Monday, December 12, 2011


The story of all the fluctuations in my weight could go on for the 30-some years it took to write it, but I want to take this time to reflect on the last 16 months of the journey, my time spent with Lean Eating. I had looked at the program before--each time a new one was posted. My worlds were not aligned, though. I was not fully ready for the program until the August, 2010 one started. As that sign up period hit, I had been beating my head against the same weight loss wall for years. Slowly, I had made progress, dropping a little weight here and a little there, sometimes gaining a little, but with an overall downward trend over the previous 7 years or so. Previously in my life, as I had really tried to lose weight, I could, but age and years of stress and who knows what else must have finally caught up with me because at 36 I found myself unable to drop more than a pound every few weeks, and any period of successive excess would lead to multiple pounds gained. Einstein is known to have said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Finally, during the summer of 2010, I was ready to stop the insanity. I was ready to turn the reigns over to someone else in hopes that they could guide me down the path more effectively. Truly, though, I had little hope that they could. Something in me believed that I was broken, that I couldn't lose weight any more, that I was destined to be chubby for the rest of my days. As I look back I can recall this feeling, but I feel disconnected from it. It seems so different from the person I am now.

I started that first program promising myself that I would follow it religiously for those six months, that I wouldn't give up for that six months. The first few weeks were exciting and as hopeful as I had been in a while. But the weeks continued to pass and the other women began to consistently lose weight. They were feeling the change and being (justifiably) happy about it. Six weeks passed. Eight weeks. And almost nothing. I still weighed more than I did the week before the program started. With each passing week of little or no change, I became more and more convinced that I was broken, that I was destined to be fat. But I had promised myself that I would stick with it. Six months, I would give it six months. Around this point in the program, I contacted Krista, my coach, for further guidance. One of the things she asked was whether or not I was weighing myself daily. Of course I had been, I had been weighing every morning since long before LE. It was my way of making sure my weight wasn't creeping up, so turning loose of that was a difficult-difficult for me. She also asked that I "check" my attitude and work aggressively on being positive and thinking about and visualizing progress. "I am getting lighter and leaner with every step. Today I am lighter and leaner than yesterday. Tomorrow I will be lighter and leaner still... " became my mantra. When I woke up every morning, instead of weighing, I would repeat my mantra. Any time I started thinking negatively, I would repeat my mantra. It was ever-present. And the weight started to slowly move. By the end of the first round, I had lost 16 pounds, but as I looked at myself and the pictures after peak week, I was disgusted and disappointed. I had made progress, the first progress of any extent that I had made in a long, long time but I wasn't where I wanted to be, and I was left with a dilemma.
By the end of that round, I felt like I was living the habits. I was doing them. I understood them. They were my way of life. But I was afraid. The idea of being away from the structure and support of the program scared the hell out of me. Although in retrospect the answer seems clear, at the time I was unsure if my best course of action would be signing up for the alumni program or starting another complete round of Lean Eating. That decision was a painful one for me (as are most life decisions). Finally, though, I decided that I still had quite a ways to go, and participating in another round really had few drawbacks, so as much as I would miss my fellow Barbelles with whom I had bonded so well, I would move ahead with another group.
My bonding with the new group was slow--mostly from my own hesitancy--but I told myself to give the great ladies a chance, and as I did I, came to love them. Again, I wanted to give the program my full effort and was happy to see as I did that the lessons were not just a repeat of the previous round's lessons. Again, my progress was slow but was slightly more steady than during the first round. Then came the opportunity to go to the LE Gathering in Niagara. I had promised myself and Marc that I wouldn't go anywhere other than TN without him in 2011. (I had made too many trips without him in the previous couple of years.) May, however, was a painful month for me. Losing Daddy suddenly and almost losing my mom after she fell a week later, I was taxed physically, mentally and emotionally and needed something out of the ordinary to look forward to. The gathering became that something.
The gathering also provided the change that I needed to propel my progress forward. Not only did I get the boost of being around my Iron Phoenix teammates, but I also got to sit with one of my coaches for a while and do a workout with her then sit with Krista, my LE coach, for a while, too. This time was critical for me, a connection I needed like a fresh breath. My biosignature profile was also critical. For the first time since starting the program, after implementing the biosig recommendations, I started making steady progress. Emotionally this steady progress was earth shattering. Staying positive became easier which then made the progress more steady which made the positivity easier. Part of the biosig recommendations was an intermittent fasting protocol. This protocol was comfortable for me, a nice change and something that helped make things "click."
Somewhere along the way this year, I have experienced a shift in my world. The way I feel about food is different. The way I feel about myself is different. The way I feel about life is different. Food is my fuel. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy it, and there are still times I feel like I'm missing out. But then I think about how sexy I feel and how nice it is to be able to shop and feel like I have endless options for how I want to dress and not have to dress to minimize my chubbiness. Thinking about that makes it much easier to turn down something I really don't need to begin with. Describing how differently I feel about myself is a bit more difficult. Sure, I am more confident, and I feel attractive for probably the first time in my life, but there is more to it than that. I am coming to truly know myself from the inside out, and by coming to know myself, I am for the first time giving myself permission for genuine self-love. For how can I love a self I do not really know or understand? With this new self-appreciation, I am finding a new sense of hope and anticipation about life. I feel more of a sense of control over my own destiny. I feel hopeful that I will find what it is that I am supposed to be doing. I feel like I have a mechanism for finding what it is that I am supposed to be doing and for finding a way to do it. And perhaps most importantly, I feel like I am not alone in the quest.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Is "Lean Eating"?

