Stage 1-1

Hello, folks! Happy Tuesday to you!

We just rolled in from the first of our 8-hour sessions (?!) at the gym. Tuesdays are going to be TOUGH for the Bruces across the next 28 weeks. John is back at work for awhile to try to regain some of the time he lost today, and I’m holding down the fort making chicken breasts in advance for the week ahead. Nobody ever said this gig was going to be glamorous. Right now, it’s a matter of doing what we can, and begging patience and understanding from everyone and everything else. (If you’re one of the folks still waiting for me to call or email you, you fall into this category — I’m thinking about you, even if I can’t spare a minute to chat right now!)

Today was our first dietitian appointment, which means we are now 100% committed to the entire 20/20 program. John and I spent an hour discussing the requirements of the first stage of the diet, which are by far the most restrictive we’ll face. As it turns out, the program’s typical requirements for ladies are quite safe for my diabetes; I may be getting my nutrients from new and different sources, but the carbohydrate load is almost equal to what I’ve been eating on my “pregnant diabetic” diet. I’ve been offered the option of aiming for John’s “male” daily amounts if it proves to be a problem, but I’m going to try to stick with the program as intended and see what happens. This isn’t a low-carb diet by any stretch, and it’s well-suited to making sure folks stay nourished and balanced, even at the times it’s most restrictive. (For the record, being a dude nets John a grand total of two extra ounces of his protein of choice, so I’m not losing much!)

It’s still early on the first day of this thing, but I’ve had two meals now according to my new rules, and I feel confident that I’ll be able to stick with the plan. The majority of our calories right now are coming from protein-heavy meal replacement shakes. We get a HUGE shake at every meal, blended with a small serving of berries. The protein powder they use is proprietary (of course) but it’s pretty good and doesn’t have any gross textural or taste elements like some of the others I’ve tried. The chocolate was a little weak, but the vanilla is excellent. We’re still allowed most spices and extracts too, so we can use those to change things up should we get bored with the basics. Our breakfast shakes get to add a little bit of a healthy nut butter (peanut or almond) and they recommend we add fiber supplements (think Metamucil) as well.

Outside of these shakes, our lives are all about the very-lean to lean proteins, all in carefully-controlled portions. A surprising number of meats are fair game, which we didn’t expect when we started – even lean or mostly-lean beef is OK! The rules are pretty easy to understand; choosing a very-lean protein option (such as white fish, tuna, chicken breasts, etc.) nets you an extra small serving of a healthy fat to go with it. This can be anything from avocado, to almonds, to olive oil; there’s a list of choices. Lean meats (such as salmon, dark meat chicken, etc.) are acceptable, but you don’t get to lean on the fat serving; what you see is what you get. Breakfast just includes the shake, but we get a protein included with all subsequent meals.

We do get one “allowed” snack per day, which can be selected from a few options; another shake, one of their proprietary protein bars, one of their special protein muffins, or more lean protein and berries. The bars and muffins are unexpectedly delicious; we’ve been trying them out this past week while getting used to our workouts. The muffins would not fool any connoisseur of traditional, fluffy, carbohydrate-laden confections, but considering how little it takes to make them and how healthy they are, they’re amazing. Think “angel food cake dotted with dried fruits” and you’re in the right ball park. I’m eager to get to Stage 2; I tried a carrot one that was better than some carrot cake I’ve had in my life!

Today’s lunch was… kinda weird. I chose well, and my reasons were good, but I’m obviously not used to eating this way yet, and my brain wants to tell me I’m nuts. I had my four ounces of chicken breast and my shake (chocolate with raspberries), but easily adding a fat to something I picked up pre-made from the gym’s bistro was tough. Because we still have to get in our self-guided cardio and steps before our group workshops on Tuesdays, I couldn’t even go home to access things like single servings of olive oil or avocado. In the end, I picked up a small packet of sunflower seed butter and used it as a kind of makeshift tahini over the chicken. The chicken came with a wedge of lemon, so voila: Sunflower Lemon Chicken was born! It worked far better than either John or I expected, and I’d happily eat it again – but it was weird. I’m going to have to get used to weird.

Dinner was easier, and in future, we’ll have more options; the Pro Club bistro is used to folks doing 20/20, and can put together almost anything we need. We got to sit in their very nicely-appointed, mood-lit bistro and enjoy grilled salmon with a side of massive vanilla-berry protein shake. We’ve already made friends with one of the counter ladies at the takeout section, and one of the waitresses at the bistro proper, so we have them to cheer us on and help us with things. It’s unbelievably reassuring to know that everyone is rooting for us so much; even our friendly grocery bagger last night was helping to motivate us when he learned we were starting the program. I guess there is something uniquely human about confessing that you’re trying to do something this difficult; everyone struggles, so it’s a shared goal no matter what size you’re starting from.

Speaking of people… today was also our first group workshop. I noticed that at least two members of my 20/20 team called it “group therapy” this last week, so I was mercifully prepared for things to turn into the more traditional sort of group therapy session I had wanted to avoid. Workshops are therapist-run and REALLY require you to speak up and share your goals and struggles. It’s much more like Alcoholics Anonymous than it sounded at first. I’ll admit that I’m disappointed; while I understand the reasons behind it, and I know it’s good for a lot of people, I’m an introvert and pretty self-reliant on top of being socially anxious. I’m doing a much better job of leaning on the folks I know and love, and my 20/20 team, and even the occasional stranger who asks how my day is, but the talking-to-a-group thing is still tough. I don’t believe every solution to every problem needs a social component, but — resistance on this program will get me nowhere. Acceptance must reign.

