Reflections Of The Way Life Used To Be

(song: Reflections/artist: The Supremes)

Hello blogoshpere! What a year it's been for this Formerly Fat Mom! 

In case you've just discovered my blog, I'll sum it up for you: In February 2011 I was selected to be part of  a test-group for an at-home fitness DVD program called Brazil Butt Lift® . During the test-group I lost almost 30 pounds and transformed my body. I also appeared in an infomercial for Brazil Butt Lift®, which began airing in November 2011. Check your local listings...

I started 2011 like this:
January 2011 - New guitar. Old spare tire.

I ended 2011 like this:
December 2011 - C'mon, ANY excuse to post a picture of myself as slutty Mrs. Claus!
In the six months since I completed the test-group for Brazil Butt Lift® (it still makes me laugh too) I've learned (still learning) so much about myself. Most importantly, that being human is okay! I really learned that on Christmas Day, when I binged on so many sweets that I spent an hour barfing my brains out. I think (hope) that was my sugar addiction rock-bottom, but if I relapse again, I'm not going to beat myself up. I'm just going to, well, clean the bathroom, then get right back into my routine of good eating and exercise. My body may reject the overload of crap food, but my mind still has some catching up to do...

My experience this year taught me that I am so much stronger - mentally and physically - than I ever gave myself credit for. At one time in my life, I weighed 193 pounds and wore a size 16. I never imagined I'd someday be wearing a size 6 and weigh 138 pounds. Now, I never imagine my life without exercise and proper nutrition. Sure, I was given a gift this year when I got selected for the test-group, but you don't need a test-group to change your body or your life. Long before the test-group, I started on my own, in my house, just me and a set of DVDs and the determination to end the self-inflicted cycle of yo-yo dieting and self-loathing. I had no trainer, no nutritionist. Just good old-fashioned will-power and determination. 

It is possible for ANYONE to do this. You can change your body, your life, your mind. It's hard. SO DAMN HARD. But it's completely possible and I promise you, that when you make the decision to end the cycle of bad choices in your life, it will awaken your spirit, and everything else will fall into place. Everything is connected; obesity, debt, depression, addictions. I'm not saying you're fat because you're in debt. I'm saying these things are cyclical. For much of my young-adult life, I never believed I was worthy of love or success. I made self-destructive choices with money, relationships, food, alcohol and drugs. At 23-years-old, I was thousands of dollars in debt and unemployed. I finally contacted a debt-counseling service, which helped me slowly crawl my way out of debt. I began seeing a therapist, got new a job, made new friends, then met my future husband. When I chose to focus on my debt issue, other issues began to resolve themselves, and  my life got a lot better. Though, I still struggled with depression and low self-esteem, which mostly manifested itself in the form of binge-eating and drinking.

1999 - Train wreck party girl

In the winter of 2009 I was the fattest I'd ever been, depressed and (felt) completely alone. I hated myself. I hated my body. I couldn't imagine that my husband or anyone else found me attractive, because I believed I was disgusting.  Something had to change. This time, I chose to focus on my body issue. Three years later, I have begun to love myself. How I feel about myself now is reflected in the food choices I make, the friends that I have, the activities I choose. I'm overwhelmingly happy most days. I'm a better mother, wife and daughter. I'm a much better ME. And none of this would have happened if I hadn't made a choice to begin exercising. 

Change won't and shouldn't, happen over-night. You can't have long-term success if you're setting short-term goals. BE PATIENT! If you live to be 90, the three years it might take to lose weight will seem like nothing. If you really want to get healthy, you have to be ready to put in the time and focus on the long-run -- not fitting into a bikini in four months. You probably will reach your bikini goal, but I guarantee you'll be right back in your big-girl swim dress next year if you don't also incorporate self-reflection and long-term behavior changes.
Do you really want to wear this?

Losing weight and getting fit were a small part of this awesome year. Because I started to believe in myself, I radiated positivity and met some incredible people. I developed a network of supportive  friends and acquaintances that share my enthusiasm and believe in me, as I do in them. I'm learning to let go of negative feelings and to stop seeking the approval of people that don't support or like me. I am also inspiring people. My own mom lost THIRTY pounds this year! She's 67-years-old! She's lost weight before, but the difference now is, she EXERCISES. She finally gets that you can't maintain a fit body, simply by eating less. You have to move! I'm so proud of you mom! (It may have helped that I shamed her in this post..)

As I look forward to 2012, I am so excited about the possibilities. I plan to continue with Leandro's program since I still have a lot of cellulite and skin-sag on my thighs. And Leandro is after all, THE BUTT MASTER, so I am going to do his workouts till I die. No one can really tell me if my skin will regain it's elasticity, so I've decided to be a one-woman test-group and find out. It's not like I look like one of those really obese people that lost 200 pounds and has mounds of flesh that need to be surgically removed. What I have is mild, but it bugs me. I hate the way my thigh droops to floor when I'm in a plank position, because I know it's more skin than fat. The same goes for my lower-belly. I've developed some great abs, but I've got a skin-flap. It's like my body is a size 6, but my skin is a size 8. So, I am giving it a full year. I will devote 2012 to continual toning and maintenance of my weight-loss. If I still have a skin suit that's a little bigger than my muscle suit, then I may have to start my plastic surgery blog...
No this isn't me, and mine isn't this bad, but you get the point right?

2012 will also mark the beginning of my journey to a career in fitness. I'm actually sort-of hyperventilating as I write this because I'm still the queen of self-doubt and part of me is convinced I'll fail and I really don't have an answer for what "career in fitness" means to me and I'm so scared of failing...or succeeding...or both but now I just wrote it down and it's on the internet so I have to do it. ACK!!

I am also developing a website! Okay, "developing" is a strong word, but I did buy a domain name and WILL BE developing a website, which will have my blog posts, exercise tips, recipes...what have you. And it will of course have updates throughout the year so you'll know if I've fallen off the wagon, which I won't, well maybe sometimes, but the point is, I'll be honest about it. I'll always be honest about my downs, because that is the only way I'll stay healthy forever. I'm human. I'll falter. I'll forgive myself and move on.

