Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Red Makes Aqua Blue

I sure hope there's a lot of footage of a kinder, gentler Conda that we're not getting to see.

Otherwise, it's hard to find anything to like about her. And I can usually find the good in just about anybody, except maybe dictators and serial killers.

Now, I'm not comparing Conda to that group of people...that would be unfair. Of course, unfair is the way she treats most of the people around her. I would love to find out what in her life has made her act so juvenile and hardened her heart so much. (Guess my one semester of psychology just isn't enough to figure it out.)

This week was the much anticipated return of the Aqua Team, sister Daphne and brother Adrian. They needed to lose 50 pounds between them in order to come back to the ranch. They lost 60 - not only are they back but they received immunity for this first week back. They were immediately informed that they would be separated and had to choose their trainers. I thought it was wrong of the other players who complained about the way they chose...after all, they all had at least some time to deliberate and reach their decisions. Aqua had to decide on the spot, and since they both wanted Bob they had to figure it out fast. Rock, paper, scissors it was. Hey, what would you have done in their place?

Adrian went with Dolvett and Daphne went with Bob. Neither the Red nor Black teams were too happy about this surprise, but for the most part Black made Daphne feel at least somewhat welcome. Adrian didn't fare so well with the Red Team, especially since Conda decided to run her mouth once again. She told anyone who would listen that Adrian was bragging and looked down on the rest of them. Somehow she got Kim to take her side (what was with that?) and the claws came out from both of them. I don't believe a single thing that she claims Adrian said - we all know that drama queens love to exaggerate and make things up to keep the attention on them. They claim that everything is someone else's fault, never their own.

The Red Team grilled Adrian when he first joined them about what he did at home. But then they complained that he went around saying how much he did by himself. Now come on - you guys ASKED him what he did...he only answered your questions honestly. I realize that everyone felt threatened by Aqua coming back into the game, but see how things play out before you accuse them of something (and then say that they're lying when it's actually the person making the accusations who is lying). It was unfair and uncalled for. Kudos to Nancy for asking if they were all in 8th grade. It sure seemed like junior high school to me as well! Plus members of the team said that Adrian would have to prove that he wanted to be part of the team, open up to them and try to connect. Hello? How can he try to connect when you close yourselves off from him and don't even give him a chance?

If they had bothered to listen, like Dolvett did, they would have found out that Adrian's had a problem with food ever since his daughter was born prematurely and died soon after. It was heartbreaking to see him holding the baby for the one and only time he could. Eventually he started walking a lot to work things out and lost some weight before he even got to Biggest Loser. This is one reason why the Red Team shouldn't judge him before they know anything about him. Dolvett tried to get everyone to talk it out, but it didn't help as much as he would have liked. I loved when Adrian said all was forgiven but not forgotten. I understand completely - you certainly can forgive, but still have to watch your back with something like this. Just because you forgive doesn't mean that the person you forgave has the right to continue to abuse you or walk all over you. Smart man!

The Black Team had their own issue with Chris. Bob got them to talk it out a little, but then Chris decided to have her own conversation with the guys on her team. She "killed them with kindness", so to speak - telling them what she admires about them while they sat there perplexed. I'm so glad to see her start breaking down those walls she had built around her. Hopefully she stays around for a long time so she can tear them down even more!

Red won the challenge, so they got to choose one person from each team whose weight would not count on the scale for their teams. They picked Megan for Black and Nancy for Red. Megan pulled a big number while most of her team pulled small ones. Most of the Red Team had small losses too.

Adrian only lost 2 pounds while Daphne lost 1. I do believe they were right about adjusting to a different way of eating on the ranch. They were probably doing everything they could at home to lose that 50 pounds, and I'm sure they cut too many carbs that had to be re-introduced into their diets. I also think that all of the stress of coming back and being treated like the enemy didn't help. Stress is definitely a factor in weight gain or minimal losses. There was so much pressure on them that I'm sure it played a part.

What I didn't like was Adrian being accused of playing the game with the scale. Do these people really think that the 2 of them would purposely lose so little, even with immunity, when they knew that everyone was waiting for them to prove themselves? They knew small numbers would make them targets next week. What a stupid accusation - back to 8th grade again. Geez. And the rest of them lost small amounts as well...so what were THEIR excuses???

I had hoped that after last week's "breakthrough" with Dolvett, Conda would do better, at least on the scale, this week. She only lost 2 pounds - proof that running your mouth does not burn very many calories. Next week's preview looks like more of the same from her. God bless Dolvett.

Red lost the weigh-in and voted Nancy off. I actually cried to see her go. She may not have pulled big numbers, but she was making progress. And she was the voice of reason on the Red Team amid all of the juvenile hate. I loved seeing her at home doing well and trying to remember all of her grandchildren's names. Look for her to be a HOT G-Ma at the finale!

Next week we have more drama from Conda (seriously, ENOUGH already) and we see if Aqua can adjust to the ranch and pull bigger numbers on the scale. I for one hope they do. They seem like people who are there for the right reasons. I wish I could say that about all of the contestants.

And I'm praying that NBC learns that we'd rather see people transform their lives than witness so much drama. If we wanted nastiness we would watch the Real Housewives of Wherever. We love Biggest Loser for its positive health qualities, both physical and mental. If this keeps turning into the Housewives you will lose us. Please - less drama, more breakthroughs!

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - The Results Continue!

Well, the results for the week are in. I lost 1.2 pounds, and although I was hoping for more with all of the work I put in this week, I'm still very happy with it.

I know that in doing all of these activities, I'm building muscle while I get rid of the fat. My clothes are much looser, plus I can fit into a couple pairs of pants that wouldn't even come close to zipping up before.

