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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Don't Think. Just Shrink.

I am down to the last 5 - FIVE - pounds to reach my goal! WooHoo!! Or should I say, 'HooWah.' I am so excited to wear a dress tomorrow that I haven't been able to wear in I don't know how many years. I can't believe it!! It's a black dress with an off-white, lace overlay on the top that has scalloped edges. I will post a picture tomorrow to show you all! That is if there's anyone out there reading this. LOL

Barry's Boot camp has been very tough. Today is Day 20 out of 30. I have never been this broken down - body and spirit - but I know I will come out stronger on the other side. Barry always has little sayings to help you along. For example, "Don't think. Just Shrink" and "Pain is weakness leaving your body." A few days ago, I was broken to the point of tears. I felt I just couldn't hang on and then....this was funny....I head Barry say, "C'mon! Don't give up! Hang in there. Keep going." Talk about timing. I needed that and I made it through!!! His workout has several conditioning exercises and are just one minute at a time. For me, it reduces the monotony of repeating an exercise over and over. And the resistance bands (which are not like any I've used before) are used in just the right way to offer a challenge. Next week I take it up another level which will be over an hour of working out. It's been over 10 years since I worked out for that amount of time. I used to go to the gym before I went in to work and I would work out for an hour. However, it was nothing like this! Barry's workouts total a 550 calorie burn. Whew! And you REALLY feel it!

My Atkins experience has been going well. I am not hungry and I am getting a LOT of veggies in my diet. I am able to eat more than when I was just counting calories. The other day I took the kids out to IHOP and while they had pancakes, I had an omelet filled with spinach and mushrooms and topped with cheese. It was only a couple of carbs (from the spinach and mushrooms and cheese) but they are good carbs. I was full for a VERY long time unlike counting calories where I could eat very little and would be hungry again. I went to McDonald's last week and I had a Big and Tasty sandwich - threw away the bun and ate the burger with the veggies and cheese and mayo - all of 1 carb maybe. Can't do that kind of stuff when I'm counting calories. I'm up to 25 carbs a day now and feelin' good. I spend a little more time in the kitchen preparing a side dish of vegetables for myself since I can't eat some of the other veggies that my family eats. Sometimes I will eat an avocado, or saute some zucchini, fry up some onions...things like that to get in the good carbs.

I'm in the home stretch now and I am sooo close to the finish line for my weight loss goal. I doubt whether I can get there but I'm going to try! And I certainly enjoyed the trip getting to where I am now! I'm still eating healthy, living healthy, and thinking healthy. All ingredients for balanced moment at a time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Jump Start

It's hard to believe that it's the middle of April! My farm co-op will be starting next month and we'll be getting our produce from the farm for the next 20 weeks. What will I do with a 1/2 bushel box of produce every week? My husband says, "Cook it." (Thanks, dear)

Since my last post - sorry it's been so long - I've started some new things to jump start my metabolism. I've been "stuck" at the same weight for more than a month (though I've lost a total of 15 pounds since I started blogging) and I've still been counting calories and exercising. However the exercising on the Wii has been replaced with outside activities. Hmmmm....maybe that's why I'm stuck. I'm outside, but not exercising enough. I've been doing yard work like edging flower beds and mulching them but that was only for 2 Saturdays. I've been riding my NEW bike!! But since I'm so out of shape, it's hard to ride up and down all these hills!! So I don't ride for very long. I grew up in Michigan and we didn't have many hills. It was mainly flat. In Virginia, there are hills everywhere...starting in my neighborhood. We go out as a family around the neighborhood, but the little ones tire out coming up the hill toward our house. My youngest girl rides on a seat on the back of my bike so I'm carting around an extra 38 pounds on my bike. Whew! It's funny...the last time we went out as a family on our bikes, my son was losing speed up the hill toward our house and my husband was trying to stay with him. My son told my husband, "That's OK dad. You go ahead. I'll catch up." And sure enough, slow and steady, my son made it home. As soon as he got off his bike he promptly said, "I'm going in the house. I'm tired!" I know how he feels, although HE is the young one!! LOL...go figure.

