Stronger…than yesterday

Shout out to Britney, bitch. I’ll be honest, the only proof I have that I’m stronger than yesterday is that I very much feel as if I should have been dead today, and yet I am not only still alive, but I made it through day 2 of level one. I am still miserable, I still feel like I may throw up at any moment, but I made it through.

I wanted nothing to do with exercising today, nothing at all. My throat felt all sore and scratchy all day, and I may or may not have had a little bout with the dreaded “d” word. (Just sing the Pepto song, you’ll figure it out real quick) today, so I really was primed and ready to make some excuses. I noticed this early on and tried to pump myself up for the idea of maybe going for a nice walk at Central Park, because it has beautiful walking trails and is only a few minutes from the house. I figured since the thought of Jillian was making me want to cause physical harm to those around me, I could at least be proactive in making sure I did something else.

In the end, I decided to stop letting myself backslide into excuses, and force myself to power through. I am absolutely miserable, but I did it. I feel accomplished and miserable, instead of just miserable which typically leads me down the path of depression, over-eating, loss of self-respect and all of those other horrible habits and emotions that I am working so hard to shake.

Tomorrow is another day, and I’m putting my faith in a crazy, bitchy home workout coach and the big guy upstairs because Lord knows I’m not getting through the next 28 days on my own.

If you’re the praying kind, lift me up if you remember.

Cheers!

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Day one, level one

Today marked the beginning of my on again/off again, love/hate relationship with a one Ms. Jillian Michaels. Yes, friends, I have officially begun the 30 day shred. The mere fact that I’m sitting here, at 10:40 p.m, writing this down is nothing shore of a miracle.

My initial plan was to do it in the morning, before work. Unfortunately, Alex failed to prepare everything that I needed him to, and so I had to wait until after work for him to hook up the xbox on the basement TV. A few choice words, and several apologies later, I finally re-determined myself to do it, and completed my first workout this evening.

I have to say, I am thoroughly disappointed. Having started 3ds once before, I knew a little bit about what to expect. I had hoped, though, the since I’ve spent the last 30+ days eating healthy, hydrating, and getting moving a little bit more than normal I wouldn’t completely feel like death. That absolutely didn’t happen. I made it through all of most of it though, and that’s something. Tomorrow will be even worse, because I’ll be repeating her torture circuits on sore and newly-awakened muscles, some in places I didn’t even know had muscles.

But I will power through it. I have made it through worse and come out on top. I’ll show that evil, evil woman who the boss is here. Have any of you fought through Jillian’s cruel and inhumane workout? It would definitely help to know you survived…

Here’s to hoping that I can still move tomorrow! Cheers!

Progress and the next great adventure

My journey is officially a month underway, and I have made such incredible strides in the past 31 days I can hardly believe it. It’s so hard to categorize the changes that I’ve made, or even just list them out. Instead, I’ll just talk about them.

Before I started this journey, fast food was a staple. I pretty much ate it 4-5 days a week, for at least one meal, sometimes more. While I typically opted for slightly healthier choices (baked potato, chili, grilled chicken, salads occasionally) there were plenty of times that I didn’t. And even the healthier options are simply lower in calories, not necessarily lower in sodium and other icky things. When we would go to sit-down restaurants, an appetizer was essential. Every. Single. Time. I’d drink 4-5 glasses of sweet tea or coke, an unhealthy or badly proportioned meal, and if some food did manage to make it home in a to-go box, it didn’t last the night.

My evenings consisted of nothing more than sitting on the couch, at the computer, watching tv. Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and games. Staying up way past my body’s “bedtime” for no good reason. I was lazy, lethargic. I didn’t often even enjoy hanging out with friends, because I just wanted to sit and do nothing.

Mornings were the worst part of my day. Getting out of bed required a symphony of snoozes, and I pretty much felt asleep until mid-morning. I never ate breakfast, I yawned constantly, and struggled to get through the day.