On top of that both my husband and my Pilates instructor have told me that I look like I've lost a lot, and they can see the slimming down in the shape of my body. When other people start to notice, you're definitely doing something right!

So it's off to spin in a little while before Biggest Loser tonight. Every week I accomplish things I didn't think were possible and get closer to my goals. I can't ask for any more than that. Every pound lost is a success!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Beginning To Hit My Stride Again!

This past week, something profound happened. Profound and exciting.

Marie's got her groove back. (Sorry, Stella!) Even though over the last few months I've been making progress and getting stronger, this week is the one where I really hit my stride again.

I think part of it has to do with having some type of workout class Monday through Friday. Cardio step at Extreme Pump It Up Fitness on Monday and Wednesday, Pilates on Thursday, spin on Tuesday and Friday...I'm still learning my way in the cardio classes, but making improvements. Pilates felt especially good after having to miss it for two weeks while I had no transportation.

I felt my groove the most during spin. Tuesday was awesome, and having class again on Friday only built on the good feelings. I'm really digging down deep and experiencing the strength and power that is within me. God gives me this strength, and I ask Him for His help before every class. He helps me find what He has placed in me all along and bring it out. When I leave spin class, I'm dripping with sweat, feeling empowered and looking forward to what life has in store.

Tonight I can't make cardio class because of a meeting at my son's school, but I will kick my own butt at home afterward. I am determined to make the most of every single day. Tomorrow I weigh in, so hopefully the number on the scale is as good as the feelings my workouts give me.

But one thing can never have a number placed on it - the confident feeling of strength I have found!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - There's No Whine on the Biggest Loser Plan!

I think Dolvett might be up for sainthood after this episode - even though he's still very much alive and even if he's not Catholic.

I'll start off by saying that even though this week's show was shortened due to the State of the Union address, NBC sure packed a lot into that hour. Unfortunately, it was mostly comprised of whining, crying, complaining and moaning. All in the season of NO EXCUSES!

Let's move past the muddy battering ram challenge right into the heart of the episode. Both Bob and Dolvett had to deal with people who would rather complain than do the work they need to do to lose the weight. Bob's problem child was Gail, who seemed to be giving very little effort combined with a whole lot of talk and tears. Bob's explanation of her crying fit over her shoelaces becoming untied would have made Tonya Harding proud. (Now, how much fun would it have been to have Bob Harper at the 1994 Olympics to whip Tonya into shape?) No matter what Gail was asked to do, she gave every excuse in the book, plus a few that she probably invented herself.

Now, I do understand the fine art of excuses. I've made them myself in the past...obviously they, along with fear, played a part in my obesity. But even in my worst season of excuses I didn't act like this. (Or like Conda, who we'll get to in a moment.) How long can a person go on complaining before they're fed up and finally just do it? Most of us have a lower threshold for our own B.S. than Gail or the other two players do, thank God.

Now to poor Dolvett. He had two whiners on his team. Nancy managed to sass him every chance she got, including giving Dolvett the business because he'd never given birth. Really - she went there. I've been through childbirth, which included 21 hours of labor and anethesia that somehow wore off on one side of my body but not the other. (The anesthesiologist put the epideral in crooked, so it sent most of the meds to my right side and not my left. It was an interesting labor!) Yes, it is a lot of work and takes all of your strength. But that only makes me realize that if we can do childbirth, we can do anything. And after both giving birth and hard training, you have something precious to show for it. In one case, your baby - in the other case, your health!

Then there's Conda. (In the Olympic realm, she would be the one trying to club her opponent on the knee instead of just working her butt off for the title.) I'm trying to like her...I really am. I'm sure there are some deep issues within her that are making her act like a spoiled brat, and that we will find out more about them soon. But have you ever heard someone talk to their trainer that way? Mouthing off, shouting NO! at him when he asks you to do something, even if it's only going to take two minutes...and complaining to the producer that Dolvett is picking on her. He was right to make her go outside until she was ready to come in and do the work. He needed to focus on the rest of his team that wanted to be there and were giving all of the effort. She finally apologized when he asked if she had something to say to him, and like the class act he is, he even apologized to her as well. I certainly didn't see anything he did that he needed to say he was sorry for. But he did what was needed to get her back to work.

Before the weigh-in, Conda was heard already making excuses before she got on the scale. If she had a bad number, she was going to blame Dolvett for giving her a hard time all week. Now THAT is ridiculous. Everything he did was to help her - she was the one holding everything up. I know some people like Conda, and unfortunately you probably do too. Everything that goes wrong is someone else's fault other than their own. They often blame the very people who try to encourage them. Luckily for the Red Team, Conda pulled a good number on the scale. Her 10 pound loss was not in spite of Dolvett...it was BECAUSE of him. (Time to send a message to the Pope - Dolvett should at least get some special blessing for putting up with this!)

It had to be beyond frustrating for Bob when his team hit the scale. Megan worked her butt off and lost only two pounds, while Gail did very little and still lost five. And you know it was even more mind-boggling for Megan! I predict that next week the scale will make it up to her. At least I sure hope so.

The elimination for the Black Team came down to the two people I thought it would. Earlier in the week, Chris broke down and said, among other things, that she wanted to go home. Fear makes you do funny things, especially when you usually keep to yourself and you're thrown into a house full of strangers who overwhelm you. But I don't blame her team for being nervous that she would leave. After all, Joe already did and they didn't want any more problems like that. Gail, as previously mentioned, complained a lot and didn't do the work. By one vote, Gail was sent home. She seems to be doing OK at home, even with tendonitis in her hips. Good thing she's swimming a lot.