I've changed 2 things that I hope will jump start my metabolism. 1: I started the Atkins diet on April 12 and 2: I started Barry's Bootcamp on April 19. Since I started Atkins I've lost 1.5 pounds. I love a diet that lets me eat bacon, eggs and cheese for breakfast!! Anyway, I have friends who have done this before and have started again back in February (after they were inspired by my-and my husband's-weight loss) and I've been watching them as they do this Atkins program. They've had much success and they inspired me to read more about this diet. I had preconceived ideas that it was a hard diet to be on and I couldn't understand how all the "fatty" foods would help you lose weight. The science behind Atkins is that by eating the right kind of foods it will turn your body into a fat-burning machine rather than a carb-burning machine. I was tired of always feeling hungry while I was just counting calories. On Atkins, I'm not feeling hungry and I'm not craving sweets (that much). Part of that is due to my giving up caffeine. Coffee was actually making me crave sweets. When I started phase 1 of Atkins, they suggested that if you have a true caffeine addiction (which I do because when I go off of it, I go through withdrawals and headaches) that you go off of caffeine while going through phase 1. So I did. Today is day 7 of no caffeine! That wasn't the only reason for giving up caffeine. Since I work in a program in my church that deals with addicts, I've learned that my caffeine addiction ranked higher on the list than theirs. Sugar is the #1 addiction in the U.S. with #2 being caffeine and #3 being greasy food. Here we are, as a church, preaching to people about cocaine, drinking, and pornography, while we're having a Coke and waving a greasy pork chop at 'em. I mean, really!! It got me to thinking....I ranked higher on the list than my students. Not that I can't ever have coffee - but it IS a stimulant and one does "come down" from it which makes that person want to reach for more to get that stimulant again. It acts just like a drug. Anyhow.....back to Atkins. Sorry for that rabbit trail.

How can one tell if they're burning fat? By urinalysis. There are test strips that you can find at your local drugstore (I had to go to the pharmacy window). They are called Ketone strips. You pass it through your urine stream and the result will tell you the amount of ketones you are putting out. When I first started, it took about 4 days before my body started burning fat. Since last Friday, the strips have been getting darker which means I'm burning fat in my body!! Yes!!! There are so many benefits to eating this way, I highly suggest everyone try it for a least two weeks. That's the length of phase 1. It helps with blood sugars, cholesterol, etc. Like I said, gotta love that I can eat a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese - just throw away the bun!

Let's talk about Barry's bootcamp. It's an intense workout that uses a "ball" (that looks like a giant pill) and arm bands for the exercises. Sounds typical, but where this if different, you only do each exercise for 60 seconds. You can commit to anything for 60 seconds, right? The workout lasts for 21 minutes and Barry's right there getting you to push yourself. I really respond to someone like that. What I really like about this is that ANYone can do this. Even if you are so out of shape like me or if you are in shape...there are levels for you. This is NOT the Wii Fit by any means, not Your Shape, and it's more intense than the Active workouts for the Wii. My husband found this program on WOOT. Otherwise, I've never heard of it before this. It's for 30 days at a time and you workout every day except day 7. WHAT??? Yes, every day you workout and every 7th day you rest. My body hurts so much, yet Barry says you work through the pain. Pain means that changes are happening in your body. I agree. I hope this changes my baby-bump-looking belly. I would like for that to go away so I don't have to wear super-sucker pantyhose or a girdle to keep it from...well you know.

Wish me Luck! I'm in the home stretch!

Monday, February 22, 2010

How Crude!

I've been researching how to get closer to the natural state of our food and how the food I eat is being raised, etc. when I gathered some information from a friend, who has a child with food sensitivities, and how foods - certain brands of food - contribute to behavior problems. She saw my interest and brought me a great deal of information to read about a program from the Feingold Association . One of the first things that caught my eye was the heading: "Many learning and behavior problems begin in your grocery cart." As I began reading and learning about this program, I was appalled at what I learned about our USA food manufacturers and what EXACTLY goes into our food. Let me share just a bit of info from their program with you:

I'm sure you've seen them..."Yellow No.5," "Red 40," Blue#1," etc. Do you know where these food dyes come from? Those pretty colors that make the "fruit punch" red, the Jell-O green and the oatmeal blue are made from (are you sitting down?) petroleum - crude oil - which is also the source for gasoline!!!! If you go look in your pantry or in your kitchen cupboards and look at all the nutrition labels on your items, I think you will be shocked at how much crude oil appears in your food.

The colorings and flavorings in foods are combinations of many chemicals, both natural and synthetic. An artificial flavoring is synthetic and may be composed of hundreds of separate chemicals and there is no restriction on what a company can use to flavor food. One source for imitation vanilla flavoring (called "vanillin" and probably is in your cereal) is the waste product of paper mills!!! Some companies built factories next to the pulp mills to turn the undesirable by-product into imitation flavoring, widely used in many cookies, candies, and other foods (as I found on my Wheaties Fuel cereal).