So that's a wrap for 2011! Thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for all the positive comments. 
If you're feeling like I was in January of 2009 or in 1999, please know that life can and will get better. Just take one small step today. Tomorrow will be a little easier. I promise, you can do it. You can do it. Just believe. You can do it.

Have a happy and HEALTHY New Year!

The Only Thing I've Ever Seen of You Was a Commercial Spot on the Screen

(song: Movie Star/artist: Harpo)

Well hello everyone! Hope you all survived the Thanksgiving holiday. I will be writing a post about (my) holiday survival, but that can wait.

I have exciting news...

The BRAZIL BUTT LIFT®  infomercial has hit the airwaves, and I made the final cut!!

Look at me mom, I'm on TV! In a bikini. On a rotating turntable. Talking about my butt. Okay, this is not exactly the big break my parents had in mind, 16 years ago when I left Georgia in search of stardom in the Big Apple. And, yeah, my poor son will probably be humiliated when this video surfaces during his presidential campaign in 2052, but hopefully this will be the biggest scandal he's faced with when that time comes. At least they airbrushed mama's tramp stamp! 

Check out my heartfelt testimonial:
 (Thanks to Mayhew Breen Productions and Beachbody® for letting me post this)

Okay, which part did you laugh at the most? "I'm the me that I wanted to be." OR "It's like a heart!" It's a toss-up for me. I know I sound like a total cheeseball ('cause I am), but I was so very sincere in that interview! Although you only hear and see me, I was answering a series of questions from Marc, the director. He's great at making "regular" people feel comfortable on-camera and I was honestly answering his questions about my experience, about the workouts, about Leandro, about my old butt, my new butt, my abs...a giggle here...a "I can't believe this is my butt" there...and that's a wrap! I especially liked the footage of me exercising "in the comfort of my own home".  I ALWAYS workout in full make-up with a dorky smile on my face. Okay, I do in fact have the dorky smile on my face when I exercise, and I often workout in full make-up (Don't judge me. You think I'm going to the Butt Master's class in my "crunchy Brooklyn mom" face?!), but I never look as good as infomercial Alison when I'm working up a sweat.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Since I was the nerd that did Leandro's Tummy Tuck DVD religiously - every day, I got a tiny extra snippet:


So there I am. Infomercial infamous! And although being in the infomercial was never the reason I auditioned for the test group, it is totally the icing on the cake. A very honest, sincere and hysterically funny portrait of my incredible three-month journey.

And here's one tiny segment for the benefit of my former classmates from The American Musical & Dramatic Academy. In this group workout scene, you will find me ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK. (Anyone that was in a dance class with me knows why.) Just look right over Leandro's head - several rows back - and you'll see the tall, brunette, wearing a light blue tank-top, spastically waving her arms in the opposite direction as the rest of the group. It's a nano-second long, but delightful nonetheless. 

Now that is classic Alison. The Butt Master makes dreams a reality, but it when it comes to my rhythm, even he can't deliver miracles.

How I Missed Those Loving Arms

(song: Back In Baby's Arms/artist: Patsy Cline)

OUCH!!! I can barely type this post because I'm already so so sore from... LEANDRO'S CLASS! Oh yes, I reunited with The Master of my Bum Bum for his brutally awesome 90-minute class at Equinox. Because I am not a member of this fancy schamncy gym, I have to walk in with Leandro, so I arrived early - and ridiculously excited. I nearly leaped off the couch when I saw him walk in! I haven't seen him since July, when I took his swim class. We hugged, I kissed his toned cheek (on his face, you perve), he pointed me to the locker room and told me to get ready for a great class. It would be a total lie if I said I haven't been looking forward to this all week. Seriously, I've been working out extra hard just because I knew I was going to see Leandro today. I mean, this guy changed my life, my body, my whole perspective. (Plus I was super nervous that he'd check out my ass and be disappointed that it's the same or slightly worse than the last day of the test group. He made no such assessments. At least, not out loud...)

In the locker room I encounter Gloria, Leandro's assistant, who became a kind-of a mom to me during the extension month of the test-group. Gloria was in a test-group a few years ago, and then started working for Leandro. She's such a kind soul and getting to know her during the extension was very meaningful to me. During one of my last workouts at Leandro's studio, she randomly said (while I doing a perfect split-squat), "You're going to be a great trainer." I had never said anything about becoming a trainer and her statement scared the hell out of me. I couldn't even accept the fact that the test-group was going to be over in a week, much less think about what the future held for me. Gloria knew, long before I was ready to admit it, that I had found my calling. When I saw her in the locker room, I immediately embraced her and told her how happy I was to see her. I also gave her a book called Run Like a Girl. A series of interviews with women from all walks of life that illustrate "how the confidence women build by participating in sports...can transform our lives in profound ways".  I hope she likes it!

So I get into the studio and it's packed with gals from every end of the fitness spectrum. I also noticed a few faces from the first test-group, which was about four years ago. They are all still very fit, which makes me think, "I can totally do this!" And guess who else is taking the class...SANDRA ALVIM! Yep, the taught 60-year-old Brazilian bombshell that I had to workout next to on my second day of the test-group, is there in the front row. Her tiny round booty looks better than ever. I want to be this woman when I'm 60! Okay, I want to be this woman when I'm 40...

Leandro mics up and greets the class. He ask for a show-of-hands of first-timers. There are quite a few. I remember what it was like to be seconds away from my first workout with Leandro. These girls have the same look of panic-stricken excitement that I had. I, of course, have the doofy look of a child that just found her long-lost blankie. I'm so freaking excited to get started! Leandro cranks the Brazilian dance music and we are off and running. Woo hoo! It's 30-minutes of cardio, featuring old favorites like, side-lunge-knee-ups, alternating side-squats, burpees and my all-time favorite (really) the curtsy lunge! During the "shake your booty and beat the drums" move, Leandro comes over to me. I shook my money maker, relieved I decided to double-up my Lululemon tights today. I still really don't love cardio, but I'm so much better at it now, and I am so happy to be in this class that I don't even care that the sweat pouring down my face is really burning the skin on my freshly waxed upper-lip. (I couldn't let The Butt Master see my momstache...)

