Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It started last year, as a joke.  You know, when we weren't really as discerning about what we were eating.  When Pillsbury's Devil's Food cake with the matching milk chocolate frosting and sprinkles sounded like the most perfect winter night's meal.  Ideally, most people probably know that you shouldn't eat cake for an entire meal.  I mean, we know it, too.  But I really believe this idea came to us during The Great Snow Storm of 2011 when we were cooped up in the house with nowhere to go for days and days.  So basically, we shouldn't be held responsible for any poor culinary decisions we made during this time of frozen-ness.

In trying to decide what we should have for dinner on that cold, cold night, I made a joke that Brian could make a cake and we could just have that for dinner.  He apparently thought that was a great idea and got to work.  When the kids would ask what was for dinner, he just told them, "Something nasty."  When they finally figured out what "nasty" actually was, oh my.  They were thrilled!  They wanted Nasty for dinner every night!  Well, yeah.  So do I!  But we made an agreement.  We would have Nasty for dinner, once per year.

Guess what day is Nasty Day?

Yep, that'd be today.

Guess whose kids have been talking about Nasty Day for the last 2 weeks?

Yep.  That'd be my Little People.

Guess what Brian prepared for dinner tonight?

Yep.  Gave those kids their Nasty.

He ate some for dinner, too.

I did not.

Not yet, anyway.  I'm not fooling myself.  I didn't fool myself yesterday when my dad brought over half a banana cake.  Which I love.  And then ate 2 pieces.  However, in my defense, they were quite small pieces.  Not the whole half-cake I would usually consume.  I didn't fool myself this afternoon when I ate the 2.5 Thin Mints that Bubba didn't want.  They were okay. But from now on, I'm gonna live without them.

In other news:  I have done no exercise in over a week.  I know I'm going to be sad when I attempt to Lift Heavy Things again.  I'll be walking with a limp for sure.  But stay tuned tomorrow when I post January:  By the Numbers.  I'll be posting my progress for my first month in.

Inquiring minds wanna know!  See you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recipes of the Week 2

This week, I have found some really incredible yummies. Really, it makes me wonder why everyone doesn't eat this way.

First, I found a paleo/primal recipe for fried chicken fingers. My kids ate them and begged for more! So much more tasty than McCrap, and with ingredients that we can pronounce and know where they come from.


2 large chicken breasts

½ cup of almond flour

2 eggs

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp dried thyme

3 tbs olive oil

Directions: Slice the chicken into similar sized strips and put into a plastic bag. Add the spices and shake to coat the meat. Beat eggs in a bowl. I added a few drops of Tabasco to them for spice. Dredge seasoned chicken strips in almond flour, egg wash, and back in almond flour. Place on wax paper to set for 10 minutes. This keeps the coating from falling off during frying.Heat the olive oil at medium high heat. Cook the chicken strips for 3 minutes, flip, and cook another 3 minutes. Don't crowd the pan, 3-4 strips at a time would probably fill the pan. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. I mixed up some honey mustard for dipping. Seriously delicious. For alternate flavors, add unsweetened coconut flakes to the almond meal and use some Chinese 5 spice with some salt and pepper for seasoning. Fry in coconut oil instead of olive. Mix up a sweet/spicy chili sauce.

Next, I made some sweet potato latkes that were to die for. I started with an idea from Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo. Then I added some of my own ideas and it came together like magic. Now, there is some debate about the sweet potato and whether it is paleo/primal or not. I think it comes down to personal choice. You have to know yourself and your body. Some people can eat them and not see the results they want to see, it spikes their blood sugars too much and slows weight loss because of the carb count. Some people can enjoy them without issues. I think I have to go easy on them, and save them for an after workout meal maybe once a week. But when I do have them, this is how I want to eat them!

5 c shredded sweet potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
4-5 slices cooked bacon
2 tbsp minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
coconut oil

I shred my potatoes in the food processor. So easy. Toss in a bowl with the beaten eggs, diced up bacon, onion, salt, and pepper. Heat a big spoonful (3-4 tbsp) of coconut oil in a cast iron or nonstick pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, drop 3-4 big spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the oil. Press them flat with your spoon and cook for 3 minutes on each side. You can top them with a fried egg for breakfast (or dinner, or lunch) or just eat them as a side dish. This was a huge hit at dinner. The five-year-old ate all of hers and then stole one of her sister's. It began a battle. Fun was had by all.

Last, I found a great marinade for beef, lamb, or pork. I used it on a venison backstrap and then again on a flank steak we threw on the grill. When you use this marinade while grilling, the fruit helps to form a fabulous bark on the meat that is just so good.
1 c blackberries
1/4 c wheat free tamari (this is a gluten free soy sauce)
14 c rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3-4 stalks of green onion, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree. Pour over meat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Week 3 in the Books

It was Sunday!  Three days ago.  (I was busy.  My man went out of town on Sunday and I had to go to the grocery store....and on and on.)  But without further delay, the Weight Board was officially updated and I have lost a total of 15 pounds!  This is not a rounded amount.  Yay!  I have put 15 pounds back into the world for some skinny person to have.  I am very giving, aren't I?  I just love to help people.

But honestly, that was not the best part of my week, although I was over the moon with my 15 pounds.  No, the best part was putting on a smaller pair of jeans.  And a smaller shirt.  I'm already running the logarithms so I can figure out what size I'll be when I hit the big 3-5.  That's about 3 months away...I bet I could be down 2 more sizes in 3 months, don't you?  (That would mean ALL new clothes!  Happy birthday to me!!!)

For those of you following my story, I have not eaten one Girl Scout cookie.  Not one.  I did stand out in about 30 degree weather and sell some, but I did not eat one.  Of course, as was documented, I did have a few bites of cake that made me sick, and a couple bites of a cake that my daddy made especially for me that did not make me sick.  The Primal Blueprint guru says that we should strive for 80%-20% compliance.  And I think having a few bites of a cake made especially for me falls well within those guidelines.  Especially since I have been able to avoid eating the whole cake, which I usually would do.

