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The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Exercise Maximizes Results

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I am currently in week eight of my nine week nutritional counseling program – the Afterburn Nutrition Program at The12 gym in Irvine. Almost to the end! It’s not really an end so much, as it is the beginning of new and healthier diet and exercise habits.

I detailed the eating component of the nutrition program in my last post. Although the nutritional plan is the primary focus of the program, an additional (and important) piece is regular exercise.

Throughout the program, my goal is to work out four times per week. For my regular source of exercise, I attend the Afterburn Training classes at The12 in Irvine.

The 12’s Afterburn Training classes focus on body part specific, multi-directional movements – utilizing free weights, resistance bands, cardio equipment, and body weight – with high intensity intervals. The circuit style classes are formatted to burn maximum calorie levels within each 60 minute group class.

The12Collage

People often ask me why I travel to Irvine, when there are plenty of gyms closer to my house. Yes, I do admit that fighting morning freeway traffic is not so fun (more enjoyable when carpooling with friends), but the classes at The 12 are not like any I have found in my local area. They are motivating, effective, and most important, fun.

Classes each day of the week focus on various parts of the body. With no two classes ever the same, I never get bored. The workouts are also designed for maximum benefit while always emphasizing good form. Unlike other workout programs I have tried in the past, I never find that I am doing anything that hurts or doesn’t feel right, risking injury to my body.

In addition to the workouts at The 12, I have been trail running and hiking one to two times per week, gradually increasing my mileage week over week of the program, with a very specific goal in mind.

A couple of months ago (before I started the nutrition program), I was scheduled to  complete a hike with my son – to the top of Saddleback Mountain. It is a 16-mile hike, with a fairly vigorous eight-mile uphill trek. During that uphill climb, you gain 4,469 feet in elevation, ending at Santiago Peak – the highest point in Orange County.

At the last minute, I backed out of the hike, and my son went without me. I just did not feel confident at that time that I could make it to the top, and certainly not at a pace to keep up with my son. I was disappointed in myself for not having the courage or ability to complete the hike, and missing out on this bonding experience.

When I began the Afterburn Nutritional program, I needed to set a goal for myself – one that had nothing to do with the numbers on the scale, but everything to do with my physical and mental health and well-being. I knew immediately what this goal should be – to get to the top of that mountain, and do it in impressive time, without strain or injury.

I picked the date months ago and have been focused on that date on the calendar throughout the program.

I am happy to report, I made it to the top last Saturday. The completion of a bucket list item for sure. When I got to the top, I literally felt on top of the world…

Hikepic

Now, with just a week and a half to go of my Afterburn Nutrition program, I am feeling better than ever – happy, healthy and strong. Looking forward to sharing my final results soon.

I was so hesitant to begin this program eight shorts week ago, but now, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. It’s truly one of the best things I have done for myself. I’ve learned so much about nutrition and wellness. Most important, I have developed new and better habits I can maintain for life.

If you are interested in discussing how an individual nutrition program can help you achieve balance physically, mentally and emotionally (bringing out the best version of you), I encourage you to contact the folks at The Afterburn Nutrition program for a free consultation. It’s a journey worth starting. You never know where it might take you.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, 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.
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The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Meal Planning and Progress

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I’m in week four of my nine-week Afterburn Nutrition Program at The 12. I’m down six pounds, feeling strong and sleeping like a baby. Excited about my results to date. But I’m not done yet. I still have work to do.

The question that people are asking me lately is “what are you eating?” I’ll try to provide some clarification in this post.

Keep in mind, the Afterburn Nutrition program is highly customized for each client. My meal plan is based upon my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR); activity level; body type; and food likes, dislikes, allergies, special dietary requirements etc. The nice thing about working one-on-one with a nutritional coach, is that the plan is customized for me – to deliver MY best possible results.

With that said, there are basic guidelines that apply to anyone participating in the program. First and foremost, the goal of the nutrition plan is to eat the right amount at the right times to keep your blood sugar level as consistent as possible – avoiding large spikes or drops. You want your blood sugar to look like the dotted waves within the two lines on the following chart:

Blood Sugar Chart

To do this, you need to keep your body fed consistently throughout the day. For me, this means eating six, yes SIX, meals a day. Not large meals obviously, but meals that provide a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat – to regulate blood sugar and give my body the fuel it needs throughout the day. A meal with too many carbs spikes blood sugar, causing us to store fat. A meal without any carbs drives it down, burning muscle and causing energy crashes. Protein helps us build and maintain lean muscle. Some healthy fat in every meal is like a referee in your stomach saying “Slow down everyone. Let’s hang out for a little bit and chill. We don’t all need to hit the blood stream at once.”

