Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: Makeovers and Motivation

Almost everybody loves Makeover Week. I say almost because Bob didn't seem too thrilled about it. (More on that in a minute.) It's exciting every season to watch people who've literally worked their butts off get a chance to celebrate the fitter, more confident people they've become. I think many of us also think about what we would do with an opportunity like this...we work our butts off in more ways than one at home and would love to be treated like royalty for a change- or just be appreciated.

The Biggest Loser contestants certainly deserve the pampering and updated looks they received. I have to admit, the women's makeovers are always the best part. Unless, of course, you have men who started out looking like shaggy dogs or disco kings with afros from the 70's. This season those guys got voted off before the makovers, so we'll have to wait until finale to see those transformations. (Except for Ramon, who gave us a treat ahead of time!)

Becky's transformation was the most drastic, due to the short haircut and complete air of confidence that glowed from within her. She doesn't even look like she belongs in the upper age group on the ranch! Sunny and Vinny also had amazing makeovers, because they got to wear things that they thought would never have been possible. I love seeing people believe in themselves...even more so because it's a lesson I keep learning everyday for myself.

Once everyone was back on the ranch it was all business once again. I was really touched when Sunny told Anna how much she appreciated her, since I've learned to appreciate Anna more each week. I admit to having my doubts when the season started, especially with the way everything was portrayed in the first few episodes. (I have to keep remembering - reality show editing takes some of the reality out of it!) Like Sunny, I want to get better at tennis...because I love the sport and want to be able to play longer with my family. It would be an honor to learn from Anna, and I'm glad Sunny realized it and was able to express her thanks while still on the ranch. I'm actually sorry that Anna won't be back next season. I think she was finally starting to hit her groove!

Hearing Sunny's conversation with Anna only made the weigh-in more painful. Bob went ballistic when Sunny only lost one pound and thought she didn't have much of a reaction. He also blamed it on the time spent away for the makeovers. At first it seemed like Bob was overdoing it, but when I remembered that last week Bob mentioned how much Sunny reminded him of his sister it all made sense. I'm sure Bob would love to drill those same points home to his own sister too. Everyone else did pretty well, considering the limited time for exercise this week.

Sunny wound up falling just short of the Final 4, but seeing her stay dedicated at home really motivates me. She gets up early for bootcamp, goes to the gym, takes tennis lessons...oh yeah, and teaches all week too! She proves that if you really want it you will find the time for it. I can't wait to see her final transformation at the finale.

Next week is homecoming for the Final 4, along with the marathon. It will be interesting to see who trained hard at home and wins the other spot in the finals. Can you believe it's less than 2 weeks to the finale? The season really is flying by!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - Giving Extra Thanks!

The first weigh-in after Thanksgiving is usually stressful, not just for me but for most people I know. It's when everyone typically steps on the scale, sees a number worse than the week before, and asks why they had to stuff themselves on Turkey Day...and with the leftovers the rest of the weekend.

This year I did indulge in a couple of my favorites - stuffing and sweet potatoes - but otherwise had small portions on Thanksgiving. Of course I had pumpkin pie, but it was the healthier version that I've been making for a few years. I thought I did relatively well, but since the scale was not kind the week before I was still a little nervous.

Imagine my happiness this morning when I discovered I lost 1.8 pounds! Looks like my body (and the scale) made up for the week before. Losing close to 2 pounds for the holiday week is almost unheard of, but I'm thrilled to report that it can happen!

I credit this to choosing my holiday treats carefully, drinking plenty of water, and working out more than I ever have over the Thanksgiving holiday. Also, we only took a small amount of leftovers home, so I didn't keep the feast going for the entire weekend. It was really good to see it pay off immediately on the scale...but I know the rewards will last for a lifetime.

How did you do this week? Please shoot me a comment here or at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. Remember - if you did overdo it over Thanksgiving, now is the time to get back on track!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Fitter Black Friday - My Thanksgiving Continues!

The tradition continues...and it only gets better every year.

I'm not necessarily talking about the Black Friday deals. I definitely got some good ones and saved a lot of money, but that's not even close to the best part of the day after Thanksgiving.

This is an annual tradition for me that has evolved over the years. It began with my mom and I, shopping till we dropped every holiday season. We added my cousin Carol to the mix over time, and the three of us always had a blast.

