Okay, I totally stole that title from The Biggest Loser.  How could I not? Today is afterall, THE LAST DAY! I cannot believe that 64 days flew by so fast. I feel sad, anxious, relieved...
Yesterday was our final weigh-in. My total weight loss since the February 15th photo shoot is....drum roll please....20.5 pounds!!! That's right, even with my Easter candy fumble, I lost 2.5 pounds last week. I'm now a fit mama at 143.5. YAY ME!! That's just 8.5 pounds away from Leandro's goal weight of 135. When he wrote that number on a Post-It and placed it over my thunder thighs on my "before" photo, I thought he was insane. Now there's no doubt in my mind that 135 is not only achievable, but totally reasonable. Believe you me, I have plenty of butt and thigh fat to lose to easily reach that goal. Don't get me wrong, I am at a point where I look and feel great in clothes. If I stay dedicated to fitness, I'll look great in a bathing suit. And that would be so very awesome. This is me last Wednesday:

4.20.11 - Sweaty lady, famously crooked legs, shrinking thighs.
 Tomorrow is my 60-day photo shoot. Back to the bikini and the rotating turntable. I can't wait to show the production crew how far I've come! We'll be doing interviews and sound-bytes next Monday and Tuesday, at which time, we'll find out what our final measurements and potential prizes are. So, to answer the question you're all asking, NO, I don't know about the extension yet! It's killing me but sure as hell making me work hard this week. And by dangling the carrot until next week, I'm guaranteed to workout until interview day. Aren't they smart!?

I have to go. It's 6:45AM. Time to get my butt ready for the last day of school. Wish me luck!

Candy, Candy, Candy, I Can't Let You Go

4.24.1 - Easter

Here's the thing - I love candy. Any kind will do. I love the sugar....

Today is Easter Sunday. For the past few weeks, I've managed to avoid coming into contact with a lot of Easter candy. This mostly meant avoiding the local drugstore holiday displays. For his Easter basket booty, I limited my son's Easter candy to one tiny box of Whopper eggs (my favorite), a big lollipop and a plastic egg with Starburst jelly beans. For our at-home egg hunt, I used plastic eggs with small toys inside of them. He loved the toys and I loved not having a ton of candy in the house.

Then we went to my mother-in-law's for Easter dinner. There was evil, tempting sugar at every turn. A three-tiered display tower filled with macaroons and candy. Not one, but two Easter baskets for my son. One from grandma, one from the same aunt that made the delicious macaroons. Grandma's basket is toddler's dream basket of sugary treats - jelly beans, chocolate eggs, more Whoppers, pastel M&Ms, Pez and those horrifying Peeps. There was another egg hunt - only this time the eggs were all filled with the aforementioned candy instead of non-delicious toys. Well, as much as I'd like to lie and say I resisted the urge to steal my son's candy, I WENT CRAZY. It was like I was in candy rehab and some bad friends from my old candy binging days sneaked a bunch of candy past the night nurse. Once I ate that first jelly bean, there was no stopping me. I hit the cookie tower too. Those macaroons never stood a chance. I think I ate four of them. I inhaled jelly beans and M&Ms and the Whoppers...there was no way those things were making it out alive. 

I was okay when I first got there. It wasn't like I was unprepared. I knew grandma would have tons of candy, I knew I'd have to make sure my son didn't eat so much that he would puke. I just didn't know I'd need someone to monitor me so I wouldn't eat so much candy that I'd want to puke.. I needed a sponsor. I should have called Jessica or Leandro to tell them how much I wanted to stuff my face full of candy. Instead I told the voices in my head to take a hike, then proceeded to plow through the jelly beans and chocolate eggs like a newly released candy-prison inmate.

And now I feel disgusting. I lost all self-control. But it tasted so good at the time...

So what did I learn? I learned I need to be stronger around temptation and that will-power sometimes escapes me. I learned that my mother-in-law and I have very different definitions of "not that much" when describing the amount of candy that will be made available. I also learned that too many jelly beans, makes your taste buds numb. 

Next year...I'll be Jewish for Easter.
Easter 2011: New shoes and a belly full of jelly beans

Don't Freeze Up Girl. You're Looking Quite A Sight.

4.21.11 - "Sexy Thursday"

KILL ME NOW! That's how I felt when Leandro announced that today would be "Sexy Thursday". I played along on the Carnaval thing...twice. (Oh yeah, we had another "dress up like it's Carnaval" day last week.) This time, he wants us to wear "very little clothes to show your sexy new bodies". I almost immediately recoiled in horror. Enough with the super dancey classes! We're almost at the end and I need to really workout, not get all flustered trying to contort my awkward limbs all over the room! I did tell him that, while I now feel a thousand times better about my body than I did 8.5 weeks ago, I am not comfortable enough to workout with my belly or thighs exposed. When I lifted my shirt, he nodded in agreement...then we did extra ab work at the end of class.