In other news, I have cooked breakfast for my children TWO days in a row.  Not the usual way I "cook" breakfast:  nuking oatmeal or pouring cereal.  I made bacon come alive and be crispy through the miracle of heat and I also scrambled eggs.  I am probably the only person who never learned how to scramble eggs in college and my daddy has fried my eggs anytime I ask for as long as I can remember.  But while Brian has been out of town, my children have been sent off to face the day with a primal breakfast in their belly.  That's good parenting right there. 

And my cooking piece de resistance...last night, I cooked my favorite comfort food, in a mostly primal way.  Roast beef cooked stovetop in my cast iron cauldron.  Oh. My. Word.  Can I say that I am an amazing roast cooker?  I had to fish the meat out of that pot with a slotted spoon.  My recipe is amazing.  I did deviate when I did the gravy because my dad was here so I did use a little flour.  A couple of tablespoons for the whole tub of gravy.  I did prepare parsnips as "potatoes", in the primal way.  Except I won't be doing that again.  They are stringy and taste like parsnips.  I'd rather just have some sweet potatoes occasionally and dress them the way Auntie Jo did:  butter, sour cream, scallions (when I say that I feel fancy!), and bacon. 

But tonight, for dinner, my kids are eating Girl Scout cookies that they  have purchased with their own money.  Some of you might think that I should Stop Them From Doing That!  But I'm not.  They have to learn that eating a box of cookies for a meal isn't the way to go.  And I'm willing to let them learn the hard way while the price is small.  I'd rather let the consequences do the teaching for me.  Better they learn this lesson at their current ages of 7, 6, 4 and 2 instead of at 35 like me.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Open Letter to My Trainer

Dear Satan,

On the odd chance (read slim-to-none) that you actually READ this blog, please know that when I refer to you as 'Satan' it is a term of endearment. Really. You are teaching me to save my own life. Even when I hate you, I LOVE what you're helping me do.

I think it takes a special kind of person to look at an overweight, out of shape woman and see the potential within her. To envision the warrior hidden beneath years of inactivity and ignorance. You have made strength and power a possibility for me, always encouraging me to try more and push harder. Even when I think I can't, you show me how to prove to myself that I can.

True fitness begins in the mind. The environment of community and encouragement I've found is helping me believe I can do this. That's half the battle right there.

To all of you without a trainer, no one said you have to do this alone! You may not be able to go to a professional, but you can seek out your own personal cheerleader. This road is so much easier when you walk it with someone who can't wait to see you succeed.

Oh, and Satan? You are making a difference. Now, about that jog....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Week's Best Recipes

I've decided to post each week with the recipes that my family liked most. This week it was very simple, which makes me very happy.

First, my oldest daughter and I are in LOVE with Sarah Fragoso's Chicken BLTA.
1 grilled or broiled chicken breast
1 slice tomato
salad greens or baby spinach
1/2 avocado or an all natural guacamole
1 slice bacon
1 slice hard cheese of choice (optional)

Slice the chicken breast open lengthwise, so it opens like a sandwich. Layer in the rest of the ingredients on the bottom slice of chicken and top it off with the other half of the chicken breast. I wrap it in Cling Wrap and it gets all yummy by the time lunch rolls around. Heat it or eat it cold. FABulous.

The next recipe is the Famous Spinach I made that had the kids cheering. I know, right? That's just crazy talk! I'm sure this has been done a million times over, but I just threw this together.
A big bag or container of fresh baby spinach
4 oz. pancetta or 6 slices of uncured bacon
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan

Throw the pancetta in a deep skillet on medium heat. Cook until almost crispy, and add the garlic. Continue for about a minute before adding mushrooms. Saute until soft. Add the spinach and toss to coat with the bacon grease. Cook until just wilted and remove from the heat. Sprinkle the cheese on top and serve immediately. This rocks, but it's just not that great cold.

Finally, the egg muffins we have all fallen in love with. These are the most versatile things ever. Whatever you want to throw in there, go for it! At the moment, our favorite is bacon, spinach, and fresh mozarella.
1 egg per muffin you're planning (12 eggs for 12 muffins, etc)
cooked meat (natural sausage, cooked bacon, diced chicken, whatever)
chopped veggies-red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, green onion, diced zucchini, green peppers, jalapeno, onion, broccoli... you get it.
shredded cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cook the meat and vegetables and set aside. Grease your muffin tins really well. You can use olive oil or coconut oil to be really primal. I've gotten the all natural olive oil cooking spray with no propellants and used that. Divide the cooked goodies into your muffin tins. Scramble up all the eggs and pour over the ingredients. I use a 1/4 c measuring cup to do this. It's handy. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool and remove from the pan. These can go into a ziplock and stay handy in the fridge, or you can stick them in the freezer. Reheat from the fridge for about 30 seconds in the microwave. Yum O.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I ate some grains and sugar today.  And I feel TERRIBLE.  Really sick to my stomach.  I just can't believe how bad I feel.

Considering my former level of consumption, the tiny bites I had today should not be making me this nauseated.  But what else could it be?

I am a table host at a community dinner every month.  I never know what's going to be served, but I try to make good choices.  Tonight was some Mexican theme.  I passed on the chips and the rice.  But the casserole?  I could not avoid the chips as the base.  And then, I had a bite of my dad's cake which really was about a teaspoon and a half of chocolate frosting.  It actually tasted like partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  It was gross.  (And this from a person who would eat it right out of the can, any flavor.)  Then my daughter showed up with a frosted brownie.  I had a bite of that, too.  Ewww.  It was not good.  They call that cream cheese frosting?  I was sad that the other ladies at my table were gobbling it up.

