Monday, November 28, 2011

Zero Excuses Challenge - The Holiday Mix

This is the end of the third week of the Zero Excuses Challenge.  Starting in the second week, Rich kept warning us that the third week would be the hardest.  The warnings continued with him mentioning it several times in emails and in our exercise videos.  Sorry, Rich, but I disagree.  Last week (the second week) was almost unbearable mostly due to what I felt like were out of control grain carb cravings.  No amount of fruit or vegetables ever satisfied that and I truly felt miserable. Then of course, to top it off, I lost only .2 pounds.  Frustrating and discouraging.

But I have a stubborn streak that won't quit and I'm also the type who, once they commit, sticks. Pretty much there was no option except for me to hang in there - at least for the prescribed six weeks of the challenge.  Much to my pleasant surprise it ended up being a week where I felt like I was cruising - finally getting into the rhythm of the exercise plan and the eating.  The urge for grains backed off a bit and I knew I'd make it until Thanksgiving, my planned "off of plan" day.

The Thanksgiving Holiday was everything I hoped it would be... a wonderful time with family!  Of course the best thing of all was seeing Little Helen.  It had been far too long and it was like chicken soup for the soul having her home. Errrr chicken soup with no rice or noodles that is!

I also did as promised - to Rich and to those of you who read - partaking of some indulgences that I carefully planned out.

Thanksgiving morning I got up and did my three exercises and then went out to do my cardio.  I decided that I would do intervals for at least 45 minutes or longer since I normally would have taken a Muay Thai class that night.  Plus, I figured the extra burn would only help with the calories later to come.

It was unusually warm and sunny here so I hit the pavement and enjoyed getting my exericse outdoors, with hills, which made it even more challenging.

While I was gone, I baked a breakfast casserole that had soaked overnight. You've probably got a similar recipe of buttered bread cut into cubes, crumbled turkey breakfast sausage, shredded low fat cheddar and eggs and milk whipped together then poured over the top of it all and left overnight. When I got back, we all had a portion of it for breakfast.  I ate probably around 3/4 of a cup of it.  As I ate I thought about how the turkey sausage and eggs made that thing semi-Paleo - HA!  Can't we justify when we want to?

Our main meal was not eaten until 4 p.m. and consisted of the usual suspects.  Prior to the meal I chose to have 1 glass of wine instead of eating appetizers.  I had another glass of wine with my meal.  The items I chose were about 4 oz. of turkey, 1 cup cornbread stuffing, 1 homemade roll, 1 1/2 cups roasted brussels sprouts.  It filled me up both physically and emotionally.  Everything tasted so good that I was satisfied and really did not want more.

We waited for a while to have dessert and that was my real dilemma.  The dilemma being that I was choosing to have just one thing.  Out of everything I made, just one.  Very hard to choose since I made the desserts and knew they would all be good!  Mama Helen requested my homemade Chocolate Cream Pie.  The chocolate cream is made from scratch and of course I use real whipped cream for the topping.  Mr. Helen asked for Pecan Pie and Brother Helen asked for Pumpkin Pie.  No one else requested anything but I wanted to make the Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake that I had made last year, which had been a smashing success.  So I did.  Here's a picture of this year's version:

When Little Helen walked through the door and saw the cake she exclaimed, "Oh Mom!  I can't believe you made that cake.  It's my new favorite Thanksgiving dessert!"  This is coming from a kid that doesn't eat sweets.  Then, as soon as I arrived at my sister's house and she saw the cake she said, "I just told Eric (her boyfriend) that I wasn't going to eat dessert today because I'm always too full and never enjoy it,  and really the only dessert I'd want is the cake you made last year.  Now that I see you made that cake, I'm having dessert today and I'm keeping a piece for tomorrow!"

I chose the cake too as did my sister-in-law and of course, Little Helen.  It was amazing.  Seriously, this recipe is a showstopper.

On Friday, I got right back on track and even tried to drink a lot more water.  Surprising to me was that I had not triggered any cravings by partaking of my indulgences on Thanksgiving.  I found it easy to get right back in the swing of things.  A nice surprise, indeed.