The next 30-minute-segment was upper-body toning. We grab mats and dumbells and return to our spots for shoulders, bi-ceps, tri-ceps, chest...rinse and repeat. I really feel the burn! I don't use heavy weights now that I'm deep into my Tracy Anderson "ballet arm" obsession, so even though I'm only using 8 and 10-pound weights, it really friggin' hurts. But I kept right on going. Though I did have to borrow Gloria's 5-pounders during the lateral raise series. (Thanks G!) My arms had their own pulse when we finished.

The final 30-minutes was all about abs. Holy crapoly! There was so much moaning...from me. All familiar moves. All just as hard as I remember. I have to give a hand to the first-timers for making it through the class. Nothing about it was easy. My whole body felt (and still feels) like Jello. It was so GREAT! Oh I miss doing this every day!

After class, I thanked Leandro for inviting me to class. We hugged and kissed and he says, "Any time. I want to see you a lot." It's a date Butt Master! It's a date...

Obrigado por tudo Leandro! 

Reunited, and it feels so good! (Me, Leandro & Gloria.)

Open Up Your Mouth and Feed It.

(song: Eat It/artist: Weird Al Yankovic) 

I'm a pig. A disgusting, gluttonous hog. Allow me to 'splain...

Saturday started great. I ran a 10K, then spent a lovely day with my son, husband and mother-in-law at Brooklyn Bridge Park. After the park, we stopped by my brother-in-law's for the tail-end of their post-race brunch. I shoved half a bagel with cream cheese, three pieces of buttery crumb cake, one alcoholic cider and two beers down my greedy gullet. My brother-in-law gave a bag of muffins, bagels and croissants to my mom-in-law, which I told her she shouldn't take, but she did anyway because she hates waste and it's a generational thing and I understand that but it's crappy food that's bad for you but she knows that and she's an adult so I let it go. Remember this piece of info; You'll need it later. 

Saturday night, I got all dolled up for a night of kidless fun with my hubby. Check out my new dress and shoes:
Roomy dress = opportunity for gluttony

We had a couple of cocktails at a local bar, then went to a 40th birthday party for one of our fellow parents. (Whose wife just happens to be the author of Persian Bites. Check it out!) I feasted on wonderful Persian fare and drank like I had no responsibility. The night - or rather morning - ended at about 1:30AM. 

Sunday was brutal. Kiddie soccer at 9AM meant no rest for this bloated mom. After soccer, I had eggs Benedict for brunch. Instead of lean Canadian bacon, it was served with uber-fatty mortadella. Delicious but artery-clogging. For dinner, hubby and I ordered up a mess of ribs, wings and macaroni & cheese from our favorite BBQ place, The Smoke Joint. I went to bed exhausted and stuffed.
Monday, there was no way in hell was going to exercise. I pretty much decided that when I went to bed Sunday night. I schlepped my kid to school, then came right home where I spent most of the day on my couch watching crap TV...and eating junk. I started with my son's leftover French toast. But that wasn't enough, so I made two more slices for myself. Then I had an ice cream sandwich. Then I hit the cheddar goldfish and the dried fruit. I took a break to pick up my son and managed to behave myself until dinner, when I ate ravioli covered in oil, salt and Parmesan cheese. Then my son went to bed, and since my husband wasn't coming home until late, I was all alone with my munchies and my faltering will-power. The stage was set for a an all-out pig fest. Because when no one's watching, I'm not accountable right? I wish...

I started with a couple of cheese sticks, a spoonful of almond butter, a handful of grapes, a fruit leather thing, some Pirate's Booty and another ice cream sandwich. Since I don't stock crappy snacks, I wasn't getting the fix I "needed". But then I remembered my secret stash. My mother-in-law brought a pre-Halloween bag of candy to my son. What 4-year-old doesn't need a bag of sugar before he goes trick-or-treating and collects a bag of sugar? C'mon Gram, you know better.  Luckily, he was distracted by the toy train she also brought, so I was able to move the candy bag to an undisclosed location without his knowledge. I perused the bag and decided the blueberry Jelly Bellys would be my first treat. They went down nice and easy. I LOVE jelly beans! Then I finished the mini M&Ms. I opened another bag of pea and carrot shaped Jelly Bellys and ate a handful. I still wasn't satisfied, so I went into my freezer and cracked open the bag of leftover baked goods that my brother-in-law gave to my mom-in-law. I heated a blueberry muffin, cut it in half and sat down for a muffin treat. I felt so gross. Eating that half muffin on top of all the sugary candy I had just eaten, made me feel sick.  And generally disgusted with myself. What the hell was I thinking?!

I went to the kitchen and dumped the baked goods into the garbage can. I made sure to take them out of the plastic bag so that I wouldn't be tempted to pull a George Costanza and eat them out of the garbage can. Bye bye bagel, so long muffins, sorry croissant, it just wasn't meant to be. You're all delicious, but there's no room for you in my life or on my ass. Then it was time to say goodbye to the candy. I opened and emptied it all into the trash can. My son won't miss it. I don't need the temptation. Halloween is just 5 days away and I'm really going to have to test my self-control then. I just hope no one's handing out Milky Ways...

This isn't the first time I've faltered. It probably won't be the last, given that I'm human. The important thing is that on Tuesday, I returned to my regularly scheduled programming of clean eating and exercising. I gave in to temptation and weakness, but I won't use that as excuse to screw up my whole week. You mess up, you move on and keep looking ahead, not back. If you have crap food in your house that you're saving "for the kids" or some other bullshit excuse, do yourself (and your kids) a favor and get rid of it. If you shouldn't eat it, neither should your kids.

Yeah...You're a Loser Now

(song: I've Tried Everything/artist: Eurythmics)

DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! I wanted to kick my husband's ass, but that magnificent bastard was just too good!

I'm number 1 in my heart...