My dad sent a cake home with us.  Some kind of chocolate-cupcake-with-no-frosting baked into one pan like a brownie.  I had one bite.  A really small bite.  And even though that was made from scratch, I still thought it was gross.  Not worth another taste, even though I nearly ate the whole piece out of habit.

And now, here I am.  Nursing my sick stomach, and thinking for the first time in my life, those bites weren't worth this feeling of sick.  Passing that stuff over just got a whole lot easier.  Besides, and this is true, there is no cake in the world that can make you feel as good as putting on a smaller pair of pants does.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


As far as numbers go, on this journey I'm doing well.  I did have more fruit today than I usually do because I had easy access to fresh pineapple, which I love.  I did not dip it into the sugary concoction known as "yogurt dip" because sugar was its main ingredient.  (Also, no Girl Scout cookie has touched my lips.)  I made Mexican Pile On for dinner tonight because it's easy and Brian is out of town.  I added a can of charro beans to the mix because I like them.  Even though they are technically not on the list.  I say all that to say:  I think it may affect my numbers in the morning.

The first week, I did lose 8 pounds.

The second week, I lost 4.5 pounds.  Which ain't too shabby.

This week, I can say, isn't going the same as the other weeks.  Even though I'm physically working harder by running and lifting my Ghetto Booty Spread, the numbers aren't coming down at the same rate.  Unofficially, I'm at about a half-pound loss for the week.  I try not to freak out about it and blame the scale for its blatant disrespect of me, but it's hard.  It's not exactly time to measure yet, although I have taken a few unofficial measurements, just to see.  And it looks like things are going down incrementally.  Which is fine, I guess.  But the most interesting thing happened yesterday when I got dressed.

I have some fat-girl Levi's that are...stretchy.  Seems like the bigger the size, the stretchier they make 'em.  Usually, they're a little snug when I put them on, and they as the day goes on, they stretch out and are basically falling down by the end of the day.  By the end of the day.  Not an hour in.  Which was the case last night.  It actually wasn't even an hour.  So the whole night, as I was teaching and doing my thing, trying to corral my kids after they were so kindly loaded up with sugar at 730pm, I kept hitching my pants up.  I hate that.

So I had an idea.  I had the idea to grab a pair of jeans From the Other Side of the Closet.  You  know what I'm talking about.  The side of the closet where your clothes are that don't fit.  The ones you are saving until you lose weight.  I think even skinny people have an Other Side of the Closet.  I grabbed a pair of Levi's with less stretch in them and stuck my legs in them.  So far, so good.  Pulled them up to my hips.  Hey!  These things were going on.  Got them over my rump.  Oh. My.  These pant are on!

"And then what happened?" you ask.

"I buttoned and zipped those babies up! Without laying on the bed!  Without praying!  Them jeans?  They are the next size smaller.  And they came from the Other Side of the Closet."

Hell yeah!      

I Hate Exercise, And It Hates Me

Shanon dukes it out with Satan and Skinny People by running and deadlifting at the gym.  She has money invested in this.  She's paying for it.  And she is brave.  Because I don't think I could go in a place like that , looking like the girl that is me, and do what she's doing.  It's all I can do to do the things that I do.   So while Shanon Cross-Fits, I am doing Primal Blueprint Fitness.

Which means, mostly, I walk.  I hate walking in  my neighborhood and it's nearly impossible to keep 4 children safe while doing so.  When I do, I feel like a big, fat person and everyone is driving by pointing, "Look at that poor fat girl.  She's working so hard.  It's a good thing she's out here.  She really should be running.  Let's  go get a big, greasy hamburger on that bun she likes at the Groggy Dawg and have a Shiner Bock with it.  Let's drive by while we're eating and show it to her and laugh."  I'm like that kid on The Sixth Sense:  I don't want people looking at me.  So I go to the Nature Center where my kids scream and chase each other down the paths and basically annoy the people there who are actually trying to observe nature.  I call what I do there "cross country hiking".  I hope it really is because that's what I call it on the program that tallies all my numbers.  Other times, we take over the city's Bike and Hike trail where my scootering girls try to race those other January Resolutionists who are huffing and puffing along.  I do those people a huge favor and tell my kids, "Leave that poor man alone.  Can't you see he's about to die?"

One day a week, I run sprints.  I have hated running all my life and I have always truly sucked at it.  In Freshman PE, every Monday, we had to run a mile.  Except I never did.  I always lied and held up 4 fingers when it was really only my 3rd lap.  I really don't want to do anything that causes my lungs to burn.  I am a former smoker who had a pack-a-day habit for 8 years.  In April, I will have been a quitter long than I was a smoker.  (Nine years!)  That lung burning aside, I abhor running.  But for high heels, I will do it.  Because I only have to run for 10 seconds at a time.  Even this fat chick can run at top speed for 10 seconds.  However, it is not pretty.  Which is why I do it in the dark when my kids are in bed and all the retirees that live in my cul de sac have been in bed since 630pm.  Of course, even for 10 seconds, I have my limit.  Exactly, it's 4x.  I can run for 10 seconds at top speed on the sidewalk outside exactly 4 times before I have to crawl into my house.  And top speed may be slower than Bubba on his trike, but since I do it in the cover of darkness, we may never know.

Two days a week, I lift heavy things.  Like Shanon, it is often my very own Ghetto Booty Spread.  See, that's what happens when you have a ghetto booty and you gain a little weight.  You spread out back there.  Back in my day, Sir Mix-a-Lot had a song about me.  I am working on mastering 5 Essential Primal Movements:  Pushup, Pullup, Overhead Press, Plank and Squat.  You master the Essential Movement when you get to Level 4 or 5 of 9.  It doesn't really matter at this point because Level 1 is kicking my Ghetto Booty Spread.  On my lift days, I do 2 sets of:  40 wall pushups, 20 2-leg chair pull-ups, 50 wall squats, 20 inverted overhead presses and 90 seconds of hand-knee planks and 45 minutes of knee-side planks.  I can move on to the next level when I can complete all sets without crying.  I still have a ways to go...

