Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meal Prep and Planning - Locally

From charting my food intake it's easy to see a few patterns.  I've already discussed the emotional eating a little - and surely will again - so I will skip over that for now and move on to the next issue - planning ahead (or rather lack thereof). Like the other day when my stomach started growling because it' was 1:30, I hadn't eaten a thing since breakfast and I had another meeting 20 minutes. I could've brought a long a healthy snack and maybe even scheduled in time for a quick lunch - but I didn't.  So instead I ended up grabbing a Diet Coke,  shoving whatever was easiestt/fastest in my mouth and following up with a piece of gum (I always have gum).

If you know anything about me you are aware I'm more of a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" kind of girl than a "planner". However, I am in "change mode right now and I recognize this change is necessary to moving forward in my journey. So it was fortuitous that Hyam is hosting a really fabulous seminar at the studio this week (seriously, this was a coincidence) about meal planning!  This is awesome not just because of the great information - but because while I'm not great at creating a plan - I am good at following one! (Ya always gotta have a plan, right Sissa?).

Laura Glassow will be discussing "Local and Seasonal Meal Planning and Preparation" tomorrow, May 26 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the studio.  After eating the entire bag of snap peas we bought at the City Market this weekend in one sitting (they were SO good!) I can't wait to learn more about working local foods into my daily diet.  Plus with the Spicy Chicken scheduled to travel nearly every week this summer, someone else is probably going to have to start cooking around here...

If you're in C'ville and would like to attend this seminar give Hyam a call at 434-245-2288.  Cost of the class is only $25 - and you get to take yummy recipes home with you!  

Monday, May 24, 2010

In The Numbers

Regardless of how far I go in this journey I will never divulge my actual weight to you.  Sorry, but after nearly 30 years of battling with the scale I find those numbers to have such a negative influence on my self-esteem that I barely even acknowledge them myself.  I realize, however, that they are a way of determining success, so I can't discount them completely.

So, I've decided that I'm going to kind of embrace them for the sake of the blog.  Kind of.  Though I don't take much stock in things like height/weight charts or even BMI, I do acknowledge that there has to be some easy way to track success.  So I'm starting with the number 40, which is the number of pounds I think I need to lose.  It's a somewhat arbitrary number - based solely on what I think I should weigh in order to look the way I'd like to look and feel the way I'd like to feel - but it's a number - and I know people like numbers.

Once a week I will weigh in and report to you where I am at.  The goal, of course, is that every time I post the number will have decreased. Since I didn't post last week's weigh-in I will do that now - it was...39.     
This will be fun, right?

The Biggest Loser in C'ville?

I spent Saturday morning with my friends Heather and Josephine signing up for Biggest Loser Charlottesville. This 10-week long event isn't actually affiliated with the NBC phenonmenon Biggest Loser, but rather a fundraiser-turned-community-shape-up for the Hope Community Center - a local non-profit organization dedicated to challenging poverty, fighting homelessness and building community.  I've communicated with Joshua Bare, the Director of the Hope Center, a lot on Twitter so I was thrilled to be able to help him promote it to my SuzySaid readers.  He probably didn't know, however, that I'd be a participant, too!

We showed up at the event around 7:30am to see a line of at least 50 people standing in front of us.  I was completely astounded by how many showed up for this event (preliminary numbers show more than 270 registered!).  After being weighed, measured and outfitted with t-shirts, water bottles and a little promotional material (of course!) we were officially part of the program.

So what does someone receive for the $35 entry fee?  The chance to win over $5000 in cash and prizes, along with a Saturday morning workout from the various sponsors (i.e. ACAC, Gold's, etc.) surrounded by 250+ people with the same goal as you and the awesome feeling of knowing you are doing something to change not only your life, but that of others too (by supporting The Hope Center).

If you weren't one of those waiting in line with me Saturday morning but you're interested in joining the program don't fret.  You can sign up and weigh in for Biggest Loser Cville at the Weight Watchers location in Albemarle Square on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Below you will find an e-mail that I received from a friend yesterday.  I've posted it here, with her permission, for several reasons.  I thought it would be inspirational to other people - as so many of us battle with motivation from time to time - or even every day.  I also found it so encouraging to know that through my writing we are inspiring one another along this journey.  Some people think it's crazy that I'm being so open about all of this, but the rewards I've received have surpassed anything I imagined.  In just a few weeks I've been able to touch people from all over the country - and in turn I've got a support system that stretches from California to Virginia and everywhere in between.

