Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Fitness Tips from Biggest Loser's Jennifer Rumple

It's the most fattening time of the year...

Well, it is if you don't use a little bit (or sometimes a LOT) of willpower and self-control.  The period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be dangerous for people with food addictions, especially with sugary treats.  You feel like you deserve the treats, especially since most others are indulging around you.  And with so much to do to prepare for Christmas, sometimes workouts can fall by the wayside.

Luckily for us, Jennifer Rumple, the at-home winner of Season 12 of Biggest Loser, was gracious enough to speak with me to give us some help in this department.  In fact, she gave me so many great tips that I had to split it into two articles for Hope for Women Magazine.  Her top 5 tips appear in our Fall/Winter print issue, and the others on our website.

You can access the website tips here.  Within the article is a link to subscribe to the issue so you can get all of Jennifer's helpful information.  Remember, her finale was in the middle of December last year, so she had to navigate the holiday season while working toward the prize...and wanted to be at her best on finale night.  She's defnitely knows what she's talking about!

Please share your thoughts on Jen's tips here or on the article at Hope for Women.  Here's to NOT having extra weight to lose in 2013!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weathering Sandy

Unless you live under a rock, you know all about the hurricane/superstorm that was Sandy. It affected many states, including Ohio.  We lost cable/internet for more than 2 days, so I've been catching up on everything since.  I finally have a chance to blog!

I'm thankful we didn't lose electricity, although my husband's work and my spin studio (both on the same street) lost power for 2 days.  Yet I realize that people in New York,New Jersey, and beyond had it a LOT worse than we did.  So many people still need help from the storm, especially since a winter storm followed it about a week later.  I'm thankful it wasn't as bad here as it was there, and praying for those still without power and who lost loved ones and homes.

Even without being able to spin for a little while, I found ways to work out indoors during the bad weather.  And it paid off when I went to my monthly checkup and discovered I lost four more pounds.  It shows that you can get through the stress and unknown, and still come out a winner.  All it takes it a little faith and a lot of prayer!

So Sandy is teaching all of us about included.  What has Sandy taught you?  Feel free to share here!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fitness Pinspiration

Hello.  My name is Marie...and I'm a Pin-a-holic.

I've posted before about being hooked on Pinterest, but I'm finding an upside to my addiction.  There are a lot of REALLY good ideas there.  Ideas I actually use.

I know some people pin things just for fun, and I do have a few of boards like that as well.  But my favorite ones are those that actually teach me something and lift me up.

I have a board dedicated to fitness, and I've gathered some incredible workouts and exercise ideas.  I haven't tried all of them yet, but I have done quite a few.  And they WORK.  It helps me to mix up my routine so my body doesn't get stuck in a rut.  Another board of mine is filled with healthy recipes and food tips.  The recipes I have made so far turned out well...and are delicious as well as nutritious.  A win-win situation!

Then there's my Faith board...Bible verses and quotes are there to lift me up whenever I need encouragement.  It's so nice to have everything organized onto boards so I can go to the right category when I need something.  (Now I just need to get my house as organized as Pinterest...)

Of course I also keep boards of holiday and decorating ideas, books, and dance inspiration.  Oh yeah - I also have a section for clothes I want when I reach my goal weight.  That's good motivation right there!

If you wish to follow me over there I'm at .  We can swap ideas and all learn something to get us closer to our goals.  Come join the fun!

Friday, October 12, 2012

This Is Dedicated to the One I Love - My Mom!

This time of the year is always tough for me.  From October 8th through the 12th, I think about the events of 18 years ago and how much I miss my mom.

Yes, I miss her often all year long, as there are so many things that remind me of her.  Autumn, as it was her favorite time of year complete with her favorite colors - orange and gold.  Christmas, when I pull out all of the ornaments that she made and proudly hang them on my tree.  Back-to-school time, when she confessed that unlike many other parents, she was sad to see school start because she enjoyed being able to spend so much time over the summer with me.

Whenever I do something creative, I think about all of her great ideas and the many crafts she taught me.  Watching Dancing With The Stars, I remember what a wonderful dancer she was and wish she was here to watch the show with me, because I know she would have been just as passionate about it as I am. And of course, I still watch Days of Our Lives, which premiered when my mom was expecting me.  Her favorite was Marlena (Deidre Hall), and whenever she appears on screen now I smile and think of Mom.  There are just so many ways that she pops into my head...and though some of those moments are still painful I'm glad they happen, because it shows that she's always here with me in spirit.

On October 8th, 1994, my mom died of cancer.  And October 11th is her birthday - she passed away three days before she would have turned 61.  My dad said he refused to bury her on her birthday, and I absolutely agreed.  Her funeral was on the 12th. 

So during this period of time every year, I wind up going back to that particular year and remembering.  Over time I've tried to think positive thoughts...sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  And that's OK.  I am human and I'm going to miss my mom. 

I usually wind up eating stuff out of sadness...lots of sweets, foods Mom loved like fish and hushpuppies from Long John Silver's, and other comfort foods.  Definitely not good for my health and fitness.  So this year I tried to handle things a little differently.

While I still thought about her and missed her, I didn't eat a bunch of fattening foods.  Instead, I played some of her favorite music (Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Mario Lanza) and thought happy thoughts.  And yesterday, for her birthday, I went to spin class and dedicated my ride to her.  It was the best ride I've ever had - and there have been some really great ones before.  I pushed harder - for her.

I know that Mom is looking down at me and feeling proud that I did something constructive to celebrate her birthday.  She wouldn't want me to jeopardize my own health just because she's no longer here on earth.

So here's to you, Mom.  You've always been proud of me, but I will do all that is in my power, with God's help, to make you even prouder.  I love you always!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dealing With Ankle Pain - Part Two

Well, you remember that ankle/Achilles pain I told you about a while back?  I did wind up having to have some physical therapy.  I mentioned it to my doctor and he sent me to his physical therapist - turns out he has the same problem.

My therapist tested my ankle and thankfully it wasn't anything was a minor strain and I only needed a few sessions.  Everything feels much better now, and I still do the exercises she gave me at home.  Some are with a Theraband, like the exercise pictured above.  The Theraband is already my friend, since I use one to do some Pilates moves at home as well.  Other exercises have me standing high up on the balls of my feet, then stretching the ankle and heel down from a step; plus I need to balance on the injured foot to strengthen it.

I'm glad I asked my doctor about it when I did, so I could take care of the problem before it became something worse.  God truly had an angel watching out for me.  I was able to keep spinning and walking all along, and now I can do my step aerobics and Zumba again.  Once my ankles are even stronger, I'll be able to start running, at least a little at a time.

In the long run, this injury is making me stronger - which I'm sure is what God intended!  I'll be able to do more, and my balance will be better.  And as I continue to lose weight it will only improve. 

Sometimes it's tough to find the bright side when you are injured...but if you are dealing with an issue of this type I ask you to do just that.  You will be less stressed and frustrated...and you just might learn something about yourself in the process!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Early Fall Workout Playlist

It's officially fall - still early enough to have days that feel like summer, but mixed in with chillier days and nights.  I've had some physical therapy on my ankle which has helped a lot (more on that in a later post) and can do everything except run...although soon I should be able to do that as well.

