Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Where’s a Brass Band when you need one?


By Deborah Riley-Magnus

Week one has ended, seven days of doing what our instincts told us would work and what our emotions hoped would bring results and it all comes down to this, the first week weigh in.

You know, I love The Biggest Loser, love the amazing inspiration of the contestants and the astounding weight loss those people see when stepping on the scale. Of course, I don’t expect anything like that. There’s no Bob Harper to guide and shout at me, there’s no big gym with expensive equipment to push me and there’s no $250,000 incentive here in my roommate and my house. We’re trying to do this without spending a fortune, and we’re trying to do it with common sense and rational choices. We’re trying to prove to ourselves first, and the world second, that we’re as strong and empowered as we think we are. We’re supporting and encouraging each other but we are also facing the fact that this is really a personal journey. No more comparing what I can eat vs. what Natalie can eat, no more doing the co-dependent behavior that got us here, no more “oh shucks, if you want cake, I want cake too!” This is a whole new road for us and we are trail blazers!


  • I religiously drank 6 8oz. glasses of water every day – Okay, truth be told I choked down 6 glasses of water. It was hard but I stuck to the program I believe works best. Well, maybe one day I only drank 5 glasses, but I really did try to meet the quota.
  • I walked 4 times this week – By walk, I mean about a mile of constant walking. I got a little out of breath but didn’t feel like I’d drop dead or anything. The day after my first walk I hurt like the devil! Knees, back, calves, holy moly I was in misery, but I went right back at it on Wednesday and did the same. I walked again on Friday and Saturday and guess what, I don’t hurt so much at all!
  • I made a decision! I’m PERMITTED to look at food I shouldn’t eat, watch the food channel, admire the donut display, even read a whole menu at a restaurant. I’m allowed to make those food items part of my life … just not part of my daily intake. This strange “permission” opened doors to making better food choices throughout the day. Odd, by not forbidding myself to look at the jelly donut, the jelly donut no longer had power over my desire to eat it. It’s just a jelly donut. Maybe someday I’ll want one enough to pass on a whole meal, today isn’t that day. So, pretty, fluffy, raspberry-filled jelly donut, you may continue on your quest to find eaters. I’m not one of them.
  • I’ve eaten only the allotted amount of calories per day. Now, this was a real challenge. See in the past (probably from as far back as when I was 18 or 19) I’ve always believed that eating 800 – 1000 calories a day was the only way to assure losing weight. On the occasions throughout my life when I wanted to lose a few unwanted pounds, I’ve done just that and it worked dandy … then I turned forty … then I turned fifty! At 214 pounds, I naturally assumed that I’d need to seriously eat as few calories as possible to get the ball rolling. Natalie, using her extensive education and experience, tapped into a website that told her that at my weight and age, I was to eat 1,700 calories a day in order to lose weight. THIS WAS ASTOUNDING and basically I thought it was ridiculous but, since my 1,000 calorie diets haven’t been getting any results at all since the big “40”, I decided to grudgingly give it a shot. 1,700 calories is a LOT OF FOOD, just too much for me to deal with and I found I couldn’t bend that far. So I decided I’d give it a 1,500 calorie a day honest try, but found I was so full 1,300 was the most I could get down. I must admit though, the whole time I ate over the past week I was sure I wouldn’t lose anything at all. In my warped mind, it just didn’t add up.
  • I listed everything every day, the water I drank, the food I ate (protein, starches, fruit, veggies, fats … everything I put in my mouth got written down.
  • See, I’m an obsessive/compulsive type, so if I lay down a law it’s just that, LAW for me. The problem is, I wanted this to be a lifestyle change, so I need to soften up on the strictness of my plan in order to keep it flexible. I did a few LIFESTYLE changes too this week that may have contributed to how and if this works. I got out of the house every single day, even if it was to run to the grocery store to buy zucchini or go for a ride and I even went to a movie! I actually took the weekend off! These are rare choices for me. I’m a writer who would rather sit at my keyboard than venture out into the black hole that is the rest of the world. Tearing myself away for an hour or two every day wasn’t radical enough … I didn’t work at all for the entire weekend! This is unheard of! Unthinkable! I didn’t turn on my computer once on Saturday or Sunday (except to briefly check emails – I do have a book coming out in November and lots of things to deal with regarding that) and I didn’t take my cell phone when I left the house. Can you imagine? I figured no one would even notice but I received six Saturday and Sunday cell phone calls from clients and a number of emails regarding publishing and my work. Apparently people have come to assume I’m available 24/7/365. Maybe that wasn’t so good.

All week I told Natalie that I didn’t feel like I’d lost even one pound, but I followed my committed plan to the letter.

Monday morning and I woke around eight, paranoid about going to pee because the bathroom scale would be right there, grinning at me, taunting me … making me feel like I had to know.

I stepped on, shook my head, stepped off, stepped back on, shook my head and stepped off again. I slid it to another part of the bathroom floor and tried again. Yup, it was right.

I lost 10.1 pound in one week!

