(Also known as, trying to lose weight.)

Last year, on the day after Thanksgiving, I went to a free yoga event at a local spa. I enjoyed the class and then, as I was fetching my things from the locker room and heading out, I noticed there was a scale. {insert scary movie music}

I don’t keep a scale at home, so out of curiosity, I stepped on. {Note to self: this is a GREAT way to ruin a perfectly good holiday weekend.} I won’t say how much I weighed, but let’s just say that it was 11 more pounds than I weighed 20 years prior, when I was just about to give birth to my daughter. (In case you can’t do fast math, this equals SOOO not acceptable.)

Some people found this hard to believe and said I looked totally fine (plus, I’m constantly doing yoga), but looks can be deceiving. (I’m 5′9″ after all — stuff is “distributed.”) Nonetheless, I knew I was too big (as in, not feeling good about it both physically and emotionally), and now I had a number to stamp on it.

I immediately got in touch with friend and personal trainer, Amber O’Neal, and like a good junkie said “Hi, this is Kristen, I’m too fat and I need help.” She said “Sure, I’ve got just what you need.” She set up a fitness and nutrition plan for me and voila!
I’m skinny!

Life doesn’t work like that, silly.

So, here’s how it really went:


Amber gave me a little nutrition make-over. I felt like I was eating pretty well, but she came along and started messing with everything. (What do you mean I can’t eat cupcakes and that I can only eat a “treat” ONE TIME PER WEEK? And, Kale? Really? Are you kidding me?) The conversation about peanut butter was one of my favorites. It went something like this:

“Sure, you can eat peanut butter, but it has to be natural
– nothing but peanuts and a touch of salt.”

“But, I only eat JIF.”

“Nope. That has extra stuff in it.”

“But, I’ve only eaten JIF my whole life.”

“Sorry, but it’s got lots of added sugars and preservatives.”

“But, you don’t understand, I love JIF.
I can just scoop it out with a spoon and enjoy smooth and creamy goodness anytime, day or night.

“Too bad. Natural peanut butter only.”

“Stinkin’ nutrition Nazi!”

Peanut Butter

Needless to say, I moved — kicking and screaming — toward better eating habits. Amber helped me learn (mainly because I questioned her about EVERYTHING) how to eat more appropriate portions of “whole/clean” foods, how to consider calories (obvious and hidden) throughout the day, and how to develop a more mindful eating practice.

In spite of all my bellyaching, I have tried lots of foods (and even enjoyed some of them) that I previously wouldn’t even consider.  For example, because I’m not a giant fan of just having fruit as a snack (except bananas, which are of course, the worst fruit to eat if you’re trying to lose weight), Amber suggested adding a touch of fruit to other things (like salads).  It started off with a handful of dried cranberries and now here I am wondering what I else I can put golden raisins (a previously “I don’t eat that” food) on top of. How did that happen? (I think she drugged me with endorphins!)


No body makeover is complete without the exercise aspect.  I should warn you right off, I’m not a fan of working out, in general (bouncing around, boring repetitions – ick!), so there will be a lot more whining in this section.

I aggressively suggested personal training sessions three times per week.  Now, if you put this into the context of me teaching six yoga classes per week and trying to take two or three yoga classes per week, you can see how adding three more “things” onto my weekly schedule might have been slightly delusional.  Nevertheless, we did it.

Unfortunately, these sessions took place at a gym.  (It didn’t have to be that way, but based on a number of factors, we decided this would be best.)  There is nothing I like about the gym.  Literally nothing.  (I won’t even get started on the rude and lazy staff at the Akers Mill LA Fitness.  That would require an entirely different post.)

The gym is smelly (ah, nothing like starting your day with the scent of chlorine, dirty carpet, and other people’s sweat), it’s noisy (I like ’80’s music as much as the next person, but I don’t really want the same 10 songs blasting over and over again), it’s crowded (I REALLY hate crowds), the TVs are targeted toward men (financial news and sports only), and it’s filled with rows and rows of scary machines (really, I have no idea how to use those things).  And, if all that wasn’t bad enough, I’m supposed to go to this place and do things that are boring and hurt.  And, if THAT wasn’t bad enough, I came up with the brilliant idea that we should do this early in the morning.

{Side note: 7 a.m. is not the beginning of my day, it’s the end of my night.  As in, I’m still asleep.  Disrupting that to go to the icky place described above to do icky things that I don’t want to do – not my most brilliant idea.}


So, fresh and cranky, poor Amber had to endure my whining during every rep.  The only redeeming aspect was that I got to hang out with her and chat during the sessions.  This is an excellent reason to workout with a trainer you like or with a friend.  Because, seriously, I wouldn’t have done 80% of what we did without 1. Being able to distract myself with conversation, and 2. Having Amber to say “I understand,  but keep going.”  (Translation: “You can gripe all you want, Kristen, but you’re still going to finish.”)

I’m going to let this section be mostly my whining.  Because, the truth of the matter is — I just didn’t like the workout part at all.  Amber and I made the best of it, but being at the gym and pushing and pulling on machines is just never going to be in my ongoing plan.  During one exercise or another, I found myself thinking (and saying) “There’s no way I would choose to do this on my own. What kind of people think this is a fun way to spend their time?”


But, before you end up thinking that all I want to do is sit on the couch and eat cupcakes all day long, we did come up with an ongoing routine.  My last couple of sessions with Amber were not at the gym (hallelujah!!!).  One was at a local park where, in addition to walking a couple of miles, we were able to do extras like lunges, push-ups, and other exercises using whatever was available (steps, grass, benches).  The other was at my home (where I actually have — rarely used — dumb bells, and a couple of other small items).

Amber’s website, CafePhysique.com (which I designed), has a part that talks about how in the past, only famous Hollywood stars had personal trainers.  When Amber was leading me through my workouts in “my own spaces,” that’s truly how I felt.  Like I was getting the royal treatment.  I enjoyed these sessions so much more and was excited to create a plan and a fitness routine that I could (and would) continue on my own.

So, after about three months of working with Café Physique, I lost 22lbs and feel tons stronger.  I realized as my arms started to take on a new shape and that I could even do more in my yoga practice, it was the gain in strength (not the weight loss) that would be my motivation to keep going.

Kristen's Crow

I’m sending out a big thank you to Amber for putting up with me and pushing me to get stronger and healthier.  (I’m also sending her a bill for all the new clothes I’ll need to buy, now that nothing I own fits!!) :)