beer!" Keep in mind, it wasn't even noon yet - I had a small (7 pt) breakfast, very little water and had just biked for nearly an hour, burning 400 calories - probably more than I had eaten. Not to mention I'm pretty tiny now, so beer affects me very quickly.
"William, we just signed a waiver saying we wouldn't drink before the race." 
"Sheryl, will you just live a little for once? You're so uptight! Always worried about rules! Look, other people are drinking! Besides, why would they start this at a place with a bar if they don't want you to drink!? Now what do you want?" 
"Blue Moon, please!"
Here's a photo of William from behind, ordering beer. I wanted to show off the back of his shirt:

William. 69, naturally.

And here we are with our pre-race beer:

Go, Team Sour Balls!

Oh, and I wanted to show off the back of *my* awesome shirt too!

How awesome is this shirt? Seriously!

We hung around drinking and since we had a little time, I told him what I had brought and what my strategy for the day was. But we still weren't even sure what we were doing - we had to wait until noon before they handed out the clues. Was he paying attention to me? Barely. Realizing we still had about 10 minutes until noon, what does Sour Balls do? BUYS US ANOTHER ROUND! Is he freaking crazy? I was buzzed and my hands were numb and I hadn't even finished the first one yet!

William bought me not one, but TWO beers before the race!

But I drank it anyway. Fast. And was soon numb from the elbows down (that's how alcohol affects me. I get numb at the fingertips and the more I drink, the further up my extremities the numbness goes. Not sure if that's normal but that's what happens to me)

I took pics of some of the other contestants (costumes are encouraged):

Some of the other GUR contestants

Bananas in Pajamas

Finally, it was noon, and the envelopes were handed out!  William and I secure a nice spot on the floor and got to work. And I have to tell you - we made a GREAT team! He let me take over like the control freak I am - I had the clue sheet and gave him orders: "Look up the address for this on google!" Meanwhile I would work on the next clue, taking notes, and even using my Droid X (the phone I hated just 2 weeks earlier) to look stuff up too. I have to say, if I didn't have that phone, we would NOT have done as well! Thank you, Droid!

We were allowed to skip 1 clue, and I was pretty certain I had the other 11 correct, so the next thing we did was whip out the subway map I brought and plotted all the addresses on the map. Once I had that done, I ordered them in a way that I thought made the most sense to hit them up. I then quickly transcribed that in my notebook and finally, at about 12:30, we took off.

Now, I had planned to wear workout type clothing - spandex pants or bike pants, and sneakers. But then I thought to myself "William is slow, I can wear heels and I'll still be faster than him". I also decided to wear a skirt, fishnets and (short) 2" heels. This was my outfit:

Bike Outfit - on my way to the Great Urban Race!

Of course, just like when I ride my bike in heels, this outfit caused a lot of attention. And before the race began, I heard numerous times: "Are you really doing this in heels?" "Yeah, I'll be fine, I wear heels all the time. I even bike in heels."

While that's true, what I hadn't factored in was the fact that we were starting this race on the west side of Manhattan (did I ever tell you how much I hate the west side? I'm sure I have) and there's NO FREAKING SUBWAYS ON THE WEST SIDE. That meant wayyyyyyy more walking than I had anticipated. And it wasn't casual walking - this was a race! We had things to get to at certain times and make it back by 5pm! So we were speed walking at least and jogging/running at best. It was - seriously - the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. I wouldn't do it in heels again, that's for sure. My feet *still* hurt. Anyway, here are some highlights:

The first clue we got out of the way - me, shaking a dog's paw:

Me, shaking a dog's paw

William and I had to pose on a slide in a park:

William and I had to pose together on a slide

We had to pose with a stranger with a skateboard: (note: It was 90 something degrees and I was hot. Running down the west side highway, I pulled my shirt off and did the next hour or so in my bra)

William and I had to "pose with a stranger on a skateboard"

One of us had to run 1/4 of a mile at Chelsea Piers (William volunteered)

William had to run 1/4 mile @ Chelsea Piers

One of us had to pose on a rock wall (I got the better end of that stick @ Chelsea Piers!)

I had to "climb a rock wall" at Chelsea Piers

We posed with a stranger with tattoos:

William and I had to "pose with a stranger with at least 2 visible tattoos"

We posed under the "Chelsea Market" sign:

Me & William had to photograph ourselves with the Chelsea Market sign

One of us had to high-five a person in uniform:

William had to high five a person in uniform. Thanks, door man!

After deciphering an address, we made our way there to take this photo:

We had to make our way to this creepy place to photograph ourselves with the fake body parts in a deli case

We went to the Chrysler Building for a clue.

Me & William at the Chrysler Buildling. Of course this didn't count. We were supposed to be at the Fuller Building.

But we were in the wrong location - this was the only clue I got wrong. And I knew it was wrong at the time, but we took the photo anyway.

