Yesterday I had to do a periodic fitness evaluation at my gym, where a trainer leads me through a series of progressively terrible exercises in order to determine at what point my lungs start to actually protrude from my nostrils. No part of this is fun, from the 12-minute speed gallop on the treadmill to the arm-trembling bench presses, but the worst part by far is the fat test conducted at the beginning. In terms of grievous psychological discomfort, there’s nothing quite like having various parts of your fat pinched by another person, especially when said person is not in fact a matronly woman with a mustache and a nun’s habit but a handsome young GYM TRAINER.

The worst thing is he has to sort of grab ahold of my fat with his actual fingers before putting the calipers around it. I have to tug down my shorts slightly and hold my shirt up a bit so he can get at the flab hanging around my belly, which basically causes my brain to shear away from the horror of the situation and take up residence in the bottom of my left foot, leaving me slack-jawed and silent as he chatters away about whatever the hell he’s talking about. I try and take solace from the fact that he does these tests all the time and it’s probably like being a doctor or something, but truthfully that thought never helps me when I’m in the company of an actual doctor, especially when they’re peering at my jacked-open girl parts. Some things just aren’t natural, and I’d put “having a dude pinch my fat” in the same discomforting file as “having a medically trained, totally professional woman crank apart my hoo-ha with a metal duck bill and stick a giant mascara wand in there”.

The results of the test were unsurprising: I’ve been doing well on the fitness front, not so much on the healthy eating. I know this, of course—you can’t spend over a month stuffing crap in your Twinkie-hole without realizing there’s going to be some fallout—and actually this was already the week I vowed to get my shit together and re-focus on my diet. I didn’t really need the extra wakeup call of a fat test, but I suppose it’s useful all the same. The numbers confirmed what my jeans were telling me, that the junk food binge has not gone by unnoticed. Every part of me is measuring bigger, and while all the working out is making me stronger, all the pigging out is making me flabbier.

I used to have this vague notion that if you exercised a lot, you could pretty much eat what you wanted. Wrong! Those cookies will undo every goddamn mile you ran, and hey, breaking news from the No-Shit Gazette, LIFE ISN’T FAAAIR.

Anyway, if you want to join me in this renewed diet focus, maybe add your own tips or daily food diaries or whatever, I’ll be posting every day over here. As a related topic, if any of you would like to contribute an article to Bodies in Motivation, I’m looking to add:

Success stories (anything you’ve done fitness or healthwise that you’re proud of)
Challenges (questions about a fitness or diet issue you’re struggling with, to be answered by readers)
Gear or clothing reviews
Exercise write-ups (any kind of class or discipline you’re tried that you don’t mind describing)

Those areas have been a bit neglected lately in favor of ongoing personal blog posts, and I’d like to build them back up. Bodies is a labor of love, so unfortunately there’s no monetary compensation for contributing, but people will read and get inspired and give advice and, you know, that’s pretty awesome. So hit me up via email (sundry at gmail dot com) if you’ve got anything you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.


37 Responses to “Refocusing”

  1. Eric's Mommy on October 7th, 2009 1:02 pm

    Eating healthy is so hard for me to do. I’ve been working out regularly and haven’t been eating that bad, I’ve gained muscle but still have flab.

    I remember having those fat tests in gym class in high school and it was awful then, when I was thin!

  2. Kristin on October 7th, 2009 1:03 pm

    I need to refocus also. I had a baby 10 weeks ago…nursing took off most of the baby weight but the endless supply of cookies and chips I eat constantly seems to have leveled off the weight loss. Plus I am lumpy in places that were previously unlumpy. Damn. I’m not ready for any really vigorous exercise beyond fast walking and some random situps, but I know I can do better with eating. I’m looking forward to reading what you post about this. And someday…someday I will try the 30 day shred. Just as soon as I am positive that all of my lady parts will stay where they belong.