Then my mom passed away...and a couple of years later, so did Carol. I would go shopping on Black Friday by myself, but of course it wasn't the same. In fact, it was a day of mixed emotions as I alternately remembered the good times we'd had and missed them terribly - watching moms, daughters, sisters, and friends walk around in groups having the same good time we always did. None of my friends at the time liked shopping on Black Friday. It got so painful that I actually stopped going for a couple of years. I'd sit around depressed, eating too many Thanksgiving leftovers.

Then fate stepped in - divine intervention in the form of my husband's old high school classmates. A few years ago, a group of guys and girls from the Westlake High Class of 1984 (same year I graduated, except from Magnificat) started having an annual reunion get-together over Labor Day weekend. The ladies who were friends of my husband mentioned that they've had a Black Friday shopping tradition since 8th grade, and invited me and the other wives of their male school friends to join them. Some of us did...and I've been going shopping with them ever since.

Every year, I'd spend the day on my feet, constantly walking and standing in line, and carrying heavy bags around the mall. We do take frequent trips to our cars to drop things off, but it always took a toll on my very unfit body. I would ache more and more as the day went on, and when I got home I would collapse on the couch unable to move anymore. I hurt so badly that it would take the rest of the weekend for me to be able to function properly again.

But this year was different. Since I've been working out regularly, my stamina has improved. Yesterday was a complete revelation as I walked, carried packages, and enjoyed myself without pain. I still have a long way to go fitness-wise, but there's no doubt that I'm getting stronger. I lasted the whole day without my body screaming at me. When I arrived home, I was tired from not having much sleep, but nothing hurt. I had no problem getting up and moving around or getting things done. Today I feel like I hadn't even exerted myself the day before, and it's really a thrill to be able to do more than sit in front of the TV this holiday weekend.

So on this 2nd day after Thanksgiving, I still have much to be thankful for. I'm blessed to have a great group of ladies to shop with on Black Friday, while knowing that Mom and Carol are smiling down on me. I'm thankful for their friendship, now and year-round. And I'm extremely grateful this year to everyone at Psycle and BodyWave Pilates for kicking my butt and helping me with my fitness. Because of them, and my own belief in myself, I'm enjoying the ENTIRE Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: A Happy Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving

There's nothing like Thanksgiving to bring out the best - or worst - in people.

It doesn't matter that this episode was filmed during the summer. All things Thanksgiving were present and accounted for. The contestants began with a food challenge in order to win a 3 pound advantage. I don't know about you, but if I ate those holiday dishes trying to find the magic number on the bottom of the plate, I would have cancelled out my 3 pound advantage.

Vinny won that challenge, and thankfully without having to eat too much of the Thanksgiving goodies. He also won the Biggest Loser Songwriter of the Year award for the song he composed about his girlfriend, Lori. The lyrics are personal to him, yet universal enough that I could see it becoming a least from the portion we got to hear. As a country girl and fellow songwriter, I look forward to Trailer Choir at the top of that charts!

The players then sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner with the trainers. I'm sure none of them even wanted to look at the food after the challenge. That's OK, because one of the best lessons anyone can learn for the holidays is to focus on family and friends - not the food. The most touching moment came from Bob, who shared his love for his sister and frustration at not being able to help her get healthy. It's quite ironic that he's a world-class trainer for a living, but hasn't been able to get through to his sister. And it only proves the point that no matter who you have around you, YOU are the one doing the work and YOU have to be ready to make the change. I hope Bob's sister is ready now, after seeing this episode. Maybe she'll even see some of herself in Sunny, just as Bob does.

Now - on to the dysfunctional part of this Thanksgiving. Everyone competed in a Jacob's Ladder challenge for more prizes, with the winner getting a one pound advantage. This person would also get to give a one pound disadvantage to another player. Sunny came on strong and almost won, but John was the victor. Earlier in the episode I was loving how strong he was becoming with Dolvett's help. Unfortunately, this wound up creating a monster who decided to give Sunny the disadvantage.

