Monday, December 19, 2011

Zero Excuses Challenge Week 6: The Finale!

I started the Zero Excuses Challenge with no particular goal in mind because really, I didn't expect anything at all to come from it. As I'd already been trying fairly diligently to lose weight for almost 2 years, I didn't  want to set myself up for disappointment once again.

So I just sort of stumbled in and gave it the college try if you will.   Now, I find myself here at the end of week 6.  Time sure does fly when you're hungry and sore all the time - ha!  Just kidding.  Well, mostly kidding.

I had another week where I just sort of automatically did the program - but I didn't feel like I was losing weight.  Maybe because I had 2 dinners out - 1 unexpected and 1 planned.  For the unexpected one I order a big salad that fit right in with my eating plan.  For the planned dinner, which was my annual office outing, we went to one of my very favorite Italian restaurants.  I gave myself permission to have whatever I wanted, and I did:  a square of foccacia bread dipped in olive oil, a salad and this: Fettuccini si Ettore: Fettuccini with fried eggs, roasted red peppers and crispy pancetta.  A napoletana favorite.   It wasn't actually fried eggs in it either.  The eggs are whisked and then blended with the pasta to create a sort of glaze - almost like a carbonera without the cream.  This was my first taste of pasta in over 2 months and it was delicious.  I had no regrets at all.

That was on Wednesday and Thursday morning I got right back on plan and carried on.  Still, I wasn't sure what to expect when I stepped on the scale.  So, I focused the camera, stepped on and closed my eyes, only to open them and see...

Another 2.2 pounds lost this week and a total of 12.4 for the entire challenge.  I was so happy and emotional I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!

I want to give some credit to my doctor because she adjusted my thyroid medication and if it is acting properly, I should lose weight.  I will also give credit to the Paleo food plan.  For me, with the insulin resistance they discovered, eating much lower carb than I had been was something my body liked and has responded to.  Even with one meal a week for three out of the six weeks, that wasn't Paleo,  I continued to lose - and I found it extremely easy to go right back on plan.

But I give the most credit to ME.  Because I jumped in with both feet and stuck out both the food and the exercise plan.  I love cardio, I do not love strength training… yet this plan with a couple of ST exercises a day worked for me.

Tami asked me if the eating plan got easier and if I found there was enough variety.  Yes, the eating plan got easier and the variety is whatever you make of it.  As with any eating plan, whatever you decided to put into it is what you’ll get.  Because I am not one to buy prepared foods a lot, I spent a lot of time prepping and cooking food so that I could grab and go during the week and stay successful.  Just last week I tried Lori's gluten free, grain free, sugar free Paleo-style Banana Bread Breakfast Pudding and holy yum!  That sucker is delicious.  The only change I made was to add an extra egg white to up the protein a bit more.  Every eating plan I've ever tried, I've kept something.  That recipe will definitely be the something from this challenge... although I have to admit I am thinking about adding a tablespoon or two of mini chocolate chips to it and making it a dessert pudding :)

Debby asked me how I will proceed from here. I am going to say that my plan right now is to reintroduce some carbs from grains – but I will be eating low-glycemic.  To be honest, I have never stopped missing my oatmeal, or brown rice, or even spaghetti. I also miss various kinds of beans and low fat cheese.  Not that I crave those things, but I do miss them. Adding them back in will be realistic for me to create a long-term plan from this.   I also think some of the hardcore Paleo stuff is nutty (sorry, Rich).  Personally I’m not a fan of using lots of artificial sweeteners or other crazy ingredients.  So some subtle changes with the intention of staying lower carb.

I also have been mulling over doing something similar to what Lori does:  Paleo weeks, i.e., grain free, alternating with the low glycemic weeks.  A girl has to have the occasional cupcake after all!

I will also continue with the exercise plan. Rich's recommendation after this six weeks, is to take a week of rest from the six-days a week strength exercises.  Then you start the plan again at week 3 using heavier weights.  I have decided to extend my plan through the end of this week because next week I will also be on break from Muay Thai so I figure I can give my body a really good rest between Christmas and New Year's and then go at it again.

The main destination for me from here is that I want to keep the weight loss train rolling right into Goal Station.