And then: I got tired of it. I got tired of abusing my body, ignoring my mind, sitting through life. I decided it was time to take it back. I decided I had wasted so many years already, it was time to stop waiting for an overnight fix, and do things right. Change habits, alter my lifestyle, and move on with permanent, healthy habits. I formulated a plan, found some great tools for tracking progress and getting support, and got started. 

My goals for January were to start incorporating healthy foods and eating habits, increase my water intake, and start working on my lifestyle. 31 days later I have not eaten fast food. 31 days later we have gone out to dinner 3-4 times, and have not ordered an appetizer. My meal has fallen in the under 550 calorie category, and my nutritional intake each day has remained within a healthy range of each target. We are in a solid routine of dinner right after work, prepping the next day’s lunch, and getting to bed earlier.

I don’t drink with meals anymore, but do consume 6-8 glasses of water per day. I have completely stopped drinking all soft drinks, including diet drinks except on very rare occasion. My breakfasts, lunches and dinners are full of vegetables, lean meats, and succulent flavors.

I’m not just sitting. I’m doing the things that I love. I’m cooking, I’m crafting, I’m spending time with my friends and family. I’m teaching them about the healthy choices I’m making, and they’re starting to make some, too. Alex is trying new foods, including lots of veggies! (Sidenote: when I first started dating Alex in 2008, he ate one “vegetable:” Potatoes. He now eats (with little regularity) corn, potatoes, green beans, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.)

The best part about all of these changes and successes, is that so far- it has not been torture. If I’ve wanted to indulge, I have indulged. But I have slowly started to learn the idea of moderation. I have learned to pace myself, and treat all decisions thoughtfully and completely rather than spontaneously and compulsively. I have started slowly, and I have slowly started succeeding.

Today is the end of month one. I have come a very long way in a very short time. It is an excellent start, but it is not enough. Tomorrow is day 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. I have taken my pre-exercise measurements, and logged them. Neck, arms, bust, waist, thighs, and hips. Wrote down each painful number and recorded it forever in a safe place. As hard as it was to see those measurements, I am so excited to see the end result.

When I started this journey, I was at an all time high as far as my weight. I want so badly to share that number with you, but I just can’t. Not yet. But what I can tell you is that after one month of moving a little more, eating a lot better, and holding myself accountable for every nutritional decision I made, I am starting the 30 Day Shred 12 pounds lighter than when I started. 12.

Thanks for sticking around with me over the past month. Having the support and encouragement of all of my new friends, from all over the globe, has really helped to motivate me to continue, even on the most difficult of days. Hell, I almost lost a pound for each of you! So thank you, thank you, thank you! I sincerely hope you’ll all be around for the next milestone, too!

Cheers!

Another dose of inspiration

As I mentioned before, it is important for me to remember the little bits of inspiration and the things that are helping me along the way. I wholly believe I am fighting a long, tumultuous battle to get to the point where I need to be, and keeping both an accurate record of my feelings and emotions as well as my actual nutritional progress is key to ensuring that I’m staying healthy throughout the process.

One of the tools helping me to track all of this is a free calorie counter, diet and exercise journal called My Fitness Pal. I realize now that I was probably the last person on earth to discover this amazing community, but regardless of my position in line, I’m definitely glad that I did. I joined at first with the intention of doing nothing more than tracking my food. During previous diet attempts, I had used a similar website called Fit Day. It’s not that I have a problem with Fit Day, but I couldn’t remember my login information, and I tried several times to reset my password, reclaim my account, etc. to no avail. Frustrated, and not wanting to let something small and trivial detract me from my end goal, I simply searched the internet for another free calorie counter.

When I joined My Fitness Pal, I was immediately impressed with the user-friendly layout. It’s set up much like a Facebook news feed, allowing you to see updates and achievements from your friend connections, join groups, participate in discussions, and share your stories through blog posts and progress reports. It has a very easy food tracking system, with pretty much any food you can imagine (seriously…I’ve found Laura Lynn brand hamburger buns, cheese, sour cream, milk…it’s great!) Like many of these trackers, it analyzes your current state of fitness and your goal weight to determine your daily calorie intake and suggested breakdown of nutrients, and it is all just so simple.