Makes no sense! I enjoyed myself, I relaxed, I just walked a little and I ate sooooo much food … and I went from 214 pound to 203.9 pounds. Anyone have the number for a fifty piece brass band?

For this week I’m going to do exactly the same thing. I understand that if I keep getting results they will dwindle and I’ll need to make adjustments but for now, hey, this can actually work! It’s a new me! A new lifestyle! and I’m starting to see how things can be healthier and better all the way around.

Oh, and I set a little goal. On November 5, 2011 my second book, a non-fiction entitled Finding Author Success, is being released in print and ebook. My goal is to have a launch party with family and friends, and to wear clothes that don’t make me feel like anything but a lively, interesting and happy author. Tune up that brass band!


Where did this Start?


By Natalie Preston

Hi Everyone. My name is Natalie Preston, and I am taking a stand. To paraphrase Howard Beale from “Network,” I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore. Let me explain. From a very young age, I’ve had a weight problem. Some of my earliest memories from elementary school were of taunts from my classmates. “Fatso!” “Ugly!” You know the drill. And the taunts were not only from school. My father also called me fat, lazy and said he was ashamed to be seen with me. Even now that hurts … that the one man who should have thought I was the prettiest little girl in the world didn’t want to be seen with me. Since my size was obviously so offensive to everyone, I learned to hate myself and struggle to be “normal.”

My life became one long string of failed diets, exercise plans, and wacky weight loss schemes. At fourteen, I had needles put into my ears because my medical doctor, who was also an acupuncturist on the side, convinced my parents that this was the way to lose weight.

Didn’t work.

At sixteen or seventeen, my new medical doctor diagnosed me with hypo-glycemia and gave my mom a low fat, high protein meal plan that included not skipping meals. A couple of years later, this same doctor put me on a protein fast diet. After drinking nasty-pseudo-orange tasting drinks for two weeks, I rebelled and stopped going to that doctor.

Over the last thirty or so years, I’ve tried two different fasting plans overseen by doctors, Weight Watchers, the Diet Center, and joined countless gyms and spent probably thousands of dollars in this quest to have a body like Cindy Crawford. All to no avail. I’d lose twenty or thirty pounds, then quit due to boredom, discouragement, financial worries, etc. And here I am in my early fifties, still overweight and still not looking a bit like Cindy Crawford. Sigh.

So … what do I do? Give up? Just accept that I’m fat, have type II diabetes and will probably die an early, unhappy death? No. I decided to stop the craziness. Every diet plan, physical trainer, and doctor has taught me a simple truth: If I eat less calories than I am burning in a given day, I will lose weight.

With this humble truth in mind, roommate Deb and I came to a brilliant plan: We will combine our knowledge of weight management, nutrition, and physical exercise and do this on our own. We will support each other, encourage each other, and celebrate each other as we watch our calorie intake, plan nutritious meals, and get off our butts and walk. And, as part of our plan to keep us on track and honest, we will blog about our adventures and successes.

So here it goes … We began this journey on Monday and so far so good. We’ve gone out to walk in South Park (those of you familiar with Pittsburgh will know what I’m talking about), and we’ve done really well shopping and preparing our meals. My next weigh in is this coming Monday, and I’m convinced I’ll be a very happy girl that morning. And I’ll keep going all the way to my goal weight. Could be a bumpy ride and I’m glad you all are with me on this one. Woo Hoo!

Habit? I Won’t Have It!


Where to start? Well, in this case it has to be at the end and on a Monday. Monday? Of course, some things about dieting just can’t be changed. They are law, written in the annals of eternity, stating clearly that fat people can’t think rationally unless the weekend is over.

Boy we did it too. I’m not sure how many calories Natalie (best friend, roommate and codependent) and I consumed over the past seventy two hours, but there was a whole toasted almond cake in there and a night at our favorite restaurant’s Oktoberfest. Beer, wine, weinersnitzhel, strudel, the works! That should give you a good idea.

I will say one thing though – when I woke this morning I was actually excited! Think about it. Overeating, eating badly and living day to day with my growing butt firmly planted in my computer desk chair or sofa is pretty bad. How bad? 214 pounds bad. Here’s the story.

Six years ago I had spinal surgery. Nothing massive, just the simple herniated disks most people my age get, but it made major changes in my life. I was an active person, I worked as a professional chef, on my feet all the time, up early, running here there and everywhere. After the operation I was in so much pain (more pain than childbirth, I tell ya!) I kind of slowed to a complete stop. I couldn’t work anymore because lifting heavy stock pots or cases of #10 cans is simply not possible. All my energy moved into the next career I had in mind … becoming an author. That process took five years to accomplish and it’s great to have broken through, but I did it on my butt. When this whole six year process started I was easily 60 pounds lighter!

Damn, they are right! One can gain ten pounds a year just by not paying attention to what one (in this case THIS ONE) puts in ones mouth! Sigh.

Okay. 214 pounds – an all time high. I’m over fifty with a bad back – an all time difficulty factor. And over the past six years I’ve done several diets that I swear have ended up making me even fatter. Seriously. I’m five-foot-nothing and at this weight I’m officially almost as wide as I am tall.

