Fullbar© 2009: The Fittening

Hey, kids.

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Other than keeping up with my poetry and trying to throw in the occasional comic, I haven’t done much blogging of late.  This is because, as they say, life intrudes. I suppose that, ultimately, I’d rather have too much life to live and neglect my blog than too much blogging and neglect my life.

Besides, life is the fuel that fires the engine of the blog. Stop living, stop blogging (I’m looking at you, Perez Hilton).

But I digress. Today’s post is about an exciting new addition to my battle against The Chub. Yes, dear readers, I have become one of “those” people (well, I guess it’s more correct to say I’ve added another category to my classification as one of “those” people).

I ordered Fullbar©.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Fullbar© is a nutritional supplement/weight loss aid cleverly disguised as a spongy, flexible brick of fiber. You eat one twice a day with a large glass of water, 30 minutes before your two biggest meals. The ostensible purpose of this is staving off hunger by telling your brain you’re full before you start eating – a feat easily accomplished because the Fullbar© absorbs the water like nobody’s business.

Today is day one of my Fullbar© experiment, and my initial impressions are as follows:

1) This thing is yummier than it has any right to be. Seriously, I had a cranberry-almond bar at 5:10 this morning, carefully chewing each bite to avoid having the whole bar swell up to the size of a mattress inside me and explode me like a bird eating rice. But it wasn’t too arduous a task – the bar itself was oddly like a Rice-Krispy-Treat in texture, with puffed brown rice and rice syrup taking the place of toasted white rice and marshmallow. It was slightly tacky to the touch, but not sticky. And the taste, as I said, was pretty darn good. Like an especially chewy granola bar.

2) It may prove difficult to follow-up with a mini-meal after eating one of these bastards. I’m supposed to eat six mini-meals a day, the two largest preceded by a Fullbar© as indicated. The trouble I’m running into is that not only did I not want my 5:30 meal this morning, I was still pretty full at 8:00. But, because the good doctor instructs us not to skip any meals lest our brain realize we are pulling a little legerdemain, I was a good little Fullbarite and ate my weight-control protein-infused oatmeal at 8:00. I’m kind of wondering what I’ll eat at lunchtime now…maybe some air? One Cheez-It and a piece of pepperoni?

3) The biggest surprise is that I don’t feel like I’m on a “program.” Diets and I have a checkered history. I’ve done the grapefruit diet. I’ve done the Mayo Clinic diet. I’ve even, in a moment of insanity, done Deal-a-Meal. Most everything I’ve tried has felt like a chore on day one. This being day one of Fullbar©, I fully intended to experience the sort of exasperated disillusionment that characterizes my attempts to defeat The Chub. To my very pleasant surprise, I have not. I think the primary difference stems from:

A) It’s not so much a diet as it is a complete restructuring of my eating habits

and

B) I’m at a point in my life where food is no longer a necessary crutch to deal with my inner demons (that’s what Grey Goose is for!)

Kidding! I’m kidding. Everyone knows I prefer Bombay Sapphire.

In addition to faithfully noshing a responsible meal-ette every three hours, I’ve also been instructed to drink at least 60 oz of water a day, work out three times a week, and stay positive.

That’s it.

I’m cautiosly optimistic about this whole mess, and trying to keep my expectations realistic. Yes, in trials, folks following the Fullbar© method lost 40% of their excess body weight in three months. That’s very encouraging, but I also know that the REAL success with this (or any other method of weight loss) will begin and end with my ability to stay true to my goals.

We’ll see how I do.

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In Which Our Heroine Attempts to Get Ripa-fied

I am double-jointed.

While this might sound to like the first line of a really sleazy personal ad, it is nevertheless true. As a child, the ritual of dressing in seventy-five layers so I could go outside (a la A Christmas Story) usually involved at least one exchange like this:

MA: OK, sweetie, I think that’s it. Now we just need to put on your mittens and OH MY GOD!

YOURS TRULY: What’s wrong, Mommy?

MA (Hastily freeing my thumb from its position back near the elbow of my many sleeves with a sound similar to a doorstop being kicked – SPROOOOING!): Nothing, honey! We’ll go outside as soon as Mommy takes her nerve pill.

Later in my life, I was taking out the trash (an odious chore made worse by the freezing drizzle that had been falling for four days at that point) when I slipped in the alley behind our house, performing a series of acrobatic and gracile maneuvers not seen since…well, ever. I did the splits, slammed into the wall of the neighbor’s house, and popped my left leg free of its socket. This left me running around in little circles on the ground, making an assortment of noises we shall not attempt to render via onomatopoeia. Luckily, my father heard my cries and, assuming a wandering moose had somehow become caught in the gears of a combine, came running out to see what happened. Sizing up the situation, my father (never a man to clutter his mind with inconsequentialities like medical training, panic or possible disfigurment) said “hold still, I need to look at your leg,” then grabbed my thigh and jammed my leg home like I owed him money. There was a loud TWANG!, followed by a sensation not unlike someone JAMMING YOUR LEG BACK INTO ITS SOCKET. However, moments later, when I’d unclamped my hands from the now-crushed trashcan, I discovered that not only could I walk, but I was pain-free (at least physically). Dad muttered something along the lines of “just like that time I fell off the radar tower” and went back inside to his paper, while I did a little jig and went inside to write bad adolescent poetry about the preciousness of life.