So, in the spirit of a new season, it's time for an updated playlist.  Here's a portion of what motivates me this autumn:

50 Ways to Say Goodbye - Train
Fastest Girl in Town - Miranda Lambert
Matchbox Twenty - She's So Mean
Blown Away - Carrie Underwood
Home - Philip Phillips
What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
Runaway Baby - Bruno Mars
Dive - Steven Curtis Chapman
Hot Chelle Rae - Tonight Tonight
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor

What are you listening to this fall?  Leave a comment with your favorites!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Biggest Loser - Why It's So Good to Have Jillian Back!

The bad news:  There is no fall season of Biggest Loser.

The good news:  Jillian Michaels is back!!!

I'm sure you've heard by now that Jillian will be back for the next season, which starts in January.  Bob and Dolvett will also still be there, so there will be three teams...and each team will include at least one teen contestant.  The teens will not weigh in and can't be eliminated - the idea is for them to learn the right way to get fit without pressuring them to drop double digits every week or worry about being sent home.

Most of you know I'm a big Jillian fan to begin with, but now there are even more reasons that make this a good move for her and the show:

1.  The show needs a mix of male and female trainers.  The women on the ranch need another chick to help them...and Jill can still kick the guys' butts too!

2.  She can help the sinking ratings after the mess that was Season 13.  Biggest Loser really needs that lift.

3.  Jillian was an overweight teenager and lost a lot of weight herself.  She is sensitive to the needs of the teens that will be on the ranch and can share her experiences with them, so they realize they are not alone and can conquer their weight issues.

4.  Jill is also now a mom of two.  She now knows firsthand the difficulty that working moms have balancing their jobs and families with making the time to work on improving themselves.  She'll be able to help them come up with creative solutions to the problem.

5.  There is nobody better than Jillian to motivate!!!

So, putting up with Biggest Loser withdrawals for a few months will be worth it...once January arrives and Jillian is back on the ranch!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Lessons From Sally the Surfer Girl!

I missed this episode this first time it aired because of the Olympics...but I'm so happy I was able to watch it tonight.  I learned several valuable lessons from Sally that I will use in my own journey.

Sally is 45 years old, which makes her one year younger than me.  A lot of times she mentioned to Chris and his wife Heidi (who also helped train her) how hard it is to get back into shape when you're older (which it is!) but she never gave up.  She struggled a lot, falling short of her first three goals for the year.  Still, every time she failed or fell short, she got back up and kept on going, pushing herself to do better and reach her final goal.  First lesson: You are never too old to be who you want to be and reach your goals! 

She still lost a lot of weight, even though she didn't hit the particular numbers that were set for each weigh-in.  In fact, she visited the doctor who said she had gained a lot of muscle - and her body fat percentage had dropped quite a bit.  She certainly looked slimmer, going from a size 22 to a 12.  Second lesson:  The number on the scale isn't the only measure of your progress.  If your clothes are way too big, you've lost inches, and your muscle mass has are definitely doing something right.  Fitness is not a particular number set in stone on the scale. 

When Sally got started, her husband didn't seem all that supportive.  He would complain that she had to work out too much, and when they went out to dinner he insisted on eating all of her favorite fattening foods in front of her.  He didn't really realize how hard this journey was for her and how his actions affected her progress.  Once Chris arranged a meeting with him, Sally's mom, and her best friend, she was able to let them know how much she needed their help and encouragement.  They all told her they were on her side, and things started to go a lot better after that conversation.  Even Sally's adorable son told her she looked like a princess, because she was pretty and strong!  (That's the kind of princess I like...both beautiful AND strong!!!)  Third lesson:  If you feel you're not getting support from family and friends, ask them to help and let them know you need support.  And find other people who do support you and can relate to what you're going through.  You'll be surprised at how much better it will be if you just ask!

Sally also used pictures and thoughts of her former fit self from when she was younger to keep her motivated.  I have those pictures around as well...I lost a lot of weight when I graduated from high school and kept it off for about ten years, and I refer to those often.  (In fact, one of them is up on my Facebook page so I can be inspired daily!)  She used to surf, and on this journey she was able to have a lesson with pro surfer Laird Hamilton as she was cheered on by his wife, volleyball player Gabby Reece.  She was thrilled to have a great lesson and can't wait to try other things she's always wanted to do.  That surfing excursion alone boosted her spirits and helped her get to the next level.  Fourth lesson:  Remember the times when you were at your best, and realize that with hard work and perseverance you will get there again.  Make a list of activities you want to be able to do again, or that you've never tried but want to.  (For me, getting better at tennis and horseback riding - and learning ballroom dancing - drive me to push myself harder.)  Think of your list whenever you're having a rough day and don't feel like working out or eating right.

Finally, Sally didn't qualify for the skin removal surgery at the nine month mark...but the doctor gave her a second chance to lose enough in the final three months to be evaluated again.  She started the year at 335 pounds, and finished at 197...losing 138 pounds total.  It was enough to get the surgery.  Fifth lesson:  If you are given a second chance, take advantage of it.  And if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen!

So I want to thank Sally for sharing her journey with us, through all of the many ups and downs.  The truth is, we learn just as much in the moments of struggle as we do in the moments of success.  And I will continue to cheer Sally on...because she is a true fighter!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Jarvez Brings Sexy Back and Honors His Mom

Jarvez said that he's always thought he was sexy, even when his family and friends thought he was crazy.  I think that belief in himself is what helped him do so well on his journey...along with the support of his brand new wife.

Having been a football player, Jarvez was always big - in a way.  But he put on well over 200 pounds after his mom passed away.  That's something I can certainly empathize with, since when my mom died I started eating badly again and hardly exercised, and gained more than 50 pounds.  (Add to that some weight I put on when I was pregnant with my son four years later, and you see how I got to where I was.)  Even though my own mom was gone too soon at 60, Jarvez' mother was WAY too young in her late 30's.  I know exactly what he meant when he talked about still going to her favorite restaurants and eating her favorite meals to keep her memory alive, because I've been there and done that.  On rare occasions, I still do that.  Thankfully it's nowhere near as often as I used to.

Meeting his wife Adriana is what motivated Jarvez to change his habits and lifestyle.  In fact, they had only been married for two weeks when Chris showed up to start him on his year long journey.  Unlike some of the other EMWLE stories (thinking of Tony from this season) Jarvez had massive support from his significant other.  She was all for this transforamtion and joined in, working out with him and changing her diet as well. 

Jarvez did well during Phase 1, but had a major setback in the next phase.  He wound up dealing with vertigo, which I've never expereienced and pray that I never do.  I do know people who have dealt with it and it's no joke.  You get very dizzy even doing the simplest things and at times even throw up from the overwhelming sensation.  So he didn't meet his goal during that period...but he came back strong and more than made up for it in Phase 3.  He decided that his mom would want him to be happy, and not be unhealthy just because she was gone - and the best way to honor her would be to give this journey his all.  (Once again, I understand completely.  My mom was so proud of my weight loss the first time around after I graduated from high school...and I know she is glad I'm getting back to that healthier me.) 

After the skin removal surgery in the final phase, it was time to see how far Jarvez had come.  He started at 548 pounds...and finished the year at 267.  He lost over 50 percent of his body weight!  On top of that, Adriana lost 45 pounds herself while working out with and supporting him.  This expereince truly made them stronger as a couple, and a few months after the big reveal we learned that they are expecting a baby girl, whom they will name after Jarvez' mom.  I can't think of a better way for their life journey to continue - and I wish their entire family all of the happiness and blessings in the world. 

