The Art of the Hustle (Day 42 of 83)

Yesterday, I had a fabulous rest day over in Bev Hills. Okay, not at a spa or anything. I wasn’t like, chillin’ at Neiman Marcus or the Marc Jacobs store. I was at the WGA Theatre on Doheny for a screenwriting seminar. It was awesome. I won’t bore you with the non-weight loss related details, but I learned so much there. I was inspired, rejuvenated and cleansed of my writing self-doubt. It’s not like the panelists were trying to bolster us or make us think that everyone in the room could get their stuff produced. Nonetheless, after hearing what they had to say I was as excited as a starry eyed Tony Robbins cultist.*

My big takeaway from yesterday that applies to weight loss: if you want it, you gotta hustle.

Warning: semi-long story about hustling ahead – skip ahead to bold header if you want to.

One of the panels included some awesome show runners of edgy television, including crowd favorite writer Alan Yang. He was a writer and producer on Parks & Recreation and is the showrunner on Master of None. If you like to laugh, this guy is your best friend. Anyway, during the question and answer part of the panel, one of the questions came from an immigrant with a remarkably complicated name. This guy had confidence and charm but was humble. He addressed Alan Yang and asked a good question about advice on breaking in. Alan amazed the crowd. Paraphrasing:

Alan Yang: “We’ve met, right?”

Unpronounceable: “Yeah.”

Alan Yang: “You auditioned for Master of None, right?”

Unpronounceable: “Yeah, I did!”

The crowd at this point was murmuring loudly, at this point. We were all excited. Everyone was thinking the same thing: Holy crap. A leading showrunner for a much-praised, edgy Netflix show remembers one of us. Then Alan Yang blows us away. He says that the guy was pretty good, and that he knows that guy’s hustlin’ and respects it. The crowd goes wild. While the crowd is going wild, Alan further amazes us by recalling correctly how to spell this guy’s unpronounceable name. AMAZING! The next thing the crowd thought was: It might take a couple of more years, but that guy is going to make it.

Why You Have to Hustle For Faster Weight Loss

There are two levels of hustle. You’re either a hustlin’ a little, or you’re hustlin’ a lot. If you have a long-term goal of losing 40 pounds, it doesn’t matter if you lose it over four months or four years. The important thing is that you got rid of those pounds. The only way to lose those pounds is to apply a bit of focus, however. That’s where a little hustle comes in. You have to have your goal in mind and chip away at it, persistently. You can’t let excuses cause you to gain weight.

The big hustle is when you have a deadline. It could be a wedding, losing weight to have a baby, wanting to impress friends at the Memorial Day picnic… Whatever. It brings focus to have that deadline. The thing is, if you want to reach your goal by deadline, you must work hard and not allow your past of overweight/obese-person habits drag you down. I am tempted by my old habits all of the time. It’s not easy to change your life. We all know that hard work is required, but are we following through? Are we walking the walk? More specifically and personally, am I?

My answer is no. My accomplishments in improved fitness have been decent so far, but I have only been hustling a little. That guy at the seminar yesterday is not only a comedy writer, he is performing comedy and was able to snag an audition for a cool show AND remain memorable to the big guy in charge. That guy didn’t luck into being memorable. He hustled every day.

Am I hustling every day? No. Nobody’s perfect. All I need to aim for is eating clean about 90% of the time, but I’m not doing that. It’s more like 70% clean eating for me. Maybe 75%. I do not have control over my diet. My tracking of calories and macros has slipped.

I am facing a choice. Do I want to lose between 0-10 pounds in the next 41 days before my husband and I go to Thailand? Or do I want to lose more? I have nearly six weeks until that flight and have the power to hustle my butt into a size 10 when we leave. I choose to hustle.

*I hope that I don’t cause too much offense to Tony Robbins-ites.

The Art of the Hustle (Day 42 of 83)

I’m Looking at the (Wo)Man in the Mirror (Day 38 of 83)

Last Sunday, I found myself waiting in line for 15 minutes in order to torture myself.

J.C. Penney was having a sale, and while my husband and I went there to find a pair of black slacks for him to wear to a funeral this upcoming Saturday, I thought that I should find something for myself. I won’t be at that funeral, but will be somewhere else, and I need to look my best. More on that, later.

So I finally got into the dressing room with my armload of size 14 dresses and quickly stripped off my clothes, knowing that the line of women outside of my stall were all tapping their feet, waiting. And then I saw myself in the mirror.


