Zumba & me, not meant to be

Along with my weight-loss and balance journey, I have also been re-discovering my love of fitness classes. Like most people interested in a variety of fitness avenues, I like to try different things and will often sign up for a session of something new and interesting when it fits my schedule. Zumba has finally made its way to Whitehorse and is making a big splash up here. I was excited to see that a lunch-time session was going to be offered here at the College over the winter because it sounded like a lot of fun – it certainly has a lot of upbeat word-of-mouth advertising! I signed up and paid for the first 6-week session, marked the day in my calendar and waited with eager anticipation. On the first day, I brought my gym kit to work with me, and trooped off to the gym with 3 co-workers to try it out. I was stoked & ready to go!  Yah! The class started! It was great! And then…it started to go flat. I started to feel unhappy. Now, I love  aerobics classes. I love dance. I love trying new things. I should have loved Zumba.

One thing that bothered me was the absence of pointers or breakdowns. The leader did the movements at the front of the class and was very high energy & exuberant – yipping in joy and smiling big. She was certainly fun to watch! But she led the class with no instructions or corrections. Now, from what I have heard, this is standard practice in all Zumba classes.  I was told that if I couldn’t follow along, to just “do your own thing.”  Okay. Here’s my problem: while the “follow the bouncing butt” method has its place in dance classes where students who have already learned proper technique follow the teacher in a led improvisation,  I question the method in a fitness class where delicate lower backs and knees can easily be compromised by unfamiliar movements and where the teacher does not know what, if any, prior experience or body knowledge her students are bringing with them.  So, the Zumba participants followed & interpreted, each in her own way, what she thought the leader was doing, resulting in a dozen or so compromised lower backs. In fact, just the other day, a co-worker mentioned that she loved the energy of the Zumba class but had stopped going because it was bothering her back. I showed her how to use the lower abs to lift & drop the pelvis instead of throwing the hips backward with jerk from the lumbar spine. She tried out the movement with me in the staff room and I corrected her form. She thought she might give Zumba another try as that was the reason she had quit. I was happy because she did enjoy it so much.  In my opinion, this is something the Zumba leader should have been doing. Just take a couple of minutes at the start of the class to go over the proper way to do a pelvic drop so you don’t hurt yourself.  It doesn’t appear that the Zumba method includes this.

Another thing to be aware of is that if you have bad knees, you should wear dance shoes (such as athletic dance shoes) instead of regular (sticky grip) athletic shoes to avoid torque in your knees during the sliding & twisting movements.  Now, I have squirrelly knees and I protect them like mad from twisting movements. So, because I was not wearing a shoe that would allow me to slide, my knees quickly began to hurt. I switched to a small jump through all of the twists and turns side to side, but it didn’t really improve things much. It took the rest of the week for my knees to recover after each class. I went to three of the six classes and it never improved, so I decided not to return. 

Zumba was also a bit too frantic for me. I left each class feeling … jangly (if that’s a word!) But that’s okay. I’m really glad I tried it out. It just wasn’t a good fit for me – wasn’t my cup of tea.

If you try a Zumba class and don’t love it, though, be warned! Zumba aficionados are very passionate about their classes. Be prepared to get flamed if you say it out loud, because in my experience it is not acceptable to not enjoy Zumba. 

Anyway, Zumba classes are still being offered over the lunch hour here at the college and I think it is a fabulous thing to have exercise classes right on campus. I’m happy because the people who attend really enjoy it and that’s a good thing.

I have also done Bellyfit, which is similar to Zumba in some ways. Zumba uses movement from Latin America & West Africa. Bellyfit uses movements from Silk Road cultures (India, Middle East, North Africa).  A Bellyfit class consists of high energy aerobic dance movements for the first half of the class, followed by yoga-inspired stretch & meditation for the second half. I liked it. It had a nice balance of energies which is a better match for my personality.  In fact, I may take the Bellyfit training program so I can offer Bellyfit classes in Whitehorse someday. We’ll see. (wink wink!)

Game’s Over

For some reason I have, in about 8 weeks, “found” EIGHT of my hard lost pounds. My friend Judy once said that she was not loosing weight, she was getting rid of it for good. Because when you loose something, you generally go looking for it again. Which I apparently have done. Why? I’m sure I can list a myriad of reasons…a stressful couple of months, my on-going struggle with depression, menopause, trouble getting on board with the new points plus plan. Blah blah blah. But really, those are ALL excuses. What happened was I simply stopped paying attention. The truth is, I lost that initial 60 pounds by playing games with myself…(how much can I cheat and still loose weight each week was a popular game). When the weight was gone, the game was over and I went back to my old habits. Because it was a game, I didn’t really replace old habits with new ones. They were only skin deep.

