Never have I ever

Remember that drinking game “Never Have I Ever”? (For the unacquainted: someone says a simple statement starting with “Never have I ever.” For example: “Never have I ever tried a spin class.” Anyone who has tried a spin class must drink.)

Well, up until this week, never have I ever gone on a cooking spree. In my life. Like, ever.

But over the last few days, I’ve made clean chicken masala, chocolate chip blondie brownies, tuna pasta salad and mini crustless quiches, all of which turned out amazing. This whole clean-eating thing isn’t just good for my shrinking waistline — it seems to be forcing me to get outside my comfort zone, roll up my sleeves and enter the place I used to dread the most (other than 5:30 a.m. boot camp): the kitchen.

(My mom probably did a little happy dance when she read that.)

In addition to my newfound “like” of the kitchen (love is a strong word), I’ve been getting my ass handed to me three times a week in boot camp. That, combined with Zumba classes and a gym visit each week, has motivated me to keep movin’ whenever and wherever I can.

I used to be that driver who would circle a parking lot six times until I could find a spot close to the store, rather than walk an extra 200 feet. (In my defense, my city gets down to -40ºC in the winter, so that’s partially why I’m such a wiener.) Now, I park further away so I can enjoy a little bit of extra walking (did I really just say that?).

In the morning, I used to shuffle, bleary-eyed, to the coffeemaker and stand there yawning while it made my happy juice. Call me crazy, but now I do squats while I wait for the Keurig to work its magic.

I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long time, and it feels incredible. Could it be that this self-proclaimed Debbie Downer feels…happy?

The dreaded weekly weigh-in: week seven

Starting weight – 229.6 lbs
Last week – 216.6 lbs
This week – 215.8 lbs

Total weight lost – 13.8 lbs

I can already feel myself getting stronger — I managed to plank for 45 seconds straight not once, not twice, but four times during boot camp this morning. Oh, and I pounded out 95 burpees, too. You know what the only thing worse than burpees is? That split second when you lean too far back in your chair and realize you’re going to fall.

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Completely unrelated: I can’t get the song “Ms. New Booty” out of my head. Maybe it’s my mind’s way of telling me to keep working off that boo-tay I so carelessly acquired during my Taco Bell binges. On any note, I can’t take myself seriously when “Booty booty booty booty rockin’ everywhere” keeps going through my head.

Happy Monday!

Just a plus-sized girl livin’ in a skinny wo-orld

It sucks being a fat girl — and not just for the self-esteem or health-related reasons.

Yes, society is slowly becoming more accommodating to fatties as the obese population continues to (literally) grow. Some airlines offer extra-wide seats. Many fashion designers now boast plus-size collections to cater to those who can’t seem to stop at one donut.

While that makes my life a little easier, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t demoralizing. As my friends get to try on cute little clothes when we go shopping, I have to waddle over to the plus-size section, which often has frocks that even my conservative 80-year-old aunt would think are hideous. Ponchos? No thanks. Muu-muus? I’ll pass.

(Yes, I’m aware that there are decent plus-sized clothing lines out there, too. But I’ll tell you one thing — they sure as hell aren’t found in the frigid city I call home.)

It’s not just clothes that aren’t kind to fat people, either. I sometimes have trouble doing up my seatbelt on an airplane. During a camping trip last summer, I sat down on our folding camping chair, and it broke. I know it wasn’t entirely due to my weight (my boyfriend broke one too, and he’s skinny as hell), but it still crushed me. If my 110-pound friend broke a chair, people would laugh it off as being a poorly-constructed piece of furniture. If I break a chair, there’s always the assumption my boo-tay is the culprit.

Mark my words — this is the last time I’ll be heavy enough that I’ll even have to consider weight limits on chairs and amusement park rides. I’m almost 15 pounds down, and I won’t stop until I’m at a healthy weight, one that allows me to live my life freely, without limitations based on that number on the scale.

These are a few of my faaaavourite things

“How are you losing weight? You’re always eating.”

My friend said that to me earlier this week, and I couldn’t help but laugh (and pass her a copy of The Eat-Clean Diet). As I’ve said before, my life revolves around food. With the clean-eating lifestyle, I’m always eating (and losing weight!), which is pretty much the best combination ever — aside from, oh, chocolate and peanut butter.

I know that a few of my co-workers are reading this blog, and one of them asked me to put together a list of some of my favourite healthy foods. Most of these fall under the category of clean eating, but some are just healthier alternatives to the junk I used to scarf down.

1) Almond butter. Hi, my name is Andrea, and I’m addicted to nut butters. I used to eat tons of peanut butter (woo, fatty goodness) until I discovered the amazingness that is almond butter. Almond butter + apple = one of the best snacks ever. When my boyfriend and I were in the U.S. this weekend, we even bought — wait for it — maple almond butter. My life is now complete.

2) Multi-grain tortilla chips. Holy eff, these chips are good. We bought one package at Costco and I ate most of them in one sitting. (If you follow my blog, you’ll remember my tortilla-chip-and-salsa gorge-fest in Temptation, thy name is Kraft Dinner.) Though I don’t recommend stuffing your face with chips, these are healthier than a lot of the other options gracing supermarket shelves.

3) Hummus. About a year ago, some guys created a hilarious web series called Shit Girls Say. They stuck a guy in a dress and wig and had him spout off lines that women always seem to say. (Think: “Can you pass me that blanket?” “Ugh, get these chips away from me.”) One of the ones that made me snort-laugh the hardest was: “Omigod, is that hummus?” I could literally eat a tub of hummus in one sitting (and, sadly, have done so in the past). I even made my own hummus for a SuperBowl party this year (recipe here). Hummus = awesome. That is all.

