Thursday, April 30, 2009


About two years ago, I joined Curves. It was around the corner (literally, a 3-minute walk) from my house, and I got a few of my fellow Berkeley Rep interns to join with me. My roommate Kristen and I would go, generally three times a week, and I felt good. Granted, I was walking ~4 miles a day, almost every day (to and from work), but I liked the vibe at Curves. It's a friendly place, and very different atmosphere from a normal gym. Sure, the general age of the clientele is approximately twice that of my own, but I like it. The music is fun, the machines are easy to use, and the staff (and other members!) make me want to push myself. Overall, it's a very supportive environment, and I really like that.

Yes, I know that there has been some controversy surrounding Curves because of the owner's pro-life beliefs. Reportedly, he has donated a ton of money to anti-abortion agencies, and people are upset that the money he makes from his pro-woman Curves franchises supports something that by many is considered to be very anti-woman. This makes people upset. I'll admit that this makes me upset. However, it is his right to use his money how he chooses. The women who own these franchises (and many, if not all - I can't find the data - of the franchise-owners are women) have a right to support organizations that are pro-choice, pro-life, or not to support any organizations at all. So do the members. Yes, I feel conflicted at times, knowing that a small percentage of my membership fees are going towards pro-life groups. But then again, I can always counter that with a donation or volunteer work. I can continue to support pro-choice organizations on my own. Check out this website for more information about this whole thing.

Wow. That was a lot more Curves-Controversy talk than I was planning on writing. The whole point of this post was supposed to be telling you all how excited I am about my new Fitness & Weight Management Plan! I recently joined Curves in Rockridge through their $30 for 30 Days Trial Plan. It includes 3 days a week with a trainer (though you can go as many days a week as you want), and evaluations, and a 30 day free trial with Curves Complete. Today, I picked up the Curves Fitness & Weight Management Plan book, which comes with a ton of recipes for use with the Plan. I plan on starting the plan (ha. ha. ha.) next week. Basically, it works in 3 phases, with different caloric intakes for each phase, to train your body and trick it into thinking you're not dieting. Phase 1 is 7 days, Phase 2 is 23 days, and Phase 3 is 2-4 weeks. You do the 30 day cycle (Phases 1-2), and then (in theory) you stick to Phase 3 for the rest of your life, until you gain 3+ pounds, and then you go back to Phase 1 for 2-3 days.

Sounds more complicated than it is. For more information, click here. They provide a lot of food options; it's really a wide-ranging menu. The meals look good. It looks pretty easy. I mean, I will have to commit to it, and it won't be easy to resist my standard treats, but if I just follow the recipes (and figure out their substitution tables for when I want to eat something that's not on the list), I should be ok. My goal weight (that I pulled out of nowhere) is 130 lbs. I currently weigh 154 lbs. My trainer says she can help me drop 20 lbs in 3 months pretty easily if I follow the diet and come in 3 times a week (and Curves recommends walking 30 min a day most days as well). My BMI (ratio of muscle to fat) is a little higher than it should be, but that should come down too. My plan is to come in 5-6 times a week, so that plus my occasional hikes/walks and walks to the grocery store, in addition to the "diet," should put me in a pretty good position.

I have never actively tried to lose weight before, so this should be interesting. I've started a new label called SuperFit to keep track of my blog posts on the subject, and yes, I plan to blog this whole experience. I'll take pictures of food sometimes, and report what's going on with my weight loss and such.

I'm sure it won't be SuperEasy, but I like the support system that Curves provides. The trainers who work there take an active interest in your life, and many have gone through the diet and exercise programs as well, and can offer tips and personal stories about how they lost weight. They motivate you and cheer you on while you work out, and they push you to work harder.

So, I have high hopes. Now is the time to start something like this - while I have a lot of time on my hands, and the desire to stop spending my days eating and watching TV (two months was enough!). This weekend, I am going to go through the Phase 1 recipes and menus, make a shopping list (cottage cheese! vegetables! egg substitute!), and get psyched up. Most of the things on the menu are things I already eat...I have a feeling my portions are just going to get smaller. Oh, portion control... :-)

Wish me luck, and feel free to share any diet/exercise tips you have!


  1. I'm not sure if this is supportive or unsupportive, but:

    Fuck dieting. You are insanely beautiful.

  2. I should have clarified: Really, I just want to fit into my clothes better and be healthier. Until this week, I was not exercising at all. Not good for the body, or the waistline (roll of fat "cupcaking" over my pants? no thank you!), so yeah. I don't think I'm fat or anything, but I know that I'm not in as good of shape as I could be. And I know it's not going to be any easier to stay in shape as I get older!

