Thursday, July 15, 2010

One 1/4 mile at a time

Um ... hello.

I was an original Cincy Loser. Now, when it comes to weight loss, I'm really just a loser. I completely gave up.

In 2007, I put on tons of weight due to several deaths in the family. So in 2008, I got myself a trainer, worked out with her diligently for 6 mos, all in an attempt to lose the funeral weight. I even ate better.

NOTHING HAPPENED. Seriously, getting a trainer was not the best use of my time or money. She never taught me the things I wanted to know (like how to correctly use the machines instead of how to modify the machines in ways she thought were better) and I neither lost weight nor gained muscle. She was a great person though, and currently the head trainer at my old gym.

I was ballroom dancing once a week too, but that (which I'm still doing) is an incredible amount of fun but not necessarily always challenging to my muscles. Ballroom dancing is now more of a stress reliever for me than a way to exercise.

I started traveling again in late 2008 and truthfully, I haven't really stopped. Staying healthy and traveling is a really hard thing to do, and I'm a big sucker when it comes to being lazy.

Where does that leave me? Way too overweight and not happy about it.

Me now. Even the groundhog
thinks I should get in shape.

I've had this weird flirtation going on with my bicycle for a year. Last year, I was amazingly inspired by my friend Jen, who has become a cycling goddess in less than 2 years. I got my poor dusty bike out of storage. I have a nice bike, a fancy Cannondale purchased for me about 15 years ago. 15 years ago I rode it twice before I decided that I was afraid of cars.

So, I stared at my bike for the last year. In June, before a 3-week round of travel, I dropped off my bike at the shop for a tune-up, cobwebs, rotted tires, and all. The cycle guys just stared at me then made fun of the cobwebs.

I picked the thing up - tuned up, new wheels, and shiny - on July 2, the day after I returned home from my trip, and proceeded to stare at it for two weeks. I made up all sorts of excuses, which included buying a bike lock and a helmet, amongst other things I don't need.

Monday I got on the bike. I have such a huge fear of cars and I'm terribly out of shape, so this was a pretty big deal. I rode around 2 blocks in my neighborhood, coming in at .94 mi. When I came back on Monday, I walked into my kitchen and fell down. My legs were - without exaggeration - jelly. I downed several bottles of water and dragged myself to the couch. By the end of Monday, my abs were hurting, my back muscles, and my shoulders and arms (from clutching the handles for dear life).

Tuesday I made myself get back on the bike and do it again - same route. I was still a little jelly when I came back, but I didn't collapse. My abs hurt less and I think I actually relaxed a little in my upper body.

Yesterday I was downtown all day, so there was no way I could have ridden the bike. But today I made myself get back on the damned thing and I rode 1.30 mi. (I added a block.) I know it's not much. I have friends who regularly ride 70-100 miles every weekend and here I am cheering about a mile and a quarter. But I'm so terribly out of shape ... Tomorrow I'm adding another block, I think. Or I might keep the same distance and change up the route. It's not all flat either. I hadn't realized how many gently sloping hills we had around here. (Hell going up, but fun coming down.)

I have it in my head that I can do this. I want to be able to ride to the grocery store - and back - which is 4 miles roundtrip and I want to do it by the end of summer. It's a physical challenge for me - and a mental one. There are a helluva lot of cars between me and the grocery store.

I also desperately need to find a gym. Near me, there is an LA Fitness, a Better Bodies, and an Urban Active. I want to do a free week at each and make up my mind. I hate gyms with a passion because I prefer to be alone when I work out. If I had a spot in my house for an elliptical machine, you would never ever find me at a gym. Picking out a gym is hard; making me go to one is about like pulling teeth.

My ultimate goal? Well, I'm not really looking at this in pounds or inches any more. I want my clothes to fit better and I want to feel better about myself. I also have promised myself a reward.

I love Seattle and our own Cincy Loser Laura has moved out there and is an avid cyclist. There's a town near Seattle called Skagit Valley that each spring erupts in tulips. If I can keep cycling, and stay in shape over the winter, I want to fly out to see Laura next spring and take a ride through the tulips. That's my reward.

Photo by kashyap_hc, used under a CC license

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Tap…tap…tap…is this thing on? Ew, I haven’t seen this must dust since I pulled that treadmill out from under the bed. You still there? It’s been a while, eh? That’s enough snickering from the skinny bitch on the left and you over there, PUT.DOWN.THE.TWINKIE – just cause I’ve gone off the rails doesn’t mean you gotta go with me!

Yeah, it’s Amy – ten pounds heavier than when we last met – back for another crack at this crazy little think called please God make my ass smaller, er, I mean weight loss. Success shall be mine! And before you roll your eyes and mumble (as my husband did) “yeah, sure, we’ve heard this before”, let me tell you that I’m just coming off my first week back in the saddle and I’m down TWO POUNDS thank you very much.
(bows and waits patiently for applause to die down)

Ok, so what’s different this time? I’m not going to Weight Watchers right now. While I think the WW program is one of the best things out there, I needed to shake it up. When I was working the program, it was half-hearted and I knew more drastic measures were needed.