Roy Lichtenstein - Girl at the Mirror
Roy Lichtenstein’s Girl at the Mirror piece.

I hate trying clothing on. You know, it’s a real thing with me. I feel like it’s been that way forever. You don’t know how long that I have excused myself for just picking up clothing off of the rack and buying it on a hunch that it fits. The truth is that it hasn’t always been that way. I didn’t mind trying on clothing so much when I was a size 6 or a size 8. Even when I was a size 10, I’d take my pile of clothing into the H&M dressing room and see what worked. It’s when I hit size 12 that I started guessing.

I’ve been in denial of a lot of things, and for a long time.  It’s not so horrible to think that you look better than you actually do. Actually, I’d say it’s a good thing. Confidence is my most treasured possession. When I’m feeling less than confident, it not only depresses me in a profoundly deep way, but I start to call all of my actions into question. It wasn’t a lack of confidence that I felt in front of that J.C. Penney mirror. It was just the dawning of realization and it startled me.

When I started my weight loss journey about six weeks ago, I was a between a size 16 and a size 18. I didn’t think that I was, but that’s the truth. I ignored the fact that I couldn’t fit into most of my size 14 pants at all. I ignored the feeling of my stretchy size 14s barely buttoning, cutting lines into my skin. I feared that if I bought clothing in a larger size that I’d somehow make the weight gain more “real” than it already was. Somehow, I thought that if I bought larger pants that I’d be giving up and accepting that weight as being permanent.

Back to the dressing room. I was in that stall because I am going to a screenwriting panel held by the Writer’s Guild Foundation this Saturday and have entered myself into a pitch contest. I submitted a one sentence description of my script via email. If I’m one of the 10 writers chosen, they’ll call my name on Saturday and I’ll get 3 minutes to try and sell the panel of important people on my story. Did I mention that I’ll be doing this in front of 400+ people?

So, in the stall I was thinking about how they (and the room, to a lesser degree) would perceive me pitching my horror script in a cute Easter dress. I narrowed my eyes and focused in on the cellulite dimpling up and down my thighs. What is with the lighting and mirrors in J.C. Penney dressing rooms!? Are they trying to convince us to not purchase their clothing? I noticed that my belly seemed a tad bloated (must’ve been the Roy Choi kogi tacos and the “Breaking Bad” margaritas the night before). I wished to myself that I could drop another 10 pounds instantly and fit into that modern and very Hollywood Banana Republic size 12 dress I had. With each new dress that I tried on, I frowned in solemn discomfort at their cuteness. More so, I frowned that none of the dresses had a ton of room in them, even though they were all size 14s.


Christopher Lee Dracula
Christopher Lee as Dracula. Thanks, Wikipedia.


After all of the sweating and frowning in the dressing room, I gave up on all of the dresses. I reminded myself that I was a whole size to two sizes larger only a month ago, and I went back to the business clothing area and picked up a sassy white Worthington blazer to wear in a size 14. I’m going to do the old black and white Los Angeles business casual look with my skinny black jeggings I bought from the Jewish Women’s Council Thrift Store and an old black flowy tank top I bought from Forever 21. It probably fits again, finally. Where is it, anyway?

I’m Looking at the (Wo)Man in the Mirror (Day 38 of 83)

Where I’m At and Where I Want to Be (Day 37 of 83)

I was going to put together a fancy Excel chart to show my progress lines over the past month, but decided that I actually have better stuff to be doing (like work!) and so I’m just going to summarize. I’ve been measuring weight loss and circumference measurements (bust, waist, hips) since a bit after I started my weight loss push back on February 1st. I’ve seen great results since then, but upon examining the last 28 days more closely, I see that I have mixed reviews for myself.

Where I’m At

I’m not trying to be overly critical of myself. I mean, pounds lost are pounds lost. Inches lost are inches lost. Nonetheless, as a writer with a degree in biology, I can’t help but try to extrapolate a pattern from the data I’ve collected.

date weight (lbs.) bust (in.) waist (in.) hips (in.)
2/16 196.8 39.75 36 44.5
2/24 197 39.75 34.75 44.5
2/27 194 39.25 34.5 43.5
3/1 192.2 39 34.5 42.75
3/11 189.6 38.75 34 42.25
3/15 190.6 38.5 34 41.5

I experienced one week of gastroenteritis during the past month, but the only “okay” weight loss of 6.2 lbs. in the past four weeks is truly due to me being too carefree with my eating and drinking habits on the weekend. I love the weekend! I live for it! Look at 3/11 to 3/15, for example. I was 189.6 on Friday but made zero progress over the weekend. In fact, I gained a pound! Why is that!? I know exactly why. I drank more alcohol than I should have and made poorer food choices than I set out to. I even woke up on Sunday morning pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have a hangover. On Friday, I wouldn’t have guessed that that’s how I would start my day only two days later.

