Sweatin’ it, Simmons Style

When I found out that Richard Simmons teaches classes at his studio, Slimmons in Beverly Hills, that are open to the public for $12, I knew I had to go. Not only would it be a great blog post and an excellent workout, but it would fulfill a dream of my grandmother’s, as she always loved his buoyant personality, dolfin shorts and puffy fro of reddish-brown curls. I was lucky enough to be accompanied on this journey by my friends Merrie and Hilda, two lovely ladies whom I work with and work out with! In addition, some wonderful blogger ladies and gents like All The Weigh, The Curvy Nerd, Finishing the Hat and Keep It Up David were there, too! (They’re regulars!)

Me, Richard and Hilda. Yes, he's eating her hair!

As soon as Richard came in, that Southern sense of hospitality kicked in. He flitted around the room like a butterfly, greeting everybody with hugs and kisses. I was wearing pigtails and he walked right up to me, gave my pigtails a gentle yank, and embraced me in a big hug. It was surreal. (Hilda is blessed with a lovely svelte figure – Richard told her he’d eaten ribs bigger than her! LOL)

As the music kicked in, Richard screamed that it was Beatles night! His tank top bedazzled with colorful busts of Ringo and Paul should have clued me in, but I was psyched as techno versions of “Hello” blared through the speakers. The first few songs were SO FUN, as Richard bounced around the room shouting praise and encouragement as we marched and kicked and squatted. I had a big goofy smile on my face at the silliness of it all – me, in Los Angeles, a girl from the suburbs of Chicago, working out with a major fitness star, Richard Simmons! I also was mildly star-struck when I learned I was working out next to Ellen Degeneres’ Mom, another regular.

We proceeded to bounce and jump and jiggle through an hour of cardio. Near the end, Richard created a huge circle and started picking sets of two to go in the middle of the circle and do the moves with him. Merrie and I were “summoned by Simmons” and laughed as we did arm thrusts, knee kicks and other moves in front of 50 people, alongside Richard Simmons. (Rumor has it he posts videos online – as soon as I see it I’ll share!)

After cardio, we did thirty minutes of weights and then sit ups and push-ups. I was quite proud of how well I kept up through out the class. Other than the usual disorientation about following aerobic patterns, I used five pound weights for all the reps and didn’t need to take any breaks. I remember distinctly thinking, “Yes! Finally! All this exercise is catching up with me!” It as an awesome workout – I was drenched!

Check out his Beatles shirt!

The cool thing about Richard Simmons is that he’s not just a “personality”. You can tell in his classes that he’s the real deal, and he honest to God cares about what he’s doing and teaching. When I worked out alongside him in the circle, he looked me square in the eye as we trotted across the studio, and he had this passionate intensity coming directly from his pupils – the kind of self-confidence and drive that looks at you dead-center and says “This is all me, and it’s AWESOME.” He’s also freakin’ hilarious and had many dirty quips and jokes. I think what I really liked about his class was that it took the SERIOUSNESS out of exercise. Exercise is serious business, and I get it, just like being obese – but I’ve always been the type of person to try and find something to laugh about, to have fun with, which is where this blog’s name came from. It’s all about taking something difficult or hard and learning to find the light side, and Richard does that so well.

He graciously stuck around after class to take pictures, and when it was my turn to pose with him, he again yanked my pigtails and said “Well, aren’t you just the cutest thing?” I have to admit – that was cool to hear from a celebrity, albeit someone as effervescent and sparkly as Richard Simmons.

I can’t wait to go back, and Merrie and I are thinking we’ll try and make it a monthly goal to trek to Slimmons and sweat it out with Simmons. Now – Next time, who’s coming with me?

Tangy Tomatillo Salsa

I’m a fan of zero point recipes, and I’m also a fan of trying new things. On Saturday as I was cruising the farmer’s market, I noticed these beautiful purple tomatillos. I asked the vendor why they were purple and she told me purple tomatillos are very sweet. For $2, I was sold, and threw them into my bag to be made into a tangy salsa. (FUN FACT: Tomatillos are part of the GOOSEBERRY family and come from the family of nightshade plants, like tomatoes. (Have you heard of deadly nightshade? it’s what Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas slips into her vial. I love that movie.)