My Afterburn Nutrition coach, Cyrus Mokhtari, helped me to understand this whole process. Together, we developed my daily meal plan – exactly what I need to eat each day. There is no special food to buy. All meals use real food I already have in my kitchen. I can vary the meals from day to day, but the basic meal plan provides me the framework to make the right choices. It’s easy and simple and takes the guess-work out of meal planning.

I log all my meals in the My Fitness Pal app. Cyrus reviews them throughout the week and provides me with feedback. I also weigh in weekly at The 12. The scale there measures my weight, body fat percentage, percentage of lean muscle, water weight, BMR, and more. After weighing in, I meet with Cyrus to discuss results and make adjustments for the following week. We also have a weekly nutritional topic to help me learn about all aspects of nutrition so I can achieve optimum health through diet and exercise, in the long-term.

OCGreenMamaweighin

This week, after losing five pounds of pure fat, I also lost a pound of muscle (nooooo….). The answer to this problem – more calories and more food! For my BMR and activity level, I wasn’t eating enough calories to avoid losing muscle, so we increased my total calories and developed a new meal plan to keep me burning fat and gaining muscle in the weeks to come.

I can honestly say, that although I still have cravings from time to time (hello wine, cheese and bread – I see you there. We will reunite at a later date), I have never felt hungry or deprived on this program. To the contrary, I feel like I’m always eating – like ALWAYS EATING.

For those interested, here is a quick rundown of my daily meals:  My pre-workout meal is generally coffee (yay for coffee) with a little half and half and Stevia, and steel cut oats with some protein powder mixed in. (Choose protein flavor of your choice – no butter or sugar necessary.) My post workout meal is a banana, blended with protein powder and ice.

Lunch is usually a “rice bowl” – using cauliflower rice instead of white rice – with some protein (chicken, ground turkey) and veggies. (Side note, the Riced Cauliflower at Trader Joe’s is a God send. If you can find it in the freezer section of your local Trader Joe’s, pick some up immediately. It will change your life, seriously.) Yesterday’s “rice” bowl:

OCGreenMamaLunchBowl

Then, I have a “snack meal” of some almonds and cottage cheese, or hard boiled eggs and veggies, or apple with almond butter, or if I’m on the road, a Yeah One or other type of protein bar.

Next is dinner, with grilled fish or chicken, veggies, with a roasted sweet potato or cauliflower rice. Finally, a late evening snack, that is high in protein and low in carbs, like some chicken with avocado slices or cottage cheese and tomatoes.

If you want more detail about what I’m eating each day, you can follow me on My Fitness Pal – @ocgreenmama.

Five weeks to go. I’ll update here in a couple weeks with more results and details about the exercise component of the program. Until then, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

For more information about Afterburn Nutrition, contact Cyrus Mokhtari at The 12.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, 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.

An Appeal for Gym Etiquette

My Fellow Gym-Goer –

As a gym regular – I hit the gym at The12 multiple times per week – I have a few requests. And while I do admit to being mildly OCD, I feel like most people (OCD or not) would agree, these simple considerations would make everyone’s gym experience better.

1. PLEASE CLEAN OFF YOUR EQUIPMENT WHEN YOU ARE DONE SWEATING ON IT – I labeled this number one because it’s the single most important. Please, please, if you drip sweat all over the spin bike or treadmill or mat, wipe it off. Not with your hand. With a towel. At The12, they provide everyone with a towel. Forgetting it at home or in your car is no excuse.

But it is key to remember that the towel is not just for drying yourself off, it’s also for wiping your sweat off the gym equipment. Otherwise, you are leaving it to me to wipe up with my towel. Your sweat on my towel?! Gross.

Plus as a mom, I have enough people (who also do not always smell very good) to clean up after at home. The gym is my time away from that. Please help it stay that way.

2. PLEASE DON’T MOVE MY WEIGHTS – When we are doing a circuit, I choose my weights carefully, use them for the intended exercise, and place them in a particular spot when I’m done (generally with one weight over the other and near my water bottle – like I told you, I’m a little OCD like that). Often times, when I come back to that exercise in the circuit, my weights are gone, nowhere to be found. I don’t mind sharing if I’m not using them, but please, please, put them back where you found them so I don’t waste my exercise time running around looking for the right weights again – which I already had to begin with.

