Weight Loss


Lose 10 pounds

Lose 10 pounds

May's challenge: Lose 10 Pounds

This month's challenge is to lose 10 pounds.

The Plan

To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you eat. Simple math. So why are diets so complicated?

I decided to take everything I had ever read or tried and combine them in a simple formula: KIF.

Kinetic Focus: Exercise everyday.

Inner Focus: Ask yourself, "Will I feel guilty if I eat this?"

Food Focus: Be a vegetarian.

If you are following along with my little experiment, here is the official "warning": Before you begin any exercie or diet program, consult your doctor.

Okay, so there you go.

Three simple ways to stear myself to eat less and move more.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 3

Beans to the rescue.

I didn't think I would be tempted so quickly, but today was the first time I had a hard time being a vegetarian.

I let my daughter cook dinner. (One of the few perks about your children getting older.) She made ham steaks, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and pineapple chunks. As I was helping her get out the serving dishes, I realized how little food there was for me to eat. I looked around fro some more vegetarian friendly fare. What I found was a lot of canned beans. Navy beans, baked beans, red beans. Why did I have so many beans in my cabinet?

I grabbed a can of butter beans and requested that she add some beans to the menu. She did.

While the meat was cooking, I didn't mind, but when I saw everyone else carving their steaks I had to remind myself that I was being a vegetarian for a month. Wow, I didn't think I would crave meat so soon.

Day 2

It's hard to stay focused when everyone is partying.

To celebrate my son's birthday, we went to a chain restaurant. (His choice. He turned 13, so I was thankful he didn't choose McDonalds.) Looking over the menu I realized there wasn't a vegetarian option. I was determined not to spoil my challenge on day 2, but I also didn't want to take away from his special day.

With no fan fare or complaining, I pieced together a "meal" of a garden salad and a side of mashed potatoes which was as filling and tasty as it sounds. I scoped the table for any vegetarian leftovers. On the one side of the table sat chicken wings, steak, hamburgers- nothing there. On the other side of the table was chicken alfredo, pot stickers, and - viola! Spinach dip.

I casually asked for a "taste" which was met with an enthusiastic "absolutely". As my tasting continued the owner of the spinach dip annoyingly pushed the plate in front of me saying, "I'm done." To which I answered, "Are you sure? Well, I don’t want it to go to waste." (I wonder how many meals I have overeaten on this one small excuse which is probably a leftover Freudian conditioning corralary to : clean your plate. There are people in (fill in the country) who are starving.)

Nevertheless, my second day as a vegetarian was a success especially since I was able to eat a large piece of birthday cake- guilt free! That was the best part of the day.

Day 1

I like vegetables and they like me- so being a vegetarian for a month should be easy.

Today it was.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Challenge: Lose 10 pounds

This month's challenge: To Be A Vegetarian

For three years I lived in a small mining village in northeast England. The town center had a pub, and "the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker" only the candlestick maker was the booking agent (betting shop). The florist not only offered flowers but also fresh fruit and was known as the green grocer. The butcher shop was between the green grocer and the betting shop.

I loved to walk and shop (mostly window shopping as we were on a student budget), but I was not prepared for the day I walked into the butcher shop. First the smell was choking. It didn't stink, but was an unidentifiable stench. I gagged as I walked in. I looked in the refrigerated case. I had never seen meat so red. I looked to my left and emerging from a small doorway was the butcher clad in stereotypical white from neck to ankle with red everywhere in between. I couldn't buy anything. I walked out.

After that I couldn't eat meat for a while. Every time I would pick up a piece of chicken all I could notice was that I was eating something on a bone. I was eating an animal. I had never had that realization before. It made me nauseous.

For a few months I was a vegetarian by choice. Then the day came when I had to have fish. (After all who can resist fish and chips in England!) My aversion to red meat lingered a little longer.

I stopped buying groceries from the town center and started taking the bus to Sainsbury's for all of my shopping. It was a much more civilized experience, and one that I was more accustomed to. It was a grocery store with a bakery and a meat department. The meat department wasn't scary. All the steaks looked neatly packaged and pinkish. The ground beef was plastic wrapped perfection. The only strange smells came from overzealous perfume spraying shoppers.