I know both of our moms are looking down from heaven and very proud of us!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dealing With Ankle Pain

For about a week now, I've been dealing with pain at the back of my left ankle.  I have no idea how it got that way.  Last Sunday I woke up, started going about my business, and halfway through the day it started to hurt.

I haven't done any unusual workouts or tried anything new that should have bothered my ankle.  I didn't whack it against anything or even notice any problems during my usual exercise.  It feels like it just showed up all of a sudden.  I wish it would go away all of a sudden as's starting to feel better but still giving me some problems.

So what have I been doing for the last week?  The old me would have just sat on the couch and "babied" my ankle, afraid to do anything.  But this is a new me - while I'm still being careful with it, I am also finding ways to work around it so I can still work out.

I don't put a lot of weight on it when it's not necessary.  I do ankle exercises that are supposed to stretch and strengthen the area.  And I'm skipping the step, but still doing the kettlebells.  I do a lot of leg and knee lifts where I can set my foot down gently.  Plus, I'm doing something I learned from Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - inspired by Chris Powell making someone sit in every seat in a stadium, I'm doing the same with my couch, moving from one end to the other sitting and standing over and over again.  It turns out that getting up and down out of your seat repeatedly really works your legs, core, and butt...and gets your heart rate going pretty well.

I also can still go to spin class, since there is limited pressure on the ankles.  I've found that I feel fine after spin, so I scheduled an extra class for this week to keep myself moving.  I've come a long way, and I refuse to sit around and backslide, letting weight creep back on because of this.  I will continue to do what I can with whatever issues or circumstances comes up, in fitness and in life.  God gives me the strength to be creative and do what I need to do.

So if you have any type of issue with your workouts, I urge you to find a way to work with or around them.  You will be so glad you did and a stronger person than you were before!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Extreme Makeover or Olympics? No Brainer!

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition aired a new episode this past Sunday, but I didn't watch.  Yes, I know...I usually don't miss an episode but I had good reason.

The Olympics.

By now you know just how addicted I am to the Olympics, and since they only come around every four years I decided to watch them instead of EMWLE.  I know ABC will re-air the episode; the Olympics only air once and they're done.

Besides, I'm being inspired on a daily basis by determination, perseverance and good sportsmanship.  Athletes coming back after having children, losing 50 pounds and performing better than ever.  Runners competing without legs.  People who fall, yet get back up and keep going.  And athletes who honor each other for their efforts, no matter the results on the scoreboard.

These athletes show us just how much the human body, mind, and spirit can do if we let it happen.  We all have that greatness in us, as the commercials that run during the Games keep reminding us.  We can be motivated past the point of reaching our goal weight - we can go beyond what we ever thought possible.

Thank you to all of the athletes participating in the Olympics for giving us hope and courage to do our own personal best.  Whether you win a medal or not, you rock for showing us what we can be capable of if we put our minds to achieving it. You all deserve an award - just for being the best you can be!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

London Olympics Inspiration

As many of you may know, I'm an Olympic-aholic.  I watch as much of it as I can, while still getting other things accomplished.  There is just so much to be learned from the Games and the athletes who participate in them.

It's been this way ever since I was a little girl.  Winter or Summer, it doesn't mattter.  I imagine what it would be like to be one of those athletes and participate in the different sports.  Since I don't know how to swim, I'm fascinated by the swimming races.  And what would it be like to dive off of a 10 meter platform or perform on a balance beam? 

There are life lessons here as well.  Every athlete's story is different...some deal with setbacks with grace and class, teaching us how to overcome adversity.  Others show us how to stay focused when so many different things are going on around you.  And I smile every time an athlete thanks and praises God for their Olympic expereince, good or bad.

This time while watching the Olympics, I'm working out at the same time.  Sometimes I'm doing my step and kettle bells, other times I do something that somewhat resembles one of the sports I'm watching.  My arms, back, and abs are sure getting stronger as I sit sideways on my step, rowing along with the competitors!

So let your inner athlete come out to play during the Olympics - it's so much fun.  Who knows...I may still learn to swim yet!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Surviving The Hot Summer

The fans are going WILD!!!!!

No, I'm not at a sporting event or a concert.  I'm not even in the vicinity of those right now.  I'm sitting in my home office, at my computer, in a house with no air conditioning.  The only thing saving me right now is the desk fan my husband got for me, so I don't become delirious while trying to write.  (although I might come up with some VERY interesting stories that way!)

Our air conditioner bit the dust at the end of last summer.  We had it checked, and found out that the unit the builder used in our house (which is only 10 years old) is no longer being made - nor can we get parts for it.  So...that means we have to buy a whole new unit.  We didn't have the money to do it then, but thought we would by the time this summer rolled around. 

Well, we still don't have the funds.  Car repairs and other emergencies came up, and our budget is extremely tight.  So we're fighting our way through this especially hot summer, thankful for each time there is a break for a day or two from the intense temperatures.  Anytime a breeze blows through a window, I say a prayer to God thanking Him for it.  And the fans really are going wild - the one at my desk, plus the three others that we move around depending what room we are in at any given time.  Most days they help...unless the temperatures climb into the 90's when it just feels like hot air blowing around.

You know what it's like when the heat gets to you, especially if you are still overweight.  And that's the case for me.  Although I'm down over 35 pounds, I still have quite a bit to lose.  So it's uncomfortable.  But I also realize it would have been a lot worse if I hadn't lost any of the weight yet!

The real trick is getting my workouts done without passing out.  When I go to spin class it's fine, because the studio has plenty of air and fans to keep us sane.  It's working out at home that becomes challenging.  I'm so grateful that our finished basement is much cooler than the rest of the house, because I can do DVD workouts there.  Sometimes I still exercise on the first floor, using my step and kettlebells with a fan going.  But if it's in the mid-90's or above, I don't exert myself like that.  It gets to be too much for my body.  Then I try to just go for a light walk if I can to at least keep moving.

The other key is to stay hydrated.  I'm drinking cold water like it's going out of style, but it's necessary in this heat - before, during, and after exercise.  I've also been known to open the freezer door and stand in front of it for a quick cooldown. (And possibly get a little jealous of my frozen foods right now...)

The weight is still coming off...a little slower than before, but that's OK.  I'm doing my best with what I have, still moving forward.  I'm not just giving up and sitting around all the time because it's so hot; I won't give up on my progress just because of the heat. 

I will continue with my fitness no matter what.  It's something I can be proud of, and will push me to get stronger in the long run.  Will keep working on that hot body - and I don't mean overheated!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Nyla Salsas Through Stress to a New Attitude

Boy, did Nyla ever have a rough year for her transformation. 

Luckily for her, she had Chris there to help...he gave her space when she needed it, pushed her as much as he could, and was there for her no matter what.  He even located her father, whom she had never met.

Chris himself even said that this was one of his toughest transformations, because it seemed to be taking Nyla such a long time to "get it".  She had so many mental and emotional blocks to break through that she still cheated with her food choices and didn't always work out to the best of her ability.  She let finanacial and other stress get to her on a regular basis.  Her fears and low self-confidence got her in trouble many times.  She even almost quit more than once.  But she finally decided that working through all of her issues was better than staying stuck where she was, and that staying in her comfort zone was getting her nowhere.

The biggest breakthough came when Chris got the information about Nyla's father.  Unfortunately he had committed suicide in 2010, but she was able to meet all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins - who all embraced her and told her how much her dad wished he'd had his act together so he could be there for his daughters.  This revelation made her feel less abandoned, because she realized he really loved her even though he wasn't present for her.  She also gained support from an entire set of relatives who were so happy to finally be in her life.

