#TmFit And The Walmart Workout

moving comfort workout hoodie

Happy New Year!

Today begins 2013, a year where I feel in control of my life. I feel in control of my body. I feel in control of my health. And I’m actually doing well with self-control and taking accountability for my actions. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying hard every day.

It’s been more difficult to blog here lately because my rapid weight loss has tapered off. I’ve been at a plateau for a few weeks, and I can’t get the scale to budge below 250.0 pounds. Granted, it’s not just about the scale…I’ve had many non-scale victories. One of the best ways to work yourself out of a plateau is just that: work. You can’t just rely on the food you eat to sustain your weight loss – you must be active. It’s necessary.

My friend Alex published a post on his blog called “Don’t Wait Until January” last week. Along with adopting a more healthy lifestyle for himself, he wants to help others get into a healthier lifestyle using public accountability on social media. In the post, he said

“If you are out of shape, for any reason, I think you should join me in the battle to be healthy again. And for me, it is a battle. A daily one. If you are reading this and you are overweight and out of shape, don’t make fun of it any longer. Don’t tease or joke about how you eat poorly and never exercise. I used to do the same. It’s a defense mechanism. We all want to live happy, fun and productive lives. So let’s help each other do that. I know I need your help and maybe you could use a bit of mine (or someone else’s). If even one of you join in, that would be great. If more of you join in, even better. There is strength in numbers!”

The terms of the challenge? It’s completely up to you. No “crazy pills or fad diets”. Make sustainable changes to your life by eating less (especially junk food) and moving more. And because you can’t improve on what you don’t measure, tracking is essental. I’m using the MyFitnessPal and Fitocracy apps to track myself, and I check in on Twitter (using team fit hashtag #TmFit) and checking in on our Facebook group. Posts are also being made on Instagram and Google+ with the #TmFit hashtag.

#tmfit fitness challenge
Even though I was up past midnight to ring in the new year, I was wide awake at 4:20 am. My gym is closed for the holiday, and I was trying to decide what to do. I didn’t want any excuses (like the 17 degree weather outside) deter me from getting in a workout, so I decided to innovate.

people of walmart workout

This morning I drove down the highway and did a workout at the 24-hour Walmart. I arrived before 5:30 am, and the only people in the store were employees. As they were stocking the shelves, I kicked my walking into high gear and zig-zagged the aisles. Back and forth through the store, with stops in the sporting goods section to do a few sets of arm exercises with 10 pound dumbbells and a 20 pound kettlebell. I checked my heartrate often to make sure I was always over 140 beats per minute, and I didn’t stop until after I’d hit the hour mark. I got plenty of funny looks from Walmart employees, and had people ask me “Is there anything I can help you find?” more times than I can count. Afterwards, I did some shopping in three different corners of the store (so I didn’t feel guilty for using the store for my personal purposes).

I didn’t use a pedometer, but I’m sure I walked somewhere around 2-3 miles, and my arms are feeling a good burn from the weights and kettlebell. I also don’t know how many calories I burned, but 60+ minutes of moderate exercise is nothing to scoff at. It was much better than risking an asthma attack taking a walk in the cold. Now to see if anyone submits a picture of me to People of Walmart.

My goals for the next 60 days of #TmFit:

  • Exercise at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week, but strive for more
  • Get below 240 pounds by the end of February
  • Track all of my exercise in MyFitnessPal (username: cuteculturechick)
  • Be honest with my reporting, even when I am feeling lazy or eating poorly

If you’re interested in joining me and Alex (and many other Utah social media friends) in Team Fit, send me a message on Facebook or a tweet to @cuteculturechic and @_alexlawrence with the #TmFit hashtag. Then leave a comment on Alex’s blog post, and you’ll get access to the Facebook group. We’d love to have you join us.

Giveaway – Color Me Rad 5K

color me rad 5k raceNow that my health has improved, and my body has changed so much since surgery, it’s been fun to dream and plan about the things I’ll be able to do now that I’m getting in better shape. Fifty pounds ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed about doing a 5K. I’ve only ever done one 5k, and I walked half of it. However, a fun opportunity came up to participate in the Color Me Rad 5k race, and I’m going to do it! And one lucky reader will get to join me in (walking) “5 kilometers of colorful debauchery”.

When Zoloft and balloon animals can’t seem to raise your spirits, the best way to brighten your life is to Color Yourself Rad.

