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Skwigg Blog
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Sneaking Up on the Unicorn

I can't diet. I can't even think that I might diet, or my brain, which in the past I've subjected to true prolonged literal starvation, will FREAK OUT and trigger rebound eating, much like those guys who went nuts in that Minnesota Starvation Experiment. :-)

I can't start something temporary that I will eventually stop--a "cleanse," challenge, contest, deadline, jumpstart, induction, calorie counting, x-week program, any of that. If I want to be leaner, the trick is to create a new normal. The way I eat now results in my current level of leanness. If I want to be even leaner, then I need to permanently alter my habits and intake so that they support the new body composition. I need to enjoy it and I need to do it gradually. That way it sticks. I was joking that this mythical future leanness is like sneaking up on a unicorn. I can't stop pursuing it because, hey, it's a UNICORN. The key is to tippy-toe up on the mythical leanness. I don't want to lunge at it and scare it or it will run away. 

So, I really consider my current habits and look for places to make changes. Could I have one of those instead of two? Could I indulge in that less often? Could I sub an equally enjoyable but lower calorie (or healthier) alternative? Could I still have _____ but make the portion smaller? I am willing to try new things if they appeal to me. Like I tried intermittent fasting, originally with Eat Stop Eat, but when 24 hour fasts became a drag, I tried just skipping breakfast. That went great for a long time, but when I started missing breakfast, I put it back and just go longer between meals. That ended up being the new normal. Then I discovered that I can happily skip lunch two days per week in addition to going longer between meals, and that is the new, new normal. :-) 

Basically, you bring something in (or take something out), see how it goes, and decide whether to keep that modification or not. Then you keep repeating the process until you have a new normal where you're happy, not freaking out, and easily maintaining the leaner body. This is a slow as mud process for me, but I'm already about as lean as I intend to get. My "normal" is pretty tight. If you're really loosey-goosey right now, changing a few of your most counterproductive habits can result in a satisfying drop without doing anything crazy. Just don't change too many things at once or totally cut out anything dear to you. Remember, the idea is for this to be your new everyday existence. You don't want it to be miserable. 

Posted by skwigg at 8:33 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 June 2011 8:34 PM CDT
Friday, 24 June 2011
Sugar & Heart Disease--Finally!

Every day when I arrive at work at the TV station, Dr Oz is the first show I air, and then four hours later I run a second episode on another station, so I pretty much can't escape him.

Last night he was doing a show about sugar and I was preparing to get all eye-rolly, as I often do when he spews dated conventional wisdom and conflicting information, like coconut oil is bad for you, and then a week later he'll have a segment on the merits of coconut oil. That makes me crazy! But last night he FINALLY comes right out and says too much sugar elevates triglycerides, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, and raises LDL (bad) cholesterol. Too much sugar also raises blood pressure and can lead to liver disease, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance, and eventually diabetes.

Direct quote: "I think that's the biggest cause of high cholesterol in this country. It's not the fat we eat, it's the sugar we're eating."

That thud sound you heard was me falling out of my chair. :-D And I think this was a repeat episode. I don't know how I missed it the first time. Anyway, interesting stuff. Here's the link if you want to watch it (3 parts):


Along those lines, I'd already been trying to prioritize my sugar consumption. You know, like once a weekHaagen-Dazs is really important. Daily cookies I can do without. Weekly donuts have lost their charm. I've been easing up on the plastic honey bear that I use to squirt local honey all over my blueberries and Greek yogurt. A small squirt of it is delicious, but I shouldn't have like a whole bear head. I like my tea unsweetened. I'm enjoying summer fruit and not intending to ditch watermelon or anything. I love to get a soda bucket at the movies, but I do that maybe once a month. MEXICAN PEPSI, OMG, love that! Real sugar! One per week is the maximum intake.

Whatever I'm doing seems to work because my health markers are always perfect, but I don't want to get complacent and let my intake creep, and I totally see how it could happen. Sugar does interesting things to your neural pathways where you'll start to crave, justify, sneak, deny, anything to get your fix. :-) I'd been making cookies and packing one per day in my dinner for work. Then I was having one at lunch and one at dinner. Then I was having two at lunch and one at dinner. Then I was having three when they're hot off the pan, one at lunch and one at dinner. Then I wised up and quit baking. LOL But it's funny how far it went before I thought, wait, I have a problem here. How did this happen? Haha! 

