battling the bulge with a vegan diet and exercise

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Weigh-In Wednesdays: Weeks 4 and 5

Let’s get right to it!

Would you look at that?  I know it may not be much, but -0.3 lbs is a big deal to this girl.

I must admit, the scale has only budged slightly because each weekend I cheat on dieting.  I don’t plan it, and I try to avoid it, but it always happens nevertheless.

Last weekend, for example, was Jamie’s birthday and we partied in Big Bear with big bowls of vegan spicy sushi bowls.

This week, work kept me super busy and I was very diligent with my dieting.  But then all of the long workdays made me tired.  And when I get tired, I get weak.  By Friday, my will power flew entirely out the window and I indulged.

Yes.  That’s right.  I made pizza.  From scratch.  (:  Continue reading

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Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 2

Last week was a major bummer — weight gain in week one??  Well, this week I was seriously worried that I’d end up gaining even more.

Yes, I made it to the gym twice this week and ran over three miles each time.  But… I also indulged a little.  I went out to a buffet for a friend’s birthday.  And Jamie and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with a yummy and completely uncountable dinner… twice.  Yes, that was a vegan sushi dinner on Sunday at Shojin and a warm and gooey vegan mac and cheese dinner on Tuesday.  So how do you think I did?  Continue reading

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Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 1

Friends, I weighed in yesterday to log my Week 1 progress!  This past week I’ve been a diet role model.  I counted calories every day except for the Super Bowl, when I snacked in moderation.  Plus, I exercised four times this week!  And I increased my water intake.  The results on the scale… well, they might surprise you. Continue reading

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90 Day Challenge – Day One

Day One, baby!  I’m all weighed in and ready to go.  Because today is Day One, I’ll keep this post short (:

Starting weight: 128.4.  A surprisingly low starting weight!  I thought I was 130.  I may have to modify my 10 pound challenge and make it a get-to-120-pounds challenge, but we’ll see how the first month goes.  If I get to 118.4, I’ll be at my high school weight!

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90 Day Challenge Redux

It’s that time again!  Remember when Jamie and I participated in a 90-day weight loss challenge back in January-March 2010?

Maybe my before and after pics will help you remember.

After challenging myself for 90 days to eat healthily, lose weight, and hit the gym almost every day for 90 days – I felt amazing!  I was in the best shape of my life!  I lost over 10 pounds!!  And yeah, I didn’t look too shabby, either.

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90 Day Challenge Results

The long-awaited results post is finally here!  Here is how the places went down:

Best Before/After Photo

  1. Random girl in bikini
  2. Jamie
  3. Me

Attendance + Participation

  1. Brad
  2. Me
  3. Jamie

Highest Percentage of Weight Lost

  1. Jamie (12.69%)
  2. Brad (12%)
  3. Me (11.67%)

Yey, right?  Well, not quite.  The girl giving away the prize money gave away the money for best photo first.  Then she proceeded to “disqualify” Jamie and me from winning the other two categories because of the rock-hard sound logic that we’d “already won.”  She ended up giving prize money away to three random people who hardly ever attended the 90 day challenge meetings, and to Brad and two other people who lost much less weight than Jamie or I did.  Even though Jamie should have won 1st place money in the weight loss category, he was only awarded the 2nd place money for his photo.

Luckily, because she arbitrarily decided that Brad should qualify only for the weight loss category (and not the attendance one) Brad was really nice about the whole mess and offered to trade Jamie for the 2nd place money out of fairness.  So,  basically, we only walked away with recognition that we’d won 2nd and 3rd in the photo category.  It was a super lame way to end the competition — watching people who attended meetings less and who lost much lower percentages of weight walk away with our titles and our money.

I was very frustrated with the whole situation last night, but Jamie and I (according to our original plan) used some of the prize money that we did win (over $300 between the two of us) to treat ourselves to some celebratory Midori sushi.  Given the fact that Jamie and I decided to give ourselves a competitive edge on the weigh in yesterday (ie I’d only eaten a spoonful of peanut butter all day), the first few bites I took of that albacore roll with sauteed onions were pure heaven.

One and a half specialty rolls,  five orders of sushi, and a handroll later — ouch.  My stomach!  This, of course, did not stop me from completing my own personal plan of topping off sushi with some dessert (read: M&M’s McFlurry).  I’m not gonna lie, as I lay in bed last night I felt sick, enduring stomach pains reminiscent of dorm eating circa 2nd year of college.