We were SUPPOSED TO be at the Fuller Building (I took this photo the day after the race)

Fuller Building on 57th St

We made our way to Dylan's Candy Bar for this photo:

one of the challenge items, posing for this photo (William & Me @ Dylan's)

One of us had to feed the other a dumpling from Rickshaw Dumpling. I let William do this one, since I wasn't sure what was in it/if it was vegan. He'll eat anything:

Feeding William a dumpling from Rickshaw

Something about seeing William on a subway just makes me smile (on the 6 Train)

Sour Balls on the 6 Train

We had to decipher another address and once there, tie a certain knot. We started at the same time, but I finished first, of course, cause I have mad skillz:

I tied that knot!

After doing 10 of the clues we were exhausted and ready to go back. We waited over 20 minutes for the 1 Train (thanks MTA, for screwing me once again!) It was so nice to sit though, my legs & feet were killing me. It also gave me time to drink water and eat my Pop Chips-

Waiting FOREVER for the 1 Train, eating Pop Chips

When the train finally came, it only took us to 72nd St. Then threw us out and we had the choice of running 7 extra blocks (to 79th) or waiting for the next one, which they claimed was right behind it. It was a gamble, but we waited. And it did arrive in a minute. We rode that 1 stop to 79th St. I wasn't sure what time it was but I knew we were cutting it close to the 5pm end time, so we just started running west. We were EXHAUSTED but I wanted to get to the finish line before 5pm so we didn't get a penalty. We managed to cross the finish line at 4:49 (after crossing and making sure our number was recorded, we went back for this photo:)

After William and I crossed the finish line, we went back for a photo of the time

And how else would we celebrate? But with more beer. This time I bought. Cheers, my good buddy! We earned this!

Post-Race Beer!

This was also taken while we were sitting there, I'm not sure what's going on but I think it's a funny photo:

Not sure what's going on here

As we talked about how sore we were and how great we did, I said to William "There's no way I could bike after this". He said "Don't you have to bike home?" D'oh! Yes, Yes I do.

I don't ever remember being that physically tired in my life. I'm not kidding when I tell you that even my first bike tour and my longest bike tour didn't tire out my legs the way this did. I don't have a pedometer, but I am guessing I easily walked/jogged 10 miles this day. I was beat! But I did, in fact, bike home. And I couldn't get over how tiny my legs looked!

my legs look tiny today!

I wasn't thinking clearly and took a ridiculous route home and it's a good thing I did. I was headed south on Broadway and was waiting to turn east on Houston to get to the Williamsburg Bridge. On that corner, someone yelled "Bitch Cakes!" At first I thought someone was just reading the name on the back of my shirt (since that happened all day), but realized the voice came from in front of me, so it must be someone that recognized/knew me. I pulled over. And on that busy corner, I met blog reader, Sara, from Boston! She was in NYC just for the day, doing some shopping and just happened to be crossing that corner at the precise moment I was turning. Talk about serendipity! Fantastic meeting you, Sara! Thanks for reading and letting me mention you in the blog!

I met a blog reader on my bike ride home from Manhattan!

I finally made my way home and entered my info from my heart rate monitor. These are my stats just from the race (not counting the biking I did there and back). Note: I did not start the HRM until after we worked on the clues - when we actually ran out of the boat basin, until the time we returned:
  • Total Time: 258 minutes (4 hours, 18 minutes)
  • Time in Cardio Zone: 230 minutes (3 hours, 50 minutes - note: we had to wait for the subway for about 20 minutes, that, and the time we spent on the few subways we took, were the ONLY times we stopped moving all day, and the only times my heart rate dipped)
  • Percentage of time in heart rate zone: 89%
  • Average Heart Rate: 136
  • High Heart Rate: 174
  • Total Calories Burned: 1,848
I think you can see from the photos that I had a GREAT TIME doing this race! William and I worked so well together - my puzzle & logic skills and controlling ways worked perfectly with his ... willingness to just take orders from me. And physically he actually *did* keep up with me! He really impressed the hell out of me. Towards the end, he even admitted that his knee started bothering him. I offered to slow down, but being a man, he refused. I'm surprised he even mentioned it, because he's not a complainer, so he must have been in rough shape to mention it at all.

When I got home that evening, I was totally beat. (I can't even imagine how William was doing!) But I had a birthday party to go to. So I showered, changed and walked over there. (More walking. Ouch!)

It was my friend, Jordana's, 30th Birthday. You may remember her because I've mentioned her here a few times. She's my friend who ran the NYC marathon and inspired me to start running too. She was also the one that brought me to Aynsley's Interval Training class last summer, which was challenging enough but then that class was replaced by the Total Body Conditioning class that I still do weekly - the one that nearly killed me the first time - and the one I totally credit with changing the look of my arms, shoulders and back. It's made me so much stronger and I love that class! Thank you for all the ways you've inspired me and happy birthday, Jordana!

