Eat, Drink, Blog / Gypsy's Musings

30 Days, 30 Pounds: The First 10 Days

Be sure to check out the introduction to this challenge here.

Day 1 – May 30th; weight: 201.6 – 26.4 pounds to goal

I don’t really take much notice of dropping close to four pounds because my body is very accustomed to losing 10 pounds quickly. That said, I’m glad to be off to a good start; it will motivate me to keep on track. I woke up with a bit of a headache this morning, which could be detox from all the icky Mexican food I had eaten two days earlier (my pattern seems to be drink alcohol one day and eat poorly the next). I feel pretty energetic and not particularly hungry. I consume a total of 1600 calories for the day, including a monster salad. It’s important to note that I do use “dressing” but it’s virgin olive oil, cider vinegar (house-made, not store-bought) and about a tablespoon of artisan hot sauce for spice, so the salad isn’t lo-cal. As noted in the introduction, I am not looking to starve myself or my body; I am looking to eat only good food that will be a long process for my digestive track.

I also did a full yoga/spiritual practice, followed by “erranding” (yes, I do think that should be a verb). I go to the farmer’s market where I spend almost $150 for a killer haul that includes salad veggies and organic protein (turkey, pork), plus fresh-caught fish and a steak from the butcher’s. I love the farmer’s market, which is way cheaper than the store but also requires me to be diligent about eating all this food before it rots!

If I had gone to a regular store for all this food, it would have set me back at least twice what I spent at the market!

If I had gone to a regular store for all this food, it would have set me back at least twice what I spent at the market!

Let me note that I appreciate my privilege: I had the money to go to the market and shop. However, for what it’s worth, the NYC Greenmarket program accepts food stamps, so this amount of food is not outside the ability for someone who is shopping for three people for a week to 10 days. That said, some weeks I don’t have money to shop anywhere other than Trader Joe’s. It happens, but I’m trying to cut back on meat and boost veggies. Add in that I’m cutting my beer budget, and this seems like a sustainable plan. Nonetheless, I have to make sure my food doesn’t rot before it’s ready to consume. I take a couple hours and prep all my veggies (the French call this mis en place, and this is what prep chefs do for a living): Now everything is clean and chopped. Oh, and I discover that one raw radish (an acquired taste, but you can get there a bit at a time) quells my hunger pains while doing food prep.

On the left, fresh onions cleaned and prepped; on the right is a mix of washed cilantro and wild arugula that I will add to my monster salads this upcoming week.

On the left, fresh onions cleaned and prepped; on the right is a mix of washed cilantro and wild arugula that I will add to my monster salads this upcoming week.

Biggest Accomplishment: Actually getting to the market to shop. This was not my “walking day,” but I put in a good three miles anyhow. And hauling 30 pounds of groceries in the heat and humidity is nobody’s idea of fun. And I’m also glad I managed to get all the food prepped for the week, making it more likely I will reach for a veggie over something more appealing (like ordering out for pizza).

Biggest Fail: One of my main concerns is that I will injure myself and not be able to complete the challenge. Well, on the way to the subway, I heard the announcement that the train was arriving. If you have never dealt with the MTA you have no appreciation for just how horrible it is to miss your train on a Saturday. As I ran for it, I jammed up my right toe; I don’t know if it’s fractured, sprained or just mildly injured, but it was not a great move on my part. I should have waited 20 minutes and saved my toe the trouble.

Day 2 – May 31st; weight: 200.6 – 25.4 pounds to goal

I wake early without an alarm and didn’t sleep well. This is hardly a revelation; I have long suffered from insomnia and my current residence doesn’t mediate that at all (too hot, too noisy). However, I am determined to get out and walk before the predicted rains come. I don’t want to do the exact same walk I did on Friday, so I pick an alternate route: Cross over the Williamsburg Bridge, loop around Lower Manhattan along the water, cross the island and walk back via the bridge.

Which brings up a point that I hadn’t really considered: how far is that exactly? I know that you can tweak a Google map to change the route, but mostly you get mileage based on streets or public transit. I know, for example, it’s a 4-mile walk from my apartment to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge. I’m setting out to walk between 10-12 miles. At first I decide to go straight at the bridge and cross Manhattan, but I don’t honestly know where to cross the FDR (a highway that runs along the east side of Manhattan). I don’t want to have to double-back when I’m tired (as I fully expect to be on the return route), so I opt for looping back at the bridge. Low and behold, the city planners did something smart for a change and put a pedestrian bridge over the highway right at the bridge (of course, there’s no actual access from the bridge itself, probably because that would just be too damn convenient!):

Super relieved to find a pedestrian route just under the Williamsburg Bridge that crosses over the highway to the park.

Super relieved to find a pedestrian route just under the Williamsburg Bridge that crosses over the highway to the park.