This morning I’m feeling quite good, though.  The challenge is over, I have a great reason to wash my hands of the whole thing, and I’m walking away a thinner, more muscular, stronger, fitter, and happier me.

Yes, I’m still moderately pissed about the whole giving-away-of-my-prize-money-and-pride-to-other-people-who-were-less-deserving crap, but that’s just the competitor in me that craves fairness.  Honestly, what kind of competition “disqualifies” you from winning in one category just because you’ve “already won” in another, unrelated one?  Just because we had two of the top three before and after photos does not mean that we weren’t also empirically two of the three top people who attended the most meetings AND two of the top three people who lost the highest percentage of weight.  Watching someone who lost only 5% of their total weight walk away with about $96 that should have been mine was frustrating, to say the least.  But, I can be happy knowing that the results should have played out as I’ve laid them out for you above — top three in all three categories, baby!

So, what now?

Well, for me, I’m very happy with how I’m looking lately.  Instead of driving my weight even lower, my plan is to maintain.  In fact, if I could swap out a little bit more of the fat for some muscle (thereby gaining weight but losing size) I’d be even happier.

I’m going to keep exercising regularly but I’m also increasing my daily caloric intake.  Caloriecount.com tells me that if I am 122 lbs and want to maintain 122 lbs that, with light activity (ie I work out regularly, but sit on my butt the rest of the day) I can eat 1,750 calories.  Holy crap!  That’s so many more calories than my weight loss caloric intake of between 1250 and 1380 calories.  It may take some getting used to before I feel comfortable eating that many calories in a day on a regular basis, and some meal-altering (I’m used to my schedule of bringing a 170-calorie turkey sandwich and a 195-calorie pb&j!).  This means I can expand my horizons!  Tuna sandwiches, subway footlongs, and (gulp) the occasional Chipotle burrito — here I come!

Must get ready for work, but get ready for some posts that are not all about the 90 day challenge.  But for one final plug, check out the final updated 90 Day Challenge tab above (or click here).


Last week of the 90 Day Challenge… thank god.

I say “thank god” to the challenge being close to over because I’m tired of my motivation coming from competition.  Getting in shape, losing fat, and gaining muscle — it’s all been fantastic.  I feel great about how I look and that confidence and pride permeates through everything I do.  It’s amazing how much body image can affect your life, or at least my life.  I feel tiny and I look strong — it’s like the perfect combination I’ve always wanted.  I’m not quite done yet — I wan’t abs! — but I’m getting very close.

But the pressure of weighing in every week, in front of all of your fellow competitors, it’s stressful!  If I don’t lose a ton of weight I feel like a failure, and no one needs that.  I feel like so much is riding on the number on the scale that looks up at me next Wednesday.  Who cares if I weigh 125 lbs on my scale at home on Tuesday?  If Wednesday comes and, for some reason, my number shoots up a pound or two, I’ll be so mad.  Is it because I want to win money?  Sure, I guess, but more so it’s that I’ve worked so hard, gone to every meeting, and my before/after photos look pretty damn good, if I do say so myself — if I don’t win something, my competitive pride will be destroyed and I’ll feel like all of my hard work has gone for naught.

…or has it?

before middle after front

Yeah, that’s right.

Please do not feel free to tell me how fat I used to be, though.  I wasn’t, and more importantly, that’s just rude.

Anyway, enough with my rant.  Last week, as you’ve probably already read on Jamie’s blog, our “after” photos were due.  The competition is not over until this upcoming Wednesday, but they need to post the photos in their store and have them voted on so that they can tell us who wins at the last meeting. I’ve also posted mine, along with my “before” and “middle” photos, on the 90 day challenge tab.

So, do I think I’m gonna win anything?

1. Best Photo

I’m very annoyed by the Challenge.  We were told last meeting that voting would happen in the Herbalife store on Monday and Tuesday of this upcoming week, and that, therefore, we should bring in all of our friends to vote for us.  How rigged is that?  So you are telling me that I didn’t have to do anything but sit on my ass, take two photos eleven weeks apart, and then bring in a hundred people to vote for me?  It’s not as if someone’s friend is going to go in and say, “wait, I can’t vote for you because that Michelle girl’s photo is better.”  And I’m sure as hell not about to gather up a busload of friends and drag them to an Herbalife high-pressure sale opportunity just to win some money.  So, Jamie and I will go in one day and vote for ourselves, and that will be that.  Maybe we’ll tie for third along with everyone else who has some sense of dignity.