What drastic measures you ask (with that trademark look of horror on your face)? Don’t worry - no surgery, no crazy pills, no clinically diagnosed bulimia, anorexia, etc. No folks, by drastic I mean EATING LESS and MOVING MORE. Gasp – sometimes you gotta kick it old-school simple.

Our family joined Silverlake last month and I’ve been working with a trainer for the last couple weeks. I’m doing strength training with him twice a week and cardio on my own 3-4 times a week. He is also guiding me on my eating (more on that next week if you're lucky) – challenging me to staying under 1467 calories a day and upping my protein intake drastically.

So far, so good. I haven’t been starving, and saying NO to certain things is easier than usual. I’m trying to take it one day at a time. I have a reminder on my phone every day, it dings and a message pops up asking: WHEN ARE YOU EXERCISING TODAY? Then I carve out some time in a given day – even if it is just a walk, something everyday.

Two things I’m working on this week:

1) Putting work-out clothes (6 days worth) in my car w/shoes & socks. Then there is no rushing around in the morning tracking things down which could easily lead to an excuse NOT to work out. I washed and packed everything on Sunday night - I’m set for the week.

2) My trainer said that 25% of my intake should come from protein-rich sources. So I’m looking for more sources of protein. Let’s face it, I can’t just walk around with a sirloin in my purse and gnaw on it every time I get the urge. Well, I could but people would likely stare. So I’m on the hunt for portable, convenient ways to protein-a-fy my daily snacks. Easy additions so far have been hardboiled eggs and these terrific POWER CRUNCH bars! Check them out they are terrific. A little pricey if you get them at the gym, but I found them on Amazon for ½ the price Silverlake charges, so I ordered a box. Cookies & Cream is my favorite flavor, but they are all good! If you have any protein ideas that don’t involved meat products in my purse –leave ‘em here in the comments, would ya?

To me, this time around has to be manageable – nothing complicated, nothing crazy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Becoming One of the Beautiful People

Following is a guest post from Chris Cole. Chris posted here on Cincinnati Losers a few months ago and is STILL going strong.  I think you'll agree his journey is inspiring!

Hello again, Cincinnati Losers! The last time you heard from me was in February when Shannan asked me to submit something. At that point, I had lost 63 pounds and was feeling pretty good.

Today, I’m down 101 pounds and feeling great! My last submission was titled “The Tipping Point,” and as each day passes it becomes clearer to me that what separates successful weight-loss efforts from the countless unsuccessful ones is just that – a tipping point. A moment when you decide, once and for all, that you’ve had enough. Enough of the aches and pains of everyday life. Enough of the dread of going to certain restaurants or sporting events or getting on an airplane because the seats are too small. Enough of losing your breath walking from the car to the office. Enough of growing out of expensive clothes you purchased just months earlier. Enough.

So you change. It starts slow with little things. Frankly, early on you have no idea what you’re doing. You start counting calories. Maybe you get a gym membership. You go and you look around at the machines and it’s all overwhelming and intimidating. You see beautiful people. Everywhere. They’re lifting the big weights; they’re sprinting on the treadmills faster than you could run if a bear was chasing you – and they’re not even sweating; they’re living beautiful people lives, and that in and of itself intimates you. You pick out a machine that doesn’t look too complicated – maybe a recumbent bike – and you hop on. You start pedaling. You ride until your butt is just too sore to continue. You burned 250 calories. Is that good? You have no clue. You’re too sore to go the next day, but the day after there you are again. With the same damn beautiful people. (They go every day.) You hop back on that same bike and you go again. You crank up your iPod with some up-tempo music you love now but will soon come to detest because of its Pavlovian effect on you. This time you’re able to burn a few more calories, but you still have no clue if its even worth the effort. Two-hundred and seventy calories sure doesn’t sound like that much. And how can the human butt get so sore so quickly?

As you pedal on, the miles turn into weeks and the weeks turn into muscle. You’re amazed. You never noticed your quads before, but hmm…there they are. And you don’t get as sore as you used to. Oh, and you’re burning closer to 500 calories each visit now. And you’re not as sore the next day, which is good because that means you can think clearly enough to do some Googling and you find out that burning nearly 500 calories isn’t that bad. And you realize how important it is to keep an eye on fiber and sodium and fat too. You see references to net calorie burn and other scientific-sounding stuff, but that’s all a bit much for now. It’s enough of a challenge for you to just track the calories, pedal the bike and not kill the beautiful people.