Sunny was visibly upset, as were the rest of the group. When the weigh-in ended, John stayed above the yellow line and Sunny went below. The kicker was that if she hadn't received the pound disadvantage she would have been safe and John would have been below. I'm thrilled that Dolvett gets to stay around, because if John had gone home Dolvett's team would have been no more. But I wish there was a way to keep the trainer even if his last charge leaves!

Sunny was up for elimination along with Ramon. Almost everyone voted for Ramon becase they thought the whole situation was unfair to Sunny. The only exceptions were Vinny (who's best buddy is Ramon, so that makes sense) and John, who after supposedly being so upset that he put Sunny in this situation STILL voted for her to go home. Antone called him out big time, saying he basically voted for Sunny twice. I do hope John redeems himself somehow...but I foresee a major showdown at the BL-OK Corral next week.

Ramon is the one who had to leave, but after seeing him back home with Jessica I stopped feeling bad for him. He didn't make it to makeover week, but he still had his own to surprise Jessica. I'd say he's still a winner...and quite the hottie now. Things somehow work out - just as they are supposed to.

Tune in next week for one of our favorites - Makeover Week! And don't foregt tonight's special "Where Are They Now?" episode!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - Fighting Frustration

After today, there are only three more weigh-ins leading up to the Biggest Loser Season 12 Finale. It's crunch time...and right now I want to crunch something.

I worked REALLY hard this week. I had dinner out with my friends but stuck to the Weight Watchers menu at Applebee's. We had one Thanksgiving dinner this past Saturday, because my nephew's band is playing the the Macy's Parade - but I ate mostly veggies and lean turkey with only a little bit of carbs. I stepped up my spin classes and other workouts. I stayed away from soda and drank plenty of water.

So what was my reward on the scale this morning? A .2 pound loss. That's right. All of my hard work barely got me anywhere. I usually try to stay upbeat when I have weigh-ins like this, but with this challenge getting down to the wire I got so frustrated that I actually screamed at my scale.

I wish I could say I had a pet that stepped on the scale with me and threw off my numbers, but I'm allergic so I can't even go there. I weighed myself undressed, after going to the bathroom as usual. I stepped on the scale 4 times to be sure. Still the same result.

After getting dressed and leaving for the grocery store in a bad mood, I decided that I needed to make a list of non-scale victories before I lost my mind. I have to move past this. Here are my NSV's for the week:

1. My pants are still getting looser and I can see in the mirror that my love handles are smaller.

2. Last night, my spin instructor told me he can tell that I'm getting much stronger.

3. I could have really splurged on my girls' night out and early Turkey Day, but I stayed in control.

4. If I had splurged on those nights...the scale would have gone in the wrong direction.

5. Everything I did this week was still a step in the FIT direction.

So I'm feeling better this afternoon about my progress. I realize that there are weeks when we do everything right and it still doesn't show on the scale. I have to press on and keep it moving!

How did you do this week? Please share your victories, both on and off the scale, here and at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. Hopefully the scale was kinder to you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Shoes are Get it Done

As part of the Ohio Blogger's Association's Cleveland November Blog Swap, I'd like you to meet my guest blogger for today, Jenn at Love Me Some Shoes. Many of us who call Northeast Ohio home are participating in this blog swap today as a way for you to get to know more of us. For a complete list of today's Blog Swap participants, please visit Alicia at Poise in Parma, who rocks for organizing all of this. If you would like to see my guest post for today, I'm over on Julie's blog Wearing Mascara. And Julie's post is at Jen's. Got it? Good - hope you enjoy! :o)

Wow-a whole day on someone else's blog...could get dangerous! Thanks, Marie, for this stellar opportunity plus your blog is pretty awesome! So, lets get to it-by popular belief, many believe high heels are detrimental to your health...lets be honest, sure they might cause a little soreness (but if you are following Julie's tips for a healthy lifestyle, your ankles, calves and body should be able to take care of itself as long as you are smart about your heel purchases). I am here to tell you why they are good for your health. Hopefully, by now we have all learned that confidence is a key ingredient to life...did you know heels can you afford this in your daily life? Case in point, I recently had a job interview that I thought was a little above my experience level, but I knew I needed a to boost my confidence. I needed to bring in the big guns, and live on the edge...