August 1, 2010, the day before I started my first round of Lean Eating and November 20, 2011, as the end of the second round approaches.

No, Precision Nutrition's Lean Eating Coaching program has no late night infomercial. You're not going to see Dr. John Berardi, PhD on the boob tube at 3 am lauding the virtues of the program and begging you to buy his DVD and supplements and workout gear. No packages of quick fix dinners or DVD wonder workouts will start appearing on your doorstep. You're not going to drop "10 pounds in the first 10 days." As a matter of fact, the beginning of the Lean Eating program (LE) is a bit anticlimactic--by design.

The LE program stems from years of research and professional growth in the fields of nutrition, medicine, psychology, sports performance and any other field the PN team thinks might advance their knowledge. Using the latest information from those fields, Dr. Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition took their basic nutritional information and developed what has become a one year course to help people live their healthiest lives. Not only is the program scientifically sound, it is brilliant. Each person who signs up for Lean Eating Coaching is assigned to a small group of men or women with their own coach. Over the twelve months, the coach is that person's guide to all things Lean Eating and that group becomes the other pillar on which to lean by way of a team forum. Each day brings three things: a workout, an assignment to read, and a habit to complete. Every two weeks, lean eaters get a new habit to build on top of the previous one. Individually, the habits seem quite simple, but when joined together they become the key to unlocking the door to a new life. LE breaks up the task of learning how to eat well into small, easily-digested bits that allow one to slowly and fully incorporate them into everyday life--for life. By focusing more on the daily habits and less on the constant and foreboding idea of "I must do this now to lose 5 pounds by Saturday," eating healthfully becomes second nature and weight loss is a natural progression of that change. This slow introduction of small habits is one of the many research-proven methods used by the LE team.

The LE assignments are another product of their research. Some days the assignments are quick and easy, and they never take longer than 5 minutes or so to read. Some days, though, the assignments contain a task. Sometimes it is things like checking out the local farmer's market. Others it's turning the focus inward to discover something about oneself. Occasionally, the assignments seem silly or annoying, but when taken to heart and completed with a commitment to giving 100%, they always lead to growth sometimes in surprising ways. Strangely enough, most of us overeat for a reason, and it's not just because we like food. LE doesn't ignore this fact but embraces it then helps us to find that reason so that we can move past it. Examining what makes us the way we are, inside and out, is part of what the daily assignments are all about. They are also about teaching us about the individual habits as they come along. Each new habit has a set of lessons teaching one why that habit is important and how to best incorporate it. Everything in Lean Eating has its place and purpose.