3. PLEASE MOVE THROUGH THE CIRCUIT IN THE RIGHT ORDER – At the beginning of the circuit, the instructor usually tells you where to start and how many people should be at each circuit and each exercise. The reason they do this is so that we don’t get all clogged up in one spot, without enough equipment for everyone. It’s our job as conscientious gym-goers to continue that pattern.

For example, most classes at The12 start with about four stations. Each station then has two to five exercises to run through. If you start on station two, when you are done you move to station three – not to one or four or whichever one sounds good to you at the time. Don’t be that person.

Also, each circuit has two to five exercises within it. If you start your first station on exercise three for example, you go to your next station and start with exercise three. It’s simple. It’s math. And when you are OCD, you get a little mental when it gets out of whack. Plus the bonus is – there is enough equipment for everyone. Yay!

4. PLEASE CHECK YOUR OUTFIT IN THE MIRROR (AND MAYBE BENT OVER) – Hmmm…how do I say this? Um, remember the Lululemon “see through” workout pants controversy from last year. Let’s just say it’s not limited to Lulu. A good solid pair of workout pants and a well-padded bra go a long way toward avoiding gym distractions. This doesn’t really affect me so much, it’s just that I struggle with not putting on my mom-hat, placing my arm around you and gently whispering that I can see through your pants. Now if you don’t mind it, that’s totally fine. It’s up to you. I just worry that you don’t realize it. And I don’t need one more thing to worry about. Believe me.

5. PLEASE CLEAN UP AT THE END – At the end of the class, wipe off your mat, put your weights away (if they could be with the numbers facing up that would be awesome, but I’m not going to get too picky), and generally clean up after yourself. Wash your hands. While you already have a towel in your hand, use it to dry off your hands – save the planet one paper towel at a time. Then, drop your towel in the hamper before you leave. If by mistake, you bring the towel home, wash and return it. I’m sure the folks at the gym will appreciate it. They probably already buy enough new towels every week.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let me say that these are just small requests, from me to you – fellow gym-goer – with love. If you forget, I’m not going to get all crazy on you. But, if you could find it in your heart to keep these things in mind the next time you hit the gym, I would love and appreciate you and we can hustle on forever and ever.

Hustlers

Thank you! Hugs (but not super sweaty ones).

Come to think of it, let’s just make it a high-five.

xoxo – Allison

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 …)

OCGreenMamaChallenge1.4Collage

OCGreenMamaChallenge6.10Collage

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:

OCGreenMamaChallenge1.12Collage

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 You Remember to be Awesome

First of all, let me clarify that I am not claiming that I am awesome. However, I do have the capacity for awesomeness, and this is something I have a tendency to forget.

At some point during this challenge, I think shortly after the time I wrote this post about my struggles, I decided that there was a little bit of awesome left in me, and I should probably start using it.

I just woke up one day and thought, “What if I kicked ass today?”

And then I did. And then the next day, and the next, and the one after that. Before I knew it, my schedule looked like this –

Guess what happens when you decide to kick ass? You get results.

Results mean you hit your twelve week goal by the end of week seven. Bam! And that feels really, really good.  I’ve dropped ten pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by 4.7% (from 23.5% to 18.8%).

That is a 20% change in body fat in under seven weeks! It’s remarkable to me. For years, I have tried and failed at something that I was able to do in just seven short weeks of The12Movement’s Twelve-Week Challenge.

At the beginning of my challenge, Josh Boyd, CEO and Founder of The12, said to me “If you follow this plan, I believe you will hit your goal by the end of week seven.” And my internal critic was rolling her eyes and saying “Sure Josh. No problem – cough, cough”.

But, guess what? Josh was right. I followed the eating plan, put my all into my workouts, remembered to kick some ass along the way – and I did it.

So what happens now? Do I just hand in the towel and be done?

Well, the first thing I did is gave myself a “free night”. There may have been bread AND cheese AND wine. Shhh, don’t tell my coach Derek Graham.

Now, the next thing I do is get back to work. Yesterday, I met with my coach and we created some new goals – which include building more lean muscle mass and seeing how much I can possibly sculpt this stomach I do not love – the one that two doctors told me nothing short of surgery will fix. Well, now I’m just out to prove them wrong.

And maybe, just maybe I’ll tackle that marathon I’ve been talking about for years. You never know what some great coaching, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of awesomeness can accomplish.