That said, I pushed myself HARD today. For starters, I accidentally walked in on the session before me by showing up too early. (Oops. They DO tell you to be 15 minutes early for all appointments…) Instead of panicking or feeling humiliated as I used to, I politely ducked back out and found myself a seat and something to do for fifteen minutes. Once inside, I intentionally picked the second seat down the aisle of chairs; this almost guaranteed I’d be sitting with people on both sides of me. I never do this. Ever. Being “surrounded” by people is one of my worst nightmares because of my size – I’m used to feeling “in the way.” The first person to arrive struck up a brief conversation with me, which I did my best to manage; I tried to keep being friendly as each new person came in. Before, I’d have rushed to the back of the room and stayed silent.

Trying to talk once the group started was still nerve-wracking. The sound of my own voice in an otherwise quiet room has always been enough to weird me out, and I haven’t changed that yet. I got through it to the best of my ability though, and everyone was kind and friendly. I admitted my anxiety up front and honestly, so at least folks will understand that I’m trying my best, even if I don’t always manage to pull off “normal.” I AM here to continue working on my anxiety, just as much as I’m here to lose weight, so the same rules about doing a little better every day apply here too. I’m learning fast how to get better at general small talk and letting people in more, so I’m hopeful that the constant repetition each day will be good for me. I didn’t make any lifelong friends on day one, but more importantly: I didn’t a) embarrass myself, or b) allow my brain to tell me how awful I was, or how I’ll never be able to handle all these people who must be laughing at me each week. Take that, brain!

I admit, I was primed to be slightly awkward since today was also my first time getting back to showering and changing at the gym. Most days we can afford to go home and take care of things, but Tuesdays are just too busy, and I refuse to go to my group therapy (ugh) sessions sweaty and gross. I’m a little embarrassed that this was so hard for me; I’ve been saying over and over how kind folks have been every other time I’ve done this. Middle/high school was a long time ago, and I never even witnessed any real cruelty because I simply opted out whenever possible. And yet, disuse has weakened old muscles that no longer cared what others might think of me. I should know better, since it’s a constant game of averting my own eyes from other women in the locker room; of course everyone else is doing the same, regardless of size!

Long story short, I tried at first to change in a bathroom stall despite this generally being a no-no. If you take up one of the limited toilets for this purpose, people can and should get upset with you – priority to the folks that need to GO please! Nobody objected this time, but trying to wield a massive gym bag in a normal toilet stall while holding two towels around one’s body for modesty and then carrying all one’s other junk into a wet shower stall is just… not possible. I managed to drop trou and slink my way back to my locker to do things “right” after wasting a bunch of time trying to avoid the obvious. Of course, nobody was rude and everything went fine, even at the heart of gym rush hour. I am too self-conscious. I know this. I need to work on this. It’ll get better with time. I’m taking tomorrow’s shower at the gym even if I don’t have to. No excuses.

And with that, I’ll wrap this up. It’s been a long day, and a long post; now it’s just a matter of doing everything we’ve been doing since last week, on a slightly-weird diet. I don’t know how John will hold up, since this diet will be much more of a shock to his system than mine, but I’m feeling good for my part. I’m still enjoying my workouts, and I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow’s paces. Who would have thought that the fitness portion of this would arguably be my favorite? I wouldn’t have, I’ll tell you that much.

My goal I’m working on this week: three minutes daily on the elliptical, up from two. (Sorry, thighs.)


  1. Mom

    Sounds like you are enjoying it. Sometimes just trying to do something to help yourself is enough to carry you through the rough stuff. Just try to find something positive in each day. It sounds like you have been so KEEP IT UP! I am sending you all my love and strength. Chris and I are pulling for you!

  2. Cara

    Not sure if you noticed, but they have little “changing rooms” with curtains in the corners of some of the locker areas for people who desire more privacy for changing. I used that a lot when I was going, if there were lots of people around and I was uncomfortable. Hope that helps! 🙂

    • DterminD

      Thanks! I did consider that too, but most of them were already busy by the time I needed one. I’ve never seen so many in use before! For what it’s worth, I was able to handle it much better yesterday, so I think the best coping strategy at the moment is just to grin and bear (bare?) it! It’s only a big deal if I give my brain time to make it one.

      • Cara

        Ahh, yes I remember them being used a lot too. I feel like they should have made more of those things, or made a changing area with stalls like the showers or bathrooms. Seems like a lot of women would appreciate the option for more privacy. Maybe you should leave a comment/suggestion with the front desk/management! 🙂 Well, good luck to you finding comfortable changing accommodations, whether thats a stall somewhere or going plain old nakey! Ha!

  3. Carolyn

    So proud of you! I continue to appreciate your sharing about this journey with the rest of us, and in particular I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to “tell it like it is”. (warm smile)

  4. Chris

    I remember when I was working in Nevada one time. The work load was awful, I got back to the motel so tired and late would just go to sleep.
    One day I passed a vitamin store stopped in told her my story,she gave me a lot of stuff to take and in about a week my stamina and energy was so good I could not believe it. I used that combination the rest of my working life, so I know that supplements will work.

    • DterminD

      For sure! Part of the plan includes supplements to make sure we’re getting everything we need. We had to do blood tests to check for unexpected deficiencies too, since a lot of them can inhibit weight loss. They’ve said that my prenatal vitamin I’ve been taking is complete enough to not require all the extras that most folks are given, but I’m still on my last round of massive vitamin D supplements. After that I’ll have to do labs again to find out if it helped. Fingers crossed!

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