While there, amazingly enough, I met another blog reader on that rooftop bar! This is Diana, who has a novel coming out next year - it's set at a weight-loss camp in North Carolina, and I'm looking forward to checking it out. Nice meeting you Diana, I'm sure we'll talk soon :)

While I was talking to Diana, two women I recognized from the neighborhood and my YMCA also came over to introduce themselves. Turns out they came across my blog at some point too and were blog readers. I had no idea! (Tina & Katie, it was great talking to you. I should have asked if you wanted to get a photo, I'm sorry I didn't. I'll see you both soon though!)

And after 2 enormous beers and some catching up with friends, I had to leave. I was so tired and my feet were just killing me and I couldn't wait to get to bed.

From start to finish, it was a *great* day! I will definitely doing the Great Urban Race again next year!

Here's my entire set of photos on Flickr and some of the photos I took from the event ended up on Gothamist, too!

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Attention NYC: Let's Zumba!

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    Hey NYC! Do secretly wanna shake your thing even though you have no idea how? Or do you love Latin dance moves and wanna show off? Well do I have great news for you!

    Lainy Kimmy & Me in Zumba

    I recently blogged about taking a Zumba class with my gal-pal, Lainy, and mentioned how much we loved it! We took a second class a few weeks ago - and were slightly less awkward! Score! (I do believe I told Lainy we should shoot our own rap video with our hot new moves) The great news is that Kimmy & Nicole are holding two more classes in September! I want to spread the word since I'm a new Zumba lover and I know many of you reading are in NYC (sorry for those of you not) and might be interested in registering for the class as well.

    Here's the email with details from Kimmy. If you'd like to attend either (or both) classes, just email her to let her know-
    Back by Popular demand…Two September Zumba classes have been added!My friend Nicole Moreira and I will be leading the class again. It is guaranteed to be fun and you will burn tons of calories while shaking your booty!
    Ditch the workout and join the party!

    For two dates only! Monday September 13th and Monday September 27th from 6:30-7:30pm
    $10 per person
    440 Studios, Room 3D
    440 Lafayette Street
    New York, New York 10010
    Astor Place stop on the 6 train
    For more info or to RSVP please contact Kimmy (kimmyreilly@ymail.com)
    I can barely wait to "move, shake and drop" again (that's my favorite move/song)! Lainy and I already registered for the first class (September 13), and intend to Zumba our cares away. Perhaps we will see you there!

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Fitness Advenures? The Great Urban Race!

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    I mentioned a few weeks ago in passing that my dear co-worker William (aka Sour Balls) and I have entered to compete as a team in the NYC Great Urban Race! I forgot to mention it in my Tuesday post, but this is happening *tomorrow*, Saturday August 28th!

    To prepare for this olympic feat, I have done, and will do, the following:

    1- Bought us awesome personalized t-shirts with our team name ("Sour Balls", what else?) Here I am modeling mine at Equinox last week. How freaking cool is this? I now want to order a million shirts that say "Bitch Cakes". You'll see William's shirt after the event occurs.

    My first ever personalized t-shirt!

    Team Sour Balls!

    2- I have a list of strategic items I am bringing, but I am not mentioning this here in case any other teams are reading.

    3- Purchased an unlimited Metro Card for William, since he will need it to get around tomorrow.

    4- Cancelled all plans tonight - and will not drink beer - and will go to bed early for a good night's rest.

    5- I've kept up with my workout schedule to make sure I'm in prime physical shape - ready for this exciting adventure.

    6- Will make sure my phone and camera battery are fully charged.

    7- Will dehydrate myself so I don't have to pee every hour but will also bring healthy snacks and one bottle of water so I don't pass out.

    8- Will wear appropriate clothing (shocking, I know)

    What has William done?

    You guessed it, nothing.

    Since the day we registered, I have been telling him:
    William you have to take this seriously. I need you to stop eating bacon for the next month, try to lose some weight and build up your endurance at the gym. I already outwalk you when I wear heels, I'll run circles around you in flats!! This is important and I need you to keep up with me! I'm not carrying your ass through this competition! And you had BETTER NOT PLAY BASKETBALL BEFORE THE RACE*!
    (*explained below)
    But does he listen? Of course not. He still eats like a gavone, barely works out, is horribly out of shape (one flight of stairs winds him) and is simply not worried. Simply put, he is the Oscar to my Felix.

    And you know what he's doing tonight? He texted me that he began drinking beer right after work!! (he often drinks pitchers at a time and comes to work hungover - this is the sign of a man who doesn't know when to say when) but wait - it gets worse - *then* he's playing basketball. BASKETBALL! If you do not read my other blogs, you do not realize why this is such a big deal, so I will tell you: 

    In the past year, he has injured himself significantly twice. Both times playing basketball!

    The first time was when a bunch of 15 year old kids put him in the hospital! That's right, he tore his meniscus and had to have knee surgery and was out for over a week because he was trying to 'show up' some 15 year old kids. This is from a blog I wrote after he returned to work:

    I asked "Do those kids know they put you in the hospital?" This is his response, a direct quote:
    "Sheryl, a man never sees another man cry. I played till the end of the game even though they beat me, then I just limped off the court..."