  3. Colleen on October 7th, 2009 1:21 pm

    I’ve been trying to refocus for a few months now. I start with a plan to try and eat better (and LESS!), but am continually side-tracked by a lack of will-power (and impatience with less than rapid results) and the complete lack of motivation to make a decent dinner for myself (husband usually NOT home for dinner 5-6 nights a week) after I put my little sweetheart to bed at 8:30 or so. I can see the flab on my belly and think back to when it wasn’t this way. Sigh. Lots of emotional stress in the last year has taken it’s toll.

  4. Gigi on October 7th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Some things just aren’t natural, and I’d put “having a dude pinch my fat” in the same discomforting file as “having a medically trained, totally professional woman crank apart my hoo-ha with a metal duck bill and stick a giant mascara wand in there”.

    OMG! I laughed out loud at that! So true. Now my co-workers are looking at me funny.

  5. Becky on October 7th, 2009 1:34 pm

    “having a medically trained, totally professional woman crank apart my hoo-ha with a metal duck bill and stick a giant mascara wand in there”…caused me to spit Diet Mountain Dew all over my laptop..which caused the 3 men in my shared “pod” to ask what was so funny….

  6. Courtney on October 7th, 2009 1:57 pm

    OMG, the stories most women could tell about getting their cooters cranked open. I’m always amazed how quickly a year goes by when that particular appointment rolls around.

  7. Jurgen Nation on October 7th, 2009 2:02 pm

    Sweet Lord.

    I tried Body for Life last year when I finally realized that yes, I do indeed have THIS SHIT BODY FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE and I should work with it to help make that fact less painful as the years pass. The first thing “they” tell you to do is to take pictures of yourself in a bathing suit from all sorts of [horrifying] angles.

    Seeing those resulting photos has put me on a path of “Healthy, Yay!” bullshit for just over a year. My stomach lurched and dropped so far seeing those pictures that I still haven’t been able to pull it out of my arsehole.

    Just thought of this and I’m so going to patent: take a picture of yourself getting calipered by a hot man. INSTA-SLIM!

  8. cindy w on October 7th, 2009 2:16 pm

    I just started the Fat Flush Plan on Monday. It’s basically a low-carb, low-fat, low-cal, low-everything-I-actually-enjoy-eating diet. And I’m trying to cut down on my Diet Coke consumption too, since it’s gotten ridiculously out of control lately. So, yeah. The fact that I haven’t had a cookie (or even a piece of bread! Or cheese!) since Sunday, and I’ve got a caffeine-withdrawal headache, and I still haven’t stabbed anyone (yet) is a HUGE victory so far.

    Would *love* to write something for you, but I don’t really know what the angle on it would be.

  9. amber on October 7th, 2009 3:44 pm

    “having a medically trained, totally professional woman crank apart my hoo-ha with a metal duck bill and stick a giant mascara wand in there”.


  10. Cheryl on October 7th, 2009 5:29 pm

    Love your site!
    I am 33 weeks with twins and have trained througout my pregnancy. My eating has been clean throughout, although I hav ehad to add more dairy and wheat, which I tend to avoid when I am not pregnant!
    I have pics on my blog and I am proud to have maintained an active and healthy lifestyle while carrying 2 babies.
    I would love to inspire other women to get fit BEFORE pregnancy and maintain it throughout, it truly does make a difference!

  11. Miss Behavin on October 7th, 2009 6:51 pm

    I could literally vomit when I look in the mirror lately, as I’ve become so disgusted with my muffin top and mid-section that now resembles an air bag. I don’t know what happened to the size 8 clothes that used to drape my 5’7 frame so deliciously just three short years ago.

    Oh, wait…I became pregnant at 39 and had a baby, which is really no excuse because millions of women have babies, but my husband is an enabler and won’t stop bringing Taco Bell home at ten o’clock at night! And, he will not eat the food I like to cook, which is grilled chicken or fish. I try to eat healthy (well, except for the nachos) and I count my steps, but my waistline isn’t diminishing.

    Anyway, quite a way to make an introduction. I recently found your blog and thought I’d finally leave a comment and say hello!