Today I rested.  Thursday is a busy day and it gets dark too soon to do anything after I corral girls at Girl Scouts.  Especially since my own kids demanded food, too.  I should have walked anyway.  It's 9pm and not one of them are asleep anyway.  Tomorrow, I lift my junk again.  Push it away from the wall 80 times.  Do 100 wall squats.  Since I have started this journey, I do not remember what it is like to walk without some major muscle group screaming in agony.  This refining process is literally a pain in my ass.    

Reality Check

Quick fact. Muscle weighs more than fat. It takes up less space, but it is considerably heavier. See the picture here? See how much smaller the muscle is, but it still weighs as much as the big old blob of ugly lookin' fat? What is that, anyway? It looks like corn on the cob, but it was prettier than the photographs of the real stuff. Ugh. Keeps me from ever wanting corn again. Anyway, the point is that I am struggling to get over the fact that my scale is NOT cooperating with me. It's been stuck at 8.4 pounds down for about 5 days now, and we were about to have a Come to Jesus meeting about it when I had this epiphany. Yes, I know this is not news. But if you're like me, you understand all this information just fine until it's your scale that doesn't agree with you after you've been working so hard. When it just doesn't get that the numbers need to be lower now. Then all our head knowledge flies out the window. Frustrated with this relationship, I began to search for other answers. CrossFit! "Satan" has been working me to the point of pure exhaustion for two weeks now. Those sore places I didn't know existed on my body? Bet that's muscle hidden under there! Who knew?

This is where the Measurement Fairy comes to tap me on the shoulder. "I'll show you what that mean ol' scale won't! Ditch him! You're too good to be tied to him anyway." Well hell, lady! Why didn't you say so! The tape measure and I have a date later. I'll have to let you know if it goes well. I hear it puts out. :)

"Because I'm Worth It!" With Apologies to L'Oreal

I have learned some things about myself over the years, and about other women, as well. Some magical shift occurs when we have children. A change from caring about ourselves and meeting our own needs to the raising of small people. We give up sleep to rock a crying infant. We give up pedicures to pay for diapers and toys. We let go of those dreams that we carried from childhood in order to focus on these little souls’ happiness and safety. We become mothers. It is an earth-shaking, monumental task we take on willingly. It rewards us with kisses, snuggles, hugs and moments of pure beauty. Unspeakable joy. But sometimes, we allow it to rob us of ourselves.

Now, I’m not advocating selling your kids to the highest bidder or locking your children in the closet so you can soak in the bubble bath. Well…no. Really, I’m not. Child Protective Services frowns on that. I’m talking about how to stop putting ourselves last on the To Do list. That walk we need to take gets canceled due to soccer practice. The healthy meal we meant to cook gets postponed because there was dance rehearsal. We skip yoga or let the gym membership go because we need the money for kids’ braces and our busy schedules won’t allow it anyway. We let our health go because we don’t have the time to focus on ourselves for 30 minutes a day. Or we get so tired that we spend the 30 minutes we DO have lying on the couch, catching our breath.

Since beginning this journey, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at how I treat myself. I made a mental list (Yes, mental. I am not so anal that I actually wrote this crap down. Seriously, I don’t have that much free time on my hands!) of all the things I’d done for other people in a day. Made lunches, brushed teeth and hair, checked homework, drove carpool, dropped off at dance, cooked dinner, washed laundry, helped with a project, made appointments, located lost items…and the list went on. Then I tried to remember something I’d done for myself that week. Um…I could hear the crickets chirping. No time had been spent working on my novel-in-progress. There had been no exercise or quiet moments stolen to read a book that did NOT rhyme. I hadn’t even taken the old, chipped polish off my fingernails. And it was left over from Thanksgiving holidays. Not attractive. At all.

I began to consider the fact that I am raising four daughters. These girls see me put myself last and consider myself least important. What kind of message is that sending to them? Don’t they deserve to see a woman who values herself enough to put the time and effort into taking care of her body? A mother who makes time to keep herself healthy? This isn’t about pampering myself, although occasionally that wouldn’t be a bad idea, but more along the lines of providing a model for my girls. Do I want them to grow up and think that mothers do not deserve to treat themselves with as much care as they tend their families? The thought of my precious young women thinking of themselves as inferior curdled my stomach. Yet, that’s the lesson I taught through example.

At that moment, I decided. Yes, I will have to refuse my children on occasion in order to take care of myself. Sometimes, they will have to finish their project and wait for me to get back from my workout to check it. They will, God forbid, have to learn to do their own laundry! And, sorry to tell them, they will have to eat what Mama feels like cooking even when they are certain one taste will absolutely kill them. What I need matters, and the sooner they understand that all of us need to value ourselves enough to take care of ourselves, the better.

So now I’m trying to make a list of treats to use as rewards when I reach weight loss or strength goals (non-food, of course). Number one for me is always some alone time somewhere with a notebook and a pen or a quality book. Taking another look at these nails, I also think a manicure wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Take a few moments this week and see if you’re mistreating yourself, too. Make a promise to yourself to do something strictly for you. Share the importance of this with your family. I guarantee they value you enough to understand. If they don’t? Well, that’s an entirely different lesson you’ll have to teach. I may have a big stick available to aid in the instruction if you need it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Will Not Quit

I’m going to write and post this while the emotions are still fresh. As are the tears. Bear with me, friends. I’m not feeling funny this evening. Hopefully, though, you can get real with me. That’s what this journey is about, after all.