While the program is called "Lean Eating," it also has a workout component. The workouts shouldn't scare people away, though, because they are well-planned and offer alternatives for all fitness levels. The workouts can be as easy or as hard as a client wants to make them by varying weights and using alternative movements that are provided in the instructional videos, and the coaches are there to provide even more individualization if needed. Prospective clients often ask if joining a gym is a necessity. While it is not absolutely necessary, it might make things easier in many ways if you don't have a bit of equipment at home. I did the last round of the program that was a six month round and did it all with 6 kettlebells, a set of bands, a pull up bar, a TRX and a sandbag, but I had been using these tools for years and knew how to make the movements that they wanted me to get out of them. After joining up for my second round (yes, I thought it was that good), I bought a set of bumper plates, a bar, a squat rack, adjustable dumbells and a bench. I also have an 0.8 mile trail on my property. I don't anticipate needing any more equipment, but I might get a little something just for fun. Occasionally, though, I head to a regular gym when I'm traveling just to shake things up. The bottom line is that the workouts help make the body function better, don't take up too much time out of one's day, and there are ways to get them done.

The habits, the assignments and the workouts comprise the three tasks LE requires of the participants daily, and participation in the forums is optional. Each day, lean eaters receive a email, that one can actually opt out of getting, reminding them to check in to the home page, their guide to their daily tasks where they can find a link to their lesson, their habit, their workout and the forum as well as a link to contact their coach and the PN crew. While it's not mandatory to check in every day, PN has found that doing so increases one's chances of success. (They track numbers like neurotic gamblers in an effort to give their clients the best chances as reaching their goals.) As participants complete a workout, assignment or habit each day, they click a circle on the home page to get credit for its completion. By doing so, clients track their compliance to the program. At the end of each week, measurements and weights are taken and entered to track progress in a similar way. By going to the progress page, lean eaters can get multiple different visuals including graphs and charts showing progress and compliance, and coaches can see where a client needs to buckle down to find better results. Only the coaches and individual clients can see individual progress pages, though. At the end of the year, if a person's progress is 90% or better, the compliance percentage that research has proven has no choice but to bring results, and he or she isn't satisfied with their results, Precision Nutrition has a money back guarantee. I can't imagine that anyone has ever taken them up on that, though, and honestly, I think most people see quite impressive results with compliance that is even lower than 90%

I believe in this program. It is the most scientifically sound approach to nutrition I have ever seen. It is the most well designed program I have ever seen. The coaches and staff are some of the most helpful, positive, uplifting people with whom I have ever been in contact, and they care. Their whole approach to life is one of kindness and happiness, and they believe in making the world a kinder and happier place. They understand that weight loss is not easy and that it is not just about food but about why we eat the way we eat. Because the program addresses weight loss in such a comprehensive way, often clients have the experience that I have had, one of a transformation from the inside out. I've been a lean eater for about sixteen months now. Not only am I leaner, I am a better person, and I am looking at life differently. I am approaching life differently. And after sixteen months, the greatest thing is that my journey is just beginning.

Oh, and in case this has made you want to look into it a little bit more, the next LE program starts in January, and here's the link for more info:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lean Eating January, 2011--The Pics

This past week was "Peak Week" for Lean Eaters as we got ready for the photo shoot assignment this weekend. Honestly, I dreaded it, but wanted to embrace it as I promised myself I would do with all the LE assignments. I have come to see that they all have their purpose and when properly completed always lead to personal growth.
I thought that the majority of growth for this assignment would come in the doing, and I did learn a lot from that. For me, though, the the largest growth came as I was looking at the pictures for the first time. Seeing myself through the lens that my husband commanded was like being introduced to myself for the first time. Then, instead of feeling like something was over, like the assignment was done and the end of Lean Eating was looming, I began to feel as if things were just beginning.
Here are a few of the results.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I've just spent a couple of weeks with my mom here in Florida with me. Having her here was a wonderful treat, but the time surely did fly! It seemed like no sooner did she get here that she had to leave. My mom is an AMAZING woman who is quite an inspiration to me. At 80 years old, less than 7 months after losing her husband, breaking a hip and almost dying (this is no exaggeration--long story) all within a 2 week period, she is hopping on planes and traversing the country. Not only is she a wonderful mom, she is one of my best friends.