Artificial preservatives (synthetic) are found in many foods (especially in the US) and like the food dyes, are made from petroleum (crude oil). Often they are NOT LISTED in the ingredients, but most of the time you see them as "BHT", "BHA", and "TBHQ." These chemicals may be listed as "anti-oxidants" because they prevent the fats in foods from "oxidizing" or becoming rancid (spoiling). There are many natural beneficial anti-oxidants, but they are much more expensive than the synthetic versions! I've heard some people say that "it's a conspiracy" from the food manufacturers...I'm not going to go there, but I do find it amazing that families on fixed/tight budgets can only afford the food with crude oil in them! There was a time when JT and I could barely afford to eat dirt (due to job losses from Sept. 11) and we could only afford the Wal-Mart brand white bread that was 50 cents (and full of chemicals) and cereals full of HFCS and artificial everything!! We are now in a different season of life and God has blessed us 100-fold. We are able to afford the "healthier" and more natural foods, but we will go broke doing it!! It costs more to eat well, no doubt about that, and I think it's a shame that more manufacturers can't help give our families better food for a more affordable price.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the Beginning, There Was All Natural

The other day, I went grocery shopping in a store that I don't regularly shop in. Toward the back of the store, there is a little shelf area where they place items that are reduced price or going out of stock. I happened to see boxes of cereal that had "Ezekiel 4:9" on the front. What???? I pick up the box and along with the big picture of a spoonful of cereal are the words from the Holy Bible: "Take also unto thee wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and spelt and put them in one vessel and make bread of it..." ~Ezekiel 4:9. I can't believe my eyes. I flipped the box around and read some of the side panel: "We discovered when these six grains and legumes are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Plus, there are 18 amino acids present in this unique cereal - from all vegetable sources." I was intrigued...I bought a box to try.

It reminds me of Grape Nuts cereal...with raisins. The Ezekiel 4:9 cereal I bought was "cinnamon raisin" (2 things I like) and I ate it with skim milk. In just 1/2 cup of cereal there are 190 calories, only 1 gram of fat and 7 grams of protein! Not to forget the vitamins - it's loaded. One of the BEST cereals, nutritionally speaking, that I've ever had. It's very crunchy, but if you pour your milk on it then put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, it reduces the crunch factor a little bit. Ya know, if you have dental work, you may want to take this approach! All-in-all, I thought it was not bad! It lasted me until lunch!

I visited Food For Life today to read more about them. They have many things to offer for gluten/wheat free diets, yeast free products, diabetic friendly items and products that are high in fiber. They do something called "sprouting" to their grains. What is sprouting? Well, I'm glad you asked. I pulled this from their site: "Sprouting is the only way to release all the vital nutrients stored in whole grains. The sprouting process activates beneficial enzymes which cause the grains to sprout and become living and nutrient-rich. Stores of vitamins and minerals dramatically increase over the amount available in flour. Sprouting also converts the carbohydrates in grains into maltose, which is ordinarily done by the body during digestion, thereby predigesting nutrients for you. The enzymatic action enables the body to assimilate the vitamins and minerals more efficiently. Plus, the sprouting process naturally increases the protein content and decreases the calories and carbohydrates found in the original grain." Do you think they did this in the days of Ezekiel? Nonetheless, it's getting closer to all natural eating.

Personally, I believe I should be getting closer to the original state of the food - it's natural state. For example, in our house, we ask the kids: "Did God make the powdered cheese that goes in the macaroni and cheese from a box?" Well, no. We believe that God DID make the cow that gives the milk for cheese. God created the grain that is harvested and made into noodles. So we make mac'n cheese with whole grain noodles, real butter, milk and cheese. In addition to getting closer to the original state of the food, we are going to get our vegetables from a farm this year instead of the store. We are participating in a CSA(community supported agriculture) with a local farm and all our produce will come directly from the farm for 20 weeks. We also have a ton of deer meat in the freezer - the leanest meat you can get - thanks to JT's hunting abilities. We are stocked up for quite a while in that department. Talk about original state of the food...and all-natural!

I'm inspired! I really want to know more about where my food is coming from, how it's being raised and that it is being raised for flavor, not for shelf-life. I'm not surprised that healthy living and balanced nutrition is found in the Bible - after all it's where it all started (IMHO).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monthly Reflections

Wow! It's the last day of January already! Time flies when you're workin' out and choppin' vegetables! I have to say that I'm actually surprised that I've been able to meet my goals so far. For January, I've lost 8 pounds this month, surpassing my goal of 5 pounds for January. Going back to day one of this blog, I've lost a total of 13 pounds since the "Feeling Fat" day!! I can't believe it! I have 12 more pounds to reach my goal weight. I am really excited that the scale has moved past where I thought it was stuck! I'm over half way through the 6 week body makeover challenge on the Active Workout for Wii. I've burned about 1800 calories for the month of January. I've been sleeping better at night, and I have a better attitude about things. I'm also able to "run" up the stairs without getting winded.

I had a Tupperware party 2 weeks ago and I ordered those fridge mates to help keep your veggies fresh. The cost of produce is so high that I want to be really sure that the produce stays fresh for as long as it possibly can! I spent a good two hours on Saturday washing and chopping vegetables and getting them in those containers. They are guaranteed to keep your stuff fresh for however long it says it will. With the moisture control setting they have on them, I'm sure they will work better than what I'm doing now.