I went to my first “regular” workout class. The last two visits it was just me and the trainer learning the movements. This time, I joined the group. I dreaded it all day, knowing how out of shape I am. When I walked in, ‘Satan’ came bopping up and introduced me to some of the other people in the class. By far, I was the fattest, most out of shape person in the room. Every part of me screamed, “Run! Run away!” But I sucked it up, slapped on a smile, and shook hands with all the healthy, trim people. Then I saw the Workout of the Day. My heart fell into my stomach. I am unable to DO any of those movements. What the hell am I going to do? And how embarrassing is it going to be when I can’t do this, right here in front of God and everybody? And we have to do 5 rotations of them? That voice saying, “Run!” got louder. And it brought some tears to my eyes. How did I let myself get like this? All the women in the room were slim and muscular. I imagined them rolling their eyes at the fat girl who couldn’t hang with them. I compared myself to every woman in the room, and came up short. And very round.

This is a common issue for me, this comparison thing. When Georgia posts her amazing weight loss, I forget the fact that I lost 8 freakin’ pounds in two weeks and begin to wonder what I’m doing wrong. Why is she doing better than I am? Forget the different body types, heights, workouts, metabolisms, etc. Ignore the work I’ve done. I just compare and fall short. This is a problem, I know.

So the workout begins, and ‘Satan’ comes over. I can do the weight lifting move, even if there isn’t much weight on my bar. I’m actually pretty good at it. It’s the next two activities that have me feeling nauseous. Hang from the bar and pull your knees to your chest 10 times? I can’t even hang! So he has me hang as long as I can (about 15 seconds, ugh), then do sit ups. With an exercise band for assistance. Not embarrassing, or anything. Next, I am supposed to run 200 m and start the rotation of weights and sit ups again. RUN? And not away, as I’d been planning. Holy crap. He scales it back to 100 meters, and shows me how far it is. Sighing with relief, I take a deep breath and begin. In my head is one sentence. I begin repeating it like a mantra. A prayer. A hope.

I. Will. NOT. Quit.

I jog it the first and second round, wheezing and puffing like an eighty year old lady. With every slap of tennis shoe to earth, I am repeating it. I will not quit. The third round, I jog half and walk back. By the fourth I am strictly walking, still gasping for breath. But I will not quit, dammit. With tears in my eyes, I start the final round. Weights. Hang. Sit ups. Run. Done!

I finished all five rounds with 30 seconds to spare. ‘Satan’ comes over and congratulates me, high fives me for doing all five and not giving up, and I start to feel a little bit guilty for calling him Satan. Then he tells me the “Cash Out”, or ending exercise, is 25 push ups and that feeling fades instantly. I do wall push ups, because raising this bod from the floor just wasn’t happening.

Driving home, I admit I teared up several times. I felt so inadequate and disgusted with the state I’d let my health deteriorate into. I take some deep breaths and try a new perspective. I finished. I didn’t leave. I Did Something About It.

This is not about anybody but me. I’m not in competition with Georgia, or those fitness models at CrossFit, or anyone else. This is my time. Finally, I am doing this. And I will not quit.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Merrily We Roll Along

It's Sunday and you know what that means!  It's time to update The Weight Board!  Officially, I've been doing this thing for 2 weeks, and I have lost a grand total of 12.5 pounds.  I know the ticker says 13, but it rounds up.

I am not a fan.

I prefer an honest representation of my weight loss with no rounding.  It's seems like embellishing or cheating to me.  Which I am trying not to do.  In spite of a very large temptation looming inside my house:  It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!  What the samhill?!  And I have not one, but 2 girls selling cookies this year.  Clearly, I did not think this through.  It would probably be okay if I could eat just one.  Box.  But I can't.  I love those Peanut Butter Patties, especially after you put them in the freezer.  So. Good.  And it is not freakin' helping that my daughters are pooling their money together and buying (and eating) as many boxes as they can.  Leaving those cookies unattended in the refrigerator.  

"Hey, Mom?  Want a cookie?  Aren't these your favorite?  They've been in the freezer, just like you like 'em!"

Really, Little People?  It would be okay, just this once, to not share.  You don't even have to offer it to me.  Go ahead and give my share to Bubba.  He's just gonna take it right out of the package when you're not looking anyway.        

These stupid cookies are going to be my undoing.  I must keep in mind that I did not just lose 12.5 pounds by eating Girl Scout cookies by the boxload.  Wednesday I pushed Bubba in his stroller at the Nature Center, in the mud.  I am not fighting all this C-R-A-P to eat freakin' Girl Scout cookies.  I am not doing this so I can feel like a failure.  And I will, if I eat those damn things.  Today, it's not about the high heels or the zombies or being healthy.  It's these cookies.

For once in my life, THEY WILL NOT TELL ME HOW IT'S GOING TO BE.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Do These Jeans Make My Butt Look Smaller?

Five am.  Time to assess whether it's okay to get on the scale or not.  There is criteria in place, you know, to determine this.  This is no willy-nilly operation.  Any person who has been a professional dieter like me, develops their own criteria to ensure the best possible results on the scale.  When I attended Weight Watcher meetings, I would have a weigh-in outfit that I wore every week.  It was a constant I could control when standing in line to climb onto a scale big enough to weigh a baby elephant.  Thankfully, my hot pants, tube top and Old Navy $2.99 electric blue flip flops were never the cause of a gain.  Just kidding.  I did gain once.  While we're talking about Weight Watchers, it annoys me that I still receive junk mail from them, but it annoys me even more that they're right.

But no matter what the scale says, or if they wear the pink or the green hot pants to the weigh-in, no one really believes they are shrinking until 1) Someone mentions how great they look....have they lost weight?;  or 2) Their clothes start fitting a little differently.      