Happiness List (in no particular order):
  • Lost 12.4 pounds in 6 weeks
  • Started the program using 5 & 8 pound weights, ended using 10, 12 and 15 pounders.
  • Started the program doing walk/jog or jog/run intervals, ended doing jog/run and run/sprint intervals AND saw my steady state run times go down.
  • Stuck to the food program for a full three weeks before I took an indulgence meal on Thanksgiving.  Went right back to the program for another 2 full weeks before I had another indulgence.
  • Went down 1 full size in clothing!
  • More importantly, fit into smaller JEANS.
  • My waist is making an appearance again! 
  • Started to see some definition in my arms that wasn’t there before.
  • Last Friday, someone walked up to me at work and said, "Are you losing weight?"  WOOT!
  • Got to work with Rich Kreps, who really does have a great program.
  • Shelley.  What I haven't said before is that the Zero Excuses people originally contacted Shelley and she told them no thanks and to get in touch with me.   Maybe she knew this was just the push I needed?  In any case, I can’t say enough about having someone or finding someone who is in maintenance mode - who has been there, done that -  and can help get you through the freak out moments.  Everyone needs to have their own Shelley – but you can’t have the original, she’s mine!
  • The Zero Scale:  seriously I do love this product, especially the total weight feature.  Even though I haven’t used it yet, I also love that it does have the ability to give me my actual weight… which one day I will see when I think I’ve hit goal!
I’m also hoping to report sometime in early February that all of this has kept me off Metformin. I’ll definitely keep you posted on that.

Ultimately, I can sum up this challenge and life change by echoing our dear Pam:  "IT'S ALL GOOD." This challenge is not the end for me, it's just the beginning!

If you’d like a Zero Scale of your own, this is the last week you can use the discount, which expires at the stroke of midnight on December 22, 2011.  When you get to the website to order, just put the word ZERO in the promo code box to get that 15% off.

Who knows?  Maybe having a Zero Scale would be just the push you need to reach your own goal in 2012!

The Zero Scale was given to me for participating in the Zero Excuses Challenge.
All opinions of this product are my own.


  1. Wow, Helen!!! So happy for you! It is so exciting when you finally find something that works for you and see the results! High five, lady!! :)

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!

  2. You are a machine Helen! I love your stubborn attitude and that you kept with it - almost 13 pounds in six weeks? That's amazing! And people think the older you get the harder it gets to lose weight - turns out determination and planning are the key, no matter what the age.


  3. I am so happy for you Helen...and what a great recap!

  4. I just don't really know what to say except that I'm beyond happy for you. You did such a fantastic job at this challenge and yes: it was all you. YOU DID IT! I can't tell you enough how inspiring you are to me.

    And since I can't have Shelley because she's yours, I keep reading yours and hers blog and stay inspired and motivated by the both of you and have the best of both worlds :)

    Happy Christmas Helen, I'd say: buy a beautiful new dress with (of course) matching pumps and shine and sparkle at Christmas. Hmmm you don't need the dress and shoes for that: you will sparkle too without them.

  5. Helen, I am thrilled for your wonderful success with this challenge! You are amazing and a very special lady! What a wonderful way to start the New Year--many pounds lighter and a whole new way of eating that seems to work. Like you, I would definitely add oatmeal, rice, etc. (whole grains). I have already done that for myself, but sticking to a low carb food plan for a few weeks seemed to prepare my body for fewer carbs and ongoing weight loss. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  6. My friend, I am beyond thrilled for you with your results - all of the hard work that you did was rewarded, big time! You've inspired me to take a better look at the carbs in my life as well. And thank you for your sweet words. I'm glad to have you in my life and can't imagine getting through my last year without you!

  7. Yes Helen, you know you inspired me to look at changing up my eating habits a bit. I'm so happy for you, and especially impressed that you were able to stick to a diet at this time of year.

    Haha on the paleos and their artificial sweeteners. I noticed that in Mr. Wheatbelly's book too. Of course, I don't mind them that much. But I try not to go overboard with them.

    Isn't it great to have a BIF?

  8. Some of the fringe of any program is "nutty."
    But there's nothing wrong with eating quality food
    and less carbs and better fats.
    I'm so glad for you!

  9. That is awesome, great job!! very happy for you!

  10. Again, you are my total hero!!!
    Isn't it funny how eating real food really makes such a difference? Even if you think you ate pretty good before, there are times when seemingly healthy things maybe are not what your particular body needs.
    I am so glad you liked that recipe. It saves me at times when I want that baked type of thing. It is good drizzled with a little chocolate sauce and peanut butter. Not that I just told you that or anything...

    I need to find an internet BIF :D

  11. Just fantastic Helen - you are an inspiration. I'm really happy for you, and admire your tenacity. Thanks for the C card!!

  12. FANTASTIC Helen!!!!!!! You killed that challenge, and I'm very excited for you and proud of you!!!!!

  13. Awesome awesome awesome awesome!!! I am so happy FOR you, it's like I lost 12 pounds too! LOL.

    Great job, and I'm so glad you're going to continue incorporating many parts of it into your routine. If it works, why not?

  14. DANG
    youre motivated right till the end (of the year).