By the way, congratulations to Buddy and his wife on the birth of their son! Now here's a man who flew home, witnessed his son being born, flew back in time for the weigh-in...and still lost 10 pounds! Talk about no excuses!

Next week the Aqua Team comes back. If they've lost at least 50 pounds at home they get to come back on the ranch. I'm really pulling for them to make it. I'm ready to watch people who want to make the most of their opportunities and really want to be there. How about you?

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - 3rd Week Results

We are three weeks in with our #BL13Challenge.

It's been a real challenge in more ways than one, which include my vehicle situation. At one point last week both cars were in the shop. It turns out that my husband's car does need an engine after all, and it would be better to get another car. With our finances they way they are, we have to borrow money from family for a down payment and get something used to be able to afford a small monthly payment. We are still pricing vehicles, and a friend of ours was able to lend his truck so my husband could get to work and we would have at least one form of transportation.

When both cars were out of commission, I had no way to get to my Pilates, spin, and other activites. I was even stalled in job hunting because I would have had no way to get to an interview or start right away if that were the case. I certainly still worked out at home, but I missed seeing my friends at class. It really hurt to miss Pilates two weeks in a row because of the car...and it hurt even more to miss spin for the first week ever.

So this morning I stepped on the scale to see a .4 pound loss. I'm actually pretty happy with that. I did the best I could with what I had to work with, and it's still a loss. I didn't gain or stay the same. The scale still moved in the right direction.

The good news is that after 5 days without my car I have it back. Thankfully the bill for this one wasn't too bad, and since my husband is using his friend's truck we can both get to our appointments and activities now. I'm back to job hunting after a few days away from it, and able to go to spin tonight, my other cardio classes, and Pilates on Thursday!

I feel surprisingly upbeat after going through all of this. God always provides a way, and during the period when I was stuck at home he provided time for soul searching in addition to more time to write and edit. And now He has provided temporary transportation while we shop for a car. Back when I had that rotten day, I must have gotten it all out of my system. That's not to say I won't still have challenging days, but I'm handling them much better after venting (as calmly as I could) - to God through prayer, and to my friends who provided an ear and some prayers on my behalf. True friends know that we all have issues to face and occasional rough days...and that it's a two-way street in supporting each other. I'm always happy to be there for my friends. It's such a blessing to know that they have my back as well. I always knew they did, but it means even more after the debacle with that certain "friend" recently. You learn who your true friends are and what real friendship is...and there is an amazing gift in the lesson.

So I go into this next week of the challenge stronger, more confident, and more courageous than before. Onward and upward!

How did you do this week? Please share with me here or at #BL13Challenge on Twitter!

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Take on the Paula Deen Diabetes Dilemma

By now you've probably heard a lot about Paula Deen and her diabetes. And if you haven't heard that much, you've at least heard something unless you live under a rock.

I've been thinking about this situation since the news came out. A lot of people immediately criticized her, which I do understand because of the kind of recipes she teaches and foods she endorses. If you eat that stuff on a regular basis you are not going to be healthy.

But in addition to that, I have some other thoughts on Paula. I have one of her cookbooks that I was given as a gift years ago. (Hopefully the person who gave it to me did so because of my love of all things Southern...and NOT because I look like I eat a lot of butter. Ick!) I enjoy looking at the recipes, but I've only made a couple of them - and not often, only once or twice for the holidays or a special occasion. There is no way I could eat that stuff more often than that.

A lot of traditional Southern food is filled with grease, butter, sugar, and too many carbs. And being a Dixie gal, Paula made a name for herself making the foods she grew up on and adding her own twists. Some of these recipes look appetizing, while others (like the doughnut burger pictured above) just look downright disgusting. When you've grown up on a certain kind of food, you tend to turn to that food for comfort and celebration because you're used to it. When she began, Paula most likely thought she was just passing down dishes that have been around for generations, and updating them to create something different. I doubt she set out purposely to make people around the country sick. She was probably in denial that they could make HER sick.

Along the way, her recipes got out of hand. She says she's always preached moderation, although I've never really heard her say it myself. And as her own health spiraled out of control and she developed diabetes, I'm guessing that she had no idea what to do next. She was used to these foods. And her fans were used to these foods. It probably took her a while to figure out how to deal with her diagnosis, then in turn deal with her food legacy. Obviously it's 3 years later and there's plenty of fallout...and I bet she knew there would be, hence the delay in telling the world about her diabetes while she figured out how to deal with it best. She was definitely in a tight spot!

I don't have a problem with her promoting a diabetes drug, as long as she also admits that her diet played a part in her illness. She should come clean and tell us that those foods are not just to be eaten in moderation - they are to be eaten rarely if you want to be healthy. This is important so people don't assume that a drug by itself will "fix" their diabetes problem. Diet and exercise play as much, if not more, of a part in controlling diabetes. I know this because my dad is diabetic, and my grandparents were as well, along with all of my uncles. This is a disease I have to watch out for myself.

I also knew people who thought that just because they took insulin or other drugs, they could eat whatever they wanted. One person in particular would drink several glasses of wine and actually thought that shooting herself with extra insulin would cancel it out. This is dangerous thinking - it's crucial for Paula to let everyone know that the drugs do help, but they don't solve everything.

My other point - we all know that eating a ton of butter is not good for you, just like eating too much fast food isn't healthy. Blaming Paula is like blaming McDonald's...neither of them are forcing you to eat their food. We all choose what to put into our bodies. There is a lesson is all of this, and she is learning a lesson just like the rest of us. If anybody is suddenly shocked that fried food and butter aren't healthy, then they have an even bigger problem.