So, my fuzzy math gets fuzzier as I suddenly realize I should have brought something to nosh along the way. I’m half tempted to buy a kabab or some roasted nuts or even steal a fig bar from the Cystic Fibrosis charity walk station I pass en route along the Hudson. The day is glorious, but that toe I injured yesterday has flared up and now I can feel something going on in the opposite foot. I was tracking my time, so I know I managed the first four miles at a 15-minute-per-mile pace, but I’ve slowed. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure I’ve already walked at least 10 miles and I’m still really far from home. I switch from listening to the environment to my tunes. Thank goodness for Pandora, because I suspect music is the only thing to keep me going at this point. This is why having a walking buddy makes this so much easier.

Plenty happening on the walk today, including charity events, Tai Chi, and kayaks in the Hudson.

Plenty happening on the walk today, including charity events, Tai Chi, and kayaks in the Hudson.

Biggest Accomplishment: Sticking to that too-far walk. I could have hopped a subway and I didn’t. I kept going. Also, I started the blog post. I’m hoping that it will serve both as a journal and as motivation to keep going. It’s not easy finding time to blog, believe it or not, but I need to track my progress in the eventuality that I end up publishing this challenge and its results. While I know some people like to share in order to gain support, I’m not ready to do this. Maybe if I am successful in the first 10 days, I will share before going on in my quest. Not sure yet because I don’t want to count my pounds before they’re gone!

Biggest Fail: Sticking to that too-far walk. I ended up with blisters on my feet and so exhausted that I had to take a nap, which wouldn’t have been so bad other than that it was a work day for me. So, now I’m behind on my deadline.

How dirty is walking around NYC? That's my sock line you're looking at (on the non-blistered-but-still-injured foot)!

How dirty is walking around NYC? That’s my sock line you’re looking at (on the non-blistered-but-still-injured foot)!

Day 3 – June 1st; weight: 197.8 – 22.6 pounds to goal

After barely sleeping at all (too sore from yesterday), I manage to haul my ass out of bed and am slightly surprised to see the big weight drop. I consumed more calories yesterday (approximately 1850) and skipped the monster salad, instead opting for sauteed veggies and small amounts of protein. Plus a cheat: One slice of bread with about 2 oz. of goat’s milk chevre spread on it. I had purchased it from the market pre-challenge, and someone should eat it and it was a nice “treat” after that exhausting walk.

Major drop in pounds aside, today I must get caught up with work, so I expect to be pretty sedentary. I just need to hydrate as I write and not succumb to snacking. My daughter has started joking, “You’re fat! People who want to lose 30 pounds in 30 days don’t get seconds!” While I don’t consider “fat” a pejorative, it is a fair adjective and no seconds for me!

Biggest Accomplishment: Getting caught up on my work and not getting carried away with noshing. One of the downsides of a home-based office is you are never very far from the kitchen. It’s also the first day I’ve managed to check off every box on my list in over three months (for more on that list, please look at the New Year’s post)!

Biggest Fail: Yelling at my son for some small grievance. I am usually even tempered with my kids, but when I’m hungry and sore, I’m less patient.

Day 4 – June 2nd; weight: 198.4 – 23.2 pounds to goal

When I started off the year, I was coordinating with my sister and we agreed only to weigh in once each week. The reason is what I see this morning: backtracking instead of maintaining. I know, however, that I didn’t do anything to cause an uptick in weight. It’s probably from how much liquid I consumed yesterday. I was pretty hungry in the evening and kept alternating between drinking tea and seltzer. The downside was I had to get up in the night to pee more often than I do when I drink beer. The upside (?) is that my urine looks like water; it’s completely clear. Speaking of bathroom issues, it’s amazing what happens to your colon when you start eating clean. Everything seems to be cleared out, as it were.

Hydration aside, I know that this is where I typically get complacent. I’m depriving myself and putting on weight. That’s the worst combination for me. However, I was still very sore last night so I took a pain pill. Because I take pharmaceuticals so rarely, they tend to do a number on me. For all I know, the halfish-pound I put on is “narcotic weight.” Regardless, I need to monitor my movement and food carefully today to make sure this uptick doesn’t mean I’m backtracking. As of this morning, I’m still ahead of my goal of losing one pound/day, so I know I must continue on this challenge in the hopes that I will find some form of success.

Today is a walking day, but considering the weather, I will probably do yoga today and try to get in a walk tomorrow. I may do a three-mile schlep later today, but that comes with mixed challenges: A friend has asked me out for a drink at a bar 1.5 miles from here (I’ll walk it, as there’s no public transit to get there even if I didn’t want to walk). Make mine a diet coke?

Biggest Accomplishment: I actually ended up not going out to meet my friend, so I dodged the “will she or won’t she” question about having a drink.