I wanted to let you know how inspirational you've been...

I really didn't want to go to the gym today. In fact I was considering working through lunch. Pathetic, no?! However, I thought of you and went to the gym.

I had planned to run today. I got to the gym and didn't have a lot of juice in my IPod. Tried to convince myself to do something a little less intense. Thought of you and got my butt on the treadmill.

10 minutes into my 20 minute interval run I thought, 'I'm just going to stop, I can't run another step.' Instead I slowed the pace, just slightly and kept on running. I then got off the treadmill and did some rockin' abs.

All this because of your journey and all the feelings in me you've tapped into. I want you to know that you're not in this alone and many of us our on our own personal fitness quests because you have been so kind and so brave to share your struggles and triumphs. We are soul sisters through this and I want to let you know that I'm here for you - I'll provide as much long-distance support as I can.

Emotional Eating

Yesterday was a struggle.  After feeling so proud for running two days in a row on my own I woke up to feel my shin splints rearing their ugly head. I was extremely disappointed because I had felt so good during my run that I thought that my increased fitness level might possibly be scaring them away.  No such luck.  Time to pull the bike down!

Later that afternoon the Spicy Chicken called with some news about his job.  Given the current state of the economy you can probably guess that this wasn't a reduction in worklload.  And while I fully realize I should be grateful that he even has a job, he already works 10+ hour days and travels 3 days a week, so I was a little distressed about the news.  Take a little tired, add a dash of frustration, sprinkle on a little resentment and you get a strong urge to do some major emotional eating.  

Though I certainly didn't set any healthy eating records I did much better than I would've three weeks ago when things went awry. I felt Hyam on my shoulder when I ordered the third beer, and I promised her it would be the last one of the night (it was, btw). I knew it wasn't going to make any of the frustration go away - and certainly wasn't going to help my self-esteem.  Thank goodness she seems to follow me everywhere I go (or could that actually be me starting to make small changes?).

The best part of the evening came, however, when we got home and I settled down behind my computer.  I opened up my Facebook account to see a message entitled "You Are My Hero".  It couldn't have come at a better time - and really, who wouldn't love to read that?  

Well, you can, in the next post! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wine vs Whine

I drank two glasses of wine tonight over a four hour period. At the risk of sounding like an alcoholic I am going to say that this is an accomplishment.  What stopped me from having another?  I'm fairly certain it was the thought that a third glass would so not have been worth attempting to get through one of Hyam's workouts with a hangover.  She's making an impact on me, even if she doesn't feel like it some times. 

Food as Fuel

I wrote this post a few weeks ago but accidentally never published it.  It's still as relevant as it was then - if not more.

Do you think about what you eat?  I mean, really think about it?  Think about what that food can do and will do for your body?  I don't - or didn't until now.  

I've had a love-hate relationship with food as long as I can remember.  I love to eat - but I hate myself after.  Even when I don't indulge I feel guilty about it. My weight has consumed me most of my life I struggle with seeing food as a positive when it comes to my body. This, despite the fact that I could recite the definition of a calorie in my sleep - 'heat value equaling the energy or fuel value of food' (see Dad, I told you I'd use my Biology degree eventually!). I've never been able to relate this textbook definition to my real life.
I've always just food it as fueling my problem - not solving it.

So as far as I have come in the past 10 years I still have a long way to go.  In the few weeks that I've been working on changing my lifestyle I've made quite a few revelations about my views and habits - and how those things are going to need to change. 

For instance less than 10 minutes into the my first workout it became very clear that I was going to need to start eating better if I was going to survive (or at least get through it without puking!).  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Feel Good...

I didn't start out the week on a very good note. I was mad at myself for the poor food choices I made, exhausted from an overscheduled weekend, tired from working late Sunday night and more than ready for the Spicy Chicken to come home from his "weekend" golf trip that lasted five days.  Apparently I'm not very good at hiding my feelings because as soon as I walked in the door of the studio Hyam asked, "What's wrong?"  

