Tag Archives: exercise

The Blubber Battle: My Second Missive Against the Bulge is a Bombshell

Well, I’ve been trying to lose 30 pounds for the past four months. I told myself that after I dropped my first 10, I’d blog about it. If you follow this blog much, you’ll note that I haven’t really written about my weight loss.

It’s because I’m not really losing. I’d lose 10 pounds then gain back two. Then three. After a bit, the scale would start to drop again, but never the steady decline that I hoped needed expected to see. I’m down two sizes, which is great, but I still can’t fit comfortably into most of my wardrobe.

I’ve been doing OK on my workouts. I admit, I’m bummed about my shin splints, and when I bike ride or hit the elliptical, I don’t push myself as much as I do when I’m running. It’s a motivation thing, or lack thereof. I’m working on getting my mojo back.

Where I’m really lax is the eating front. I love food. Love it. And I’m a damn good cook. I was eating clean for awhile and Hubby and I were devouring Tosca Reno’s recipes. That was the problem. I’d fix a properly proportioned plate. Eat it with a glass of wine or two. Then, since dinner was so tasty, I’d decide to go back for a smidge more. That would be followed by more wine and a smidge more dinner. (I’m cringing as I type this because reading about my weight battle in black and white doesn’t seem as complicated as it feels.)

Then when we went on vacation last week, Hubby and I straight lost our minds. Lost them. We had pasta, pizza, steaks, dessert… I even had McDonald’s french fries not once, but twice. Twice! Tosca Reno would be so disappointed. (But them bitches were yummy!)

So when we returned home, I nervously got on the scale and found I hadn’t gained an ounce. Praise the Lord and Hallelujah, it’s a miracle. That was the kick I needed. I decided to do something that for me, the resident alcoholic, is drastic. I’m not going to drink for a month. *gasp*

With the exception of one pre-planned event that is a once-in-a-lifetime thing in which I shall imbibe. Heavily. But other than that (no other exceptions I swear!) my big bombshell is that I’m not going to drink until after my half marathon.

I’m going back to my good behaviors of when I first started this battle and now that I’ve added the no-alcohol rule, I’m sure hopeful I’ll see more improvement.

We Came, We Saw, We Shuffled

The temperature was in the lower 70s, clouds dotted the sky, a slight breeze skimmed off the lake and we were surrounded by more than 32,000 people. What a perfect day for a first race.

It was Chicago’s Shamrock Shuffle, the largest 8K road race in the world and I was finally getting the opportunity to run a race with my husband. Though neither of us are avid runners, I’ve always wanted to do a race with him. He’s cheered for me at my races, but I wanted him on the frontline, not the sideline.

We decided to run the race as part of the Imerman Angels, an organization that provides one-on-one support for those with cancer. I was running on behalf of my two cousins, Jimmy and Chubby who died of cancer. (With the support of family and friends Hubby and I raised $525! Thanks again to all who donated.)

There’s something magical about races, a sense of community, excitement and strength that everyone should get to experience at least once. And today was my husband’s day.

A few minutes before the race was to start, we were jittery with anticipation, marveling at the crazy ways people paired running gear and shamrocks. Hubby was worried I’d leave him behind. I reminded him how he had trained way more than me and that he would be fine.

Then the crowd lumbered forward. We were off.

A few steps before my favorite view of the race. My "money shot" was covered up by my thumb. 😦

We paced ourselves fairly slow, as I always fear I’ll run out of gas at the end of the race. My smile grew as we neared one of my favorite views. It’s just as we’re about to duck under Michigan Avenue, you can see Nordstrom above you and the bobbling mass of runners sloping below.

Around the first mile I felt a stitch in my side. Whoa, what’s going on? Not too long ago I ran 3 miles and felt like I could have done it backward, now I’ve got a stitch at Mile1? This isn’t good.

Meanwhile Hubby’s chugging along like the little engine that could, giving me encouraging grins every few steps. We hit up the drink station and I thought Mile 2 would be better, but at the end of that one, someone had swapped my legs for concrete pillars.

Now Hubby’s shooting me some concerned looks, he can tell I’m hurtin. I’m wondering what’s going on with my body. I’m hot, I’m sluggish and it seems my runner’s high is late on arrival.

“If you want to go ahead, that’s fine. I don’t want to drag you down,” I told him.

He shook his head. “No, we finish this together.”

