I always hear men saying, “I’m so glad I’m not a girl.” And, I get that. We have to literally carry the burden of procreation in our bodies (which are then really screwed up from it) and the whole mess of things that comes with that. We are socialized into major physical upkeep and standards of beauty. But, being a girl has moments of absolute bliss–the kind of moments that so few men dare to have for themselves. Makeup, glitter, dresses, heels, hairstyling and total vanity. I’m proud to report that I had a major “girl” moment Sunday night. It was so good. I tried on all of my clothing. All of it.

The closest thing I can find to a gussied up before picture. 1.8.2011

Here's an after picture of my all gussied up on 3.5.2011.

The only real downfall (if we can even go so far as to call it that) of losing weight quickly, is that your clothing starts to look pretty shabby fairly quickly, as well. I have no need for the zipper on the pair of skinny jeans I bought four weeks ago–those babies slide on and off without so much as a wiggle. And, repeat the same thing for most of my go-to clothing items–they are all too big. So, in order to recalibrate my closet, I went through everything–fancy cocktail dresses, sweaters, jeans that I’ve held onto for ages, t-shirts and tank tops–and either left them alone or put them in the alterations pile, the giveaway pile or the trash heap. Dresses that I considered wearing in January that wouldn’t even think about zipping are a little loose now. It’s awesome. I just stared at myself in all of my items, trying to figure out what I actually look like. What is my style going to be? And, I’m still waiting to fit into a pair of American Apparel underwear I purchased when I was 22 that were too small then (I got the wrong size). I’m thinking five pounds will do it. Which is crazy, because the damn things have never fit. I never really thought they would. I thought they’d just serve as a constant reminder that I was too big. It’s such a strange torture device we use on ourselves, but this time, it will turn into a major triumph. I’m gunning for you, underpants!

As my ten-week series about working out with Jess Hogue, owner and personal trainer of Shape Plus Personal training, comes to a close, I’m aware that this is just the beginning for me: the first ten weeks. So, let me just answer some of your questions while I still have this platform: 1. Yes, I plan on eating “this way” for the rest of my life with limited exceptions. 2. Yes, I will do cardio and weight lifting all the time, missing no more than one day in a row, including when I’m on vacation. 3. Yes, I have more weight to lose. Don’t freak out–what I’m about to say is absolutely healthy: I’m going to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 more pounds. 4. Yes, I feel amazing and happy. And, I couldn’t have come this far without the support of the people around me, so thank you so much for asking and for noticing; it has meant so much to me. Finally, 5. Yes, I’m going to continue to work out with Jess at Shape Plus.

I look back at the 303 Magazine January Awards Issue release party on Jan. 8th. I had lost four pounds, and I wore a dress that had looked horrible since I had purchased it, until those four pounds fell off. Now, it’s too big, but that feeling carried me through my first days of fighting the food and booze part of this process. Those four pounds meant I would lose four more, and four more, and four more.

I remember the first time Jess handed me a jump rope thinking to myself, When I was eight, jumping rope was a blast. Jumping rope at 28 (an age too young to be complaining about), proved to be overwhelmingly challenging for me–so much so that I nearly started to cry. Not from pain, but from the frustration of failing to find any sort of rhythm, over and over again. Now, when I grab the jump rope, I have a real zen moment with it–it’s not like double dutch, which is to say, it’s not fun, but I’m certainly pleased with the progress. The progress is fun.

The biggest change is asking for what Jess calls a bonus. In the first weeks, maybe the first five, the idea of asking for more torture than I was already experiencing was a ridiculous notion. But, now, without even being given the option of one, I will ask Jess for a little extra pain. Ladies and gentlemen, it officially hurts soooooo good.

But, here’s the grand finale moment. The question I’m most often asked, the thing I’m always wrestling with and something that is way too complicated than a simple yes or no response: “Do you love it?”

I’m not just going to say, “Yes! I love it! I have so much energy! I could never go back to how I was before! I’m a total workout freak! I love eating healthy food all the time! Protein bars are the best! I just got the cutest yoga pants, OMG!” I’m not that annoying…yet. Here’s my answer: I  love the way I feel, 100 percent. I wrote a list of goals in the first week and can check many of them off partially, some fully and still waiting on others. I understand what it took to get here and achieve this. I honor and respect this process so much, because it isn’t easy. I’m not floating on a runner’s high all the time, dreamily contemplating if the StairMaster or treadmill sounds like a better time (I don’t really like doing either, but I feel so much better afterward). I do love it. Yes, I love it very much, but it’s not the same type of love that you have for a new belt or even–gulp–the same type of love I have for a new issue of 303 (a love that runs deep for me).

Essentially, when you ask me if I love it, you’re asking me if I love myself. And, I’m working on it. That’s a relationship I neglected for about six years. And, being the pragmatic, logical individual that I am, ten weeks isn’t going to make me believe that I love myself again, fully. The truth is, I’m smitten and very optimistic. And, the part of me that knows I’m not going to let myself down ever again is growing stronger and stronger every day, while the part of me that’s capable of neglect is fading into the past. Fair enough, right?

My before picture - Week 1

My after picture - week 10 - with Jess Hogue

And, of course, we couldn’t close this series without the wise words of Jess himself: “It has been a pleasure working with Laura. She is one of those people that said enough is enough, I’m serious about changing my life and I will do whatever it takes to get there. She has done everything to get there. She has earned her new self-esteem and confidence. She has proven to herself that she can be trusted to do the next right thing for herself, and I hope she never forgets it! It look forward to taking her all the way, and I feel so absolutely fortunate to be part of this amazing thing that we are doing together!

“This process cannot only change your body, but your life as well. If your body doesn’t look and feel the way you want, or doesn’t match the image you have in your mind of how it should be, then it is actually a symptom of what’s going on inside of you. It’s how you are ‘reacting in your life.’ Emphasis on the reaction. Changing the reaction to action is the most important decision we can make. Instead of reacting to our lives, we have to take action in our lives. We have to take action to change our bodies to fit the ideal image in our minds. Action drives us to what we want, and we go straight at the goal. Reaction steers us away from our goals and puts emphasis on what we don’t want. When trying to avoid what we we don’t want, that focus takes us straight toward it.

“‘What’s my focus? I want to look and feel amazing.’ Okay, now it’s time to act. Put on your running shoes and run. Put on your weightlifting gloves and go lift weights. Don’t know what to do to get to your goals? Go to a gym and get personal training, go to a yoga studio and sign up, join a running group, call a kickboxing studio and tell them you are ready now! It doesn’t have to be the perfect right thing, but a step in the right direction is action!”

Again, thank you for being part of my journey. I’m fortunate to have your support. Please, let me know if you need encouragement, a running buddy or any type motivation at all.

To learn more about where I’m working out, click here.