After I whined a little bit and Hyam patiently listened we got to down to work.  We actually weighted in first - one measly pound down - but I figured that was lucky after the pepperoni fiasco so I couldn't let it affect me too much.  (Here's where the important part of the story comes in  so pay attention).  When we were done with our workout I was tired, sweaty and really stinky but you know what?  I felt fabulous!  I was ready to take on the world (which would start with a call to the Spicy Chicken with an apology for maybe being a little out of line earlier that morning).   

Call it what you want - endorphins - adrenaline - insanity - whatever - this is the miracle of exercise people! To push your body past what you think it can do and then feel GOOD afterward is amazing.  I wonder how I ever allowed myself to forget this magical feeling of getting stronger and feeling better, but I hope I never let it disappear again.  

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Heart Sugar

I do not come by eating healthfully naturally.  It wasn't that I wasn't served healthy meals or given good foods as a chid. On the contrary, we always ate well and as a family whenever possible.  I was never forced to clean my plate or anything like that, though it was expected that I eat my vegetables.  Thank goodness Peaches the dog had a penchant for veggies -  because she ate more lima beans and cooked carrots than I ever did!  

My mom and my sister boast about craving vegetables and even the Spicy Chicken eats salad at almost every meal, but me, well, not so much.  I crave the typical sugar and carbohydrates.  I am also an emotional eater.  When things get stressful the first thing I do is pop some sweet and high calorie into my mouth.  Herein lies one of my major problems.

The past week I've forced myself to be very cognizant of not only my food choices, but when and why I'm eating.  The results were not surprising - a lot of easy to grab, simple sugar-laden carbs. Sometimes I corrected myself before the "bad stuff" made it to my mouth - other times, unfortunately, I didn't.  I know that there is no way I am going to lose significant weight without making some major changes when it comes to eating, but it is going to be hard.  Nobody said it was going to be easy (although I have to admit I was kind of hoping it would be!).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend Woes

So I'm guessing some of you were wondering when my "this is so awesome" attitude was going to change.  Well....let's just say I had a tough weekend. 

The weekend itself was actually fine.  If I wasn't trying to make big changes in my life I might even say it was quite nice.  Friday night a big storm came in so both girls decided they needed to climb in with me.  While this does hinder my sleep significantly, I can't help but loving having them next to me.  They are growing up so fast - it won't be long before snuggling their mom will be a distant memory.

Saturday afternoon we were fortunate to be able to attend the Bama Works Fund Mother-Daughter Luncheon benefit.  The event was catered by the Greenwood Gourmet Grocery so the food was fabulous, local and fairly healthy.  The dessert was beautiful, organic and just too hard to resist.  I only had one, which, if you've tasted a Mahlia Creation you know is something to be proud of!

So here's where the tough part comes in.  I'll spare you all the details because it gets pretty darn ugly and embarrassing, but I will say this: while sleeping over at Amazement Square Saturday night with the Girl Scout troop prohibited my usual weekend overindulgence (alcohol), I managed to keep my calorie and fat intake up with a trip to a fast food restaurant, a large non-fat mocha and few Thin Mints.  And if that wasn't enough,  the more Sunday wore on, the more tired I became and the worse my choices got.  I made a noble attempt at my vegetable intake this evening, but am fairly sure the pepperoni cancelled that out.

Is this why they say not getting enough sleep is bad for your waistline?

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's ON!

Telling me I can't do something is pretty much a guarantee that I'm going to make it happen. This love of a challenge (along with a penchant for yo-yo dieting, among other things) is one of the qualities that I inherited from my father. We've challenged each other to weight loss competitions in the past, but unfortunately neither of us has been able to make it stick.  

Knowing how a challenge motivates both of us I received the e-mail below after my dad read my blog.  If I wasn't committed to succeeding with this change before, I certainly am now!

"I see by your blog that you have committed to losing some weight.  Well, so have I and I will not be beat!  So- 

Webster defines the words as follows: 
     I - the one who is speaking or writing
     Will - something desired
     Kick - a blow or sudden forceful thrust with the foot
     Your - of or relating to you or yourself
     Ass - buttock

Putting it all together, I will kick your ass=The one who is writing desires to thrust his foot to your buttock!

