I will keep trying…

Zumba with Kaitlyn 4.2015

With my favorite Zumba instructor Kaitlyn at Danz for the Kids
April 2015

Hi all!  Miss me?

I began a new journey in weight loss today.  One that I have been apprehensive to take due to the societal view of medically assisted diets.  The visions of 1980s and Fenfen spring to mind for most.  When did surgical weight loss become more approved of than medically assisted diets?  After all, the products used by medical weight loss clinics are FDA approved as opposed to these over the counter “appetite suppressants” that anyone can buy at your local vitamin store…  or these “energy drinks” that are full of God knows what and causing health conditions across the board.  I know people who have chosen to go thru Gastric Bypass. I’ve seen how it doesn’t always work and it certainly doesn’t teach healthy eating and exercise habits.  I WILL NOT EVER DO THIS!

Sorry…  back to what I am up to.  I decided to give Express Weight Loss + Wellness Clinic a try.  They have a medically supervised program that includes individualized meal planning, exercise and medicinal treatment solutions.  Today I had full blood work, body fat analysis, BMI, blood pressure and EKG work done.  Tomorrow I meet with the practitioner to discuss my plan.  I am utilizing their LipoPlus Injection which is full of Lipotropic Enzymes, Vitamin B-Complex, Levocarnitine, Chromium and L-Citruline.  I will also be using an appetite suppressant.  Anyone who is a foodie, food addict or emotional eater can tell you that diets are nearly impossible without these.  I have been secretly using an over the counter (non-FDA approved) one for a few weeks now.  You know…  the pills loaded with caffine that make you jittery….  well now I will be using one under medical supervision that has been FDA approved.  These will NOT contain amphetamine.

I will also be doing Zumba on average about 5 times a week and as I feel more energy, I hope to add some weight work and Pilates to the mix at my favorite fitness studio, Nafas in Royal Oak.  I also wear a Fitbit and will focus on at least 12000 steps a day.  This ensures you are getting activity regularly and gives you an opportunity to have a little healthy competition with others.

I begin my new journey at 236 pounds and a size 18W.  So depressing.  What’s worse?  I am 42.3% fat….  almost half my body is fat!!!  So why am I so determined to lose weight once and for all?

Vanity & health concerns.  I am happy with most things in my life…  My home, my job, my family and my network of friends.  The one place I find myself upset about most is my appearance.  I know I am a beautiful woman both inside and out, but I would be happier if I was the thinner, healthier version of me that I was in my earlier years.

Me 1997


Heart disease and adult onset diabetes runs on both sides on my family and has claimed 3 of my 4 genetic Grandparents lives.  I don’t want to be that statistic.

So I begin this journey with hopes that it is finally the solution to my yoyo dieting and gets me back to my fit and fabulous former self.  Tomorrow is my first shot and meeting to discuss my low calorie, low carb, high protein diet.  I will track all my food on My Fitness Pal under the screen name LifeOnTheVirg.  Feel free to friend me.  I will also be doing regular blogs about my successes and my challenges.  I don’t expect this to  easy, but it can’t be any harder than all the other things I tried (remember my 1200 calorie vegetarian diet with 2 workouts a day?)

You’re support is always welcome….  keep your criticism to yourself.


Picking up speed….

I forget how exhilarating it feels once you start sticking to a healthy program.  While trying to get motivated for this change in my life from April 21 – May 21, I discovered that I lost 8 pounds!  That’s with about 25% effort!  It has me geeked for month 2 and I am giving it 100%!

So I have been sticking to a diet consistent with the 1330 calories a day that http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ recommends and I gave myself some freedom and didn’t track over the holiday weekend.  This doesn’t mean I went on a bingefest for the weekend, I just didn’t want to look up and post every thing I ate/drank for the holiday weekend.  I still tried to make smart choices and allowed a few treats.  I was warned by a well meaning friend that 1330 calories was too low for someone burning 500+ calories a day at the gym.  So I posted my stats to Instagram and received advice from none other than the amazing Jillian Michaels herself.



So basically I am not eating up to 1650 calories every day, but on the days I hit the gym, I am not beating myself up if I go over 1330.  If I seem to hit a plateau, I will revisit it.  I am still flabbergasted that someone who gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to train and coach people took time out from her busy day to give me some advice.  She is A-Ok in my book!

