Category Archives: 90 Day Fitness Challenge

Outcome of the 90 Day Fitness Challenge

January 11, 2012

Remember when I posted about the 90 Day Fitness Challenge I started on October 15th? Those 90 days have come and gone. A few people have asked me recently how it went and I realized I went completely silent about it on my blog.

(It’s not because I gave up.)

Although I’m not pretending that wouldn’t be very me to do. I am very good at sticking with things, but I am also very good at getting excited about new projects and dropping them before you can say Apple-Pie-Should-Never-Be-Served-With-Cheddar-Cheese. (Which it shouldn’t.)

I think it’s because things suddenly got very personal. I write about a lot of stuff here–about my husband, my books, my friends, my home, heck, even my boobs, but body stuff… Well, you know how it is.

When I started the 90 Day Challenge these were my goals:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Build some mean muscles
  3. Get good at Obsidian
  4. Blog often about health and fitness

I worked my booty off. Even with a persistent setbacks (they will always be there), most of which had to do with my feet, I worked out a ton. I tried my absolute hardest to eat well. I bought a scale to help me measure my foods and calculate calories. I wore my DASH wristband to remind me of my goal.

Wow. Can I be totally candid here? I am shaking just a tiny bit while I write this. I know from your comments that you people are good people–supportive, loving, friendly, so I’m going to keep telling you about all this–but bear with me. This is not my usual topic. Or tone.

Yes. The Green Lemon just got all serious on you.

Let me give you a little bit of history.

When I was younger I lived and breathed ballet. I wanted to be a professional ballerina more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. When I turned 12 I was accepted into a professional company’s school and I danced like my life depended on it. I also stopped eating. I weighed 90 lbs. and didn’t think it was good enough. I learned how to count calories and just how few I could live off of before my starvation mode kicked in and I had to down bowl after bowl of Lucky Charms. Teachers praised my weight loss, but I knew something was wrong because I was so tired all the time that I couldn’t make friends. Somehow (divine intervention?) I managed to catch myself right before going over the edge. I stopped counting potato chips. I kept dancing, but I worked hard to keep a positive body image.

Really hard. To the point that it became one of my defining features.

That lasted a long time.

Then came the anxiety. When I was in college I started having all sorts of issues ranging from anxiety attacks to depression. During that time I gained some weight (now that I look back I feel it is most likely due to new medications I started taking) but took it off with Weight Watchers.

A short while after I got married something went awry. Amidst some other health problems I gained 20 lbs. with no apparent changes to my diet. I completely panicked. If I’m honest I’d say I probably tried about 20 different diets–one for each extra pound. At one point I was eating only vegetable juice and salads and still gaining weight. That was a bad, bad time in my life. I felt like I was going crazy. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t do anything, but obsess about my weight.

After getting some medical issues resolved the weight slowly started to come off. But the experience left some permanent damage. I went from confident about my body to obsessed with weight. My sweet, sweet husband was completely bewildered. I’d lost my body confidence–something that was as me as could be–and it didn’t seem to be coming back.

So then I started the DASH fitness challenge.

A few weeks into the challenge one of the teachers offered a relaxation and guided imagery class to help everyone who was doing the challenge. I’m not new to that sort of thing–I love meditating and doing yoga–so I knew I wanted to take part. The teacher led us through some mental relaxation then she had us visualize ourselves looking in a mirror. She had us picture unzipping ourselves from our extra weight, and stepping out of it like a pair of pajamas, then looking at ourselves in the mirror.

I saw myself right away. And I was gorgeous.

I was slim, and strong, I even had long hair and clear skin, but what I really noticed was that I seemed to be glowing. The person I was looking at was so calm, and so loving and so peaceful. It was like she had been patiently waiting there for me all along. She knew what I’d been dealing with, she knew about all the changes in my life, and the health issues, and the emotional issues, and she didn’t judge me for one second. She didn’t care about my jean size, or whether or not I looked good in a bikini. She just was.

Then the teacher asked us to realize what emotional reasons were keeping us from losing weight. My answer came immediately–there was a definite reason I had struggled to get rid of the extra weight–and it wasn’t because I love snicker shakes. That reason is too personal for me to tell you here, but can i tell you that it was real?

When I got home that night I looked in the mirror. I felt good. I felt calm.

The next day I looked in the mirror again and what I saw made my heart jump. I had just seen a flash of the woman I’d seen during the visualization class. Only this was real. But that couldn’t be right. My BMI was still higher than the chart said it should be. There was no way I could be okay with 5 extra pounds holding me back.

A few days later I saw the girl in the mirror again, but this time she stuck.

I had one of the most shocking realizations of my life. I already looked like the girl in my  meditation. I looked great. I looked fit. I was wearing skinny jeans and had noticeable triceps. I had a curve from my ribs to my hips. I wasn’t quite there, but I was pretty darn close.