Since our instructions for Sexy Thursday were to wear skimpy clothing, I chose my sexiest workout outfit. Oh yeah...drink it in.

What the hell do you want from me!? I have to be able to watch myself in the mirror and NOT want to vomit at the sight of myself gyrating like an epileptic stripper! This is my interpretation of "very little clothes". So there! I wore heavy make-up...that has to count for something. 

The other girls in the class, the ones with flat bellies, no saddle bags and lots of self-confidence, got serious with the sexy outfits. There were bikinis, stripper heels, fish-net stockings and feather boas. 

Check it out:

Oh sorry. Since I didn't ask anyone's permission to use their image, I have to protect myself from any litigious booty school peers. But take my word for it, people went all out with the sexy outfits. And I wore that hot pink boa...

This, like the two other all-dance classes before it, started sort of fun. But this time, Leandro's moves seemed faster and more complicated - to me. About 10 minutes into class, I moved myself from the front-row-center of the group, to the back-row-left...closest to the exit. This was often where I was positioned in group numbers during my musical theatre school dance classes. I was tall enough for the audience to see my smiling face, but be spared the pain of watching me attempt grace.  Today was no exception. I quickly went from frustrated to angry. All I wanted was a good workout, but I just couldn't follow the routine and I became so frustrated that I just kind of gave up and shuffled in the general directions but wasn't really sweating or getting the hard cardio I wanted. Truthfully, I was on the verge of tears for most of the routine.  The moves were more detailed and faster and I simply could not catch up. 

Then things went from bad to worse.

Just when I thought I couldn't be more miserable, Leandro asks one of my fellow test subjects to teach us a chair-dance routine. Michelle is her name and she's awesomely fit, sexy, coordinated, comfortable in her own skin...everything I'm not. She also teaches a chair and pole-dance workout class, so she's kind of really good at it. She was great at teaching the steps - her banter with the class was great - and it was really fun watching her, but for me, this was intensely uncomfortable. Every insecurity I had/have about my body, came bubbling to the surface. I was already so frustrated by the routine with Leandro, that I just couldn't let go of that anger and cut loose. I felt just as awkward as I did in October of 1995 when I had to "audition" for the dance teachers at musical theater school so they could place us in our classes. I pleaded with them to just put me in the beginner level and spare me the humiliation of dancing in front of everyone when they already knew I had no prior experience. It was mortifying. Not unlike that day in 1995, my frustration and embarrassment brought me to tears.

I thought I was more secure now. Most of the time, I am. But for some reason, the pressure was too much today. I think one of the reasons is that, if this is my last week, I want to have the best, most intense workouts so that I end on a high note and feel more positive about the harsh reality that the hardest part of this journey begins, when this test group ends. Today, I felt like a complete failure. I had a terrible attitude and I feel like that attitude might have blown any chance of being selected for the extension month. I tried, but just couldn't turn it around.

Let's Get Physical

How could I NOT use Olivia Newton-John's 1981 hit classic "Physical" as a blog title?!

So I thought I'd share some of the exercises from our class. Thanks to my classmate Michelle, I have photos! All of which were taken the week prior to my crippling back injury. So here goes.

Welcome to Rio!
Okay, I wouldn't call this one a favorite, but it sure does work those inner-thighs. I've got 15-pound weights on each ankle. You lie on your back, open your legs as far as you can, then close them only half-way. Do 100 of these, twice, and your inner-thighs will shrink in record time.
Welcome to Rio
Welcome to Rio

Side-lunge glide with arm extension
This move is great for working the glute of the squatting leg and the inner-thigh of the extended leg. You use a Gliding Disc under the leg you're extending. It's super slippery so you really have to control the movement which works that thigh. You slowly extend the the leg with the glider, while going into a deep squat on the supporting leg. Extend you arms "Like a dancer!", as the Butt Master would say, simultaneously while extending your leg. Slowly slide your leg in and resist the movement using the muscles of your inner-thigh. I love this exercise because it feels really graceful, and I love looking in the mirror and seeing the definition in my shoulders when my arms are extended. If only my dance teachers from musical theater school could see me now. They'd say, "Why'd you have to suck so much you were my student?"  Three sets of 30-reps on each leg should have you cracking walnuts with your thighs in no time.

