I should be packing right now. Or emptying the dishwasher. Or retrieving the corner of the tuna sandwich my cat just snagged from my plate and took under the couch.
But, instead I’m going to blow your mind. I hope you’re ready for this.
I lost 15 pounds in the last 3 weeks.
Seriously. I was a tight 8 and now I’m a 4.
Five kinds of crazy, right? Would you like to know how I did it?
I’m an eater. I’m Italian, I love food, I love to cook, I eat a piece of cold pizza while two more pieces warm up in the microwave, I love cheese and bread and pasta and cold cuts.
Fortunately, I’ve always been an exerciser as well.
Until about two years ago when I stopped working out “for just a few months”. I was busy working and moving and being depressed about money and I just plain didn’t feel like it.
Around this time I also discovered Trader Joe’s $3.99 chardonnay and their wide array of frozen party appetizers. (Party in my elastic pants!) Let’s just say that Trader Joe’s and I became the bestest of friends. I hoped that token exercise here and there and maybe…good genes?…would prevent me from gaining weight. Tragically, physics won.
I steadily gained about A POUND A MONTH for two years until two months ago when I weighed as much as I did at six months pregnant.
Yeah, you read that right.
I started wearing only yoga pants. I cried every time I was in my closet. I threw jeans around. My skin broke out. My nails and hair were weak and brittle. I was aging quickly. My heart would thud in my chest when I would get up from the couch. I was TIIIIRED.
I felt and looked awful.
Then Oprah got involved. As she often does.
The episode was about the movie Food, Inc. and Oprah had Alicia Silverstone on. I think animals were getting hurt in the movie or something, but ANYWAY about Alicia Silverstone’s skin.
Like BUTTER. Like SILK.
Alicia has been a vegetarian for 12 years and claims that she owes her beautiful skin to her lifestyle. She’s a year older than I am and yet I look like her sad, lonely, much older, saggy-pored sister.
Hey! I thought. I used to be a vegetarian! I can do that!
And so it began.*
I immediately cut out all animal products except for my morning latte. (Also referred to as “Lena’s meds”.) Next I found a good fruit smoothie recipe to start my mornings. I knew myself well enough to know that if I didn’t start my day with something healthy and filling I would find myself face first in a bagel by noon.
Then I added the simplest, most unintimidating form of exercise I could think of: walking. And here’s the thing. This is the controversial part. This is THE SECRET to weight loss that professionals don’t want to admit.
Exercise makes you gain weight.
I’ve been a gym rat for years. Trust me. Working out makes you swell, it makes you hungry.
Don’t misunderstand. Exercise has its place. You need it for your health. Plus, the best body I’ve ever had was when I worked out with a trainer. But, for a quick loss – to get over the hump and make some fast progress – calorie restriction is where it’s at.
(I love saying “where it’s at”. It’s so grammatically incorrect, it’s decadent.)
Here’s an easy way to remember: Diet for weight; Exercise for shape.
Every morning I started my day with my smoothie – if you just can’t wait another minute, the recipe’s at the bottom – and a handful of walnuts for protein.
For lunch, I would either have fruit or another smoothie and at dinnertime I would eat just the side dishes I made for Chris and Savannah (broccoli and rice, for example).
Granted, my calorie intake was pretty low and that’s not for everyone, but for me it worked. I wasn’t exerting a lot of energy, I had a low level hunger that was easily managed, I drank a ton of water and the best part? After three days the weight just FELL. OFF.
And my skin. My skiiiiin. It completely cleared up. It’s glowy, it’s dewy, it’s soft. True, look. Here’s Yvonne and I last weekend. Please disregard my weird facial contortion. (Oh yeah, and I’m a brunette now. Surprise!)
So, I hit my goal weight so fast I can not believe it. I am convinced it isn’t just what I’m eating, it’s what I’m not eating anymore. No more salt. No more bad fats. No more chemicals. Just clean and green. And mean! And lean!
Now that I’m the weight I want to be I’ve started adding back in weights and cardio. I know from experience that my body will shape up and get tight much quicker now that I’m leaner. I’m doing Jillian Michaels Making the Cut (I complained about it here) three times a week and I’ll keep you posted if I can pick up cars or anything anytime soon.
So, there it is. That’s what I’ve been up to. Being awesome. How are you?
Lena’s Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful Smoothie
strawberries (preferably frozen)
blueberries (preferably frozen)
fresh spinach (you won’t feel a thing, I promise)
fresh filtered water
(Resist adding any milk or juice. Trust me, you won’t need it.)
Handful of each of the above ingredients, except the flaxseed because that would be alot, and throw it in the blender. Blend it to a frothiness and drink immediately.
Have one for breakfast, one for lunch – maybe get cr-a-zy and throw in a few extra fruits. I hear oranges are nice. I’m not a fan – and then eat something light for dinner.
Follow with a handful of walnuts and you will feel a burst of energy and jubilee and very soon after some new friends I bet. Or weird looks.
*I’m not a dietician or nutritionist or gynecologist or archaeologist so you probably shouldn’t do anything just because I told you to and without consulting your doctor. But you already knew that because you’re not a moron.
Sorry about the inexact measurements. I use about 1 1/2 cups water, enough to get it to the consistency you want. I like my smoothies pretty thick. As for the flaxseed, I keep a jar fresh ground in the fridge and use about a tablespoon. And I should have mentioned that you cannot taste the spinach AT ALL and I use about 10-15 leaves. Oh, and the ice...about 3-4 cubes. If you're using frozen berries, that will make the smoothie pretty icy already.
As for just throwing it all in a freezer bag the night before as Laura suggested, I guess that would work out just fine. But, seriously, I am the laziest person in the free world and I manage to throw this together in about two minutes. Oh, and here's a HUGE TIP: rinse the blender and lid immediately and put it right back for its next use. (Berries are a bitch when they harden.) Otherwise it becomes a whole sink-to-dishwasher thing and if you're like me that means days before your next smoothie.