I can't seem to shake the sweet tooth. I would love a good cookie or piece of candy or someting sweet. I've experimented with low-fat oatmeal cookies but they were high in sugar!! They got a bad grade from Calorie Count! :-( I had a friend make some healthy chocolate chip cookies and they were good! I've discovered that angel food cake is an excellent snack to have! I actually LOVE angel food cake! I've been resorting to chewing gum when I get the urge to snack on something sweet.

Goals for February:
Lose 5 pounds
Increase workout time on shceduled workout days by 15 minutes
Create a house schedule to stay organized

Tomorrow is a NEW day! And a new month....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clinging to Fat Part 3

This article I'm reading about the 4 stages of life when the body clings to fat has been helpful yet depressing. As I get older, I will have to work at keeping my weight down and pay attention to what I'm eating. When I started this new phase in my life, I decided to make it a change for the better - healthy living. With small changes in my lifestyle I should see my body trim down and become healthier. Right? Well, it's only been 19 days and I've lost 9 pounds and am beginning to see my stomach get a little smaller. These next 10 pounds will be hard - but I am willing and committed to see it through. I would like to see my waist again - better yet, just to SEE a waist would be wonderful! However, I am not going to snap back as quick as I once could since everything and anything you read out there says that as you get older, it gets harder to drop the pounds!

Weight Plateau #3: Hitting the Big 3-5. Once you hit your 30s your metabolism slows. No surprise there! How do they come up with these magic numbers anyway? (Like, when I was 35 and pregnant with #3, the medical community says - when you hit 35 - you have to have special tests when you're pregnant because you are now considered to be a higher risk for having a down syndrome baby)

So our metabolisms slow down which means that we're burning about 75 fewer calories a day than when we did at age 25. That adds up to 8 pounds a year (according to medical studies). For looking and feeling our best, the article says that we should gain no more than 11 pounds - for life - after age 18! HAAAAAA!!!!! How is THAT possible?

1. Cut what you eat by 25%. As I lose weight, I need to eat fewer calories in order to keep the scale moving down. The wonderful people at Calorie Count have set me up with fewer calories alright! 1300 calories per day seemed impossible, however the last 2 days I've only ended up with 900. I even ate out yesterday - at Subway - and I ate all day. When I get busy, though, I see that I tend to not eat as much and what I make to eat is healthy and filling....yet I only end up with 900, maybe 1,000 on a good day. I need to get more calories so my body doesn't think it's starving so I need to find ways to get more healthy foods into my busy days. These days it seems that I'm in the kitchen a LOT! Not for snacking, but for the preparation of meals and snacks. Eating healthy, I find, requires TIME! Time to work with fresh ingredients (not from a box with flakes and powders), time to chop, longer cooking times for entrees...I'm constantly cleaning up cutting boards, utensils, mixing bowls, etc.

2. Pump some iron. Fitness director Wayne Westcott says, "I see a lot of women in their 30s who come to me saying they can't shake those last stubborn pounds. Their biggest mistake is focusing on cardio and not spending any time lifting weights and building up muscle." Maintaining muscle mass (remember we lose it as we age) keeps the metabolism elevated but spending hours in the weight room is not needed. (Thank goodness!) Dr. Westcott did a study of 2,000 women who participated in a 2x a week workout (20 minutes of strength training and 20 minutes of aerobic exercise) and these women lost 4 pounds of fat but regained 3 pounds of muscle they'd lost during the aging process. One tip he shares is that it's OK to do one set but make sure the weight is heavy enough so that your muscles are fatigued to exhaustion after the 12th rep. I think the EA Sports Active for the Wii accomplishes this part quite well. The 6-week challenge I'm taking is set up with workouts that consist of aerobic activities, sports (boxing and squash so far), resistance bands to work muscles, crunches, and warm up and cool down stations. One day it may be more cardio and another day it may be more muscle training. And it's FUN!

One more tip I read and would like to share (for the women) - weigh yourself monthly.'s hard not to peek at the see if something has changed! But many people can get hung up on the numbers on the scale. Do you? I have. Did you know, our weight can fluctuate by about 5 pounds throughout the month because of diet and hormones. Do you ever get on the scale, see the numbers go up, then go on an eating binge? Well, it's suggested that we weigh ourselves monthly, on the 7th day of your menstrual cycle ( a week after your period starts) when you're least likely to have fluid retention.

Now, time to grab a glass of water and get moving! Get up and make it a great day!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clinging to Fat Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about an article I'm reading concerning weight plateaus while still dieting and exercising and why women reach those plateaus. Life happens! Part one was about post-pregnancy weight and how it sticks like glue because of our biology, our body make up. BUT, there is hope and there are ways to defeat these stubborn pounds during these plateaus (baby rolls included) with diet, exercise, and behavior.