It does sometimes take some of us longer than others to "get it".  We are all unique individuals, so we are not all on the exact same timetable in our lives.  God has a plan for each of us, and He will get us there in His perfect timing.  And that timing may be different for me than you, or for you than your best friend, etc.  We all have issues and stresses in our lives that we have to deal with, and we will not all deal with them in the same way.  (And I can certainly say that from experience!)

Now, of course my favorite part of this episode was Nyla's salsa lesson with Tony Dovolani from Dancing With The Stars.  I couldn't help but smile throughout the whole thing for her. I know all about having a passion for dancing. (and, for me, writing about it!)  Nyla's come a long way from the girl who couldn't even open a dance DVD at home to work she even teaches dance fitness classes!

Nyla still did an amazing job in a year's time...from 435 down to 278 is quite an accomplishment and she should be very proud.  And as she said - this is not just a year long journey, it's a LIFE JOURNEY.  There will be ups and downs, but as long as we always keep going and never give up we will get to where we are supposed to be.  Just keep moving forward!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Independence for Ashley

I couldn't help but root for Ashley.  She reminds me of myself when I got out of high school and was learning my way in the world...while working on getting fit at the same time.

One thing I never had to deal with were unsupportive parents when it came to better eating and working out.  They were always on my side, wanting me to be healthier and to overcome the junk and fast food habits we had all developed.  But Ashley had a dad who was never around because of his drug habit, and a mom who constantly put her down.  Her sisters seemed supportive at times, while at other moments they acted more like their mom.  I can tell you one very sweet mom, if she was still alive, would have wanted to reach through the TV tonight and smack some sense into Ashley's mom.  (I know I sure did!)  My mom was the kindest lady in the world - but she would never have stood for the names Ashley's mom called her and all of the swearing at her.  No wonder Ashley wanted to get her own place!

She did really well losing the weight, even though she fell short of her first two goals - by 12 pounds each time.  Like Chris said, she was working through the issues with her family members at the same time as she was taking this fitness journey, so she still made tremendous progress.  Thankfully a friend finally let Ashley move in with her and her roommates, so she could get out of her toxic home environment.

Chris was able to get Ashley to have a breakthrough in Hawaii, where she hiked up a volcano by herself with him waiting at the top.  (I admit, that would have freaked me out!)  Then once at the top, she had to zipline 700 feet down to the bottom.  (Once again- freakout time for me!!!)  But once she accomplished these tasks, she became a much more confident person.  So...there are times when doing something that freaks you out is GOOD for you!

Ashley had her final weigh-in in Vegas on her 21st birthday.  She went from 323 pounds to 167 - a loss of 156 pounds.  And she looked amazing!  She also is getting along better with her family, thanks to Chris and the friend who helped get her out of that house.  She is now happy and ready to take on life...which includes becoming a personal trainer.

Ashley proved the Serenity Prayer...she accepted the things she couldn't change (family), changed the things she could (herself), and gained the wisdom to know the difference.  I see a very bright future for her, includng helping many other people reach their own goals.  Go Ashley - pay it forward!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Biggest Loser Season 11's Austin Andrews Talks RetroFit, Faith - and More

It was my pleasure to talk this morning with Austin Andrews, who appeared on Season 11 of Biggest Loser with his father Ken and made the Top Five.  Austin and Ken, a pastor and ordained minister for many years, have begun RetroFit Ministries because they saw a great need within the church community.

"We looked at the statistics, and discovered some startling numbers," Austin says.  "We learned that out of all of the young adults that attend church services, they were 50 % more likely to become obese when they get older than those who don't go to church.  That's something that needs to change."

Austin believes part of the problem is the culture of the church community.  "There are always celebrations going on, and they all involve plenty of food.  Everybody constantly eats, and most people who bring special dishes to church functions don't choose healthy ones.  I still remember my grandmother bringing her famous potatoes covered with cheese and eating plenty of them.  There are good memories associated with that, but if I thought the point of it all was the food, then I really missed the point.  The memories should be about my grandma and the other people I spent time with at church in fellowship.  Food should never be the focus." 

RetroFit Ministries ties together the special bond between faith and fitness.  The name came about because of Ken's leap of faith in New Zealand, when he conquered a fear of heights by jumping off the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.  "In that moment," Austin says, "all of the anxiety lifted from his life, including his fear of being accepted and of being in awkward situations.  He trusted God with that jump...and realized that he could also trust Him with those other aspects of his life." 

Austin also worked through his own self worth issues, stemming from when he was 12 years old and was constantly judged by classmates, strangers...and even his pediatrician.  "My doctor asked me if I drank beer.  I looked at him like he was crazy.  I was only 12 and my dad was a pastor...of course I didn't drink beer!  But when I answered him that I didn't, he asked why, then, did I have a beer belly?  Maybe he thought he was helping to scare me into losing weight, but it turned out to be just the opposite.  I'm sure he had no idea what effect his words had on me.  From that moment on, I checked out of life.  I decided what people were saying about me was true - that I had no value as a person because of my weight."

The big faith moment on the ranch for Austin came when he was working out with his teammate Justin Pope, six weeks into the season.  "Justin could see in my eyes that I was losing my focus, and I had been doing that for a while.  He called me out right there, looking into my eyes and telling me 'Don't you DARE check out!'  Later on, I turned on my iPod for a workout and the first song that came on had the lyrics 'He is jealous for me'.  I started crying as I thought that if God is jealous for me, then there must be something worthwhile in me to cause Him to be jealous for me. That day everything snapped into place for me.  I realized that I'd not only been checking out of workouts, but out of other things in my life.  I thank God that Justin was there to help me check back into life."

Ken and Austin had brainstormed other names for their ministry, such as WhollyFit.  But one day RetroFit popped into their minds and it all made sense.  They were going retro - back to where things began to go wrong in their lives and rebuilding from that point with faith and perseverance, one block at a time.  And they want to help other people do the same.

Part of their ministry includes the first ever event scheduled at a Biggest Loser Resort with a focus on faith.  It all came about when Austin and Ken attended the Season 12 Finale, and Ken had a conversation with the CEO of the Biggest Loser Resorts.  Ken was so excited and passionate about what he wanted to do with his ministry, he got the CEO excited as well.  That's when the plan for RetroFit Week began to take shape.  "On the show, the producers try not to show too much about our faith journeys and focus on the emotional aspects, just because they have a wide audience with people of all types and want to appeal to all of them," Austin recalls.  "A lot of what we said that pertained to faith wound up on the cutting room floor for that reason.  So for the resorts to recognize that people of faith might be interested in a special event is a very big step for them."

The first RetroFit week, hosted by Ken and Austin, will take place at the newest Biggest Loser Resort in Niagara Falls from September 30 through October 7.  In addition to all of the regular resort activities of workouts, training, and nutrition lessons, there will be a focus on spiritual training and Biblical truth.  "We want to focus on the whole health of each person there - physical, emotional, and spiritual.  We may have devotion time during stretches, and hikes where we pray and meditate on Scripture as we go.  We want to teach everyone to live out their faith and walk with God daily, in all activities.  Taking care of the body He has given you will make you better equipped to live out His purpose for your life."

If the event goes well, there may be more of them coming.  Austin and his dad vow to take it one step at a time and let God lead the way through the first one - and He will let them know where to go from there.