My Twelve Week Challenge: Seven Things I Had All Wrong

Before beginning my Twelve-week Fitness Challenge at The12 gym in Irvine, I considered myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercised regularly. I ate whole foods, primarily organic. I even tracked my calories (though somewhat irregularly) using MyFitnessPal. But the results just were not there. I would lose and gain the same 8-10 pounds over and over again. I was in a rut where my body was not responding and I knew there had to be a better way.

Now that I am in week six of the challenge, I can look back and see many of the reasons for my poor results. What I realize now is that diet is about 90% of the equation. You can’t out-run, out-lift, out-exercise a diet that isn’t working for your body.

Here is a list of the things I was doing wrong before I started this challenge: (Well, in my diet anyway. We don’t have time or space for the all-inclusive list of my wrong-doings.)

1. Not Eating Often Enough

Before the challenge, I was eating a meal only about twice a day – lunch and dinner. I would usually just have coffee and maybe a banana for breakfast and then go to work out. I wouldn’t eat much throughout the day, and finish with a fairly large dinner. My body was all out of whack, not having the proper fuel to stay energized throughout the day. Now, I eat six smaller meals a day (pre-workout, post-workout, followed by four to five meals throughout the day). I feel like I’m constantly eating, but I’m losing weight.

This single change is so key to maintaining your body in the optimum fat-burning zone. It doesn’t have to be six meals. Maybe four works for you. That’s fine, as long as they are regular and provide you with some good nutrition to sustain you throughout the day. Once your body becomes accustomed to being fed on a regular basis, your metabolism can stabilize and your fat-burning engine can get to work burning that stubborn belly fat that creeps on as you get older.

2. Not Eating Breakfast and/or Before my Workout

We’ve all heard “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” a million times yet somehow, most adults ignore this advice. It’s an old and overused saying – BECAUSE IT’S TRUE. Ideally, you should eat within an hour of waking so your body doesn’t go into “starvation mode”.

Plus, you need food to get through a morning workout. Some good carbs and lean protein in your stomach help you go longer, be stronger and perform better. Your body needs fuel to perform.

3. Not Determining my Specific Calorie Needs per Day and Tracking My Food Consistently

I have been using MyFitnessPal for over a year with mixed results. I was pretty good about logging during the week, but went dark on the weekends. Just those couple of days of not logging made a huge difference in my calories intake, and therefore my results.

“But it’s so time consuming”, I hear people say. Honestly, after you become accustomed to the program and it saves your favorite and most-eaten foods, it’s really doesn’t take that much time. It’s probably about ten minutes per day. Plus, the app is on your phone so you can log it anywhere, anytime. So put down the Candy Crush for a little bit and track your food. It works. I promise.

The first step to tracking your food intake is to determine the amount of calories you need on a daily basis. Here is some great advice from Josh Boyd, CEO and Founder of The12, on how to determine that for your own body –

“Determining how many calories you need to lose weight is one of the most confusing parts of the weight loss process. The simple way to determine this number is to eat 10-12 times your body weight in pounds. For example, a 200lb person would eat 2000-2400 calories.It is always best to start high and come down only if necessary. Your ultimate goal is to eat as many calories as possible that still enable you to lose weight. If eating 9-10 times your body weight results in no weight loss over a period of 3 weeks, you likely have some metabolic damage or down regulation.

To put it simply, a damaged metabolism is typically caused by prolonged excessive calorie restriction combined with excessive physical activity.Your goal should be to eat as much food as possible that still allows you to drop body fat. When you don’t eat enough, important metabolism regulating hormones begin to down-regulate. Hormones such as thyroid and leptin start to lower to create a homeostasis in the body. Not only that, but muscle tissue begins to break down and be used for energy. This reduction in lean body mass also slows your metabolism since muscle is very metabolically active – “eating” fat and burning calories at all hours of the day. ”

This is exactly why determining your caloric intake is so important. You need to eat enough calories to lose weight, but not so many that you don’t get to your goal.

4. Not Eating Enough Protein & Eating Too Many Carbs

As someone who eats primarily vegetarian/vegan, I was loading up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but sort of ignoring my protein intake. I was more concerned about the impact of my food on the environment than I was on the impact of my food on my body. Now, I realize that protein is key to my health, fitness, and weight loss.

I am becoming accustomed to eating organic chicken, wild caught fish and organic cage-free egg whites – like EVERY DAY. Egg whites, who knew? I really never ate them before, and now they are my new go-to source for protein. I hard boil my eggs, and just grab one, pop out the yolk in the middle, and eat them whenever I need a quick snack. I also cook them for breakfast, and even add them to my smoothies (the pasteurized egg whites in a carton). They are my new BFF.