These beauties may look a little lethal but when properly sized and belted in are nothing but little soft grey clouds-honest, I swear. And there I had it, POWER SHOES, I walked, no rather, I strutted into my job interview in Westake, knocked them dead, impressed the women in the office, and put another notch on the old self confidence belt. Needless to say, I start December 5th! So long, old boring job.

Sure some people will think this is vanity, but I have never felt so powerful, strong in a feminine way, and confident as I do when I have a perfect pair of shoes to compete in the either the work force or socially. Try it are not vain, its human nature and its character building! Plus you look pretty bad ass stomping through Cleveland with some killer heels!

And in regards to other shoes...I believe if you love your shoes, that they are clean (you know what I am talking about), and that they have somewhat of a style, your self image will soar. Its easy, and to be honest, shoes are available at every price point in every market and probably end up being the cheapest accessory for any woman's outfit.

What do you have to lose?

Thanks for taking a look and check out more at And again, thank you, Marie!

Jenn Who Loves Shoes

Thank you Jen! I will be visiting your blog often, as I have developed my own love affair with shoes over the past few years. And husband knows all about it!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two And A Half Jen

It's really amazing - the places my mind goes sometimes.

I'm a creative person to begin with, writing articles, songs, blogs, novels...not to mention making jewelry and working on other projects. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to me that I got a bright idea the other day when I was singing along to one of my Sugarland CD's in the car.

I love Sugarland. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush are talented, incredible performers, who inspire me (plus a whole lot of other people) with their music and positive messages. And you just can't beat a voice like Jen's.

As I was singing, I started thinking that a movie should be made covering the story of Sugarland - how they got their start in music, how the group formed and the many adventures that have happened along the way. My mind's chain of thoughts led me to wonder who would portray each of them. From there I started thinking how cool it would be to play Jennifer and get to sing her part throughout the filming.

I constantly sing Sugarland music. I've been told that I have a good voice, and even that I can affect a Southern drawl pretty well. In my own head I can sing like Jennifer, and I always thought I should have been born south of the Mason-Dixon line. I don't know for sure if I could pull it off, but I'd sure love to try.

This, of course, led me to another thought. Even though I've lost some weight, at this point I'm twice Jennifer's size. In fact, probably a little more than that. Hence, my conclusion that right now I am "Two And A Half Jen".

Jen and Kristian are certainly role models in music, but you may not know they can be healthy inspirations as well. Jennifer is incredibly fit, and in the above photo on the left you can see just how doing yoga assists both of them on stage. ( do they DO that?)

So...if my imagination can help me with getting in better shape, why not? I can pretend I'm auditioning for the role of Jennifer Nettles in The Story of Sugarland. And I've always wanted to try yoga. It's just another step in the fit direction, since I've come to love walking, sprints, spinning and Pilates. Why not yoga too?

Why not dream big??? You never know where your dreams might take you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: There's No Team In "I", Or So We Thought

There's no "I" in team.

There's also no Team in "I", or at least that's what we think when Biggest Loser goes to singles and the yellow line looms in the minds of the players.

They certainly started out thinking that way. Once Alison made the announcement that each player would be on their own and there was going to be a week long penthatalon, everyone started strategizing. It is partially a game, after all. The first event had the contestants ranking each other according to who they most thought would win this season, and everyone had their own system for coming up with a list. They ranged from putting the "least threatening" players first to ranking them alphabetically. (Really, Sunny? Couldn't you put a little more effort into it?) The kicker was - the results of this event would not be revealed until the weigh-in.

As the contestants moved through each event, they received points according to where they finished and stood on a championship-style podium...except this podium had 7 steps. I bet there are a few athletes that wished they had that at the Olympics. What type of medal would you give for 7th place? Paper? Aluminum foil???

On the day of the final event, the players got to meet Apolo Ohno, the most decorated American athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics. He brought them lunch (Subway of course) and talked to them about how they inspire him and his weight problem as a kid. Looking at him now, it's still hard to fathom that his childhood nickname was Chunky. (And of course we're all looking at him now, because...well, just LOOK at him!) That just makes his victories in life that much sweeter and inspires everyone to overcome the labels that were placed on them at various times in their lives. You are more than a cruel or stupid nickname...don't let yourself be defined by it.

