Updates and progress

I know I have been out of pocket for some time here, and I truly, truly apologize! I hope I still have some readers out there to notice my return!

The past several months have been…hectic. That really doesn’t begin to describe it, but it’s the quickest, easiest word to express how busy I have been, how little free time I have had, and to sum up the reason for my prolonged absence.

Between family visiting Georgia, weddings, work, holidays, work, pet illnesses, work, and a slew of necessary home improvements relative to pet illnesses, I quite literally feel as if I have not breathed in about 2 months. As is the story of my life, the things I love the most are typically the first things deemed un-essential during these times of extended business, and sadly blogging fell into that list. Regardless of when I publish a blog, I typically sit down to write them in the evening before bed, and lately bedtime has either come much later than I would like due to the aforementioned business, or much earlier than I would like due to crashing after a long, tiring, stressful several days.

Either scenario just didn’t leave me my blog time.

As things calm down, and I start living a relatively normal life again, I tried to make getting back on here a priority.

As this blog at the end of the day is all about the journey, I want you all to know that I have continued to be relatively successful in all of my goals here.

I have maintained my weightloss and even added a couple more pounds to it, I’m now on the south side of 30 pounds lost, having lost a total of 32lbs.

Although the time constraints have all but eliminated my workout time most days, I have managed to keep as active as possible, and at the very least control my caloric intake well enough to maintain and not gain.

Over the next few weeks I’ll try to catch up on any of the specific events or recipes that I haven’t been sharing, but I warn you- creativity in the kitchen was another hobby put slightly on the backburner over the last couple of months- in other words- you haven’t missed much!

Thanks again for the continued love and support, it was each of you in the back of my minds that kept me focused while I was away!

Cheers!

Melting away excuses

I talked a while back about getting into a good groove with exercising, starting with walking. Alex and I started doing a 1 mile walk around the neighborhood everyday, and when the oppressive Georgia summers (you know, the one that started in March this year…) kicked into high gear, I transitioned to walking/jogging a mile indoors on the treadmill. Life started back up again, and it was getting harder and harder to make the time in the evenings to do the walking, and I really did not want to let that get in my way again.

The one single thing that has held me back time and time again as I have tried diet after diet, each one as unsuccessful as its’ predecessor, is simple: making excuses. Of course the excuses themselves are as many varied and different as the days are long, but the constant has always been excuses. That is what I was trying to avoid here. 

So I guaged my days, really looked at where my time was spent, where my time was wasted, and what exactly I could do to make sure that I didn’t let excuses get in the way again, not this time. Not when I’m making lifelong changes, not when I’m making progress, not when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (albeit a very long, tumultuous tunnel, the light is there nonetheless.)

Last week I started walking on my lunch break. I always bring my lunch to work with me anyway, and between preparing it, and eating it, I usually have between 30-40 minutes leftover to do whatever I’d like. I typically use this time to play read articles and do some networking on LinkedIn, and I’ll occassionally use it to catch up on my Words with Friends turns that I neglect each night. Why couldn’t I use this time to walk?

And so I did.

At first I just walked, I had no idea how far I was going, how fast I was going, I figured something was better than nothing, and I kind of discounted it anyway because it was typically only a 20 minute endeavour. How many calories can one really burn in 20 minutes?

But then last Friday, I stepped on the scale. And in 1 week, I had lost another 4lbs. Just walking 20 minutes a day.

I know that this is not enough, and to get all the way to my goal weight (still another 100+lbs to go) I need to do more. But this works for me right now, and it’s still something. It’s still moving. Until I am back in a situation where time is a bit more normal and less luxury, I am moving.

Today I crept perilously close to more excuses. It’s a dreary, rainy day here in Georgia. Just before my lunch, there was a lull in the rain. I told my co-worker that I was worried about walking because I didn’t want to get caught in a downpour 1/2 a mile out and have to walk back in it, not to mention spend the remainder of the afternoon soaking wet. And then I stopped myself. Mid-sentence I told him, “Nevermind! I’m walking!”