  12. Lesley on October 7th, 2009 9:03 pm

    A colleague who is a pro body builder/athlete told me losing and gaining weight is virtually all diet-related and exercise achieves very little in the way of calorie loss. She told me there is no point in counting calories burned because exercise never burns enough to matter anyway. Strangely this was a huge relief to me because I’ve been frantically counting calories burned as well as calories consumed and feeling horrible whenever the numbers are low on the burned side. She slapped me around and said “stop doing that!! and just track the calories you eat.”

    She also told me I don’t have to do heart jarring aerobics unless I enjoy it. That going for a brisk walk of between 30 and 60 minutes after a meal will give the heart what it needs. According to her, the best exercise for achieving a ripped look is resistance training.

    She advises women who are overweight not to run, jog, or do jumping or excessive cardio until they bring their weight down because excess weight puts too much stress on the joints. She advises one’s diet to include more protein and healthy fats, and lots of fibre. She’s against everything wheat-based because too many people are allergic to gluten.

    I don’t know jackshit about any of this but do know that I am on and off with punishingly hard exercise. So I’m giving her suggestions a dry run and ending the guilt I feel for not wanting to do Jillian every day or even every second day. Some times I’m very motivated but other times I groan at the thought of being beaten by that woman.

    Body Builder friend is also horrified by The Biggest Loser which she says is the most unhealthy, unrealistic, and abusive show she’s ever seen.

    No matter what’s said about Jillian, I will always love her – and do her workouts – because she’s helped change my body in ways I never thought possible.

  13. Lara on October 7th, 2009 10:22 pm

    I wish my exercise routine was interesting enough to write about. For the last few months it’s been all about swimming lessons/drills at the local rec centre. I spend the entire hour alternating between trying to avoid the whirlpool/tail-spin/continuous log-roll when they make us swim with those foam floaty things between our thighs, and trying not to choke down ALL the water in the pool when the coach yells things like “STROKE AND PULL! STROKE AND PULL! Harder! Faster! STROKE AND PULL!”

    Tonight he taught us a new front-crawl drill. It was called “fisting”.


  14. Jennifer on October 7th, 2009 10:32 pm

    Good comment by Lesley above (thanks!) I agree with “diet to lose weight, exercise to feel good.” Or in my case, diet to keep LDLs down and exercise to keep HDLs up. I find it’s much easier to keep body fat down when I’m not exercising because I never get that insane post-workout starvation-feel hunger.

    I have a few ideas for things to contribute to Bodies; I’ll email you when I sort out my thoughts.

    And I’m looking forward to the “newfound diet focus.” I give you credit for my change in diet which got my cholesterol down 3 years ago, and I’ve been eating the “kick your ass salad” the whole time (I even put up a photo of it on Twitpic last spring: ) but I’ll have to admit I’m getting bored with it. Need new ideas. And I yearn for bread SO MUCH, I wish there was a way to eat healthily, keep body fat down, and still have enough bread to keep down those cravings.

    Looking forward to a stay-the-course winter!

  15. el-e-e on October 8th, 2009 5:43 am

    I’ve always loved “Shrink Yer Butt” Salad, too. :) In fact, I printed out that entire thread of comments, keep it with my cookbooks, and refer to it when I’m “staying the course.”

  16. jonniker on October 8th, 2009 6:27 am

    Perhaps I could interest you in a condescending post about how I did nothing but breastfeed my way to postpartum slimness? Like the celebrities do? Or … would that be bad?

  17. heatherf on October 8th, 2009 6:44 am

    I can’t tell you how many times I had to read “No-shit Gazette” before I realized it didn’t say “No-shit Gazelle”. My thoughts were along the lines of, what the hell kind of gazelles do you guys have out in WA that deliver no-nonsense news?