Weight Plateau #2: Extreme Stress. This is an area I've had to manage for most of my life. I had to learn how to manage stress at an early age (12 or 13) and I was not always successful. I'm not sure I am that successful now, considering that a lot of articles I read about weight gain are due to stress and last time I looked in the mirror...I must be REALLY stressed! It's a fact that stress - a new job, a family crisis, or everyday hectic lifestyle - makes it hard to lose weight...especially those last 10 pounds. Even if you're nervous, or uptight, anxious and don't feel like eating very much - they won't go away! Christine Northrup, OB/GYN and author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom, explains that when you're stressed, your adrenal gland secretes the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite and also stimulates your body's release of the fat-storing hormone insulin. The result is that your body holds on to its fat stores as hard as it can, even if you're eating less than before. There you go....stubborn pounds! And I thought I was stubborn. And despite all my best efforts I may be sabotaging my weight loss attempts by unconsciously overeating - wolfing down everything on my plate. (gotcha! I've DONE that; eating really fast then going in for more) Stressed women are more likely to snack on comfort foods like chocolate and chips. Ms. Northrup says, "It's a form of self-medication, because those high-carb foods raise serotonin levels, the chemical in your brain that boosts mood." This is depressing...where's that raspberry cheesecake coffee creamer for my coffee??

What's a body to do?

1.Go for a walk. Exercise is exactly what I need when I feel stressed. (so they say) Research shows that people ages 20-45 with symptoms of mild to moderate stress-induced depression were reduced by almost 50% when they participated in 30-minute aerobic sessions 3-5 times/week. I'm exercising 4 times a week and I do feel more relaxed.

2.Sip green tea instead of java. Did you just curl up your nose like I did? Hmmm....I'm not much of a tea drinker, but (they say) green tea is better for you because it has less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee and even regular black tea. Green tea contains catechins, which may trigger weight loss by increasing the body's metabolism. A Japanese study found that people who drank a bottle of green tea daily lost 5.3 pounds after 3 months, while those who drank oolong tea only lost 2.9 pounds. So...does this green tea count as one of my 10 glasses of water I'm supposed to drink every day?

3.Say goodbye to salt. Salt raises blood pressure, which raises cortisol levels even more, which causes a cycle of overeating that I just want to get off of! The daily allowance for sodium should be around 2300mg/day. The calorie count website will analyze your food intake for the day (click on Analysis) and give you a reading of what your salt intake is along with carbs, fat, protein, etc.

4.Sit down and savor your meal. Oh I'm bad here too, but not on purpose. Throughout the day, I'm constantly feeding everybody else with breakfast, lunch, and snacks that I just eat (correction - inhale) my sandwich while tending to everybody else, never sitting down. And yet, another study found that when 6 women were asked to sit down and eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop when their food no longer tasted as good as when they took their first bite, they lost an average of 8 pounds!! The doctor conducting the study said that our bodies will 'intuitively know' how many calories you need and will dampen your taste buds once you've had enough. I'm sorry, I just have a hard time processing that. Really???

Bottom line: less stress means less likely to overeat. That adds up! I have learned that lack of sleep will add to the stress, which adds to the bad choices made during the day. I read about a woman who got extra sleep at night...going to bed earlier...and she lost weight. I don't remember how much she lost, but the extra sleep helped her to be more alert, more relaxed, had more natural energy, and she didn't 'feel hungry' as much. I know when I get a good night's rest I don't reach for the coffee as much as when I'm sleep deprived. I guess my body is hungry for sleep rather than being hungry for food. Instead of pushing caffeine in my body, I should take a nap or go to bed at a decent time. It will actually help shed the pounds. Also, keeping things in perspective and actually forcing myself to take 15 minutes just for me has really helped in the last few years with my stress levels. I certainly haven't arrived at a perfect Zen state - but I'm not stressing over it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Clinging to Fat Part 1

So I'm reading another article about dropping the most stubborn pounds. It talks about 4 stages of life when your body clings to fat: Post-pregnancy, hitting the big 3-5, extreme stress, and perimenopause. Oh great! That's not encouraging. I fall into ALL 3 of those. What's a body to do about that? Who hasn't hit the weight rut: after a few weeks or months of the pounds flying off -bam- up against a scale that won't budge?? Ugh. That's been my story for the last year or two. So what's going on?

Well, the article goes on to explain that all dieters reach a plateau at some point. Could be a few weeks or a few months. A clinical professor of medicine at Cornell writes, "After you've lost a certain amount, your body thinks it's starving and sets up roadblocks that make it harder for those last pounds to come off." Here's something encouraging (NOT), "To make matters worse, the more weight you lose, the less effective your once successful diet plan is likely to be." Why??? The reason: As you lose weight, you may also lose muscle, leading to a slower metabolism. Here's the kicker - but it makes sense: So even though you're still eating the same amount of calories as when you started dieting, but because you weigh less, the nasty truth is you need to consume even less. Are you hungry yet? Unfortunately, these plateaus get even tougher over time. "Age-related influences - a decreased metabolism, shifting hormones, and lifestyle changes - contribute to weight plateaus." Okay, I'm depressed now. Is there hope when it seems that every calorie I eat has a straight-to-my-thighs attraction? YES! This article suggests that there's plenty I can do at these different life stages (which seem to be one big life stage for me right now) with diet, exercise, and behavior (huh?) to lose even the most stubborn pounds for good! Alright! Bring it!