Apolo led the last event, a one mile run similar to what the contestants did on their very first day. (Thankfully they didn't all have to run together carrying a pole this time.) Apolo ran with them, accompanying each of them on the last leg to the finish line. Bonnie was the last to finish, and after Apolo ran out to join her so did everyone else. It was really nice to see players put aside "the game" to genuinely care about somebody else. Maybe all they needed was a glimpse into the heart of a champion to have it rub off on them. Apolo has always been incredibly gracious in both victory and defeat, and I'm happy to see this season's contestants get it and finally apply it to their own experience.

When it came time for the weigh-in, the results were revealed for the first event and the total of all five. You know Sunny was regretting her alphabetical plan when Antone won and received immunity. Boonie was last and received a one pound disadvantage. She wound up below the yellow line with Becky.

In true Olympic spirit, Bonnie sacrificed herself for Becky, her former teammate on Anna's Blue team. Not only did she want her friend to keep going, but she really wants to see a teacher take it all the way. (Both Becky and Sunny are math teachers.) Her unselfish act caused plenty of tears on the ranch and here at my house. These are the moments that really matter - not whether you beat someone at a challenge, but how you treat them. Winning is still something to strive long as you treat people well along the way.

Next week the players and trainers have Thanksgiving dinner together at the ranch. Even though you know they will consume healthy versions of our holiday favorites, I'd love to see Apolo back to lead a Turkey Trot. Hey, I'm all for some Apolo every week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - Getting Closer!

Can you believe Thanksgiving will be next week? This autumn is flying by, probably because I'm so busy. But busy in a good way!

This week was a little bit better on the scale. I lost 1.2 pounds, which I'm extremely proud of because of the stressful challenges that happened within the last week. If you read my last post, you know about one of them. In the past, a day like Saturday would have had me running to the store for ice cream or chocolate. I'm happy to say I did NOT do that this time. I owe it all to my Gratitude List, which turned my attitude around and calmed me to the point that I didn't feel the need to eat away the stress. I took a walk instead. Attitude really is everything!

Speaking of a great attitude...are you ready for Apolo Ohno on Biggest Loser tonight? No matter what is thrown at him, he keeps it all in perspective - not only surviving, but THRIVING!

So as we move closer to the holiday season, please share your success here or at #BL12Challenge with me. Thank you to those who have already done so; you are all rockin' it. Let's make this a healthier holiday this time around!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Changing My Attitude - To Gratitude!

Yesterday was a day that tried my patience. I usually try to stay positive about things that happen in my life, but this time was a little bit different.

As many of you know, I design and make jewelry and sell my creations at craft shows and on Etsy. Sometimes at shows I run a special, offering sale prices to the people supporting the organizations that put on the events. A few weeks ago, I ran one such special and had a pretty good day sale-wise. I know in this economy people are watching their pennies, so I decided to offer the same deal to the people at yesterday's show.

Of course, each show is different so I didn't put enormous expectations on myself. I did, however, have the thought that I would at least sell a couple of items.

The morning began slowly, as it usually does because people sleep in on Saturdays and don't arrive until mid-morning or later. I always try to take this in stride. My friend Debbie, who shared the table with me, sold a couple of her novels early on so I was happy that she was having a decent start.

As the day wore on, other people around us were making sales while we watched. Debbie sold a couple more books. By 2 PM, I began to resign myself to the fact that I had not yet sold anything and the possibility that might not change. I always keep up hope...but also try to stay realistic enough so I don't get upset if it's a bad show for me. The lady in charge of the show came around to see how we were doing. Debbie mentioned that she couldn't complain because she'd sold her minimum goal, and this lady said that everyone was telling her they were doing pretty well that day. I said nothing. I didn't want this woman to feel bad that someone at her show had sold nothing up to this point. Of course as I look back, my silence probably said it all.

Just before 3 PM, a couple of ladies came to our table who seemed promising. One of them talked with Debbie at length about her books, while the other picked out jewelry on my side. She kept complimenting me on my creations and picked out 4 bracelets. She had me hold them for her, telling me she would be back to get them.

The show was set to close at 4, and for a while I was excited that I would still have a decent day in sales. It's not unusual to have last minute sales, so I let myself get my hopes up. I saw these ladies stop at other tables and look things over for a while. But then suddenly neither Debbie or I could see them anywhere. It was as if they had disappeared into thin air.