    The second time was during another game of basketball. And when he bent down - that's right, bent down - to pick up the basketball, he managed to PULL HIS BACK OUT. Again, he was out of work for over a week. Just picking up a freaking ball.

    If he can barely get through a basketball game unscathed, you understand my concern. If I get a text from him tonight or tomorrow that he injured himself tonight, I'll be soooo pissed!

    In the event he does not cancel due to injury or drunkenness, tomorrow is going to be AWESOME! Whatever you're doing, give a little thought to Sweet Tits & Sour Balls running around NYC in the Great Urban Race!

    Oh, and the good thing is we can use technology and phone friends for info to help us solve the clues and then hunt them down. Of course I'll have my droid and he'll have his iPhone but we may need extra support (I don't know what to expect), so if anyone is willing to take a frantic call from me asking them to look something up online tomorrow (fast!) between the hours of noon and 5pm, let me know in the comments. I'll get your number if I don't have it already and consider you a 'lifeline'.

    There will, of course, be a blog documenting this awesome ridiculousness at some point in the future. But for now I must go, it's going to be an early night. For me at least. I bet William is still playing basketball or finished that and went to the bar. That guy doesn't take anything seriously! (But I love him to death!)

    Update: After posting this blog, I checked my text messages and this is what I saw - this is the whole exchange from earlier today and just now. I still do not know if he is kidding!!!!!

    he *better* be kidding!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    My Post-Goal Blog Follow Up & Other Thoughts

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    I wanted to do a post-goal follow up blog to answer a few questions and make a few points:

    First of all, I am still in a bit of shock - simultaneously super proud and almost in disbelief that I made goal. It's been 4 weeks, but almost every day since, I have stepped on my scale expecting it to have been a fluke. Other than one post-birthday week weigh in (Sunday night), I've been in the 130's (between 134 and 138). Feeling like I waited my whole life for this moment, attempting to get to that weight, it still feels a little surreal. But totally awesome :)

    "So, Bitch Cakes, now that you're at goal, what's next?"

    1- Some of you asked about what this means regarding Weight Watchers meetings, etc. After reaching your goal weight, Weight Watchers considers you on "maintenance" for 6 weeks. During that time, they give you 4 additional points per day (but I re-took the points quiz to go back to my 18 a day). At the end of that 6 week period, as long as I am no more than 2 pounds above my goal (max: 139 pounds), I become a "Lifetime" member. Lifetime is the ultimate on Weight Watchers. Not only is it extremely special to have reached Lifetime, but it means I get to attend meetings for free. You're only required to weigh in once per month, but you can still attend as many meetings as you want. (Note: I'm not sure if eTools is included for free. I have a feeling I will still be required to pay for that.) And if I understand correctly, If I ever weigh in above 139, I will have to pay for that meeting. But even if that happens, I will forever be considered a "Lifetime" member, which is really special to me. No one can take that away. Once I earn it, it's mine!

    2- Being within the WW goal weight range also means I am eligible to work for them. I began the process to become a leader. A few of you in the NYC area even enthusiastically mentioned leaving your current meetings to attend mine! That's adorable and thank you :) From what I understand, I would need to be a receptionist first, but I'm not sure how long I would have to do that to be eligible for a leader position. Of course I will keep you all posted on the situation.

    3- I already mentioned it but will say it again - the blog *will* go on! I love blogging. I love documentation, I love your feedback and the fantastic support and ideas that are shared here. I have no intention to stop blogging - EVER!

    4- I would love, love LOVE to be featured in the Weight Watchers magazine as a Success Story. (I'll settle for an online mention if I have to, but I'd really like to be in print). I haven't begun that process yet, but it's on my list of things to do.

    5- And lastly, I am sure you realize that getting to goal doesn't mean the journey is "done". In some ways, it's just beginning. I understand and accept that I cannot go back to the way I used to eat and live. And you know what? I don't *want* to go back to that way of living. Because I wasn't living. I was merely wasting time, taking up space and waiting to die. That is no way to live and no food on earth is worth that feeling - and throwing away a life. I wouldn't trade any amount of any food for how great I feel today and the awesome life I have now.

    Now for some post-goal thoughts...

    For one thing, I mentioned how 'fast' goal seemed to sneak up on me, and it really did - that last 10 pounds came off super fast in just 4 weeks. But not only was it a difference at the scale - that last 10 pounds made a huge difference in my body and what I look like. I'm still trying to adjust to what I see in the mirror. But it seems that everyone else is also trying to adjust...

    Friends/co-workers have never been shy about telling me what they think of my progress/appearance but I've learned that people are way more ready to tell you you're "skinny" or "too skinny" (a word/description I never expected to be applied to me but it's one I've heard from quite a few people already) than they are to say you're "too fat". Hearing that word in particular ("skinny") has been... disconcerting on some level. I am not sure how to deal with it. I am guessing some people mean it as a compliment but something about hearing that word just makes me feel defensive right away.