Like most everything in my life, exactly what I was worried about happening did. The second I stepped out from under the stoop over our office door (like a perfectly timed percussion entrance, really) the rain started. Not hard, but constant. It rained the entire 20 minute mile, did not stop or slow one time. But you know what? It was exhilerating. I felt energized with each chilly prick of a rain drop. I was excited.

Today I walked in the rain. And, despite popular belief that I am, in fact, the wicked witch, I didn’t melt away. As I pumped my arms in harmony with the stride of my legs, breathing deeply first in, then out, as I walked the 20 minute mile through my office park I not only didn’t melt, but I felt accomplished and whole for the first time in a long time. While there is still work to be done, still a long way to go, I didn’t make excuses today. And as I walked around in the rain, a little part of my cheered victoriously as I watched another excuse melt away around me.

The 40′s

The 40′s don’t typically stick out as a remembered decade for me. I mean, I know some major stuff happened in the 40′s, don’t get me wrong. WW2 spanned half the decade, and we saw the advent of some pretty amazing things like the slinky, velcro, and yes, folks, even microwaves. But it’s no iconic roaring 20′s, no sock-hop and grease-laden 50′s, and certainly no totally awesome 80′s.

I certainly don’t mean to negate the contributions and tribulations of an entire decade, and I’m certain the there are plenty of people out there who do have significant connections to this particular portion of history. For me, though, the thought of that series of numbers, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, and 49 has never drawn any particular emotions for me. That all changed on Friday.

Friday morning, buck naked, after my first bathroom visit of the day (which is apparently the best time and state at which to weight) that series of numbers elicited one of the most emotional responses to any experience thus far on my journey to a healthier me. For the first time in my entire overweight life, I got to actually see my weight on the scale include some of those numbers. I’m sure they’ve been there before, but only during the initial upward climb. Before now I’ve never stuck with my plan long enough to see those numbers on the way back down. I’ve dabbled in the 260′s, even reached the 250′s several times, but never, ever have I gotten so far as the 240′s.

247.6 lbs.

To date on this journey I have lost 27.4 lbs. The single highest amount of weight that I have ever lost.

Seeing that number on the scale was like a reawakening inside of me. It reminded me what I am doing, and why I am doing it. It reminded me what this blog is all about, and why it is called “First Day of the Rest of Days.” Not because it’s catchy, or easy to remember, or clever and cute. It’s because every single day when I wake up, I have another change. A new opportunity to continue on this path. A chance to start over. A chance to learn from mistakes and keep moving in the right direction.

When I looked down and saw that number…it reminded me to keep working, keep moving, keep trying because every day is a new day, and another step closer to the day not only when I step on the scale and see the end number, but the day that I am proud of my achievements, the day that I can comfortably and happily do the things that I love, enjoy the people I love, and put the negative elements of my past behind me knowing I am strong and capable of really enjoying my future. I’m sure that sentence if one of the most horrible run-ons in the history of the English language, but I’m hoping in light of the circumstances you’ll all forgive me!

Foodie Pen Pals!

So last month I read about the Foodie Pen Pals program from Dena at 40 Fit In The Mitt, and I just knew that I had to sign up! It’s a really fun program started by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean  that matches bloggers and readers across the country get matched and send each other foodie-inspired packages. Now, first let me say this: KUDOS to Lindsay. This is not only the best idea ever, but she does an absolutely fantastic job organizing everything. There will be more about Foodie Pen Pals after my post for anyone interested in participating, but for now…here is my first box reveal!

This month my foodie pen pal was Lauren, from Lauren Living Locally. I visited her blog before receiving my package, and I was extremely excited to be paired with her! I just knew she would send me different, delicious treats, and for my first #Foodiepenpals box, she definitely did not disappoint!

In my box Lauren included lots of yummy goodies, including Almond butter from The Orchards inPomona,NY(something I have been dying to try, but never purchased because Alex refuses to try it!), Bread and Butter Pickles (again, much to Alex’s dismay! *More on that later!), Roasted Natural Sea Weed, Soba noodles, and a recipe for Soba noodles with kale and walnuts!

The absolute first thing I did was stir up the almond butter and gently spread it across a piece of honey wheat bread. Emphasis on gentle. The almond butter was much crunchier than traditional peanut butter, and had a prominent saltiness mixed in among the sweet. It wasted of delicious toasted almonds- I really cannot explain how delicious it was! It is definitely something I will continue to treat myself with, whether Alex partakes in it or not!