How about you? How is your sugar intake? Do you think it affects your blood pressure or cholesterol levels? What about your weight? Is sugar a major issue or meh?

(This is a post from my new site, Happy Eaters. Read more of the discussion here.) 

Posted by skwigg at 11:19 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, 24 June 2011 11:22 AM CDT
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
How do I lose weight?

What would you tell someone who wants to lose weight? People keep asking me and then not liking my answer, which is "eat less." :-) 

That's not what they want. They want the rules, the ratios, the timing, the research, a calorie level, a rundown of good foods and bad foods. They want all the hows and whys and exceptions. I suppose I'm known for being into that. I'm the resident diet geek or whatever. I used to go on and on about those things. Eat every 2-3 hours, protein at every meal, starchy carbs post-workout, 40/40/20, 40/30/30, BMR, zig-zags, net carbs, insulin, blaaaaaaaa....

So, now when someone I know wants to lose weight, they remember all those droning sounds I used to make about carb cycling or fasted morning cardio or whatever, and they're like, no, tell me all the important details. You know what? Those details aren't important. 

Brad Pilon had a clever little post about Cocaine, Fasting and Weight Loss. He says:

We don't help cocaine addicts by teaching them about the metabolism of serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitors or the hormonal implications of cocaine use, yet we try and help people lose weight by teaching them about hormones, metabolic pathways and glucose chemistry.

His point is that we should be paying attention to habits, lifestyle, emotional, and environmental factors, not pointy-headed broscience. I thought that was awesome!

I also loved this comment by Josh Hillis. He recently cut 10 pounds and someone asked him how he did it. He said:

The magic pill: *Less* total calories, *more* protein, *better* carbs (mostly fruit, vegetables, and brown rice)

That's pretty damn concise and effective! In fact, the next time someone asks me how to lose weight, that might be my canned "cocktail party" answer - fewer calories, more protein, better carbs.

Beyond that, I would tell someone to look at the big picture of weekly food intake. Where are you taking in calories that you could do without? You know, the eating that is pointless, excessive, or not that enjoyable. That's the first to go. Which eating opportunities do you LOVE and really look forward to? Pizza night? Sunday pancakes? Those have to stay. How could you modify them or compensate for the splurge? Once you find the "must haves" and "gotta goes" then you can work on the quality/quantity of your daily meals by maximizing the protein, plants, healthy fats, and whole foods, minimizing (but not eliminating) the goodies, and developing an awareness of portions. I'd explain about using results as a guide. If your results are good, you keep doing what you're doing. If there are no results, you make adjustments until you're seeing positive changes.

Then I'd talk about moving more with activities you enjoy. I actually really like Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint advice to: move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, sprint once in a while, play, and get enough sleep. It's not about sets, reps, and cardio minutes, or finding the perfect training split. It's about creating a generally active lifestyle and then keeping it.

So, that's some really different advice than I would have given 10 years ago! :-D

What about you? Someone walks up to you and says, how do I lose weight? Based on your experience, what would you tell them? What do you wish someone had told you?

(This is a post from my new site, Happy Eaters. Read more of the discussion here.)

Posted by skwigg at 8:46 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 21 June 2011 9:38 PM CDT
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Read My Hips

I'm a sucker for all food, weight, and fitness memoirs. I like reading the different experiences and points of view. Generally, I'm drawn to the eating disorder, weight loss, or fitness triumph books, but I just bumbled across a thoroughly enjoyable book on size and self-acceptance, Read My Hips, How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting, and Live Large by Kim Brittingham. I don't want to ruin the ending, but she doesn't lose a hundred pounds and share her diet and exercise tips.

Kim says: "I've also vowed never to consciously try losing weight ever again. And make no mistake, there's no unhealthy complacency in this approach. I will continue making efforts to eat more healthfully. I'll continue to explore foods of good nutritional quality. I'll continue to address with curiosity the reasons I eat in absence of physical hunger. I'll try to respect my body while strengthening it."

I think most of us can relate to that. Except the never consciously trying to lose weight part. However, calm, flexible, evolved, and patient I become about this whole health and fitness thing, I'm still hyper-conscious of size/weight. It's not a disordered nightmare anymore. I'm at peace with it, but I believe that I'm at peace because doing what I love keeps me in my "ideal" size and condition. What if doing what I loved kept me 50 pounds heavier and many inches bigger? Would I be just as happy? Or would I have a psychotic episode? Sometimes I wonder.