  18. KB on October 8th, 2009 8:36 am

    The day I weaned my youngest was the day I damned myself to uncontrollable weight gain. Breastfeeding was so awesome…

    Anyway, I’m all about the reverse diet. It uses the premise of eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner. I fix my family dinner and package up some leftovers for myself to heat up the next morning and I have a bowl of cereal for dinner. This way, I have the calories when I need them for energry, through the day, and not before I crash and burn on the couch once bedtime is achieved. I lost a TON of weight after my son was born (in addition to the fabulous lactation diet) using this method and after gaining too much weight back, I started this again a few weeks ago and I’m already feeling the difference. If I could commit myself to daily Jillian, I would be money but I don’t think it’s very nice of her to try to kill me when she’s never even met me.

  19. E on October 8th, 2009 8:50 am

    Oh yes yes yes! I’d love to contribute something. I’ll email you tonight. Check out my blog ( to see my battle with the bulge and writing style. I love this idea and your post!

  20. Justa on October 8th, 2009 9:00 am

    I go with a combination of Crossfit style workouts and Primal nutrition/living. Search Mark’s Daily Apple for information on living primally. It’s similar to a paleo style of eating, but it produces results. I only go about 85% clean, and have still seen very good results.

  21. Jenny on October 8th, 2009 9:36 am

    I was recently diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance (one step before diabetes) and have been working hard on exercise and diet ever since. It’s hard, but let’s just say I’m really wedded to the concept of leaving this life with all the limbs I came into it with. Fairly motivational.

    I just wanted to say, though… you LOOK incredible. Your accomplishments — the triathlon, the training, the child-wrangling — are amazing and inspirational, and you just keep getting faster and fitter and stronger. You feel great, both emotionally and physically. I wonder whether a pinch test, which is notoriously inaccurate (only being dunked in a water tank can really tell you your fat percentage — talk about unnatural), should really make you worry?

    Of course it is your body and these are your goals. But I look at your body and I’m not even AIMING to look that hot. Half that hot would do me fine. You’re awesome, Sundry.

  22. erin on October 8th, 2009 9:37 am

    I haven’t any wise words of wisdom w/respect to this entry other than this rule I live by: You can’t eat what you don’t buy so leave the bad stuff in the store.

    Also, am stopping by today because I wanted you to know I nominated you for an award on my blog. I know you get tons of these but your blog is one of the first I visit every day so I wanted to share the wealth!

  23. Sunshyn on October 8th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Um, what fat?

  24. Sue on October 8th, 2009 4:20 pm

    Loved the duck bill comment!! Especially since I have that lovely appointment tomorrow-lucky me.

  25. StyckyWycket on October 8th, 2009 6:44 pm

    I really, really need to get serious about my health and fitness. I keep doing something here, something there, and then it doesn’t last too long. I’m just in desperate need of a serious overhaul in how I live my life – going from inert to energized.

    But I can totally relate to hitting the diet wall: I can no longer wantonly gorge on carbs without getting some serious junk in the trunk AND saddlebags. Life, indeed, is not fair.

  26. Lara on October 8th, 2009 8:48 pm

    Hey, so I was thinking about this post today and wanted to add something beyond my smart-ass swimming comment above (but seriously! How am I the only one at the pool that finds that hilarious?! How?)

    Anyways. About four years ago I was going through a separation that eventually led to a divorce. I was over-weight and overwhelmed. I was seeing a counselor to work through the separation stuff and one day I burst down in tears and said I just couldn’t take all the “I should…” pressure.

    “I should eat better, I should lose weight, I should know what to do about my marriage” and so on. She said “Forget about the weight for now. Eat properly – like I know you know you should, but don’t count calories. Find an exercise you like but don’t obsess about needing to do it for your weight – exercise to clear your head. You need exercise right now, but you need it for the stress relief, mostly. You need to work through the relationship stuff – that is what is important right now – and exercise will help with that, but you do not NEED to lose 15lbs right now. It can wait. Let it go.”

    And you now, it was like a freaking epiphany. I just STOPPED OBSESSING about it and (I’m sure you see where this is going), I lost 20lbs. Eating properly, exercising regularly – it was just like *magic* (heh).

    Here I am, about 4 years later and some of those pounds have crept back, so I’m trying to avoid wine, eat properly and do an exercise I enjoy (swimming) a few times a week.