Side lunge with Gliding Disc

Weighted leg lifts
Strap 15-20 pounds of weight on each ankle. Keep your hips square while you slowly raise your flexed foot to the ceiling. You must raise your knee above your butt. Do 25-30 reps per leg, then hold the movement and pulse for 30 reps. Do that three times on each leg. Stop complaining! Sculpted hammies don't just happen. You gotta work that ass!
Leg lifts with bent knee

On your elbows and toes. Flat back. Neck, back and hips in an even line. Hold the pose for a full minute. If your abs aren't on fire, you're either in really good shape and need to hold the pose longer, or you're doing it wrong and you need to adjust your form. Just posing for this picture for 15 seconds had me shaking like a scared puppy during a thunder storm.

Curtsy Lunge
I love the curtsy lunge! Really. It's such a great exercise for the outer-thigh and it's really graceful. Also, my grandmother used to make me curtsy when her hoity toity friends would come play Bridge so it reminds me of her and her bygone-era mannerisms.
So you cross-lunge one leg behind you, while squatting on the supporting leg - always making sure the knee is line with your ankle. Get a nice deep bend in that extended leg. This will really work the outer-thigh of the squatting leg. 30 reps, each leg, three times outta do it.
Curtsy lunge
Curtsy lunge

These are just a few of the moves we do in booty school. The ones I felt most comfortable being photographed doing, that is.

You can see in the mirror that my booty and thighs, while vastly better than they were seven weeks ago, still have a ways to go. And that's where the cardio comes into play. These next 10 days are critical if I'm going to "win" the coveted extra month. I have to show Leandro and Beachbody that I deserve the extra time. My goal for next week is to add a minimum of 45 minutes of cardio to my workout every day till the last day - April 27. I already know I'll look a thousand times better in my 60-day photos than I did in my first-day photos. But one more month of strength-training  combined with cardio will shed the extra fat I have and make for some unbelievable 90-day photos. Whatever the outcome, I am already a new person as a result of this experience and I will keep going with or without the Butt Master's tutelage. 

Tomorrow is the start of my last full week of booty school. Only EIGHT workouts with Leandro until (a) final photoshoots or (b) I find out I get another month of booty camp. Either way, no back injury is keeping me from kicking ass for the next 10 days. Wish me luck!

If We Couldn't Laugh, We Would All Go Insane

4.17.11 - Sunday

Well, I survived Saturday at the ball park! It was an 80th birthday party for my aunt-in-law, so her kids rented a private suite - which is officially the only way I want to attend any sporting event going forward - that included endless (literally) hot dogs, fried chicken strips, pizza, chips & dip, Caesar salad and non-alcoholic beverages. The booze had to be purchased, and believe you me, the beer cart dude made many trips to our suite. I did not find myself craving the beer at all. It was the food that killed me. The pizza - thankfully - looked pretty bad. Like freezer-section pizza. I wasn't at all tempted by it. The chicken strips looked so good. Crunchy fried outer shell. White meat inside. Honey mustard dip. The old Alison would have put two or three of those bad boys away. But the really tempting food, was the hot dogs. I'm drooling as I type. We had one of those convenience store hot dog rotisserie things, complete with, sauerkraut, condiments and Wonder brand hot dug buns. Oh my lord, I wanted TWO (okay three) hot dogs. One with mustard only. One with kraut. It was so torturous to eat my sensible serving of tilapia while watching those delectable, Hebrew National 1/4 pound all-beef franks slowly rotate in my periphery. Glistening sirens in the distance. Just one bite Alison. Just one bite....

Hot dog vs. Tilapia

I wanted to prepare myself for this experience so I researched some of the Yankee stadium fare before I went into the line of fire. Every time I glanced over at the hot dog rotisserie, I reminded myself that those tempting little treats that go down so quickly, had 33 grams of fat each! 13 of which are saturated fat grams. The recommended average daily fat intake, based a 2000 calorie diet, is 65 grams (20 grams of saturated fat). The 360 calories per frank seem like nothing if you're only counting calories, but the fat content probably would have made me queasy. My husband ate three (possibly four) dogs and I'm pretty sure he'll need heart bypass surgery later today. So I ate my little meals and drank tons of water and pushed through the temptation. Mostly by avoiding eye contact with the hot dog station.

Then the damn cake came.

I knew there would be cake, but I didn't know it would be Carvel ice cream cake! I thought my sweet tooth was supposed to be suppressed after 53 days of clean eating. Damn you Butt Master! Damn your lies! Oh god, it looked so good. Chocolate ice cream with those cookie crunchies. I had to help feed my son his serving. I wanted to snatch the bowl and run down the hall to a dark corner and gorge. But I didn't.