She also says: "I believe we're meant to say yes to food, so that we'll become convinced of its abundance, and thus be able to think about something else."

And: "Sometimes change can only happen when the pressure is off."

Yesssss! Martha Beck and I are right with her on those! Restriction makes people obsessive and crazy. High-pressure tends to create temporary success followed by mega-backlash.

The book itself reads like a series of great essays. As someone who grew up in the 70's and 80's, I could so relate to her childhood and teen experiences. I loved the "Can't Stand the Farm Stand" chapter where she learned to love vegetables. "We Were the Weight Loss Counselors" was a scary look at her experience working as a counselor at a major weight loss franchise. Blind leading the blind much? "Bacon-Cheddar Melt" recounted the miracle of ketosis. In "Fat Is Contagious" she rode New York City public transportation carrying a book with the fake jacket "Fat is Contagious: How Sitting Next to a Fat Person Can Make YOU Fat." That landed her on the Today show.

I was amazed and repelled by the chapter called "Belly." I still have MASSIVE issues, apparently. LOL The idea of having rolls of fat, or a belly big enough to feel its weight sitting in my lap, wigged me straight out. I had to keep putting the book down because I was kind of freaking out at my reactions. I'm happy that she loves and accepts these things about herself. I'm not knocking it, in fact I'm a bit in awe. I'm just not sure I could do it. I love and accept my ribs and hip bones, being able to see the muscles moving under my skin. Does that mean one of us is crazy? Or wrong? This chapter really, really made me think. I'm still thinking. 

Another chapter that got me going was "Gym Dandies" which is basically one big swipe at the fitness industry and fit people. However, considering the level of suffering she endured in the name of fitness and at the hands of fit people, I can't say I blame her.

Anyway, it's beautifully written, thought-provoking, heart-breaking, and laugh-out-loud funny at times. If anyone else reads it, I would love to discuss!

Posted by skwigg at 6:55 AM CDT
Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Is weight all about willpower? Maintaining your weight, creating fat loss, controlling how much you eat, is that a willpower thing?

That was the great question in my e-mail last night. The asker was a recovering disordered eater working to let go of the obsession and restriction, but also struggling to control the rebound weight gain. Here's what I said:

Weight is all about willpower only if you're a yo-yo dieter on the brink of failure. Willpower is not a longterm solution. It's like holding your breath. You can only do it for so long and then you inhale absolutely everything. Once the novelty of eating yourself into oblivion wears off, you gather up some more willpower and suffer along until you inevitably fail again.

Willpower can get you through brief, tricky situations, like if you have a horrendous day and then end up alone in the house with trigger foods. You can tough it out for a few hours through pure willpower, but if you're relying on it every day in every situation, you're in trouble. If your appetite and emotions are being honestly addressed and dealt with, there shouldn't be any white-knuckling it. If you're out of touch with those things, then you're in the same boat as every fad dieter, forcing yourself to tough it out for as long as you can, seeing some success but rightly worried about how long you can last.

Eating more intuitively, being mindful of portions, listening to your body, paying attention to results, making adjustments, that's what works. I don't even worry that I might eat too much and gain weight. It's not a possibility. It wouldn't feel good, make me happy, or help me achieve my goals so I wouldn't do it. I might have a big meal or a big day, but then I have a light meal or a light day. I like to feel balanced and relaxed instead of always stressing and overly restricting, which tends to create the backlash of overeating.

The goal is to get to a place where you deal with emotions instead of trying to eat them or diet them away, to a place where you trust yourself, have confidence, experience lasting success, and enjoy the whole process. It's not the scary situation you're in now coming off of the eating disorder. This is temporary. Right now your body is urging you to eat, your hormones are wacky, your emotions are raw, and your mind is trying to keep a lid on the whole thing using primarily willpower. It won't always be that way. Things will settle down. The more you can picture how you want your eating to look, how you want your body to look, how you want to feel each day when everything is working, the faster you can make it a reality. As long as you're kicking yourself and spinning worst case scenarios, you tend to stay stuck in that situation with your fears creating your results. 

At first you may have to "fake it 'til you make it," acting like a confident, naturally thin, happy eater until the feelings become second nature and authentic. Suppose all of your goals are already achieved. You're in your happy weight range, eating your preferred way, looking great, exercising regularly but not excessively. What does your day look like? What do you wear? What's for breakfast? Do you workout? How does the "ideal" you handle various food situations? Restaurant meal? Gourmet gift basket? Family outing? Birthday party? Movie food? Home alone? Bad day? Bored?