We tried to stay positive. It was possible they went to the ladies room or ran into someone they knew in the hallway. Yet 4 o'clock came and went with no sign of them anywhere. They had already left...and this woman had bailed on me.

This is the point at which I got a little upset. Debbie was too, and agreed with me that it was very rude to ask someone to hold 4 items for them and never come back. A lot of people promise they'll be back but don't - but none of these people have actually had the nerve to make us hold anything aside especially for them. What if I'd left those bracelets in with the others? I could have possibly sold those designs to someone else and made something. Instead I wound up at zilch for the day.

I actually held myself together pretty well until I was driving home. I thought about my family asking me how I'd done, and started to cry when I realized I would have to tell them I didn't sell a darn thing. That what always gets me the most...I hate disappointing my husband and son and wind up feeling like a failure.

I also think that had those ladies not come along, I would have been better prepared for the day not ending well. I wouldn't have built up my hopes just to have them come crashing down.

When I got home my family was kind, but just as upset as I was about the woman sneaking out the door on me. Even if she had come back to my table and said she wouldn't be able to buy them I would have felt better, knowing that at least she had some class to let me know and not leave me hanging. is where the GRATITUDE comes in. After giving myself permission to be upset for a little while, I decided to end my pity party and make a list. There are always good things to be thankful for, even if you have to really think about them. Here is my Gratitude List for yesterday:

1. I got to spend the day with one of my best friends, which is always a plus.

2. The school had lowered the price of the tables, so Debbie and I each got $5.00 back. That's 5 bucks I didn't have before.

3. The school provided lunch for the vendors free of charge. Not all shows do this, and I am grateful that I didn't have to spend my own money on lunch.

4. I was able to meet and talk to a local book publisher at another table, which may be helpful in the near future when my novel is ready.

5. Seeing all of the other vendors' creations always gives me new ideas and boosts my own creativity.

By the time I finished writing this list, my spirits bean to lift and I felt much better. Yes, it was still rude what that lady did, but once I counted all of the other blessings I wasn't really thinking about her. I was thinking about the good things instead.

So it's time to move on from this experience and on to the next, while learning a lesson and brainstorming what I might be able to do better next time. Whenever you're having one of those days, I highly recommend making your own Gratitude List. You will definitely feel better!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: Iron Chef, Ranch Style

Welcome to the latest episode of the Biggest Loser, where throwdowns occur on a regular basis in the gym, the house, the weigh-in room...and occasionally in the kitchen.

Of course we had all of the drama involving Jessica being sent home, Ramon being upset, and all of the players having to watch their backs before any knives got stuck into them. I have to say - I REALLY miss the camaraderie of last season, when the majority of the players really cared about each other and were more worried about each person than the gameplay. Yes, there will always be gameplay and moments of drama, but the Season 11 players seemed to find the perfect balance between the game and friendship. This is only another reason why it was so nice to see Olivia back for this episode!

So I will move into the positive aspects of the week. Olivia was back, along with Chef Devin Alexander, who writes the Biggest Loser cookbooks plus her own. She prides herself on decadent food without the fat, calories, and other unhealthy stuff - and she certainly does it well. From experience I can say that her recipes are to die for...except you won't die because the food is good for you. If you haven't checked out the Biggest Loser book series you should, and do yourself a favor and get some of Devin's own line of cookbooks. Your taste buds AND waistline will thank you!

Olivia and Devin were the judges of an Iron Chef style challenge on the ranch. Each team had to prepare a dish, with the help of their trainers, that was low in calories while being both delicious and filling. The two of them did not know who made each dish until after they decided the winner. The winning team got a one pound advantage at the weigh-in, along with a healthy lunch with extra surprises. All three dishes looked like something I would make, but the team of D & O chose the Black team's slaw with pork medallions. It actually looks like something you could serve for a holiday lunch. So to the Black team goes the spoils...including their recipe featured in Devin's new Biggest Loser cookbook. (Yes, I've ordered mine forn Open I'll definitely be trying out the recipe.)

