Monday, January 12, 2009

S.T.R.I.P.ping for Money


I will try not to tell the whole lifelong tale of my struggle with weight, and body image, and all that depressing stuff, but one chapter runs into another and it's hard to know where to start.

Last spring I reached an all-time weight high, including pregnancies, and when my biggest clothes ever started to squeeze, and my knees ache, and a dear friend asked me in the nicest way, essentially, "What has happened to you?", and I saw a scary infomercial about belly fat, I got the motivation to try, yet again, to lose weight. Ed wanted to, too, so we hopped on the Weight Watchers Core plan together. The first few days were tough, but it got easier, and when I started to see 2, 3 even 5 pounds a week come off it became just a matter of life, and I was on cloud nine with the success. I lost 17 lbs in 12 weeks, and then we went on vacation and moved to VA and spent the summer trying to get organized and settle into our new life, so there was plenty of upheaval, which is death to the best diet intentions. I only managed to squeeze off another 3 pounds.

In August I joined a gym, and in September I never went. In October I had a physical and my cholesterol was high. Even though I was down one size, and my knees only creaked instead of ached, I knew I was not even close to where I wanted to be, and I had to get back on the horse, especially before the holidays. So I went back to the gym, and that first time back I had some kind of breakthrough. I finally felt those endorphins everyone talks about - my energy shot up, my mood was through the roof; I felt like a million bucks, just from exercising. I was hooked.

The next week I saw a sign up at the gym announcing a new program called S.T.R.I.P. (Spare Tire Removal in Progress.) I read closer. Participants pay $30 and $15 of it goes in "the pot." Your goal is to lose 5% of your current weight, and you have 10 weeks to do it. But not just any 10 weeks. The 10 weeks that cover Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's! If you miss a week of weigh-in, your goal weight decreases by 1 lb. If you gain more than 2 lbs in a week you are out of the contest. Whoever reaches their goal at the end of 10 weeks splits the pot. I did some quick math. Five percent for most people is between 7 and 12 pounds, and I was in the middle somewhere. It could be done in 10 weeks but not with much wiggle room. Half of the participants would have to fail for me to break even on my $30, and I had no idea who I would be up against.

I decided to do it. This would be one lamo blog post if I hadn't. I was just getting back into an exercise routine but I needed some motivation to eat carefully again as well, and this was it. For the first half, I was on track, losing about 1 lb a week, and sailing through Halloween and Thanksgiving without too much derailment. Then it was December. And there were lots of really good cookies. Those chocolate marshmallow meltaways in particular lured me like a siren's song, and a couple of tough days turned into a couple of tough weeks. Then it was Christmas, and I ate the world, and didn't really stop until New Year's. And then there was only one week of S.T.R.I.P. left, and I was hovering between 1 and 2 lbs away from my goal weight, and not particularly motivated or confident I'd reach it.

But three things happened to help me turn it around. First, the week before Christmas I got an email from a trainer at the gym. My name had been drawn from the suggestion box to receive a free 1-hour training session. Personal training was one of those things I was interested in, and kept thinking I should do, and I always watched trainers and clients curiously out of the corner of my eye, but I just hadn't done anything about it. So I jumped on this and scheduled my session with Lindsey two days before Christmas. It was awesome. I showed her what I'd been doing, and she upped my whole ante. She took me off the circuit weight machines I'd been using (and was bored blind with), and gave me an extensive whole body strength training regimen using free weights, physio balls, body bars and bosu balls. It's a little embarrassing to do it all in front of everyone in the general exercise area, but I'm not the only one so I just try to focus on what I'm doing and "own the gym." Having a new routine has helped me with some of the motivation I've been lacking through the holidays.

Second, never underestimate the power of Ed. He has come a long way from our early married years, when he thought it was "helpful" to be my food police (uh-uh), to now. He knows how to help me: unlimited positive feedback and unconditional expressions of love are a good place to start, followed by things like "you look amazing," "look how far you've come" and "what can I do to help you?" I was having a hard time sticking to core healthy foods, so he committed to eat strictly core with me for the last two weeks. Having him experience the same stop-and-think process at meal and snack times helped enormously, and having someone to commiserate with, and eat carrots and plain hot air popcorn with, was the best. What a guy.

Finally, fast Sunday sealed the deal. On the first Sunday of every month members of our Church fast for two meals. We donate the money we would have spent on those meals, and more if possible, to the welfare program that helps people in need. In addition, fasting is a way to strengthen ourselves spiritually, to set aside temporal things (like food) and focus on prayer, worship, repentance, meditation, and so on. It also happens to be a perfect chance to seriously cut caloric intake for a day and reign in some bad habits.