I started strong. The race looped Prospect Park twice. The entire first loop, I was right behind my husband. I felt surprisingly great. Then came the second loop, and the second climb up the brutally gradual hill at the top of the park. That's when the red cap that had been in my sights for 3.34 miles, started to get farther and farther away. I kept thinking, "He's probably only 30 seconds ahead at this point. Just keep your pace. He'll tire and you'll catch up..." WRONG! Eventually, the red cap was out of view. In the end, he beat me by 1 minute, 8 seconds. My official time for my first 10K was 57:11. 

Post-race photo-op dork.
Here's the thing, I did a practice 10K just 5 days before the race. My time was 1 hour and 7 minutes. In five days, I shaved almost 10 minutes off my time! I finished 87th in my division (35 to 39-year-old females) and 1,777th overall. Not bad when you consider there were over 7,000 people running. I feel really proud of what I accomplished. I also really loved competing with my husband! And yeah, I know it's harder to beat men because they're faster by virtue of hormones, genes, muscular structure, blah blah blah. Scientific probability is not going to stop me from trying again. That's right, I'm already registered for my next race. Better keep those quads and hammies loose baby. I'm coming for you!

So I didn't beat my bigger, stronger, husband. I pushed through and achieved another, seemingly improbable goal, which was to finish in under 60 minutes. YAY ME! And I have to say, a 68-second "loss", is not all that shameful. I also finished before my husband's sister and brother, which was pretty satisfying. Especially since I'm almost a decade older than my brother-in-law. Thanks T, for tacking on mass and maintaining your Mac-like dedication to gluttony, so that I can feel good about my little victories. 

This Time Tomorrow. Where Will I be?

(song: This Time Tomorrow/artist: Ray Davies)

Oh my god, I am so damn excited about my first 10K! Not just because, after 12 years of physical inferiority, I can finally compete with my husband, but because I also get to compete with ME. In December I ran a 4-mile race - my first race - in nearly 50 minutes. I was really proud of that time. It was pre-Butt Master and post-Turbo Jam. My only goal for that race was to finish without walking; Which I did. This time tomorrow, I will feel that pride again. Only my goal is not just to complete the race without walking; It's to complete it with or before my husband. I believe I can do it. I believe I can do anything. And it's that faith in myself that carries me through every workout, every day. Forever.

If you can't wait till the next blog post, stop by my Facebook page. I'll post my results immediately following my triumphant crossing of the finish line. (Within reason. I may stop for water and few high-fives first...)

It's time for this super dork to go to bed.  Wish me luck!

Fooled Around and Fell In Love

(song: Fooled Around and Fell In Love/artist: Elvin Bishop)

Shhh...Don't tell the Butt Master, but I've met someone else. Her name is Tracy Anderson, and I'm really into her Mat Workout DVD.  I don't know much about Tracy, except that Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna are two of her clients, which means nothing to me since they are not formerly fat people, but still, I gave this workout a try and I LOVE it! 

Apparently, she was once an aspiring ballet dancer but she's crazy short so she tended to look more "bulky" than lithe, like a ballet dancer should be. Her workout is designed to tone and create chiseled lines without making you look like a budding body-builder. There's no weights.  Tracy has a bunch of different DVDs on the market. I've only done the Mat Workout

Here's what I love about it:
-It's kind graceful, almost ballet-like. The movements are constant and fluid throughout the the workout. I dare say, I feel kind of sexy when I'm doing this DVD. Because it's flowy, you're fooled into thinking it's going to be's not.
-The background music is pretty good. I mean, with any DVD that you do a lot, you're going to get tired of hearing the same music, but so far, I still really like it. It's not as cheesy as some other DVDs. (I'm talking to you Butt Master.)
-She has a great arm series that's hard as hell but works every angle and muscle on your arm so it's awesome. I love love love it. (She does use three-pound weights on the arm series, but no weights anywhere else.)
-The ab series on the floor is rad. I still love The Butt Master's Tummy Tuck DVD, but Tracy kills it on abs too.
-It's a full-body workout. She starts with a standing leg series, then standing abs, then killer arms, then you go to the floor for more legs, then abs. It's 57 minutes of awesomeness, you'll be sore as hell after the first time, but you'll be dying to do it again the next day. At least, I was...

Here's what I don't like:
-She barely talks. When you do the DVD the first few times, you have to constantly look up to see what she's doing because she gives very little instruction. The moves aren't complicated, but she switches sides without saying anything, so you might end up moving one leg for an entire series, without realizing she's moved to the other leg.
-The standing ab series is super hard and complicated. She basically slides all around her ribcage for three minutes in a way I don't think I'll ever be able to do, but I keep trying. While she's going all diagonal, I usually keep moving side-to-side. I find this section very hard to follow, but I don't just skip it. I modify...
-The leg series is great, but I still have a lot of fat on my thighs so I personally feel her workout is geared toward flabby, not fat bodies, that need toning and sculpting, not more weight loss. For my saddle bags, there's only one DVD program that works for me. (I'm talking to you again Butt Master.) 
-She's kind of cold and blah. I'm used to Chalene Johnson's and Leandro's bubbly demeanors. Tracy is not bubbly. She's quiet and serious and barely smiles. I would have hated this DVD when I was a size 16 and couldn't walk a mile without sweating. She's not much of a motivator. But then again, this is her first DVD and she may be more comfortable on-camera in her more recent DVDs.

Don't worry, I will never divorce Leandro or Chalene, but sometimes, you have to mix it up to keep things fresh and exciting. I've always got room in my heart for one more hard body. Welcome to the family Tracy!

It's Time to Start the Countdown. I'm Gonna Burn it Down, Down, Down.

(song: Fun House/artist: Pink)

Hey y'all. In exactly two weeks from today, I will run the Rock 'n' Roll 10 K in Prospect Park - my first 10K! (For the metric-impaired, that's 6.2 miles.) Now, I know that there are some folks saying. "Whatever. Six miles is nothing." And then are those that are saying, "SIX miles! I'd probably die." Since I am not a real runner - I only started running this year to supplement my cardio needs during the test group - my running ability falls somewhere between those two statements. 