I yelled for David and demanded that he take a good look at me. I asked him if I’d changed drastically in the past 48 hours. I made him swear he was telling me the truth that I’d looked this way for a long time, and hadn’t he been trying to tell me that for ages? I pulled off my shirt to make sure I was really seeing my torso correctly.

It felt like I’d taken off a pair of dark sunglasses. My head had been so trapped for so long that I hadn’t realized all of the progress I’d made over the past year. I couldn’t even really see myself.

And then I felt free. Free, free, free.

It felt so good.

Two weeks ago I started working at DASH. That place is the kind of environment I want to be in.

And I do regularly dance around in front of the mirror in my skinny jeans when I’m home alone. It doesn’t mean all my body woes are gone. It doesn’t mean they all magically disappeared. It doesn’t mean I’m a size 6, or even a size 8. But man, I made some progress.

And that is good enough for me.

Almond Joy Oatmeal

November 10, 2011

Dead giveaways that I am hormonal:

  1. Crying during United Way commercials.
  2. Attempts to make an otherwise healthy breakfast resemble a chocolate bar.

Let’s skip over the whole United Way thing. I tried to explain it to someone and ended up sounding crazy. Story. Of. My. Life. Anyway, oatmeal.

I wanted to make Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe but had only about 28% of the ingredients plus some Ritz Crackers. So I made up my own. And let me tell you–its going to be a staple around here.


  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 packet of Stevia
  • 1 T unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • A few chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk

Cook your oatmeal and add the rest of the ingredients, then stir it up until it is melty and chocolately and makes you feel inspired and weepy. Just like a United Way commercial about creating jobs. (It was sad, okay?)

(Calories=270. Joy Factor=97.)

Dash Fitness Challenge WEEK ONE

October 27, 2011

This is me after one week of the challenge.

Well, not really.

But I have been in mad pursuit of some bright pink leggings to wear to Obisidan class. I’m also smiling that big approximately 87% of every day. And that’s an upswing.

Week one was big, but I haven’t wanted to write much about it until I had some kind of proof that it was working.

It is.

My first weigh in was Tuesday morning. Technically I’ve been following my eating/fitness plan longer than 1 week, because the day I started was actually a few days before the actual start date. But great news:

1. I have now completed THREE Obisidan classes without:

  • a) puking,
  • b) slipping on one of my little booties
  • 3) using inappropriate language

Wow those classes make a difference. And I’ve loved trying something new, because I’m excited to go, even if I’m crying a little bit at the end. There was one move today (helicopter?) that involved a figure skater spin that made me all kinds of happy.

2. I lost weight.

About 3 pounds. And I’m eating more than I used to. (Winning, Charlie Sheen. Winning.)

3. For the first time in a long time, I’m not fixating on my weight.

I am totally content doing my work and allowing the results to show up without obsessing over them. I feel an awful lot healthier in my head about my diet and exercise than I ever did on Weight Watchers, South Beach, or any of the other things I’ve tried.

4. I can sort of see some muscles.

I was doing mountain climber this afternoon and looked up in the mirror and saw a TRICEP. And it wasn’t on the guy next to me. It was on me. Holy bonanza.

In other news:

I went clothes shopping this week and the lady at the store told me my jeans were way too big and I needed to buy some new ones. I told her absolutely not. These things are going to be getting an awful lot bigger by the time January rolls around. I may have to channel my inner 90′s teenage boy and buy some really cool boxer shorts to wear under my sagging jeans.

My husband claims my butt is getting bigger. But in a good muscley way. I let it slide. (One day I’ll write a post on things he’s said to me that were meant as compliments but completely backfired. “You could be a Gen X model” is one of them. Oh I love that man.)

I (sort of) kept up with the Step Class Queen. If you’ve ever been to Step at Dash you’ve seen her. She is extremely good. She gets all the combinations right away and manages to have loads of energy at 6 AM on a Tuesday. I put my bench right next to her so I could feed off her energy and coordination. Step Class Queen, you know who you are. Body Pump Queen, I’ll talk about you another time.

I have been cooking like a crazy lady. Really really good healthy things, mingled with things like dark chocolate covered pretzels and healthy-ish chocolate chip cookies. More on this later.

I am loving this fitness challenge. I really really am.



My Oatmeal Problem & A Recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes

October 22, 2011

I just pulled 4 different boxes of oatmeal from my pantry. I may have a problem. An oaty one.

But really, people, is there anything better than a hot bowl of oatmeal, sweetened with brown sugar and topped with milk? Only if you add walnuts. And maybe throw in a gift certificate to a spa.