One of cousins-in-law kept telling me how impressed he was that I "so strong" around the food. The thing is, it's so much easier to exercise willpower when you're surrounded by people that know you're a test subject in an exercise experiment. Of course I'm not going to slip up in public! It's the moments at home, when no one's watching, that it's excruciatingly hard to behave. I don't expect that ever gets easy. That's why 85% of dieters gain their weight back after reaching a goal. It's your behavior over the course of your lifetime that dictates your success. That's why I have no deadlines or goals per say. Yeah sure, I want to get to a certain weight/size and maintain it, but I don't have a "lose 25 pounds by April 27th" deadline. Any time I've started a program with a "get there by summer" deadline, I reach my goal, and then come Fall, I'm working my way back up to a dress size with the word teen in it. I'm through with that. 

Another reason it was so "easy" to behave was because it was the first time, since starting Leandro's program, that I had seen most of these in-laws and they were so supportive and congratulatory. This was the first big gathering since I started booty school and it felt awesome to hear the "oh my gods" and "you look amazings".  I spend all week with my fellow test subjects and my family at home so I'm pretty insulated from the outside world. I am constantly comparing myself to the girls in class and only focusing on how much work still needs to be done, rather than taking a moment to celebrate how far I've come. It was such a boost of confidence to have my husband's family tell me how proud they are. Those are the moments when it's absolutely worth every second of sweat and pain I choose over hot dogs and beer. Plus, a lot of them have been reading my blog and were so genuinely interested in everything I'm doing. My mother-in-law told me I inspire her and she has now lost 20 pounds. I can't tell you how good it made me feel to hear such praise and to know that I'm an inspiration to others. This whole time, I've been pulling inspiration from the people I've met through Beachbody and Leandro's camp. I love the idea that people could be inspired by me.

Both of my brothers-in-law are pretty fit, and it was really great to talk about the exercises we all do. Comparing notes and learning from each other. One of them told me he traded the elliptical for the stair climber after I told him how much more intense the cardio, quad and glute workout is. The other brother-in-law is training for the Tough Mudder in Vermont. I'm so excited to hear how he does and if he even finishes. He's young and fit, but it's an insanely difficult race with all sorts of obstacles. Kind of a strongman-contest-meets-triathlon-meets-Japanese game show. I'm intrigued. Could I do one of those one day? Never say never.

Yesterday I wore a pair of jeans that as of February 15, I could not pull past my thighs. I mean they barely got above my knee caps. Now, they're the only jeans I have that aren't baggy. That feeling is a thousand times better than a slice of ice cream cake...


I'm Still Standing (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)

4.16.11 - Saturday

Who doesn't love vintage 80s Elton John?

Hey y'all. I had a shittastic week in booty school, thanks to my lower back injury, but at least I attended, was able to participate using very low-impact, modified moves and I'm still upright! Which I suppose is testament to the strength I've built over the past 53 days...or to my stupidity.
 Check out my sexy lumbar corset:
Friday - 4.15.11
No, I don't wear it in class. I wear it before and after class, then I shove an ice pack from my food cooler into it so I'm iced on the train ride home. Clever right? When I get home, I stretch more, alternate heat and ice and try to prevent further damage.

Friday was the best workout day, as I was feeling the most limber. It was cardio and unlike the previous four days in class, I actually broke a sweat. After I post this, I'll attempt one of Leandro's DVDs. I had hoped to run outside but am afraid that might be too hard on the old tailbone.

Gotta run. I have to workout then get my family ready for a baseball game at Yankee stadium. Yep, I get to spend the day surrounded by delicious ballpark food that I can't eat, beer that I can't drink and drunk baseball fans. Lucky me.

Just 11 more days to go...

The Drugs Don't Work. They Just Make You Worse.

4.12.11 - Tuesday

Well shit! I made it through six weeks of booty school and didn't have any real pain issues. Then came the start of week seven. Yesterday I woke up feeling a little soreness in my lower back, but since I've had much worse back pain, I thought nothing of it and went about getting ready for class. I figured I might be a little sore because we took our son to the carnival the day before and I rode the giant slide with him. It was a little bumpy on my backside. But so much fun. 

Evil slide...
 You see, I had an MRI in 2003 that revealed two herniated discs in my lower back. I've had several stints in physical therapy over the past few years, and I am able to manage my injury well. Once a year or so, I "throw out my back" which usually means I can't walk for a couple of days and I have to get a prescription for a 6-day steroid pill that usually clears up the inflammation and buys me another year. I only get the drugs if I'm paralyzed. I hate the way they make me feel - dry-mouthed, irritable, ANGRY. My back issues are one of the key reasons that staying fit is so important to me. I've been told that I can avoid surgery if I stay in shape and don't let my weight balloon.

Yesterday's class was an all-weight class. I started the cardio warm-up and felt okay. Then it was time to get the weights. I knew the second I picked up the first dumbbell. People with back problems know what I'm talking about. That moment you know...if you don't stop now, you're in big trouble. But did I stop? NO! I did two sets of squats with 30 pounds of weight, two sets of traveling lunges with 30 pounds of weights and two sets of split-squats with 30 pounds of weights. During the third set of traveling lunges, I said to Jessica, "I am really feeling this in my lower back." But what I should have said is, "I'm about to be a paraplegic!"