Over time I began to crave meat again. The small neatly packaged offerings in the meat department grew harder to resist and one day I bought a package of ground beef to add to spaghetti sauce. It was hidden, mixed in, undetectable really. Besides, the meat was already there. Somebody had to buy it.

And so ended my vegetarian lifestyle then only to be resurrected years later. I lived inI realized that part of the reason I was drawn to the hot yoga challenge was the fact that I wanted to lose weight. According to the scale, I lost (drum roll, please) a total of 4 pounds last month. That's okay, but I want to lose a lot more. So, this month's challenge: lose 10 pounds in 30 days.

If you are following along with my little experiment, here is the official "warning": Before you begin any exercise or diet program, consult your doctor. This website is not intended to give medical or psychological advice. Okay, so there you go.

Friday, April 30, 2010


The best part about completing this challenge is that I had to experience many different teachers. Each person comes to yoga from a different style and philosophy. I learned to appreciate the differences in each one o them. I am grateful to all the teachers I have had over the past thirty days. Each one has a special talent and gift to share. The yoga nazi pushed me hard; the yoga whisperers offered gentle encouragement; the true yogi stretched my beliefs; the muscle yogi taught me not to judge by appearances; and the yoga master reminded me I have oh so far to go.

Although it seemed as if I did this challenge alone, I had the support of very good friends and family. I made it thanks to all of them.


Day 30

The last day…

The last day of hot yoga was a not hot yoga. For the second time I tried the "not hot" yoga. I was expecting the muscle yogi, but instead found a different teacher. There were several students who came in asking if she was teaching this class. I thought, "Hey, she must be good if people are requesting her." So I was excited that my last class was being taught by a yoga master.

The yoga master went around to each person and introduced herself. She asked me what my practice was like. I replied, "This is my 20th class. I'm taking the challenge. " I would regret this little bragging later. I continued, "I did my first backbend yesterday after two yoga classes." She wasn't impressed. Strike one.

I obviously didn't answer the question right and switched gears to talk about my tight shoulders. "It's difficult to get my palms to touch behind me," I said. She proceeded to demonstrate how to open up my shoulders: lay a yoga brick or a phone book on the floor, place your forehead to the brick and your palms to the floor, slowly roll your head to one side without lifting your palm. Repeat on the other side. It looked painful and I made the mistake of saying so. Strike two.

The yoga master used blankets, straps, bricks, and bolsters. It was all a new experience. My bragging about this being my 20th class came back to bite me. So she kept coming over to me and saying, "This is the last day of your challenge, make it count." Me and my big mouth. In warrior three she really let me have it, "Come on, reach up! Touch my hand." I couldn’t. My thigh was burning and my leg was shaking. I fell. Strike three.

The yoga master didn't criticize, but let me rediscover that I didn't know anything about yoga. After doing one backbend I thought I was all that, but realized that I'm still a fogi- a wannabe yogi. And that's fine because after meeting this challenge I have decided - I'll be back for more yoga hot or not hot.

Challenge Counter:

Number of Yoga Classes: 20 with a lot of help!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 29 and a Half

Stretching my beliefs…

It took a bit of rescheduling and pitching in from the kids and my husband, but I walked into the studio for the second time today. To say that I was nervous was an understatement. My mind was spinning with fear and questions, "Could I physically do two sessions in one day? Would I lose it like I had seen others before who pushed themselves too much? Is this worth it?"

As I checked in, a wonderful yoga teacher was sitting on the couch. "Didn't I see you earlier today?"

I said, "Yes. And I've never done two sessions in one day, so I might be in child's pose half the class."

"That's okay," she said.

My fears subsided. The yoga teacher gave me permission to sit this one out. I felt better. I felt relaxed until…

She wasn't the teacher. It was the true yogi! She's like the yoga nazi, only with the spiritual twist. I was toast. There was no way I was ever going to be able to sit out her class. She'd never go for it. I took a deep breath and looked around. I did something I've never done before a class- I laid down on the mat. Corpse pose. Because that's what I knew I'd be. Toast.

Before class the true yogi told a funny story about a cleansing salt ritual she performed on her apartment which involved a dog, paint, and a geyser of black goo spewing from the sink. Then she simply said, "You have to get rid of the old to make room for the new. That's what yoga does. It creates physical new space." I got that.