I live near Prospect Park and I try to run the 3.34 mile loop at least three times a week. Most of the time I do it in about 30 minutes. Most of the time I do it without walking. One time I did it in 29 minutes, but my average time is 31 minutes. But the race will be TWICE around the loop, and I NEVER feel able to run the loop twice. There's a killer hill at the bottom of the park. The thought of doing it twice, makes me want to puke. To prove to myself that I could (or couldn't) do the loop twice, I tried it one September morning. I did it - without walking - in 64 minutes. That's fine for a first try. But here's the thing: I am married to the world's most competitive man. And he is also running the race. So 64 minutes simply will not be good enough if I'm going to be able to compete with this guy! Also, two of his equally-competitive siblings are running, so the stakes are even higher. My husband and his siblings are not ambassadors of good sportsmanship. (Trivial Pursuit gets really heated when my husband and his sister are on opposing teams.) You finish last, you'll never hear the end of it...

You may recall that my hubby and I ran the July 4th 5K in Georgia and I shocked him (and myself) by finishing only one second after him. In almost 13 years together, I have never been able to physically compete with this man. But thanks to The Butt Master and my new found inner and physical strength, I am the strongest I've ever been and I want to CRUSH the competition! I don't want to lose by one second, I WANT TO BEAT HIM. Can I do it? We'll find out in 14 days...

I think I can...

I Think I Can Make It Now. The Pain is Gone.

(song: I Can See Clearly Now/artist: Johnny Nash)

Well hey there. My last post was met with mixed reviews. Some were nice (people that like me) and I was encouraged to "hang in there...give it know you can do it". Others were, well, not as encouraging (people that don't like me) but rather a "shut your whiny face you spoiled housewife" type response. Everyone's entitled to their opinions right? If I were super concerned about the meanies, I would have chosen a less public forum to express myself. So there!

Now, I'm kind of a "everything happens for a reason" type gal, and I just happened to be strolling down the street the other day, when I bumped into a neighborhood friend and fellow fitness enthusiast, Dièry. He is a personal trainer and has a beautiful studio in his amazing Brooklyn brownstone. I actually had a few sessions with him in 2009 after I lost my Turbo Jam weight, and I can tell you from experience that Dièry is an intense trainer, but he's also very intuitive and knows how to call you (me) on your bullshit. 
Getting my ample booty kicked by Diery in 2009
So I bump into Dièry, minutes after writing my last post, and I tell you, it didn't feel like an accident. He praised my accomplishments and complimented my blog, which all felt great, but I couldn't lie to him when he asked me how I was doing now that I'm living in the real world. He told me to come over to the brownstone for a chat. (I should mention that the first time we met Dièry was at a block party for local business in the neighborhood. He was shirtless, wearing white linen pants and demonstrating all sorts of crazy yoga poses. The dude is in seriously good shape. My son was twoish-years-old at the time and was fascinated with the giant stability ball Dièry was using. My husband walked over to check out the ball, and before he knew what hit  him, Dièry had "abducted" them and ushered them back to his studio, where he stretched my hubby out on a giant log and told him he needed to focus on core work. After my fear that the incredibly buff black man was going to murder all three of subsided, it became one of my all-time favorite moments in time.) So my point is, when Dièry tells you to come to the brownstone for a chat, YOU GO TO THE BROWNSTONE. You might even get a nice stretch on a log.

So I go to the studio for a chat, but of course you can't just chat, you have to do some crazy awesome exercise his backyard fitness oasis first. He had me do a set of squatted rows, which felt great in my glutes and back. I love and really miss having a trainer! Then, I'm sitting in Dièry's kitchen and we're chatting about why I can't seem to get my shit together, and I cry a little - SURPRISE! He gets deep, we tip-toe around terms like Body Dsymorphic  and he voices his concerns about where my head is. He's frighteningly spot-on with some observations - probably because he's been doing this for 100 years and seen far worse crazy than mine - and he allows me to just get it all out. It helped tremendously. You know, he didn't have to do any of that, but it meant the world that he did. Thanks so much Dièry...

So for me, having a network of positive influences (including my OWN influence on myself) is extremely important right now. Well, forever really. I mean, why would I want a network of negative influences? I recently went back to my "mommy bootcamp" - Move It Momma - classes in Prospect Park and reunited with Chana Balk, the founder and leader of the class. Lady's got spunk. She's like 5 feet tall, curses like a sailor (never in front of the kids), holds me accountable and never goes easy on me. She calls me "Lady Butt Blaster" and constantly tells the other sweaty moms my transformation story - which totally makes me push harder. Chana is kind of my hero because she used to be a lawyer, then she became a full-time mom, but she always loved fitness and missed having an identity (hello!), so she first started a company called BabyBites, which was a great resource for me when I was an insane sleep-deprived mom to a small baby, then she decided to turn her love of fitness into a business; Hence, Move It Momma and now she's on her way to becoming a certified personal trainer. And I get to say, "Know her? I workout with her!", when she's famous. And I feel pretty certain that meeting her was no accident either...

The future is bright. I just have to follow the light.

We're Half Awake In Our Fake Empire

(song: Fake Empire/artist: The National)

Okay, I'm finally ready to admit...I'm a goddamn mess. I'm really having trouble assimilating my new self into my real life. When the test group ended, summer began. I left New York one day after the final workout and interview, then I spent most of the summer traveling to various relatives' vacation homes along the east coast. Wherever I went, I brought along my ankle weights and DVDs, and there was always someone happily willing to tend to my son while I maintained  my fitness regimen. My last week of summer fiction was supposed to be spent on the east end  of Long Island at my mother-in-law's house. I knew my fantasy summer was coming to an end, but I also knew that because my son loves spending time with his Gram, I would have tons of time for long workouts (and swimming and reading and sleeping) before heading back to reality. Well wouldn't you know that bitch Mother Nature sent that other bitch Hurricane Irene right up the coast and we lost power and water at Gram's house. I packed up my boy and headed back to Brooklyn, naively thinking that we'd be back in 24-hours. I was so very wrong. I was in deep denial the first day; I took my son for a fun day at Coney Island, all-the-while thinking, "So I'll miss my workout today. No big deal. We'll be back at Gram's tomorrow...." By Wednesday afternoon, three days of no exercise and three days of entertaining an active almost-4-year-old all day long, it hit me hard. NONE OF THAT WAS REAL! 