After a few months, you’re bored with the bike. So you hop on the elliptical machine and holy hell. How can something that looks so simple cause such misery? It’s everything you can do to last three minutes. But you notice that in those three minutes you burned more calories than five minutes on the bike. So the next day (you’re able to go to the gym back-to-back days now) you do the bike awhile and then hop back on the elliptical. Eight minutes this time – SCORE! The trick, you figure out, is to bend your knees a little and get into a rhythm. In no time at all, you’re master of the elliptical. You can go 40, 50 minutes. Granted, you sweat so much you literally slip from time to time on the puddle gathering below you. You begin to think, “If I can do this, surely I can go join the beautiful people on the treadmill.” You do. At first you walk. Slowly. And flat. Over time, you speed up and begin to work at an incline. Soon you’re running. Damn – you haven’t run since…the 1980s. Literally. Your day-to-day aches have been replaced by sore hips and joints from running and ellipticaling, but it’s such a good feeling.

You’ve lost some serious weight at this point and you start to think about things you’ve never thought about before. You’re sitting in your office, daydreaming about the run you’ll get in tonight. It’s sick, but you love it. Your body is feeling great and you realize there is nothing you cannot do. You do some more Googling and decide that you’re going to start training for a 5K. You think back to before you started this madness when you didn’t even know what 5K meant – it’s 5,000 something, but it might as well have been miles. Now you’re planning. Next year, you’ll do some version of the Flying Pig Marathon. Probably not a 5K – you could do that now if you really worked hard. Nah, half marathon at least. Maybe the full 26+ miles. Why not? You’re getting stronger – much stronger. The comments and compliments are coming pretty regularly now. It’s all a bit embarrassing, but at the same time it fuels you. And you finally feel comfortable venturing into the weight training area of the gym. You realize the beautiful people are actually quite welcoming. They show you how to use the crazy-looking machines. You start small. On some of the machines, you don’t even use the weights – you can only manage the weight of the machine itself. But you do it. Then the real muscles come. You begin to notice things like biceps, triceps and collar bones. You have collar bones – who knew?

As frustrating as it was to grow out of expensive clothes in no time at all, you’re now thrilled to shrink right back down through those same clothes. The shirts you wore at your previous job 10 years ago…now too big. The T-shirts you wore in college begin to hang off of you. You keep the belt you wore before your tipping point as a reminder. You’ve been poking holes in it for awhile now and it’s getting ridiculous. There are 15 new holes in the thing and it wraps halfway around you when you put it on. You bought a new belt last month, but you’ve already started to poke new holes in that one too. It’s a nice problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. You need new clothes, and the realization hits you that for the first time since you were a teenager you don’t have to shop at some specialty store. You secretly cry in the dressing room the first time you get an XL to fit you – the same way you did the first time you realized a 5XL fit you.

Just when you start to think you have this thing beat, you hit your first real, stubborn plateau. It’s like quicksand. You work hard – real hard; you eat healthy – real healthy. But nothing. You lose one pound this week but gain two the next. You start to get frustrated and so you work even harder. You up your weekly gym visits to eight (one each day and twice on Saturday). Still nothing. As quickly as things got started, things have stalled. What do you do? You ask the beautiful people. Their advice is all over the board – lift more, lift less, take supplements, mix it up, stop working out completely for a week. Hmm…given the exhaustion, this last option seems like a good one! So you do it. And it takes everything you’ve got not to go to the gym for a week. Your body heals and the rest does wonders for those sore hips. A week later, there you are back at the gym. You’re shocked how much you actually missed the beautiful people. You hop on the scale, full of fear and dread for the first time in months. And to your utter amazement, you’ve lost 7 more pounds. Seven. How in the hell did that happen? You get your workout in (four miles on the treadmill, 30 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes on the rowing machine) and then head home to once again work the Google. You begin to realize just how complicated the human body can be. Ahhh…that must be what makes weight loss such a challenge, you conclude. It’s half art, half science.

Back on track, you decide that it probably is time for you to mix things up. You’ve been using the same three or four cardio machines for months now and while you’re not completely bored, you’re ready for something new. A coworker tells you about a class he’s thinking of taking – something called Muay Thai (back to the Google). Wow. It looks serious. It’s like kickboxing on steroids. Something the beautiful people would do, but probably not for you. After a few days of heavy persuading, you agree to give it one shot and so you go. Great…more beautiful people. But these are even nicer than the ones at the gym. Once they realize you’re taking it seriously and actually want to improve yourself, they welcome you with open arms. Soon, you’re kicking the bag so hard your shin will look like a medium-rare ribeye steak the next day. Your left big toe is blistered from pivoting on the mat, your right big toe is bruised and swollen from kicking the bag wrong and your ankles aren’t thrilled with you either. But you love it. The next week, you’re the first to arrive.

You’re down 101 pounds and your life is literally changing every day. What once seemed completely impossible (running, taking mixed martial arts classes, shopping for clothes at the mall) is now your day-to-day life. And you know to an absolute certainty that you’ll reach your ultimate weight loss goal. You’ve really known it since your tipping point, but now others look at you and they know it too.

Yep, as I said in February, life is good.