    When I hear a "skinny" reference from people, my mind goes a few places, typically in this order:
    1. I do not think I am skinny at all, let alone "too" skinny
    2. Oh no - Do I look bad/unhealthy?
    3. As my ex husband used to say 'consider the source' - does that person's opinion really matter? Am I going to let it affect me?
    4. What do *I* think and how do *I* feel? I feel amazing, proud, and strong.
    5. Am I under any obligation to have the size or shape of my body be considered "acceptable" to anyone else? Of course not! I don't need to accommodate anyone's preferences but my own.
    6. Then I decide that they are just not used to seeing me this way. It's very new. I'm still not even used to seeing me this way and am still sometimes surprised by my reflection or my image in photos.
    Now, some of you reading this may have used that word and I'm not keeping track of who has said it. I am guessing that no one meant anything bad when they said it; but when you've had issues with body image and body acceptance your whole life like I have, it can be hard to not obsess and over-analyze everything people say about your body. Granted, I am much less bothered now by people's opinions of me than I was when I was heavier; but it does still get to me sometimes.

    And since reaching goal, I've received more input than ever. And there's a lot of conflicting data. These are all things people have said to me in the last few weeks. You'll see what I mean about conflicting sentiments...
    • "You look amazing!"
    • "You're too skinny!"
    • "You're so tiny"
    • "You look younger"
    • "Stop losing weight!"
    • "There's nothing left of you!"
    • "You lost your curves"
    • "You look so fit"
    • "You have no tits anymore"
    • "You look like a new person"
    • "Your collarbones stick out too much"
    • "Your stomach is so flat"
    • "Your ass is so small now"
    I'm sure there are more, but those stick out. And I mean really - think about hearing all of that - so many opinions about your body - it's a LOT to process and there are some positive and clearly some negative tones to those statements and some that are just subject to my own interpretation. For someone who already obsesses about every little detail, it's just overwhelming sometimes.

    I'm left to wonder what it all means and if any of it even matters. I hear it, so I still process what people say. I still analyze it. I still wonder "Why would someone say that to me?!" or "What does THAT mean?!".

    I think what's especially tricky in my case is that I've never been this size - so I, and no one else, is used to my current appearance. Maybe if I had looked like this at some point in my life, it would seem 'normal' now. But I didn't, so it doesn't.

    And I wrote about this a few months ago when I identified one of the reasons for my binge earlier this year - I always identified as the "big, curvy, hot girl". And I guess I was comfortable with that title/role. Though I didn't like *how* big I was, and have been struggling for decades to lose weight, I always loved being curvy and 'thick'. And hearing some of these comments about how I lost some of that can really be hurtful and a little perplexing. Of course I wish I could have saved some of the fat I lost and applied it back onto my chest or hips. But I can't. I'm not made of play-doh. None of us are. Our bodies take off and put on the weight where our genetics tell it to do so. And that's why it can hurt or baffle me to hear those things. I would hope people are proud of me for being healthy and changing my life in an impressively significant way; not disappointed that I no longer have certain body parts the size or shape they liked (for the record, 99.99% of these comments come from people who have never or will never see me naked, which baffles me even further. They don't have access to my body so why do they care about the size and shape of the parts?).

    The bottom line is that it's my body. I can only control what I put into it and how I decide to use it. I can't control where the fat goes.

    I'm enormously proud of what I accomplished and am pretty happy with my appearance. Let me take that back, I'm very happy with what I look like (in clothes, at least). I never thought that I would look this good in my lifetime, let alone on the eve of my 39th Birthday (Photo taken on 08/19/2010 at Rye Playland, by Lainy. One of my birthday week highlights for sure!):

    Me, at Rye Playland

    And sure, I love compliments (I'm a total narcissist) but I realize by being so public about my image and journey, in addition to being very visible on the street (it should not surprise you to hear that I get a lot of attention), I guess I just have to take the bad with the good. At the end of the day, I can't let anyone's opinion or choice of words get to me. I only have one person I have to answer to, and that's me.

    So if you're in the "I preferred you at x weight or with bigger fill-in-the-blank" I'll ask you to keep that to yourself, because I've never felt as good in my body as I do today and I have no intention of changing it to please anyone other than myself.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Weekly Meeting Topic: Just Say No to Saying No

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    This week's topic was incredibly timely considering that last week was my "Birthday Week". As most of you are aware, I had off the entire week and started celebrating from the night of Friday the 13th through this past Sunday the 22nd. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the 'celebration' included food.

    Now, the great thing about Weight Watchers is you really do get to tailor the program to *your* life. And that's why I believe in it and why I am confident it works. No food or situation  is off limits (unless you decide to make it so). There's so much support (not only in the meetings, but I love the Tools for Living!) and there's enough flexibility within the plan so that you get to decide what works for you - how you want to fit the plan into you life.

    And sometimes, part of being 'on plan' is deciding you are going to go 'off plan' for a little while like I did last week.