Soon the true yogi had us flowing through the vinyasas. A few times I had to lower my arms out of warrior two for a moment, but I swung them right back up. I opted for low cobra and down dog through tabletop a lot. But I was modifying the pose, which is all I could do.

Then came time for the shoulder stand. A few people fell and the true yogi stopped the class and began to talk about fear and how fear prevents us from trying something new. We listen to our mind too much. "Use your fear as fuel," she said and she showed us how to "fall" correctly out of forearm stand.

Everyone tried again. I heard a lot of falling, but my body was telling me not to even attempt it. So I kicked one leg up and then the other and it was over. Then she led us into a series that ended with a split on each leg- the cheerleader all-the-way-to-the-ground split. After this I thought the class was over. But I was wrong.

"Four backbends one for each corner," four corners of what, I can't remember. I just remember hearing four backbends and a lot of groaning. I inhaled and went into bridge then lowered down. "If you are not doing it, ask yourself why." My why was that this was the second yoga class of the day, less than 24 hours ago I was sick as a dog, and I have never done a backbend before. I lifted up into bridge the second time. "Turn your fear into fuel," the true yogi encouraged. What was I afraid of here? Certainly not falling. I was simply listening to my mind telling me I wasn't a kid anymore and the last time I did a backbend Rick Springfield was panting after Jessie's Girl. As I came into bridge the third time I thought, "If my chest touches my chin this time, I know my body is telling me I can do a full backbend." I pushed down hard through my heels and my chin touched. I lowered down and without thinking on the fourth time, I pushed up into a full backbend.

I was so happy I was crying. Crying in yoga. I'm sure that is somehow against the rules. But like when the rain falls while the sun is shining, I was crying and smiling at once. I had done it! I not only showed up, weak and exhausted, but had pushed beyond my own beliefs about what I could do. This was it. This is why I took the challenge.

After class I shared my story with the true yogi. Teary-eyed I thanked her and gave her a hug.

Challenge Counter:
Number of Hot Yoga Classes: 19 with a backbend!

Day 29

This is it…

It was time to do some serious soul searching. I was weak from the staying up all night from what I thought might be food poisoning. I was feeling better, but unsure how much my body could take.

"Stay home. It's crazy to go to a yoga class after you've been sick," my husband said. "Besides, no one is going to care if you make it or not."

He's right. No one will care if I make it to 20 yoga classes in 30 days. The yoga studio isn't going to give me a free mat, a ticker tape parade, or even a t-shirt. Anyone would say that it's okay to miss because you were sick. No one is going to yell or scream at me, "You failed!" No one, that is, but me.

So why am I trying to make 20 yoga classes in 30 days? Is it just because I need to commit to something and prove to myself that I can do it? Maybe. Is it because I want to be fit and strong through yoga? Maybe. I was hoping, actually expecting, to lose some weight. But it really hasn't happened. It couldn't be the chocolate cake, the twice a week eating out, or the late night dinners that prevented the weight loss. Could it?

What I wanted more than anything else out of this challenge was to cross the finish line. Too often I have run a good race and stopped just short of the finish line. Come up, as my mother would say, "A day late and a dollar short." No one would begrudge me taking time off because I was ill. But if I let myself off the hook I had to ask myself why. (That's what I have heard from every yoga teacher: It's fine to come out of a pose and rest, but ask yourself why you are doing it.)

I decided I couldn't let myself off the hook on this one for two reasons. First, I knew there had been many days when I "let myself off the hook" and didn't go to class when I had no excuse other than "I don't feel like it." Second, this is where the rubber meets the road. If I don't give it everything I've got- I might as well have not started to begin with. It is full steam ahead. I am going to yoga today, not once, but twice.

The morning session today was a blur. And that's a good thing. I walked into the studio with no pretences. I had no choice but to listen to my body. Whatever it was willing to do, that is exactly what I was going to do. If my body said, "Rest," I would rest. If it said, "Run to the bathroom," I would run. And hopefully not step on anyone along the way. But neither one of those things happened. I went through the poses and my mind was no where in class today.