I could go on, but I sense your eyelids fluttering. My point here is, I’m bendy. Not Gumby bendy, but pretty freaking bendy. Which is why, as I grew tired of the Tour De Farce and sought ways to supplement my flagging dedication to daily exercise by adding some toning, I turned to my Fit Friend Laura. Fit Friend Laura, who has achieved a level of health and fitness I assumed unattainable by mortals, is constantly playing in soccer leagues and running 5Ks and scaling Kilimanjaro and things like that. Since she is the E.F. Hutton of fitness, when she recommended the Lotte Berk series of workout DVDs, I listened.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lotte Berk and (let us assume) her method, she is the German dancer who, over thirty years ago, created a method of torturing enemy combatants until they wept for their mamas toning, stretching and sculpting designed to improve flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and strength all at the same time. It seems that her protoge, one Ms. Lydia Bach, saw how well this method worked on the dancers and decided to share it with the world (at a price, naturally).

All of which led to one Kelly Ripa (she of the teeny-tiny body and washboard abs, perched chirpily next to Regis) incorporating the LB method into her workout, which in turn led to her amazing new look (helped along, of course, by her trainer, personal chef and a metabolism identical to that of a chipmunk).  Like a lot of women, I heard Kelly talk about it and thought to myself, “Jeez, if Kelly Ripa can do it, so can I!”

And I can. Just barely.

There are four DVDs in the series: Basic Essentials, Muscle Eats Fat, Hip-Hugger Abs, and the somewhat disturbingly punnish High Round Assets. Now, I know this will come as a shock, but I decided to start with Basic Essentials and work my way up the pain ladder.

I take it back – I’m not bendy. Or at least not Lotte Berk bendy. After three workouts (you do the workout every other day), I am no longer grimacing when I reach above my head, but my abdomen, long a region accustomed to my profound but otherwise benign neglect, has been complaining strenuously. Thanks to something called the Lotte Berk Tuck, I have achieved a sort of semi-startled posture, in which I am constantly reminded that I could (and should) be sitting up straighter – shoulders back, chin down, “seat” tucked in, abs tight. It’s the physical equivalent of having Ma yell at me for slouching.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can easily see myself having stronger self-control, based solely on the fear of having to do my workout with too much dinner in me (I keep picturing turkey and mashed potatoes shooting out of my belly button like Thanksgiving plasma, destroying all in its path).

Lotte Berk promises that “in 10 days, you’ll feel a difference, and in 20, you’ll see a difference.”

Well, it’s been six days, and I’ve already noticed a difference. My computer monitors had to be adjusted because they were too low for new, non-slouchy Claire. Someone asked me if I had lost more weight when I walked into work today. My married crush said “I’m leaving Bonehead and running away with you, you latina goddess of exceeding bendyness.”

OK, not that last one.

Damn it.

But I digress. I will say that I feel better, and while I’m sure that most of that is psychosomatic, I can easily see myself sticking with this, especially since it gives me something to alternate with the Tour De Farce. As I move further into my transition, I find myself more and more willing to make improvements to a body I ignored for far too long.

After all, the LB method worked for Lotte Berk and Lydia Bach…why shouldn’t it work for La Barceloneta?

Tour De Farce™ Week Seven: That Ain’t Wright

Epic, isn't it?

It’s been a long week once again, kids. Between my PC blowing up and a power failure due to The Wind Storm of Doom™, I have had precious little time for this blog or computers in general. However, as one of my less-charming attributes is my occasional lack of follow-through with regard to my plentiful ill-conceived schemes, I have carved out this chunk of time before work on a dark and somewhat chilly Monday morning in order to complete my Tour de Farce™ entry!

To wit:

MILES BIKED THIS WEEK: 45 (9.0 miles/day, Monday-Friday)

TOTAL MILES BIKED SO FAR: 284

WHERE I WOULD BE IF THIS BIKE HAD WHEELS: Altamont, IL

Altamont has a lot going for it, especially if you love church, church-related activities, or activities that are not necessarily religious in nature but are held, by necessity, in one of several thousand area churches. Seriously, the entire take-away chicken industry doesn’t have this many churches!

And speaking of church matters, there are, sadly, no Hell’s Angels in Altamont, IL. Well, at least no formal Hell’s Angels club. My guess is they had a hard time finding a church in which to meet. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is little to be found in the way of Rolling Stones memorabilia either. My plan is to open a Speedway franchise here and advertise it as “The Altamont Speedway – fast, fresh and, frequently, full of felons.”