Olivia's lunch with the Black team caused plenty of tears, both on the ranch and at my house. Those scrapbooks were amazing, made completely with love. And roses from Becky's husband? The icing on the cake. (As long as the cake is from a BL book!) Olivia also had a long talk with the players, in which I hope her positive spirit rubbed off on them. We could sure use it this season.

Another eye-opening moment came when Dr. H's colleague, Dr. Linden, showed us some brain science. Of course we all know that eating makes people happy...but the real kicker was how differently obese people's brains process food than slender folks. It's actually very helpful to know this, because then you can deal with the differences. Now we know why thin peeps are satisfied with less!

The elimination was drama filled as usual, but Joe looks incredible now so he is definitely putting the knowledge he learned on the show to good use. Next week the players go to singles, which will make it even more interesting. Hopefully nobody kills anyone this season! Also, I pray for more positive moments like those with Devin and Olivia...which is what this show should really be about.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - November 8th Votes and Successes

Happy Election Day! As you go out to the polls, also make a commitment to yourself. ELECT to be healthy. VOTE for a better life. Since you cast the only ballot, what you decide goes!

Since it's weigh-in day for the #BL12Challenge, I stepped on my trusty scale before heading to my local polling place. I did lose - almost a pound, .8 to be exact. All things considered, I'll take it. Since my monthly gift is here any loss is a good thing. Of course, I'd love to exchange my monthly gift for a 3 or 4 pound loss on the scale, but since that's not an option I'll be thankful for what I've received. I worked hard and made good food choices, so I know I did my part. It still paid off because normally I'd lose nothing or gain something at "gift" time.

Besides, as I often say - it all adds up. My total weight loss so far for the challenge is 11.6, so every week I'm getting closer to my goal of a fitter, healthier life. I elect to move forward and do even better...time for spin class before Biggest Loser tonight!

How are you doing with your goals? Drop me a note here or on Twitter at #BL12Challenge!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Learning to Stand Strong

The last couple of weeks have been filled with powerful lessons for me. So powerful, in fact, that I feel 100 times stronger than I did in mid-October.

I've stood up for people (several, in fact) who do the right thing, and in turn I've been bashed. This has been by a small's just that those few have big mouths (or big keyboards). In the past, I was such a people-pleaser that even if one person disagreed with me it would bother me, and for much longer than I should have let it. I had this thing about people liking me. Now, that's not to say I don't still want people to like me, but I realize not every single person on earth is going to agree with me or want to be my friend. And that's perfectly OK. It doesn't mean I'm a bad person if someone has a different opinion. I just agree to disagree and move on.

I got hit with several instances of this in the past two weeks, and I did have some moments where I overthought it. Of course, I prayed about it. In no uncertain terms, God told me I was doing the right thing and to not let any negativity bother me. I've also learned that working it out in the gym (instead of torturing my mind) feels awesome and makes me stronger in more ways than one. God does not want me to fold like a cheap tent when criticized - He wants me to pull whatever decent advice I can from it, and stand strong in my beliefs.

So with that in mind, I ask that we please all respect each other even if we don't agree. I have no problem if someone doesn't share the same thoughts as I do; the world would sure be boring if we all agreed all the time. I've only had one instance of nastiness happen on this blog, with the others coming in other forms. If you have a differing opinion, think before you say or write something intelligent that makes sense and isn't just attacking me or someone I speak or write about. We all deserve respect.

Also, I do know that no matter how nicely I ask this, there are some people who just can't handle offering their thoughts without telling someone else how stupid they are or attacking. I feel sorry for those people, but I will not let them get to me. I suggest that all of my friends do the same - take eveything said to you with a grain of salt and don't let it break your spirit.

Oh, and if you leave a scathing remark and sign it Anonymous...I get a good laugh because you are too afraid to voice your anger without being real. I delete nasty, negative comments posted this way, because if you can't even put a name to it you don't really deserve a response.

So here's to agreeing and disagreeing - respectfully! :o)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Biggest Loser 12: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

On this week's Biggest Loser, the contestants learned that the one constant in the show is that THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE.

The other lesson? DEAL WITH IT!