What do 8 pounds mean? They mean my pants are uncomfortably tight. They mean that the dress I was going to give away because it was getting too big now fits me just right again. It means that the summer dresses I was looking forward to buying are not going to be worn (this year) because I refuse to buy clothes in a bigger size. I’m not going there. What amazes me is how easily it can come back. If I don’t sit up and take notice now – today – than it will soon be 10 pounds, then 15, and so on.

This isn’t a game. This is the rest my life. I get it now.


After chasing about 4 pounds around all summer, I finally realized that I have been successfully maintaining a healthy weight for 5 months. I’m not a failure – I’m pretty good – a success! So I decided that at the next weigh-in, I would accept whatever the scale said as my “goal” weight and stop chasing those last couple of pounds. I’ve felt out of control all summer because I was unable to reach that last final number.  Then, I realized that it is only a number and I am needlessly fixated on it. In reality, I am more fit and healthy than I have ever been in my life. So by making the decision to accept whatever the scale should say at the Wednesday weigh in, I was putting myself back in charge. Last night I got up on the scale and was very happy to see a number inside the healthy BMI weight range for my height and I happily accepted that number as the end of my weight loss journey.

60 pounds are gone, gone, gone. Gone for good!  I picked up a 60 pound weight in the gym the other day.  60 pounds is very heavy. No wonder my knees always hurt! No wonder I was always tired!

My friend Judy says she did not “lose” her weight – she “got rid of it”. I like that. I did not lose 60 pounds – I very deliberately got rid of it. If you should find the “lost” weight, please do not return it to me! I don’t want it back!

What is my advice to the rest of my weight-watcher friends that are still on the downward path?

♥Set realistic weight loss goals and re-evaluate them on a regular basis. Adjust your goals as need. Make every goal an obtainable one: 5 or 10 pounds, or one dress size, or lowered blood pressure by a few points. When you reach your goal, congratulate yourself and then set the next one.

♥Reward your successes! Tell someone about it and get a high five! Get a manicure or a new piece of clothing.  Buy a new pair of walking shoes or gym clothes. And by the way…food is not a reward.

♥Find the positive lesson learned with every weigh-in, no matter the result of that weigh-in. You didn’t loose any weight this week? Or you gained? Don’t beat yourself up. So what.  What is important is to ask yourself what did you learn about yourself and your habits? What changes can you make because of it? Let knowledge be your consequence. You lost this week? Again, what did you learn about yourself and your habits? Nothing is “bad”. Everything we do has a consequence. Some consequences are just nicer than others!

♥Never quit! Our WW leader once asked us the question: “if you stumble and fall down a couple of stairs,  do you then throw yourself down the rest of them! No way! You get up and start climbing again!” So don’t give up. You are so worth all the efforts you’re putting towards your good health! I’ll say it again – you are worth it! You deserve good health!

♥Address the reasons you were heavy in the first place. Those emotions you are eating aren’t going to go away when the weight is gone. Those reasons you got heavy will still be there. Deal with them. Resolve them. Don’t let them continue to have power over you.

♥Ask for help when you need it.  Ask your WW leader. Ask your friend. Ask your spouse & family. Whatever you need, ask for it. Need professional help?  Get it! No shame there. Health is more than pounds on a scale. Health is being in balance. If you need help sorting out how to find that balance, get it. You deserve it!

♥Go to your WW meetings. Every week. Faithfully. I have learned so much from these meetings! I often come home with a new idea, recipe, or way of looking at something.

♥Have a wing mate. A friend who supports you on your journey.  My wing mate is my friend Maureen. She went through the program at the same time as me and is now celebrating one-year at goal. Way to go, Maureen! I am so proud of you! You have helped me get here and I love you. I am also grateful for all the tremendous love and support I’ve received from my husband. Honey, you are my reason. I love you.

Here’s a costume I’d been working toward getting into. It was a bit tight when I bought it, and the bra was definately too small. Now, the bra fits fine and I need to sew in the darts of the skirt a bit because it’s a bit loose.  But hey, not too bad, eh? 