Purpliscious

Here’s what you need:

1 Pound-ish of Tomatillos, purple or green
1/4 large onion, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves if you want to keep the vampires away (1 will do fine if not)
1 large handful of cilantro (the more the merrier if you’re feeling lean and green)
1 lime (lemon will do in a pinch)
Sea salt (a staple in every kitchen!)
Pepper (also a staple in every kitchen!)

No feet funk here!

1) Peel the paper husks off the tomatillos and rinse. Notice a strange aroma? Peeled tomatillos kind of smell like feet, in my humble opinion. A nice shower under the faucet fixes ‘em up just fine. The paper skin is also kind of sticky. Like an artichoke, these aren’t the most glamorous vegetables, but they pack a tasty punch.

 

 

Mmm, tomatillo salsa thus far the color of vomit

2) Throw just the tomatillos into the food processor and press the button. Watch as you make salsa! Blend them up nice and smooth, and then stop the food processor and add your chunks of onion and garlic cloves. Squeeze in the lime juice. Press “GO” or “Blend” again and watch the chunks turn into puree. MAGIC!

 

 

3) Now, add your bunch of cilantro. I
love cilantro. This will help get rid of some of that gross barfy color, but if you’re using green tomatillos, yours won’t be so vomitous looking. Add in a few generous shakes of sea salt (like really generous, maybe more like 2 or 3 pinches), and lots of fresh cracked pepper.

And Voila! You’ve made tomatillo salsa! Easy, right? Despite my many comparisons to stinky feet and barf, tomatillo salsa is a wonderful accompaniment to tortilla chips, eggs, burritos, or even as a dip for veggies. It’s got a slightly sweeter and more tangy taste than tomatoes, and I think the little seeds are adorable… like polka dot salsa.

Yummy!

Are you a fan of tomatillos? Have you ever tried them? If not, will you? Or is their stinky feet skin stench too unappealing?

 

 

 

Weekly Weigh In #6

This Saturday morning started out like any other – I peeled myself out of bed at 9:00, threw on some exercise clothes, and groggily drove to the gym for my weigh in and 9:30 boxing class. I was eager about this weigh-in, because I knew it would be a loss. I had worked out HARD several times this week, eaten well, and drank tons of water. My jeans were loose. Somebody at work said I looked thinner. I bought new jeans in a smaller size. My tummy area looked flatter and less paunchy. Oh yes, I had DEFINITELY lost weight. Until… I got on the scale and saw the number had moved down a tiny .2 of a pound. My initial reaction was, “What the Fu*k?!” And then I was pissed, and the poor punching bag got pummeled even harder in my class, and my poor friend Merrie had to listen to me rant about why my body seems incapable of losing weight.

How could I work out for an hour and half with Richard and NOT lose weight?!

Never one to give up, I decided I was going to weigh myself again immediately after class – in exactly the same outfit, but now I was drenched with sweat and a little less aggro. Surprisingly, this time, the scale showed a loss of 1.2 pounds. I got on three times to confirm it wasn’t just wishful thinking. Now – Am I cheating because my first weigh in was only down .2? Is this weigh in still legit? For shits and giggles, I weighed myself sans clothes, and I had lost like 2.5 pounds. Believe me, I wanted to put down that number, but I have to stay consistent and weigh in in the same outfit every week. Can the body really swell and deflate that much within an hour? Did my boxing class sweat out a pound of salt and bloat that I’d been holding earlier? And no, cuz I know you’re wondering, I didn’t remove a rib or go #2 or anything like that, thank you very much.

I’ll be weighing in a day earlier this week, and I’m hoping I can finally hit my five pound mini goal. Even though I’m claiming a loss this week, I need to get more serious about tracking. The exercise is there, but my food habits are still at about 70% when they need to be at 90%. *sigh* If you took a long look at how hard you’re trying with a new goal, what would be your percentage of success?

Check back on Wednesday for my experience with Richard Simmons  - it was an awesome adventure!