*When I opened my package I took out the most gigantic jar of delicious, home-made looking pickles that I have ever laid eyes on. Anyone who knows me and Alex knows that I love pickles more than most any food in the world, and the simple smell of pickles will send Alex into fits of retching that can last for hours. Seriously, I once ate a cheeseburger with pickles on it for lunch, and he could still detect pickles when I kissed him hello six hours later. The look on his face was quite possibly the funniest I have ever witnessed, and I could not have been happier to receive this glorious jar of pickles!

When I opened the jar and took the first bite, it was out of this world. A lovely crunch, with a soft, tart center- the perfect punch of sour, followed by that distinct, buttery sweetness. I am in pickle heaven.

The roasted sea week is the item I was both most scared, and most interested to try. Lauren warned me in her letter that they were an acquired taste, but I was determined to try them! They’re really not bad. I finally understand what contributes that flavor to sushi, as I never really attributed it to the sea weed before for some reason. Definitely not a snack I can eat a ton of at once, but it definitely is a nice alternative for a salty snack.

The final item was a package of Planet Organic Soba Noodles. I’ve never tried soba noodles, but have heard only good things about them. Not only did Lauren send me some, but she was sweet enough to include a recipe for soba noodles with kale and walnuts. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet (I haven’t been out to get the kale and walnuts) but I did try the noodles tonight with some ingredients I had on hand, and made a killer meal for dinner!

Remember to check out more information about #Foodiepenpals on Lindsay’s blog, and sign up to participate soon! Stay tuned for a guest post from my #foodiepenpals recipient, Amanda, in the next post!

The strange things that change

Completely changing the way you do pretty much everything does not come without its challenges. I have had to understand how my body works, change things that have been lifelong habits, and work hard to maintain those changes. Sometime along the way my body started changing, and suddenly some of those challenges have shifted, some disappeared altogether. Some new challenges have come up that are altogether unexpected.

One of the biggest surprises and subsequent challenges from the beginning my journey was the amount of calories I drank every day. Sodas, tea, hundreds of calories at a time, and on top of that more sugars and sodium than I care to think about now. I didn’t even consider diet sodas as an option- I have developed ridiculous dependence on them before, and I know they are just not at all good for you. Water was a struggle, even with Crystal Light (pretty much the only way I can drink water…) I was not at all consistent.

Even though it was difficult, I pushed through. I got a water bottle large enough to make it easy to get in my daily allotment without losing count or stressing out about getting the right amount. I stayed diligent, only ordering water anytime we go out to eat, starting my day with a glass, ending my day with a glass, pushing through even when it is difficult. Over the last four months, my body’s aversion to water has changed. What used to be a struggle, is not something I rely on. When I’m thirsty, I crave water. I know when I haven’t had enough.

Another thing that has changed significantly is my food cravings. Sweets and chocolate were never something I liked. I have never disliked them, but I would opt for a savory snack over pretty much any sweet selections. Sodium is one of the things that I monitor pretty closely, and overtime those tastes have completely changed. Rather than unhealthy snacks like Cheez-Its or Chex Mix, or even healthier options like carrots or celery I cannot make it through the day without a taste of something sweet. This week my reward when I have the extra calories to spare has been a couple Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Nuggets with Almonds. They are just sweet enough, have a little crunch, and a half serving (2 pieces) is only about 90 calories. It’s just enough to satisfy the craving, and not so much that I go over all of my limits for the day.

Where I used to love indulging in a big, juicy steak, my body screams for vegetables, salmon, chicken. Chips and dip are carrots and hummus. These things aren’t hard anymore. They are what my body wants. These changes are the real NSVs, the little victories that reaffirm that this is a lifestyle change, a new way of eating, living, being that makes me feel good emotionally, and physically.

These are strange changes; things I hoped for, but never quite expected. These are the things that make me smile at the end of another day where I made healthier decisions, and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.

Veggie slump

Okay, people. I’m in a veggie slump. One of the staples of my healthier eating has been tons of fresh veggies, prepared by me at home where I can control the amount of salt, butter, etc. that goes on or in the food I prepare.