Chris Cole

Starting Weight – 370
Current Weight - 269

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My "War on Weight" Tools - Part One

The fact that this post is ten days late is a good indication of how crazy the last few weeks have been for me. My winter school term ended on Monday and yesterday was spent dealing with all those little errands that piled up while I was busy grading. So, today, I'm finally going to share with you some of the tools I'm using in my "War on Weight" the 2010 edition. I'm going to have to break into two parts because one of my tools isn't fully implemented yet on my Diminishing Returns blog. (I need to add a widget to this WordPress blog but the CSS isn't loading properly on the admin page and nothing can be done there. Tom's tried to fix it with no luck. Hoperatives was doing this too, but has stopped. We're running out of ideas on what to try! Any suggestions?)

1. SparkPeople - To be honest, this isn't my first time using SparkPeople. I've re-started more times than I can count. But I'm back and I'm working to get back in the habit of tracking my food and exercise again. I'm CarlaGS on SparkPeople if you would like to connect me there.

2. The Spark book - I actually won this book from my fellow Cincinnati Loser Shannan's blog. It's been sitting on a table in our condo for about a month. I recently purchased an iPad and I realized this morning that, if I'm going to read it, I need an electronic version. Now that I've done that, I'm going to pass my hard cover copy along to a friend.

3. R.C. Durr YMCA - We love our local Y. We love it so much that, when we were searching to buy our first home, the "must" was that it had to be close to the Y. We really slacked off the first three months of this year, but we're in our third week back and it's been great. Everyone there welcomed us back and has encouraged us to keep coming back. We jog in the pool some days and alternate with a 50 minute water aerobics routine on other days.

4. The Biggest Loser - I'll admit it. I love this show. And I've been one of those people who sat on the couch watching it while I was eating. But, today and many times in the past, it has been my inspiration. It's the reason I got this post finally written. :)

5. - In addition to the water workouts, I'm adding walking back into my life. I started training for walking the Flying Pig Half Marathon last year (unsuccessfully) and I found this great web site for charting your walking maps. It's a nice supplement to SparkPeople's training tracking. Maybe next year I can try for the Half Pig again...

So those are the first five of my "War on Weight" tools. And, as soon as I get the WordPress problem fixed, I'll be back with more!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Introduction

If you've taken a glance at the list of Cincinnati Losers lately, you may have noticed there's another name there now. I was thrilled that I was asked to become a Cincy Loser and it's high time I introduced myself.

My name is Carla Gesell-Streeter and, with my husband Tom Streeter, I write, a Cincinnati beer blog devoted to "Believers in Better Beer (In Cincinnati and Beyond)". I also blog at and soon will be reviving the newly re-designed Diminishing Returns blog.

Compared to the other Cincy Losers, I'm the tallest (6' 0"), the heaviest (288.8 pounds as of yesterday) and the oldest (48). I've been doing this weight loss thing for a looong time. I realized today that I've taken water aerobics classes in four different states. I've been a member of Weight Watchers in three states plus online. I tried Nutri-System when I was working at a radio station in Illinois. With my husband, I've done medically supervised liquid diet twice (we documented the most recent time at our Diminishing Returns blog. Weight loss surgery is something I won't consider at all.

As the daughter of a dietitian, I grew up eating whole grains and drinking skim milk. But, junk food became my way to rebel. I literally was a closet eater since I hid my Hostess treats and candy bars in my bedroom closet. Thanks to a teenager's metabolism and a large frame, I didn't really see the effect of this bad eating. Thirty years later, it's caught up with me.

As I start off on the weight loss journey again, I have several tools that I'm using. Some are ones I've used in the past, some are new and one is fairly radical. On Friday, I'll share with you the tools I'm using in my "War on Weight" the 2010 edition.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Waisting Away

I would be downright lying if I told you I got skinny.
But if my pants (and the daily look-at-myself-naked-in-the-mirror) are any indication, I am decidedly slimmer.
This phenomenon started revealing itself several weeks ago, and my doctor confirmed it last week. I've lost about 13 pounds since mid January.

Considering I went to San Francisco for a Restaurant Week-based trip a few days after that initial weigh in, I'm guessing I've actually lost about 16 pounds.
Not exactly chump change.
I haven't been on a scale in five days, but I know I've been extremely good since then, and by "extremely good," I mean:
  • Eating breakfast every morning (usually Special K and skim milk)
  • Taking my Metformin every morning (I'm not diabetic, but I do have insulin issues) 
  • Consistently working fruits and veggies into my diet
  • Relying on treats like fat free cocoa instead of other decadent sweets
  • Restricting my alcohol intake during weekdays
These aren't hard and fast rules, but these are probably a good representation of what I'm doing to trim calories/fat out of my diet.

Next, I plan on working more water into my diet and creating a regular walking program. The weather is turning, after all, and I plan on taking advantage of the sunshine.