- Dad"

Oh, we'll see whose foot is thrust into whose buttock, Gar.  The game is on!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Truth in Photos

A few days ago a friend suggested that I post "Before and After" pics on the blog. Though he was joking I don't think it's such a bad idea.  If posting a picture of yourself at the heaviest you've weighed in your entire life for the whole world to see doesn't kick the vanity out of you nothing will! 

Plus, I can't really expect people to get behind me if they don't actually see what's happening. Many, if not most, of you reading this haven't seen me for quite awhile (like 10 - 20 years!) . You may remember me as that 115 pound high school tennis player or 125 pound college sorority girl or 135 pound young woman searching for her career. I still play tennis (though not very well), I still heart the brown and mode (a Gamma Phi thing) and finally figured what I wanted to be when I grew up (thanks to Jennifer Stender-Hawkins and SuzySaid!) but unfortunately your memory of my appearance would be very wrong.  Somewhere between there and here I managed to become fulfilled but also filled out.  

The problem is, I've searched through all of our photos from the past 6 months and there are very few of me - and absolutely none of my entire body.  I'm always the one behind the camera and on the rare occasion that a picture of me is taken, I usually delete it.   Occasionally I will take one with the girls, but that's a head shot only.  And if it weren't for the two beauties next to me I'd delete those too.

So added to my "To Do" list this week is to get a picture posted on here.  I can promise that it will not be Biggest Loser-esque (a sports bra and biker shorts)  or like those bikini-clad diet pill ads in Family Circle - it will be me and my 40 extra pounds - just waiting on a change.

War Wounds

While getting ready to go out last night I noticed a raised red spot on the side of my chin.  I attempted to hide it with cover-up and moved on (covering redness is a way of life for pasty-skinned girls like me).  It didn't cover very well, however, and when I got home both of the girls made a comment about "the red thing" on my face.  Nice.

It wasn't until I sat down to brag to the Spicy Chicken about the intense workout I had that day that it dawned on me what "the red thing" was - my very first Workout War Wound!  If you saw the things Hyam makes us do you wouldn't surprised by a facial injury, but even I have to admit this one happened out of sheer spasticity (is that even a word?)!

During our first workout she had me throwing a medicine ball against the wall over my head, catching it, squatting and then throwing it again.  This medicine ball was leather (see photo below), heavy and and had to be thrown hard to get it to come back to you.

Yesterday we did the same exercise.  In my fatigued-state, however, I did not realize that the ball we were using looked more like this: 

Obviously this one takes a little less force to get it to bounce back so when thrown with great intensity it will come back hard and fast.  Thus, if your face is in the way it will hit it - and scrape it - and if I'm really lucky - eventually bruise it!  

Are you feeling sorry for me yet?  I didn't think so.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Looking Good!

Today I had my second workout with Hyam.  I'm about 5 hours post workout right now so I'm still up and moving, though I have a feeling tomorrow I may not be quite so fortunate.  Again, however, I will say that my attitude is in a really good place and though it wasn't easy I know I'm working my ass off - and that feels incredible!

My friend Laura will be working out with Hyam and I for the month of May. She is actually the one who introduced me to Clay Fitness (thank you, Laura). While I think she is absolutely gorgeous and doesn't need to lose a single pound (and those who know her would agree) my perception isn't what matters.  She's turning 40 this weekend and is ready to - as she said - get her body back.  

After the workout (while waiting for my arms to stop shaking) we chatted about what we are doing and why.  And though we are in different places when it comes to our weight, body image, etc. we both agreed on something - we want to look good.

The premise of this journey - and why I'm calling it "Finding Amy" - is that I am searching for the me that is hiding under all these "layers" - layers of fat, layers of clothing, and definitely layers of psychological damage. I am cognizant of the fact that this is going to be an emotional journey as well as a physical one (I do have a B.A. in psychology, afterall).  