I am a firm believer that anyone who doesn’t like oatmeal was 1) forced to eat something masquerading as oatmeal in their youth (think porridge) or 2) has given up on life.

As I write about this I am realizing my passion. Or is it a problem? I guess I don’t know the difference.

I’m just encouraging you to give oatmeal a try. Particularly if you’ve been eating that gross instant stuff that comes in little envelopes with dried up bits of fruit in it. (Okay, that stuff is pretty good too, but now I’m a purist.) This stuff is so good for your blood sugar. It’s good for your digestive system. And it sticks to your ribs on a cold October morning when you are leaving the house to fulfill your duties as a lumberjack. Or whatever it is you may do.

And there are so many different kinds! Instant, old fashioned, steel cut…

This is my current favorite:
I discovered this one at my favorite place for breakfast in SLC–Millcreek Cafe. Their oatmeal is legendary. The last time I was there I badgered our server until she’d given me all the info she could on my particularly delicious bowl. It is Quaker Steel Cut Oats (these take longer to cook) cooked in a sauce pan, and topped with candied walnuts, milk, and brown sugar.

I think a tear just dripped down my face.

Or maybe I’m crying because of how bad I smell after my (very) hard Bodypump class this morning.

This morning I wanted to get creative with my oatmeal. I was also starving from my very hard workout. (Did I mention that already? Did I just hear someone ask for a photo of my now impressive biceps? Maybe later.) I made some pancakes from a recipe in my new favorite cookbook: The Best of Clean Eating.

Oatmeal Pancakes


  • 1 & 1/4 cups Old-fashioned oats
  • 1 & 1/4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP canola oil


Mix oats and milk together and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in oil and egg. Add flour and baking powder. Spoon out 1/4 cup sized pancakes onto hot pan. Let sit until browned on bottom, then flip. Serve with butter.

This made 9 very filling and delicious pancakes. (I could only eat 2.) Just the kind of fuel I needed. Please have one in honor of me.

Yesterday Was a Bad Day, But I Do Love Book Club

October 21, 2011

Some days just don’t work. Yesterday was one of those days.

It started at 3:30 AM when Giacomo (our 12 lb. shihtzu with an Italian name) started wigging out. The day before I’d taken him to the groomers/vet and asked them to check and clean out his ears because I’d noticed he was shaking his head. They ended up finding 2 foxtails (the plant kind) in his left ear that have been there since who knows when, and causing him all kinds of pain. They ended up having to put him under to remove them.

When David picked Giacomo up at the end of the day he was a bit woozy, which I have to admit was kind of nice because normally he is racing through the house terrorizing pens, couches, house guests, and any unfortunate bug who manages to get in his way, like some kind of miniature godzilla. However, in the middle of the night he started crying and getting upset. David had a long day of work ahead so I decided to just get up with him and let him terrorize for a while so at least one of us could sleep.

At 6:00 AM I decided to go to my Body Combat class at Dash. I normally love this class–it makes me feel rather tough–but I was so off my game. Now I was the woozy one. I seriously considered ducking out early a few times but I stayed with it.

By the time I got home at 7:30 David was heading off to work and I got back in bed. I didn’t wake up until 11:30 and even then felt really crappy. I had a late breakfast, and forgot to eat much of a lunch. Then for dinner I decided to make Skinnytaste’s Slow Cooked Sweet Barbacoa Pork, which sounded amazing. However, there was a bit of a meat error: apparently a pork roast and a pork tenderloin are two very different things. That meat would not shred. I was really bugged. I was already feeling really crappy, and this minor annoyance turned me into what Jack Sparrow (and my husband) would call

A Terrible Beasty.

Finally it was book club time. David suggested I stay home (perhaps to minimize the effect my terrible mood was going to have on the world), but I insisted I had to go.

Oh  I love book club. I need that girl time every month.

Here are the things our club talked about last night:

  • Ghosts
  • Squash
  • Weird stuff we’ve done under anesthesia
  • High school boys who were creepy
  • Whipped cream
  • Psychics
  • Blogs we hate because the girls who write them weigh 90 lbs and make gigantic chocolate cakes every day
  • Whether or not dressing as Lucy and Ethel in the factory scene works for a Halloween party themed “1940′s Hollywood Red Carpet”
  • Which of our friends had the scariest big sister in the history of the world
  • Who hates dressing up for Halloween
  • What to call cookie dough dip made out of chickpeas (it was delicious)
  • How Ali Fife’s brother looks like Jesus
  • Medical literature
  • Pinterest
  • Over the counter drugs
  • Illegal drugs
  • Whether or not we are part of the “cool group” at work/school
  • Weddings we didn’t love
  • Mothers in law
  • How your astrology sign affects your sex life
  • Socks

Oh yeah, and:

  • Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (If you have not read this, then 1) go get it, 2) cancel everything else this weekend. That is all I’m going to say.)

