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My Twelve Week Challenge: The Results, Part Two

My alternative title for this post is “I am the dragonfly”.

OCGreenMama_Results2CollageSo, that’s the surprise I promised to reveal in part one of my challenge results. Not quite as cool as some had speculated, but there it is.

It took me some time to post this. First, because this took some time to get done. Two sessions actually. After five hours of a pain I would put just a notch below childbirth, I’m done.

Then, I had to wait for it to heal. I would not subject you to freshly-inked tattoo photos (you’re welcome).

Some will think it’s cool. Others will find this ridiculous or say I’m going through a mid-life crisis. Here’s the best thing about coming to the end of this journey – it makes no difference to me. I love it. My family loves it. That’s all that really matters. The line of people who agree with everything I’ve done/said/posted is very short and probably only includes people I’ve known for less than a week. Approval from others is no longer necessary for me. It’s quite freeing.

Plus, since this tattoo will be hidden about 98% of the time, I plan to spend the rest of my life meeting new people and thinking in my head “you might not know this about me, but I’m pretty bad ass.”

Which is pretty cool. What’s also cool is the story leading up to this tattoo. I’ll share the short version.

At the beginning of my twelve-week challenge, I decided that at the end of it, I was going to do something that I had been contemplating for some time – get a dragonfly tattoo. Around the same time, my husband and I reconnected with some old friends. These friends introduced me to beautiful and talented Hillary of Royal Ink Tattoo.

Hillary read my story and designed this beautiful piece of art for me.

As we were chatting during my time under the needle, or rather everyone else (my husband, Hillary, and our friends Josh and Sasha – who introduced me to Hillary and whose moral support helped me get through the pain) chatted and I remotely listened in between prayers to God to get me through the pain, we discovered, Hillary is also this person –

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The princess in this photo – a photo that sat framed on my daughter’s nightstand for most of her life.

Serendipity. That’s the only word I have for it.

Now, the journey is finished. Thank you so much for letting me share this journey with you. The response to Part One of my challenge results was touching and overwhelming. The calls, emails and texts meant so much to me. I am truly grateful to have some really awesome people in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I said at the beginning that I was embarking on this journey in part, because of dragonflys. I don’t think I even realized how true that would prove to be.

The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body… The magical property of iridescence is associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.

This dragonfly is ready to fly. The journey is complete.

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My Twelve Week Challenge: The Results, Part One

I finished my twelve-week challenge at The12 on December 29, 2013. The best part about the timing is that for the first time in my life, I began the new year with my diet and exercise goals already met. I can’t believe it – I literally have no New Year’s resolution about changing my body, my diet, or my exercise program. My only goal is to just maintain what I’ve already accomplished, and not screw up my progress to date. I can’t tell you what a great feeling that is.

Looking back, it was a long twelve weeks but also seems like it flew by – from my fears before starting, to my ten-day cleanse, to learning about macro-nutrients and food logging. Then there were the inevitable slip-ups, but finally, my ultimate commitment to the program and “remembering to be awesome”.

Along the way, I learned so much, and realized all the things I was doing wrong before I joined The12.

One thing I can honestly say about this journey is that it was easier than I initially thought it would be. I did not have to work out every day – actually, I only exercised about four times a week. I did not have to starve myself, and at no point did I ever feel hungry. As a matter of fact, some days my problem was not being able to get in enough food. I had support, coaching and encouragement every step of the way.

And, then there are the results. Those speak for themselves.

First, to the numbers, pulled straight from the InBody scale at The12 …

OCGreenMamaChallengeNumbersCollageIn just twelve weeks, I lost 12.4 pounds – from 130.1 pounds to 117.7. Most remarkably, this weight loss was entirely from fat. No loss of water, no loss of muscle. 100% fat loss! My total percentage of body fat dropped from 23.5% to 16.5%. You can see in the body composition percentage numbers above, my body fat mass (the purple line) went way down while my dry lean mass (the blue line) stayed the same.

Then, on to the photos. This part makes me all squirmy and uncomfortable. (I had my daughter take these – yes, she may be scarred for life – every Monday morning literally right before heading out the door to the gym – no hair or makeup – just 43-year-old me. Okay, no more excuses, here goes …)

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And for the final picture, I think it’s good to look at week one versus twelve. Here is a different angle to mix it up a bit:

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At the beginning of the challenge, my coach asked me to write a letter expressing my reasons for wanting to participate in this challenge – a letter that I could look back on in the weeks ahead to provide the extra motivation I would need to get through the challenge.  

Here is me reading the letter (it will make a bit more sense if you read “this post” before viewing – you know if you have time and all) and a few thoughts after – unscripted, unedited. I had no idea there would be tears and as much over-sharing – which also makes me a little uncomfortable – but here goes…

So there it is – raw and unfiltered. My thoughts on completing this twelve-week challenge. It has been quite a journey, both physically and emotionally. I realize that losing twelve pounds is not some great, earth-shattering accomplishment. I know that others have jumped over much greater health and fitness hurdles than I have. But for me, in my life, it was big. I truly believe that the outside transformation is just a physical manifestation of the transformation inside. There is such a mind-body connection. When you realize that when you put your mind to it, you can transform your body, you also realize that you can transform your thoughts. When you transform your thoughts, you can change your life.