Weight Plateau #1: Post-Pregnancy Pounds

Most women carry up to 5 unwanted pounds into their next pregnancy, according to most doctors. Most women are still trying to shake off those last ten pounds a year after giving birth. (I'm still trying 9 years later) In my case, take those 10 pounds and multiply it by 3 kids and that's where I find myself today. Losing 30 pounds will get me back to where I was when I started having children. So, why does pregnancy weight stick like glue? Biology. My OB/GYN says that after a woman gives birth, there's a dip in her levels of progesterone, the hormone that increases metabolism and allows you to burn more calories.

What to do with the excess baby weight?

*Check my calories. Am I still eating for two? Get my calories down to pre-pregnancy levels and make sure that I'm taking a multivitamin with iron and get plenty of fluids (8-12 glasses of water a day). Ugh! There's the water thing again! I have a friend that is on weight watchers right now and she tells me that you are supposed to drink water, in ounces, equivalent to half of your body weight. So that means for me: I have to drink 10 8-oz. glasses of water a day!!! "Dislike!!" It's hard to drink that much water - maybe I should get one of those hats that has the cup holders on the sides and the straws to your mouth.

*Don't eat my kids' food. Uh-oh. I like to think I'm eating well, but at the end of the day I always seem to 'forget' the chocolate chip cookies I grabbed in the kitchen or the extra macaroni I snuck off the kids' plates from lunch.

*Resume a daily exercise routine. Fitness? When am I supposed to squeeze THAT in around the 10 glasses of water. Move it on up the priority list and make it happen. Research from Cornell shows that overweight moms who exercised daily in the year after the birth of their first child were, on average, 12 pounds lighter than mothers who didn't work out. (oh...oops. Hope it's not too late) It also mentioned that these moms have a can-do attitude! Hmmm...sound familiar? See my January 1 post, "A Can-Do Attitude." The study said, "Instead of beating themselves up about not being able to get to the gym daily and then getting discouraged, they simply squeezed in a half-hour walk with their baby." A trainer I once worked with also said that you don't need a LOT of activity to take off the weight. Just walking. Which brings me to the last point.

*Buy a pedometer. I've been thinking about getting one of these. A pedometer is one way to help ensure that I'm taking 10,000 steps a day (that's equal to 5 miles of walking) which is needed to help promote and maintain weight loss.

3 out of 4 checks is not bad. There is hope for losing baby fat. YAY! I am going to check into pedometers...just one more check to keep myself on track! Do you have one and if you do, has it helped you?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Full Steam Ahead! From Vision to Reality

OK! I've figured out the vision thing. Having a clear vision - knowing who I am, where I'm going and what will guide me on my journey - is the driving power to move full steam ahead. Just creating a vision is not enough. Now I've got to make it happen. "Vision is a lot more than putting a plaque on the wall. A real vision is lived, not framed." ~Ken Blanchard/Jesse Stoner

Now that I've identified my vision, I must start living it immediately. I must begin behaving consistently with my vision. Now that I know the right things to do, I can't wait to start tomorrow - I have to do the best I can with what I know, using the abilities I have at THIS moment. It's not means I will have to make tough decisions. But what I've learned thus far in my life is that the best thing for myself, my husband, my children, my friends, my family was to live my values and to make choices based on them!

Ken Blanchard/Jesse Stoner, in their book Full Steam Ahead, talk about establishing support structures. "We need to establish support structures that support the consistent practice of our values as we pursue our vision. Otherwise, our commitments fade into simply good intentions." How true! They define support structures as: the habits, practices, and processes that support your vision. My structures for healthy living would be eating right, exercise and accountability for example. Here is an excerpt from their book that rings close to home:

"One Tuesday morning, Jim was complaining about his increasing lack of stamina and recent weight gain. He attributed it to the effects of aging. I listened sympathetically for a while and then said, "Jim, I know that one of your values is health. What is your exercise program like?"

"Exercise program?" he asked.

"Yes," I chided. "What structure do you have in place that supports your value of health? I know you eat healthy food, so that structure is in place. And I know you play golf any chance you get. But I'm not sure what you do regularly for exercise."

He sheepishly admitted that he had tried several different approach to exercise but lost interest in them because they were no fun, or he was too busy, it wasn't convenient. I pointed out that these are all excuses and he admitted that they were.

"Is health really a value? I asked. "Or is it just an interest?"

He replied, "Yes, it's a value and I'm feeling bad that I'm not acting consistently with it."