Today I am hanging out in Orlando for DEMA and to spend a little time with the hubby. Though I've brought equipment with me to work out at the motor home, I decided this morning to take the opportunity to work out at a commercial gym. I am reminded why I love my little spot at home.
I know it's good to branch out occasionally for different experiences and to push our comfort zones a bit, and that is a lot of why I did it, but while I was there, I did a fair amount of thinking about why I'm not as crazy about commercial gyms.
There are the fairly apparent reasons like I have to share equipment, I have to dodge other people, I have to not swear, etc. But I realized today that because for me my workouts are very much a therapeutic thing, I feel like people are seeing a part of me that I don't want them to see. Somehow I have this weird feeling that they can see inside my head, inside my heart and soul. I feel like I am sharing that space as well. I think this is why I have issues not looking at the floor when I workout around other people. I think I need to explore this more...
Oh yeah, if I'm around people I don't know, I can't do my little goofy dances between sets like I do at home. Definitely takes some of the fun out!
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Almost A Month

Almost a full month since last I posted. Time flies when you're avoiding things! While historically the internet has brought me into contact with wonderful people and has given me amazing friends, over this last six months or so, I have seen some of the negatives of giving people access to your life. It has been miscontrued and used to hurt others and just generally has not done the things that I had intended for it--to be a source of comfort to others as they see that there are people who have been where they are. I had a long, heartfelt talk with a friend about this issue and came away from it understanding that the way my words are used by others is not my fault. The writing for me is cathartic, so not writing leaves me empty. For some, my words are comforting, and not writing steals that comfort from them. So, I will resume my writing.

I have been continuing my journey during my absence here, and it has been going well. I work hard to do "a little more, a little better," and a week from today I will weigh less than 150 pounds for the first time since before I was married. Certainly I am still a bit from my ultimate goal, but I am finally actually moving in that direction consistently.

Monday, September 26, 2011


One would think that after being away so long I would come back with great insights and things to share. Instead, I have randomness.

I wonder does the rest of the world live with this same feeling of restlessness in their souls. I suspect they do not. My older brother seems to have the same condition. My other brother and sister do not.

Mom is doing GREAT! I can't emphasize this or my joy about it enough.

I miss my Dad. Lots.

I compare myself to others too frequently. This comparison is the source of much of my unhappiness. Those things that make me unhappy but are not borne of comparison are the ones to be acted upon.

I came across a concept that I liked this morning. Things do not break apart. They break open. I think this is one to keep in the memory bank.

I have come to realize that one of my greatest fears is being "ordinary."

I haven't posted pics in a while, so even though these aren't the greatest, I'm going to post them. ( I was waiting for some better ones, but what the heck.) The obvious before pic is from August 2, 2010, the day before I started my LE journey.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Underwater Speleology

The weather is brutal right now. Record temps all across the US, and ours hit 108 degrees yesterday BEFORE the heat index. And folks, we live in some serious humidity, so the heat index really jacks things up! I can feel it in my workouts, too. The moist heat lies like a wool blanket over one's face at times, and when there is no breeze, it can be suffocating. I actually really like hot weather, so when I'm saying it's a bit hot, I know others are truly suffering. The dogs even lie under the fan in the gym to help stay cool. Extremes like this make me that much more thankful for my workout space. This time last year, I was working out in the back yard and would have been in almost full sun most of the time. Now, I have a wonderful shadey spot.

I had a bit of a "happy" here recently. We have a good friend who is a Hollywood stills photographer. He takes still photos during movie and tv production. Movie posters? They come from skilled hands like his. He loves to take pics in the water, so we will occasionally end up as his "models." After our shoot earlier this summer, he submitted one of the photos to a cave diving magazine to see if they'd use it on a cover. I'll be darned if they didn't put me on the cover! As an interesting aside, I looked at my vision board the other day and realized that one of the photos is from a dive magazine and is of a cave diver; it was my way of saying I wanted to dive more. The picture of me is almost a mirror image of that one.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Despite the counters full of disarray, the floors that need vacuuming, and work that needs doing, I am slowly beginning to get the feeling that I am digging out from under. I suspect it's just a feeling, but that has to count for something.