Chunky

One good thing about this blog, and one of the reasons that I started it, is I realized that I wanted to blog on a topic in which I would have a never-ending stream of things to write about. Not all of them are funny, like I had hoped, given my blog’s name and tagline, but all of them are honest and hopefully evoke a little emotion inside of your heart. Tonight’s post is kind of a bummer, and I apologize for that – but if I’m going to be completely honest in my little space on the internet about my weight loss quest, I need to be willing to bare some of these difficult details.

OMG! A bathing suit shot of me surfaces on the internet! Scandalous @ 11 years old.

I must have been 11, or maybe 12 years old. I was wearing the biggest size in the junior’s jeans – i think at the time, a 14 or a 15 depending on the brand. They didn’t make Junior Plus back then – it was just juniors, and if you were too fat for that, Misses. It was a precarious thing to try on jeans because I was burdened early on with blooming hips and often left dressing rooms in tears, cursing my full, changing body.

I recall after a particular shopping trip coming home from the store and craving a popsicle. My Nana was visiting from Tennessee and I remember her leaning back in the recliner as I came in the door. She was just the type of grandma you imagine in movies – heavy, but in the squishy old lady way, with tight gray curls and a never-ending supply of lifesavers and tic-tacs (for her diabetes). My Nana was a shocker because she looked like any sweet grandma on the outside, but when she opened her mouth, unexpected swear words would fly out of her pink-lipsticked mouth.

My beloved Nana and Uncle Larry in Georgia

“What are you doing, Lyss?” she called from her recliner, curious about the immediate opening of the refrigerator so soon after I arrived home. “I’m just getting a popsicle,” I replied, tearing the cold stick out of the waxy paper, happy that I had found an orange one amidst all the leftover red ones. My favorite flavor was green – for lime, but those always went fast in a house of three kids.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” she said.

I looked down at the popsicle, not sure why anyone WOULDN’T want to eat a popsicle – cold, refreshing, easy to carry, quick to eat. “Why?” I asked back, at this time licking the melting juice from the bottom of the stick.

“Well,” she said, her voice distinctively trailing off.  ”You’re getting kind of chunky.”

I froze. “Chunky” is a word reserved for a type of soup. Not pretty, 11-year-old girls with wavy blonde hair who win school-wide spelling bees and play flute in the concert band.

I felt the instant welling of hurt inside of me, churning upwards like vomit in my throat. I can’t remember what I did after this, but I’m pretty sure I went upstairs and cried – cried to my little 11 year old self for being a big fat failure and for not being able to resist a popsicle. Despite my Nana’s warning, I remained chunky.

It’s hard writing about this, because I know I WAS chunky. What was hard about it was the way it was presented. I know my Nana didn’t mean to hurt me, and this post isn’t about a “Mean Grandma”. She also battled her weight and had lots to lose. I try to put myself in her position, to think about what I’d say to my future daughter or granddaughter if their life was so quickly mirroring mine, one headed towards the grim and painful path of obesity. It’s things like this that make me so afraid for when I have children, because their worldview can be so easily melded depending on the lessons you teach them.

If I was my Nana, would I have said it a little differently? Would I have waited until there WASN’T food in my hand, albeit a 50-calorie popsicle? Would I have saved my concern for my parents, or rather had a frank discussion about exercising and healthy food? Might I have said, “Have an apple instead”? Would I keep the popsicles under a locked box with a key, and have only frozen grapes instead? I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. She wasn’t saying it to hurt my feelings, she was saying it to try and prevent me from starting down the very path she herself struggled on so often.

If you have kids, or when you have kids, how would you handle it if they were getting a little chunky? Would you be so matter of fact and hope that bluntness would drive home the point, or would you approach it in a completely different manner? My father has always been very pragmatic and closed-mouth about his daughters’ weight, whereas my mother is quite a bit more blunt. Is a child’s perception of what a word means just that – THEIR individual perception, or is it the way the message is presented that carries the meaning?

Makin’ New Friends Along The Weigh

Weight loss is hard. It’s annoying, irritating, bothersome and takes up a tremendous amount of time. It’s also rewarding, sometimes. And it’s also necessary for me, so you can slap me with a trout now and I’ll shut up and move on. (If anyone gets that reference… plus 5 for you!)