Color Me Rad is coming to a town near you with a tsunami of color.  Once you set foot in this holy bath, it will make the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk, run, and jump through 5 kilometers of colorful debauchery.

You’ll start off with a shirt as pure and white as Mother Teresa’s saintly soul and wind up looking like a pack of skittles – just make sure not to “taste the rainbow.” So cast your DYE and get red in the face from Color Me Rad, and not from the embarrassment of passing up on the run of a lifetime.

I’m on the event council for Breathing Space Retreat, a fun and relaxing overnight blogger retreat at Daybreak in May. Color Me Rad has generously offered to be one of the event sponsors, and the race happens one week before the retreat. What a fun way to bond with blogger friends before the event, don’t you think? Although I will be participating in the Utah event on April 28th, the race coupon code is good for any event in the US (see the Color Me Rad website for details).

To enter: Leave a comment telling me something physical that you would do if you were in better shape. Snowboard? Do triathlons?

For additional entries:

Giveaway ends Monday April 16 at 5pm MST. Or check out my friends who are also doing giveaways for a Color Me Rad ticket

Milestone: Fifty Pounds Lost

50 pound weight lossToday was a milestone I’ve been excited about for the last week or two. I’ve never lost 50 pounds – ever.


This morning I stepped on the scale, and I weigh 323.0 – Which means I’ve lost 50.3 pounds. It comes at a good time, because today is my 8 week mark since surgery. Everyone who I’ve talked to who has been through weight loss surgery told me that the weight loss will happen so fast, you can hardly believe it. And they were completely right – I can hardly believe it.

If you’ve followed my blog through my journey, you know that there have been a lot of bumps in the road. I’ve been dealing with pretty significant fatigue, I haven’t been able to work full-time hours consistently, and I’ve been in the ER a few times. I’ve cried in frustration when I’ve wanted to do things that my body hasn’t let me do (good and bad). I’ve met some ridicule by people who think that I chose to go the “easy way out” with surgery. It hasn’t been easy, but has it been worth it? Absolutely!

I still have a long way to go – I’m only 25% of the way to my goal weight. The next milestone I’m excited for is the 75 pound mark – at which I’ll be under 300 pounds for the first time since 2008.


  • Neck: 15.25 (-1.5)
  • Bust: 48 (-4)
  • Chest: 42.5 (-3.5)
  • Waist: 44 (-6)
  • Upper Bulge: 48 (-5)
  • Hips: 57.5 (-4.5)
  • Thigh 30.5 (-3.5)
  • Calf: 21 (-2)
  • Ankle: 11 (-1.5)
  • Bicep: 18.25 (-1.75)
  • Wrist: 7 (-2)


Down A Dress Size

nicole little black dress

When it comes to non-scale victories (NSV) this week, I had two. I fit into a pair of jeans a size down (24, instead of 26 or 28) and I fit into this black dress than hasn’t fit me well for over a year and a half. It’s a size 22, and I was wearing dresses (with stretchy elastic) in size 26. I was still self-conscious about my tummy bulge in it; but, I look forward to being down a little bit more so I can fit into the largest size of Spanx.

I posted this photo on Facebook, and got a flood of positive comments. It really made my day! I don’t think I’ve ever got 80+ “likes” on a photo. Ever. I’ve also been getting random friend requests and message from friends-of-friends saying that they are “inspired” by my story. Every time I hear positive feedback, it makes me happy that I decided to publicize my journey.

nicole bullockToday was a busy Sunday for my extended family. My cousin Jayna’s adoption was finalized this week, and she was blessed in sacrament meeting today. It was also another cousin’s missionary homecoming. They were held within minutes of each other, and I had to zoom across the valley to catch Elder Parry’s report. I knew I’d be exhausted today, so I laid in bed for most of the morning so I’d have energy for the festivities.

After the meetings were over, my aunt and uncle hosted a luncheon in honor of my cousin. They always put on a great spread, but it was hard to pass up the stuff I love like fresh veggie trays and croissant sandwiches. Instead, I got a scoop of chicken salad, a little bit of cheeseball and ate it with a few wheat thins. My aunt makes delicious mint brownies, and I had a hard time taming my sweet tooth. I took the tiniest chunk piece on the place (about 1in by 0.5in), licked off the mint frosting, and let the fudge melt in my mouth. I didn’t eat the actual brownie, but it was nice to get the taste of a favorite dessert.