To give you an example of the kind of tweaks that I am talking about, here are some photos of my old salad I would eat for lunch –

OCGreenMamaOldSalad

Sure, it has a lot of good stuff in it, but it’s pretty much all carbohydrates and fat. Very little protein to be found.

I have replaced those old salads with something more like this:

OCGreenMamaSaladCollage

Still lots of organic greens, but adding a substantial amount of protein – wild caught cod fish in the first photo and egg whites and nitrate-free, low-sodium turkey in the second.

The flip side of not eating enough protein is that I was eating far too many carbohydrates.

Now that I am doing the challenge, I get almost all of my carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit. I refer to this drawer of my pantry as the “food I no longer eat”.

OCGrennMamaCarbs

Come to think of it, I pretty much don’t eat out of my pantry at all right now. Almost all of my food is fresh and contained in the meat, vegetable and fruit drawers of my refrigerator.

OCGreenMamaProteinCollage

Right now, my goal is to get 50% of my calories from protein, 30% from carbohydrates and 20% from fat. That is a little extreme, and really only maintainable for me in the short-term. Once I complete the challenge, I plan to go for more for a 40/30/30 split.

So how do you determine how much protein, carbs and fat are right for you? Here is some more advice from Josh specific to determining the right protein, carbohydrate and fat ratios for your needs:

“Try to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day and eat some protein at each meal. The more active you are, the more protein you’ll need. The lower your body fat percentage becomes, the more protein you will need to intake. Fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats and carbohydrates. The numbers of each will be different for each person, but generally speaking, the more active you are the more carbs you will eat relative to fat. Aim to eat at least 15 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of carbohydrates you consume.”

5. Not Planning my Meals in Advance

The key to maintaining the right macro ratios (protein/carbs/fat) is to plan your meals in advance. Many of the folks at The12 plan them for the whole week, but I am more a day or two at a time kind of person. Also, because I go to at least one grocery store pretty much every day, advance planning is not as important to me. So, find what works for you, but plan it out in advance and log it.

On many days, I log all my food into MyFitnessPal in the morning, then just follow the schedule to hit my macronutrients. When I log early, I can see if my macros are off and adjust accordingly – BEFORE I EAT THE FOOD. By then, it’s too late. You can really “undo” what you already ate, but you can easily tweak a meal in advance.

6. Overestimating the Calorie Burn of my Workouts

Before I started this challenge, I would rely on the calorie information in MyFitnessPal or Runkeeper, or the reading of a friend in class. Now I know that these these measurements were way off. The calorie burn of each person varies greatly depending upon their effort level, weight, percentage of lean muscle mass, etc. My results will not be yours and vice versa. I have also learned that different activities can vary widely in their calorie burn. Workouts should be matched to your goals – weight loss, muscle sculpting, etc.

Now armed with my Polar watch (calibrated to my own individual resting heart rate), I know exactly how many calories I burn during each workout.

OCGreenMamaWatch

More on workouts and sample calorie burn for many different exercises coming up in a future post.

7. Too much Wine, followed by too Much Whine

I love wine – like love. I love to buy it, share it, store it, taste it. I love everything about it. I have this sign in my house and I believe it to be true.

OCGreenMamaWine

But, drinking wine on more nights of the week than not was not doing my body any favors. I was drinking too much wine, and then whining about not being able to lose weight. See the problem?

So, do I not drink wine at all anymore? Hey, let’s not go crazy. Yes, I do still enjoy wine but now it’s more the exception than the rule. My favorite part of the day has always been the post-kid-shuttling, dinner-prep time in the kitchen. I pour a glass of wine to relax while cooking and helping with homework. So, I do still do that, but not every night. And when I do, I actually MEASURE MY WINE before I pour it in my glass. After that, sparkling water in a wine glass works just fine. I have noticed too that one nice glass of red gives me that warm lovely feeling – that promotes joy and relaxation. It doesn’t require three.

Less wine, less whining, more results.

Speaking of results, here’s a quick update. I’m still making progress on the challenge but it’s a little bit slower now, which is to be expected at this point of the challenge. I am still losing body fat but my muscle mass is stabilizing rather than increasing, which is why I just upped my protein consumption.

But more importantly, I feel amazing – lighter, healthier, happier than I have in a long time.

Also, you know those “when I get skinny jeans” you hold on to in your closet. Yep, those are coming out of the bottom of the pile. They may not even be in style anymore but I’m wearing them. Skinny jeans be damned, I’m busting out my actual “skinny jeans”. It’s time to let them see the light of day.

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.