I look forward to seeing more of Paula's original dishes made over to be better for us. There are ways to eat your favorite things without all of the extra fat and sugar. I also look forward to better health - for Paula, myself, and all of us who struggle with our weight. May we use what we learn to improve!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Facing Off, Giving Up, Breaking Through

This week was somewhat back to "normal" on the ranch. Of course, I have no idea what normal is there anymore.

Alison informed the players that they would be facing off against one another on the scale. Whoever ate the most calories at the Chinese buffet temptation would have the control, getting to decide who went up against whom from each team, and who would use a 2 pound advantage, either one person or the opportunity to split it with 1 pound going to 2 different people.

Now this would be a difficult temptation for me. I love Chinese food...especially the buffet that's about 15 minutes from our house. (Good thing I limit myself to twice a year visits!) The other problem is that what they say really is true - you really are starving again a couple of hours after eating Chinese food. So not only do you eat too much, but then you eat again later because you're still hungry!

Nobody on the Red Team ate anything, for which I commend them. Kimmy was right about giving in to a temptation like that so soon, and then making yourself crave that stuff all over again. Better to stay away! The Black Team decided someone should eat a fortune cookie, so finally Cassandra did. In fact, she ate a second one just to be "safe". Good thing it was only a total of 60 calories! I also love that afterward she grabbed the slips of paper that contained the fortunes to read. My guess is that they said, "The power is within you" and "She who play with fortune cookies face off against irritating opponent".

Cassandra made her choices for the face-off, including putting her grandma Nancy against Joe and herself against Conda. Then something both surprising and interesting happened. Joe decided to leave the ranch and go home.

He said he missed his family and needed to be there. I also think he gave up too quickly after his brother went home. If I had the opportunity to be on Biggest Loser, I know I'd miss my family like crazy...but I also know they would be proud of me for taking advantage of the opportunity to get healthy. They wouldn't want me to give it up so easily. And I would never give up easily anyway. How often do you get the chance to focus on your own health - physical, mental, and spiritual - without daily stress or interruptions? Sure, at some point you have to integrate your real life with what you learn while you're away, but you have the time to work on everything, learn important skills, and pull yourself together, so when you get home you can be better at your life. Sometimes that change of pace/scenery can be the boost you need to take better care of yourself!

So Joe left, and he received a call from Bob once he was home. You could tell that Bob was really broken up about Joe leaving...he knew just how much Joe needed to be there and how much he still had to learn. Then at the challenge, the Black Team learned that the Red Team would automatically get one point in the face-off; since Joe was not there to compete against Nancy, she would automatically win her match. Bob and his team were not happy to be penalized because of Joe. One good thing came of the challenge - some of the winners gave their prize to others so they could talk to their families. It brought this season out of last week's negativity back to something pure and unselfish. Those are the moments that make the "drama" worthwhile!

Bob had some work to do with Cassandra. She always had a hard time believing in herself, whether it had to do with her weight, career, or anything else. I really relate to her, because she is a writer who dreams of getting published, but she always felt her weight would hold her back. Being a writer with the same dreams, I know the concern. I've had some successes in both writing and fitness, but still have a lot to work on. As much as I'm doing this for my health...I can't help but think ahead to that book jacket photo! (Of course, we are always all works in progress!) Seeing her breakthrough with Bob was actually a breakthrough for me as well. It makes me think about how much stronger I am both mentally and physically, and how I will keep moving upward from here. It also shows the Bob I know and love, and one of those moments that the show is all about.

Our dose of drama came with Cassandra's face-off against Conda. (I'm actually picturing John Travolta and Nicolas Cage right now, pulling their faces off in the gym and on the scale.) They had a one on one burpee challenge in the gym, with the loser having to buy the winner a Subway lunch. Cassandra won, but Conda decided to whine some nonsense about her cheating. Thankfully Dolvett put a stop to that childish outburst in the gym, but Conda continued to whine at other times. Finally Dolvett had them do another mini-challenge, which Cassandra also won. (without cheating at either, I might add) Conda vowed to beat her on the scale, still complaining. I'm sure Conda has her own issues to deal with, and it looks like next week we'll find out more about that...I'm sure there's also more to her than we get to see on TV. But the whole thing was pretty irritating!

Once we got to the scale, point after point was awarded for each face-off. It all came down to (SURPRISE!) Cassandra vs. Conda for the win. Conda only lost 3 pounds - Cassandra crushed her. Black won the weigh-in, and Red had to send someone home.

Every season has one or two eliminations that seem to come out of nowhere, and that was sure the case this week. It basically came down to Nancy and Lauren. Nancy only lost two pounds and probably would have lost to Joe had he stayed on the ranch. But Lauren was always a team player and did her best. She didn't have any problems with any of her teammates.

Lauren wound up going home, and she was as surprised as we all were. She's doing well at home, and is even finding the athlete within her again by running a half-marathon. I know she's going to blow everybody away at the finale. Look for a strong, stunning Lauren smiling back at us in May!

Next week promises to show us more of Conda and what makes her tick. And what makes her tick Dolvett off as well. Never a dull moment!

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge - Second Week Success!

Tonight is the 3rd episode of Biggest Loser Season 13, which means our 2nd week weigh-in results.

You know I've had a trying week (still having car issues, so please say a prayer) with working around not having transportation for some of the events and workouts and needing to work around that. Being that this is the season of NO EXCUSES and my year of ACTION, I was not about to let those kinds of things stop me anymore.