So, as stated last week, no more strict fad diets, do more big programs, no more paying for what I already know I have to do. It’s time to change my life.

Maybe this won’t really be so hard. Think about it. Overeating or eating badly and being a couch potato are nothing more than habit … and habit is nothing more than behavior … and behavior can be changed. I KNOW this to be true because I was a smoker and now I’m not. In fact, I’m so not a smoker that if I have a cigarette, I actually enjoy it but don’t want any more. Granted, this kind of thing can’t happen to everyone, the chemical, emotional and habitual bound with nicotine can be beyond control. For me it never was like that. I’ve gone years without a cigarette, bought a pack or two then never even thought to buy more. Maybe I’m wired differently, but in this case, I’m very grateful!

Now, regarding habit, everyone can create bad ones. Fantastic sales people suddenly develop “Call Aversion” for no apparent reason at all. If left unchecked, their sales drop and they lose their job. Young parents develop a bad habit of forgetting to take care of their own needs. Some marriages actually end because the baby came first. Writers too can develop terrible habits. We forget to walk away from the keyboard, we forget to walk out of our house and we forget to watch what’s happening in the world. All terrible habits for people who tell stories for a living!

So, without major psychological therapy or reading a hundred more books on the subject, we already know how to change our behavior.

Just change it.So today, day one of my new life, Natalie and I have already purged the house of all those stupid snacks no one really needs (snacks so bad, even ants won’t eat them). We’ve gotten up early and planned a walking regime. We’ve set up little notes around the house to remind us to …

  • Move Around (even if it means vacuuming, ew)
  • Drink Water (get those eight glasses down!)
  • Substitute Good Choices for Bad Choices (apples over Snickers bars – salad over burgers – 35 calorie fudge popsicles over toasted almond cake)
  • Eat Three Small Meals and Two Healthy Snacks Every Day (no more, NO LESS)
  • Reward Ourselves! (More on this next week)

So now that I’ve blogged, it’s time to tie on my walking shoes and go for a long walk! Maybe I’ll see something cool I can use in my next book. Better yet, I’m creating a whole new habit … a good habit.

Welcome to Our World


First off, if you are skinny, have a hard time gaining weight or maintaining enough weight … baby, YOU ARE SO AT THE WRONG PLACE! Cleanup in Aisle Six is about being overweight and finding a new way to not be overweight anymore.

I’ll give you Twiggies a moment to move on and then our little meeting will begin.

Okay, they’re gone. Where shall I start?

No, you don’t need to step on a scale. No you don’t need to follow a program we give you. No you don’t have to even admit you’re overweight. If you stuck around, you’ll totally understand where we’re coming from.

I’m Deborah Riley-Magnus and my best friend, Natalie Preston and I have decided to stop the crazy diet crap we’ve been dealing with our whole lives.

From having a few extra pounds to coping with major health issues, we both find ourselves in our fifties and frustrated beyond reason! No, we’re not lazy or non-committed. We’re not satisfied with being overweight and we’re not willing to imagine that we’ll never wear those great clothes in the fashion department stores. We’re just sick and tired of the plans, expense, acrobatic strategies, insanity and foolishness of weight loss programs from the super well known ones to those little fad diets that still manage to find their way into my email inbox.

Between us we’ve tried Weight Watchers, South Beach, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, the Stillman diet, the grapefruit diet, the rice diet, an expensive, medically-monitored liquid diet, and a few we’ve either forgotten or refuse to admit to. Funny it took until Nat had an argumentative cancellation of our current online efforts with WeightWatchers to realize that guess what … diets don’t work.

Not being a woman to let something this big just slide by (and really sick and tired of a closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore), I simply planted my fists into my oversized waist, stomped my swollen foot and stated, “Well then, we have to do something about this!”

I was a professional chef for 10 years and I did take at least one nutrition course at culinary school. Together Nat and I have studied and managed to be temporarily successful at a number of different diets, and frankly, if we don’t have a basic clue about how to do this by now, we never will! I refuse to believe we’re not smart enough to figure this out.

So, yesterday we sat at dinner and made some notes. We listed what we know works and what we know doesn’t work. We listed the triggers that knock us off a diet and we imagined the triggers or rewards that would help us get back onto the right track.

Above all, we chose NOT to call this a weight loss plan or diet program. This is the rest of our lives, it’s a new chance to be happy and healthy and it’s a WHOLE DIFFERENT LIFESTYLE. At least that’s what we’re hoping it will be.

So, welcome to our world. We’re giving our new way of life one year to be successful and the remainder of our days to prove we were right.

Well hell, if we can be codependent when we’re not dieting, why can’t we be codependent to help us succeed? Stick around, we’ll be blogging twice a week, me on Mondays and Natalie on Thursdays. We’ll share experiences, we’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, opinions and especially your encouragement!

Here’s to making peace with the cupcakes and friends with the fresh veggies! Let’s get this new lifestyle started!