Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Achievement unlocked

I did not realize how much I expected to fail at this whole weight loss thing until I actually succeeded. Somehow in the craziness of this past week, I managed to get within half a pound of my goal weight. And since I feel like I've spent much of the past seven or eight days dodging both horseshoes AND hand grenades, I'm calling it close enough.

I really, honestly cannot believe this whole thing actually worked. Let's get the "before" pictures out of the way and I'll tell you why.

Those two photos on the left were taken in June 2010. I realize they are not terrible, but look closely at my midsection and I think we can all agree that I appear just a WEE little bit pregnant there. Let's call it 5 months. At the time those photos were taken, I was running anywhere from 5 to 15 miles a week. I was actively training for a 5K, in fact. My blood pressure, cholesterol and resting heart rate were all fantastic. My mitral valve had quit regurgitating. I was technically at a healthy weight for my height, according to all the charts. My pant size was in the single digits (barely). But my abdomen and upper thigh area, they were not making me happy.

That lovely lingerie pajama shot on the right was taken on Christmas 2011. I had gained around 10 pounds since the beach photos were taken. I realize the photo quality is poor, but you can tell that I was all lumpy-bumpy-soft. Squishy tum, rolls on my back, thick upper arms, despite not really being HUGE in the grand scheme of things. I had quit running several months before but I was walking rather a lot. I was now edging past the upper limit of a clinically acceptable weight for height. My health was still okay but since I, like most of the rest of you, get older every year, my knees, ankles and feet had begun to complain on a daily basis.

I thought this was simply the price of getting older. I was a woman in my mid-40s who'd given birth twice. A certain amount of "middle-aged spread" was to be expected, right? I have long since made peace with getting older; I like the authority that age brings. I don't mind being called "ma'am". I've come to terms with the fact that most of the professionals I deal with these days were born after I graduated high school. I put on my big girl pants and then went out and bought slightly BIGGER big girl pants, figuring oh well, I am THIS size now. That's okay. That's just what happens.

Then I went bra shopping and found out that I had become a bra size not really found in nature (or at the mall). Worse, while I was able to find bras that fit (at one of those hardcore expensive lingerie shops where they meticulously measure and fit you for everything), I was squishing out the backs of them. Not in a That Bra Is Too Small way, more in a That Back Is SO SQUISHY way. Standing there in front of a 3-way mirror in jeans and an assortment of underpinnings while a 23-year-old size 2 fussed about helping me adjust straps and hooks and tuck in my back fat, something broke in me. I was no longer willing to accept my middle-aged spread. I knew exactly how I'd gotten it (mindless snacking and cocktail drinking before bed) and I became determined to get rid of it.

And, well, I did. Here are the "after" photos, taken yesterday.

When I posted these photos to Facebook, several friends asked me how I did it. I am happy to tell you EXACTLY what I did, keeping in mind that I am no expert on weight loss or fitness or ... anything, really. And also that I had no medical reason to have gained the weight or to have had trouble taking it off. And that, you know, I had less than 20 pounds to lose. This is what worked for me under those specific conditions:
  1. I joined SparkPeople and used the free tools there to come up with the number of calories I should be eating and how much I should be exercising every day in order to lose the weight by my target date (which isn't for a couple of weeks yet). My rate of weight loss ended up being less than a pound a week. So, you know, I wasn't starving or anything.
  2. I used the SparkPeople nutrition counter to log EVERYTHING I ate and drank. I did this for about a month, at which point I felt like I had a handle on how many calories were in the things I ate most often, what my serving sizes should be, and which of the things I ate most often were better choices than the others.
  3. I bought Jillian Michaels's 30 Day Shred DVD (okay, I dug it out of the drawer where it had been hiding since I bought it a year or so before) and I ACTUALLY DID IT. It was very, very hard at first. I had never been so sore or sweated so much in my life. I had to do the modified versions of pretty much all of the exercises. I felt stupid and slow and unfit and out of shape and a little bit maybe like I was dying. I thought, "There is no way. This is for younger, more fit people. I can't do this." But I kept trying and pretty soon, I WAS DOING IT. I was even doing some of the advanced versions of the exercises! After putting in the full 30 days (not all in a row; I usually took weekends off) I realized to my astonishment that not only was I well on my way to losing the pounds I wanted to lose, but my body was starting to change shape. That had never, ever happened and I did not anticipate it at all.
  4. I continued eating sensibly and after I finished the 30 Day Shred, I started alternating weeks of doing Jillian's Ripped in 30 and 6 Week Six Pack DVDs. I not only went down a couple of pant sizes, I went down a shirt size! And, er, probably a couple of bra sizes, too. After finishing Ripped in 30 and 6 Week Six Pack, I started alternating No More Trouble Zones and Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.
And that's kind of where I am now. The only exercise I've done has come from these DVDs. They take less than an hour per day and only require light dumbells (I alternate between 2, 3 and 5 lbs. depending on what I'm doing, but you could get by with just a pair of 3-pounders) and a yoga mat if your floors are hard. Right now, with all the stress and crazy busy school stuff and the fact that I'm moving into maintenance mode, I'm only working out 3-4 days per week. I'm still watching what I eat, though. Turns out that part was not as hard as I thought it would be. I think it helps a lot that I don't really have a sweet tooth -- I'm more of a crunchy/salty/umami kind of girl.

I have become such a huge believer in weight and resistance training during the course of this thing. Like I said, I was hoping to lose weight, but I did not at all expect that my body would change shape so dramatically. I figured maybe I'd go from looking 5 months pregnant to looking 4 months pregnant, but hello, I DO NOT LOOK PREGNANT ANYMORE! My thighs are smaller, my hips and bust are smaller, I have lost nearly 4 inches off my waist. My jiggly back rolls are gone, and my upper arms are noticeably firmer. This is something that running/cardio alone was never able to do for me.

So yeah. Yay me! I am proud of myself.

Now if only I could take charge of my mental/emotional health the way I have my physical health. I guess that should top my list of goals for autumn, eh?

This is not a sponsored post. All products/services mentioned were purchased by me with my own money. I received no compensation of any kind apart from a SMOKIN' HOT BOD. Heh.


  1. weight lifting. Weights weights weights. WEIGHTS. They are the answer. I swear by it. I have completely transformed my body, lost 25 lbs, lifted my butt and damn if I don't have Michelle Obama arms as well.

    You and me, sister, we have the answer. Now we just have to KEEP IT UP!

  2. WOW! You look really good!
    I seriously need to work on my Fibro Flab and you are an inspiration.

  3. Between you and Karla, you have convinced me that when I start my plan again on Thursday that it will include weights, weights, weights!

  4. Way to go!!! Resistance is the way to do it, as you've proven!

  5. OH NO!! I have to do my Jillian Michaels DVD now. Very impressive!

  6. Congratulations, such a transformation!

  7. Many,many congratulations to you and your smokin' hot bod. Truly inspirational.

  8. You look fantastic! How long did it take you to get these results?

    1. About four months. Thanks so much, everyone!

  9. Yay you! I watch the Biggest Loser on Netflix streaming, and I love Jillian. She's fantastic.

    I've lost just under 20 pounds by tracking what I eat on LiveStrong's MyPlate app and becoming a gym bunny. I haven't blogged about it because anyone who has read me for a while would be all "What--twenty pounds? Again?!"

    Only 30 more pounds to look as good as you!

  10. Kathy, I both feel thrilled for you and horrible for myself.
    But mostly amazingly shocked at those pictures, you look AHHHHMAZING!!!