Even though I was out of the regimented bubble of the test group, I still wasn't technically in the "real" world. In real life, I don't have a handful of people always willing to look after my son for an hour or more while I run or workout. In real life, I only have three "free" hours a day to take care of household accounts - groceries, laundry, cleaning, other exotic chores - while my son is at nursery school. What the hell am I going to do? How am I going to maintain this level of fitness AND be a good mom and wife? How does any one do that? How does a "normal" person, with no trainer, no nanny, no housekeeper, no chef, find the time to stay fit while handling all of the responsibilities of a housewife?! The week of the hurricane debacle was a very unwelcome wake-up call for me. Because my son wasn't in school, and my occasional sitter was out of town, over-night I was spit out of my fantasy bubble,  back to full-time momming and I went without a workout for SIX days. The longest stretch since February. Now, I admit that I could have worked out when my husband came from work but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to do that! Plus, if you've got a toddler, you know that after being on your feet from 6AM till your kid's 7PM bedtime, the last damn thing you want to do is exercise. So give me a little break will ya?

I can't seem to rid myself of the idea that I should be exercising at the same intensity I was during the test group. I'm struggling to find the mental balance I need to be happy in the present moment; Proud of what I accomplished while maintaining tone and good health. Instead and  I'm constantly thinking, "You can be better..." I know this isn't good and I'm trying not to be so hard on myself. I really am.

Last week, my son started school and I'm back to my daily workouts. Now I just live with an overwhelming feeling of crushing guilt because I want to stay in shape. How ridiculous is that? The average day, I take my kid to school, come home, workout for an hour, eat something, shower, then pick-up my kid at school.  And pretty much, nothing else is being accomplished in that "free time" so I feel like a terrible mom/wife, because when my son gets home, I basically ignore him so I can scrub the toilet, do the laundry, scour the kitchen for something that seems like a family dinner...basically I spend each and every day feeling like I'm 10 steps behind. Honestly, I didn't feel all that together before I got into shape, but since I wasn't concerned about making time time to exercise, I could at do all the household crap while my son was in school, then I was free to entertain and chauffeur him after school. So here comes my next challenge: maintain my drive to stay fit while balancing all of the responsibilities that come with being a housewife and full-time mom. Should be a breeze right?

On the food front, my diet is solidly OKAY - I'm very calorie and nutrient conscience - but I do imbibe a little more than I should. Not just for maintaining my figure, but for a healthy mind and body in the long run. When I drink, I always drink too much. And that's bad for a multitude of reasons. I'm very aware of the potential physical and emotional damage alcohol can do, so I keep it in check. It's hard not to throw back a few Coronas on the beach during the summer. And who doesn't love a cold glass (or three) of white wine at sunset? Now that fall and winter is fast approaching, I'll be faced with a new set of challenges on the booze front: holidays. I feel up to this challenge. I've seen the effects of alcohol addiction on many friends and family members and I have no intention of letting myself fall into that trap. I wish I felt as confident about my eating. 

God I miss having my meals made for me every day! The first week out of the test group was brutal. It got easier, but its still a daily struggle.  I try to eat 5 small meals a day - like we did during the test group - Now that I'm home and grocery shopping again, I eat simply to get the nutrients I need. I make meals very similar to the low-carb meals we had in the test group, only I have bigger portions (slightly) and I've added carbs. The crazy no-carb, 1100 calorie diet they had us on was insane. I learned to eat healthy foods and shop smarter. I just need to pull back on the booze, ease up on the snacks and stay out of the kitchen after 8PM. I think I can, I think I can, I know I can....

Okay, I'm sorry for being all whiny this time. Please know that I am completely aware that there are far more pressing issues in this world than whether or not I'll be able to workout five-days-a-week forever.  I'm not devoid of perspective. It's just that I did something that I never dreamed I'd accomplish and the let-down after it ended...well, it's kind of like postpartum depression. Except, unlike childbirth, I really liked the fitness metamorphosis. I guess I'm searching for a deeper meaning than "Hey look, I got super fit for a few months in 2011..." I know that my feelings of being overwhelmed by the daily grind of adulthood are not unique to me. I feel enormously blessed to have a life that affords me the freedom to be burdened with such issues. Still, I'm looking for a way to maintain the mental momentum I developed during those life-changing three months. Giving up fitness is simply not an option. In fact, I believe that continuing on this path, is exactly what I'm supposed to do. I think...

We're S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G. We're Shopping.

(song: Shopping/artist: Pet Shop Boys)

One of the down sides (and there are very few) of losing weight is the expense. After I lost my "Turbo Jam 39", I took a lot of my clothes to our awesome tailor Tony. My theory being that its cheaper to get things fitted rather than replace my entire wardrobe. You can imagine how jazzed he was about my weight loss, since it meant that I spent a several hundred dollars every new season. In December 2010, I took some winter clothes in for fitting. Tony told me how great I looked and that I didn't need to lose anymore because "a woman needs her curves". Did I mention that Tony is a man? A black man. The thought of me without hips broke his heart. Fast-forward to May 2011 and a return to Tony's lair with a pile of summer clothes that he had previously altered from a size 16 to a 10. I also had some never-worn stuff that I bought at end-of-season sales last summer - at last year's size 10. Tony is floored by my progress. At once impressed and sad that I have no boobs. But he's pumped that I've chosen him over a new low-budget wardrobe. This time, I cull through every single garment I own and really give thought to the things I'm keeping. Many items don't make the cut this time. Some of them never got worn after the last round of fittings so I decide to put them in the "donate pile". This time, I'm only keeping what I'll absolutely wear. This results in a 60-pound box of clothes, which I sent to a women and children's shelter in my hometown. 