Austin admits that he sometimes still struggles with food temptations, a bit different than the ones Alison Sweeney puts the contestants through on the show.  "My dad and I will always be recovering food addicts - it's just like any other addiction.  Food still tempts us at family events and other functions; it's always going to be there.  It will never be a simple process, but it's always worth it.  As long as we turn to God and strive to be better to serve Him, we will be OK."

If you would like to know more about RetroFit Ministries or the special week at Biggest Loser Resort Niagara, please go to Austin and Ken's RetroFit site where they also take prayer requests and keep you up to date on the latest news and events.

Here's to great success now and in the future for RetroFit...I thank Austin for sharing his story and pray that many lives will be changed!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Mike's Big Fat Greek Transformation

I really felt for Mike, especially at the beginning of this episode.  Poor guy was 28 and had never had a girlfriend, or even a date.  On top of that, his living environment certainly wasn't the best.  He lived on a street with pretty much his whole Greek family...reminding me of a certain favorite movie starring Nia Vardalos as Toula.

Now, it's not necessarily a bad thing to live by your family, but for Mike it was dangerous.  You see, he'd eat lunch at his house, then go to his mom's and eat another meal, to his aunt's for another meal, and...well, you get the idea.  He was eating so many meals throughout the day, it's no wonder he wound up at 493 pounds.

That's where Chris came in.  Not only did he get Mike to believe in himself, but he also got his family to promise to well as pledge to lose weight themselves in solidarity with Mike.  It definitely wasn't easy for Mike to learn to give it his all, but he did get there.  I'm sure it helped when Chris enlisted the help of some wrestling divas to motivate him in a variety of ways.  And the dating coach/matchmaker Chris found to help Mike out really helped him gain confidence.

Mike started dating, and even though his girlfriend was quite overweight herself she was very supportive and proud of him.  (Quite the opposite of Tony's fiancee from a couple of weeks ago!)  He competed in and finished a triathlon and worked out with his family.  The real Mike came forward with each mile completed and pound lost.

By the end of the year's journey, Mike lost 255 pounds and weighed 238.  He and his girlfriend broke up but are still friends supporting each other.  Mike is speaking at corporate events and motivating other people to live their best lives.  He is also much more confident talking to women now - so watch out world!

And Mike's family?  They lost over 400 pounds as a group during his year of transformation.  Sounds like the whole family is much healthier and even closer than before.  Their journeys are only beginning.  Opa!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Please Knock It Off With The Bacon Already!

It seems everywhere I turn I see bacon.  Restaurants and fast food places are putting it on everything.  Now, I like bacon - but I've never been able to eat more than a couple of slices at breakfast or a BLT...with more L and T than B.

Since I've been eating better I don't even touch the stuff, except for a grilled chicken sandwich with avocado and bacon a couple of months ago.  I enjoyed it, it only had two strips on it, and my bacon craving is satisfied for the next several months.

Pretty soon though, I won't even want it once or twice a year, thanks to seeing it every five minutes on a TV commercial.   Denny's shows us just how much bacon they can stack on their BLT.  Double the bacon, double the heart attacks.  And just how gross is Burger King's bacon sundae?  Really?  My son and I stopped at a BK after swimming a couple of weeks ago, Whopper Jr for him, grilled chicken for me, split order of  fries.  That was our treat for the week.  But it was more like a trick when their board kept flashing the bacon sundae at us.  My son took one look and proclaimed it disgusting.  We sat as far away from the menu board as possible so we could eat in peace - and keep our food down.

From what I hear there is also a House of Bacon, where you can buy chocolate covered anything and everything made with bacon that you can think of (and some things you probably never would have dreamed up). 

I'm tired of looking at bacon all the time...and not just because I'm eating healthier, but also because there's TOO MUCH OF IT.  It's bacon overload.  Please everyone, knock it off with the bacon already - before all of our heads and stomachs explode!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spin Till You Win!

No, I'm not talking about a slot machine for all of you gamblers out there.  (Though I've been known to play that one on rare occasion...)  I'm talking Spinning class!

Many of you know how much I love spinning.  My budget only allows me to take a class once a week, maybe with an extra Friday class here or there - but I look forward to it each and every time.  And lately I love it even more.

Why?  Because I'm getting stronger and pushing myself harder...not only at the studio but at home with step and kettlebell workouts, Pilates, and Zumba.  All of the cross-training I do makes me better on the bike.

Last night I had my best spin EVER.  I could do a lot more work out of the saddle, while still pushing myself in the saddle and making attempts at some of the moves I didn't think I was strong enough to do in the past.  I discovered I could do it...and I DID!

I'll let you in on a little secret...before every spin class I say a prayer, asking God to help me have a great spin and do more than I did the last time.  Believe me, it works.  When you realize that you can do anything through His strength, it's empowering.  And the momentum only builds from there.

So I encourage you to give spinning a try...just remember to pray for that extra "push" from above!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ahh...Very Pinteresting!

I have an addiction.

No, not the sugar addiction - you already know all about that!  I am officially addicted to Pinterest.

It all began innocently (doesn't it always?) when a couple of friends suggested I follow them on Pinterest.  I set up an account and started out slowly.  But I've discovered in the past few weeks that I'm really getting into it.  I'm finding a lot of great fitness info and healthy recipes on there, plus sharing mine with others.  I'm also starting to find other interesting stuff on there: books, horses,'s so much fun!

Yes, I'm still getting my workouts in...spin was awesome last night and I will be doing a Zumba DVD tonight in the nice cool basement (only cool room in the house - air conditioning's broken!).  But I'm also learning new exercises to try whenever I log on to Pinterest.  That can only help me be the best I can be!

So until there is a PA group - Pinterest Anonymous - please join me over there and follow me at .  We can all share with each other...and all reach our goals!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Jacqui's Singing a Brand New Song!

I have a confession to make...I REALLY, REALLY relate to Jacqui.  In a way, she could be my long lost sister.

No, I didn't start out at 355 pounds like she did, but I still know the feelings that got her there very well.  The feeling that you're letting people down because of your weight.  Being so scared you quit on something when you've barely gotten started.  Having setbacks earlier in your life that still haunt you well into adulthood.  And being frustrated whenever you try to overcome all of this.

Now Jacqui was assaulted as a teenager, and thankfully that's something I cannot relate to.  But I can see where that made her want to add layers of protection to her body.  I did that myself as I grew up, being hurt over and over again by classmates and trying to eat away the pain - even though that only made it worse.  Other than my parents, it seemed nobody believed in me or my dreams. I was shot down anytime I tried to stand up for myself.  And when it came down to it, my parents wanted to protect their only child from being hurt, so they urged me to get a "real" job and forget about singing and songwriting.  I know they were only trying to do their best to look out for me, but they projected a lot of fears onto me about doing the "secure" things in life to keep me "safe".

Now this path I've been on has led to many blessings, like meeting my husband and having my son.  I did my best wherever I was.  But something was always missing - something I tried to replace with food.  At one point I lost all of the weight, but when my mom got sick and then passed away I ate away the pain again.  And ever since then I've struggled...sometimes moving forward, sometimes taking a step backward.

So of course when I found out Jacqui was a singer who was too nervous to get on stage because of her weight I saw even more of myself in her.  You HAVE to pursue what you really love in life - your passions: not the ones of your friends, relatives, or anyone else.  It's taken me a long time to get to the point where that is what I'm doing.  Trying to follow everyone else's "rules" only made me anxious and depressed...which made me eat lots of sugar and fast food for temporary relief.  Until the point, that is, when I had to take charge, learning to balance family and personal repsonsibilities with pursuing my passions and pushing away the negativity.