You can create custom recipes for later use, incorporate your exercise right into your food diary to show you the breakdown of calories burned versus calories consumed, and has a nifty water tracker with a cup that fills as you drink more water throughout the day. There is an app for smart phones that even allows you to scan in food as you eat it.

Needless to say, I am a fan. But when I first joined, I really didn’t expect to get much more than a daily log out of it. As I looked around the site more and more, I quickly realized that MFP is so much more than a calorie tracker or food journal. It is a community. A home away from home. I shoulder to cry on, and a pat on the back. It is a network of thousands of individuals who get it. Who have been there, or who are there. It is success stories, before and afters, friendly contests, questions and answers, experience, wisdom, friendship. It is understanding on a deeper level.

The best part about this amazing resource? It really does help. It keeps you accountable to yourself, and others. It lets others share in your journey in the most personal way imaginable. You let these people in and they know what you eat and how you exercise and when you slip up and when you can finally button those skinny jeans. They get to know the most personal, intimate parts of you and they make it impossible to fail.

If you, like me, are late to the My Fitness Pal party, be sure to check it out today! It’s kept me honest, kept me real, and kept me motivated.

Day 18, progress and reflection

I am officially 15 days in, and I have to say, even without much exercise I am definitely starting to see results. My goal has been to give myself some time to adjust to completely revamping my cooking and eating habits (bringing with that an overhaul of our shopping and spending habits, and household chore habits) before really getting regular about working in some serious exercise. Now that I see how I am feeling just a couple of weeks in, I am pleased with this decision. I’ve given my body time to adjust to weight loss, and all of the repercussions/results that come with that. I can feel my chemistry shifting, my body feeling more energetic, my sleeping more sound, and my hunger satiated.

I still have some work to do. Snacking has become an issue, and I think that it is because work has gotten a bit more stressful as more and more job orders pour in, it becomes difficult balancing all of them. You don’t want to lose momentum recruiting for one job before it is filled to completely focus on another, but you don’t want to forget to build momentum on the newer jobs either. Either way, without mastering the art of balancing, you’re prime to lose money. It has been mentally exhausting, and I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been crankier this week.

I definitely need to focus on being consistent with my water intake. The issue is not that I’m choosing other drinks in place of water, I’m just not drinking enough overall. I really consider this to be a vital part of my success, especially as I begin incorporating a full exercise routine staying hydrated is so important. My interim goal is to be have 5-10 more healthy recipes in my cookbook by the end of January, and be consistent with drinking 8 glasses of water throughout the day. February 1st I add regular exercise with my beginning of the 30 Day Shred. For 30 days I plan to work my way through the workouts, recording progress along the way (both measurements, and actual improvements in stamina, strength, etc.)

So now that I’ve laid out my next, immediate goals, it’s time to also celebrate some successes. As you can probably tell if you’ve visited my Where I’m Coming From and What I Won’t Miss pages, before beginning this journey my shape could be described as round at best. My arms rested on my stomach while at my sides, my pants cut into my waistline all day, and I had to adjust my bra 10 times a day to keep the girls strapped in. Since removing most* sweets, salty/carby snacks, soft drinks, processed foods and fatty meats and adding in a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, vitamins and nutrients, lean meats, protein, fiber, water and portion control, my body is shifting.

Where my stomach once curved out and cushioned my arms, there is now a gap between my arms and torso. I feel the slight inward curve as I try to press my arms in against my body, and it feels so good. None of my pants cut in anymore, and some are even too loose. I’ve been able to add one more pair of jeans back into my wardrobe, a pair that I hadn’t buttoned in over 2 months. My face is slimming slightly, both in my chin and in my cheeks. And the girls, they stay where they belong.