You need to be able to picture the new behaviors before you can do them consistently. Anything that has ever terrified you or ended badly, you need to rethink. If you don't give it any thought, you just repeat the same painful patterns that haven't worked. Imagine that you have happy eating super powers if that's what it takes. Changing the way you think is the key to changing the way you eat.


So, questions for everybody:

What are your thoughts on "willpower dieting" and the yo-yoing it creates? Have you experienced it? Conquered it? Are you still struggling?

Have you made it from disordered/restrictive eating to normal eating? Was there a rebound weight gain?

Anybody using visualization, affirmations, vision boards, quote collections, or anything like that to reinforce positive change?


Diets freak me straight out. Even thinking about them can affect my eating. So, I don't entertain the idea of doing them anymore. That way I can read or discuss them without feeling that I have to change everything, give up favorite foods, or follow new rules. 

I gained 35-40 pounds from the depths of the eating disorder to the height of my rebound bingeing. Now, 20lbs of that, I probably needed to gain in order to be a healthy weight, but I just kept going. At the time it felt like a runaway train. The more I tried to muster my willpower and gain control of the situation, the more I cried and ate junk food. I thought my options were either binge eating out of control or going back to starvation. Health and fitness, middle ground if you will, were totally foreign territory but I eventually got there, and then turned my obsession to THAT. Suddenly, I wasn't trying to starve anymore, I was all about obsessive compulsive eating (OCE) as Brad Pilon calls it, trying to count my calories, balance my macros, time my refeeds, cycle my carbs. Gah! That went on for years.

Not to get all law of attraction woo-wooy, but when I heard the phrase, "thoughts become things" I became very aware of my thoughts for the first time. I realized that I wasn't going to punish, deny, and obsess myself happy. I quit looking to other people and programs to tell me how I should eat. I started thinking about how I wanted to feel and who I wanted to be. In an ideal world, how do I look? How do I eat? What is my day like? I didn't want to live in the gym anymore, suffer exhaustion, carry a cooler, eat every two hours, enter everything into software, fear restaurants, avoid social situations. So, I quit it.

Anyway, I'm all good now, but it's been quite an adventure! :-)

(This is a thread from my new site, Happy Eaters. Participate in the discussion here.) 

Posted by skwigg at 5:28 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 May 2011 6:57 AM CDT
Monday, 17 January 2011
The Anything Goes Diet

How do I lose weight while eating intuitively? What if I intuitively like to eat out, go to parties, eat donuts, or participate in family pizza night? Is it hopeless?

I get a lot of e-mails that are some variation of the above. People desperately want to relax the rules but how do you do that and lose weight? Or stay lean? Well, John Barban has written a whole program on that very subject, The Anything Goes Diet

Plenty of us, myself included, don't need programs anymore. We've got it! If you've got it, excellent. But if you need more guidance on how to back away from diet rules while still making a deficit happen, or how to handle social situations, or how to change your thinking, or some input on calories if you feel completely lost while winging it, this may be just what you're looking for.

The Anything Goes Diet has five manuals plus a 60 day e-mail coaching sequence. It comes with:

  • Weight Loss Manual
  • Social Eating Survival Guide
  • Thinking Thin Guide
  • Recipe Guide
  • Success Tracker Journal (an interactive .pdf)


There are no off-limits foods, no meal timing rules, no special ratios, no absurd protein requirements, just a deficit, a consistent, no-hassle, eating what you like, deficit. John Barban and intermittent fasting guy, Brad Pilon, are pals and have very similar philosophies on eating what you love and having a life. You shouldn't have to become a clock-watching obsessive compulsive eater to be lean. Your "diet" should fit your life, not the other way around. John's approach is all about including socializing, fast food and favorite treats. I picked up a few great tips I'd never even thought of, Bethennyesque tips. Eating in at a fast food restaurant? Toss part of the fries in the trash on your way to sit down. WHAT?! I will totally use that because you can't order "small" anything anymore. It would work for movie popcorn too.