Chris helped Jacqui overcome her fears - fitness and music wise.  She lost 207 pounds. She is like a whole new person; the person she was always meant to be is finally coming out.  And once she got started, there was no stopping her!

I know I still have my days when I struggle trying to balance it all and still have quite a bit of weight to lose...but I'm getting there.  I'm writing songs, singing whenever I can and writing articles, along with the novels I hope to soon have published. 

Nobody said it would be easy - but it will be worth it.  And with a role model like Jacqui, there's no way I can go wrong!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - This Is How You Do NO EXCUSES!

Season 2 of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition started off with a bang.  And I couldn't help thinking how for all of the Biggest Loser talk during this past season of "No Excuses", the first man featured on the new season of EMWLE put them all to shame.

If anyone should have had plenty of excuses not to lose the weight, it was Tony.  He started out at 398 pounds, with a very ill disabled son and pretty much no help at home.  After the first 3 months of the challenge, he was down 104 pounds and broke up with his extremely whiny, unsupportive fiancee and moved out of the house.

Problem was, he had nowhere else to live.  Chris helped him move his stuff out, but had no idea that Tony was sleeping on friends' couches or in his car, working out wherever he could.  He decided that he needed to stop being in the fast food business and work his way up as a bodyguard.  Chris helped him get training for that. 

Tony's son, Marcus, also passed away during this time, and his new girlfriend paid for a plane ticket so he could go to Michigan for the funeral.  (And I have to say...even his ex-wife seemed more supportive than his fiancee!)  TONY NEVER GAVE UP.  No matter what was thrown at him, he kept pushing toward his goals, doing it for himself and in honor of Marcus. 

With so many obstacles and stresses in his life, Tony truly showed what NO EXCUSES means.  His final weigh-in, at his 50th birthday party, found him down 200 pounds and weighing 198.  His goal had been to get under 200 - he reached it even with everything else going on in his life.  He is now working as a bodyguard, has a new place to live, and proposed to his new girlfriend who is much better suited to his positive lifesyle and personality.

Makes all of our excuses look flimsy...doesn't it?  Let's all follow Tony's lead and get it done NO MATTER WHAT!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

June Fitness Goals!!!

Happy June 1st!  It's been a rough week with stress including a death in the family, but I know I have to get myself back on track.  And what better day to do this than the first of the month?

So here are the goals I've set for myself for the month of June:

1. Lose 10 pounds - doable as I commit to the other goals below.
2. Play more tennis!  I try so hard to get better and have so much fun I don't realize I'm exhausted until afterward.
3. Get back to drinking more water.  Over the holiday weekend and the stressful few days that followed, I drank diet soda more than I should have.  Time to cut that out!
4. Keep up with Spinning and Pilates.
5. More fresh produce - my fruit & veggie count wasn't that great this week either, and now is the perfect time to get the good stuff in!
6. Walk/run on days I'm not playing tennis or spinning.  I've done a lot of walking, but it's time to step it up more with running intervals.
7. Come up with more healthy alternatives for favorite foods that are not so good for me.  Limit treats!

My plan is to rock June!  How about you???

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Workout Playlist!

Since Memorial Day weekend is upon us, it's time to think about summer workouts - and the music that will keep us pumped up and going through hot days.

Here are a few of mine for this summer:

"Start Me Up" - Rolling Stones
"Good Morning" - Mandisa feat. Toby Mac
"Feel Like a Rock Star" - Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw
"Rumour Has It" - Adele
"You Gonna Fly" - Keith Urban
"Good Feeling" - Flo Rida
"Georgia Peaches" - Lauren Alaina
"Free Ride" - JaneDear Girls
"Good Girl" - Carrie Underwood
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" - Kelly Clarkson

I wold love to hear what you're listening to when you work out...and don't forget to stay hydrated!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fashion Star Inspiration

 Fashion Star has gotten me thinking...

I really love fashion.  As someone who doesn't fit into single-digit sizes yet, sometimes I've tried to pretend that I don't care about fashion.  Sure, I get excited when I discover that something in my closet that I haven't been able to wear for a while fits once again.  But a lot of designer clothes come in only smaller sizes, which can be depressing if you think about it too much.

Enter Fashion Star - a show trying to find the next big designers, who can be creative while still making something that we "regular" people can wear and afford.  Let's face it, the economy does not help the fashion industry.  Many of our budgets can not withstand the big designer prices, which I'm sure is the reason why some designers create special lines for the stores many of us can afford to shop at. 

 I've become inspired by the designers trying to live out their dreams, and have discovered that I would actually wear quite a few of their creations.  I haven't shopped for any of them yet, since I'm losing more weight and don't want to spend money on something that will be too big soon.  (Although, it's a wonderful feeling to find out something is now too big on you!)

But that also inspires me in another way - to stay on my path to fitness so I can wear these awesome clothes.  Of course, there are much more compelling reasons to get fit and healthy...but fashion is still fun and we all want to look good.  Being your best in every way is important, which includes looking your best.

Congratulations to Kara, the winner of Fashion Star, and all of the other designers who sold pieces to H & M, Saks, and Macy's.  Soon I will be sporting your creations proudly - not only because I'm proud of your work on the clothes, but also because I'm proud of the work I've done on myself!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Biggest Loser Withdrawals - Or Not?

So the Biggest Loser finale was last week...two weeks earlier than it would normally be for the winter/spring season.  I'm sure it was because of the walk-off and having less people competing toward the end.  But it still means no BL to watch - not only for the next two weeks, but all summer and possibly longer.  (Still hearing from various sources that there will be no fall season!)

What are you doing to combat Biggest Loser withdrawal?  Or were you just so fed up with this past season that it doesn't bother you?

As happy as I am to be done with the nastiness and drama from certain contestants this season, I'm still missing BL.  Actually, I've been missing the BL of past seasons since know, the seasons with more inspiration and motivation than drama.  So I've been having a type of withdrawal already. 

My plan is to watch old clips of past seasons to be inspired all over again.  And I'm doing my thing - spinning, Pilates, walking, eating healthy...pushing myself to be my personal best.  The one way to overcome someone else's drama is to take the focus off of them and concentrate on yourself and what you need to do to make your own life better.  Don't let any negative people, whether on TV or on real life, bring you down with them.  Live your own life to the fullest.

What are you doing to motivate yourself without Biggest Loser?  Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Yes, The Finale Was Still Inspiring!

I wasn't sure about this finale.  For one thing, this is the first time ever that it was only an hour long.  That alone was disappointing.

Plus, we all know that some of the contestants were negative and irritating...more than any other season.  I didn't know if I would still be inspired watching them get on the giant scale.

Well, I was happily surprised.  NBC managed to fit a lot into that hour, and everyone was still able to have their moment on the scale to show just how far they've come.  And did they ever come far!  The ones who blew me away the most were Cassandra, Emily and Roy.  You know the writer in me loved the sign in the audience saying Cassandra has the "write" stuff.  I think I identified the most with her this season for that reason alone.  Overweight writer wanting to get fit and live out the career of her dreams?  Yep - I certainly identify with that!

I was also happy for Mike.  He went through a lot in the short time he was on the ranch, putting up with the negativity while dealing with his own demons.  It was brave of him to admit all of that on camera, and he showed just how much you can accomplish at home...along with the other players.  Congrats to Mike on the $100,000 prize and his new life!