I put my weights down, but continued the traveling lung series. Jessica could see that I was grimacing so she pulled me off the line and told me to roll my back with the trusty foam roller.  (By the way, everyone should have a foam roller. It's a must-have for the active.) 

Foam roller
So I rolled my back for a little while, then I did another set of squats and lunges without weights. At this point, I'm in tears. I was in serious pain, frustrated that my body was defeating me and really tired from a night of crappy sleep. The emotions boiled to the surface and I started sobbing. All I could think is, "Not now! I've made it so far..." There was no way I could do the leg lifts with weights, so Jessica and Leandro sent me home. They were both so kind. Leandro hugged me and told me to get a massage. Hey, when The Butt Master says "get a massage", you go get a damn massage! I hobbled to my local Chinese massage parlor for a 30-minute lower-back rub. Then I came home, ate ibuprofen like it was candy and laid on the floor with a heating pad for the rest of the day while my sweet little boy rotted in front of the television. I felt terrible. Especially since it was such a beautiful day yesterday. My plan was to take him in the jogging stroller for a post-class run in the park.  Damn.

I went to bed early and prayed to every god in the heavens that I would be all better today. No dice. I woke up sore, stiff, but walking. 800 milligrams of ibuprofen and a few stretches later, I decide to go to class. Today was a cardio class so I knew I could modify movements and keep things relatively painless. I was okay for most of the class, but skipped the heavy ankle weights in favor of super light weights for the leg lift series. Better than nothing. 

When I got home, I dug out my old lumbar corset and will be sporting it till the bitter end of booty school. It's oh so very chic. It looks like this:

Lumbar corset
Only mine has some lovely sweat stains from the time I had to wear it during the summer. Nice.

There is some good news however; Today was weigh-in day. I lost another pound and am now at 146! That's a 17-pound loss for this hefty gal!! So this week doesn't totally suck...

I'm Only Human. Of Flesh and Blood, I'm Made.

4.6.11 - Wednesday

Hey there and happy hump day everybody! My son is sleeping, my husband is at our condo board meeting and I am sipping my Tazo "relax" tea while counting the seconds till my eyelids slam shut. Life is sweet.

This week is going really well. Monday's class was terrific! We used Bosu stability balls for awesome core and arm exercises. Unlike previous stability balls I've used, these had sand in them so they were weighted. From a standing position, we held them straight out in front of our chests, then squatted, then lifted them above our heads while moving to a standing position. When we hoisted the ball up, the sand spun around the inside of the ball. I felt like I was rehearsing for Cirque du Soleil
My arms and shoulders were throbbing, but it was so fun and different so I never felt like I was working out. Then we put the ball on the floor behind us, held a 15-pound wight to our chests, squatted onto the ball, leaned all the way, draping the ball, then came up slowly for a killer ab stretch. 
 After the ball fun, it was time for the squat, split-squats, alternating lunges series - times three. All while holding 30-pounds of weights. At least I knew what to expect. Going forward, Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be weights, while Tuesday and Thursday will be cardio. All five days will have a mat series with ankle weights, however. Our ankle weights are up to 13 pounds each now. We're told they'll be increased to 20! Holy sore butt Batman! After class, I ran for 20 minutes before I had to scurry back to my real life as mom.

Tuesday, for whatever reason, was weigh-in day. ONE MORE POUND means I'm at 148! That's 16 pounds lost, with exactly three more weeks to go. 

Before Tuesday's class, Leandro asks us to gather for an announcement. He's really serious and this makes me nervous. I thought he was going to eliminate some of us. Right there in public. Oh my god. Not like this. Please Butt Master, not like this! But instead he tells us that he read our weekly journals yesterday and he noticed that many of us commented that he was "cranky" last week. Oh, sorry about that, but you were kinda cranky last Tuesday and we're supposed to be honest in our journals right? He sweetly apologizes to anyone that took his mood personally (which I never do, I mostly hate disappointing him) and then tells us about some deeply personal things that are going on in his life that he's had trouble separating from when he's teaching. It was so kind of him to open up and share a bit of his personal life with us. He didn't owe us any explanation but it made us all take a step back and see that beneath the toned exterior, Leandro is just as susceptible to human emotions as we are. I wanted to scoop him up and sing him a lullaby. It was a beautiful moment between teacher and students and it set a great tone for our class. It really was brave of him to show his softer side and his vulnerability. Just when I thought I couldn't love the Butt Master any more, he goes and acts all human and pulls me in even closer...
Tuesday's cardio class was awesome! The energy in the room was so positive. It was my best cardio class yet. He kept it a little more dancey and fun, and I was blissfully drenched in sweat by the end. The one move I really hate though, is the one called "shake your booty". We have to stand on our toes and move our arms like we're banging a drum - Rio style I suppose. Then we proceed to, you guessed it, shake our bootys. I hate this because it makes me hyper-aware of exactly how much jiggle my booty is capable of, and it feels a bit like I'm one of those girls in a sexuality explicit rap video. It's not a good look for the jiggly white girl in the Target workout shorts. 

