Saturday, October 4, 2008

If you can't say anything nice ... say it on your blog!

First - weigh-in today was 201.8. That's where I've been for the past 5 or 6 weeks now, so it looks like I am in one of those much-ballyhooed plateaus. That's OK, though - it could be worse! And I'm pleased that I seem to be able to maintain what is, after all, a loss of 10% of my weight over six months. That's something to celebrate!

Second - last Wednesday I decided to stay home from work because my sweet hubby was sick (bronchitis, ick) and I wanted to hang around and take care of him. However, I decided, and he agreed, that I should try to do my Curves workout anyway.

Since I wasn't about to go all the way downtown to my own fabulous Bunker Hill Curves, I remembered there is one in Van Nuys, right next door to Four and Twenty, a restaurant where we often go for breakfast on Saturday mornings. I phoned to make sure it would be OK for me to come in, even though I hadn't had enough advance notice to get a travel pass, and the nice-sounding lady on the phone said sure, come on over! So I did.

At first everything was fine. There were only a couple of other ladies in there working out, and everyone seemed pretty relaxed. As I always do at my own Curves, I let the two other ladies know that I was doing one minute at each station, rather than the regulation 30. They seemed a little surprised (which should have tipped me off), but friendly and interested, so I didn't worry too much about it.

Now here's the thing - when I work out at my own Curves, I prefer not to engage in chit-chat with others. And that's the way most of the other early birds at my Downtown location feel. We're all getting ready for a busy work day and this is the last "me time" we'll have for several hours. So it's understood - you don't talk to others unless you know them, and you know they don't mind.

This place, unfortunately, wasn't like that. The chatter was nonstop. I wouldn't have minded so much, except I was having a LOT of trouble hearing the recorded voice that says, every 30 seconds, "Change stations now". So I probably wound up doing more than one minute at a couple of the stations.

But even that would have been OK, except for what happened when a group of about 3 or 4 additional ladies joined us and started working out. Again, when one lady plopped herself on a machine fairly close to me, I let her know that I was doing (or at least TRYING to do!) one minute. Like the others, she too seemed surprised - but this time, not in a friendly way.

"You know," she snarked, "it really doesn't make any difference if you work on the machines a minute, instead of 30 seconds."

"Yes, I know," I replied. "It's just the way that works best for me."

"So you're just stuck in your ways," she responded bitchily. (Yes - I'm a Catholic and I'm saying "bitchily"! We French-Irish-German-Fox Indian Catholics are a feisty bunch!)

I didn't really know how to respond to that, so I just smiled, said "Yeah", and at the next possible opportunity, moved across the room to an area which was less bitch-intensive.

And as if one of the members hadn't done enough to make a visitor feel unwelcome, the heretofore-nice lady at the front desk decided to get into the act. "Christine," she called, beckoning to me.

Now keep in mind - I WAS STILL DOING MY WORKOUT at this point! But I thought perhaps something was wrong with the paperwork I'd filled out upon arrival, so I stopped and went over. And to my humiliation, she proceeded to tell me that the snarky lady who'd just bitched off to me was a former instructor there (and apparently still held some position of influence). Unless there was no one else around, 30 seconds at each station was mandatory at this Curves. And the kicker was - not only should I not do my workout that way in front of the others, but - in these United States of America, where freedom of speech is guaranteed by our Constitution -


That's right - I had apparently committed a major faux pax by letting the other women there know that other Curves locations allow their members to spend more than 30 seconds at each station!!! The audacity!!!

Well, I was actually in tears at this point, but determined not to let them see me break down and cry. Plus - I REALLY WANTED TO FINISH MY WORKOUT! I only had about 10 minutes left to go anyway (not counting the time I'd been called to the principal's office). So I swallowed my tears and, I am proud to say, finished my workout and CONTINUING to do 1 minute at each station. God bless America!

But my Gethsemane wasn't quite over yet. I was grabbing my bag and water bottle out of the cubbyhole, ready to beat a hasty retreat, when Desk Lady approached me again. This time she was pushing a sheaf of photocopied pages towards me - from what I could see, they were pages from Gary Heavin's book describing the basic Curves program.

One sentence had actually been highlighted in yellow - and as soon as I saw it, I realized I was in the presence of an actual Fitness Fundamentalist. That sentence advised me that the optimal workout time on the Curves machines was 30 seconds. Apparently, "optimal" to the good folks at Curves Van Nuys has been redefined as "mandatory"!

I resisted her efforts to make me actually put my hands on this propaganda piece and take it with me. She withdrew it, but then tried to tell me that they also had a copy of the Curves stretch chart (because of course, us benighted denizens of Bunker Hill had probably not seen that either). Thanks but no thanks.

Still ready to cry, but determined to make sure they knew they weren't dealing with some Downtown homeless lady who'd just stumbled in from Skid Row, I choked out, "Goodbye - and be sure and check out my blog, 'The Curvy Catholic'!"