Maybe I haven't been so honest, however, about the more vain side of this.  It's true - I want to look good.  Not so that I can meet some hot guy or so some social clique accepts me like I may have in my youth, but because I like looking good.  I love clothes - especially good ones.  But at my size I can't wear most of what I love because they don't fit me or I just don't feel comfortable in them.  Strappy little sundresses?  With these boobs? Yeah, right!  Skinny jeans?  Only with a sweater that covers my mid-section and my butt.  And swimsuits?  Now that Spanx started making them, maybe.  

So there you have it folks.  The journey has begun and I'm laying all my cards out on the table.  I'm in this for a major change both outside and in. The few steps I've taken in the right direction so far have been good ones - but there are many more ahead of me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I am a little overwhelmed - and SO appreciative - of the amount of support I've received from family and friends upon the start of this journey.  It's not that I didn't think people would support me, of course, but I never imagined the number that one little post on Facebook would provoke so many heartfelt responses.

Admittedly it's a little scary to realize that people are actually reading this - and that I truly can't back down now!  Mostly, however, it's inspiring, amazing and has totally pumped me up!  While I struggled a bit this weekend with fitting in exercise, watching my food intake and limiting my alcohol I did feel like I was taking a step in the right direction (though it was definitely a baby step!).

I guess that's why we call it a "journey"...

You Are What You Eat

If I ever wondered how I got myself into this weight predicament tracking my food intake (and being honest about it) has surely given me the answer.  When did I eat all of this crap that I don't remember eating???

Admittedly this doesn't come as a complete surprise.  I'm about 40 pounds overweight and I'm not a sedentary person - it had to come from somewhere. I really don't enjoy cooking, and the term lazy could probably be easily used to describe my attitude about preparing food and snacking. This isn't to say that I don't like good food - I most certainly do - but I rely on the Spicy Chicken to take care of that side of things most days.  He's not only a great cook, but does a fabulous job of making things for us that are, for the most part, healthy.  And, he loves to do it.  The problem with this equation lies in the fact that he goes to work every day from 7AM to 6PM leaving me to fend for myself.  And please don't ask what happens on the days he's out of town (which have been more often than not lately).

In a few days Hyam is going to ask for my Spark People password so we can chat about what I'm doing and how it needs to change.  I hope she has a little extra time scheduled in for this one because I have a feeling she's going to have a lot to say to me.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why Something Different

I probably need to make it clear that my decision to leave ACAC had nothing to do with the club - it was solely about me.  ACAC is a great place with really good trainers, instructors and about a million options for exercise.  I have several good friends who work there and have never had anything but a positive experience.  I wasn't, however, actually making use of any of the amenities so I decided it was time to do something different for now.

Could I have found what I needed at ACAC?  Probably, but if I've learned one thing after all these years of off and on dieting and exercising it's that the psychological components of weight loss are just as important as the physical.  I'd had years of failure of trying things on my own at the club.  I was having a hard time getting myself to even think about going there, let alone actually following through.  I'd drive by several times a week and literally feel sick to my stomach because I knew I should stop, but just couldn't get myself to do it.  It was time for a change.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I did my first workout/assessment with Hyam on Wednesday and I have to say it was...AWESOME!  Sure, she made me do things I was pretty convinced I couldn't do and I thought I was going to throw up at least three times, but 48 hours later I can still say it was AWESOME - so that has to mean something, right?

I can't recount our workout for so many reasons but I can tell you that the hour flew by and I was certainly never bored.  Lunges, squats, planks - oh my!  It was seriously the most intense - yet most FUN - workout I've done in a really, really long time (especially considering I never picked up a racquet!).

So where does the "ouch" come in?  Consider that I'm writing this over 48 hours later - and the lactic acid has done it's number on me by now.  At dinner tonight I actually had to use both hands to pull my leg over the bench to sit down.  And while I may have been mocked by my children a little bit, I didn't really care because that pain was SO worth it.  To me that pain was a sign that I actually pushed my body beyond what it was used to.  That alone is a step in the right direction (figuratively speaking, of course!).

My Journey

Though it took several e-mails I finally committed to meeting Hyam for my first session/assessment at Clay Fitness on Wednesday, May  5.  After our first meeting (which I will tell you about in my next post) she set up a schedule for me that is rigorous, but doable.  I will meet with her for Personal Training on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will attend a group class on Fridays. Three out of the four days that I am not with her I will have assigned homework that I am expected to complete. On the seventh day I will (happily) rest.