I am also enjoying playing with healthier foods and cooking around the calories I have left every day for dinner.  Whole Foods has become a more regular stop for me after the gym and I have found a few things there that I love.  Their spicy Italian chicken sausage is from free range, hormone and anti-biotic free chicken, it’s delish and it’s only 140 calories a link!!  Sauteed that up with a chopped up organic yellow bell pepper, a quarter of a sweet vidalia onion, 1 jalapeno pepper and a serving of Cento tomato sauce and tossed in 1 serving of organic basmati brown rice!  Yummy and satisfying dinner that filled an entire dinner plate and was 394 calories!!  Left some room for the delicious dairy free cherry nirvana by Purely Decadent that I picked up at Whole Foods.  My other Whole Foods favorite (thanks Mom!) is The Republic of Tea’s Hibiscus Pineapple Lychee Tea.  I am not a tea drinker and this stuff is yum-o!

I am not getting in as many runs as I really need to for my marathon training, so that needs work.  I am NOT a morning person, so successfully waking up with the sun to squeeze in a morning run has been a challenge.  I love my spinning classes (now that I’ve narrowed down who the lousy instructors are at LA Fitness) and I don’t want to give them up since I am burning above 500 calories in each 1 hour class AND it’s one of those cardio exercises that pushes your body to burn even more calories after you are done.  So I am trying to get to bed earlier and sleeping with the blinds and curtains open (don’t even think about it pervs, I sleep in pajamas!) so I can rise with the sun.

I think the thing that I feel best about is feeling the bloating going down and my pants aren’t tight anymore.  I look forward to pulling some of my smaller sizes out of the closet in the near future. 

It’s not always easy….  you won’t ALWAYS want to work out…  You will crave ice cream, pizza and an adult beverage from time to time.  But when I begin to lose focus I just look at the screen of my iPhone…


Eat Less. Move your ass more!

Last night was just what I needed to remind me that losing weight does not need to be complicated.  Mom and I went to see Jillian Michaels on her motivational speaking tour “Maximize your life!”

J Michaels

She spoke for 3 hours (no kidding)  and covered everything from food to exercise to defining your why.  She started right off with the biggest secret to losing weight.  This is valuable information and I should charge each of you to reveal it, but I am a share the wealth kind of girl.  The secret is…



She starts with the basics of what to eat (and not to eat).  She explains how to identifying serving sizes (Like the fact that so many single bottles of beverage are RARELY a single serving.) Just for shits and giggles, look at the serving size on the back of a yellow spray butter product spray bottle.  Let me know when you figure out how to measure .25 of a spray and let me know if your bullshit meter goes off on the 0 calorie per serving claim.  She offers to spray bug killer in a woman’s mouth!  (Who actually was going to let her at the urging of her daughter (Happy Mother’s Day!  Here’s some poison Mom!))  This was done to drive home the fact that so many of the foods we eat are covered with Obesogens, which are chemicals in our foods that interrupt our Metabolism (aka: our biochemistry) like bug killers, chemical fertilizers, etc.  She shows us a list of things to NEVER eat, which veggies you should avoid unless they are certifiably organic and which veggies and fruits (thick skinned) aren’t worth going organic, to save you money.

Jillian’s Lists

I love that she encourages you to eat grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free beef and wild fish and used a very startling graphic of the visual difference between a “factory” cow and a grass fed cow.  She explains how the fat in the two is very different.  In the “factory” cows, the fat is Omega 6, which is not healthy for us (never mind all the chemicals that are also in the “factory” beef, like hormones to help them grow to slaughtering maturity in 6 months as opposed to 4 years, and all the antibiotics to keep them from getting disease due to the inhumane factory farm conditions.)  In a grass fed healthy cow that is raised over a 4 year period, there are Omega 3 fats, which we all know are the good healthy fats that your body needs.  I came across some of these facts in an article in “O” magazine a few years back. So when buying any kind of animal product, spend the extra cash and get the wild, free range, grass fed, 100% organic, hormone free and antibiotic free products.  It’s worth your money and your children won’t have boobs by the time they are 6 years old.  I’ve been drinking organic almond milk for over a year (unsweetened) and can’t tell a difference after a life of drinking cow milk.  If I get cow milk, I get Horizons organic milk/cream/cottage cheese/sour cream.

She breaks the myth of “eating small meals all day”…  by doing this, your body will release insulin all day and your body will be in a constant absorptive mode.  She recommends 4 meals a day about 4 hours apart: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner.