The temperature climbed and I could tell I was hot, too hot. I saw an onlooker with a water bottle and wondered if I could ask him for a swig. I started to think about all the people I was running this for. I heard my cousin Chubby tell me: “Now girl you finish this race, you ain’t that big.” And I imagined Jimmy smiling at me in a fur coat. (One of my favorite memories of him is when a bunch of us went to try on fur coats for fun, he tried to talk Hubby into getting one for me. Hubby wisely refused.)

I thought of my Twitterfriend who was diagnosed with cancer two weeks after having her first child, of my friend Glenn who’s an amazing man and lost his mom to cancer. She had to be spectacular to raise such a great person. I thought of Andre and his stark honesty about his courageous battle, a little girl named Anna who has since passed. All of them fighters, all of them great. If they can fight such a rotten beast like cancer, surely, surely my ass can make it across the finish line.

“You’re doing great baby,” Hubby smiled at me. I just nodded. My cheeks were on fire and I was starting to get chills. I knew I was dehydrated and overheated. This was not good at all. Instead of being smart and stopping to walk and get something to drink, I plodded forward.

A black woman in the crowd yelled for us to dig deep and keep running, that we were almost there. That helped me kick it up. Hubby and I rounded the corner that was the last leg of all major Chicago races. It’s a hill. (Why do they put the end of the race atop the only hill in town?)

And we dug, dug, dug our way to the top of that hill. We turned the corner, and could see that beautiful banner that reads: FINISH.

A woman who was quite… rotund passed me and I thought: No way. I sped up, she did too. I sped up more and kept it up so that she wouldn’t even try to catch up. Hubby was right next to me. Just before we got to the finish line, we embraced the cliché, clasped our hands together and crossed.

“We did it baby,” he said.

Yes, I thought. We sure did.

One Race, One Dream and A Fight Against Cancer

No joke. In 10 days one of my dreams is about to come true and the best part is that it’s going to benefit cancer patients.

The dream? It’s running a race with my husband. I know, I know. It sounds eye-rollingly mushy, but don’t tell anyone: I’m a closeted sap.

Getting ready for the Corporate Challenge 5K

I have always been enamored by the idea of running. It’s the purest form of exercise, just you and your legs pounding the pavement. No weights, mats, ropes, pulleys, bars, BOSUs. Nada.

I started running in 2002, largely because many of my co-workers were doing the Corporate Challenge, a 5K. I didn’t want to be the one bringing up the rear, so I put mine in gear and started training. It sucked in the beginning, but I stuck with it and fell in love.

I love the runner’s high. I love how running gives me time to think. I love what it does for my body. (Finally I found something that could turn my pear shape into an hour glass.) So let’s fast forward several races, including the 2006 marathon. In that race, I asked Hubby to jump in after mile 20 to help me get to the finish line. He ran with me until about mile No. 25 and hearing his footsteps next to mine, pushing me to keep going meant so much. He’s not an avid runner, but he stuck it out with me and I wanted that experience again.

Also, in most Chicago races there’s a beautiful view that always gives me chills. You’re on Grand Avenue and about a half block away is Michigan Avenue. Looking up, you see upper Michigan Avenue, it’s almost like a bridge. And you can read the sign for Nordstrom. The street slopes down so below you is a sea of bobbling heads, runners whooping it up because their voices reverberate off the walls of lower Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile’s underbelly. The energy is electric and at that moment I always feel like I can do anything. I want to share that moment with my best friend, my Hubby.

He’s always known this. And I’ve tried not to pressure him into running a race with me, just gently asking if he’d like to join me some day and finally, this year, he’s strapping on his shoes and running his first race. I’m soooo stoked. We’re doing the Shamrock Shuffle on April 10.

This year we’re running as part of a charity team, the Imerman Angels. It’s a neat group because they focus on pairing cancer patients with people who have successfully fought the same type of cancer and it connects parents, spouses, kids of cancer patients with other caregivers and survivors. It’s a one-on-one service and it’s free. Which is why we’re raising money for them.

Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for the race and this group hasn’t matched with what we’ve raised. We’re still quite short of our fundraising goals, so even if you’ve got an extra $5 to share, click here and make a donation.

Jimmy holding Logan in 2007.

I’m running the race in the name of two people in my family who died of cancer. One was Jimmy Bryant, who had lung cancer. He was a hilarious guy who enjoyed the finer things in life with humility. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it was true. Some of his best tales were those about him being a fish out of water as a city boy who would spend time on my grandparents’ farm.

The other person is Claire Chisholm Bryant, another cousin of mine, but she was known as “Chubby.” Jimmy’s humor made me giggle and smile with amusement, but Chubby’s made me belly laugh. Growing up she was one of the adults who was easy to talk to and her sense of humor was rooted in commonsense.