Well, this morning's results made me very happy. I lost 1.4 pounds in a week that in the past would have sent me straight to the refrigerator and the couch. I got a lot of writing and editing done, still exercised everyday, and kept away from the stress eating. So far for the #BL13Challenge I've lost 3.4 pounds.

Whenever you have a stressful day - or week - understand that it's OK to admit that you wish things were different. Then find a way to MAKE things better. Acknowledge your frustration, but then go work it out or brainstorm ways to improve your situation. Channel your pisstivity...as Dolvett would say!

How did you do this week? Drop me a line here or on Twitter at #BL13Challenge!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Be Mindful - Just Say No to Stress Eating!

First of all, thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers yesterday. I'm happy to report that we heard back from our mechanic today and found out that it's not the engine. It's something that costs only $400 instead of $2000 - and I am VERY thankful for that. We will have our car back tomorrow afternoon, and I'm looking forward to being out and about again. For now, I'm watching the snow falling outside my office window, planning which DVD to work out with tonight (maybe step this time?) and thanking God for allowing us to have a bill that was 1/5 of what we thought it was going to be.

The other happy news, which is what I want to focus on today, is that I did not give in to the myriad of food cravings that wound their way through me yesterday due to the stress.

Every fast food commercial seemed to call my name. Chocolate, and a lot of it, was looking extremely appealing. In the old days I would have let myself give in to those cravings and dive into the grease, salt, and sugar.

Yesterday was different. After allowing myself a short time to cry and feel my emotions, I prayed - more than usual. I practiced my yoga poses, breathed in deeply, and stayed in control. I ate a normal, healthful dinner and drank a sugar free hot chocolate later on to put a halt to the candy cravings.

I think the key was allowing myself to feel the frustration and worry within reason. Giving myself permission to be human, realizing I'm not perfect or a machine, and knowing that it's normal to feel these things was important. And that goes for ALL of us, not just a select few. It's OK to feel those emotions, just not let them get the best of us. Which is where prayer and mindfulness come into play.

I believe God allowed me to feel upset about the possibility of an unimaginable repair bill. This way I learned to bring my broken self to him for help. My strength comes from God. None of us can "do" life on our own. With my prayers, He brought my mind to a place where I could resist unhealthy foods and use better methods to deal with the stress.

It's good to share your emotions with your true friends...God wants us to support and pray for each other on this sometimes crazy life journey. But we all must remember that God is the only One who can deal with all of our stuff. Our friends and family who care about us also have their own stuff to deal with. Their minds are on several things at once, just like ours are - so they can't give us COMPLETE support. Only God can do that.

As hard as yesterday was, God gave me a lesson I won't ever forget. And I'm 100 percent thankful to Him for it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Working Through a Rough Day

I'm REALLY trying to stay upbeat today.

I'm having a very human experience right now. Over the last couple of days I've done a good job of moving forward even when circumstances threaten to bring me down or stop my progress. My husband's car is at the mechanic's. It had to be towed there on Tuesday, and since then he's had to use my car to get to work, his bowling league, etc. On occasion when this has happened before I've been able to borrow a car for a day to get to appointments. This time that option isn't available, since other people need to use their cars...which I completely understand.

I couldn't go to my cardio class last night. So I popped in "Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred" in order to still get my workout in. I am NOT letting the lack of transportation stop me from my fitness goals. I also couldn't go to Pilates this morning. I really hate missing a session because it makes my body feel so much better. I'm trying out one of the Pilates DVDs that I've had for a while - one that I never felt comfortable doing before, but now that I've had instruction from Janice for a few months, I feel I can do it without hurting myself because I know enough to do it properly. It's still not like having her there to help me adjust, but it's better than doing nothing.

My husband just got home from work a little while ago. He spoke to our mechanic, who is still trying to figure out what's wrong with the car. It's not any of the usual issues so far...meaning the less expensive of the issues and easier to fix. It could still be something somewhat minor, but with the car having trouble for so long he thinks we might need a new engine.

We do not have money for a new engine. And we certainly don't have money for a new car. Both of our cars have been running on prayers for a long time. We've gone without air conditioning for 3 summers with both cars, only fixing what was absolutely necessary because funds are so low. We've been juggling bills for quite a while, paying for the neccessities and whatever would help us get healthy. We are staying focused on priorities.

I'm so thankful my husband has the job he has, because otherwise things would be a lot worse...and he loves where he works. It doesn't pay what the job he had been laid off from before did, but in this economy that seems to be the norm. I'm grateful for what we do have.

I'm also human, and frustrated that I've had trouble getting even a part time job to help out for over 2 years. I even applied for plenty of seasonal positions for the holidays, hoping to at least have a temporary respite from the money stress. No luck there either. So many people are in the same boat...and there are only so many openings available. I've had temporary part time jobs before, to help keep things going while I build my freelance writing career. And I have gotten some freelance work - not enough to be a full income yet, but definitely headed in the right direction. I'm more than willing to work an outside job in addition until I'm well-established. I do sell my handmade jewelry also...but sales are down because so many people don't have the money available either.

I have to state the obvious - this economy stinks, for us and so many other people. I'm having a really down day while doing my best to work through it.

The last time I had a rough day like this, a "friend" turned on me. Even though I am almost always positive, I wasn't allowed to have a bad day even though she was allowed to have them on a regular basis. The first time ever that I mentioned to her that I was a little stressed, she decided she had to re-evaluate our friendship and continually attacked me. This is the person I had to block out of my life. Nothing like someone who demands your support all the time, but the moment you need a little support they won't be there for you...right?

I shouldn't be afraid to be real and admit that I have a bad day sometimes. I always strive to be positive and keep working toward a better life. But like everyone else, I am human. Stress does occasionally get to me even though I fight it and press forward. Sometimes you just have to get things off your chest to feel better. And most people should be able to understand and relate on this journey of life.