Biggest Fail: N/A

Day 5 – June 3rd; weight: 200.0 – 24.8 pounds to goal

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!? I have no idea why I’m putting weight on instead of taking it off. Here’s what I ate yesterday:

  • A small protein smoothie in the morning, along with two cups of coffee with 4T cream; total calories ~ 450
  • A monster salad that took the better part of four hours to eat; total calories ~ 1,000
  • A cup of Cafe Vienna in the evening; total calories ~250

While 1,700 calories are not a “diet” level of nutrition, I shouldn’t be putting weight on from this. I also am not sleeping well, mostly due to drinking water and having to get up multiple times in the night. I even did my yoga and moved around a good bit doing errands (laundry day, so I was hauling clothes back and forth in the rain!). I honestly don’t know how I can cut back calories even more at this point. I actually woke up early (in part because I was sleeping so badly anyhow) to do my yoga and feel utterly uninspired to do anything. This is how people fail at losing weight, I swear. Maybe I should go for door number three and wish for Swine Flu again? This SUCKS!

I guess I just need to wait out the week and see where my weight lands. In the meantime, I’m skipping the morning workout and having a solid breakfast to see if that jump starts my metabolism.

Biggest Accomplishment: Getting through my work day without making mistakes; my mind was so fuzzy that I couldn’t concentrate. I don’t know if this is an effect of too little food (unlikely), detox (possibly) or just my body playing tricks with me (likely). I think my body is right at that point where it’s saying, “Are we really going to do this? Because I’ve been here before and I don’t believe you’ll stick with it!” We’re definitely living closer to “hate” on the continuum of our love-hate relationship.

Biggest Fail: A toss-up between no genuine exercise/workout and taking a nap. I was so out of it, I thought I would be sick if I didn’t nap. I only slept for about 90 minutes before the phone woke me, but I seriously felt like I was in zombie land.

Day 6 – June 4th; weight: 199.0 – 23.8 pounds to goal

At least I’m going back in the right direction. I have a long day ahead and had another night of bad sleep. No one mentions the effect of drinking more water in terms of getting up to pee in the night. I swear, I’m better off with beer! Typically I have to get up once in the night if I go to bed after drinking beer; with water it’s three times! I’m exhausted. But I’m up early (4 a.m.) to do exercise before my work day. I definitely won’t be able to stick to the yoga-walking-yoga-walking pattern: Walking just takes too much time. But depending on how today goes, I may be able to do yoga this morning and then walk home from work (~5 miles).

Biggest Accomplishment: Coming home from my work yesterday around 8:30 p.m. and not eating anything. I was sorely tempted after a very long day on my feet, but looked at the clock and decided just to head for bed on an empty belly.

Biggest Fail: N/A

Day 7 – June 5th; weight: 197.8 – 22.6 pounds to goal

So, I’m back down to where I was at the beginning of the week after Sunday’s monster walk. I would like to do another big walk today, but I don’t have time given the schedule. I was working all day yesterday (gratis, for a friend), and during the shoot (working on a new comedy web series) I mentioned my initiative to my friends there. Because they aren’t beer people (as I write about beer, most of my friends are beer people and a lot of our social interactions are centered around drinking events), they were super supportive of what I’m trying to do and very encouraging. A couple of the guys on the shoot were totally ripped, and they agreed that I just need to stay the course. When I mentioned that I don’t think I’ll succeed in losing 30 pound in 30 days, one woman really jumped on me (in a well-intentioned way), saying if I don’t believe in myself, I’m more likely to fail. While obvious, this observation forced me to redefine what it is I’m actually trying to do. I cannot control my body losing weight; what I can control is diet/drinking/exercise. It’s how I ended up losing so much weight back in 2009, by focusing on what is within my control.

Yesterday's film shoot. I'm not pictured because I'm guarding the equipment. But, yes, I will take fitness advice from the lovely "bros" (not derogatory, that's the name of their part in this comedy), thank you very much. And thank you to my female director for having them remove their shirts in this scene!

Yesterday’s film shoot. I’m not pictured because I’m guarding the equipment. But, yes, I will take fitness advice from the lovely “bros” (not derogatory, that’s the name of their part in this comedy), thank you very much. And thank you to my female director for having them remove their shirts in this scene!

Thus, when I say, “I don’t think I’ll be able to lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” it’s not an admission of defeat before I even try. Really what I’m saying is: I have a goal that every day for 30 days I will exercise (already skipped one day but I think that was a wise choice since I was so tired I might have injured myself), not drink (so far so good) and really watch my diet (portion control as opposed to “dieting”). I hope my buff new friends are right, that if I stick to this plan the pounds will come off. But all I can control is whether or not I stick to the plan. I do believe I can do this, so it’s a start towards a better me.

Biggest Accomplishment: Doing exercise after three hours of cleaning house. I was sweating from head to toe, but I did yoga nonetheless.