In a fair world, where everyone’s after photos were voted on by objective third parties, I’d be very confident that Jamie and I would place first and second (of course, I would be first because I am the best).  In fact, I’m just gonna call this one in favor of me and proclaim myself winner of first place of the photo competition.  There, I said it.  What are you gonna do about it?

2. Highest % Weight Lost

If Jamie or I were truly going for a win in this category we wouldn’t be doing nearly as much strength training as we have been.  As you probably know, muscle takes up less room but weighs more than fat, so by adding muscle — although we look fantastic and feel stronger and healthier — we are adding weight.  Now, muscle also burns more calories than does fat, so by having more muscle we are eliminating more fat, thereby losing weight.  Basically, if I really wanted to win this category, I should not have done this:

Watch out for my guns, they’ll get you every time.

But, ooops, I did (:

Anyway, as of last week on the challenge scale I weighed in at 128.0 lbs down from 138.8 lbs, as loss of 10.8 lbs.  That’s 7.78% total weight loss.  In order to be competitive for 1st place I’d probably have to have lost 11 or 12% by next Wednesday (putting me at 123.5 or 122 lbs).  Although I was surprised at how high the 128 was, given my very good week, I don’t think I’ll be dropping 4.5 to 6 lbs in one week, so 1st is out.  I’d be happy to place in the top three, but we’ll see.

The plan for this last week is, as always, to be good (which means stay under my caloric ceiling and exercise frequently).

I’m also trying to be good in the sense that I don’t dedicate 200 calories of my daily intake to chocolate.  Even though a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and eating 200 calories of chocolate as opposed to turkey sandwich should not really affect my success in losing weight this week, I still feel guilt as I’m taking the last bite of that Snickers bar — and guilt and stress certainly impede weight loss.

…So, those two Snickers Almond bars that I took out of my work’s free candy bowl yesterday are going to have to wait in the freezer for me until after Wednesday.

What, like you could resist taking a full size Snickers Almond bar out of this tempt-a-licious bowl?:

You don’t see them because they’re already gone (:

3. Attendance

Yeah, Jamie and I went to all of the meetings… but we didn’t go to the $5 Fit Clubs and we didn’t call our coaches once a week to check in.  The meetings give you the most points, but there are a few other people who have been to all of the meetings and who regularly attend Fit Club.  So, again, it is very possible that neither Jamie nor I will place in this category.  This meaningless category that has nothing to do with how good we look.

And we look good.

So, to conclude, although Jamie and I may end up each out $29, victory-less, and slightly demoralized, we certainly win in life, where people see our photos and say “Wow! You look great!”  No one will care that we didn’t win $50 for best photo, and no one will care that some other random person lost a higher percentage of weight than us over the last arbitrarily defined 11 weeks.

Yes, all of this has been loser talk.  There are no moral victories.  Damn it.  I’m gonna lose.  Oh well — there’s always football.


I’ve lost inches everywhere.

Although not technically part of the challenge (i.e. you can’t win for losing inches alone), Heather and her coaches offer to take our measurements each class.  I usually have my measurements taken once every two or three classes.  I measured in during the first week (“Week 1″) and I made sure to have my measurements taken last night at the Week 9 meeting so that I could post my progress for all y’all here today.

As my dear friend and practical former roommate Ingrid mentioned in a comment earlier in the week, it’s not so much the number on the scale that matters as it is the overall inches lost.  After all, muscle weighs more than fat (although it takes up less room per pound) so it’s entirely possible to gain weight on the scale while reducing body fat, gaining muscle, and appearing slimmer.  And really, although the number on the scale can be inspiring or demoralizing at times, I mostly care about what I see when I look in the mirror.

Let me tell you, good ol’ diet and exercise, they work — go figure.

Here is my inch progress so far:

*                  Week 1 (start)            Week 9 (current)              Total Inches Lost

Chest:          33.00 in                    32.00 in                                  1.00 in

Waist:          31.25 in                     28.00 in                                  3.25 in

Hips:            38.25 in                    36.25 in                                   2.00 in

L. Thigh:      21.00 in                    20.00 in                                   1.00 in

L. Arm:        10.50 in                    10.00 in                                   0.50 in

Yes, these are numbers that make me proud (:  Especially my waist!  My whole life, no matter my weight, I’ve always had a round midsection.  Not anymore, friends.  For the first time ever, my stomach is flat.  Flat!  And to think, all it took was keeping up my calorie counting and doing 10 minutes of crunches daily.  Love it.  And 2 inches in my hips?  No wonder I fit into my smaller jeans.