When you begin this process of losing weight or getting healthy, and the numbers start going down, it's easy to get a little, hmmmm, what's the word?  Obsessive.  Yes, that'll do nicely.  Obsessed.  Hyper-focused.  Very enthusiastic, so to speak.  We're working hard and we want the scale to Recognize.  In my opinion, the scale has only one job to do:  Go Down.  That's all I'm really asking.  If it won't Go Down, my distant second choice of its workload:  Stay The Same.  Thankfully, we've had this scale for 9 years and it knows what's expected.    

Since it has been following orders and mostly Going Down, unofficially, I've lost 12 pounds. (I know because once my criteria is met, I weigh every single day.  Sometimes multiple times.  There is important scientific tracking going on here!)  In order to not seem so "obsessed", I only update my weight tote-board once per week, on Sunday.  It seems less rabid.   It helps that I've been watching what I eat.  So far, no yeasty goodness has passed my lips since January 1.  (Unless you count the one-half chocolate cupcake I shared, no frosting, with my husband that my dad brought over.)  I have limited my sugar intake to what is naturally contained in balsamic vinegar and other fine foods.  Oh, and the occasional bite of fruit.  I've cut out grains and have pretty much left Brian in charge of making the food.  I am not a foodie, but I absolutely appreciate those who are.  I even appreciate those who aren't if it means I don't have to cook.  Yea me, I also did not eat a Chex Mix rye chip that was very rudely calling my name at Girl Scouts yesterday.     

Most days I wear my cropped sweatpants and a t-shirt because I'm very messy around the house.  I'm forever getting something on my clothes while cooking, eating, or cleaning something, which actually happens quite rarely.  

But not today.  

First I had to weigh in and was thrilled to found the scale had Gone Down.  I stood in front of the mirror and looked from side to side, trying to determine if things were getting smaller.  I couldn't really tell.  Maybe my peach tattoo was a little higher than it used to be?  I measured my muscles.  They didn't look much bigger, but they felt stronger.  My unmentionables seemed to fit the same way they had been, so I just wasn't sure.  But I had agreed to meet a friend at Starbucks and so I had a large problem.  It was called, "What Should I Wear?"       

I got my other pair of jeans, the clean ones, and shimmied in.  They didn't really feel any looser.  Brian came to the scene to investigate.

"Turn around," he said.  "Those look like they might be a little looser in the butt."

What?!  Looser in the butt?  It must be working!  Eating meat like a T-Rex and pushing strollers with 40# kids through the mud at the Nature Center must be working!  I ran to the bedroom to find a shirt.  What would I wear to accentuate my smaller butt?  I grabbed a shirt that is "the perfect color for me", as I've been told and it has a square neck.  And I stood in front of the bathroom mirror with my clothes on, preening and peering, checking myself out.

"Look at this shirt," I said.  "It's hanging straight down.  It's not touching any lumps or bumps or anything.  And my jeans.  They're usually stretchy, but not this stretchy when I first put them on."  

"Yeah," my sweet husband said.  "It looks like your boobs are bigger than your stomach."    

Some women might get mad at a statement like that. Take it as some sort of criticism.  An attack, even.  But not me.  Not today, anyway.  Today, I'm taking progress any way it comes.     



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ben and Jerry’s and the Food of a Primal Chick

I openly admit that I am a foodie. I watch Food Network and drool over the gorgeous meals they produce. I don’t dream in black and white. I dream in barbecue sauce. I’ve been known to get out at midnight in my pajama pants in search of the perfect Ben and Jerry’s pint. This goes a long way towards explaining the 80-90 extra pounds I carry around.

After deciding to Do Something About It, I began to agonize over what I’d be giving up. If you are interested in the science or want to go in depth with information about the Primal Blueprint, there’s a link to Mark’s Daily Apple on the right side of the page. For my purpose here, let’s just cut it down to this: no grains of any kind, no sugar, and no processed foods. We eat meat, fruits and veggies, eggs, dairy, seeds, and nuts. I thought, “Ew. No more cheeseburgers? No more pizza? No more bread or pasta? I’m going to hate this. No, I’m going to DIE!” But I was determined to follow through with this Do Something idea, so I sighed the deep sigh of the martyr and trudged forward.

I began to look up recipes online, and then ordered a few used cookbooks from Amazon. Some looked weird, I’ll admit. Offal? Oh, hell to the no. Others, though, caught my attention. The first week, I made venison chili, grilled chicken BLTA’s, venison backstrap with blackberry marinade, and cheeseburgers. Yep, grilled those burgers, topped ‘em with aged cheddar, lettuce, a slab of tomato, and some bacon. No bun. Burger King had nothing on this delight. One Saturday morning I cooked up some nitrate/nitrite free sausage with mushrooms, scrambled about 24 eggs, and threw it all together with some cheese and green onion in my muffin tins. Baked them for about 20 minutes and had breakfast for everyone for over a week. I sliced up sweet potatoes and tossed them with olive oil and seasonings and baked them until they were crispy. I threw together several Big Ass Salads filled with just about everything I had in my fridge. I found the key to life was preparation. An hour or two spent firing up the Foreman grill, slicing veggies, boiling some eggs, and sizzling up some bacon kept me in lunches and breakfasts for the week. I was feeling very Betty Crocker. Or Martha Stewart. Pick your homemaker of choice here, folks. It was a good thing.

Then the inevitable happened. We were out running errands, time got away from us, and we didn’t have time to cook dinner. We would….*gasp*…have to go out to eat! What would I do? What would I eat? Pulling into the restaurant parking lot, I steeled myself to face those piles of golden fried pickles and crispy homemade potato chips. I scanned the menu and ordered carefully, ignoring the funny look I got from the waitress when I said, “No bun.” The rest of the family ordered their usual-fried chicken strips, fries, chips, burgers. (I am slowly weaning my children off the junk and into the Primal lifestyle. Cold turkey doesn’t fly well with older kids. We’re almost there now. It’s hard to eat what Mama doesn’t buy.)When the food arrived, I found them all looking longingly at my plate. They had greasy, brown-crusted chicken strips and limp potatoes dripping in oil. I had a grilled chicken breast topped with Swiss cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and bacon. It sat beside a huge green salad filled with bright red tomatoes, green slices of cucumber, and bright orange carrots. My meal sparkled. It smelled good. It looked fresh. It was real. What had happened to their chicken was a crime against nature. You couldn’t even tell that it had once been a chicken.