Thru all the food talk, the point that she drove home that hit me like a lightening bolt is that if you are eating healthy, you can eat ANYTHING and lose weight.  It is very simply about calories in vs. calories out.  I knew that, but she really breaks it down for you.  You HAVE to track what you eat until you are at a point that you know how many calories are in the regular foods you eat and can track it in your head.  Follow the charts above, eat healthy meats and listen to your bullshit meter.  If a zero calorie food looks too good to be true, it probably is!

So she explains to each of us how to figure out approximately figure out how many calories we need in an average day BEFORE adding in exercise.

First, figure out your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate)

BMR Calculator

Now that you have your BMR, Mine is 1845, you need to identify your normal activity level on an average day.

1.1 Sedentary = Seated most of the day at work.

1.2 Mildly Active = Retail or on your feet most of the day

1.3 Active = A personal Trainer

1.4 Extremely Active = You are working on a chain gang

Take the number before your activity level (Mine is 1.1) and multiply it by your BMR.  This is your Active Metabolic Rate.

(1.1 x 1845 = 2029.5)

  If I ate 2029.5 calories a day and never exercised, I would stay at the same weight.  So it’s simple…  eat less than 2029.5 calories and I will lose weight.  It takes 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat.  So if I eat a deficit of 3500 calories for the week, I should lose 1 pound.  You can’t starve your body either.  1200 calories is the BARE minimum she would want anyone to be eating.  She recommends instead that you find exercise routines that you enjoy and do them…  with a high intensity level to burn more calories.  I use Fitness Pal, a free online service and smart phone app, to track my calories daily and currently it has me consuming 1340 calories a day.  So it’s setting me up to lose around  1.379 pounds a week before exercise.


When it comes to exercise, it’s important to get cardio AND strength training.  Jillian discusses 3 types of workouts that will be very effective.

  1. Body weight training – Intensity level should be “MOVE YOUR ASS”
    • Zumba
    • Cross Fit
    • TRX
  2. High intensity interval training
    • Think measured busts of high intensity energy followed by normal workout energy.  Like sprints.
  3. Circuit Training (Jillian thinks this is the best)
    • This is moving thru multiple workouts in rapid succession to workout your whole body AND get cardio as well.

It’s important to know your maximum heart rate.  This can be figured by:

220 – your age = Maximum Heart Rate

and when working out, 85% of your MHR is the optimum level for losing weight.

My MHR 220 – 42 = 178 x .85 = 151.3

So 151.3 is a good heart rate for me to strive to stay at to burn more fat.


The last part of Jillian’s presentation was about YOU.

She explains that no one can motivate you.  Only YOU can motivate YOURSELF.  If you want to be successful, you need to figure out your “WHY” to get you thru the “HOW” and “HELL”.  Examples she used were:

  • How do you want your relationship to look?
  • What qualities do you want in a potential partner?
  • Do you want to live to meet your grandchildren?
  • Do you want to be able to fit into your skinny jeans at 75 a la Jane Fonda?
  • Do you want to be able to wear a bikini at 50?
  • Do you want to have more money?  Because all the health risks that are caused by being overweight and unhealthy will cost you way more.  The number one reason for bankruptcies in the USA is medical bills.  Chew on that.

Whatever your reason for wanting to lose weight, it needs to be personal and powerful to YOU.  It needs to be the thing you can plaster on a life board and look at to remind yourself “WHY?” when life throws you a curve ball.  Because life’s NOT fair and you will give yourself excuses to eat things you shouldn’t or to skip workouts…  it’s human nature.  Your “WHY” needs to be stronger than that.  Be aware of your emotions and be present.  Live in the NOW!

She suggests an exercise where for 2 weeks you set your phone alarm to go off once an hour or every two hours.  When it goes off, stop and ask yourself “What am I doing right now?” and “How do I feel?”

Finding happiness in life is simple:

Find things you love to do and do more of them.  If you hate doing certain things, limit how much you do them.  If you despise your job, only you have the control to change that.  If you are passionate about caring for kids, find something that will help you do more of that!  Be “all in”…  Identify what you are passionate about and GO FOR IT!!!

Also remember that rejection is the universe’s (or in my case God’s) way of protecting you.  So if you go for something and it doesn’t happen (ie: asking out the cute guy in the next cube at work) it wasn’t meant to be.  Don’t dwell over it…  move on!


So as a finale Jillian shared 4 points for being successful at whatever you are trying to do.