I’ve arrived to a place of peace and happiness, which feels better than any weight loss ever could. Well, that and throwing medicine balls. Those suckers are surprisingly therapeutic.

Finally, a really big thank you to everyone who supported me throughout this challenge. Not only the people at The12 – who were awesome – but also to family and friends who sent me kind words, left me likes and comments on my posts and pictures, and offered words of encouragement. Each and every one really meant a lot to me.

This is merely a step of my journey – not the final one. I am setting out new goals and challenges for 2014. For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the new year. #12monthchallenge coming up next. I’m ready.

My Twelve Week Challenge: When Life Gets in the Way

I blame it on Katy Perry. She started the downfall …

Last week, right after writing this post where I was bragging about how well I am doing with my challenge, it fell apart in one night.

We took our kids to Katy Perry’s “We Can Survive” benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a mad dash to pick up three kids from two different schools, get everyone in the car, and try to get to the Bowl by 5:00pm. I was so concerned about packing snacks for the drive, getting a change of clothes and sweatshirts for the kids, and making sure we had what they needed to get homework done (in between pre-show action and the concert), I neglected to pack any food for myself.

After a typical rush-hour in LA, we squeaked in just it in time for the pre-concert sound check and Q & A with Katy. But we made it. The kids (well atleast the girls) were thrilled.

In between the pre-show and the concert, our tickets included a hosted party with drinks and appetizers. I figured I could probably find something to eat there. Boy, was I wrong.

We got to the patio area of the Bowl and I checked out the fare – sliders, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and plates of cookies. Seriously. Those were our only options – and I was starving. So yes, I probably could have left my family, headed out into the crowds in search of some type of food that was 12-week-challenge approved – and probably way overpriced.

Or, alternatively, I could hang out with the family, not fight the crowds, and enjoy free food. As you could guess, I chose the latter. And man, was that the best tasting grilled cheese I ever had. I hadn’t had bread or cheese in so long, I may have slipped and had two – or three. Plus a glass of wine, or maybe two.

The next day, I woke up with terrible guilt, vowed to “never let that happen again”, got to the The12 for a great class and worked my butt off.

But, of course, it did happen again. A couple days later, I ended up with a house full of hungry teenagers on a Friday night. My plans for roasting a chicken that wouldn’t even feed half of them was not going to work. So, I did what you do when you have a house full of people you aren’t prepared for – ordered pizza. Yes, I probably could have made a chicken breast for myself while everyone else stood around the kitchen eating pizza…but as you can probably guess, I didn’t.

And then, about a week later, I went to a neighborhood Bunco party. I put a meal in the oven for the family, headed out the door as my husband headed in, and went there thinking I could find something to eat that was 12-challenge-approved. The food was delicious, but pasta, bread and salad – not a morsel of protein to be found. And of course there was wine, because, well that is kind of the point of Bunco.

This led to more next-morning guilt, kicking myself for “not sticking to the plan”. Plus I had a headache and a terrible night of sleep, because when you don’t really drink much anymore and people refill your wine glass for you, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Which is all to say that I blame this on Katy Perry, teenagers and Bunco.

Not really. The blame falls squarely on me. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Those are the words that are going through my mind right now. I know that I need to be better prepared. As I said at the start of this challenge, worrying about my own needs can be kind of low on my priority list.

So, I need to find a better balance. I am working on it but I screw it up sometimes. See, for me, this 12-week-challenge isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I want to learn to make better choices that I can keep up – like forever. And forever is a long time. Mistakes are inevitable.

Another thing that is always on my mind is the example I am setting for my kids. I think finding a healthy balance that is not obsessive is important. I want my kids to remember how much fun we had as a family at the concert, not that mom made a big deal out of food and left to go find something she could eat. I want to remember having fun with my neighbors at Bunco, not the fact that I couldn’t eat my neighbors cooking because it didn’t have the perfect macronutrient ratios.

And when I look back on this past week, I want to remember this…

OCGreenMama_WeekCollage

…not the fact that I didn’t achieve perfect macro’s each day.

Which is not to say that I am not going to try to do better. I really am. I think the key is not letting a few mistakes derail me and make me lose focus on my goal. So, while the bad news is I didn’t lose any weight this past week, the good news is that I didn’t gain any either. I guess I did enough right to make up for my wrongs. And, my fat to muscle ratio is still improving. Fat going down and muscle going up. I’m still making progress – it’s three steps forward and two steps back, but it’s still going in the right direction.

Most importantly, I still feel (in spite of these slip-ups) much healthier overall. I am sleeping better, have no aches or pains, have more energy, and most of my clothes in my closet actually fit – no spanx required!