I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me, because we all have stressful situations in our lives. I always support and pray for friends about their problems. I do my best to get them to think positively and do their own best.

But there are days I need that support as well. And this is one of them. Would you please say a prayer for my family and I? Prayer really does work wonders, and I would really appreciate it.

In the meantime, I know God is working behind the scenes even though things are tough. I will keep pressing on...but please pray for me!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 - Big Gambles and Out Of Character Hissy Fits

If you thought there was a lot of drama last season...

Welcome to The Real Housewives of the Biggest Loser Ranch. Or what certainly feels a lot like it.

Let me start off by saying that I love the testosterone fest going on between Bob and Dolvett. It brings a whole new dynamic that makes for some exciting moments. I fully expected there to be some alpha male stuff this season with no female trainers in sight. (And I'll bet after tonight's episode Anna Kournikova is extremely happy that she's nowhere near the ranch anymore.) It would be boring if there weren't any competition at all between the trainers, and it's only human nature.

But tonight went over the line into grade school antics...from Bob, of all people. Bob's supposed to be the one who has always been about the good of everyone there. I love me some Bob - that's why it's so surprising to witness this hissy fit. He made it sound like Dolvett is only copying him and not making his own mark with the contestants. What's next, complaining that Dolvett is letting his peeps use the spin bikes or treadmills because Bob uses them?

Why would Bob do something so out of character? Well, we all have our moments when we have a bad day and say something that would never normally come from us. Or we meant it in a joking manner but it didn't come out that way and was taken seriously. What's worse for someone like Bob (or Dolvett, or Ali...) is that it's all being filmed. So the world gets to see a very human moment and judge as they will.

The other part of reality TV is - everything is edited for maximum drama. I'm sure there were plenty of positive things going on with Bob and everyone else involved. But the producers decided to focus mostly on the bad ones.

Like I said, I've always loved Bob and still do. I'm really disappointed that he threw a juvenile tantrum that was uncalled for, but I can't judge him since we all do it once in a while. If I want to be forgiven for an out of character slip-up, I certainly need to forgive Bob for his own. This is not something that he normally does...if he were constantly being nasty to everyone and not doing any good, that would be a different story. And if for some reason this was the editing department's doing and not his...if I were him, I'd be ticked off at being portrayed like that. The producers need to know that this will only turn off most viewers...who prefer only a little bit of drama and would rather see the breakthroughs and transformations of the contestants. That's what we mostly saw in past seasons and why people love this show. That's what Biggest Loser is really all about. Or SHOULD be. (Now I miss Season 11 even more!)

The initial poker challenge was interesting, especially since Week 2 is notorious for low numbers on the scale. The Red Team took a big gamble trying to lose 94 pounds for the week. And if they hadn't lost the bet, they wouldn't have had to give the Black Team a 5 pound advantage...and would have won their second weigh-in.

When it came time for the Red Team to eliminate someone, there was plenty of fighting among the players, most of whom voted to send Mike home since he wasn't trying his best and rude to some of the contestants. I have to admit, I got the same bad vibe from him - but when he finally admitted his weakness with tobacco and anger issues, I felt for him. (Also, I have to remember that we don't get to see every moment on the show, and don't know everything that Mike did or didn't do. There's more to him than a few choice TV clips.) Even though he couldn't bring himself to say it at first, it took a lot of guts to tell everyone that he realizes he needs help in many areas of his life. I'm pulling for him to overcome his issues, as it was plain to see that they really bother him and he used them to cover a lot of pain in his life. It goes to show that it's hard to judge another person when you don't know what their life has been like and what their struggles are. It doesn't mean you condone the way they act - but you can put it in perspective and try to support them as much as possible. (Without putting yourself in danger, of course.)

The bright moments of the week (yes, there were some!) were Chism's big weight loss, and Chris being able to give immunity to her husband Roy by having the highest percentage of weight loss on the winning team. He worked so hard so he could save her...but she wound up saving him, which was a sweet moment, and the only time I needed Kleenex this week. I also enjoyed nutritionist Rachel's trip to the grocery store with the contestants, in which I learned a couple of new things and discovered a recipe for a turkey breakfast burrito that I have to make!

Next week promises more drama, with contestants fighting and possibly clawing each other's eyes out. Seriously...can we just watch Season 11 all over again? Please? Or at least go back to the balance of some drama with a lot of motivation and transformation - which is what Biggest Loser was built on and what makes it special. There are already plenty of reality shows with catfights, and I'd watch those if that's what I wanted to see. Please bring back the positive Biggest Loser!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Biggest Loser 13 Challenge: First Week Results!

Weigh-in time for the first full week of the #BL13Challenge. The moment of truth...

I lost two pounds this week! I'm very happy with that. Considering that I did take one rest day due to the bad cough I had, these were good results.

Another plus this week: I only took that one rest day. I'd been sick all week, but still made it to all of my cardio, spin, yoga, and Pilates appointments. I still gave it my all, when in the past I would have taken it easy most of the week. And it paid off on the scale. Not only that, but my body and mind are in much better shape after pushing forward and taking action!

I'm ready for spin tonight, immediately followed by Biggest Loser. How did you do this week? Let me know so I can celebrate with you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Inner Bliss 101

On Saturday I had my Yoga 101 class at Inner Bliss....a two hour session where we learned about the practice, plus many of the beginner moves.

I'd been looking forward to this class since I signed up for it over a month ago. I knew I needed to learn the foundation before throwing myself into it, not only so I wouldn't injure myself, but so I would get the most out of each position as is meant to be.