I feel like my ass is this big when we do "shake your booty"...
Despite the humiliation of that one move, the class was great. I was so revved up when I finished. I raced to picked up my son from school, then came home and did another 45-minute cardio workout. Without the booty shake...

Leandro was so energetic and spirited today. He obviously feels so much better having cleared the air. His spark is back. Before class he says, "In one week, you're gonna see a big change in your legs and your bum bum." Oh lord, that must mean he's really going to start torturing us now. And he did. Oooo eeee! Today was tough! We did weights today so I knew to expect three rounds of the same squat, split-squat, lunge series. But I didn't know in addition to our usual 15-pound dumbbells, we'd also be wearing our ankle weights. OUCH! Every part of my butt hurts! But every time I looked in the mirror and saw definition beneath the dimples, I pushed a little harder. Man, what a great feeling it is to kill a workout like that! I got 20 minutes of treadmill time - 10 minutes of sideways gallops and 10 minutes of running - then I had to run like wind to make my son's 12:30 pick up.

Tomorrow's a cardio day. I can't wait. Really.

Nighty night!

The Thought That Life Could Be Better Is Woven Indelibly Into Our Hearts And Our Brains

4.4.11 - Monday

Hi there. I got my 30-day photos today. And even though I said I wouldn't post them, I did.
Wanna see? 
Okay, here you go:

Halfway through my buttastic journey!

You didn't think I was going to post a crystal clear picture did you? That would ruin the suspense! 

So if you're going by dates, it's really a 41-day photo, but the actual workouts didn't begin until February 23rd, so it's technically a 34-day photo...but who's counting!? Not bad for 34 days right? I'm pretty happy with my results so far. The thing that sucks is, a lot of the girls in my group are model/dancer/actress-types that came into the program looking pretty good already. Like, they weren't in the "needs to lose weight" category. So after class, everyone is comparing pictures and they're all, "my butt is so much more lifted" blah blah blah. I'm all, "My pregnancy flap is almost gone..." 
I know, I know, I'm not supposed to compare myself to tall, thin models in their 20s, who have never given birth. And I really am proud of the work I've done, but man I wish I started with less body fat! Oh well, the pictures are a great motivation tool and a reminder of what I'm capable of if I push myself. It's also a reminder of the direction I want to continue traveling.

Here's the thing, I can see into the future. I know exactly what my body will look like as I age, if I don't exercise. That crystal ball,  is MY MOTHER. From the neck down, I am the spitting image of my mom. From our delicately thin wrists and ankles, to our flat, narrow feet, ample but dimply backsides and bulging saddle bags. When I was kid, my mom was always relatively slim. She wasn't into fitness, but she maintained a slim figure. She's gained more weight, as women often do, with age. We both carry weight in our lower belly, hips and thighs. We both have skinny, crooked legs that go in at the knees. We both have wide, flat butts. So, I know exactly what I can expect to look like at 45, 55, 65 etc. if I choose not to exercise. 

Here I am at 35 with the 65-year-old ghost of Alison's unfit body future.

My mother, myself.

Don't worry, I told my mom I was blogging about her, and that she probably wouldn't like the post. She knows she's lumpy. And for every person that says, "I'm just built like my mom", I say, your genes don't make you fat; YOU DO. My mom gains weight because she eats too much and doesn't consistently exercise. I got fat because I ate and drank too much, not because my mom's genes dictated my destiny. I don't have to look like my mom when I'm 65. I can look like Helen Mirren if I want to.

Helen Mirren: Active senior
And for that matter, so can my mom.  She just has to decide that eating an entire bag of peanut M&Ms is not healthy for her body. Or, she has to exercise for two solid hours after she eats that bag of M&Ms. Trust me mom, you really want to go with choice A.