I sputtered out around 4pm (after 5 hours of family fun) and went home. I got straight into my pajamas and rested all evening. It’s frustrating to be completely drained of energy like this, but I know that adequate rest is key to my recovery. I need to be patient with myself, even when it’s not fun. I’m hoping to get up to 6 hours of work per day this week.

Food diary:

  • Light yogurt
  • Half a string cheese stick and a few pieces of deli meat
  • 3 TB of chicken salad, 3 crackers, and some cheese spread
  • Mint topping off of a brownie
  • Sauce, cheese, and a meatball off a leftover Subway sandwich
  • 3oz apple juice
  • Protein shake made with coconut milk and Syntha 6 mix

Nothing as Planned

This week, Taylor and I decided to join Weight Watchers together. Combined with my HIP(Hollie Incentive Program) and new elliptical machine that arrived Monday…I was mentally set for greatness to begin this week. Unfortunately, I’m still feeling horrible. Our bank accounts are anorexic until Friday. I’m sure I’m on a Dayquil hangover from 6 days of use. When I went to Urgent Care on Sunday, I was told it was an upper respiratory infection with asthma. The doctor gave me an urgent referral to a pulmonary sleep specialist, for an appointment today. I’ll be going in armed with 5 years of records of previous studies, consultations, and PFT’s. I really hope he’ll prescribe Provigil. It’s such a great medication for me. It keeps me awake and alert for work, is non-habit-forming, and has the side effect of loss of appetite. When I’ve had refills prescribed, and taken it consistently, I haven’t used food as a crutch to stay awake at work (especially right around 2:30-3:00) and I’ve also had better success with my weight loss.

I was horrified when I stepped on the scale Sunday…297. It’s the highest I’ve ever been, for the second time. After my Olestra fiasco last month, I had gotten down to 284ish. With all the holiday traveling, moving, and daily eating out (because we have no dishes yet), I suppose it makes sense to have gained this month. But this is where it stops. 297 is my official starting weight. I’m a mere 3 pounds away from my “I’ll never, EVER, be 300 pounds” absolute weight limit. It’s a horrible place to be. I will overcome it. I will fight it. And this time, I will succeed.

Weighty Matters

I’m fed up with myself. 2009 is almost over, and all my weight loss goals have gone out the window. I’ve had varying success with exercising consistently and eating right, but stress/anxiety levels have been through the roof. My horrendous commute has sucked almost 2 hours per day from my disposable time, and the stress at work has really impacted my quality of life. At my highest last month, I hit 297 in Atlanta on my Thanksgiving trip. When I got home, I got to work, went walking around the hospital as much as possible, and started being more careful about what I ate. I’m hovering around 285 as of a few days ago. My flesh is flabby, my clothes are tight, the double chin is back, and I’m craving all the foods that are “bad” for me. Holiday snacks are plentiful and I’m going to be on the road for the next two weeks. I’m trying to plan in some exercise, but it’s tough with all the wintery weather.

Being in Oregon with my grandma has been tough. She’s vocal about how I look in a very negative manner (as always). I’ve had excess weight since elementary school, and only for a short time in high school did she every say I was beautiful. And it was because I was skinny from Phen-Fen at the time. I have this horrible radar for how she judges people off of her weight. When she tells me stories about people she knows, descriptions will be:

“Slim, attractive young lady”
“Intelligent, gorgeous, slender wo-man”
“Unfortunate portly man”

It’s been difficult to hear her make these weight judgments, especially when I’ve recently been so self-conscious about my health/appearance. On the other hand, it’s frustrating that she’ll hand me a heavily-buttered slice of toast and then ask me how my cholesterol is. Or pile on a second helping of food, and then make comments about how I need to do better keeping my “figure”. She probably has never had a weight problem; she is thin as a rail, she only eats one or two meals a day, and she goes walking several times a week. She obviously has better eating habits than I do. She tells me that she fasts regularly to keep herself fitting into her size-6 closet of clothes.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I typically feel quite self-confident about myself, but I’ve always been disappointed with my body. I wish that she didn’t make me feel like such an obese slob. She makes comments about the weight of other people in the family, and it hurts me that she makes it such a personal issue to discuss. A few years ago, my mom lashed out at her for criticizing her weight. Since this incident, Grandma never has said a comment about her weight, to her face at least. I know Grandma means well, but I also don’t have the heart to be disrespectful to my 81 year old elder.