I will think of them throughout the Shamrock Shuffle’s 8 kilometers. Them as well as a host of other folks whose lives have been touched by cancer. Andre, an amazing coworker whose strength and talent seem endless; my daycare director who is a mother of four and is just like family because of her love for my boys. And there’s a special person in the Twitterverse who I bonded with during my third trimester as we both were having health issues and hoping our little ones baked as long as possible. She’s a spoonie, and my mom is too. She had a healthy baby girl, and then a few weeks later, my Twitterfriend was diagnosed with cancer.

I will think of each of these people and other friends as inspiration when I plod along my 8K. And I’ll smile even broader when I hear the footsteps of my best friend right next to me.

The Blubber Battle: My 30 Days With Jillian Michaels

“This is you time baby. Make. The. Most. Of.It.”   -Jillian Michaels.

Not too long ago, Jillian Michaels asked me to hang out with her. She said if I gave her quality time for a month, she’d make a difference. Aiiiiight. Maybe it wasn’t like that really, but I did spend about 25 minutes with her each day for 30 days straight and she was right, I noticed a difference.

I just completed Jillian’s 30 Day Shred. It’s an exercise DVD that I’d do every day and it’s the same work out for ten days, and then you move up a level. Though I’m not “shredded,” I’m better than I was before. I lost about 5 pounds and 4 inches.

Unfortunately those aren’t “Biggest Loser” type numbers, but I’m telling myself: slow and steady wins the race. I’m breastfeeding and watching that my calories don’t dip too low so Ethan can still have enough to eat. For some nursing women it seems the pounds simply melt away at lightening speed, while for others of us, not so much, at least not without affecting our supply.

The big thing I gained from the workout was confidence from my commitment to not miss a single day for 30 days, regardless of my kids’ or my hubby’s needs. I prioritized Me. There were some workouts that took place right before bed, others I had to hit pause while I got Ethan back to sleep. And his big brother, Logan, even joined me in a handful of workouts.

There also were days where my whine gave my 3-year-old a good run for his money: “I don’t wanna wooooorrrrkkkk ouuuutttt. I’m tttiiiirrreeeedd.”  But then I’d do it. Very grudgingly.

The main thing is I finished it and I’m much stronger. I can see whispers of my pre-baby belly. I love that I can easily do 15 “man” push-ups now and impressive moves while holding a plank pose.

Next up for me in my Blubber Battle is to focus on running since I’ve got the Shamrock Shuffle in a couple weeks. Earlier in my 30 Day challenge, I’d do Jillian’s workout and then go on a run. That proved to be too time consuming, so the last two weeks I have been all Jillian.

After my race, I’m considering doing another 30 Days with my girl Jillian, maybe her new Ripped in 30 DVD. We’ll see.

The Blubber Battle: Jillian Michaels, Logan and Me

Today I finished Day 17 of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. Though I haven’t missed a single workout, I’m not “shredded” yet, but who knows, maybe after the next 13 days I’ll have a body like hers. Ahem.

Logan doing the 30 Day Shred with Mom.

I’m on a mission to lose 30 pounds of baby weight. I have been eating “clean” with five to six small meals each day. I’m also working out regularly and drinking tons of water. It’s not a totally strict diet in that I’m also still drinking a fair amount of wine. If the pounds come off too slowly, I’ll cut that out too, but I love wine so much (probably too much) I’ve got to toss back a goblet or two here and there. (Check out my weight loss journey page.)

I’m not a huge fan of workout DVDs, but with a two-month-old and cold Chicago weather, the easiest way for me to work it out is by watching TV. I chose the 30 Day Shred on a whim, my best friend is doing it and it was available On Demand, so I decided to accept Jillian Michaels’ challenge. Through Twitter, I stumbled upon a Facebook group on the 30 Day Shred.

Thank GOD for this group. Everyone checks in each day to report their workouts. On the days when I don’t want to drag my butt off the couch, I get emails with everyone saying how they’ve finished their work out and that peer pressure propels my blubber into action.

The DVD isn’t as hard as I’d feared, but I just think that’s because I’d previously been involved in a personal training group for several months. Many folks on the Facebook page talk about how the workout kicks their butt and I agree it *is* hard, but it’s a good hard. Also, Jillian isn’t screaming at you like she does The Biggest Loser contestants, another thing that I’d feared. I don’t respond well to people yelling at me.