To give you a feel for the program, some of the chapters are:

Calorie Guessing - Guessing Is Better Than Counting

Think Weekly - Nothing Changes in One Day

It's ALL GOOD - There Is No "Bad" Food

All About You - Only Compare Yourself to Yourself

I also really enjoyed the section on The Yo-Yo Dieting Cycle - How The Weight Loss Industry Leaves You Out of Shape and Out of Control. He describes the stages of a "control continuum" that we've all been on and how it's in the best interest of the industry to keep us all stuck, confused, and trying again. It was eye-opening and infuriating to realize how many years of my life I've spent IN shape but OUT of control, thinking I had it all together but still totally at the mercy of Body for Life or The Zone or whatever diet I was trying to live by. 

There is some enjoyable reading here and quite a few ah-has, even for me. The Anything Goes Diet seems to be written just for Happy Eaters. It doesn't even require exercise. Still, there are a few things I don't like. It's a program. Weird complaint, I know, but I don't like programs. I don't want anybody telling me how to eat, even if they're telling me how to eat whatever I want. I'm sort of pigheaded that way. :-) There is calorie talk. I don't like calorie talk but I know many of you have been asking for exactly that. If you've tried to talk to me about how many calories you should eat, you know that I just cover my ears and make la la la sounds. John Barban actually goes into detail for those who care to count, or "guess" as he encourages. I don't really get the low calorie recipe guide. If you can eat anything you want, why would you eat low fat cheese? Ever? I suppose it comes back to "the differential" as Bethenny calls it. If you can't taste the difference, or prefer the substitution then it makes total sense to save the calories. The 150 pages of recipes do look good (Nachos, Potato Skins, Super Bowl Chili, Spinach Dip, Apple Crumble) but I'd be fattening them up!

The Anything Goes Diet isn't for all of us but I think it will really appeal to those who want more guidance on relaxing the food rules while getting or staying lean. 

Standard disclosurey stuff: I received a free review copy of the program. If you decide to buy through my links I will receive a portion of the sale. You will receive a discount through Friday.

Posted by skwigg at 11:52 PM CST
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Women, Strength Training, Bulk and Size...Again.

Here's a recent one from the Happy Eaters forums. Be sure to drop by. That's where I'm doing all of my posting lately.


I know you have stated that you don't train heavy anymore (not like you used to) and if you did you felt you wouldn't be able to wear your skinny jeans...I know you also mentioned that when you were training really heavy you also ate significantly more calories, so my question is do you think it is the lifting that caused the hypertrophy or the calories? 

I wonder if you would still have leaned out/shrank if you continued with the lifting you used to do but the calories you eat now? 

Anyone else have any thoughts or input on traing and body type outcome I am all ears! 

I am so thoroughly confused and seem to have been for years regarding training styles and results.  Once I feel I have figured it out something throws me for a loop (like the personal trainer I had last week who told me I was lifting wrong form my bodytype and would only get thicker and more muscular, huh)..I'm a mesomorph...

My boyfriend also used to bodybuild and states it is "impossible" for women to grow unless they are in calorie excess, not dieting...

So, what are thoughts on this?  I am really curious if it is moreso the training that gives you the body or the diet?



Strength training causes hypertrophy. You can't gain significant muscle from a calorie surplus alone, you have to be using it for something. And you CAN gain muscle while dieting strictly if you're also doing challenging strength training, as anybody who's ever done Body for Life or other "transformation" style diets and workouts can attest.

Here's the big thing I want to convey to all the confused people. It's all totally subjective. That's what causes the chaos and misunderstandings when discussing muscle and bulk. So, you end up with situations like a trainer saying "women can't get bulky from heavy lifting" and he's picturing a giant masculine bodybuilding steroid amazon. He's correct. That can't happen to women without drugs and he's totally sincere when he's saying it. So maybe his client, whose idea of bulky is the visible muscle definition on Renee Zellweger or Kelly Ripa, takes him at his word and then FREAKS OUT when her shoulders widen and her thighs and ass barely fit in her jeans anymore. She was looking for a softer skinnier Jessica Alba or Kate Beckinsale look. It's not that the guy lied to her; it's that they had very different ideas of "bulky."

My ideas and preferences about size, bulk, definition, etc, change all the time. So, I can't expect someone else to know exactly what I'm talking about or what I want unless we have an in depth conversation, and then I might still change my mind a week later. :-D That's just kind of how it goes. So what I'm doing to get bigger or smaller or more defined or more girly only applies to me and my own preferences. What I consider dainty somebody else might consider holy crap huge and vice versa.

You have to come to terms with exactly what you mean, and exactly what anybody offering advice means before you can make any sense of it.