Additionally, I have started using Spark People to track my daily food intake.  This, I'm sure, will be an eye-opener for me.  Obviously I eat too much and not as healthily as I should, but when you start tracking every little bite you can't deny it anymore.  As I've mentioned before (and surely will again) I'm really good at lying to myself.  I can't tell you how many times I've said, "It's the weekend" or "I'm on vacation" just to justify another beer or brownie.  SparkPeople and Hyam don't let you do that, so be prepared for some big changes (and subsequent whining).

It's important to note that this "journey" of mine is not solely about losing weight.  Actually, it's not about losing weight at all.  If I worked at this for the next three months and didn't lose a pound but I was healthier, more fit and happy with who I am, and - let's be honest - I had a rockin' body -  that would be success for me. The reality of it is, however, that I am overweight to reach those goal of being a "happy, healthy, hottie"  pounds are going to come off.  Plys they are an easy way to track success so I am going to use them.  And I'm dying to say something like "I lost 40 pounds!"

All joking aside, I'm sincere when I say that this blog truly is more about my journey to find myself (or re-find myself) in these layers I've been hiding under the past few years.  It's more than just a "weight loss blog" - it's about changing my life both inside and out. I'm sharing it with the world because I truly need this accountability, but also hope that maybe I will inspire someone else out there who has gone through - or is going through - a similar situation.  If I reach just one person then again, that's success for me.

Getting Started

I've been talking about getting serious about my weight and health for years.  It never seemed to rise to the top of the priority list, however (and if it did I just pushed it back down).  There was no secret that I had picked up a few pounds over the years, but somehow I continually found a way to justify it to myself.  I was happy and healthy - what did I need to lose weight for?

It wasn't until I started my Cville Plugged In TV gig that I realized how bad it had really gotten.  Watching my first appearance I couldn't even hear  myself speak -  I was so focused on what I looked like.  Who was that fat woman on the screen?  OMG - it was me!

So I attempted to get back into my routine at ACAC but soon realized that I was about as excited about that as I was about the salad I had for dinner.  We'd been members at the gym  since we moved here and the only thing I had to prove for it was a several thousand dollar debt and 5 more pounds than I started with.  It was clear I needed something different.  What that was, however, I didn't know.  So I went home to mull it over (along with a box of Thin Mints).

Several weeks and a few boxes of cookies later fate brought me to Clay Fitness + Nutrition. Ok, maybe it wasn't as much fate as it was work, but that sounds kind of boring...My intention was to interview Hyam Hosny, the owner of Clay, a new studio that opened in Belmont this spring for an article for SuzySaid.  Two hours later, however, I found that I had not only told her my entire diet history, but was ready to sign on the dotted line.

"What's different about your program?"  I asked her.  She blushed and stammered a little, "I'm not good at self-promoting," she responded at first.  But then continued to tell me how she invests herself completely in her clients.  She truly involves herself in their success - sending text messages - assigning homework - and, in a sense, riding their asses (in a loving way). This, I knew, was the "something different" I was looking for.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time for a Change

My weight has been an issue as long as I can remember.  By "issue" I mean there were times when I was way too thin - times when I was way too heavy - and probably even times when I was just right (but too obsessed to realize it).  Regardless of which end of the weight spectrum I fell on, however, one thing was always consistent - my weight has always consumed my life.

After the birth of my children I made a conscious decision to changes this.  I vowed that I would not allow my girls to go through what I have.  I swore I'd bring them up with a healthy body image.  I promised would teach them to love themselves the way that God made them.

And while I think I've done a fair job (so far) in teaching my girls to love themselves, somewhere along the way I seemed to have forgotten about loving myself.  So now, after decades of extreme dieting and non-dieting - years of attempting not to allow my weight take over my life I've somehow managed to do just that.  I'm 37 years old with a fabulous life full of friends, family, and many wonderful blessings, yet I'm unhappy, uncomfortable and unable to wear all the cute clothes I love so much.  I'm the heaviest I've ever been.  It's time for a change