No one's gonna steal my sunshine, and thanks to this weight loss, I'm walking on it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poll: When do you Workout?

I was talking with my girlfriend the other day about working out. We were debating the best time of day to do so. Personally I like working out first thing in the morning, it sets the tone for the day. My friend said she preferred working out at night, because it helped her work off a stressful day. This got me wondering, when do most people work out?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Getting Back on the Horse

So that last two weeks have been pretty pathetic in terms of my weight loss effort.  I share this because I need to. I need to hold myself accountable and I know by telling you you'll keep me honest.

Losing weight and staying "with the program" is hard and while I was off to a great start, like many folks do I hit a road block.

Yesterday I had an epiphany.

This isn't just about weight loss. This is about doing something for me. Putting me first. (Thank you Mendy for that realization). I'm going to start trying a few new tactics - new tasks that I hope will keep me in the right frame of mind so that I can finally start reaching my goals.  I've been reading SparkPeople's book, The Spark, and it's really inspired me and given me some ideas.

1) A minimum of 10 minutes of exercise a day (Thanks Chris!). Who doesn't have 10 minutes they can set aside for themselves???  While my goal is to make it to the gym at least 3x a week, if I can't, there's no excuse.... I own a stationary bike.

2) Attend spin class at least once a week.  Spin is so much fun and such a great workout.  I always feel better after class and the amount of calories you burn in that a short amount of time is incredible!

3) Read more articles on the site (and not just for Spark Points, lol).  I find that on the days that the SparkPeople eNewsletter arrives in my inbox, I am much more focused and less likely to "cheat" than on days when I don't have that reminder.  Reading the tips and the success stories of other members really helps remind me why I am doing this.

4) DRINK MORE WATER.  I think that my obsession with drinking coffee (with creamer) is holding me back.  I've started drinking it all day long and I think those calories are putting the kibosh on my efforts.  I am going to try and limit myself to 3 cups of coffee a day, and increase my water intake to 6-8 cups of water a day.

5) Continue to eat healthier.  Along with the help of my friend Phyllis (a nutrition expert) and by using SparkRecipes, we've really started to explore new foods and are starting to change our eating habits.  It's been great to watch our go-to foods evolve into healthier meals.

-----> Shannan

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cinch It

My pants are falling down.

All day long - whether it is my jeans, my cargo pants or my black dress pants - I am hoisting them back up around my hips and bum.

This is a new phenomenon for me. Normally I'm one of those girls who have to do deep knee bends, squats and half splits when I put on a pair of just-washed pants.

You know how tight something can be when you throw it on straight out of the dryer, right?

Well, something happened, and now all my pants are probably a few pounds away from being around my ankles.

Two weeks ago, I had a significant health scare. I was preparing dinner for my dear friend Bluegrass Brit - Taco Night. I hadn't eaten anything for lunch (and the lettuce and veggie salad I did have wasn't that hearty).

There I was, buzzing around a skillet of browning beef, diced tomatoes and sliced avocado, when I started sweating. My dear friend was chatting away, but I just couldn't be bothered to engage in the conversation. I stared around at all the fixings and was overwhelmed to even assemble my own tacos.

That last one was a significant sign, considering I'm a girl who has never turned down a scrap of food.

A trip to the doctor revealed that I may be on my way to developing diabetes.

the doctor put me on a prescription for Metformin and ordered me to test my glucose twice a day for a month.

Apparently, pre-diabetes is completely reversible - once you get the Big D, it's not.

On my own, I started pursuing a healthier diet. No hard and fast rules, other than I insist on eating breakfast every morning. Normally a bowl of Special K with skim milk (the only kind of milk I've ever preferred), I know this little step helps me fire up the metabolism while I'm watching Good Morning America before heading to work.

I'm paying more attention to portion control and the number of fruits and vegetables I'm eating. Like I said, I'm not following any official "diet," and I'm allowing myself to fulfill the occasional craving when they strike. Just yesterday, my busy schedule got in the way of my eating at "regularly scheduled" meal times, and I drove by a Burger King.

The thought of a charbroiled Whopper with cheese made my head spin.

A trip through the drive-thru satisfied a craving that had the potential to snowball into an unpredictable moment down the road. Ever had one of those moments where you've scarfed down an entire frozen pizza on your own? Me, too.

I'm trying to avoid those moments, and that's why it's okay in my book to thwart diet tragedy with a Whopper now and then.

The rest of the time, it's skim milk, cereal, plentiful fruits and veggies, low-fat yogurt and other healthy choices.

And as much as I love a good cocktail/glass of wine/pint of beer, I'm trying to curtail my imbibing, knowing only too well how much those drinks add up to massive calories.

I've got an appointment in the weeks ahead with a dietitian who will provide me with a more concrete plan to drop weight (I need to lose AT LEAST 40 pounds to be back in a place where I can wear all my cute clothes).