I can’t wait till the challenge is over and I get to maintain.  I just have to be mostly good.  Like, for example, how I am currently avoiding reaching into the bowl of free candy that I’m peddling to my fellow law students…


Check me out.

As part of the 90 day challenge, we’re taking before and after photos.  At the week six meeting (the half way point), Heather (our coach) told us that we’d also be taking “middle” photos.  I wasn’t thrilled about this because I didn’t think I’d made much progress yet and wasn’t expecting there to be a very big difference in the photos.

Well, I was wrong.  The second I compared my before and middle photos, I was thrilled!  I look so different after only six weeks.  I’m so much smaller and more toned after six weeks of calorie counting and exercise.  Go figure.  Granted, the six weeks don’t seem so short while you’re living them… but looking back on it, it seems so fast.  Seeing my own mid-way results inspired me to keep going.  I’m so excited to see how I look in six more weeks!

After much contemplation, I’ve decided to suck it up, discard whatever is left of my pride, and post my photos here for you all.  You’ve all been awesome friends, supporting me in my choices to eat healthy and exercise, listening to me go on and on about counting calories, encouraging me, and always telling me how good I’m looking.  I’d love to share with you my half-way results.

I’m posting the before and middle photos (front and side) on the 90 Day Challenge tab now.  Click here to be redirected to the tab, or click on the tab above!


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Six, count ‘em, S-I-X pounds.

Yep, I just lost six pounds in one week.  Actually, 6.2 lbs to be exact.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jamie and I signed up for my friend Heather’s 90 day fitness/weight loss challenge.  She works for Herbalife and sells products while also running this community-based competition with a prize pot consisting of each of our $29 entry fees.

Day 1 (last Wednesday, 1 week ago) I weighed in (with clothes and shoes, mind you) at 138.8 lbs.  Ick.

Well, since last Wednesday, I’ve completely revised my views on food and exercise that have been teetering downhill at a steady pace for the last few months.  I’m pretty seasoned when it comes to counting calories, but this time I’m doing things a bit differently (and by “differently” I mean healthier).  Instead of just counting my calories… but still eating McDonalds, Taco Bell, Chipotle, and etcetera, this time I’ve been counting my calories in conjunction with keeping very aware of the other nutritional content in each meal.

The 90 day challenge holds weekly classes where we meet and they teach us a little bit about the importance of nutrition.  Number ONE: in general, people don’t eat nearly as much protein as they should.

I know that this was definitely the case for me.  I used to be all about my simple carbs (i.e. white bread, white pasta, flour tortillas, etc.).  I’ve learned that it’s incredibly important to start the day off with a balanced breakfast — specifically, breakfast should have a good mix of healthy protein and complex carbs.  It’s much healthier, helps you maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout your day, and starts you off on the right foot.  Starting the day off healthy makes me want to keep being healthy for the rest of the day.  Still being mindful of my caloric ceiling (aka my max calorie intake per day that I can eat but still lose weight) of 1250, I’m also making every attempt to incorporate protein and complex carbs in every meal and snack I eat throughout the day.

On top of nutrition, exercise is so important.  Getting into the habit of exercising daily has done wonders for me.  In the last week, instead of my usual mindset of “maybe if I get to bed on time I’ll wake up early and go to the gym” I now think “crap, I better get to bed soon because I need to get up early and exercise.”  I got 30 minutes of exercise (varying between cardio and weights each day) for six days straight.  Not only do I want to drop the pounds, I also want to gain some muscle!  Yes, it’s vein, but I want to look good.  And I mean Anchorman-good.

Yesterday at the second meeting when we all weighed in again, I weighed in at 132.6.  I almost couldn’t believe how much lower my weigh in was from the week before… but then I remembered all of the effort I’d put in this past week and decided that it’s not so unbelievable.  I’m very proud of my week 1 weight loss!

I know the question everyone probably has for me is the question I always have for other people who lose weight, gain muscle, and look good in general: How did you do it? Well, I actually wrote down everything I ate last week and all of the exercise I did and I’ll happily recount a few days for you here: Continue reading


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