I made it through without getting sick and surprisingly, I felt better. I'm still in the race and I'm going for the finish line.

Challenge Counter:
Number of Hot Yoga Classes: Made it to 18!

Day 28

Sick as a dog…

I was sick, sick, sick- the kind of sick where you feel like you're dying.

One of my biggest fears about taking on this yoga challenge was getting sick- literally upchucking. I'm sure it's too late for TMI, but there was no way I could make it to class or anywhere else for that matter. No, it was a yoga-less day for me. And I was so close to making it.

Challenge Counter:
Number of Hot Yoga Classes: Still holding at 17

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 27

I am a FOGI…

According to my ten year old daughter, FUGs are fake UGGs. My daughter has a pair of UGGs and I have a pair of FUGs. I bought FUGs for two reasons: there wasn't any money left after purchasing the real ones for my daughter and I intended to wear them only in the house. I figured, "Why pay a lot of money if they will never see the outside of my house?" And for a time, they were indeed the warmest, most comfortable slippers imaginable.

Inevitably the day came when I wore them "just to the store." Then I wore them "just this once to run errands." Soon I was wearing my FUGs constantly. They were no longer the glorified house slipper I had originally intended. They became my go-to boots, but I was growing increasingly self-conscious about their imposter status.

I began to ask myself, "Why didn't I buy the real thing?" Part of the reason lies in the "Burnt Toast" syndrome as Teri Hatcher wrote. Moms tend to take the leftovers and settle for what no one else would want. I began to be embarrassed by my FUGs . When I would wear them out I made sure the bottoms were covered.

Today was a messy, rainy day and I grabbed my FUGs to walk to yoga class. I felt a small pebble in my right FUG. My first instinct was to take off my boot and shake out the pebble. But I was on a busy street and I only had minutes to get to yoga class. I decide I couldn't waste a second and instead of stopping I shook my foot so the pebble reamined in the arch of my foot. "I should really stop and shake the pebble out of my shoe," I thought as I rounded the corner to the yoga studio. But I didn't. I walked all the way to the studio with a pebble in my FUG. Inside the yoga studio, I quickly removed my boots. As usual, I hide them behind a chair instead of placing them in the rack marked "Shoes".

The yoga nazi was out and a new teacher took her class. She truly was the yoga whisperer- literally; she whispered through class and I could barely hear her over the music . Like so many other teachers, she called out poses I had never done before. I painfully realized that after all the yoga classes I have taken, I don't know a thing about yoga. I can't do a head stand. I can't do a full wheel. I can't do eagle arms and legs. I was the yoga equivalent of my fake UGGs; I was a FOGI- a fake yogi.

After class I was feeling a little depressed. I looked at my FUGs wet from trudging through the city streets and thought how much they were a part of me: wet, tough, and no-nonsense. Why should I be embarrassed by them? Haven't they seen me through snow, rain, sleet and more than a few miles?

I decided today that I will be proud to wear my FUGs and proud to be a FOGI. I step out of the studio and feel the small pebble in my boot. With a smile on my face I balance on my left leg, lift my right leg up, and like the true FOGI that I am pull off my boot and let the pebble fall. Getting out of the pose just like I got into it, I make my way home.

I vow to embrace my FUGs and to wear them guilt-free just as I embrace the fact that I am a wannabe yogi. I am a FOGI.
Challenge Counter:

Number of Hot Yoga Classes: 17

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 26

A kick in the face…

Yoga classes are getting more crowded. Although my friend and I arrived ten minutes early for class today, we still found ourselves at the back of a line going into the studio. Trying to be polite, we wait in line to enter the studio. But the atmosphere feels more like an old west land rush as we anxiously look around and then quickly stake our claim to yogaland. 

When my friend and I made it into the studio, there was a spot in the front and a spot in the back. We opted to stay in the back. I set my mat up along with my yoga blanket. I didn't think anyone else could fit behind us, so I relaxed sitting cross-legged on my mat, eyes closed.

I heard some rumbling behind me and I was shocked to see not one more person, but five people had squeezed behind me. "How did they do that?" I wondered as I scooted my mat up as far as I could without touching the mat in front of me.