Still, when I stepped on the scale Saturday morning, I have to admit a feeling of nervousness.  Because you know I lost only .2 last week and there had been no indulgences.  But I knew if it was terrible, Shelley would cheer me up somehow lol!

So I stepped on the scale and saw

Holiday indulgences and all - I LOST 2 POUNDS!  This is unheard of for me... I would have been thrilled with 1!  What made it even better?

Seriously, this is still my favorite thing about this scale!  I love seeing that total progress.  5.8 lbs. in 3 weeks - not too shabby!  And I have to tell you straight up that I feel so much more motivated just seeing these numbers rather than the 3 numbers of my weight.  I'm not sure why, but being the person who lost 2 lbs. this week makes me feel like a rock star whereas being the person who weighs ___ and it's a weight I don't want to be makes me feel not so good.

At this point I say, the Zero Excuses Challenge is working for me.  When I see results like this, I have to admit, it has been worth the effort of putting in the work, doing the exercise and following the eating plan!

If you would like to own your own Zero Scale, go here:, click "buy now" and in the promo code box, type in the word "Zero" to get a 15% discount.  This offer is only good until December 23rd so why are you waiting?


  1. Helen you are such a motivation to me, you don't even know how much. What I loved most about this post is you mentioning that when you commit yourself to something you stick to it. Something I still need to learn and do.

    And I personally don't see your Thanksgiving as indulging. I think you made smart choices: no appetizers because you had 2 glasses of wine, just 1 dessert instead of all 4.

    I think you did great and so says the scale. Congrats on the loss, I'm happy for you and you deserve it.

  2. You sent me a beautiful copy of that recipe last year (thank you so much!) and I have it out to make for Christmas when my whole kit and kaboodle is home!

    Congrats on the weight loss. I don't know many people who work as hard as you do for optimal health, fitness, and getting the damn pounds off!

  3. Awesome!! It just goes to show that our bodies respond over time to consistency. So if you don't lose next week or if you have a small loss like last week, you know you're still on track.

    I have to admit I am intrigued by that scale...

  4. Helen, I am THRILLED for you. About 2 pounds a week, 3 weeks in a row? For someone at 'our stage' of the game, that is just outstanding!! And I'm glad you indulged--very controlled indulging, I would say--and I'm glad it was easy to get right back on.

  5. Way to go!!! Wishing you continued success on your plan!

  6. I agree with Debby - I think its easy to blame it on "I am in my 40's or 50's" and think its impossible to lose weight. You are a shining example of how dedication and commitment will get you to your goals!

    p.s. bring on the size medium!

    So happy for you Helen!

  7. Helen - that is awesome! I love you still show success not being 100% on the prescribed plan, but with your choices. It's all about planning and not perfection that works. Bravo!

  8. Helen,

    Congratulations on your weight loss after Thanksgiving week! I think you're doing great, and it shows that changing things can sometimes get us back on track. I also like the idea of choosing some special foods on Thanksgiving and still losing weight if we get right back on plan! I'm going to check into gettig the scale. And gthe cake looks fabulous--maybe for Christmas!

  9. I'm so happy that you had a good weigh-in...and had your Thanksgiving meal and didn't feel deprived nor overstuffed - that is quite the feat!

    If I visit you will you make me that cake?

  10. Helen that is so awesome! This paleo thing is really working for you and your are working it girl!

    That cake looks amazing!

  11. whooot!!!!! Great job Helen! This is awesome. I love that scale. I may ask for one for Christmas. I like the whole idea. Way to rock the weight loss. I am startinga abosulte first for me, but I like the little guy who is running it and I think it will work. Have a great night.

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  13. Heh, doing my regular catchup! I am so glad you have a good victory at the scale; it's so rewarding when hard work and planning pays off!

    Also, I have never heard of anything like that breakfast casserole in my life, but it sounds amazing! What do you do with it after you've let it soak -- do you bake it like a quiche? Full recipe, pretty please!