Unfortunately, I still associate having a good time with eating less healthy foods. It’s going to take a little time for me to move past that. 

The good news is that I still made progress. I am grateful that I don’t weigh more than I did a month ago! I’m glad that I’m closer to being a standard size 12 again. I’m glad that my arms look a bit better sleeveless. I’m glad that my size 14s are feeling looser. 

Where I Want To Be

I’m participating in a Diet Bet which will have me weigh in between 3/25-3/26. I still have four pounds to lose between now and then to win it. I accept that I may not meet that goal, but I also know that it’s possible. The only way that it’s possible, however, is if I skip alcohol completely between now and then. I’ll also have to be more stringent in watching my calorie counts and protein grams. We’ll see what I can do.

Where I’m At and Where I Want to Be (Day 37 of 83)

Pre-TTC Weight Loss, Part Two (Day 36 of 83)

It’s kind of remarkable how much time flies once you pass age 30. I remember the summer that I was 28. I felt like that summer would go on forever! Every day seemed longer than the last. At 34, I’m not only aware that there really are limits to what one can do in a day, but I’m aware that I won’t be blessed to wait until I’m 50 (as I wish that I could) to have my first child. 

Almost a week ago, I realized that it would be best for the future baby and for my post-baby self if I make a big push to lose weight before conception. I skimmed through some of the more recent studies about the effect of being overweight on pregnancy, the baby’s mental capabilities, the baby’s chances of becoming overweight as a child… I ended up coming to the conclusion that the correlation between a mother’s high BMI at the point of conception and the risk of pregancy complications was solid enough that I must make every attempt to get down to “normal weight” before we start trying.

SIGH. I’m going to be 35 in May. It seems like everyone from OB-GYNs to lay people use 35 as a line of demarcation between youthful carefree fertility and old lady last ditch baby making. I really wasn’t in a place in my life to have children before now, so there’s really no point in me regretting having waited. I’m glad that I did. 

Because I did wait, though, I can’t spend the next year or two trying and failing to get down to my goal weight. I have limited time to make this happen. 

I’m 5’6″ and at 189 lbs. (I 205.3 on Feb 1st!) I have a BMI of 31.4. My goal is to get down to 160 lbs. (BMI 26.6 – still overweight, but on lower end of the range) by summer solstice on June 20th. I just chose summer solstice because it’s a non-arbitrary date in June and is also mid-year. That gives me 14 weeks and one day from today to meet my goal, which is a loss of a hair over 2 pounds per week. I CAN DO THAT!

Pre-TTC Weight Loss, Part Two (Day 36 of 83)

Pre-TTC Weight Loss, Part One (Day 31 of 83)

I’m watching an old season of The Biggest Loser on Hulu (ugh, why do I watch this show!?) and yesterday caught an episode in which one of the trainers really pushes for a contestant to ‘fess up about why they’re overweight. Watching another overweight person struggle with the truth of why they’re overweight is thrilling reality show voyeurism, for me. Maybe it’s because I get to see someone else struggling and feel less alone? I mean, I know my why.

The thing for me to confess is the why for my big push to lose weight, now.

My husband and I are soon going to be TTC (“trying to conceive”) for the first time. To be honest, this is the most compelling reason for me, beyond any other basis of my previous temporary/failed efforts. Yes, I know that I should be doing this for my health. In theory, that should be the primary motivator. It’s just not. It’s a happy side effect, but it’s not my motivation. I mean, my weight has fluctuated wildly my entire life. When I was a teen and after break ups, I went on weight loss bursts to be sexually attractive to a greater pool of potential suitors (wink). When I was in my late-twenties, I used athletic goals to motivate me, such as running my first half marathon (did not lose weight AT ALL) or becoming a better rugby player (did work).