A hesitant exerciser - I plan on hammering out a regular walking routine once Cincinnati's wacky weather settles down to something decidedly spring-like.

My pants are falling down.

And I don't mind a bit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Post: The Tipping Point

After hearing a little about Chris Cole's amazing weight loss story during the Fox19 segment we were in together I invited him to share more about his journey here on Cincinnati Losers.  I think you'll agree it's pretty inspirational. 
- Shannan

Hello fellow losers. My name is Chris Cole and I am finally doing it. I began my journey to good health on Nov. 9 and have lost 63 pounds. Shannan has asked that I share my experience here on Cincinnati Losers and I’m more than happy to do so.

People have asked me why this latest effort has been different. Why is this working when so many earlier attempts failed?

Well, first of all I had moment. I think for all of us, that moment when you really turn the corner and begin to make sustainable changes cannot be predicted or easily explained. Sure, it may come after some traumatic medical event or it may be a person’s last choice and last chance. But for most, there just comes a time where you are no longer willing to accept living with the weight. And it doesn’t feel all that different from prior times when you committed to finally getting in shape (only to give up after a few months or a few days or a few minutes). It’s really only in hindsight that you see – that was the moment; that was when everything changed.

For me, that moment came on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, at 10:14 a.m. I hopped onto Facebook that morning and saw that a co-worker had challenged a mutual friend to a 20-pound weight-loss challenge. Sounded fun, so we made our own 40-pound bet. We weighed in Nov. 9 and I began my journey at 370 pounds, easily the heaviest I’d ever been.

I started slow, going to the gym two or three days a week and doing what little I could. Looking back, it wasn’t much. But I began to make healthier food choices and I kept with the workouts. And I posted everything on Facebook – every workout, every weigh-in, every small victory and every minor setback. I put it all out there for my whole world to see. I also discovered a great little iPhone app called “Lose-It!” which helps you count calories. I started seeing a nutritionist through Northern Kentucky University (where I work) and, with her guidance, began to focus on calories, fiber and sodium. For me, if I try to worry about anything more than that, it just gets overwhelming.

The pounds started to come off. On Dec. 1, I’d lost 12. By Jan. 1, I was up to 27. Along the way, as I approached the finish line in the 40-pound challenge, others stepped forward and made challenges of their own. At one point, I was in two 40-pound challenges, a 20-pound challenge, and a 6-pound challenge. Well I won that original competition in mid-January (my reward was getting to control the loser’s Facebook page for a day). Soon after, I won the 6-pound challenge and a few weeks later I won the 20-pound challenge.

Today, after 14 weeks, I’m down 63 pounds. That’s 4.5 pounds per week for three months. I’m about 12 pounds away from winning my second 40-pound challenge (the challenges overlap). When I win this one, the loser has to shave his head. J

I can’t say exactly what it is that makes this time different; all I can do is spout out that same tired cliche you’ve all heard a thousand times before – it’s a lifestyle change. I didn’t know what that meant until about month into this journey. But now I no longer agonize over unhealthy snacks or midnight cravings. My kitchen is full of fruits and vegetables and Healthy Choice meals. I’ve not taken a drink of anything but water and 1% milk since November, and I drink about 140 ounces of water every day. As importantly, I no longer think of the gym as punishment for a lifetime of bad decisions, but rather as an opportunity – a gateway – to a lifetime of good health and limitless possibilities.

I’ve got a long way to go. I’m at 307 pounds now and my goal weight is 185. I’ll get there. I’m 100% sure of that. There are three things that give me such confidence.

The first is Facebook. It is the perfect weight-loss companion, no matter what type of diet you’re on. It allows for instant feedback/encouragement/motivation, and if you’re willing to put yourself out there as I have, it holds you accountable for every decision you make. When you’ve had a long day and don’t want to go to the gym, your Facebook friends will know that you’re blowing it off. And they’ll know when you have a bad weigh-in. No more hiding.

The second is the challenges. I’m a very competitive person and if it’s within my power I will not allow others to defeat me. When I’m at the gym and I’m tired after a good workout, thinking about how nice it will feel to settle into the massaging recliner at home, I think about my opponent(s). I convince myself that they are somewhere at that very moment doing P90X or rocking an elliptical. And I push on. Burn 50 more calories…OK, now just 50 more. The challenges won’t stop until I reach 185.

Finally, I’m confident because for the first time in my life I’m starting to understand the science of weight loss. For me, losing weight was always sort of a magical mystery. You ate less, you exercised and your body eventually began to shrink. There was no rhyme or reason. Now I know that weight loss is a science. Want to lose one pound? Easy – burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. Want to lose 185 pounds (my goal), burn 647,500 more calories than you consume over however long it takes. It’s pretty much that simple.