When it came to the final 3, I shocked myself with how happy I was for them.  I mean, I was already rooting for Kim because she seemed to learn the most of the 3 of them - but I love that Conda and Jeremy did so well and hopefully they will start living life in a more positive way.  Kim blew me away, and even though she came close to beating Jeremy for the grand prize but fell a little short, I know her future is very bright.  You can see it in her eyes!

So this concludes the wild ride of Season 13.  Hopefully there will be a Season 14 to write about...but no matter what, get out there and achieve your goals!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - Final Results!

Since the Biggest Loser finale is on Tuesday, this is my final weigh-in for the challenge.  It may seem strange to weigh in today...but remember, the contestants always step on the actual doctor's scale Sunday before the finale anyway.  The numbers are recorded and programmed into the giant TV scale for Tuesday.  So technically, it's only fitting to make today the day!

Since my birthday was on Thursday, I did indulge a little...but I still made sure I got all of my workouts in.  I lost .6 pound this week.

But overall, I lost 17.4 pounds since the beginning of the challenge!  I'm really happy with that, especially after the stressful times in the past couple of months.  I didn't give up and lost as much as I could.  (And hey, the finale is two weeks earlier than I origially thought it would be...most likely because of the walk-off.)  I'm still proud of how far I've come.

I'm over 17 pounds lighter than I was in January - and that's an accomplishment!  How did you do?  Let me know so we can celebrate our successes together!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Finally the Final 3

Talk about an anticlimactic episode.

I suppose it was somewhat exciting, seeing all of the contestants come back for one last shot at the finale.  Well, almost all of them.  It was strange seeing Ben and Chism there, without Buddy and Mark.  I wonder how they were feeling, knowing their partners had walked off the show?

The weigh-in kept the people with the top 8 percentages of weight loss in the running, and then those 8 had to compete in a challenge.  The first part was 100 yard dash that took it down to five - Cassandra, Megan, Lauren, Mike and Jeremy.  The next part was a food/calorie puzzle, which brought it to three.  Lauren, Mike and Jeremy competed in the final part, holding a giant golden ticket over their heads while balancing on a platform.

I was really hoping Lauren or Mike would win at that point, mostly because all Jeremy seemed to do was whine about having to compete for his spot, and still complain about bringing everyone back. (Conda also still whined about the twist...she should know by now that second chances are what the Biggest Loser is all about.)  Dolvett was right to tell him to just forget about that and focus on the challenge. 

So Jeremy won his spot back, and joined Conda and Kim in the final three.  It looks like I'll be rooting for Kim.  And I'll actually be more interested in who takes the at-home prize this season.  I'd rather enjoy watching a more positive, inspiring person win something.

How about you?  Who would you like to win the grand prize and the at-home prize?  Drop me a line and share your thoughts!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - Getting Closer to Finale and Running My Own Race

We're just a little over a week to the Biggest Loser Season 13 Finale.  And while I can't wait to finally see the finale so we can get this season from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks over with, I'm kind of sad that my challenge will be ending.

You see, I enjoy setting these goals for myself.  I don't always reach the exact number that I set at the beginning of a challenge, but I always make progress.  If I didn't set goals at all, I'd either stay stuck or take a step backwards.  Knowing that I challenged myself - and put it out there for the world to see, join in, encourage, judge or whatever they decide to do with it - I try harder.  I put in more effort.  Sometimes I hit the goal, sometimes I just come close.  Either way, I'm still a winner.

So today's weigh-in is another step closer to my goal, with a loss of 1.2 pounds.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint...and sometimes during the road race of life we have to climb steep hills or dodge falling rocks.  Staying in the race is the most important thing - sitting on the sidelines watching other people run is not an option.

You can bet after next week's finale I will set another goal for myself, whether it is connected to Biggest Loser or not.  There is no BL during the summer, and rumor has it that there will be no fall season coming up.  ("Rumour has it she's the one..."  NOW I have Adele playing in my head!)  No matter what is going on the the wild world of reality shows, we can all still reach our own personal goals. 

Please join me here as we all work on becoming the best we can be...any season, any time of year.  ALL THE TIME!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Walking Away a Loser

What a depressing episode...and for the way this season has gone so far, that's really saying something.

I find something positive in just about every show, and I still did this week. But first let's talk about the sad display of sour grapes and poor sportsmanship shown by the remaining contestants, especially the two that actually left.

All five players threatened to walk off the show, and it was really difficult to watch. The worst part was why - a game twist that not only happens almost every season but was ACTUALLY WRITTEN INTO THE CONTRACT that each person had to sign when they agreed to be on Biggest Loser. Yes, having the eliminated contestants come back the last week on campus to compete for a spot in the finals was in the contract, so the disgruntled remaining players really had nothing to stand on. Not to mention that this is a regular occurance on the show, no matter what week they bring them back.

Bob and Dolvett tried to talk them out of it. Alison brought in the lawyer (with the contract) and tried to help as well. But it was no use. Kim, Conda and Jeremy did decide to stay after thinking over what they would be throwing away if they left. I'm glad some people actually got the sense knocked into them. In the end, Mark and Buddy still left. Nothing they said as to their reasoning made any sense to me, or to most people I talked to on Twitter. They acted like spoiled toddlers who didn't get their way.

Alison tried hard to plaster a smile on her face when she met with the remaining three to go over the week ahead, but you could tell that underneath it all she was really upset. She announced the prize for the week, a new SUV, would go to the person who had the highest percentage of weight loss. She also mentioned that there would be a red line and the person who fell below would automatically go home.

The first of two highlights came when the three players watched their journeys back with their trainers. They were all moved by how far they've come, and it was nice to see Conda say that she was embarrassed when she watched her past behavior. That shows that she's actually doing some growing up...something Buddy and Mark could stand to learn, even though they're older than her and should know better.

Everyone worked extra hard to stay above the line, and Kim really wanted that car. So it didn't surprise me that she came in first at the weigh-in. What did shock me was how much she lost...15 pounds! That motivates me to work extra hard for my goals as well. This, of course, was my second highlight of the show.

Jeremy fell below the red line and was eliminated, but it looks like he will get to compete with the other eliminated contestants for the final spot for the grand prize. It will be interesting to see who winds up in the finals with Kim and Conda. Could we have an all female finale again?

And let's hope this season finishes well in spite of the sad drama and craziness. I actually can't wait for the finale so the season will be over, and I've never felt like that about any season, ever. I still hold out hope that I will be inspired though, by the handful of players who were a joy to watch. There has to be something good to come out of this season!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - Chocolate Bunny Recovery

Yes, I gave in this week to Chocolate Bunny Syndrome. You know, the disease that hits many of us every spring at Easter time...Cadbury Creme Eggs, , Reese's Eggs, jellybeans and more seem to taunt us from every basket. And sometimes we just have to have one.

For me, it's always chocolate bunnies and eggs from Malley's. If you live in Cleveland you KNOW what I'm talking about. Once you have the good stuff from Malley's you become spoiled and it's nearly impossible to go back to "regular" old chocolate. And let's face it - if your going to veer off the healthy eating path for a treat (or two, or more) it better be something that tastes good enough to make the fat and calories worth it. There's nothing worse than wasting a splurge on something that tastes like crap, because you put your body through that and don't even enjoy it. THEN you still want the good stuff!