Our instructor had two assistants, which really helped since they would come around the room to correct our positions or posture as necessary. For me, it was definitely necessary. There were some poses that came pretty easily to me, but others were more challenging so I needed that correction to ensure I was doing it right. I also appreciated the modifications for those of us who had to use them. I only needed a couple of these, but they made all the difference in the world for someone brand new to the practice.

At first my cough threatened to disrupt my session...and I was afraid I would disrupt the whole class. There were a couple of others with the same problem ('tis the season for colds) so the thermostat was turned down a little, which kept our throats from drying out too much. Our coughs subsided, I drank some water, and we moved on to learning. Good thing this wasn't a hot yoga class!

I felt so good performing the moves, and felt even better the rest of the day after class. I love the way yoga makes me feel. My body loves the poses and my mind appreciates the focus it brings. It's also a treat to be in a room full of people that truly want the best not only for themselves, but everyone around them as well. That doesn't happen often enough in this world, unfortunately. Hopefully I and the others can pass that on to the people around us in our lives. I know some will accept this concept while others won't, but it's sure worth a try and at least some people will get it!

Because I completed this special class, I have a free regular class coming to me. I will definitely take advantage of it. After that I may not be able to go regularly to the studio until my finances allow...but I'll have the foundation to do what I can at home in the meantime, and hopefully be able to pop in once a month or so to make some progress. My budget is already at the limit with the other fitness activities I'm involved in, while I keep building my freelance writing career and continue to look for a part time job to help pay the bills. Getting fitter helps me have more energy and confidence that spill over into the other areas of my life, so these are a neccessity as much as healthy food and other priorities. But I know I can only do so much at this time, and the added energy/confidence will assist me in the career arena so I can build upon what I've started.

So now that I've begun to experience inner bliss, I strive for more. Off to cardio class, which brings with it a whole different kind of bliss! ;o)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pumping Up My Routine

The first week of 2012 has been challenging and exciting so far.

It also has me dealing with a cold and cough that would love to slow me down. I had a sore throat on New Year's Day and the day after, but felt well enough to start really working out on Tuesday. I did take walks on the first two days, since I didn't want to do nothing at all to begin the year.

On Tuesday I pushed myself at spin. Maria gave us a ride that really kicked butt, which was just what I needed to get back up to speed. And it fit in with the Biggest Loser theme for the season - No Excuses. I wasn't going to let a cold stop me from doing what I needed to do!

Wednesday brought a brand new cardio class. The instructor, Sophia, taught my niece Sofia (gotta love that!) gymnastics for a while, and she invited me to try her class, Extreme Pump It Up Fitness, at the Middleburg Heights Rec Center. Even though by the time I got to class I'd lost my voice, I was ready for something new to add to my routine.

I did pretty well getting through the class, learning new moves and trying to keep up. I know I got a good workout and will have an even better one next time because I'll be feeling better and know some of the moves. This was my introduction to burpees, which I'd heard about but never actually experienced until now. I can see why people have a love/hate relationship with them. I could only do a few at the regular pace, but kept going and modified the moves to keep my heart rate going. Since I got in on an awesome January special for unlimited classes (something my budget is really happy about!) I'll be there often to perfect those burpees. This first class didn't use any extra equipment other than a mat, but most of the time weights and other items are added to the mix. I can't wait to do it again!

Most of Wednesday night I was up coughing, so I only got about 2 hours of sleep. I still made it to my morning Pilates session, and once Janice helped my clear my brain fog things went very well. I'm so glad I didn't skip the session. I'm determined to take ACTION this year even when the going gets rough. I took a walk in the evening, and finally got some rest last night.

Today is my "easy" day fitness-wise. I'm going for a light walk and giving my body a chance to recover before my 2 hour yoga seminar/session tomorrow. This is the class I signed up for a month ago, so I want to be able to learn and enjoy to the fullest. A single rest day is good, and after yoga I can pick up the pace once again.

I'm also pumping up my routine with more fruits and vegetables and staying away from as much processed food as possible. Since I'm working to clear the icky stuff out of my head and chest, I drink even more water than usual. All of these healthy habits will help me get rid of this cold sooner than usual, so I can move on to even better days.

I'm not letting this silly January cold stop me from my plan of ACTION. How about you? How is your first week of 2012 going? Let me know what healthy plans you've put into action!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Biggest Loser Season 13 Premiere!

Happy 2012 - and welcome to the Season 13 Premiere of Biggest Loser!

If you saw the previews at the end of last season or during the holidays, you already know there are some twists to start out the season. Of course, Biggest Loser saved a couple of surprises for tonight as well. And I already like the vibe I'm getting from this group of players.

We met the contestants and began with a challenge right off the bat. The first four couples to finish a sprint were guaranteed the opportunity to go through the gates and train with Bob and Dolvett. One player mentioned that they looked like the Pearly Gates....but I have to correct him. The Biggest Loser Gates are the ones you go through to lose weight and regain your health. The Pearly Gates are where you go if you don't get your health back.

After this part of the challenge, the remaining teams competed in other events until it was down to Pink and Aqua. One of them would also make it on campus. The team that lost the final event would have to go home. (I'm really happy that Pink made it - I'm rooting for these strong ladies to get their health and lives back!)

Aqua finished last and had to leave - but unbeknownst to the others who went inside, Alison informed them that they would go home for one month, and if they lost 50 pounds as a team they could earn their way on campus. I felt bad for them, but can't wait to see what happens in a month when they surprise the other teams and we see how they did at home.