You just knew that there was going to be a big shake-up, with the Black team gloating that they all stuck together and would continue to do so. Never mind that they actually sent a member of the Black team home last week...I guess somehow that doesn't count. But I'm sure Jen had to smile at home seeing what happened next. (Now I didn't just smile - I actually laughed so loud that I was afraid the neighbors heard me.)

Let me preface this by saying that I get it. For anyone, whether on TV or not, to have to switch trainers...well, it's definitely not easy. You do get used to that person's way of doing things, especially if it's working for you. When something is working, you don't want to lose that rhythm, and when a situation in life causes things to change it throws you for a loop. That's why even going on the ranch is such a big thing. These contestants have been stuck in the same way of life for a long time, and the biggest change of all is to get off the couch and throw yourself to the Biggest Loser lions.

But when Alison informed the teams that they were going to be broken up and moved around for the rest of the season, my first thought was that they were going to have their payback. Most of them immediately panicked, while some tried to stay calm until the high-calorie picnic basket game was over and they knew exactly where they stood.

Those picnic baskets would have given even Yogi Bear a heart attack. Did you see how many calories were in those meals? Yogi would have to hibernate for much longer than winter after eating all of that. As much as I love Southern food, Vinny's breakfast made sick to my stomach. Sunny's Mexican dinner most resembled my favorite, although not nearly that portion size and not as often as she said she indulged. (Moderation is your friend!)

Once the musical teams challenge was complete, everyone pretty much lost it. Antone and Jessica were relieved to stay with their original trainers, but still upset that they didn't have the same teammates. The most dramatic reaction came from the Black team members that had to leave Bob - you would have thought that he was divorcing them and moving to Siberia. This, while I understood, came from the same people who harrassed a certain someone the week before about being too attached to Bob. So this is where the laughter came in. You're not so different after all! (BEHOLD - the power of Bob!)

The only person actually glad to leave her trainer was Bonnie. Obviously since she butted heads with Anna she was glad to go with Dolvett. (I wonder how many calories her happy dance burned?) It turns out that Dolvett was a good thing for Bonnie, getting her to deal with her grief as no one else had been able to do before. And Dolvett & Anna dealt well with the people who acted like they were afraid to leave their daddy to go to kindergarten. Dolvett had to watch John sobbing in Bob's arms, then train him. Dolvett knew it was nothing personal and that he would prove himself to his new team. Anna actually told Joe to stop acting like someone took his toy away and be a man. (LOVING this new, feistier Anna!)

I'm sure it took longer for the new teams to warm up to their trainers than was actually shown on TV, since of course the episode would need to be a couple of hours longer to show it all. But in the end everyone began to embrace the change and pulled great numbers on the scale. The big twist? For whichever team came in last, the other two teams got to decide who would go home.

The Red team was low on the totem pole this time, so the Blue and Black teams got to vote. Since John couldn't be voted off, it came down to Bonnie and Jessica. Somewhat surprisingly, Jessica was sent home...and Ramon was NOT happy. (Looks like they will all deal with his wrath next week!) As sad as I am to see Jessica go, a part of me is excited to see what Bonnie will do next, since she is starting to emerge from her cocoon of grief with Dolvett's help. Everything happens for a reason...eevn if we don't know what that reason is for a long time.

Of course, Jessica is workin' it at home, and this Clevelander won't even hold it against her that she had some Steelers training her. (Hey - football loyalties are fierce!) Tune in next week, as Biggest Loser continues with even more drama than Days of Our Lives! I bet Ali sometimes forgets which set she's on sometimes! ;o)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Biggest Loser Season 12 Challenge - November 1st

Welcome to November! In just a month and a half the Season 12 Finale will be upon us. How are you doing in the challenge?

I'm happy to report that I lost 2 pounds this week. I've been increasing my exercise and will continue to do so as we move forward with the season. The main thing for me is working out with more intensity, and it's beginning to pay off.

Also remember, even small spurts of movement add up. Squats and stretches in front of the computer, taking extra flights of all counts toward your calorie burn. You still have to do extended cardio sessions, but why not challenge yourself all day long? Plus it keeps those muscles from getting stiff and sore!

Share your progress here and at #BL12Challenge on Twitter. I would love to hear your successes. And I will be reporting tomorrow as usual on the latest episode of Biggest Loser. The teams will be shaken up and split apart - should make for an interesting evening!