I enjoyed every single Malley's egg I put into my mouth. I still didn't eat as much of it as I used to, but I definitely indulged. I still worked out and ate pretty healthy the rest of the time. And I washed down my goodies with plenty of water.

The scale was relatively kind to me this morning...I did lose .6 pound in spite of Chocolate Bunny Syndrome. Considering that in most years I gained weight the week after Easter, this is a victory. I also learned that food doesn't have to be all or nothing. I'm not a terrible person if I treat myself once in a while, and I also don't have to go totally off the deep end and eat every piece of chocolate in sight along with several fast food meals because I've already "blown it". This is part of that balance I'm striving for, and it's ALWAYS a learning experience.

Now that the Easter chocolates are gone, it's time to get right back on plan. Basically I had already stayed on plan for the most part anyway while enjoying a few goodies. But swimsuit season will be here before I know it, so I want to do the best I can to get down another size before then. The suit I want to wear is ready, hanging around and patiently waiting for me to fit into it.

Time to get ready for summer. Are you with me? Let's hop to it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Makeovers Part 2, First Lady Fitness

Since we got to see the actual makeovers last week, you'd think this week would be anticlimactic.

And in a way, you would be right. After all, the best part of Makeover Week is the transformations. Once you see those there's usually not much else to the episode...but Biggest Loser found a way to give us some excitement anyway.

It was really great to watch everyone exercise with Michelle Obama, and especially fun to see how nervous Bob and Dolvett were to lead her in a workout. The one thing I really like about Mrs. Obama is her commitment to fitness and helping kids get and stay healthy. So the fact that she issued the contestants her own challenge was pretty cool. If you go to the Biggest Loser website you can sign up for this fitness challenge, and support your favorite remaining player by signing up under his or her name. Whoever gets the most sign-ups will receive a new gym in their community to help others get fit. I predict a lot of votes for Kim, and possibly Buddy or Mark. But who knows, we may be surprised!

Our dilemma for the week came from Chris. She talked to her husband at home, who was having a hard time without her and wanted her to come home. After she hung up, she literally ate away her feelings. There were all kinds of weird food combinations going on there - right in her room on the Biggest Loser campus. (How do you get that kind of junk up to your room there? Just saying.) Her mind was definitely not on the game, which Bob picked up on right away. He got her back in the right frame of mind so she wouldn't backslide into the old Chris anymore.

Have you ever done something like that? I know I have. I haven't eaten those kinds of foods mixed together...usually my binge of choice was something sweet and/or filled with chocolate, but I have gone the fast food route as well. It's important to stop that slide as soon as you can. Or as Bob said, if you're going to make a mistake like that you need to learn from it so the mistake was worthwhile. We all make those mistakes, but if we learn and do better next time then something good comes out of it. I know for me, realizing how crappy I feel after a sugar rush/crash/burn makes me choose a different, more productive way to deal with problems or stress. It's all a matter of perspective.

Unfortunately for Chris, she did enough damage during the week to cause a two pound gain. She fell below the yellow line with Kim. The rest of the players chose to save Kim, so Chris went home. It's good to see that she has continued to lose weight in her stressful home environment and is getting her whole family involved in fitness. So she did learn from her mistakes after all!

Next week looks like the drama we've all been waiting for - the episode where the remaining contestants walk off the show. I'm sick of drama this season, but curious to find out what exactly happened. With all of the stories floating around out there the last few weeks, maybe we'll learn the truth. Well, as close to the truth as reality show editing allows!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - Easter

Yesterday I should have weighed in...but I forgot.

With so much going on for Easter, celebrating at home, church, and then having two dinners to attend - well, I got up early, praised God and got on with the celebration. So I will step on the scale next Sunday.

Now, celebrating didn't mean eating up a storm, even with the two dinners. I paced myself at both and ate carefully, enjoying only a couple of treats. The main thing was to thank Jesus for all He's done for me and spend time with family. That satisfies much more than food!

I hope you all had a blessed Easter, and that you keep the spirit of Easter alive in your hearts all the time, not just on Easter Sunday. Carry your love and gratefulness for all God has done into today and every day from now on. Be blessed all the time!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Power of My Own Words - From God

Have you ever gone back through an old diary or journal...and found nuggets of wisdom among the words you had written during a different time of your life that fit your situation now?

I just took it up a notch from there. I found hope, comfort - and yes, wisdom - in my novel manuscript.

I'm in the process of making final revisions in this manuscript so it will be ready as I pursue a publisher. These revisions will be done within a couple of weeks, since I set a deadline of my birthday to have it finished. (My earlier deadline of March 1st was not met because of the job from you-know-where...stress and time constraints really did a number on me.) My gift to myself that day, and to God, is to finally have the book done that He called me to do and ready for where He wants it to go next.

One of my main hopes with this book is that it will touch and inspire other people who are going for their dreams in the midst of other life issues. I was not prepared to have my own words come back at me in the revision process and inspire ME. But they did...not just a phrase or two, but throughout the last few chapters consistently. The overwhelming sense of hope that comes over me as I read these words calms me, even on the roughest days. I can only pray that when my novel is published, it moves other readers the same way.

The other emotion coming over me as I read, revise, and write is joy. The writing process brings me happiness like nothing else I've ever known. This is what it feels like to find your true passion and purpose in life. I've learned that even when other issues arise, my writing keeps my centered and closer to God. When in doubt, WRITE!

I know the true source of my writing talent, and the words themselves, come directly from God. He has given me the ability and the love for words, and I am His instrument as I write them down.

It's just like Him to comfort and inspire me through my own words - that is, the words He sends through me in the first place. I thank Him from the depths of my soul for His amazing and perfect ways!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Makeovers Part 1, AKA Taking a Swing at Life

I've been awaiting this episode for weeks.

And it's not just because I always love the makeovers. This time I actually wanted a contestant to get to Makeover Week solely because she needed one SO BADLY.

It's no secret to my Twitter friends that I couldn't wait to see Chris get rid of that gray hair that made her look at least twenty years older than she really is. I mean, come on...the woman is 42 years old and looked like she'd had her AARP card for years. I bet she always got the senior discount at restaurants too!

The makeovers began with Jeannie Mai styling the six remaining contestants with new clothes. Kim was really rocking that red dress - after Jeannie made her try on her old clothes first, the ones she wore for her audition. What a difference! Kim was happy to put them on because they were way too big now, but you could tell it still blew her mind to see where it had all started for her.

Jeannie told them all that she wanted them to look Presidential for the White House. Of course, with the hair Jeremy was sprouting on his chin he was already starting to channel Abraham Lincoln. I'm happy to report that he no longer looked like Abe when Ken Paves was done with him. And nobody else, thankfully, looked like a dead President either.

Everyone looked amazing. In past seasons there have been a couple of bad makeovers with either too much change or too little, but this time everyone got just what they needed. And what they needed included having their families see their new selves, which never fails to make me cry. Buddy likened his makeover, both inside and out, to finally taking a swing at life. I really like that analogy, because its true - you just have to get off the sidelines and get into the game. We should all be swinging for the bleachers...all the time.

And as for Chris? Her makeover did not disappoint. The gray is gone and she actually looks younger than 42 now. No more senior discounts without getting carded! She literally looks like a whole new woman, and I bet she feels like one too.

Next week is part two of the makeovers, as everyone works out with Michelle Obama and celebrates their new looks. Of course there's still some drama, and I hope Chris does not have to go home before her time. She's come such a long way that I'd like to see her enjoy it. I guess we'll find out next week what really happens!