My journey isn’t over. It’s just changed shape. Now I am in “maintainance.” After 6 weeks, I become a WW lifetime member. I can’t wait!  I’ve got the tools and I’m going to be okay.

So, eat well, but not too much. Move your body with exercise you enjoy. Laugh. Enjoy  life. Be around people you like. Love & let yourself be loved.

Yummy Stir fry

My current favourite meal is stir fry! It’s nutritious, low in weight watchers points and yummy in my tummy. I was especially proud of this meal because I didn’t have to go to the grocery store first. I simply browsed through my fridge and cooked up what I found was already there. The new me! I don’t remember a time before I lost got rid of these 60 pounds that I would have had this much variety in fresh veggies available in my fridge at the same time.  ♥

Here’s the recipe:

First add a splash of olive oil and then throw in your “hard” vegetables – the ones that take a bit longer to cook. For this meal, I found sweet red onion, red bell pepper (capsicum to you Aussies) & broccoli in my crisper.

Next, throw in your chopped “soft” vegetables. I had a zucchini & some button mushrooms lurking around, so in they went.

Next I threw in a couple of big handfuls of fresh spinach. Let it cook down a bit and then add your favourite sauce.

A couple of spoonfuls of any sauce will do – plum sauce, black bean sauce, even tamarind paste. However, current favourite is Thai sweet chilli sauce.  Beware: this is where you’ll get your excess calories if you aren’t careful!

If you feel you deserve a little extra splurge, throw in a spoonful or two of peanut butter. If it’s been in the fridge, be sure to warm it in the microwave first to get it softened.  

Last, add the fragile foods that won’t stand up to too much stirring. I added bean sprouts and shrimp right at the end just to heat through.

If you want a starch with it, Japaneese udon noodles are delicious.  I didn’t add any starch for this particular meal because I really wanted the extra bit of peanut butter and needed to think about my WW points.

Bon Apetite!

When Seeing is Believing

I’ve been pretty lucky in my weight loss journey – I’ve  recorded a  loss at nearly every single weight watchers meeting until about 2 months ago when we got back from our trip to Australia. It’s been unbelievably easy until now. Now, I am at the dreaded plateau. And it’s all my own doing.  I’ve picked up some of my old (bad) eating habits again and am struggling with motivation. Partly because I don’t really feel any differently than I did 60 pounds ago.  Odd, I know – what can I say? I recognize that I look different, but the mind is a funny thing because even though I know I look different, I still have a hard time believing it.  In my mind I am still a size 18. When I wake up every morning,  I ask my husband “am I still smaller?” because part of me honestly expects to wake up and still physically be the big girl that I see in my mind.  But then I see these pictures, and they’re shocking to me.  So I am going to try some shock therapy and post them here so that I can log on and look at them anytime I need to.  Really, I’m almost there. I only have 10-15 pounds left to get rid of. Time for some shock therapy and get myself back on that wagon!

Here I am at the start of my journey: Size 18 and dancing at LePage Park, Arts in the Park series in the summer of 2007. This was six months before the life-changing doctors appointment that started me on my journey towards seeking a healthy and balanced life.

Here I am two weeks before I joined Weight Watchers in April, 2009, dancing to Alf Leyla wa Leyla by Saqra & the Mediterranean Raqs Band at the Yukon Arts Centre in Raqs Farrah and wearing my beautiful bra & belt set that I bought in Toronto.  I am wore a size 16 at the time this picture was taken.

Here I am this spring (2010) after loosing 50 pounds. One year after joining Weight Watchers. I’m wearing a size Medium top & size 8 pants for the first time that I can remember. 

And finally, here I am today!  60 pounds lighter from when I first started over 2 years ago. This is where I’ve hit what I’m calling my “white bread and peanut butter plateau.” I’ve been bouncing back and forth over the same 5 pounds since the end of May, and really, all I need to do is get the peanut butter & white bread cravings under control.  Easier said than done, let me tell you! Funny, it didn’t bother me once (well, maybe once or twice) up till now. Anyway, in this picture I’m wearing size 5 Reitman’s stretchy “comfort” pants (which are between 1 & 2 sizes smaller than regular store sizes because they’re so stretchy- so I probably wear a regular store size 8 but I don’t know for sure because I haven’t gone in and tried any on yet!) and a size small shirt & size medium sweater. When this photo was taken I had only just hit a “healthy” BMI and officially no longer in the “overweight” category.  Yay!

My goal is to be smack dab in the middle of the BMI scale’s healthy weight range. I am nearly there!