I also finally started shopping for my improved figure. My friend Golnaz (who has a most excellent blog called Persian Bites that you should totally be reading) turned me on to my new favorite retail chain, Anthroplogie. Until now, I had gazed upon the pages of the Anthropologie catalog wishing I could pull off the looks I coveted. She gently nudged me toward buying something new for myself and boy am I glad she did! I discovered something: Shopping is super fun when you're not fat! On average, I'm a size 6, which I have to tell you, feels AMAZING! I walked into a Lululemon store to look for a new sports bra and the sales lady said, "Let's see, you look like you're about a 6." I had forgotten for a second that I AM a size 6. It wasn't that long ago that she would have had to say, "What size are you?" Because no one wants to hear, "You look like you're about a size SIXTEEN..."

So now, my closet is full of new and tailored clothes that I have every intention of fitting into FOREVER. Lord, maintenance is hard, but I damn sure am not letting all the money I gave to Tony go to waste! 

June 2011 - This little number has been altered three times by Tony. Like my pet buck?
August 2011 - Sporty new Lucky jorts paired with a size SMALL blouse from Anthropologie. Also, I'm blonde now. And my son has too many shoes...

Back in 1996, I was living on the Upper West Side and I had a blind date with a guy named Aaron. He was an okay-looking Jewish attorney, with a great sense of humor. We had dinner and drinks and I remember thinking, "This is going great. I'll totally go out with him again." So, as he's walking me back to my dorm, he says to me, "If you spent just three months working out, you'd be a total knock-out." Yeah. Super guy right? He followed that little nugget with, "I can tell by the way you dress, that you're self-conscious about your body." For my big date with Aaron the Douche-bag, Esq., I had chosen my favorite Banana Republic dress - one that I saw Monica wearing on an episode of Friends, thank you very much! I thanked him for his advice and asked not call me again. I never forgot how terrible he made me feel. I hope Aaron's wife has an iron-clad pre-nup in her favor...

Yo Aaron, How ya like me now? P.S. Suck it.

Hello. Is It Me You're Looking for?

(song: Hello/artist: Lionel Richie)

Hey y'all! I'm still here. My hubby and son and I just got back from a week on Block Island but I'm still technically not home. We're renovating our bathroom so our apartment is now a make-shift work station for our Ukrainian contractor. It is uninhabitable at the moment, so I've come home to re-shift our travel gear before we head out to the Jersey Shore for a few days. I hate house-hopping. Hopefully, I'll be able to shower in my home by next week. I'm one of those crazy people that hates coming home to a dirty house, so I am really feeling frazzled and discombobulated right now..

But anyway, I am doing very well in the real world now that I'm eight weeks out of fitness rehab. Vacation on Block Island was a lot of fun. I ate and drank - not always in moderation - but I also exercised. I ran three miles, three times and did DVDs three times. Not bad for a beach vacation eh? 

The thing is now that I'm back but "homeless", I'm really freaking out about when I can get a good workout! I hate going for more than three days without exercise, and now that I'm in full summer celebration mode, I have to exercise frequently if I want to enjoy a few cold brews and/or an ice cream cone. It's simply not negotiable. Hopefully, I'll get a good run tomorrow. I love that my mindset has changed so much!

Okay, I have to go before my son slices his hand on the contractor's band saw. I hope you're enjoying these last precious days of summer. Have fun but stay accountable!

I earned that beer after running three miles of Block Island hills!

La La How The Life Goes On

(song: Obladi Oblada/artist: The Beatles)

July 21, 2011
Ooo wee, it is hot in New York City y'all! I mean, it smells like pee and rotting garbage from Coney Island to the Bronx. And what's with the hipster's refusal to wear deodorant?! You ride a bike everywhere, you STINK! Thank goodness my son has a super fun summer camp to go to every day, because his mama has a strict "no leaving the house till the sun goes down" rule in this weather.  We are getting the hell out of this and heading to mom-in-law's Long Island home tomorrow. They shut the city down for snow. Why not heat!? But I digress...

So here I am, six weeks out of fitness rehab and I'm happy to report, that I'm doing alright. More than alright really. I'm living life as a healthy person, but also enjoying my life. 
I exercise 6 days a week and I'm eating several small meals a day, and not snacking. Here's an example of my average daily menu:
6:30 AM - Shakeology (meal replacement shake) - this is a wonderful product from that is packed with vitamins and fills me up before my morning workout
9:00 AM - Egg white omelet with spinach and fat-free feta on whole grain/low-carb tortilla
11:30 AM - Pear with 1 tablespoon of almond butter
1:00 PM - Turkey burger (no bun) with sauteed onions, mustard and tomato
3:30 PM - Hummus with red peppers and broccoli (for dipping)
6:00 PM - Grilled chicken breast and a spinach salad with fat-free feta, tomatoes, olives and olive oil. 
I drink at least 2 liters of water a day and exercise for a minimum of one hour a day. 

Since I'm no longer beholden to the Butt Master, I am mixing things up to keep my workouts from getting boring. One of my mom pals turned me onto a great boot camp class at a new fitness joint in my hood called Pura Vida Urban. The trainer/owner Morgan kicked our booties for a solid 45-minutes and I loved trying something new. I'm still doing the Brazil Butt Lift DVDs as I've got more work to do on my thighs and glutes, but I'm exploring other workouts and running more. 

My workout schedule for this week is:
Monday - One-hour DVD + 20 minute ab workout in the evening (usually done while my son is in the tub)
Tuesday - 3.25 mile run in Prospect Park, leg-lifts with 10lb ankle weights + 20 minute ab workout in the evening
Wednesday - One hour DVD + 20 minute ab workout in the evening
Thursday -  3.25 mile run in Prospect Park, leg-lifts with 10lb ankle weights + 20 minute ab workout in the evening
Friday - One hour DVD + 20 minute ab workout 
Saturday - 3-mile run with hubby (to the beach!)