    The way I decided to celebrate birthday week was to allow myself food items I wouldn't normally indulge in. I also planned to eat at a vegan restaurant or bakery every day - which, as you know, I rarely do at all since I prefer to prepare all my food. But it wasn't just about the food: I also celebrated birthday week by catching up with friends, meeting bloggers, enjoying a super luxurious week of visits to the beautiful Equinox gym in Manhattan (thanks to the guest pass from Malaika. You rock so hard, girl, thank you!) and by biking to various locations (a total of 191 miles!), including partaking in Summer Streets both Saturdays.

    I haven't had a chance to blog my 'birthday week highlights' but it was a fantastic week - and the first time I actually allowed other people to celebrate with me on the night of my birthday. And I am so glad I did. I have no regrets about what I ate or how I spent my time. That's what birthday week is all about.

    That being said, here are the food things I "didn't say no" to:
    • French Fries (at Nathan's, Habitat, Matchless, Food Swings & the Frying Pan) That's right. I had French Fries 5 times in 10 days!
    • Probably, if I had to guess, 2 gallons of wheat beer.
    • A trip to Playland with Lainy, which included: Cotton Candy, my first ever candy apple, beer & fries.
    • Boneshakers (Vegetarian/vegan Cafe) twice
    • Lunch at Bliss (Vegetarian/vegan Cafe) with Amy
    • Wild Ginger (Vegan Pan Asian food) with Dolly (and again alone because I loved it that much)
    • Food Swings in Williamsburg
    • Babycakes Vegan Bakery on the LES in Manhattan 
    • Champs Family Bakery - vegan cake for my birthday celebration
    • A vegan margherita pizza from Paulie Gee's
    • The now famous "Peanut Butter Pie" my neighbor Jaci made (Jaci, EVERYONE is asking about that pie!)
    • 2 large Sea Salt & Almond chocolate bars
    • 3 bagels!
    • The most amazing vegan peanut butter & chocolate bar at Verb Cafe in Williamsburg
    • Vegan Ice Cream from Lula's Sweet Apothecary on the LES ... twice!
    Obviously, that's a lot of food (and that doesn't even count the 'regular' food I had like coffee, breakfast, fruit, snacks, etc). But I planned for that - mentally, at least. I told myself I wasn't going to worry about it for birthday week, even though I have my most important weigh in two weeks from tonight. I was not going to "say no". And I didn't. But I also know I can't continue to eat that way and expect to keep this weight off. It was my 'big bang' of indulgence. I enjoyed it. And it's over. Moving on...

    But "not saying no" can mean so many things. For instance, you don't have to give up your favorite foods while on plan. Sure, you may need to limit them, but you never have to say no unless you want to. Another example is that you don't have to have 'fat free' stuff if you prefer the full fat stuff. You don't have to sacrifice taste for points if you don't want to. You really have the freedom to say yes (and no) to whatever you choose on Weight Watchers. You should just do it with as much awareness and accountability as possible.

    Accomplishments and Great Moments of the week:
    • Ok, well my plan was to track for the week. That didn't happen, so I have no journal to show you :) but I did work out every day (except the last day of vacation, I was just exhausted!) and was pretty consistent with my total calories burned for the week (over 6000). Here's my activity spreadsheet:
    Weekly Activity Spreadsheet 20100824
    • I ran into my friend (and blog reader) Becky @ Summer Streets on her new bike! She often sends me great inspirational quotes too. Always good to see you, Becky!
    Becky & Me
    • On Wednesday, I attended an additional meeting so I could hang out with Melanie and meet another leader that I only knew on line, Kitty. She was another great super cute, young and fantastic leader. And she quickly earned her way into my heart when she gave me a WW 5K charm for my keychain (sadly, these never made it to my regular meeting location and I'm only sorry my fellow WW meeting peeps don't have a charm too). Thank you so much, Kitty! xo
    • I mentioned in last week's blog how I took a spin class that night and loved it! I loved it so much, I signed up for another one - on my birthday. And that's where I was the afternoon of my birthday. The spin room @ Equinox:
    in the spin room @ Equinox on the morning of my 39th birthday