Thankfully, I’ve recently learned that I don’t have to go through it alone. I’ve made some wonderful connections and friendships with people in real life and also in “online life” thanks to our shared struggles and accomplishments. On Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting two highly-esteemed and successful weight loss bloggers, Kenlie of All The Weigh and Alexa, The Curvy Nerd .

Alexa, Alyssa and Kenlie - a terrific trio!

We gathered for dinner at the local Souplantation, me arriving frazzled and flustered 15 minutes late after somehow ending up in Inglewood instead of Beverly Hills. Los Angelenos know that those are absolutely DIFFERENT parts of town… and let’s just say only I could map something out and still end up getting lost. Both of them were so friendly and welcoming right off the bat, which helped put the voice in my head that was saying ”Omg! I’m late meeting new people! Especially famous weight loss blogger people! They’re going to think I’m a total flake!” at ease.

Our conversation ran the gamut – from our history with weight loss, to the blogosphere, to Hungry Girl, to the new Points Plus system, to where we’re from, to Harry Potter, to cats, to Richard Simmons, to babies. It was surreal for me to go from the online world to the in-person world, but it was so cool to meet the faces behind the voices I’ve grown to know and love. There were a lot of laughs!

Dragon Fruit, which I have aptly renamed the "Cut Up Dalmation Fruit"

After dinner, we got Yogurtland fro yo, where I tried something new… Dragon Fruit! I believe I described it as looking like “a piece of a cut up dalmation”, and the jury’s still out on wether I liked it. It was… squishy, and kind of tasted like unripe watermelon, but not half as good as a kiwi. I’ll try it again and we’ll see what happens. After Yogurtland (And this is how I know I definitely hit it off with these girls) – we wandered into Ross. Those of you who know me know that I love my discount stores – so being able to browse the random aisles of tsotchkes and useless crap with two new friends was a lot of fun!

I get to see these awesome gals again on Thursday night, where I’ll be sweatin’ to the oldies with Richard Simmons, live in the flesh! Definitely watch for the post on that, to see how I get my groove on with The Weight Saint.

Have you met online friends in person? How was it? Who would you love to meet in person? I can think of a few more people right now! :)

Weekly Weigh In #5

Yesterday I weighed in for the fifth time since beginning Weight Watchers Online. Here’s a few very important things to note about this previous week: I hadn’t tracked a thing since the following week. There’s no excuse for WHY I didn’t do it, but work was crazy busy, I was not in that tracking mindset and I just didn’t do it. However, on the plus side, I worked out like a beast this week – taking three hardcore cardio classes (boxing, impact kickboxing and bootcamp) in addition to getting lots of other activity doing household things like weeding, washing the car, etc.


That’s why this week I’m surprised – and not surprised at the same time – that I lost .6 of a pound. It’s not a massive loss, but it’s a loss. It’s a shift in the right direction, and this week provided some key learnings for me. All week I was MINDFUL of what I was eating. Did I indulge? You bet. In homemade banana muffins, a chicken gyro at King’s, and beef Teriyaki when out with my friends for lunch. I indulged, but I was sensible about it, and instead of stuffing my face, I stopped when I was full, and balanced everything with cardio and activity. I also SERIOUSLY upped my water intake this week, after having a chat with my nutritionist friend.

Glamazon Woman on her Bitty Beach Cruiser

I’m at 3.2 pounds lost in five weeks. That’s not a ton, but it’s something. It’s better than staying the same. I had a very inspiring experience this weekend by meeting two new friends who can help me on this long, tiring road to a healthy weight. (Watch for that post on Tuesday!) This is a big goal for next week, but I’d love to lose at least 1.5 pounds at my next weigh in. I’m going to do it by drinking tons of water, continuing the aggressive cardio, and watching what I eat. And YES, I will be tracking. In fact, I’m going to track now (piece of toast, 1 piece of bacon, 2 egg whites. Breakfast!).

Have a wonderful Monday – and remember – it’s the start of a new week, and it’s never too late to make positive changes. :)