At that moment, I began to understand something. I am not “giving up” the good stuff. I have been denying myself the good stuff for years. What I was eating wasn’t even real food half the time! Look at your labels, friends. What did they do to that grain, vegetable, meat, or dairy to get it that way? How many things are in there that aren’t even FOOD? Words like ‘hydrogenated’ and ‘emulsified’, along with that mystical Red Dye #5, don’t belong on something we are going to put in our bodies! I realized I have been mistreating myself with those things I’d considered treats! What I’m eating now tastes better, and I feel better.

So I’m experimenting in the kitchen now. I made a primal meatloaf and green beans with mushrooms. I made a huge pan of spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and parmesan that everyone LOVED, and the kids told me they no longer hate spinach. Miracles happen, my friends. I’m keeping ahead of the game by preparing large batches of recipes and grilled meats on Saturday mornings to have on hand all week, so I am actually spending less time in the kitchen. I just have to go throw it all together. I’m enjoying what I’m eating. I don’t even miss the junk food.

That perfect pint of Ben and Jerry’s, though, still calls to me at midnight occasionally. I never said I was perfect.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Satan is Awfully Cute

While Georgia is working on that hiking-all-over-creation-with-small-children thing (which ought to be an Olympic sport, btw), I have jumped into Cross Fit. This is the Lifting Heavy Things part of the primal work out. In my case, the heavy thing is my big behind.

First, let me explain that I am not “in shape”, unless you count Twinkie as a shape. Very round and spongy, with a soft middle. That’s me. So I made an appointment with the trainer at the local Cross Fit gym for the personal training session in order to get started. The minute I walked in, I knew I was in big trouble. The room was filled with weights and barbells and Things to Lift. Heavy things. People were grunting and lifting, rowing and squatting. Nobody was a fat chick like me. Uh oh.

Standing there feeling like Shamu the Friendly Whale, I contemplated turning around and leaving. I’d work out at home. There were plenty of places to look up these exercises online, right? Then nobody would see me embarrass myself in front of the gaggle of sorority girls that wandered in right before I started my session. (I wanted to lean over and whisper to them that I WAS one of them 15 years ago. I could be their warning image. Girls, THIS is what happens when you have four kids and live off Papa Johns and Burger King for 13 years. Beware!) Just as I was about to slip out and pretend it never happened, the cutest little guy bounded up to me.

“Shanon? Hi, I’m Neal! Ready to get started?”

He was adorable. Probably in his early twenties, lean and mean, and peppy as a cheerleader on game day. Looks are so deceiving. He walked me through six different types of squats. Then he handed me a barbell and we did it again. Then a kettle bell. Then a medicine ball. I pulled my lard ass up on rings, lifted weights, attempted push ups and sit ups, and nearly passed out doing box jumps. He patiently showed me the proper techniques for each move, assessed and corrected, and cheered when I got it right. Dripping sweat and gasping like a fish out of water, I finished up and went to get a drink. I thought I’d done pretty well for a big ol’ girl. Then he said, “You ready for a workout now?” WHAT?!! What the hell have we been doing? At that moment I understood. Neal is a nickname for Satan. The Devil himself has gotten a hold of me, and I’m going to die right here and now on this rubber-floored gym.

He put me through a 20 minute workout. Halfway through, I didn’t give a crap if those cute little pony-tailed girls were watching or not. Big Mama was working it. At the end, my legs felt like spaghetti and I seriously questioned how I was going to drive myself home. The next day, I couldn’t walk. Sitting down and standing up without assistance was out of the question. This made going to the bathroom an interesting event. For three days, I hobbled and whimpered. I stretched and walked and took hot baths. Finally, I got back to normal. So I did the dumbest thing I could think of. I went back to Cross Fit.

Satan met me at the door again, tail wagging and ready to go. Torn between being excited to try again and dreading the torture, I gave a half-hearted nod. Once again, Neal made this soft girl, whose most strenuous activity is carrying a ream of paper to the copy machine, work muscles I thought had shriveled up and died years ago. Again, my knees went weak, and not in the way Hugh Jackman makes them wobble. But I improved. Satan pushed me to the point of failure, but I didn’t quit. When we finished this time, he told me I was ready to begin regular classes. I had done each movement correctly, and it was time to move up. My goal is to go two to three times a week, so I asked him which classes had the fewest sorority girls in attendance. He laughed. I wasn’t kidding.

Satan is awfully cute.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When the Weather Conspires

One of the things I love about this new way of going on is that I don't have to be married to the gym.  Which is really good.  Because that hasn't really worked out for me.  Hahaha!  I just made a very funny joke!  It hasn't....worked out....for me.


I've been a bit of a Nazi recently, demanding that the Whole Family will go and Walk Frequently at a Slow Pace.  Brian and I did our first walking experience while on a weekend away together over New Years (Year's?)*.  About 25 minutes in, my feet were hurting so bad, I had to stop.  I blame the track.  Who uses that rocky-asphalt stuff for a walking track?  They really should put down mulch for all the people like me who are both clumsy and out of practice.  But the weather was perfect for being outside.

Locally, we've been frequenting the Nature Center for our walks.  Although, the only nature we've ever observed has been a pesky horsefly which scared my children by its sheer size and buzzing volume.  Our favorite thing to do as a family there is have the children run off ahead of us, and then my husband and I will yell, "We can't see you!"   Then they run back.  Good times are had by all at the Nature Center.