One other thing that Altamont has, however, is the Wright house. When I first read about the Wright house, I was excited because I half-expected some sort of tenuous-but-ultimately-satisfying link between the Altamont Wrights and the Dayton Wrights. Much to my consternation, there was no link to be found. Instead of bicycles and man-powered flight, the Altamont Wrights were in the business of medicine, law and ridiculous haircuts. The primary appeal of the Wright mansion, it would seem, lies in the fact that all the stuff they’ve accumulated since it went up in the late 1800’s is still lying around in there, waiting to be ooh’d and aah’d over by tourists. I will say, however, that if laughter is the best medicine, then the mere appearance of Charles Wright I was surely the best curative to be had in those days.

Patient: “Beulah, call for Dr. Wright…my rheumatiz is botherin’ me something fierce!”

[two hours pass as Dr. Wright coifs his hair into the approximate size and shape of an enormous Valentine’s Day Hershey Kiss]

Dr. Wright: “Never fear, good sir, I have arrived with the very best apothocarial and medicinal treatments for your – “

Patient: “BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA! Dear Lord above, Doc, you look like a lopsided ice-cream cone!” (sounds of heels clicking, gleeful dancing) “Who can think about the pain of rheumatiz with that hairdo in the room?”

Dr. Wright: (quiet sobbing)

And so on.

Coming up next week: Sandoval, Illinois, a village that proudly declares itself to be the “Crossroads to Everywhere.” Who knew that the very nexus of the creation lay in Southwestern Illinois?

Tour De Farce™ Week Six: Byurnt-byurnt-byurrr…byurnt-byurnt-byurrr…FOXY!

Epic, isn't it?

So here’s the thing:

I like foxes, of both the four-legged and two-legged varieties (the idiot news channel, not so much). So you can imagine my delight when, as I was charting my course for last week’s ride, I noticed that a slight detour from my route would take me to an actual State Park, and not another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shantytown. Eager to let me non-existant tires bite into the soft earth instead of cruel pavement, I veered north from I-70 and headed on up to Fox Ridge State Park. But before you get too excited, let’s review, shall we?

MILES BIKED THIS WEEK: 45 (9.0 miles/day, Monday-Friday)

TOTAL MILES BIKED SO FAR: 239

WHERE I WOULD BE IF THIS BIKE HAD WHEELS: Fox Ridge State Park, Illinois

I’m a sucker for a good park, especially one with trails, and falls, and flora and fauna not so inured to the comings and goings of humanity that they stand beside the trail, begging for spare change and bits of Lunchable. No, although Fox Ridge has its fair share of visitors, the local Wildlife Conservation Squad seems to be on the ball, and the locals seem keen on preserving this bit of nature’s bounty rather than slapping a highway overtop it and adding a soulless strip mall anchored by a pseudo-ironic Rain Forest Cafe. As an added bonus, the entire park is centered around the rugged bluffs of the endearingly named Embarras River (pronounced in the Midwestern French way, i.e., “Ambraw,” rather than straight-up Ohio Anglicization, e.g. “Versailles” pronounced as “Ver-sails, hyuck-hyuck-hyuck!“). Should I ever make it over this way in real life, I will happily spend a day or two at the Fox Ridge State Park and Creepy Fish Experimentation Station. It’s hard not to like a place whose motto reads “take only memories, leave only footprints” – just make sure you don’t step on any butterflies.

Coming up next week: Altamont, IL…no word yet as to whether any hippies will be receiving a beatdown by angry Hell’s Angels, but I’m going to avoid playing any Rolling Stones just in case.

Tour de Farce

I'm such a dork.

I'm such a dork.

So here’s the thing:

After a decade and a half of friendship, a certain RedHead and I find ourselves almost 2,000 miles apart and in very different places than we were 15 years ago (figuratively and literally).

Sov’s been hectoring Jess (the other leg of our Tripod of Friendship™) and I to come visit him in the sandy , fireworks-laden furnace that is Utah, and next year, we plan to do it – and by train, no less!

We’re still in the early planning stages, but right now it looks like we’re booking two first-class tickets on Amtrack to carry us from Chicago to Salt Lake City next April. Whoo-hoo!

While the financial onus of pre-purchased tickets is usually enough to keep my flighty brain focused long enough to carry out my bidding and bring me to my destination, the probability of hiking through the hinterlands of Utah as well as actually being expected to swim, out in public, where people can, you know, see, requires me to ramp up my own exercise and diet regimen. That is why I am announcing:

Claire’s Tour de Farce®

Starting this week, I am planning to track my stationary bike millage, carefully toting up each and every mile until I have pedaled my way from Troy to Salt Lake City! This will (in theory) force me to stick to my workout, thus ensuring I will be even more fit and trim (and possibly even human-shaped) by the time our trip rolls around next year!

I plan on posting updates every week on Fridays. There are 1,455 miles between Troy, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah, and we’ve got 39 weeks between now and our departure date (tentatively scheduled for the last week in April 2009). At 7.6 miles a day, five days a week, I should meet my goal two days before we leave! Whoo-hoo!

Upon completion of this goal, I have promised to buy myself a bunch of new clothes so I can impress the indigenous peoples of the Utah Territories with my fashion sense and fondness for ridiculous hats.

No word yet on whether or not I will be issuing bracelets for the cause…stay tuned!