I can say that my fully tricked out heavy lifting quads and glutes would fit in my skinny jeans if I also dieted down to a very low body fat percentage. Do I want to do very heavy strength training on a super strict diet with barely any calories? No thank you, I'll pass. So, then it's a matter of, how big can my leg muscles be with my current body fat and still fit in my favorite jeans? Because if you add too much muscle on top of too much body fat, the overall effect is just big. I'm not going for big. So, I keep an eye on both the muscle and the body fat, and I don't mean I'm tracking it fanatically and freaking out about numbers. I mean I want strong, fit, shapely legs that have some definition and still fit in my favorite jeans. That's all I measure.

Heavy lifting is subjective too. I say I don't lift heavy anymore but I'm routinely pressing a 35 pound kettlebell overhead and doing squats and lunges with 50-90 pounds. Is that heavy? Compared to what? Says who? See the problem? A pink dumbbeller may be horrified by those weights and a crossfitter might roll her eyes all the way out her head at the wimpiness of it.

If I were your trainer last week, before jumping in with boneheaded advice about your shape I would have asked you: How do you feel about your size and build? Do you like a strong athletic look? Who would you consider strong and athletic? Do you like a smaller, softer look? Who has the look you're going for? Who do you consider too thin? Followed by discussing actual fitness goals and not just looks.

At least then you're on the same planet when you start talking about what you hope to achieve. If your goal is long and lean, endurance cardio, and improved flexibility. Maybe you don't want to be deadlifting small cars every day, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't deadlift at all. Or that you should never do any heavy lifting. It's about communicating effectively and finding the right balance.

There's also the part about being the best YOU and not constantly striving to look like somebody else, particularly somebody else with a totally different frame and build. But I do think it's helpful when people start talking about "bulky" to ask exactly what they mean.

To answer your question though. Fat loss is mostly diet related. Muscle building is mostly lifting related. Lift heavy and eat too much and you just get bigger. Undereat and don't lift at all and you get smaller and softer. Lift heavy at a substantial calorie deficit and all kinds of dramatic things happen (dents, veins, striations, abs). Train consistently, hard but not insanely heavy, at maintenance calories or a little lower and you get where I am now. Lean, happy, fit, and my jeans button. All good, so there's no need for me to analyze it much more than that.

Posted by skwigg at 7:23 AM CST
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
The Venus Index Review and Sample Workout

I finally got my hands on a review copy of The Venus Index! It's the new women's strength training system from John Barban and Brad Pilon. I've been leery of "programs" lately because the last thing I need is some obsessive, ass-busting, calorie-counting thing that's going to make me miserable. Also, hello, I'm gymless. If a program includes weight machines and elliptical intervals, it's useless to me.

The Venus Index is about building a beautiful female shape, not in a hokey "pink dumbbells for the little ladies" way and not in a knuckle-walking bodybuilding symmetry way. What makes a woman look fit? Regardless of height, weight or percentage of body fat, fit looking women have certain proportions. Their height-to-waist, waist-to-hip, and shoulder-to-waist ratios fall into similar ranges.

Now, when I first saw where this was headed, part of me squealed with euphoria at the thought of a new measuring system and part of me started to freak out just a little bit because the last thing I need is new numbers to get hung up on. I should not have worried. The numbers are based on healthy women, after all, not fashion models. The suggested ranges are realistic and flexible. I had 7" of flexibility on where my ideal goddess-like waist size should fall. I happen to be smack in the middle of it right now even with my love of Häagen-Dazs. Same deal with weight, it suggested a 33 pound range not a single magic number. Ultimately, it's about comparing yourself to yourself and improving your physique based on your unique build.

If you feel like checking your measurements it will either give you a realistic goal or it will confirm that you're already fit and should quit being so psycho about it. If you don't feel like getting out the measuring tape, no problem. The workouts still rock!

It's a 12 week system with three total body strength workouts per week. Cardio is up to you so, hallelujah, there are no dreadful clock-watching, lung-barfing HIIT intervals. If you like to walk your dog for cardio, or catch a dance class, there you go. The only equipment required is dumbbells, a bench or a step, and a stability ball. The workouts are designed to take 50-60 minutes each. The exercises include the basics plus plenty of new exercises and fun combinations like curtsey lunge + snatch or reverse lunge + step-up. It varies whether these are done in straight sets or circuit style. The workouts flow nicely and there is a new one for each day of the program, so 36 new routines. You won't be repeating the same workouts for a month before switching.