The yoga whisperer began class by stating that she had no words of wisdom for us today, but she was sure something would come to us during class. As she moved through the poses I found my arms were so sore from continuous yoga that I wasn't sure I could make it through the entire class. I thought about sitting through most of the class in child's pose. That is when the yoga whisperer said, "When your thigh is burning, it is talking to you. Breath through it. If you let yourself off the hook, that's fine. Just ask yourself why."

Okay. I'll ask myself why. My arms scream: "Are you crazy! I can't go from standing split, to plank (leg raised), to down dog split, to plank, to low plank, to plank, to down dog split." I missed a few low to high planks, but I muddled my way through. So I continued. I want to complete the 20 classes in 30 days, but I don't want to feel like I cheated. I'll push through until my arms collapse. I was still giving myself this little pep talk going into ardha chandrasana when a foot wondered close to my face. Thankful for the excuse to get out of the pose, I discreetly wiggled my mat back.

Once again I talked myself up into ardha chandrasana when I felt something furry. Yikes! I just put my foot in someone's hair. I moved up again. Fortunately for me, the lady left class early and I avoided the embarrassment of having to apologize.

As class ended I thought about what had come to me during class: full circle giving and receiving. I got a foot in the face and I gave a foot in the face. So overall, I would say it was even. And tomorrow I will not worry about staking my claim to the yoga floor. No matter where you lay your mat, there is always a foot nearby.

Challenge Counter:
Number of Hot Yoga Classes: 16

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 25

If you go to yoga on a Sunday, be prepared for a sermon…

With six days left in April and six more times needed to make 20 sessions in the 30 days of April, I couldn't miss a day of yoga. That meant that I had to go today- a Sunday. I felt guilty that I was "skipping" church to make my 20 in 30 commitment, but went anyway.

I anticipated that the weekends would be crowded and I was right. Thirty or so bodies were squeezed in the studio with mat almost touching mat. I leaned over to my neighbor and asked, "Have you ever seen it so crowded?" To which she replied, "Oh, I've been here when the mats are touching. It's a little intimidating because you are constantly thinking, 'I don't want to fall on anyone.'" I suddenly became grateful for the two inches of privacy between me and my neighbors' mats. But that is where my gratitude ended.

Today's yoga instructor was a true "yogi". I had to chuckle when she bent down and chanted three times to the figure perched on the window sill. I wasn't laughing at her, I was just saying to myself, "Okay, here it is- the real die hard yogi who, unlike all the other instructors, is going to preach today. " I was chuckling because I was missing church only to find myself in another one.

Sure enough the yogi began talking about one of the beliefs of yoga: non-violence. She told the sermon tale of how she had to fumigate her apartment to kill hundreds of living creatures called fleas. This flea infestation also cost her a few inches of hair as she tried to provide less of a home for the little creatures. She spoke of her own hypocrisy in not following to the letter letting all creatures live, but it is hard to feel sympathy for dead fleas. 

Then the talk turned to eating animals. She insisted that she wasn't going to preach to us that we should all be vegan (too late), but did point out that eating vegan one day a week helped the environment more than driving a hybrid car. (Okay, maybe I will go vegetarian once a week.) I tucked that in the back of my mind.

The yogi preacher was wearing a pink t-shirt with "Let's Get Physical" written on it. Olivia Newton John's voice came into my head singing those words. I couldn't help it. I chuckled inside again, but that would be the last chuckling I did as the yogi preacher mercilessly took us through the most difficult poses I have tried. Like a "hell, fire, and brimstone" preacher, she laid it on us and wouldn't let up.

Sometime during all of this a roly poly bug scurried across the mat in front of me. My first instinct was to discreetly squash it. Then I thought of the yogi preacher's words: non-violence towards all. If this was applied to fleas, I am sure she meant it for roly poly bugs, too. As the bug came toward my mat I realized that if I hadn't heard those words today, I would not hesitate in squishing the ugly little thing. I wasn't alone either. After class the woman in front of me asked, "Did you see the bug? I was trying to shoo it away. I didn't want to kill it."

The yogi preacher may have fumigated hundreds of fleas, but today she saved a roly poly bug and lessened my guilt about missing church by delivering a great sermon.

Challenge Counter:
Number of Hot Yoga Classes: 15