The nine teams on campus met Bob and Dolvett. Bob took a cue from Jillian and arrived on his motorcycle, proving that however much the producers would like everyone to forget about Jill she is always present in some form. Ali told the teams they would have two hours to work out with both trainers; then they would decide which trainer they would like to have after that.

Some people bonded with Bob, others with Dolvett. Some players held fast to the tradition of throwing up, falling down, and passing out during the first workout - with some truly scary moments as Ben couldn't even remember his own name and had to sit out for a while.

When the two hours were up, Ali announced that they would definitely choose their trainers...except the couples were being split up, with one of each pair going with Dolvett and the other with Bob. It did not sit well with any of them, although they did mention they were thankful to all still be on campus and none of them were going home instead, which has happened in previous seasons. I wonder if Dolvett blushed at all when several ladies mention him being "a fox and a half". (Of course this is true, but still...) Some decided to go with Bob because he's the "nice" one. Have they been paying attention at all in previous seasons? They're in for a rude awakening when they find out just how tough he can be!

Once the teams were decided everyone got to work. They also had their obligatory visit with Dr. H to find out just how bad their health was. The fun part comes later in the season, when the doctor gets to tell everyone how much their numbers have improved. During the last chance workout, it seemed like Bob's team was working hard while Dolvett's struggled. But as we all know, appearances can be deceiving, especially when a reality show is edited.

At the weigh-in, both teams lost 103 pounds. The Red Team, however had the higher percentage of weight loss. Dolvett was beyond excited to beat the Black Team in the first week, while Bob vowed that this would only motivate his team. (Can you imagine a boxing match between Bob and Dolvett? That's one fight I'd pay to watch!) The Red Team was safe, and the Black Team had to send someone home.

Before the vote, Ben spoke to his team and said he wanted to go home. Most of them seemed to be thinking of sending Megan home, since she is a smaller player and lost the least amount. Ben said that he really missed his family and learned enough in that one week to do the work at home. I was really shocked that eveyone decided to honor his wishes, because the team could really use the big numbers he was bound to pull in the upcoming weeks. When we checked in on him at home he'd lost 50 pounds so far, so he's doing all right. But I have a feeling Bob will not be happy on next week's episode!

Speaking of next week, the preview shows a poker challenge and two very upset trainers. Things are about to get even more interesting, and I'm looking forward to it. How about you?

My Biggest Loser Season 13 Challenge - No Excuses!

Tonight is the season premiere of Biggest Loser- which means it's time for a new challenge!

I managed to lose 2.2 pounds over the holidays, except that with a couple of drinks on New Year's Eve and my monthly gift ready to arrive, I gained most of that back.

But enough of that. No dwelling or excuses, only moving forward with my plan of ACTION.

My starting weight this morning was 199.6. It's nice to start 2012 without extra holiday weight to lose on top of everything else. (Normally I'd weigh myself in mid-December, and have a larger number on the scale come January 2nd or 3rd. Since I weigh a hair less than December 13th, I'm calling it a wash and going from here.) Just like last season, I will weigh in every Tuesday and post the results up through the Season 13 Finale in May.

The winter/spring BL season is always a little bit longer than the fall one, so I've kept that in mind while deciding upon my goal. I will lose at least 35 pounds by the finale, which will put me at 164.6 or less. I'm stepping up my workouts and being even more conscious of what I put into my body. And I will continue to stay away from the diet soda and drink plenty of water.

If you would like to join me, please post your goal here or on Twitter at #BL13Challenge. We can encourage each other all season long!

Now it's off to spin class before Biggest Loser tonight!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year - My Chosen Word For 2012

We all know words are powerful. The right ones can build someone up, while the wrong ones can tear someone down. Some people use words to purposely hurt others, while all of us at times have used words to express something that another person has taken the wrong way or interpreted in a different way than we meant it.

I've recently learned to take the concept of words even further. (And for a writer that's really something!) I finished reading a book a few days ago by Debbie Macomber - not one of her many novels, but a non-fiction book called "Knit Together". In it Debbie talks about her faith and the lessons she's learned over the years, and encourages us to find our purpose and be who God created us to be.

One of the concepts she introduced was the idea of choosing a single word to focus on each year. She's been doing this for long time and it has enhanced her life and the lives of others every year. This concept intrigued me so I decided to choose a word for 2012. As Debbie says, God assists us in choosing the right word. There are so many words that it would be difficult to pick only one without asking God to lead us to the right word. Sometimes a word will come to us in prayer, or God will have the word show up over and over again in our daily lives to drive home the point.

After plenty of prayer, watching and listening for God's direction, I realized my word for 2012 is ACTION. I was led to the Bible to read John's prodding not to use only words, but to show love through our actions. The word showed up in just about everything I read or heard. And as soon as I decided upon this word, the next tune on the radio was the old Toby Keith song, "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action".

In thinking over my word, I also realized something else. I'm a philosopher by nature - which means I spend a lot of time thinking, musing, and writing. This is all good, but there have been times when I overthought things and didn't DO enough. I was afraid to actually follow through, so I kept THINKING about it instead of ACTING on it.

This word is God's way of telling me that although I still must think and pray about decisions, I need to move past the fear and put plans into ACTION. If He tells me to do something, then I should do it. It's amazing how excited I am about this year and focusing on the word God chose for me!

By the way, after reading this book I went to Debbie Macomber's website, where I discovered that she has a new book coming out on Tuesday, "One Perfect Word", in which she focuses entirely on this concept. So God once again uses his perfect timing to teach me an important lesson.

I hope you will join me in choosing a word to live by and focus on for 2012. I'd love to hear what word you choose as well! Happy New Year, and may 2012 be filled with blessings!