There are some staples that I love, and just can’t get enough of (like spinach, for instance) and plenty of others that I keep in the house regularly. The problem is, I feel like I’m running out of ways to prepare them to make it feel like I’m not eating the exact same thing day in and day out!

Veggies I keep in plenty:

Cabbage
Spinach
Mushrooms
Sweet Potatoes
Yellow Squash
Zucchini Squash
Asparagus
Brussel Sprouts
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Pole Beans

Pretty much the most creative cooking these get is going on the grill versus the microwave or stovetop. I need something new, fresh, exciting. New veggies to try, or new applications and flavor combinations for these veggies I already know and love!

I’m not opposed to trying new veggies, but the reason these have become my staples is because this is primarily what I can find easily at the local grocers and farmer’s markets.

I do have relatively easy access to an H-Mart (Asian superstore for those unfamiliar…) and their produce section feels as big as the entire grocery secttion at a Wal-Mart, but I don’t know what half of it is and it intimidates me!

What veggies do you eat, and what is your favorite way to prepare them? I would love some feedback from everyone!

NSV…FTW!

For those of you who do not speak in internet acronym, today’s post will share a couple of NSVs (non-scale victories) that I have had this week (for the win!)

First, I want to mention my scale. I have not lost it forever, I have not thrown it out the window, and the number is not going back up in the wrong direction. That being said, you won’t see any scale posts here for a couple more weeks. When I started losing more and more noticeable amounts of weight, I fell into the trap I always do: slave to the scale. I refuse, absolutely REFUSE, to let that happen to me on this journey. This is about so much more than the number on the scale, that I know when I start hopping on it every single day, sometimes more than once…it’s time to lock it up for a few weeks.

So this week, I celebrate some NSVs!

1. Towels. I have pretty much used nothing but beach towels since high school, because it was the only kind big enough to wrap completely around me without paying $20-30 for a big fancy department store “bath sheet.” 1st of all, let me say: no towel should cost that much. I am not paying that amount of money to dry my butt off, unless it’s going to do all of the work for me. And 2nd, I refuse to use a towel referred to as a “sheet.” Doesn’t really help the fat complex.

Today, for the 1st time since probably 8th grade, I was able to use a regular old towel and with the exception of the very very widest part of my hips, it wrapped all the way around!

2. Sizes. So I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m almost down 3 full sizes- almost, but not quite there yet. Well, I can officially say: when I started my journey, I was starting to outgrown my 26Ws. You did not read wrong, that was a twenty-six. 2 – 6. I have never felt more horrible about myself than getting to that point. I had previously felt that way before when I realized my already gargantuan-feeling 24Ws were starting to get snug, but that thought of moving into a 28W was something I just couldn’t handle. That was the maximum size at a lot of stores that I shop at! No way was I going to have to purchase the biggest options.

I’ll admit, it was honestly more than just the number on the tag. I am an apple shape (which in case you’re not aware is pretty much the worst thing ever, AND the most difficult thing to shop for, ugh.) So having to buy clothes to fit my lovely “apple” (aka my size 26W+ waist/stomach) they are HUGE on my everywhere else. I’ve never had particularly large hips/thighs, and I have NO ass to speak of. So I pretty much look like I’m wearing a potato sack most of the time in jeans, capris, anything really that is designed to fit a size 26W.

Saturday Alex and I went to Discover Mill’s to check out their Sears outlet and Ross store to see if they had any good deals. I was able to squeeze myself (uncomfortably) into 2 pairs of capris, both size 20W. I almost talked myself out of buying them because they were tighter than I wanted, but since I could button and zip them all the way, and they were just uncomfortable, I still got them since the price was right and I knew they’d fit in a couple of weeks. Imagine my surprise when I threw them on Sunday and realized they fit perfectly. All I can think is that I must have been bloated while we were shopping because not only do both pairs still fit perfectly today, but they’re actually even the slightest bit roomy!

Just a little more hard work and a little more time, and I’ll be out of the 20′s forever! Have you had any NSVs this week? If you haven’t heard this term before, definitely work it into your vocabulary- when I finally stop staring at the scale and take a look at the things going on in my life, I start to see more and more of these little victories. I’m not going to lie- sometimes they feel even better than seeing the numbers on the scale!