  3. I just started going to dance classes again-- big fun!

  4. A couple of notes:

    there's a typo near the top, you say "pro choice" when i believe you mean "anti-choice" and BMI is not the ratio of muscle to fat, it is the ratio of weight to height, and is a really poor indicator of health. (very muscular people appear less healthy than very fat people due to the high weight of muscle, tall fat people appear healthier than short fat people, a low BMI does not indicate that you're in good health, just that you're lightweight--which can actually mean you're a gelatinous wuss.)

    Cottage cheese is not inherently healthy--indeed, low-fat cottage cheese is disgusting and hopeful dieters frequently buy it, open it, and then leave it to go rancid in the back of the reefer. High-fat cottage cheese is incredibly tasty but remember--lactose is a sugar that combines with fat to help baby humans double their birth weight in 5 months, and cottage cheese is basically chunky milk. tasty, tasty chunky milk.

    The biggest thing to be wary of, if you're trying to switch over to a predominantly vegetable diet, is sugar. Fruits are full of it, and even though natural fructose is not inherently bad for you, it is sugar and metabolizes quickly, causing that annoying sugar spike-hypoglycemic pattern and leaving you feeling hungry again. Consider taking a B-complex vitamin with breakfast for energy--I find that when I include it in my day I'm better able to moderate the size of my meals, i feel more awake, and i'm not compelled to snack. Also, check your cereals and breads--foods high in soluble fiber stick with you longer hunger-wise and taste better too.

    I feel like i've gotten slimmer just by moving to new york and getting away from my car. I have to take public transit, and there's a ten-minute walk from the house to the train and the train to the store, (and back). I know i have to carry my groceries from the store, so i'm not gonna buy more than I can carry--so it makes me triage my shopping basket. Hopefully I'll be able to keep that up in London--I still won't have a car, but British food is Stodgy. Ben goes to the gym occasionally--I'll join the same one when I get there and hopefully we can encourage each other to work out.

    Alternatively, seeing as I despise the unproductive exertion of gym labor, perhaps I'll buy a bicycle and ride to Kent on weekends.

    During grad school. Who am I trying to fool?

  5. Thanks for the comments, Kristen. I fixed the typo - whoops.

    I'm just learning about all this BMI stuff. All I know is that my body fat % is normal, but my BMI is at the highest point in the normal category (as opposed to being smack-dab in the middle of normal).

    As for the diet, it's a high-protein diet (there are two actually, one that's higher in protein and one that's higher in carbs). Am I totally weird because I like low fat cottage cheese? I might be. But low fat cottage cheese + fruit can be pretty tasty...or maybe I'm just nuts. It is highly likely. ;-)

    I'm trying to walk more, too. Last week, I bought just a little too many heavy items on my trip to Berkeley Bowl. Carrying slightly less items = more trips to the store = more exercise though, so maybe I'm on to something!

    And yeah, I have a multivitamin...any tricks on remembering to take it? I always forget.

  6. put them next to something that you do remember, but where they're unlikely to be overlooked as part of a big heap of meaningless objects to your sleepy brain. I keep mine in the kitchen next to the tea.

    I can't stand low fat cottage cheese--i find it tasteless and dry, not unlike mortar. I also am not a fan of fruit in my cottage cheese--i like it with a little salt and curry powder or a touch of dill.

    I'm sure the folks at Curves are going to be there for you with this, but be careful with a high-protein diet. They're not good for your heart, high protein foods tend to have a lot of cholesterol, and if you're not very strict with them they can make you put on weight very very fast. The best source of protein is tofu. Really any diet that puts a preference on a food type--high protein, high carb, high water--is going to confuse your body and may lead to temporary weight loss, but the funny thing about metabolisms is that they're very adaptable and will adjust to what you're eating to try and resume what your endocrine system has determined is your ideal body weight (whether or not society thinks it is). I don't think you need to worry about what you eat--you like cooking, rarely eat prepared foods, don't snack often, stay away from HFCS, stay away from artificial fats, and you're inherently slender and will probably remain so until you have babies and your hormone arrangement changes. And even then, I think you'll be all right--you've got a delicate frame, dear. If you feel like you're getting love handles, I really think it's just a sign you should walk around more. And it's springtime, so it's the perfect time to do it. (and walking around is free!) The love handles themselves indeed are probably mostly in your head--your psyche's way of telling you that it's tired of being lazy. But Curves really doesn't have all the answers when it comes to health. They're going to slot you somewhere on a bell curve which is based upon statistics, not nature. The thing I can't tell myself enough is there are many flavors of healthy, and the shape of your belly has little to do with the contents of your arteries. As long as you can do the things you normally do without getting winded or having a heart attack you're set.