I'm working so hard to change the way I think about food. I'm tempted to cheat every minute of every day. The first thing I did when this experiment started was rid my house of most temptation. Because I have a toddler, I have staples like mac & cheese, peanut butter etc., but for the most part, my house is a junk-food free zone. When I am tempted to eat a huge spoonful of peanut butter, I stop and think about (a) how hard I've worked, not only in Leandro's class, but for the year it took me to lose 39 pounds on my own and (b) about the way it'll make me feel after I swallow those 16 grams of fat - that's if I stop after one tablespoon. Cheating no longer feels satisfying to me. It makes me feel guilty and it makes me feel like I'm hurting my body. Peanut Butter isn't the worst thing I could eat, but let's say I had a hankering for McDonald's fries. Sure, they'd taste so good going down, but I've really come to care about what I'm doing to my body when I eat crap food. I use 93 octane fuel in my car. Why wouldn't I fuel my body with the best food available as well? Changing habits is harder than losing weight, but it's the only way to ensure long-term success. And it's a challenge every single day.

For some reason there are a lot of really fit parents at my son's school. I've come to know a few of them. One mom is 47 and a marathon runner. But get this, she only started running about 15 years ago. She's 5' 7" and used to consistently weigh 165 pounds. Then somewhere around age 31, she started running with a group of friends and fell in love with it. Recently she ran the Philly marathon and is now gearing up for another half-marathon. She now weighs 140 pounds, and has for the last 15 years. She is a "momspiration" to me. The last time we spoke, she said, "Don't ever let anyone tell you you can't reach a goal weight and maintain. It's not easy, but if it's your life, you'll never go back to your old body." Since I started this journey, I've found a great network of local moms that stay active and fit and are so supportive of my efforts. It's important to me to maintain these positive relationships as I prepare to enter the real world. One of my local mom aquaintances started her own boot camp for moms called Move It Momma.  I plan to join her classes, maybe even see if she wants an apprentice. If there's one issue I'm intimately familiar with, it's being a fat mom that desperately wants to change. What better way for me to keep my momentum than by using what I've learned to help other moms like me? That's paying it forward...

Too Much Information Running Through My Brain

4.3.11 - Sunday
Wednesday morning, Lara, the head honcho from the NYC Beachbody office came to talk about our 30-day results, important upcoming dates, potential prizes and to give us a pep talk as we head into the remaining few weeks of our booty-lifting experiment. By the way, we had our 30-day photoshoot last week, which was my 3rd time in my ever-so-flattering Target bikini.  Tomorrow we'll be getting a printout of our 1st and 30-day photos; A way to keep us motivated during the final phase of our transformation. I'm actually looking forward to seeing my photos. I can look in the mirror and see that I've changed, but having a photo will certainly help me push harder when I'm feeling beat. And no, I will not be posting said picture...until the end. Sorry people, I'm just not ready for you to see what lies beneath the spandex just yet.

The first thing Lara discusses are important dates. We learn that our last workout will be Wednesday, April 27. This is one day earlier than the date on the calendars we were given on our first day. I am immediately in panic mode. I am in no way ready for this to end and now I have to face the reality that it's almost over.
But the upside is, for the last week and half, our class will be an hour and half instead of an hour. At least we get to go out with a an exhausting bang. So we lose one day, but get eight 90-minute classes. Pretty good consolation prize in my book. She also tells us that for the last week of class, we may elect to go back on the "6-day Supermodel Slimdown" diet that we were on during our first six days of class. Hmm, let me see, 90-minute workouts for eight days and a daily food restriction of 1000 calories worth of bland "green and whites"... NO THANKS! As it is now, we only get about 1200 calories a day; I'll need the extra 200-300 calories to have energy for those longer workouts and still survive the rest of my day after class. I understand that some people will want to lose as much as possible for the purposes of being chosen for an infomercial, but I need the extra fuel and I believe that sticking with my current diet is the healthier choice. There is no finish line for me so I don't care if I'm not svelte enough for the infomercial. I understood from the beginning that I might not be chosen to appear on-camera.

Lara also told us about potential prizes that will be awarded to the biggest losers, or in some cases, gainers...of a butt that is. It's all vague but exciting. She says there might be a jean shopping spree, a trip to Miami, cash prizes, Beachbody products etc. But then she dangles the golden carrot. The prize I really, really want: ONE MORE MONTH WITH LEANDRO! Oh please pick me, please please please pick me! It's not a definite but if this were to happen, the winner would get one more month of training and food delivery. The only difference would be that we would go to Leandro's private studio instead of the gym. His studio is very small so I can't imagine that he'll choose more than 5 girls for this. Leandro says that he would pick people that have worked very hard and followed the diet, but still have body fat to lose (ME!). This is music to my ears! It would be perfect for me; I will definitely still have fat pounds to lose when the program ends on April 27. If I had another month, I could continue to work those pounds off, but also gradually integrate my old life and new lifestyle. Meaning, I would still follow the diet plan and continue to eat the meals, but I could eat out on a Saturday night, maybe have a glass of wine, but enjoy in moderation and slowly be reintroduced to "normal life", rather than just being tossed out into the streets on April 27th. Left to my own devices. No Leandro to pat my saddle bags and tell me to push harder. No Jessica high-fiving me after my perfect squats. No Monica making me delicious meals, seven days a week. I am honestly terrified at the thought of this ending so abruptly. Terrified. The extra four weeks would be a great ease-in month. Not to mention the continued progress I would make on my body's transformation from flab to fab! 