One evening my 3 ½ year old Logan came running downstairs when Hubby told him Mommy was exercising. He did the entire workout with me and followed along really well. My favorite part was when mimicking Jillian, he turned to me and said: “You can do anything you want to do!” He’s right.

After my 30 days are up I’m not sure what I’ll do after that, I’m still training for the Shamrock Shuffle in the coming weeks but I need to figure out a workout in addition to that. Especially since I don’t plan on giving up my red wine.

The Blubber Battle: My First Missive Against The Bulge

Oh how I’ve dreaded writing this post. But I know I need to because it’ll help me accomplish my goal since talking about it will make me accountable. After all, my word is my bond.

It’s time I talk about my post-baby weight. Ethan was born two months ago, and while I’ve got no Hollywoodish disillusions that my body will make a Heidi Klum-like comeback (hell, I didn’t even look as good as her pre-baby!) I must drop the weight much faster this time than I did with my first kid.

After my first, it was bad in that I was still calling my jelly rolls “baby weight” when my “baby” was 2 years old. This time, things will be different.

With my first pregnancy, I gained about 30 pounds. With my second, I out-did myself. I thought it was a total 40-pound weight gain, but when I actually did the math, I discovered me and Kate Hudson had something in common for once. We both gained 60 pounds in our pregnancy. Wowzers.

In the month after Ethan was born, I dropped 30 pounds, but I’ve got 30 more to go. My plan? I want to do it the old fashioned way. Eating right and exercise. If I burnout on that, I’ll switchover to something like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, but I’m really inspired to do it “on my own.”

Right now things are going good, I’m doing Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred and really like that. (I’m one of those weirdos who likes to exercise.) You’re supposed to workout every day for 30 days. I’m on Day 10 and have hit all my workouts. After the 30 days, Ethan will be old enough to where I can take him to our gym’s daycare so I can melt some more lard there. Plus I’m prepping for the Shamrock Shuffle race next month.

On the food front, I’m drinking an insane amount of water, eating small meals every few hours and try to have them be “clean” (i.e. not processed, more meals made from scratch) I *did* eat a glorious cheeseburger on Wednesday, but it’d been months since that happened. See? This is why I’m writing this, to keep me on my soon-to-be-skinnier toes.

Making Bonds While Breaking A Sweat

It’s Sunday at 8:30 a.m., and guess where She’sWrite is. At the gym. About a year ago, I started meeting with my personal trainer along with three other women and we’ve had these weekly sanity-saving, butt-busting, ab-torquing classes. Admittedly when I found out I was pregnant I wondered, uh-oh what about my small group training?

We do weights, resistance training, cardio warm-ups and it’s a total body workout. With my last pregnancy I did prenatal pilates and prenatal yoga classes, it was relaxing, but it wasn’t challenging. My current training always made my tummy muscles twitch, left me walking on legs of jello and feeling the ache the following morning.

My trainer assured me, don’t worry, we’ll make modifications and instead of focusing on getting stronger, I’ll just focus on maintaining.

That was such a relief because besides the physical benefits of working out, what I really get from this group is the quality time with the women. They have a variety of life experiences, yet there’s universalities there that bond us. One woman has a zany personality much like my own, three grown children – two in college and one who just passed the bar. Another is a straight-shooting, but sweet kindergarten teacher with two teenage boys and the third is a funny successful career woman. The no-nonsense-yet-kind trainer is a mom of two boys who are tweens/teens.

While working out we talk about our lives. What’s going on at work, with our families, exciting vacations, what’s new with our friends.

I value their advice, insights and love listening about their daily lives. They have this “been there, done that” way about them, but it’s not an air, it’s honest understanding and empathy. And I love it.

Even though not everyone can be part of a small training group, the benefits of exercise can’t be overstated. I feel stronger and more centered after exercising and recommend all moms try to get in even just a little where they can.

Obviously first check with your doctor before working out, they usually advise not to start anything new and vigorous while pregnant. I’m not a personal trainer, I’m just speaking from my personal experience.

  • Check your TV listings. Many exercise channels or OnDemand options have great prenatal classes. Make the time to do them.
  • Just because you’re a preggo, don’t discount light weights, the exercise ball, resistance bands and even mat workouts. There’s still plenty of “Buns of Steel” moves that can be done while preggo. Ask my saddlebags. An expert can help walk you through safe exercises.
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood. If you can, try to leave the little ones at home, put on your sneaks and head out the door. A 20 minute walk to clear your head and get the blood pumping can do wonders.