Biggest Fail: The one thing I knew that could set me back has happened: I was taking my son to soccer try-outs yesterday, got distracted three steps from the hall exit way, fell down and twisted my right ankle. To add insult to injury, I’ve jammed up a finger in my left hand. I have no idea when I’ll be able to resume any kind of exercise. Even to try yoga at this point seems dangerous. I won’t be able to do any poses that involve my left hand or right foot. I’m very depressed and in extreme pain at this point.

Hard to believe a few days ago I was washing the dirt from a 15-mile walk off this foot!

Hard to believe a few days ago I was washing the dirt from a 15-mile walk off this foot!

Day 8 – June 6th; weight: 197.4 – 22.2 pounds to goal

So I guess this is where it ends. I totally bashed up my ring finger on my left hand along with my right ankle. I haven’t managed to get to a hospital, but pretty sure I tore some ligaments in my foot. I have no idea when I’ll be able to do any exercise. Even typing this is painful (who knew so many high-volume letters were typed with the second-to-last finger on your left hand). Will try to stick to a diet, which should be easy since even walking to the kitchen is painful.


Looks like I broke a knuckle; hurts like hell.


Biggest Accomplishment: Not calling out for Mexican, I guess. I spent the day on the couch, crying off and on, snapping pictures of my ever-expanding ankle, and fielding texts from well intentioned friends who want me to go to the ER. I was seriously considering take-out, but my son said he wasn’t really hungry, so I didn’t give in to the “pity” food.

Biggest Fail: I had gone out prior to my injury to buy a few beers for a friend who was supposed to be stopping by and then couldn’t make it at the last minute. So, after 10 days of not drinking—the longest sobriety I have had in at least a couple years—I caved and drank three beers.

Day 9 – June 7th; weight: 198.8 – 23.6 pounds to goal

I spent nearly the entire day resting. My foot isn’t worse and my finger is a bit better; I think it was something I did to my knuckle as opposed to the finger (can you break a knuckle?). I still can’t put any weight on it, but the swelling is much more localized and I can type a bit better.

I also become conscious of the whole “when the going gets tough…” notion of not giving up. I still want to lose this weight. Maybe 30 pounds is completely out of the question at this point, given my limited mobility, but I can still try to stick to the original plan with modifications. Speaking of which, I always recommend yoga to people because it can be modified to nearly any physical type; even paraplegics can do yoga. You just have to find appropriate poses and make modifications. So, I’m going to try out a few poses and see what my body can take in the hopes of integrating yoga back into the daily routine, which probably will preclude walking for the next few weeks days at the minimum (UPDATE: turns out I tore a couple tendons and was able to start walking again in about a week).

Biggest Accomplishment: I did do 20 minutes of yoga. I struggled with some poses and didn’t even attempt others. I have a fairly broad repertoire of poses I do on in my routine, so I chose from them (e.g. down dog but no up dog, plank but no side plank, shoulderstand, cat-cow poses, floor work, cobbler but no crossed leg poses). The challenge is finding enough poses that can be done on both sides of my body: Between a left hand that is injured and a right foot, my options are constricted. Planning on doing some searching online to find more poses I can integrate; hope to get back up to 40 minutes in the next day or so.

Biggest Fail: All things considered, I’m giving myself a pass today. I ate well and did a bit of exercise, but mostly just rested.

Day 10 – June 8th; weight: 197.6 – 22.4 pounds to goal

While I should be at 20 pounds to go, given my weekend of lying on the couch and pretty much not moving, I guess I’m lucky to be less than 2.5 pounds from my goal weight at this point. I had my daughter—who I should note is a horribly indifferent photographer when it comes to me (no, “Hey, mom… pull down the front of your swimming suit… hey mom… the tag is sticking out), so the photo doesn’t line up exactly per Day 1—take another round of photos to see if there are any differences after 10 days. The most noteworthy area is my belly (I didn’t “suck in” on any of the photos either today or on Day 1); I can definitely see a reduction around my “paunch.” Despite the weird alignment on my back picture (my kid cut off my head but left plenty of floor prior to my cropping), I can tell that my upper back has lost some weight. And it seems like I’ve lost a bit off my face, too.


And yes, I did get my hair cut. I was waiting until I got to 195 pounds to “reward” myself with a haircut, but it’s been more than six months and I couldn’t wait another two pounds any longer.

Even though the improvements are minimal, I don’t think it’s “wishful thinking” on my part… so I will keep trying to continue the challenge as best I can given my current physical state.

Biggest Accomplishment: I managed to do 30 minutes of yoga today, and I also walked to work and back on my wrapped up ankle. Feeling like if I’m careful that I can maneuver on it, which is good.

Biggest Fail: N/A.

Click here to read about the next ten days of the challenge

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