I’ve decided that 2009 will be it – This will be the year I get down to a “healthy” weight. I want to get out of the “morbidly obese” category, and hopefully just down to “overweight”. Taylor also wants to lose weight, and has said that he’ll do everything he can to support me. We’ll learn ways to cook and eat together that do not sabotage the other’s efforts. We would love to get back down to our wedding weight this year, because we’re going to go on a cruise for our 5-year anniversary in October. I hope to lose those 50 pounds in 10 months, and I honestly think it’s doable if I’m focused and have a good support network.

We’re going to make a specific effort on how much we eat out, and the things that we cook at home. We’ll learn recipes together, and keep the ingredients in the house for these healthy recipes, so we’re not tempted to run and grab fast food for dinner (which has become too much a part of our routine in MI, and I can directly attribute a great percentage of my weight gain this year.) As much as Taylor doesn’t like the idea, we’ll try having more meatless meals with a variety of vegetables and fruits. When we do eat out, we’ll split plates and limit appetizers and desserts. And we’ll pack more healthy snacks for when we travel. We are honestly going to try to limit our exposure to the “southern cooking,” even though we love how it tastes. And despite living in the land of Coca-Cola, I’m going to try to give up my caffeine habit.

I want to make exercise a part of my daily routine without seeming like a chore. I do like to exercise; I understand the way that it gives me endorphins and energizes me, the way it combats my depression and anxiety, the way it makes me feel stronger and leaner. However, I’m not going to set a super-specific goal like “30 minutes 5 times a week,” or “45 minutes 4 times a week.” For me, those types of goals are doomed for failure. My goal is to make activity a daily part of my life: walking from a parking spot a little further away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, walking to the grocery store instead of driving (it’s literally within walking distance from our new place in Atlanta). We’re going to get an elliptical machine and set of weights for our home instead of buying a spendy gym membership. Our new condo has a swimming pool and tennis courts. I may occasionally use the gym on campus for a hard and heavy workout.

So here is my quest. I know I can do it. I hope to find some friends that are blogging about their weight loss so we can support each other. For now, I’ll probably just keep this blog private, but as I have some success to share, I may open it up.

Carpe diem.

Committed again…

Today is the first day that I’ve done a full cardio/abs/weights workout at the gym in two weeks. The prior week had been going well at the gym, and I had lost 4 pounds in 8 days. I felt like I was on track, then I spent a week in Utah and a week in California. These trips included many meals out, and lots of trip snacking…but I figured that all the airport and Disneyland walking would counteract any major weight gain I encountered. I felt energetic, my clothes are fitting well, and I wasn’t worried.

At the gym, I decided to hop on the scale to see where I was at….287.4???? Two weeks ago I was 268.6! I was baffled…up over 20 pounds in two weeks, with no visible water retention, saggy skin parts, or increased double chin. Is this possible? I wondered if the scale at the gym had been recalibrated…but it still seems like a crazy weight difference for two weeks. Could I really have gained so much, with massive amounts of walking and most meals being sensible?

I’ve been this weight two other times in my life, both times wearing a 24-26 clothing size. Today I’m comfortable in a 18-20. So it’s evident that I have a lot of muscle mass, and I’m fairly proportioned for my 5’10” frame. I’m typically an active person, working out 0-5 times a week.

So as I was on the eliptical, I texted a few friends for support and advice. Everyone seemed shocked for this kind of gain. I rationalized excuse after excuse…and decided that I need to accept my body at this point…and use it as a springboard for my weight loss. Whether or not the scale number is correct, the fact remains that I am “morbidly obese,” have had past symptoms of type II diabetes, and medically-emotionally-physically NEED to get healthy. I bought a scale for home (Weight Watchers digital scale) and it registered as 290.2 tonight. So that’s my starting weight.

Taylor told me about a news story he’d read about a school teacher who used a blog for weight loss advice and support, tracked her successes and regimen, and went from 300 to 187. That’s about the amount I need to lose…so I’m giving it a go.

I’m calling it the LGN Plan…either Look Great Naked or Luscious Gorgeous Nicole. I’m going to be sensible, not restrictive. I’m not going to stick with just one weight loss suggestion plan. I know a lot about nutrition and fitness, and I just need to commit myself to putting it into action.

Wish me luck!