As a result, Jim and Ken set up a structure that supported their values of health and they held each other accountable. Instead of their Tuesday morning coffee conversations, they started walking for 45 minutes. Not only did that structure allow them to get exercise, it built a better friendship between them. BONUS!

Setting up structures that support a vision is important in ALL areas of life. I know where I'm going and I have planned the course. The most important thing now is the step I'm taking right now - literally. Am I present? Do I see the sun shining on the snow? Do I hear my children talking at the breakfast table? Am I living my vision right now? Stop and think about that...As I was writing this, I was thinking about schoolwork for homeschool this morning in the back of my mind and my lesson for my Reformer's Unanimous meeting tonight. Throughout the day, I find myself thinking more about the future and not much about the present.

Vision really is lived in the here and now. What are you doing right now?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Did I Say?

I had some fun with wordle today. I plugged my RSS feed from my blog into their site and it analyzes my writing to show me what words I use most. I use this for my wedding blog a lot and I thought I would try to see what my healthy living blog looks like. The words that are the biggest are the ones I use the most. I've only been blogging a little over a week, but so far - vision is the one that stands out the most. It really is important to have a vision in life and to set goals. Anyone can use wordle - it's not just for bloggers or business owners. Try it with something and see what you say!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Full Steam Ahead! The Vision

Someone once said, "You can't get to the future without being present." How true! But, how do you get to the future? By having a vision. Remember the IT3? Impact Today, Imagine Tomorrow, Inspire Transformation. Imagine Tomorrow is the vision. What vision do I have for tomorrow? Do I have one? I'm sure I do.

My vision for transformation began when I took a long, hard look in the mirror at myself personally, and as a mother, and as a wife, and gained an honest view of where I was at and what I wanted to do about those areas. Healthy living, in my book, impacts all of these areas of myself and not only will I benefit, but my husband and family will too. The important part of having a vision was to be honest about the current realities. In fact, an honest assessment of the present is as important as a vision of the future. So, I assessed myself yesterday with a measuring tape. Can't get any more honest with that!! When I saw my waist, hip, and thigh measurements I almost fainted. Knowing where I used to be and where I saw myself at now was just amazing to me. I mean, I knew...but now I KNOW!!

I have a vision for myself spiritually. In my "Can Do Attitude" post on New Year's Day, I'm making priority #1 God and giving this whole journey of healthy living to Him. Every morning is a spiritual assessment of where I'm at in all areas of my life: individually, wife, mother. Daily exercise in this area will build my spiritual muscles.

I have a vision for myself physically. By eating eating right and exercising I will have a healthy body. Pretty simple plan to follow, huh? Following this plan daily will build a healthy, and happy, body!

So, in order to fully achieve my vision for the future I must do an honest and accurate assessment of my current situation (the present). When focus is on the future without also looking at the present, my vision will not come to be. What happens when focus is on the present without a vision for the future? When focus is on things that are wrong in the present, then I become stuck in the present and all I do is complain or react. With this viewpoint, I am unable to be proactive and create my desired future. I, most likely, will give up. Does this sound like you, too? Holding the present without vision is like being stuck in the mud. So...don't do that!

Vision isn't just about the future. It's about the present. Moment by moment. The here and now. Learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present. In other words: Live your vision now.

Wow! Okay, so...if we are clear about our vision, and if we are honest about our present realities, we don't have to figure everything out. Things start happening on their own! I have figured out this much though: My vision needs to be about the quality of the life I want to live and not about the specifics. I read this recently from a woman who is a motivational speaker, "I've noticed people with similar goals/visions get attached to the specific goals as though they not only represented the vision but were the vision. And this confused them." Hmmmm....think about that for awhile.

So I ask myself (and you too): Is my present reality moving toward my vision? What am I doing to Impact Today?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weekly Reflections

This last week has been very interesting and a great learning process for me and my husband. We are learning to change our bad habits and incorporate new ones. We are learning to deal with the changes with a positive not thinking about being deprived of anything but rather thinking about what's better for us. We've grumbled some here and there, but overall we remain positive and committed to live right.

When I started blogging, I weighed myself on our Wii balance board, fully clothed with sweatshirt and shoes and was shocked that I had gained so much. I had about 3 pounds of heavy clothes on but, still...subtract that and...whew! I went into the Wii Fit Menu yesterday and did a body test while clothed in shoes and lightweight clothing. After all the math was done, I was 4 pounds lighter than last week...but still 5 pounds heavier than my last weigh in (170-some days ago). I must say that the loss is probably attributed some to monthly hormones and body cleansing through some juicing. (Get my drift?) My husband scored big....he lost approx. 8 pounds since January 1. We're still trying to figure out the weight loss vs. how he weighed himself. I'm sure we'll settle into a pattern this next week. Not only have we cut calories, we've cut added sugars like sodas (poor JT) and sweetened coffee (poor me).