So instead of beating myself up, I am going to learn from my mistakes, and try to find a better balance between living my life and sticking to the plan. Which should be especially challenging as we head into the holiday season.

I will not be perfect, but I will strive to do better – in the challenge and in life. Which in the end, is all I can really ask.

My Twelve Week Challenge: Macronutrients and Reintroducing Foods

Now that I have finished the ten-day cleanse portion of my challenge, I have entered the “Metabolic Phase”, which is challenge days 11-28.

At the end of the cleanse, I met with my coach Derek Graham (CSO & co-founder of The12), who designed a nutrition plan for me that includes the macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and sodium) ratios/totals that I should strive for on a daily basis, specific to my individual body type and challenge goals.

With the macronutrients established, I also was able to begin reintroducing foods that were not allowed during the cleanse period.

The first thing I reintroduced was coffee (of course), but not exactly the way I was drinking it before. First, I am now brewing a blend of 50% regular and 50% decaf. The “caffeine withdrawal” I experienced on the cleanse scared me a little bit, and I never want to be dependent upon a substance like that again. I am also limiting my coffee to one cup in the morning. If I want another after that, I brew some tea.

Second, I have changed what I add to my coffee. My favorite has always been the Vanilla Half and Half from Trader Joes, but I didn’t realize how many calories and sugar this adds to my diet every morning. I am now mixing my own creamer made with unsweetened Coconut milk, a drop of pure vanilla extract and a few drops of Stevia. I mix it in a container and pour it in my coffee. This one little switch done daily is a big improvement to my diet and has a big impact in the long run.

OCGreenMama_Macro3

I track my food every day using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone and submit the daily totals at the end of the day to my coach Derek. What I send him daily looks like this –

OCGreenMama_Macro1OCGreenMama_Macro2

Once Derek receives my information, he provides me with daily feedback on nutritional shifts that I can make specific to my body and goals at the end of the challenge. If he needs additional information or sees a bad pattern developing, I send him my entire log for the day that lists every item that I ate throughout the day.

If you are looking for accountability, that is it right there. People keep complimenting me on my willpower, but really it’s more of a case of “I don’t want my coach to see that I ate that.”

If left to my own devices, I do not think I would have the willpower and consistency to keep this going. There is something about this program – the clear directions, accountability, and results that make sticking to the program so much easier than trying to do it on my own.

Speaking of results, I want to share how I am doing so far. I stepped on the scale at The12 yesterday – which is no regular scale by the way. It is a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that measures not only your weight, but also the amount of your weight that is comprised of muscle, fat, water, etc. In addition, it measures the ratio of lean muscle to fat in every part of your body (leg, arm, and trunk).

After standing on the scale for a few minutes, you get a final reading that looks like this –

OCGreenMama_Macro4You can also look at reports of your progress (sorry the pics are blurry, there is no “screen shot” I can take to capture this info):

OCGreenMama_Macro5There is a lot of detail in the reports that I’m not super concerned about right now, but I’m guessing they will come into play later in the challenge, but the bottom line is…

I’m down 6.2 pounds and lowered by body fat percentage to 20.6%, which is almost 3% less than when I started! This is working! It’s really working!

I am so excited about all the changes taking place in my body. I can not wait to see what will happen in the weeks to come. Bring it on!

My Twelve Week Challenge: The Night Before

Tomorrow, I start a new chapter of my life. I’m excited, nervous, and a little scared. But for the most part, I feel ready – to write a new chapter to my story that includes better health, better fitness and an overall better me.

Tomorrow is the first day of my Twelve-Week Challenge at The12, a new unique and cutting-edge gym in Irvine.

The challenge begins with a ten-day cleanse. It is not a fast, which can cause muscle wasting and fatigue, but rather a detoxification process, which includes the proper macro-nutrients (protein and carbohydrates) plus specific micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Designed to enhance the body’s natural metabolic detoxification process while providing adequate fuel for cleansing and daily activities.

Weight loss is not the goal of the cleanse, although it may happen – hey, I certainly wouldn’t complain. The main goal is to detox the body and eliminate potential allergens, which are then slowly reintroduced at the end of the cleanse, allowing you to pinpoint any problem foods.

Once the cleanse is done, my journey will be far from over. It will include an additional ten weeks of the challenge, where I will focus on specific macro-nutrient goals, food journaling, and participating in The12’s Afterburn Training.

My intention is to update regularly on this journey – to share my progress, set backs and concerns – my unbiased opinion about the process. In the hopes that I might be able to inspire others. And, if I get really brave, I may even share my before and after photos – although the thought of my 40-something, I-gave-birth-to-nine-plus-pound-babies belly being on public display makes me shudder. But hey, with some hard work and a little luck, there is a chance that it may turn into something that would not be so mortifying for me. I know it won’t be easy but if it happens, I’m sharing for sure.

For a little insight on why I decided to embark on this journey and what my initial concerns are, check out this video –

Off to bed now and on to better days ahead beginning tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Disclaimer: Although I did receive a discount on some products and services of The12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.