  1. Deep dive information
    • get the proper information before you take action
    • learn everything you can
    • take what works for you and leave what doesn’t
  2. Willpower
    • It’s like a muscle…  Use it!
    • If you overuse it, you can fatigue it, so remove temptations.
    • Think all decisions thru.  Visualize the outcome.  If it’s not the outcome you want, change the decision and repeat the process.
    • a moment of impulsivity can destroy all your hard work.  Find healthy coping mechanisms
  3. Communication
    • Learn to listen Empathically
    • Communicate your needs
    • Express your Fellings
    • Don’t use “YOU” statements.
  4. Boundries
    • The friends in your life that aren’t supportive – CUT THEM OUT!
    • “Hurt people will hurt people”
    • Share the things you are passionate about with supportive groups/people who share this passion with you.

I can’t begin to hope that everything I captured here covers everything that Jillian tries to share with you, but I gather all the information I could and I feel ready more than ever to dive forward into my life.  To live every day in the now and to find the why for me and use it to drive results that I will be happy with.  Thank you so much Jillian!

Remember me? The fat woman?

I am back… in more ways than one. Back to my blog which was tossed by the wayside when a weekend pub crawl derailed all the hard work I did to lose 20 lbs back in 2011. Back to my heaviest weight ever.

More importantly, back to eating healthy and working out. Keep an eye on this blog for more info. 😉

Once a cheater, always a cheater?

I knew this day would come…  I knew this weekend would happen sooner or later…  I did a little cheating this weekend.  Unfortunately this translated to no pounds lost for this week.  But it has been a month since I started this challenge, so the fact that I haven’t been unfaithful to my new lifestyle is a true testament to my determination.

But so many of you talk to me about how hard it is to lose the weight and work out regularly, so I feel I owe it to you to be honest with you.  I’m a cheater!  Well, I’ve always been a cheater.  It’s a big part of the reason I could never lose weight before.  I would lose a few pounds and “treat” myself to a binge weekend drink-a-thon or a whole pint (or two) of Ben & Jerrys.  Not healthy and not the way to “reward” myself.

I wasn’t “BAD” this weekend…  just off my chosen path a bit.  Friday night, my friend Karen & I, went up to boat night in Port Huron.  This was a great chance to visit one of my old favorites, The Raven Cafe.


It’s a very unique cafe/bar/coffee shop.  It reminds you of a bi-level library but with food and drink and live music!  I had forgotten just how good their food was.  It’s all fairly healthy food, but I should have just stuck with my Annabelle Lee Gorgonzola Cherry Salad.  Instead I also had their delicious appetizer that is Gorgonzola cheese, red onions, scallions, pecans and a touch of brown sugar all on top of a warm and fluffy pita bread!  All topped off with a glass of reisling.  None of this is bad in moderation, but I am sure, way beyond my 1230 daily calorie allowance.  I followed this up with a mojito fest on Saturday, thanks to my Cuban roommate who has nearly perfected his mojito recipe.  Then again going out to eat Saturday, we went to Pronto’s in Royal Oak where I was pleasantly surprised by the plethora of healthy and vegetarian foods.  I stuck with a vegetarian roumalade  wrap sandwich and sweet potato fries.  This of course after sharing their hummus (you have to try it) and a roasted garlic with red peppers and chevre cheese appetizer.  Again, none unhealthy, but definitely in excess of my 1230 daily calorie allowance.  And I figured since I was cheating, I may as well top it all off with a Sasha dirty martini at Gracies, although I did refrain from eating my blue cheese olives.

Now I should mention that I busted my ass in the gym this weekend too.  I did 2 hours of spinning Thursday night, and hour of spinning Saturday morning, 1 hour boot-camp in Memorial Park on Sunday followed by a very active afternoon playing in my friends Ivana’s pool with her daughter (who I am convinced is part mermaid).  Had I not done all this work, I am sure this weekend’s outcome would have been pounds gained!

So what I took away from this weekend is that every so often I need to give myself a break and indulge in a few delicacies that I love.  But only after a good stretch of sticking to my plan.  I could be beating myself up over this right now (which would only send me reeling towards a 3 cheese pizza) or I can understand that I have lost 17 POUNDS IN ONE MONTH!!! So I took a break this weekend and as of Sunday, I was right back on track. It also puts the upcoming pub crawl into perspective for me…  Do I really want to drink a bunch of empty calories and negate all the hard effort I put in this week?  I guess we’ll see.  But I am still in this to win it!