    • That class was taught by a different instructor. She had a very different style than the guy I took the class with last week. One thing that made her class more challenging was the bike I was on (shown above) didn't have the foot straps on the pedals. I had to *really* concentrate on balancing on the tiny pedals, but I did it. And one thing she said that stuck with me, which I've also been repeating to myself ever since is "Chase it and catch it." I love that!
    • OMG! Best run ever! The day before my birthday, I went to Equinox specifically for a run. As I mentioned in last week's blog, I had my 2 best runs ever earlier this August, where I had increased my run time from 90 seconds, to a whopping 7 minutes, then onto 9 minutes. On this day I decided to go for a new record: Run for one consecutive MILE without slowing down. (I usually run at a speed between 6.0 - 6.4, so this would be about 10 minutes, longer than my previous one-time 9 minute record). And I started running. But then something crazy happened - I realized that my heart rate wasn't out of control like it usually is. It was hovering around 158 the whole time (it used to approach 180 pretty immediately when I was running at that speed) and I realized I felt pretty great. I ran the one mile and then I kept going. And going. And going. And ended up running for a total of TWO MILES consecutively! My longest run EVER - in my life!! - at 20 minutes!
    Run 20100819
    • After that truly spectacular feat, I took a short break at a pace of 4.0 (that's the little dip in the graph) and then ran again - for another 10 consecutive minutes (or 1 mile)! Holy crap! Who knew I was capable of that?! Paula Radcliffe even came over my iPod to congratulate me when I was done. I left the gym that day feeling AMAZING. Here I was, my last day as a 38 year old, and I had just ran longer than I ever ran in my life. I was in better shape than ever - better than in my teens, in my 20's, even in my early 30's. It was a remarkable feeling. And the best part was that just out of pure coincidence, who should I run into on Park Ave after that monumental run but my WW leader (and marathon runner) Melanie! I was thrilled to be able to tell her of my amazing achievement just moments after it happened. (And tonight I received 20 bravo stickers for that 20 minutes. Thanks, Melanie!)
    I ran into my WW leader, Melanie, on Park Ave! I love her!!!
    • Last night, while waiting for Lainy so we could Zumba our cares away, I just happened to meet a blog reader randomly, Lindsay! Of course I asked her if we could take a pic, and she obliged. Terrific meeting you, Lindsay! I hope I spelled your name right :) Thank you for reading!
    I met a blog reader tonight before Zumba
    • Right after that, Lainy and I did, in fact, Zumba. And I have to say: I think we were noticeably better than the first time. Not only does it turn out I like to 'shake it, shake it' but I think "move, shake and drop" is officially my new dance move! We looked fantastic and had a blast once again!
    • Today I did my weekly stair workout and hit a new speed record! I finished my 120 flights in 35 minutes and 45 seconds! (15 seconds faster than my previous record). Here I am before (showing off my Food Swings shirt) and after:
    Before 120 flights

    After 120 flights

    What I'm working on this week:
    • It goes without say that I am determined to focus and get back on track for these next two weeks so I can reach lifetime on September 7th. That means I have to get back to all my usual 'tricks' - which aren't tricks at all, just common sense and healthy stuff: tracking, pre-tracking, water, activity, filling foods, good health guidelines - basically being a model Weight Watcher. That's a lot to focus on this week, so I'm not going to add anything else to work on...

    Finally, here are a few mentions and shout-outs:
    • I recently met a blog reader at my YMCA! Hello, Sarah! Thank you for reading and saying hi!
    • There's another woman in my neighborhood - she stopped me once a while ago to tell me what a great job I was doing and how good I looked. Then, the day after I reached goal, as I was biking down my block, she shouted out "Congratulations!" to me, so I knew she was a blog reader. Finally, I met her. Her name is Kelly. And the night we met, she was with 2 young boys. We were talking about my weight loss and I mentioned I was down 74 pounds from my highest weight. One of the boys chimed in "I weigh 75 pounds!" Wow. I thought, WOW! It was incredible to see it - my weight lost - standing there in front of me in the form of a human being. That's a LOT of weight! Since it comes off so slowly (which personally, I think is a good thing) I think you forget just how significant a loss like that is. It was incredible. I am so glad to officially meet you, Kelly. I'm sure I'll see you soon :)
    • Thank you to Tim @ Punk Rope for including a huge mention of me and my blog in this week's mailing!
    • KCF gave me a great shoutout on her blog and I hope she's making her way towards "fitness buff" (remember: I started out as a suicidal couch potato, so I assure you, there is hope for everyone!)
    • Cesa Peroni has been reading me for over a year and calls me "inspirational" too. Thank you!
    • Jag's Fitness Blog stopped everything to give me congrats when I reached goal! Thank you!!
    • Charity from "I lost another me" gave me a nice little shoutout too! Thank you :)
    • La Petite Mort, who comments here often, was also kind enough to mention me. She even tried some high fiber pancakes in my honor! (hope you loved them and thanks, LPM!)
    • And thank you all - to the hundreds of you that left me birthday wishes via comments, twitter, facebook, text messages, emails and those that came out to celebrate with me Friday night. It was my best birthday ever and I want you to know how much it meant to me to have all that love :)
    Have a fantastic week everyone. Remember: The only thing stopping you is YOU!

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Weekly Meeting Topic: Staying Satisfied

    Links to this post
    This week we talked about staying satisfied while on plan. I think there are a few ways to think about the concept of satisfaction. I think being "satisfied" on plan means two things:
    1. Having a sense of physical satisfaction from your food
    2. Being mentally satisfied - as in still enjoying your favorite foods/not feeling deprived or like you're being punished
    I am going to focus on the first type of satisfaction - physical satisfaction - in addition to my own personal opinions on dealing with hunger.