I have a bit more pep in my step, and I’ve got to be honest, it’s as much from real energy as it is being proud and thankful for the journey that I am on. Thankful for all it is teaching me, thankful for all of the support both from loved ones and strangers, and thankful for the already experienced health improvements. Proud of myself for really taking charge of the things that I put into my body. Proud of myself for sticking to it every single day, since the first day. Tracking my food, my activity, my nutrients. Getting more sleep, taking more time for me. For keeping a promise to myself, and my family that I would teach myself how to love myself, to be around to live the life that I deserve, and to be able to love them all for years to come.

Scattered, capped, covered…

For those of you fortunate enough to call the south home, you undoubtedly spend some of your breakfast time ordering your hashbrowns in a very similar way. Covered only for Alex, capped and covered for me, while my dad prefers his scattered, covered, chunked, smothered, capped and peppered. The possibilities are endless, and they make for the perfect breakfast hashbrowns. Cure-all for illness, hangover, or hunger, Waffle House is a must for breakfast.

For me, now, as I voyage on into this healthier lifestyle, Waffle House is more of a rare treat. I refuse to ban myself from the things that I love completely, but remember, this is all about healthier decisions overall, which means if I want to indulge every once in a while, I know it’s not going to kill me or my progress. So far, though, I’m three weeks strong with no indulging, and I have to say, I’ve come up with a hash that would make even the most die-hard WaHo fans swoon.

Sweet potato hash with black beans, spinach, and mushroom! This recipe is ridiculously simple, and makes enough to serve 8 people quite generously.

Sweet Potato Hash

1 Large sweet potato, cubed and par-cooked in the microwave for about 7-8 minutes with a little bit of water in the bottom of a bowl, and a lid partially cracked to allow steam to escape.

While potato is cooking, heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Melt down one pad of butter and cook the mushrooms until tender and cooked through. Add the spinach and cook just until wilted. Add one can of Bush’s Low Sodium Black Beans and stir until combined.

When potato finishes, either fry it up on the stove over medium high heat for an additional 3-5 minutes or until crispy, or finish in a roasting pan in the oven at 400* for 5-10 minutes. When finished stir into saucepan with over vegetables. Crumble a little queso fresco over the top and serve aside Taco burgers, as a filling for veggie quesadillas, or by itself with a couple of eggs cracked over top and cooked through.

This hash serves about 8, and contains the following per serving: 63 calories, 14g carbs, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 112 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber! SUPER healthy, and SO delicious!

The little things

This time around on my weight loss journey, I have decided not to rush it. Not to force it. I want to make sure that I’m doing it right, and creating lasting habits that will keep me and my future family healthy for a long time.

Part of this decision included a promise to myself not to be taken hostage by the number on the scale. During past attempts at dieting I have tethered myself to that number, and only focused on that one thing. I starved myself in the name of counting calories, or carbs, or fat. I have bored myself to tears eating the same lifeless bowl of lettuce day in and day out, and made myself gag gulping down the requisite water. I have pulled muscles, overextended appendages and taken the wind out of me forcing a frantic workout after overeating.

The biggest disservice I have done to myself was making myself miserable in the name of happiness. This time, it’s about so much more than just the weight. The number on the scale is not the priority. The quality of life, the happiness I feel within myself and share with those around me. I’m not starving. I’m eating more than ever before, in smart, well-balanced, healthful way. I’m making time for my hobbies again, using social media to connect and network with others like me, experimenting and cooking with new recipes using delicious, fresh ingredients. I’m waking up earlier, making the most of each day.

And the best part? Little things are starting to happen all around me. My relationships are stronger than ever; with Alex, my family, my friends, myself. Taking time for me and doing those things is helping me stay focused to meet my goal. And another little thing? Something better than any combination of numbers on the slave of a scale?

Today I was able to wear jeans for casual Friday. Jeans that I have not been able to button or wear comfortably in over 2 months.

Will I ever weigh myself again? Of course. As my overall weigh goal is based on medical standards and necessity, I think it is equally as important to monitor and track my progress in a statistical way to succeed and ensure that my journey is completed in a healthy way.

The point is, this time around I don’t need a number to tell me I’m on the right path. It’s the little things that assure me every day.

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