    I guess my point is that re-focusing (for me!) is letting go (again) of obsessively logging calories or “points” (which I’ve been creeping back to lately) and doing what I think we all instinctively know we should – don’t eat junk and move yer damn ass. It works and it doesn’t have to be complicated or even overwhelming.

  27. E. on October 9th, 2009 12:11 am

    It’s kind of saddening that such an intelligent, relate-able person as yourself subscribes to the “being thin is the best ” mindset. You’re healthy and strong, which should be ok, but then you tweet things like “larduccine assfredo” when you gain a few pounds, which is kind of sad.

    (Maybe some Kate Harding would help you see outside yourself a little? But probably you will somehow use this comment to defend your current stance, which is okay too. Your blog, your perspective and all that.)

    I just want you to know that there are readers that think you’re an awesome writer and parent that are trying NOT to believe that they’re fat and disgusting just because they’re not 135 pounds.

  28. Tammy on October 9th, 2009 7:59 am

    Not so sure this could even be counted as a success story. I have struggled for the last 20 years with my weight. I tried diets, diet pills, healthy eating but none of them would last too long. Eventually I would get no results and think screw it…or do really well and reward myself, thus undoing everything I had done.
    I am a lot. I have watched you slowly morph into this uber fit person that loves the challenge of exercise and pushing your limits and I was envious of your ability to stay focused on your goals.
    Then 4 weeks ago, I was sitting here wishing I wasn’t fat and a lightbulb went on. Then don’t be! It was that simple. For years I have tried desperately to trick my body into losing weight without too much effort on my part and it failed. There are no tricks. No pills, no fad diets. It’s as simple as eat less, exercise more. And GOOD GOD it is so slow! I have lost 5 pounds in a month. Before that would have been enough tomake me give up and dive into the nearest ben and jerrys carton. But somehow this time, it doesn’t matter. The needle on the scale is going the right way and even if it takes a long time to get to a place that doesn’t embarrass me, that’s okay.
    My challenge now is to stop my 43 year old unfit body from hurting. I work out with weights 3 times a week and walk 5 days a week for 40 mins a day. After a month I would have thought the stiffness and aching would have stopped but it hasn’t.
    Anyway, uber rambling but I just wanted to let you know that you kinda inspired me to get my fat ass moving.

  29. Al El on October 9th, 2009 8:04 am

    Lose It! iPod/iPhone app.

    it’s made a huge diff in how i eat and how much I know weigh.

  30. Sundry on October 9th, 2009 8:17 am

    E: I try and be patient with this point of view because I am a fan of feeling good about yourself at whatever weight, however, please to be getting off my damn dick. I don’t think I’m disgusting — I think I’ve been eating disgusting food for several weeks (hence the larduccine comment) and I think I’m experiencing unwanted side effects as a result and I think I want to do something to make myself feel better. I have more fat in my body than I had three months ago and hey, I want to get rid of it. Sorry if you somehow take personal offense at that, but guess what: it’s about me, not you.

    For me, lean and strong and consistently eating healthy food IS best. If you weigh 400 pounds and feel that is best, awesome. We have different goals and things that make us happy! IMAGINE THAT.

  31. Tammy on October 9th, 2009 9:06 am

    I probably shouldn’t comment on a remark made to Sundry herself (Lord knows she can certainly take care of herself) but I really want to weigh in with my opinion.
    First of all, I don’t think Sundry has ever touted being thin as the only way to go. Her goals have always seemed, to me, to be that she would like to be stronger, more capable, toned and lean. Her right to want to look the way she does should not be questioned any more than a persons right to weigh whatever the heck they want.
    Which leads me to my more controversial part of the comment. I’m sure there are people out there who are happy weighing 400 pounds, but for the most part, it’s a crock. Give those people a truth serum and then ask them. The truth is most people use the ‘I’m overweight and happy’ stance as a defence mechanism. “If I let people know I’m happy like this, then maybe they won’t criticize me”. I know, because I was one of those people. Because seriously, how can anyone be happy getting out of breath walking up the stairs, or having to pay for two airplane seats because they don’t fit in one, or being denied health coverage because their body mass is too high?
    (disclaimer: this does not include people with body dysmorphia – People with this condition would feel ugly/not good enough no matter what they weigh)

  32. Belle on October 9th, 2009 10:18 am

    I hate getting into blog quarrels but sometimes I can’t help it. Where did you come up with the idea that she thinks being thin is the only way to go E? You’re ridiculous.