Things I love about the Nature Center:

  • The walking is not "hard".  No big hills, but enough to keep it sort of interesting.  
  • There is no concrete.  Walking on concrete apparently hurts my feet.  
  • We can do the 2 trails and get in over an hour of walking.  Score!  
Our City Park even has some trails that we have explored.  They are paved, so I gotta deal, but our family walked for nearly 2 hours on Sunday.  Well, the grown folks walked and the kids rode their scooters.  Shock of shocks:  no one was seriously injured!  We may have been casting lots on how many of the scooter-riders would be injured as they went hurtling downslope on the paved walkway.  My kids, who live in a superlative world, said that was the Best. Day. Ever.  

But what to do now?  When the weather is conspiring against me and my high heels?  It is raining and cold.  Brian is out of town.  I think I'm waiting for the Cat in the Hat to show up.  He would definitely have a plan.  

My current plan is not so entertaining.  Not entertaining at all.  It's the changes we make, the big and the small.  I will continue to eat well if the weather is fine or if there's a squall line.  But when the sun is out, or at least the rain stops, I will give myself mad props.  I will work hard when the weather is good, like a primal chick should.

 My goal each week is to log 3 to 5 hours, on my feet.  

Week 1:  4 hours, 20 minutes in the books.  Mission accomplished!  


*I have to be very careful here.  My co-writer is a teacher who does not tolerate grammatical errors.      

What Is "Primal" and Do You Eat Grub Worms?

To the layperson, eating primal could be compared to Atkins, South Beach, or a variety of low-carb options.

But it's more than that.

First, we gotta give homage to The Dude.  Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple.  It's his information, research and work that has put us on this path.  My husband found him a long while back and started reading his blog.  He thought "going primal" was a good idea.  He told me about it.

I thought not eating carbs was The Worst Idea Ever.  Give up bread?  Are.You.Crazy?

But then I checked out some of the Success Stories.  Hmmmm....what would I have to do again?

We even bought his book The Primal Blueprint.  I read some of it.  A lot of the information is broken down to the cellular level of the body.  Definitely way over my head.  And the website is overwhelming with a million places to go and people always talking and commenting.

We were never fully committed to it because, let's face it, bread tastes good.  So do brownies.  And also cake and pizza.  Can you just stop sending your kids to school with a sandwich?  What will they eat if they don't have a sandwich?

Every night that Brian eats carbs or grains, he has a nightcap of baking soda and water to try for some hope to relieve his acid reflux.  He struggles for sleep because his shoulder bursitis keeps him awake with pain.  In his mind, all other issues relieved, weight loss or not, going to bed without tasting his stomach acid is a win in his book.

We just aren't meant to live like we do, eating the processed foods and fast food junk that we do.  But it's easy and and we're busy.  But it's more than just reducing our carbs.  It's giving up the cycle of crazy that they call Chronic Cardio.  Prehistoric man was not sweating to the oldies at the local gym, getting red-faced on the elliptical.  He was trying to catch his food, walking slowly over the terrain, frequently.  He wasn't worried if he was in the fat-loss target zone for his heart rate.  Occasionally sprinting for his life as the thing he was trying to catch, decided to try and catch him.  He went to bed when it got dark and got up when it was light.  He wasn't checking out what his best friend's old college girlfriend was doing at Starbucks today on Facebook.  He was getting his rest because tomorrow might be the day he has to run for his life.

But the first step:  Eat lots of plants and animals.  Macaroni and cheese is neither a plant or animal.  Discuss.

I am keeping my carb intake between 50-100 grams per day for the "weight loss sweet spot".  (But I am not writing anything down.  I am not counting anything.)  But I am paying attention.  Carbs are in more than just bread and spaghetti.  I'm reading labels and deciding, actually committing, to this lifestyle.  Not just a way to finally take off the weight I gained and never took off each subsequent pregnancy, but a way to stop this train from going off the tracks, permanently.

And, to answer the opening question:  I do not eat grub worms, but I could.  Probably lots of protein there.

Anyone else interested in looking good naked?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Cutting the Crap and Getting Real

Let’s face it. There comes a time in every woman’s life when she looks in the mirror and sees more than she wants to see. Who let those boobs sag that low? And why are they resting on a gut that would give Jabba the Hut a run for his money? So she vows to Do Something About It. You know the routine. You join a diet group, a gym, a class…you go for about a month. You tell yourself you’re in this to be a healthier you. You want to feel better. You need to take care of your body.

Being two good-sized girls, we have done this every year. Think of how great it would be to lose 80 pounds! It would be nice not to shop in the fat girl stores. Having the energy to chase down our kids would be a good thing. Our doctors would stop breathing down our necks. There were so many wonderful reasons to do this. We should do this for our health!

We sat down and decided that was crap. There are a jillion reasons why two fat chicks would decide to get smaller, but we narrowed it down to our top two.

  1. We want to look good naked. Forget all that healthy stuff. We want to be able to drop those clothes and have our men drop their jaws. It’s not about lowering cholesterol or increasing strength. We want the body of Jessica Rabbit. Vain? Sure. We don’t care.

  1. When the Zombie Apocalypse happens, fat chicks will be the first to go. We’re slow. And everybody knows fat is where the flavor is. Zombies are going to go omnomnom on our asses if we don’t get fit and get fast before they take over. We need to be able to run. Possibly carrying a kid or two. This is survival, people.

So, how are we going to go about it THIS time? Well, we did the research. We read the science. We’re going primal. Not club swinging, loin-cloth wearing, caveman primal (unless we look cute doing it, because then we totally will), but a diet dating back to pre-agricultural man. This is the story of two fat chicks’ journey to get fit, get sexy, and leave those flesh-eating monsters and our flabby bodies in our dust.