My mind is beginning to come into focus, and with each day that passes I find it wandering less and less. I dreamed about Daddy last Sunday. We were riding through the fields at the farm in his green '78 Ford truck. He was driving. I was riding--the way we spent hour upon hour in that truck. Occasionally I can control myself in my dreams, and I found myself able to in this one. I reached for his hand and looked at him and said, "Daddy, I sure do miss you." He smiled at me and said,"Baby, don't do that." Some cultures believe that when you can control what you say in your dreams to a loved one who has passed on, they are visiting you in your dreams. He and I talked about that many times before he died. It's a little hoakie, but I like to think maybe, just maybe, it might be so. I have thought a lot about that dream, and the many times he and I spoke of the natural order of life. He counseled me on how to deal with his loss long before it ever came about, and those conversations replay in my mind frequently now. With them, the focus improves.

Part of my ritual of focus is to make order in my surroundings. I'm on a stretch of working 13 out of 17 days at work which means the majority of waking time at home is spent in the workout space which I have affectionately dubbed Gym Jen as inspired my Gym Jones and their philosophies. Thus, I have put the majority of my extra energies into straightening it (the DH has a way of piling crap around its edges). Having it straight helps me focus better. I can do a split squat actually thinking of the split squat instead of how much I wish all the crap were put away, LOL. I thought I'd share the fruits of my labor. There are some old shots in here, too, in case you were feeling a little deja vu.
Note one of my favorite new additions is the fan.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011


Could it possibly be two weeks since the Lean Eating Gathering in Niagara?! The days have taken on a life of their own, and I am simply hanging on by a thread, a tattered flag in the wind as they fly by.
For those of you unfamiliar, the Lean Eating Gathering was a meeting for some of us ladies in Precision Nutrition's Lean Eating Coaching program. Krista Schaus, one of the coaches (who happens to be my coach), holds the gatherings every 6 months or so as a way to bring together lean eaters for a workshop of speakers and some coaching in the gym. One of the speakers Krista brought was Gino Arcaro, a football (American) coach in Canada. In his talk he mentioned the concept of a "Stretch Goal." When he speaks of stretch goals, he means for one to have a goal that seems just completely ludicrous and work toward that goal. Though he says that he has met that goal more often than not, the premise is sort of that whole "Shoot for the moon. If you miss, at least you'll land among the stars" thing. Shortly after his talk, we went to the gym for our work with Krista and some of the other PN coaches. As she was reviewing our Bulgarian split squats, for my second round, she upped my weight to 2.5 times the weight I initially had picked up to use. When she told me which weight to pick up, my initial reaction was to give her that WTF?! look. Of course, my next reaction was to go pick up the weight she asked me to...then to split squat it no problem.
So often we underestimate our capabilities--not just in the gym, but also in life in general. One of my biggest take home lessons from the weekend was to continually push myself, to not only embrace the "difficult, difficult," but also to ban from my brain the notion that "I can't." Instead, the concept I will embrace is that "I can't yet," and I will test myself to see just how far I can go. The focus will be on the YET, not on the can't.
I came across a plaque in my wanderings this week, and in light of the talk had to come home with it. Here's a pic followed by some pics from the Niagara weekend.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I have been avoiding this post for a week or so now. These last weeks have been heavy and sad, and coming here to update and move on has been something I have been avoiding. Though I have been away from the forums and from my log, I have not been away from my habits otherwise. I have, other than a few meals on a few days, stuck to the PN habits and done my workouts. This consistency has served me well. In an otherwise impossibly stressful time, these things have been an anchor and a comfort. As a result, I have gained only 1.5 pounds of weight, which for me is nothing short of a miracle. At one other stressful time in my life (though it was nothing like this), I gained 20 pounds in two months. My measurements are really no different and I actually think I'm a bit more defined and trim than I was a month ago. I emailed Krista to see if this was even possible and she assured me that it was. At least I'm not crazy in that regard.
Can you tell I'm avoiding the meat of the issues?