    First off, I actually photographed this tabloid in my allergist's office months ago because this headline just irked me and I figured I could use it in a blog eventually-

    It irked me because they showed two slim/attractive celebs with a message to you, the reader, to lose weight. Then they throw in the claim that you can lose "x pounds in y days" - a concept I am very much against.

    Now, I don't know what diet fad or product they were promoting, but what jumped out at me after those initial annoyances was the "without being hungry" tagline. I think they added that because one thing that terrifies people about starting WW or any calorie restricted program is the fear of HUNGER: "What if I get hungry? What am I going to do? I don't want to feel hungry."

    As people with food issues (which often lead to weight issues), I think we spend/spent so much time making sure we never get/got hungry. I know I routinely stuffed myself past the point of fullness and ate often enough that I never let myself get to the point of actual physical hunger. Sure, I had urges and cravings but when I was in my 'eat anything, weigh anything' period of life, I rarely, if ever, allowed myself to get to point of true physical hunger. I was always eating to prevent hunger.

    Why did I do that? Why do any of us do that? Why did I not let myself get hungry? I'm guessing it was mostly because I was too busy using food to numb myself - preventing myself from feeling anything emotional, using food as a drug - to try to make myself feel good, happy, loved, etc. (But of course that never worked. Because the candy and donuts never loved me and as I finally learned, they never will love me.)

    But I rarely eat like that anymore. I actually do allow myself to get physically hungry before I eat now. And I'm here to tell you that actual physical hunger is nothing to be frightened of. In fact, it's natural! As over-eaters, I think we're just not used to that feeling. But I assure you, there is no need to fear it. It doesn't hurt. It might be mildly uncomfortable but it's just your body telling you it's ready for or needs more food. That's it. Nothing to panic over. You *will* eat again. (I think it's safe to assume that if you have internet access and can access this blog, you're not in any danger of starvation and know where your next meal is coming from.)

    Since I am focusing on the physical aspect of satisfaction today, this next point I am about to make is so obvious you either already know it/get it/live it or overlook it completely. Pay attention here. Are you ready? REAL FOOD IS SATISFYING. I told you it was obvious, but I want you to really think about that for a minute.

    What do I mean by that? (Let me pick on Twinkies today, since my friend Dolly was talking about the fact that they have beef fat listed as in ingredient... She took me out to a great vegan dinner on Monday night for birthday week. Here we are at the Bedford L and I swear we did not plan these outfits!)

    Team Tiny, reunited!

    What I mean by that is that if you have the choice between eating a 150 calorie Twinkie (150 cal, 4.5 fat, 0 fiber = 3 points) or 2 cups of blueberries (160 calories, 1 g fat, 7 g fiber = 3 points), guess which item is going to satisfy you longer?

    You don't need me to tell you that the fruit is a better/healthier choice, you already know that. But despite that the calorie count is nearly equal, and the points values are the same - one choice is way more physically satisfying than the other. (It's the fruit, in case you are still wondering.)

    Fruit is more satisfying because it contains water, it's bulkier, it has fiber - it takes up more room in your stomach, making you feel *fuller* and yes, more satisfied. That is why fruit (and not Twinkies) is considered a Weight Watchers "Filling Food". The WW Filling Foods list is almost all natural, real foods - things with protein, fiber, healthy fats, water - lots of density and nutrition. Foods that sustain and satisfy you.

    Now I hope you're still paying attention because here's where it gets even crazier/more obvious - One of the other great things about filling foods is that after your body digests them, it has something to do with them! It uses the vitamins and nutrients! There are all sorts of great things in filling foods (protein/good fat/fiber) that will actually help you. What does your body do with the chemical and artificial ingredients found in a Twinkie? Your guess is as good as mine, (side note: there has been an entire book written on the subject!) but I guarantee you, you are not satisfied after eating that Twinkie. Your mouth may have been entertained for a short while, but you are not SATISFIED. There is a huge difference and I hope you take the time to consider that. (And this is why I'm anti 'fun-food' - and also what led to my 'thinking beyond taste' mentality/way of eating.)

    So if you find that you're on plan but are hungry often - truly, physically hungry - take a look at what you're eating (this is why keeping a food journal is really handy/important). I would be willing to bet you are using all your points, but maybe you aren't spending those points as wisely as you could be. Look for ways to incorporate more filling foods into every meal or snack. Then assess your hunger level after those meals. I can pretty much guarantee you that you are not only going to be more physically satisfied, but that you will actually *feel* better, physically.

    Now, I really hope that isn't too preachy because I try never to force my opinions on anyone, but having been on both sides of the food eating spectrum (mostly fake vs. mostly natural) and knowing the physical effects of both ways of eating, I feel so strongly about this. I speak from experience when I tell you that incorporating more real/filling foods was one of the biggest and most dramatic changes I made while on plan. And I realize that depending on your lifestyle/history/where you are in your journey, this may seem like too huge of a change for you right now. All I ask is that you think about it and slowly incorporate more filling foods into your day. You may even be surprised by all the benefits and wonder why you didn't do it sooner. That's exactly what happened to me. :)