Cheers!

Who says healthy can’t be tasty?

This will be a short post, as I’ve discussed all possible relative topics to death, and nothing is really a new “recipe” (excepting maybe the quinoa.)

This, is why I am in love with my grill. And salmon.

The zucchini, squash, and asparagus was done in a basket on the grill. In cheated and microwaved the quinoa in a little water, and when it was finished I added roughly 1/4 cup of chopped grape tomatoes, and a tablespoon of tomato basil feta. The salmon got nothing but a pinch of salt and pepper, and a salt-water soaked cedar plank. De-lic-ious.

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Not just a weight loss blog

I know that most of my posts are focused on the weight loss aspect of this journey, but that’s not what the entire transformation is about. This is about repairing the damages in my life, regardless of whether or not they have a real affect on my declining waistline or not. A lot of things that I have been working on lately are directly relative to these other non-weight loss goals. The crafting, the cleaning, the organizing.

Now, I can add “the mending” to that list.

Yesterday I met with a friend that I have not seen or spoken to in almost 2 years. We parted ways when she broke up with a mutual friend, but it wasn’t because I chose sides. I’m not even sure what happened. She gave me space to be there and comfort my friend, and we never really closed the gap back up.

She’s reached out to me a couple of times throughout this hiatus, and I’ve always brushed it off, “too busy” to even go out for a simple dinner.

We finally talked about everything via phone, Facebook, and text messages over the last few weeks, and it culminated in a scrumptuous Mexican meal last night at a mall that sits half way between both of our homes. We’ve missed some milestones along the way (she’s married, has a new daughter…I’ve moved into my first house, started a new career) but last night, none of it mattered. It was all about looking forward to the future, each of us with the other back in her life as a support, as a friend.

I can’t explain the lightness in my heart today. It felt so good to get back onto good terms with this old friend, and after a few initial catch-up subjects, it was as if no time had passed at all.

While I’m not about to go crusading around the country to rekindle all of the friendships that have come and go over the course of my 26+ years, but I have an overwhelming sense of calm relief to be back on good, current terms with this particular friend. I think that reprioritizing some aspects of my life, and making room for more people that will perpetuate and support the positive changes I am making can only be a good thing.

How about you? Do you have an old friend you don’t talk to anymore? Can you even remember why? I couldn’t, and I felt so silly about it when I realized! Here’s to new (old) friendships, and continuing to work toward positive change!

Cheers!

I never knew

A big part of this journey to a healthier me is learning things about myself, and teaching myself how to live my life to the fullest. Each day I spend a lot of time thinking, reflecting, and working towards my goals. And sometimes, I learn something new.

I learned that exercise can be fun. I learned that you don’t always have to do the hardest workouts and the trendiest exercises. I learned that when I take it easy, and do something that is fun for me, I actually look forward to exercise.

No joke. I woke up this morning, and literally my first thought was “I get to get back on the treadmill today!” And then I finally got through the day and got home, and boy did I get on the treadmill! I realize that this may not be impressive to the more athletically inclined among us, but for me- please trust, this is a major breakthrough.

Today I learned that I could run.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran at more than a bouncy, brisk walk. The last time I had a PE class was freshmen year of college, and the most physical exertion required there came from walking laps around the gym. Before that was freshmen year of high school, and even then I really only ever jogged slowly, really just walking quite fast. Like those Olympic speed walkers. Have you ever seen them? Their feet move like lightening.

Anyway, I increased my walking pace to a fast, steady 3.5, bumping down to 3.2 for a little break. I walked the first 1/4 of a mile, ran the next 1/8 at 5.5, and finished out that lap back at 3.5. The next 1/4 mile I walked entirely at 3.5, and jogged the last 1/4 mile at a steady 5.5.

My heart was pumping, the sweat was pouring, and I felt…free. It’s honestly not a feeling that I have ever experienced before. I don’t want to push myself too hard, but I definitely want to keep incorporating more jogging into my daily treadmill routine.

What gives you that crazy proud feeling of accomplishment?

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