Now, don't let my dedication give you the impression that I'm not prone to slip-ups. Last Saturday I went out to dinner with my husband and ate a whole mess of food that I washed down with some sugary cocktails. And that was BEFORE we went to a party with more food and booze. I only had one beer at the party, but after the two large and really strong cocktails I had before, I only needed one beer to make me feel super boozy. Then I proceeded to shovel pulled pork, BBQ ribs and cookies into my mouth like I was a contestant in an eating contest. AND, I got a to-go bag of cookies, three of which I ate in the taxi cab on the way home. AND, I ate another cookie AFTER I brushed my teeth, while  I was lying in bed. Woke up with crumbs on my face and in my hair. I guess I was boozier than I thought...
But this is real life. And I am a real person. And I had a great time with my husband after many weeks of living in a unrealistic bubble of fitness discipline. I'm finding a balance between that world and the REAL world, and I'm very aware of the consequences of repeated over-indulging. But I'm not afraid of losing my grip on the amazing changes I've made in my life. One night isn't going to make me a size 16 again. This body is here to stay!

Time for me to pick up my little camper. Y'all stay cool...

Two Weeks Without You and I Still Haven't Gotten Over You Yet

(song:Vacation/artist: The Go-Gos)

July 13, 2011
Okay, it's actually been FOUR weeks without the Butt Master, but who's counting? Me!

As I mentioned in my last post, Monday, June 13 was the day we filmed the infomercial. So what does one do after 109 days of chef-prepared meals and intense workouts with Leandro Carvahlo? If you're me, you immediately hop on a plane and head to south Georgia! Okay, the trip was planned long before the test group ended, but the timing turned out to be perfect. The day after the infomercial filmed, my son and I headed to my hometown where I was greeted by my "pretend-mom" (long story..) and my actual cousin - the two most wonderful women in the world and my very best girlfriends. 
My cousin, me and my pretend-mom. My circle.
Thank god they were the first people I saw post test group! As it turns out, when you're life is all about exercise for three months, you get a little depressed when it ends. It also turns out, I needed to talk about it...a lot. My pretend-mom kept saying, "You just got out of fitness rehab." It became the ongoing joke. They were so kind and listened as I spent the first week in Georgia pining for my daily beatings from Leandro and freaking out about being on my own. The first time I went to the grocery store, I damn near had a panic attack. I bought milk, water and some apples, then ran back to the car in a frenzy. That's when it hit me...I'm completely responsible for my own food and exercise. No one is watching. No one is checking in. No one is monitoring me. Shit! Oh Leandro, why hast thou forsaken me!? I was scared out of my mind. I had been in denial about the end of this journey and now I had to face the music and begin to live on my own. Thank God I had such great support from my cousin and pretend-mom. It makes a huge difference when you're surrounded by people that love and encourage you. I didn't know how much I would need them. Georgia was exactly where I needed to be on the first day of the rest of my life...

The next day, I went back to the store - with a list - and survived. I mostly shopped the perimeter of the store, avoiding the delicious, but never nutritious, packaged food on the aisles. I bought chicken breasts, pork loin, almonds, fresh veggies & fruit and CHEESE! We had almost no dairy in our diet during the test group and I really missed it. I bought the same kinds of food we ate during the program - adding cheese and yogurt. I also bought a George Foreman grill for my cousin's guest house, where I always stay when I'm down south. I prepared meats ahead of time so I could easily make meals and stay on the same five-meals-a-day food plan. I can do this!

I'll admit I splurged on sweets and certain meals, but I mostly maintained healthy eating and portion-control during my trip. I limited my alcohol intake on the three occasions when I drank. After the first week back in the real world, I began to feel like I was not only in control of my life, but that I could actually live this way forever.When my husband arrived for the last four days of my trip, we pigged out! BBQ and beer at Southern Soul, a super fancy dinner Delaney's Bistro,  ice cream at Zuzu's , Buffalo wings at The Shack, and a HUGE buffet of food and booze on July 4th. But here's the thing, I never beat myself up about it and I exercised almost every day.

YES, I continued my workouts! Do you think I'd screw up all the hard work I did by going to Georgia and stuffing myself full of fatty foods? Hell no! 

Not after it took me every bit of two-and-a-half years to go from this:
November 2006 - Oooph! The only thing I miss about that body, are the boobs.

to THIS:
July 2011 - That belly hasn't seen the light of day in over 30 years!

I packed my portable DVD player, my Brazil Butt Lift DVDs, my ankle weights and resistance bands and went to Georgia with the same determination I had on the first day of the test group. And thanks to my cousin's other cousin (confusing right?), I had access to hand-weights and a home gym, complete with stationary bike, punching bag and a vintage - and I do mean OLD - cable machine so I could continue to tone my thighs and glutes.
Tiny Butt Master
"Vintage" cable weights still do the trick!
And when it wasn't too smokey from the unfortunate wildfires that surrounded my hometown, I utilized the great outdoors. Nothing like exercising against a beautiful southern backdrop of live oaks and marshland. 
Dock sprints anyone?
In total, I exercised 17 of the 21 days I spent down south. Because being on vacation doesn't mean sabotaging oneself. I enjoyed myself a lot, but I earned my splurge days. I'm totally commited to this lifestyle...for life! 

I know that I will NEVER be fat again because I will never stop exercising! 

To end our trip, my husband and I ran in the July 4th 5K - which, for the metric illiterate, is 3.25 miles. I set a personal goal of 32 minutes for the race. My husband is super competitive so we made a wager: If he beat me by two minutes, he could name his prize. (Both of our mothers read this, so keep your lewd comments to yourself.) If he failed to win the two-minute spread, I would be the victor. Hello new outfit!

I started a little too quickly but stabilized and maintained a good pace. To my husband's amazement (and mine), I was right on his heels for most of the race. I got a little tired on the last mile, but kept my hubby in my sights. Because I know the area, I knew when we were nearing the end of the race. Okay Alison, breathe, steady your pace, then sprint past that bastard and show him your two-minute spread! I couldn't believe how close I still was to my husband. I saw the finish line, took a deep breath, then sprinted as fast as I could. Well, hubby had the same he started sprinting too! I knew I should have tripped him during mile two! That S.O.B. beat me by one stinking second. ONE SECOND! But, he lost our bet, and that was a huge reward. And I exceeded my personal goal of 32 minutes by finishing in 26 minutes and 44 seconds!! I was 13th out of 47 women in my age group. 

If the Butt Master could see me now...
July 4th 2011

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