Then I went out to my car, bawled my head off for about five minutes, dried my eyes, and went into Four and Twenty for a good breakfast. I was going to write about this incident immediately upon returning home, but decided to wait. See, I'm a Catholic, so I really wanted to see if I could think of at least one nice thing to say about them.

And I have! Here goes: Thanks, Curves of Van Nuys - you really made me appreciate Curves of Bunker Hill!

Oh, and P.S. - if you're in the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks area, and are looking for a place to work out, check out a great place called It Figures!

Like Curves, they promote a 30-minute circuit training workout (30 seconds or 1 minute at each station) - but unlike Curves, they have cardio and weight training classes.

And their highly skilled personal trainers would definitely not try to force you to work out in a way that doesn't work for you. Check them out - and tell 'em the Curvy Catholic sent ya!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Curves and Weight Watchers, Part II - the long-awaited Weight Watchers update!

First of all, thanks to the cellarer for commenting on my last post - wow! someone other than me and my husband is reading my blog! I feel like a real blogger now! (hee hee!)

Second, this week's weigh-in - back to 201.6. I seem to have been gaining and losing the same pound for the past several weeks, but that's OK - sure beats the alternative of gaining multiple pounds over the same period of time, which I am pretty sure is what would be happening had I not changed my eating and exercise habits last April.

Which brings us (finally!) to - the Weight Watchers review!

The first thing to understand is that Weight Watchers, like Curves, is a commercial organization. That is, it exists primarily to make money. Which is just fine - as an American and a supporter of the free market system, I have no problem with that.

However, it's important to understand because, as with Curves, there are good things and bad things about it, and if you're paying money into a weight-loss organization, you should feel perfectly free - no matter how much pressure the nice ladies at the weigh-in desk put on you - to resist doing the things you don't feel comfortable about.

For example, there are all sorts of THINGS for sale at Weight Watchers. Not only food (mainly snacks - my favorites are the Cheddar Twists, 2 POINTS a bag!, and the Oatmeal, also 2 POINTS each), but also Gadgets Galore!

Special measuring spoons (because the ones you have at home aren't quite as shiny?), special walking kits (because putting on your grungie tennies and slogging around the block on your own doesn't really count unless you're wearing a Weight Watchers pedometer) - oh, and those Weight Watchers pedometers? I must confess I bought one, but the awkward thing is I couldn't see it out of the box till I paid for it, and once I saw it, I realized that I never would have bought it if I had seen it.

It's shaped like a miniature (but not really that miniature!) alarm clock and you're somehow supposed to wear it next to your hip while you're walking. Shurrrr - and I've got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale, if you're interested!

And it's not cheap either - I can't remember the exact amount but it was over twenty bucks, I can tell you that! I did use it a couple of times but got tired of the bruise it left on my hip.

Now - enough complaining! I am one of those people you can always count on to find something wrong. But I'm also one of those incredibly annoying people who can always find something right (think "Pollyanna"). Anyway, the good things about Weight Watchers are (in no particular order):

1. Choice of plans - either "Flex" (where you eat anything you want as long as it adds up to the proper amount of "POINTS" each day - "POINTS" being a mathematical calculation involving calories, fat and fiber) or "Core" (where you can only eat foods on the approved list, but as many of them as you like, and they're all very healthy and good for you).

2. Almost endless variety of food you can incorporate into your plan. Even if you're "Core", you get 35 extra "POINTS" each week to use as you wish, so if you want to go out & share a bowl of Fettucine Alfredo with your sweetie on Saturday night, you can.

3. Emphasis on good nutrition and exercise. This is admirable, and not all of the big weight loss plans are as scrupulous about providing you with good information about the benefits of veggies, lean meats, etc., as well as encouraging you to GET UP OFF YOUR FAT BEHIND once in a while!

4. Weekly Meeting/Weigh-In - I think that's the most important and VITAL part of this whole Weight Watchers thing. I mean, sure, you can try to do it by yourself - maybe even join "Weight Watchers Online" - but the downside is that there's no one else around to applaud your successes and commiserate with your failures. And you definitely get that aspect when you go to the live, in-person meetings, and weigh in with an actual, physical, live person every week. It's my opinion that the weigh-ins keep you honest and make it easier to stay on the program.

For example, in my not-too-distant past, I would look forward to getting home after work and pigging out. (Melted cheese makes EVERYTHING taste better!) But now, the only day I let myself get *close* to pigging out is Saturday - AFTER my morning weigh-in! And even then I try to keep it within reason.

Because I keep thinking, "I have to weigh in again in less than 7 days - how will these deep-fried onion rings smothered in sharp Canadian cheddar affect me?" And since the answer is pretty obvious, I either do without the high-fat snack or make something similar but healthier (Hungry Girl is a big help in this sort of thing!).

So overall, in spite of any nitpicky little problems I might have with it, Weight Watchers (in harmony with Curves) has been working for me! And if you're savvy enough to do your own research and figure out what you can/can't live with, it could work for you too. Give it a shot! (Another nice thing about WW - you can pay month to month!)