Book club makes everything right.

By the time I got home I was only a moderate beasty. And that is a huge improvement. But at 10:30 PM I was starving. I hadn’t eaten my protein. I hadn’t had my water. I hadn’t eaten regularly, and I really hadn’t had a great breakfast. I ended up eating a couple of pork tacos and some highly salted rice crisps. This morning I woke up with a stomach ache and awful heartburn.

Which means that today I must TRY AGAIN.

Thank heavens every day is a new chance.

Eat Your Breakfast or be a Sumo

October 20, 2011

At the Dash Obsidian Challenge kick-off I learned something rather interesting:

When sumo wrestlers want to put on weight the first thing they do is skip breakfast. This helps keep their metabolism low, and let’s them glory in all their hefty good looks.

So if this is what you’re going for, then by all means skip your breakfast.

As part of my fitness challenge I am eating 6 times a day (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack), eating a mix of carbohydrates and protein, and making breakfast my biggest meal of the day. I’m aiming for about 400 calories for breakfast. Here are my favorite breakfasts so far:

Yogurt with Granola, Grapes & Honey 

  • 1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granola (try Udi’s Original, it’s divine)
  • 1 cup halved grapes
  • 1 tsp. honey

Breakfast Burrito

  • whole wheat tortilla filled with:
  • 1/8 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg scrambled in 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup sauteed veggies (mushrooms, bell peppers, green onions)
  • Add hot sauce or salsa

Delicious. I think my fellow-athlete would agree.

Or maybe not. But I definitely don’t want to disagree with this guy.

He is fearsome in his diaper.

How I’m Getting Fit, Losing Weight, and Becoming All-Around Awesome in 90 Days

October 17, 2011

“The only difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline.” –Steve Smith.

Yes, you read that correctly. I just began my post with an inspirational quote that did not involve The Diary of Bridget Jones. I think a storm is brewing.

In fact, it is. I’m about to get fit in 90 days.

A few months ago I joined Dash Fitness Studios in Salt Lake City. It’s basically Disney Land for really fit, pretty people. It’s a 2 room studio that offers Les Mills classes (body pump, step classes, kick boxing), yoga and zumba. The owners, Lacey and Erin, also created a program called Obsidian—something I’d heard whispers of around town. All I knew is that it’s really, really hard, so it took me several weeks to build up my courage to try it.

These two gorgeous ladies are Erin & Lacey. You can see why people would want to follow their lead.

In an Obsidian class, every participant is assigned a yoga-mat sized “slider,” which is basically a really slick surface with ledges on either end to keep you from flying off it, banana-peel style. After a few minutes of jumping up and down in a rather enthusiastic warm-up, Erin had us put booties on our feet and mitts on our hands and began a series of exercises using the board. We skated side to side (harder than it looks and sounds), slid from plank to down-dog, and ran our legs up and down (mountain climbers).

When I got home from that first class David sent me an IM asking how it went.

I told him I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.

Can I just qualify this? I ran all summer. Earlier this year I ran a half marathon. I’ve been working out (hard) about 4 days a week for at least a year now. But apparently there’s in shape, and then there’s Obsidian in shape.

I want to be Obsidian in shape. And this is how I’m going to do it.

A few times a year Dash Fitness does this great thing called the Obsidian Challenge. Basically you pay a $35 entrance fee and compete for 12 weeks against all the other entrees to lose the most weight and inches. The transformation pictures and stories are very inspirational, and they’re very real. One of the ladies is occasionally in my step class and I always want to shimmy on over to her bench to ask if she’ll sign my unitard. (You’re right, I don’t actually have a unitard, but I did once in 5th grade and not a day has gone by that I don’t miss it.)

Weigh-ins are once a week, measurements are every few weeks. If you gain a pound you owe $5. You also have to take one Obsidian class a week and send in a food diary every week day.

But here’s the best part: The winner gets all the pooled money. That includes entry fees and weight gain money. There are also several other winners (2nd and 3rd place, and whoever loses the most inches) who I’ve heard get spectacular prizes as well.

It appears I can be very driven by money and/or undisclosed prizes.

So here it is:

 I, Jenna, am hereby committing myself to the Dash Holiday Challenge, which begins October 15th and ends January 7, 2012.

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t the world supposed to end in 2012? Believe me, I’ve taken that possibility into account. If the world ends as predicted, at least I’ll go down with the knowledge that I can get through an Obsidian class without gazing longingly at the emergency puking garbage can.

I will be writing about this challenge quite often. What I eat, how my workouts go, what progress I make. If I can muster up the courage to go all Sheryl Yvette I may even post some pictures of my progress along the way. You may even see an additional inspirational quote or two, but let’s not promise anything too crazy, shall we?