The workouts are presented very clearly with no guessing about the intended order or deciphering vague set/rep shorthand. There is an exercise guide with color photos and links to big color videos. I thought all of that was all very well done. Grammatically, it still makes me borderline hysterical when fitness professionals mix up too/to or effects/affects, but I've come to accept that nearly all of them will do it. I just take some calming breaths.

The Venus Index comes with a Body-Centric Eating Manual by Brad Pilon, the Eat Stop Eat intermittent fasting guy. In case you were wondering, body-centric is the opposite of calorie-centric. He explains why online calorie calculators and textbook formulas are full of it, as most of us have learned. I loved his explanation of why reducing your calories by 3,500 per week will not result in one pound of fat loss. It might just cause you to gain more slowly?! I found the eating manual an informative read but not really necessary. Takeaway message: to lose weight, simply eat less. Also, counting calories to hit an arbitrary number from a book or a calculator is dumb if not completely futile. On the plus side, there are no nutrient ratios, carb-cycling formulas, or even a meal plan, which made me very happy! Eat how you like. If you need to be smaller, simply eat less. If you're happily maintaining on a number that wildly conflicts with conventional wisdom, tell conventional wisdom to suck it. :-)

Here is a sample workout that I tried. I happened to become smitten with Week 12, Day 1 because it had one-leg get-ups which are like a modified pistol squat. I also wanted to try some of the combo exercises like Bulgarian split squat + shoulder press and reverse lunge + step-ups. The workouts should take 50-60 minutes. This one took me almost exactly an hour. I was probably a little slow because I checked the exercise gallery and watched a video a few times mid-workout to make sure I was doing the new exercises right. Reading through it, I wasn't sure about the 1 minute rest period after each set but during the workout that was about right. Just enough time to walk around, get a drink, and get in position for the next move. He pointed out that if the rest periods seem long, your intensity is too low.



I did this fine workout following an afternoon of raking leaves. So, what wrecked me more than anything were the 90 second planks. Holy torso fire! The first one was a little shaky but doable. The second one, my knees dropped a time or two. By midway through the third one, I was just lying on my belly silently shaking with laughter. The workout was fun! I liked the new exercises and the way it all flowed.

The program consists of: The Venus Index Main Manual, The Exercise Gallery (photos and videos of the exercises), three 4-Week Workout Cycles, The Body-Centric Eating Manual, one year access to The Venus Index Community, and free updates if they release new material or revisions to the program.

The program regularly sells for $79 but we can get it for $49. That's 12 weeks of detailed programing for less than the cost of one session with a trainer. The discount will be good from noon Eastern time today, Wednesday, November 17 through midnight on Saturday, November 20. To get the discount, click here:


The Venus Index Skwigg Special


Disclosurey stuff: I received a free copy of The Venus Index for review. If you buy it through my links I will receive a portion of the sale. You will receive a $30 discount. John and Brad will receive new customers. Everybody's happy, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Posted by skwigg at 11:01 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2013 9:49 AM CST
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Here I am

I don't know right now if I'm moving or reinventing this blog but my latest post is on the Happy Eaters blog here. Be sure to check out Happy Eaters if you haven't been by yet. According to my little photo stat, I've posted 125 times over there in less than a month. So, if you miss my rambling...


Posted by skwigg at 11:04 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 11:08 AM CDT
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Happy Eaters

It's brand new and still evolving but the basics are in place, some good conversations are underway, and I get the impression a lot of you want in! Come on over to Happy Eaters

It's a place to talk food and fitness without dogma, conflict, and pressure to conform. If you’re health conscious and you eat and train the way you like, good for you. Come and share your story. If you’re struggling to find your way, you can learn from others who are making it work. Nobody is going to criticize your ratios, post your underwear progress pictures, require a 500 word essay, or restrict your evening carbs. Cool, eh?













If you miss the days of my frequent updates and conversational posts, I’ve been yammering away over there. There is a blog but most of the action is in the forums, which I love because it’s not on me to start every dialogue or keep it going. After nearly a decade of blogging, I often have writers block like you can’t imagine. Uh-oh, big new topic. Something I haven’t said a dozen times before. Dread. Silence. But if someone asks me what I had for breakfast, how my workout went, or if I saw that show on television, I can write a novel. It’s totally liberating! LOL 

Posted by skwigg at 1:41 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 21 September 2010 6:03 PM CDT

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