I don’t know why TTC has been such a great motivator for me. Maybe I feel like I’m heading toward a “point of no return.” Shrug. Many women have proven that you can not only bounce back from pregnancy but with effort, become even fitter than you were pre-baby. I just want to give myself every advantage, knowing my spotty body history.


Pregnancy fitness
Image courtesy of Bella Falconi, the amazing Brazilian fitness model. Find her on YouTube.

I’m going to be 35 years old, this year. So, yeah, the clock is ticking. Loudly.

More on this to come in part two.

Pre-TTC Weight Loss, Part One (Day 31 of 83)

Slippin’ Up Redux (Day 29 of 83)

Fat pizza joint.
Image courtesy of Adam.J.W.C. on Wikimedia Commons.

I guess that it had to happen. Again. I slipped up big time this past weekend in both exercise and eating habits. Gahhhhh!

It started last weekend. I got a very serious stomach bug, went to the doctor, basically didn’t do a ton of exercise all week from feeling awful. I know that it’s probably not my fault that I got so sick. I mean, I may not have washed my hands thoroughly enough, so it might have been.

Note to everyone: Wash your hands thoroughly when handling chicken!

Being set back again and by a whole week is nonetheless disappointing, no matter whose fault that stomach bug was. All that I can do is be thankful that I am finally at the end of my tummy woes and can get back into the swing of things.

Literally! I am excited to start incorporating kettlebell circuits back into my exercise routine. Also, my husband and I are shopping for good prices on barbells and plate weights, which is also exciting. We don’t have a ton of room in our apartment, but we can do bear complexes with a 5′ bar, at the very least. That’s something to be excited about! Obviously, if we can do bear complexes, we can do clean and jerks, military presses… The list goes on! I can do hip thrusters with the bar lightly loaded until we get 45 lb. plates (probably not for a couple of months – them things are expensive!). Yay!

Anyway, yeah I had a bad week — I might not win the Diet Bet that I’m in, depending on whether or not this sodium weight falls off; my stamina is probably a bit less than it was before I got sick. Still, there is a lot to be thankful for.

Slippin’ Up Redux (Day 29 of 83)

Breaditation (Day 23 of 83)

“I love bread.”

Most people do, Oprah Winfrey. Dang, that’s a good commercial. In my opinion, it’s the best Weight Watchers commercial ever. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. You’ll see what I mean. Disclaimer: I’m not a Weight Watchers participant or employee or even stockholder. I’m just saying that Oprah knows how to hook people.

The truth is, I really love bread, too. I mean LOVE. There’s a part of my soul that would be lost if I never ate bread again.

I’ve gone through South Beach Diet’s phase 1 twice, I’ve done Atkins twice, and I took a feeble stab at Paleo but quit because I was a biology major and despised the argument that we’re “supposed to eat like cave men.” I have done calorie restriction where I ate a lot of processed foods and constantly felt like I was starving. I even took diuretics and flushed my meals down the toilet for a while when I was in high school. Major sadface to that period of my life.


whole wheat bread loves
Image courtesy of Bart Everson on
The problem with everything I’ve done in the past to lose weight is that eventually my love of bread won out. Bread is the gateway drug, you know. For me, lots of bread lead the way to lots of sugar which lead to more fat and more alcohol. I encouraged a lifestyle for both myself and my husband in which our calories spun out of control, we spent half of our weekend hungover, and waaaaaaaay too much money was leaving our bank account to feed a delivery habit.

A month ago, my husband and I started on our track to rein ourselves and our copious amounts of pudge in. BUT.

This is a big “but” (no pun intended).


Instead, as Oprah says in her commercial, we started managing it. We’re basically like those people who smoke weed in a managed way but don’t let it overrun their lives. Not that we smoke. Oh, you know what I’m saying.

The only bread that we eat these days, with the exception of the rare and mindful act of eating out (twice, last month), is bread that I’ve made at home. That’s not my bread up there, by mine is just as attractive and is incredibly delicious. No false modesty here! When we need tortillas, I make tortillas. You get the idea. The act of baking our own bread has made us much more aware of how much of it that we are eating, what exactly it is that we’re putting into our mouths, and the time involved in producing another loaf. It doesn’t take that long to make a good loaf, but it’s long enough that I wouldn’t want to do it every other day. You feel me?

One month in, and I know that this is not just a phase. I can maintain mindful carbohydrate intake like this for the rest of my life. This is sustainable.

Breaditation (Day 23 of 83)