Last Sunday marked the last week of S.T.R.I.P. We had from Sunday to Friday to do our final weigh-in. I just figured I'd weigh each day on the scale at the gym and whenever (if ever) I hit my goal, I'd go find a trainer to officially witness it. If it came down to the wire I was prepared for drastic measures (sauna, anyone?) Luckily no such action was needed. Monday morning I stepped on the scale and scooched that slider down, down, down until I was almost a pound under my goal weight. Grinning ear to ear, nearly bursting with pride, I grabbed a trainer to fill out my card.

I DID IT!!!

Twenty-four people originally joined the program. That's a pot of $360. They put a big chart up on the wall, with people's initials or chosen nickname, start weight, goal weight, and weekly weights for the 10 weeks, so we could all track our competition. Every week 1 or 2 people seemed to drop out - they just stopped weighing in or they missed so many weeks that their goal became unreachable. By last week it looked like somewhere between 4 and 7 people would reach their goal, which meant I was getting my $30 back and then some. Today I got the official "Congratulations" email from the fitness director - 6 people made it, so we get $60. Maybe it's not a lot to show for so much hard work, but it's $30 more than I had before, plus of course I'm down almost 10 lbs since October, which is the whole point.

I took $30 of my prize and put it back into S.T.R.I.P. again - the new session starts today. It seems like the weight is fighting back a bit - I have to fight tooth and nail for each pound these days, not like the way it melted off last spring. But I've got a few more milestones I'm reaching for, and a few more tricks up my sleeve. Ed and I have set up another little competition of our own as well. So wish me luck, and watch the sidebar. Disco Mom's not done yet.

18 comments:

dave said...

Congratulations! I'm super proud of you, and jealous of your commitment. Good luck in the new cycle!

MiaKatia said...

Over Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!!! You are amazing. Congratulations on all the hard work and the great results to show for it all.

Lindsay said...

Way to go! You are awesome!!

The Finck Five said...

Congratulations!!! We started back on "the plan" this week also. Will you share what some of your go-to recipes are on the Core plan for dinner?

Disco Mom said...

@ Everyone - thank you, thank you.

@ Melissa - good idea - I will pull some of my go-to's together and maybe we'll have "Core Dinner Week" on here soon...

Therese said...

well done, kari!!! i loved this post. my xmas present was a gym membership, and this just motivated me even more to reach my goal weight. i'm so proud of you! thanks for sharing this with us all. xo

Springer Family said...

I am SOOOOO calling you and yelling YAHOO!!! in your ear!!!

cherry said...

YAY!!!!

GR82BAMOM said...

Hooray! Good for you! Good luck on the next round.

Sally DeFord said...

Great post Kari. I love how you are taking control of your health and making it fun. You are an inspiration. You are going to be such a buff and healthy mama.

The Henrich Family said...

you go girl! I'm happy for your success. Congrats!

Shells said...

Congratulations Kari. And how could any husband not support their wife stripping? I mean I know Ed was all for it all the time. One of the things I love most about exercising is how happy I feel. Dave will tell you that when I was playing basketball before we moved, every Wednesday I would come home and not be able to sleep. I just had so much fun and so much energy. So keep it up, and switch it up. That is the only way to stay motivated. One thing I added for a time was swimming. Let me say, I am a terrible swimmer, but that made it a much more difficult workout for me, so if you get sick of the gym, check out what your local pool has to offer. They may have water aerobics or adult swim classes at your level and speed. Keep it up!

kat said...

go man go! seriously so inspiring. i really like that they/you broke the goal down to a reasonable percentage. not 'lose 50 pounds' like i keep thinking about it, but 5% should be doable over 10 weeks. even for me! :)

Heather M. said...

Wow, you are my inspiration! Congratulations, congratulations. Even more inspiring, in that you baked every day in Dec. and still survived.! I am so trying to get back on the wagon, which I've been off of for more than a year, and it's sooo hard. We must talk one of these days. :-)

Stratton Family said...

You are amazing and such an inspiration! I'm SO proud of you and can't wait to give you a hug of congratulations tomorrow! Great job!!!!

Maren said...

YOU TOTALLY ROCK!! Yes! I knew you could do it! I'm so proud of you. You're an inspiration to me as I try to figure out where I'm at and how to get that last bit done to reach my goal.

Ashlee said...

WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!

Marna said...

You are so awsome! I need to follow your example, but am not nearly as otivated... I just dream of being fit one day, just dream. So keep up the amazing work!

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