  33. Lori on October 9th, 2009 10:38 am

    In my experience, exercise plays a role, just not as big a one as we might like. You burn roughly 100 calories when you run a mile and well, you know how many calories are in a handful of cookies. That’s a lot of running.

    I gained about 10 lbs after my first marathon and was sure it would fall off training for my 2nd. It didn’t. It only came off when I put a serious effort into the diet. Then got married, then got lazy.

    I lost about 15 lbs training for my 2nd Ironman BUT I drastically changed my diet. Cut out ALL bread, pasta, rice, chips, cookies… Well almost all. Chips are my downfall.

    So that is my experience. Diet matters.

    (BTW I read where one of the biggest loser winners admitted to starving himself and living on protein shakes.)

  34. Anne on October 9th, 2009 11:04 am

    Just wanted to thank you for your suggestion to work out at night with DVDs after the little ones are in bed. I just had my second child in June and was walking at night but that has gone by the wayside as it has gotten darker/colder. I couldn’t really get myself to the gym at 8:30 at night, either. Tried, didn’t happen. But twenty minutes with Jillian in my living room? THAT I can do. Still not up to every day, but have been doing those workouts twice a week, and a 90 minute ballet class on weekends.

    BTW–breastfeeding, for me, has never resulted in much weight loss because it makes me so starving all the time I wind up eating more calories to make up for the ones I lose out the boobs. On the other hand, working out at night makes me LESS hungry than I would be otherwise–bonus! :-)

  35. lindsay on October 9th, 2009 11:14 am

    It is so rare to meet someone or find the blog of someone who wants to be excellent at whatever their thing is – sports, health, relationships, job. I love that this blog chronicles part of one person’s efforts at being excellent. Keep it up Linda!

  36. E. on October 10th, 2009 1:55 pm

    I think your response to my comment was not only an overreaction, but was pretty fucking mean to boot. Of course my disagreement with your use of fat-hating verbiage is all about my insecurities and issues and deep-seated self-hatred, though, right? Only not so much. Because guess what? I can support and applaud your efforts to be stronger and fitter (which I have!) and still think that the “larduccine assfredo” comment was uncool. I don’t have to be “400 pounds” or need therapy or ANYTHING. I can just DISAGREE with you on something! And given that there is a comment section in your blog, where one might think that they can voice that opinion without being told to “get off your dick” and so on. I guess the comments area is just for obsequiousness, people telling you how hot and right and awesome you are, and not for voicing any sort of differing opinion. Oops!

    I know you (and lots of your commenters) will happily bid me good riddance, but I want you to know that I’ve been reading your insightful, well-written, hilarious entries since Diaryland, but I’m going to stop now. There are kinder places to spend time on the internet.

  37. Sundry on October 10th, 2009 2:01 pm

    I know you’ll be back to read this, so I just want to clarify that I didn’t mean to imply I actually thought you weighed 400 pounds, it was only an example. However, if you thought being described as 400 pounds was so “mean”, you’re not walking your walk.

    People are totally welcome to disagree with me, here or anywhere. And I get to disagree right back. And yeah, I get to tell people to get off my dick when they’re riding it.

    Also, seriously. SERIOUSLY. You were offended at “larduccine assfredo”, a joking comment meant to describe the bullshit junk food I’ve been eating lately? I have no idea how you’ve hung in here for so long, but if that’s the truth, I do agree it’s probably time to move on. I’m sorry to see you go, and I’m sorry you seem to think I’m so mean, but I don’t have the interest in censoring everything I say for potential sensitive feelings.

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