When Lara asks for a show of hands from those of us interested in the third month, EVERY girl in the room raised their hand. What kills me is, Leandro clearly said he'd pick the people that still needed to lose weight. Some of these girls didn't have weightloss needs to begin with - they just had flat or droopy butts! Yet, every hand flew into the air. I heard one girl (spazzy dancer girl) saying that she really needs the extra time to get down to her goal weight. SHE STARTED THE PROGRAM ALREADY FIT! Her belly is flat. Thanks to the last 37 days with Leandro, her butt looks great. I wanted to strangle her and tell her to be happy with her awesome body, thank Leandro for her newly awesome ass and move the hell on so my 22" thighs can work with The Butt Master for four more weeks! I later found out that she also goes to his 2-hour class two nights a week. I think that's overkill, but she's 12 years younger than I am, has no family to care for and can nap during the day, so who am I to judge if she wants to compulsively exercise all day? My maternal side feels concerned for her outrageously distorted self-image. Bless her heart, maybe she's got Body Dysmorphic Disorder. 

My competitive side just wants to punch her in her perfect face. Because she's in her early 20s, she has no idea how much harder it will be to get in shape when she's at my advanced age! Just give this to me and go and live your life in your perfect body with your perfect porcelain skin and your flat, stretch-mark-free belly! Self-image is totally subjective I suppose. I'd love to look like spazzy dancer girl. Someone else in my class might love to look like me. Someone with low standards that is...

So, while I hope that I'll be one of the lucky few chosen for the extra month, I will proceed as if my last day is April 27. That's exactly three and half weeks from tomorrow. I've got 25 days to come to a place of peaceful acceptance about the end of this experiment, and the beginning of a life lived healthier and happier. And it scares the hell out of me.

And Then There's All That Weight to Be Lost

3.30.11 -Wednesday 
(Yeah, yeah, I'm posting this on a Saturday, but I started writing in on Wednesday, so IT'S WEDNESDAY!)

First things first, I feel better today. I'm tired but not as pissy as yesterday. In case you were wondering...

The 30-day stats are in! My  weightloss total since the Feb. 15th photoshoot is 15 pounds. My body fat went from 27% to 16%. I've lost a total of 10.5 inches. These inches come from my chest, arms, waist, hips and lower thighs. To my extreme disappointment, I haven't lost one stinking inch from my upper thighs. How can that be?! After 30 days of intense cardio, squats, lunges, sideways gallops on the treadmill, 15-pound ankle weights and extra cardio at home, those bitches are still holding steady at 22" each. I can hear my saddle bags laughing at me every time I cram myself into my workout gear. Of course the second Jessica read out that number, my eyes filled with tears. She looks like she wants to strangle me and assures me that I'm not a freak of nature. She says, "You didn't gain it overnight; You're not going to lose it overnight. It takes a minute!" She told me that part of the leg takes longer to start losing inches...blah blah blah. This is only mildly reassuring.

And even though I said, I'd NEVER do it, here I am wearing spandex shorts. With my 22" thighs and all!
3/30/2011 - 15 pounds and 10.5" inches down!
Class was BRUTAL! I think Leandro is getting anxious about the end because he's really amping up the weights and reps. Today was an all-weight class. We are only allowed to use 15-pound dumbells - though, I decided to drop to 12-pound weights during some of the sets when I felt I was compromising my form. Leandro doesn't like it but I'd rather get the form right than risk injury in the name of heavier weights.  We did a series of squats, split-squats (one leg behind us on the step) and lunges - all for 30 to 40 reps; Then we repeated the entire series three times. My legs are throbbing when we complete the three circuits. After that, we go to the mat for the inner-thigh series, wearing 15-pound ankle weights. We lie on our backs, legs straight up and all the way open and do 100 inner-thigh pulls...TWICE. Leandro calls this "Welcome to Rio". I don't know what's going on in Rio, but if 200 painful inner-thigh stretches is how they welcome you, I don't want to visit.

Because there was no cardio today, I am responsible for doing cardio homework. I got home, took my bike out of storage and bundled up my son for a 6.5 mile bike ride in the park. What the hell was I thinking?! It was so cold and windy, and the hill at the top of the park - with a 42-pound kid on the back of the bike - almost killed me. But I did it twice.

That's it for now. I have to do my Saturday exercise before I lose momentum. Bye y'all.

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