At the end of the day, when people ask me specifically how I’m doing it, I tell them this – I consume between 900 and 1,200 calories per day and I burn on average about 500 calories every single day at the gym. My nutritionist would like to see me consume a little more, but we both agree that as long as the weight is coming off and my body isn’t telling me otherwise, what I’m doing is working quite well. And I feel fantastic. I have more energy – even after two hours at the gym – than I ever had before. My knees no longer ache and I no longer need a nap every evening.

Yep, life is good.

Starting Weight – 370
Current Weight - 307

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Social Media and "Losers"

If you watch Fox19, you may have seen me on their 10 o'clock news earlier this week talking about my weight loss efforts and how much social media, and the Cincinnati Losers blog, has inspired and helped me.

In addition to me, the segment features Chris Cole who uses Facebook to help him stay on track. He's lost 50+ lbs and his story is pretty inspiring.

Social media has played a huge role in both motivating and educating me on my weight loss and dieting efforts (THANK YOU!!!). How about you?  If social media is helping you with your weight loss efforts, we'd love to hear about it! Here's the segment if you'd like to see it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Traveling & Dieting, Say what?

I write here today because I need your thoughts and positive vibes. This weekend I head to Nashville for a blogging conference. I'll be there Thursday - Sunday and am worried that my progress (7lbs so far!!) will be greatly hindered with the temptation of road food, fun/fancy dinners with old friends and the dreaded excuse "it's just more convenient to eat this."

See you would think, because I am writing about this and congizant of the pitfalls that I would be OK.  But I am not so sure.  I know me. I know that I will fall off the wagon and if I do, I'd rather it be a short fall and not a long one!

I've not traveled while dieting before, so if any of you have any tips, I'd love to hear them. I am planning on packing some healthy snacks in my bag, but when it comes to meals I am going to have to get creative.

Current Weight: 153
Starting Weight: 160

UPDATE: After reading this post, my friend Phyllis who is a health coach, sent me the following tips:

1.     Chia seeds  (find them at whole foods, your favorite health food store or
2.     Nuts, seeds and dried fruit/veg
3.     Vegetables: sugar snap peas, cut jicama, celery, carrots, cauliflower and bell peppers (hummus to dip)
4.     Fruit – cherries, plums, apples, pears, grapes, clementines
5.     Hard boiled eggs
6.     Ezekial sprouted wrap, organic turkey slices, sprouts & spicy mustard (this might be hard to find on the road but you get the idea)
7.     Flax or nut crackers –check ingredients
8.     Greens Plus Bar with Protein
9.     Homemade trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, dark choc chips, coconut)
10.   Emergen-C, Sencha green tea powder, probiotics

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Spin Me Right Round

Continuing my effort to lose weight (can't believe I am staying with it) on Monday I tried my first spin class. I must admit that I have been avoiding spin class for years. My friends have always talked about how great it was, but something about it scared me.

Well talk about feeling dumb. I loved it and it's a GREAT cardio workout and best of all? The time flies by.  Here's a quick video I found that gives an overview of spinning. I will def. be doing this again, and again, and again.
Starting Weight - 160
Current Weight - 156


Monday, January 11, 2010

When the Lights Go Out


I am writing today because I have a confession and need your help.  My name is Shannan and I am a late night snacker.  It's true....9pm hits, the boys go to bed and all I can think of is, "I wonder what there is for me to snack on?"

Some of you might think a snack is OK. What's the harm in a little late night treat? Well it's not the good snacks - nuts, fruit, etc. - I'm crazing. It's the evil snacks that fill my mind, in particular, chips & chocolate.

I don't know what it is. It's like the lights go out and I lose all self control.  Last night I annihilated a 1/3 can of Pringles and barely stopped there. Just going to bed is not an option when I am not tired.

What am I doing wrong? How can I curb these cravings? Does it have to do with my diet during the day? I really want to nip this in the bud so all my hard work during the day isn't for nothing.


Starting Weight - 160
Current Weight - 158

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Win a Copy of The Spark!

CLOSED: Congrats to Feoshia, Carla & Big Lug Jay!  They were our winners!

I've mentioned before that I am a big fan of SparkPeople, the online site that specializes in helping people achieve a healthier lifestyle.

I first discovered the site back in 2006, and have returned everytime I've needed help getting back into shape and back on the dieting bandwagon.

In December, SparkPeople released it's first book, The Spark, that promotes a 28-day plan for losing weight, getting fit, and improving your lifestyle. I am getting ready to read the book, and to celebrate the launch, we here at Cincinnati Losers have three copies of The Spark to giveaway!

About The Spark:

The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit, and Transforming Your Life. 
This groundbreaking book will connect the dots between weight loss, fitness, better health and lifelong goal achievement. You'll discover:
  • How to increase YOUR odds of success with the 27 proven secrets of success used by thousands of successful SparkPeople members and 100-pound losers.
  • A 28-day program that distills the best of SparkPeople's tips and advice into a simple, fun, easy to follow program–all new and available only in this book!
  • A special workout program created by Coach Nicole, featuring SparkPeople's 10-minute exercise solution to help you fit in 10 minutes a day!
  •  Delicious SparkDiet meal plans and a mix-and-match meal system that lets you eat more delicious foods that keep you satisfied while losing weight.
  • The Spark's special formula–a breakthrough combination of strategies that will lead to the end of dieting, lasting weight loss and better health.