Ok, so, my dad died unexectedly May 1st. After spending the week in Tennessee for the funeral and tending to business, I was only home in Florida for less than 72 hours when my brother called to tell me Mama had fallen and broken her hip. Her hospital course was horrible and due to some significant negligence on physicians' parts, she ended up almost dying and spending five days in intensive care. Had she not had medical personnel at her side, she would have died. Despite being the youngest, I am the one my siblings turn to in times such as these, and I am the often the one left making difficult decisions, and there were lots of them. In short, it has been a horrible 6 weeks.

Thankfully, my mom is a fighter and she is getting better day by day. Her insurance has decided they're tired of paying for rehab (if anyone's elderly family has Blue Cross Blue Shield Advantage as their form of medicare, get the OFF of it NOW), so she will be coming home Friday. I will leave after work Saturday morning and spend next week doing our own set of rehab....and dealing with some other family issues that popped up today.

Behind the scenes, many of you have known these things and been popping into my life here and there to give me support and love. I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate those thoughts and prayers and sentiments. Though I only "know" all of you on the internet, it does not lessen our friendships to me, and you mean SO much.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wow! May already?!

Wow, Does time fly!
I can't believe we're practically in May already. Finally I am digging myself out of a hole of anxiety and busy-ness. One of my colleagues was fired a couple of weeks ago, and I have been picking up shifts to cover in addition to having taken a week off for a "staycation." I'll not bore you with the details of the work situation, but I will bore you with staycation pics.

The DH and I were determined to get some serious diving done while I was off, and not only did we get that done, we also did some scouting for future dives. Here are some pics of said missions. The hiking was at Camp Kalaqua near High Springs. We were trying to see what things looked like at Hornsby Springs, the spring they use for swimming on their property. It's supposed to be a fantastic cave, but access is uber-limited. We were also looking for the access to Treehouse Spring on the Santa Fe River. We think it might be in the body of water you see behind me in the picture taken in the woods. Not sure, though. The cave pics were taken at Ginnie Springs by Hollywood stills photographer Gene Page, who happens to be a friend of ours AND one cool dude.

One of my other projects for my time off was to do some climbing at Gainesville Rock Gym. I couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with me, so I went by myself and, therefore, didn't have a belay. So I had to spend my time there doing only bouldering (climbing without belay). I was initially very disappointed, but it turned out to be a good thing. The whole point behind doing some climbing was to get me out of my comfort zone a bit. Climbing without belay simply took things up a notch. I ended up climbing a nice, easy wall as far as about 10 feet high. Problem? Getting back down. I ended up climbing back down a foot or so then dropping the rest of the way. The other thing it pressed me to do was play on some walls that didn't go up very far but encouraged lateral movement. This took me out of a previously set thought process and led me to stretch my idea of my assignment some. All-in-all, it was a great experience, and I'll be going back...Oh yeah, and it smoked my forearms!

The workouts otherwise have been going well. My handstands are coming along, getting stronger and longer, and I am still enjoying that process as well. I continue to find new ways to challenge my concept of my being a "jump retard," and that is fun too. Nutrition is advancing, honing. I'm not dropping weight, but my measurements are starting to budge, and I'm definitely seeing more and more definition.

Friday, April 8, 2011


They fired one of the other providers at work, so I'm about to start a 5 night stretch (of 12 hour shifts) to cover some of the shifts he left. Needless to say, I won't be posting here much over that time, so I wanted to post these pics from my dinner last night. My college roomie and I ate at Bistro Aix in Jacksonville...Tres chic! We had a great time, and our meal was wonderful. Needless to say I had a splurge meal. In the one picture of the two of us where you can see our arms, mine look HUGE, but that is ok. In real life, I am beginning to see a lot of muscle there, especially when I move around, so I know that as I drop fat, those big arms will be ok.