Of course, all of these snacks are best enjoyed in moderation. Almond butter alone has, like 10,000 calories per tablespoon, so don’t go crazy. I’m happy I have visual reminders as to why I need to lose weight (yay, fat-girl photos!); otherwise, I would eat my weight in any of these foods.

The dreaded weekly weigh-in: week six

Starting weight – 229.6 lbs
Last week – 217.6 lbs
This week – 216.6 lbs

Total weight lost – 13 lbs

So sorry for the late post — I was literally stranded in the U.S., thanks to a blizzard that decided to grace us with its presence. All of the highways to Canada were closed, giving us an extra day of mini-vacation time.

Though I was tempted to stuff my face while on vacation, I didn’t. In fact, I ate clean most of the time, with the exception of a meal at a Cajun café (can’t get alligator and crawfish ’round these parts) and a pizza pig-out on the last day. Oh, and alcohol — lots and lots of alcohol (a big clean eating no-no). I was fully expecting to gain weight while I was gone, but was pleasantly surprised to find out I had lost another pound! Makes me wonder how much I would’ve lost had I not thrown back an embarrassing number of gin and tonics this weekend…

Why so serious?

When I started this blog, my intention was to write about the humourous side of losing weight, while helping to hold myself accountable. So if you’re expecting my usual snarky (I like to think of it as witty) commentary, you may be disappointed with this post. It’s a little more serious in tone because it addresses some of the major food issues that have plagued me for so long.

Back in the merry old land of high school, I had a love/hate relationship with food. I loved food (I am Ukrainian, after all) but hated what it did to my body. So, for a bit, I didn’t eat breakfast, had only a few bites of lunch, then a tiny morsel at dinner. I even experimented with bulimia (thankfully, that only lasted a few days — don’t worry, Mom!).

When the weight started piling on after high school (mad props to laziness and a busy university schedule), I zoomed to the opposite end of the spectrum: I started to binge eat. I’m fairly open about my long-time struggles with depression and an anxiety disorder. To this day, I think my emotional issues weighed heavily (pun intended) on my binge eating.

Until now, I haven’t told anyone about my binge-eating episodes. It’s hard enough being the fat friend without having to explain what it’s like to go into a trance-like state, mindlessly shoving food into your mouth until you actually feel sick to your stomach or even throw up. According to the Mayo Clinic, binge eating disorder symptoms include the following:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting

Looking at that list, I can safely say that every single one of those items applied to me, with the exception of the last one. (Other than my 40-pound weight loss a few years ago and subsequent re-gain, I really haven’t yo-yo dieted.)

The binges would usually start pretty innocently. I’d have a craving for carbs (as girls do) but instead of doing the logical thing and having a piece of toast or a muffin, I’d have four pieces of bread. With Cheez Whiz. Then, I’d move onto the half-empty bag of chips sitting in my pantry. Next, I’d eat three-quarters of a bag of cookies and two bowls of cereal. And so it would continue for one or two (or sometimes more) hours…

It’s hard to describe binge eating to someone who has never dealt with anything like it: I would just zone out, gorging on food, without even paying attention to the way anything tasted. Next thing I knew, I’d have consumed the caloric equivalent of 20 Big Mac meals. Ew.

For the last year or so, I’ve been doing a lot better. With the exception of the odd panic attack or blue day, my depression and anxiety have been almost non-existent. Not-so-coincidentally, my binge-eating episodes have nearly stopped, too. I’m still guilty of doing the whole “mindless eating” thing once in a while, but it’s nothing in comparison. More like binge eating’s ugly step-cousin.

And there you have it: my first (and probably only) serious post on Reducing Waist.

I heart Zumba

When I find an exercise class that’s fun and tames the beast that is my belly, I’m all over it like a fat kid (or me) on cake.

I tried yoga. Wasn’t for me.

Gave pilates a shot. Nope.

Kickboxing? Meh.

And then, on the seventh day, there was Zumba.

When I first tried Zumba a few years ago. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. “It’s the latest craze,” my friend told me, urging me to sign up for classes with her. (Side note: I used to be super self-conscious when it came to group fitness classes. I didn’t want to be the fattest girl in the room, struggling to keep up with everyone. But since the only exercise I had gotten that year was walking from my couch to the fridge, I figured I’d give Zumba a fair [booty] shake.)

I was instantly hooked.

For one, I didn’t feel like the fat girl. Yes, I was probably the heaviest one there, but the class was so much fun, and the instructor/students so welcoming, that it didn’t even matter.

I could wax poetic about Zumba all day. But, put simply, it’s super fun — like a big dance party, only a dance party that kicks your ass and burns hundreds of calories. Hell, its motto is, “Ditch the work-out and join the party.” If that’s not motivation enough for you, then I don’t know what is.

Even so, a lot of women are afraid of Zumba, like I am of moths (no, really). I’ve heard the same excuses over and over again: I can’t dance. I have no rhythm. I’m worried people will laugh at me.

Well, guess what? Everyone looks just as stupid as you do. I’m pretty much the biggest white-girl dancer ever (I’m talking pointy fingers in the air, folks), so imagine me trying to booty-pop with the best of them — it ain’t happening. Sure, I try, but I still look like Elaine from Seinfeld. On drugs.

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Pretty much the most accurate description of Zumba ever (above).

My moves (or lack thereof) don’t matter, though. Most women are so busy concentrating on following the instructor, they aren’t paying attention to anyone else. As for the two-left-feet excuse, I’m not buying it. Yes, I have years of dance training under my XL belt, but even a monkey could do Zumba. The point isn’t to ace every move. The point is to move.

So, ladies, what are you waiting for? Give Zumba a try! There’s a reason why Zumba classes are rivaling Starbucks locations in volume. (I swear I am in no way affiliated with the Zumba empire.)