Win It:
Three lucky readers of Cincinnati Losers will win a copy of the book, The Spark.

To enter, complete any of the following tasks and leave a comment letting us know you did so. Additional entries can be achieved by completing more than one of the tasks ;-). Contest is open to Cincinnati/Dayton residents only (we are the CINCINNATI LOSERS) and ends at Midnight on January 18th.  Winners will be drawn at random using a random number generator.

  1. Leave a comment sharing your favorite weight lost tip
  2. Share your user name
  3. Leave a comment with your favorite weightloss blog(s)
  4. Follow the Cincinnati Losers blog (see right sidebar)
  5. Add Cincinnati Losers to your blogroll
  6. Tweet the following about the giveaway -  Cincy Losers is giving away 3 copies of @sparkpeople's book, The Spark!
UPDATE: I am also giving away 2 copies of The Spark on my personal blog, Mommy Bits. Feel free to enter on both sites! Also, you don't have to live in greater Cincinnati/Dayton to enter the giveaway there.

For those of you who are interested in purchasing The Spark, it is available online at Barnes & Noble, and through Amazon.

A big thank you to the people at SparkPeople for providing us with copies of The Spark to share with our readers!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sweat The Small Stuff

I am drinking skim milk in my coffeehouse-deliciously-flavored-coffee.

Note I said coffee - not latte or cappuccino or mocha or chai. Coffee. Vanilla flavored coffee with two packets of Splenda and a healthy splash of skim milk.

Sans half and half.

This is a significant sacrifice for me.

I like frothy. I like over-the-top. Whether we are talking cocktails or coffee or sandwiches or dessert. You name it - I like my insert consumable item here elaborate. And flavorful. And extreme.

And the wheels come to a screeching halt when one signs up (Renews? Re-ups?) to roll with the Losers.

My life on the lam has lasted more than I care to admit. I've run wild with abandon, gorging on decadent cheeses, drinks and drinks and drinks a plenty. The recent holiday season was the Super Bowl of my decadence, dishing up almost a party (or two or three) for each night of December.

I can just imagine the apron of fat draping over my abdomen growing and multiplying with every bite and sip.

So, despite my affinity for all that tastes good on the tastebuds, it is time for me to regain self control.

My goal? Not a number or dress size. I just want to look good naked.

I want to look good enough to wear a swimsuit at a hot travel destination with zero shame. I want to be confident about my body when I strip down to my skivvies with a man I care about.

I want to be able to admire the body I see when I step out of the shower. Right now, I sigh and throw the towel around my body, trying to cover up what everyone can see.

The plan is not overly ambitious - in the beginning.

Calories in versus calories out. That's the way this game is played, right? I am going to rely on shortcuts that help me indulge in the things I love while making wise choices for my diet.

I am going to drink my water if it kills me - and I'll tote it around in a bottle in my purse if I have to.

I'm going to score some new tennis shoes - kicks that will let me walk and run and jump and otherwise exert some energy, which is definitely in order after a late night New Year's Eve celebration that involved everyone at the party committing to do the. Flying. Pig. Half. Marathon.

What the hell did I just get myself into?

Thankfully I have you all. I have my lovely Losers. I have my wonderful friends.

And I have a vision of how great my naked body used to look oh so many moons ago.

Right now is about sweating the small stuff. Skim milk instead of half-and-half. Five minutes of moving versus five minutes of lummoxing.

I can do this.

Look at These Losers

Was going through folders on my computer and found this picture of the Cincinnati Losers from August 2008.  Oh how I'd like to weigh now, what I weighed then.......

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Sparking" Change


Like most people, I am using today as the launching point for my weight loss efforts. Things have gotten more than a little out of control and I now weigh what I did right after I had my youngest.... 4 years ago. It's embarrassing.

I've known for a while that I have been "living la vida loca" when it comes to what I've been eating, but everything came to a head two weeks ago when my boys asked me to take them to the pool. You see, when I went to put on my swimsuit, it didn't fit. It didn't fit. I had just worn it ALL summer and looked great in it, and now I looked ridiculous - squishing out from the openings - in particular the mid-section.

This was my wake up call, my realization that I needed to get my act together and make some changes.

So, how will I do it? What's my game plan?

I am heading back to is an amazing weight loss web site & community that helped me lose 20+ lbs back in 2006. The site is easy to use and connects you with others who are in similar situations. They also have a great calorie tracking tool that you can also access from your iPhone.

If you are on SparkPeople, my username is sd_boyer, I'd love to connect with you. I can use all the support I can get!!

Happy weight loss to you in 2010.

Current weight ~ 160
Goal weight - 135