The Weight is Over – Week 21: Beyond the Plateau & Down She Goes

Ask who drives me the most crazy and I only need to look in the mirror. This week what drives me the most crazy about myself is when I when I proclaim a commitment without thinking things through thoroughly.

doni weights and ball april 2016

Working out isn’t pretty. Matthew says that grunting while working out makes the task 5 percent easier. Photo by Brad Garrison.

Case in point, when I started this weight-loss and fitness journey with Matthew Lister at Align Private Training I got so enthused and giddy with anticipation that I promised to report the results here weekly, as well as monthly updates via pictures taken by photojournalist Brad Garrison.

My rationale for that rash vow was I imagined that the unwanted weight would disappear so quickly that I’d have lots to show and tell. I imagined that my weight-loss would be as rapid and dramatic as one of those little picture flip books as I melted away before your very eyes.

Step right up, watch the incredible shrinking Doni.

Not so fast, as it turns out. In fact, I’m averaging a loss of just 5 pounds a month. As my twin is fond of saying, “Slow and steady wins the race,” but that’s little comfort when I hear someone at Align mention some wild number like 7 pounds lost in one week. Words like that make me want to weep, because for me, every single pound I lose is a major struggle.

We’re all different. I get that. And my weight is slipping away, slowly, rather than falling off, as I’d hoped. My weight-loss feels glacial, which makes weekly reports a yawner.

So, to break things up a bit I’ll be inviting others to share their stories here, too. Last week, for example, I shared Week 20’s Thursday space with Adrienne Jacoby, who told of her weight-loss journey, complete with photos. (Thank you, Adrienne, for your honesty and courage.)

I’m back in the saddle today, as I have a new batch of Brad’s photos.

Plus, I’m delighted to report that I finally broke through that frustrating plateau where I hadn’t lost a pound for weeks. It helped that Matthew switched my diet up a bit. For one thing, no more Greek yogurt, which I miss dearly. Too much sugar. I can have cottage cheese in its place. Guess which one I prefer? You’ve got it. Of course, the yogurt, the one with more sugar. It’s the story of my life. Pick two foods, and whichever is the least healthful is the one to which I’d naturally gravitate. I’m a sugar-seeking divining fork.

So four days a week I’m eating low carb, with mainly lean proteins, veggies and some fat (like avocado), and three days a week I go “high” carb, which is extremely relative. In Matthew’s world, “high carb” means I get to treat myself to oatmeal or a slice of that high-seed, low-calorie super wheat bread. That seemed to do the trick, and I lost a few more pounds, which brings my total weight loss to 25 pounds.

You may recall I have a deadline approaching of my July birthday, which is when I want to reach my goal. By then I’d like to lose another 15 pounds at the least, but ideally another 20 pounds. To do that, I’ll have to redouble my efforts. With that in mind, in addition to my new nutrition plan and my workouts with Matthew four days a week, I’ve added morning walks with my sister to the mix, and we just started pickleball lessons at the Shasta Family YMCA.  (Oh, how I wish that game had another name.) And when I can, I walk to Align, rather than drive, though I dread the hill on South or Placer streets, an incline I barely noticed while behind the wheel.

Through lots of miraculous calf stretches on a steep little wooden incline contraption at Align, Matthew’s managed to banish my planter fasciitis (Google “sharp stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot”) that I got from overdosing on walking and Jazzercise last summer. So I can return to Jazzercise again, too. I’ve really missed it.

doni trx pull up april 2016

It looks easy, doesn’t it? It’s not, since I’m using my arms to pull up about 60 percent of my body weight. Photo by Brad Garrison.

I’m growing stronger every day. There’s a new piece of equipment at Align called the TRX (I call it the T-rex), which features straps suspended by bolts from the ceiling. The T-rex is not easy, but it’s getting me on the road to a real pull-up, which is on my fitness bucket list, along with channeling my inner Erin Friedman and running one day. Not today. But eventually.

Looking at these monthly photos is always difficult for me, because I never quite think I look as chunky in person as the photos show. I think Matthew thinks so, too, because he was pretty funny during this week’s photo shoot. He actually got a hair tie to make my shirt fit tighter to reveal more of my hips and stomach (something I’d NEVER do intentionally), because he wanted to show off my “progress”. Brad joked that maybe Matthew should come along on a fashion photo shoot some time.

Where Matthew sees progress, I still see potential.

Doni approaches the balance ball carefully because she knows this won't be easy. Photo by Matthew Lister.

Doni approaches the balance ball carefully because she knows this won’t be easy. Photo by Matthew Lister.

A friend who’s also losing weight shared an interesting observation yesterday. She pointed out that weight loss is maddeningly proportional, meaning, that although we’re losing weight, it’s like we hit the reduce button on a copy machine. Same image, just a smaller version.

Doni after a workout, sweaty and happy (to be done). Photo by Shelly Shively.

Doni after a workout, sweaty and happy (to be done). Photo by Shelly Shively.

We’re smaller, but we’re keeping whatever distribution and problem areas we had before. It’s crazy-making.

doni ham string stretches with Matthew april 2016

The ham-string stretch is the dessert after a workout. It feels so good. Photo by Brad Garrison.

It cracks me up that although I’m heading into my fifth month working with Matthew, he manages to keep surprising me and his other clients with new ways to achieve inflict balance and fitness. So it was this week when he had me holding weights in each hand, while tapping a ball with alternating feet. It’s a great core-builder, and I obviously have more core work ahead of me so I can do this without losing my balance.

doni losing balance wieights and ball april 2016

Even so, I find myself so into the fitness part of this journey that even though I quasi-dread it, I also look forward to it, much like a dog that needs a walk. In fact, on weekends, when Align is closed, I feel antsy, and look forward to resuming my workouts on Monday again.

Doni weight loss comparison Apr 2016


Here are my stats since I started working out with Matthew Lister at Align Private Training in December: 25 pounds down overall; 3 inches off shoulders; 1.5 inch off each arm; 3.5 inches off bra line; 5 inches off belly button; 1.5 inches off each leg.

No matter how long this takes, I’m in it to win it, as the kids say. But I have to say, I’m supremely proud to see my hard work pay off. I’m down two pants sizes, and just the other day I bumped into some people I’d not seen in ages, and they literally didn’t recognize me. I’d like to think it’s because of my new weight-loss, not the hair color.

Next week someone else will share her inspirational health journey in this Thursday spotlight, and you’ll recognize her immediately.

In the meantime, I welcome your observations about fitness and weight-loss? I need all the help and advice I can get.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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