Learning to be a chef as a vegetarian

I love to cook…  seriously.  Nothing brings me joy like creating something so delicious that your taste buds are watering before the first bite.  I enjoy feeding others and hearing the pounding of my flat mates feet coming upstairs to ask “What smells so good?”   But my old staples were not so healthy for the heart…  my two signature dishes are Penne ala Vodka Sauce and Beef Stroganoff.   Both could send my friends into a scurry to get to my house quicker than you can blink.  But both are loaded with really unhealthy stuff…  creams, bacon, starchy white pastas.  So I find myself perusing the internet looking for healthy, vegetarian dishes that fit into my new life style and are just as enjoyable for my meat eating friends as they are for me.

I did make this Warm & Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa for a birthday brunch on Sunday and though it was filling, I personally thought it was still a bit bland in the taste department.


I have begun to enjoy substituting portobello mushrooms for meat in my dinners, but I haven’t invested in a new grill, so I have to find ways to cook them besides grilling.  Yesterday I googled recipes including portobellos and came up with a great stuffed portobello recipe.


These were so delicious and filling!  And using my home ingredients, they were only 303 calories for both of them! 40 carbs/10 fat/20 protein!  (See I am getting plenty of protein in my veggies!!)

I have been exploring some very helpful and interesting sites for vegetarians and just healthy eaters in general.  A few I like are:


http://www.thekindlife.com/  (Actress Alicia Silverstone’s site)


http://theculturedcook.com/  (Local Michigan Health Food Blogger)

I have two more new discoveries I am dying to make this week.  The first is a warm beet salad:


and the second is a tofu walnut burger:


I want to send a big thank you to my friends Karen, Susan and Angela who have been forwarding me some delicious vegetarian recipes.  KEEP EM COMIN!

Elations and Tribulations

The world is full of joys and happiness…  unfortunately it’s also full of people who can’t embrace the joy and happiness you are experiencing.


I was discussing my weight loss with my good friend Karen last week and she made the comment that 10lbs was one dress size.  I didn’t feel like I lost enough to ditch my size 18s, but I was at Target to pick up a gift bag and thought…  why not try out my old jeans and a pair of 16s in the same style…  the 16s fit!!!  and comfortably!  Not tight!!  So I wore those out Saturday night with a cute pair of high heels (which I have been avoiding!) and I am starting to feel like the old me again!  Sassy Virg!  Just the motivation I needed to keep going!

(Disclaimer: This is NOT my Ass! But someday it will be!)

I am sitting here 4 days later and those size 16s are starting to feel baggy!  So I weighed myself mid-week and I am now 227.4!!!  That’s 14lbs since this all started about 3 1/2 weeks ago!

It’s been over a week without meat and again…  I feel great!  I eat a LOT of fruits and vegetables…  and a wide range of them.  I even ate out at Cliff Bells on Friday night and checked the menu before hand to pick out a nice salad and when I got there, the soup of the day was a chilled asparagus and banana soup…  no cream or animal broths…  Dinner was healthy and DELISH!


I am so happy but I am dreading the moment this all slows down to a normal loss of 1-2 pounds a week.  So I keep telling myself it’s all good, as long as I don’t have a no loss or a gain week.  I am considering a heart rate montior to be more efficient in my workouts, which are key to this whole process for four reasons:

1. The workouts help me get my body into a healthy shape to battle the heart disease that has taken so many of my loved family members.

2. Getting in shape helps me love the woman I see in the mirror even more which in turn boosts my self confidence!

3. Working out helps drop the bad weight quicker and replaces it with good, fat burning muscle.

4. Working out helps me release stress!

So this is something I am considering as a tool to know I am still giving it my all when the eventual slow down of the weight loss happens.

There are still people out there that can’t just be HAPPY for me in this journey I am on.  So I am trying to get to a place where other people’s opinions don’t affect me.   This is definitely something easier said than done.  Unfortunately, when other people affect me, I tend to want comfort food.  So even though I haven’t craved meat the last week and I am so NOT a hamburger girl, something set me off yesterday and all I could think about was how great a greasy, gross, totally bad for me fast food burger would taste…  that was my heart talking…  not my gut or head!  Thank God the other two over rode my heart…  I did not get the burger!

So I leave this blog happy and nervous.  Happy for my accomplishments thus far and nervous of what I am sure will be a struggle up ahead.  But with the great friends I have around me, I am sure they will be behind me rooting all the way!