    And something important that Naomi Wolf belabors is the fact that when you're unemployed and feeling down you're likely to judge yourself against the beautiful people on tv--but remember, they're not healthy: they're typically bulimic, surgically and digitally remastered, and have very unhappy lives of being made to constantly run on treadmills and eat ice cubes and celery. Media's beautiful people are not beautiful and they're barely even people. They're starving.

  7. I agree with the above comments -- you are truly beautiful! Don't forget it! But I also understand the urge to get in shape (more important than the number on the scale) -- I'm trying to do that with my funemployment right now too. I'm really terrible with gyms, so I just try to fit as much exercise into my days as possible, e.g. instead of just walking around the house, I do lunges everywhere I go, and sit-ups and push-ups during commercial breaks on TV. Coupled with more concerted efforts a few times a week, I think this stuff makes a difference, especially since it's low pressure -- no reps, and it's over pretty fast. Just my $0.02. Good luck!

  8. Thanks, guys. Yeah, it's not so much about Losing Weight Because I Am Fat. It's more that my clothes feel tighter than they used to, and things are more jiggly and hanging over the tops of pants than they used to, and that I DO get winded doing stupid things like going up a few flights of stairs. I just want to feel healthier - I don't need to be a size 2 (or even a size 6). I just want to fit into the clothes I have and not get so wimped out on easy-moderate hikes.

    I'm all about the healthy! The thing I like about this plan (keeping in mind that I haven't started it yet!) is that you train yourself over time. Over 30 days, you teach yourself what portions are, and get in the habit of eating whole wheat instead of bleached white and all that. I KNOW my portions are too big, and I eat way more bread (and non-wheat bread) than I should.

    Basically, I just want to lose enough weight so I can feel healthy and not like a slob who suddenly can't fit into her clothes :-)

  9. so does this mean if we make bread one of these days we have to make an uber healthy one? :)

  10. hehe maybe...maybe not ;-)

    I have made whole wheat honey oat bread before, and that is healthy AND delicious. maybe we could make a flax seed bread or something...

  11. wow, who knew this post would get so many comments? i've consciously dieted to lose weight before and found it surprisingly doable, in the sense that logic works (eat less, exercise more). keeping a journal of what you eat is really really really helpful. it also helps to be unemployed or lightly employed. :)

    all that said i can't imagine you at 130 lbs, you look great as is, but i guess that's what people tell me and i've been there and looked better and felt better too.

    at any rate good luck.

  12. Haha, seriously. Who knew? Yeah, I don't know where I got 130. I think I pulled it out of thin air, or my butt, or something like that. Anyway, if 20 lbs come off and I can still eat what I want, great. If I only lose 15, or 10, or even 5 and my clothes fit better and I can go up stairs without being out of breath, great.

    And yeah, starting next week, I'm going to keep a food diary with Curves Complete online (free trial for 30 days) :-)

  13. Well, I am proud of you for attending to your health. Seeing as we come from a family with diabetes, heart disease and cancer, being health conscious is both wise and necessary. Feeling healthy and energetic has its rewards. I like low fat and even non-fat cottage cheese-especially with fruit. Exercise=endorphins (sp?) and that always makes me happy! Walk on!

  14. Mmmm, I weirdly love love love flax seeds.

  15. it's funny that you're writing about Curves. i joined about 2 years ago and loved it (didn't do the Curves eating plan but that sounds cool). i liked the ladies who work and are members there, i liked feeling like a rock star next to the older, shall we say... larger, women (i know this sounds awful! but it's true... i usually find "real" gyms so discouraging cuz i'm like yeah... i'll never look like THAT... instead of inspiring me to look a certain way, and i really liked the computer program with the little card where it keeps track of your progress, resistance, etc (do you have that at your Curves?). so all that being said, the ONE thing that is making me cancel my membership is Curves' shitty hours. closing at 7:30pm. yeah, it stopped working for me about 6 mo ago cuz i often work late and thus, i must quit. BOOO. but good luck to you, it's a great place if their hours work for you!! now i gotta figure out an alternate plan for me, as my clothes are NOT fitting properly and i too am getting winded on staircases. take care and happy belated bday. :)

  16. Absolutely, Julie. I like the low-key, no-pressure-ness of it. My Curves has the little key card thing, but I don't use it yet because I'm still on my 30-day Fitness Trial thingy. Once I join for reals, I will have it, and it looks awesome!

    And yeah, I've thought that it might be difficult once I get a job, but hopefully I'll be able to make it work. Even if I joined 24 Hour Fitness or something, I don't think I'd work out late anyway.

  17. i wish i could convince them to stay open even an hour later! rawr!

    you'll love the card thingy. it's so cooooool! enjoy. :)