Working out has been OK. I like working clears my mind...makes me feel like I DID gets out my frustration (Boxing!!!). I've completed 2 workouts of the 6 week challenge body makeover and #3 is today. The biggest challenge in these workouts are the crunches (remember my 3-month-pregnant-looking bulge) and yesterday there were pushups! I'm feeling the aches today....but that's part of the transformation process.

Remember IT3 (posted January 3) will I impact today? Based on the way I'm living today...will it transform my tomorrow?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Spiritual Loss. Amen!

Every day I visit the calorie count website and log in my daily food intake and activities. So far, I overshot my calorie goal by 80 calories on my first day, and undershot it yesterday by 700! My husband, on the other hand was opposite of me. On the first day, he made his goal with about 50 calories to spare and the second day, overshot it. We are really learning about food! What we thought wasn't too bad turned out to be really bad. We are learning to closely watch what we eat - especially second helpings!

Now, with the calorie burn meter they tell you to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Thankfully, as I sit here and type this, I'm burning some calories! (Hey, I'll take all I can get.) The website has an extensive list of activities that you can add to your burn meter. As I was browsing, I noticed that my husband's Fall hobby of hunting deer burns a whopping 3,000 calories each time he goes out! I burn calories with the housework I do and time spent in music practice. What was VERY surprising (surprising that it was listed I suppose) was that attending church service burns calories!! Sitting quietly in church burns 77 calories per hour. (Who knew??) While attending a church service, sitting, talking or singing, and actively participating in the service burns 115 calories per hour! (WOW) I don't know if this will bring more people to church or not, but our church holds 3 services on Sunday. Maybe God is on to something, ya think? Logging in my church attendance yesterday (and I'm an active participant) gave me a calorie burn of over 700 calories! That includes the time spent in conversation with friends after church was over last night. Whoever says church is bad for you is wrong! The longer I stay and actively participate in singing and taking notes, the more calories I burn! I'm at a spiritual loss! (HA HA) Can I hear an Amen to that? Chalk up another 2 calories for that one!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I'm drinking my coffee this morning, thinking about what to write and I'm noticing the words on my mug: Impact Today, Imagine Tomorrow, Inspire Transformation. This is actually my husband's Information Technology (IT) motto for the IT department of the US Postal Service. They call it IT3. How interesting! That very catch phrase can be used for daily living, I think.

How can I impact today? I can make an impact in my children by spending some time reading to them or teaching them a valuable skill (of course that will inspire transformation too). I can make an impact on my eating habits that hopefully will inspire transformation! I can make an impact on my health today via exercise which I imagine tomorrow I will be very sore!!

My 6 week challenge workout begins today with the Wii active. Yesterday, I spent time setting up the fitness goals and weight loss journal. I also did a "workout with a friend", my husband who is on this journey with me, and we discovered we are sooooo out of shape! "Cupcakes" was the word he used. We lasted only 30 minutes, which was about half of the total workout, when we had to stop. We were panting so hard...but we burned about 100 calories in the process. The workouts on the new Wii active are so much fun, though. Waterskiing, boxing, squash, paddlesurfing...just to name a few...are so much fun to play and you really get a workout if you actually DO the motions. Ya know, with these game console exercise programs there are cheats. While holding the Wii remote, all you have to do is flinch and it counts it as taking a swing in boxing. Now where's the workout in THAT?!? Do the whole exercise or you will not be helping yourself!! No cheating, ya hear? I am inspiring my self for transformation!!

I also jumped on a calorie count website, thanks to my sister Amanda - who is also on this jouney with me but from long distance (Hi, Amanda). You just plug in your information and it sets up your calorie goals and weight loss goals. It will also grade you on your nutritional values. I was very surprised to find that it set me up with a 1300 calorie/day diet and my weight loss goal date of July 31, 2010. If I stick to it, and here's the exciting part, I will lose 25 pounds in 7 months! They set that goal date, not me! It's an average of a pound a week - which is where I set my personal goal for January (5 pounds in January). I'm imagining tomorrow and THAT inspires transformation!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Can Do Attitude

The words "can do" are in the present tense. I am in THIS moment, today, right now, and I CAN DO what is right for my body and for my mind and for my life!

First things first: A proper perspective. I am a woman of faith and I give this journey to God. My purpose - the reason I'm here - is to glorify God. I am going to glorify God in my body. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all unto the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31 Is it God's will for me to be skinny? No. It IS God's will that I take care of my body - after all He created it - and if I eat the right foods and exercise it like I should it will glorify Him. If the pounds fall off in the process, then Hallelujah! I believe when I glorify Him in my life then the victory - a healthy body, mind, and life - will come from Him. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 15:57

This is going to be a journey that will require many changes because I, and my family, have developed many bad eating habits and daily living habits. To change my behavior I must change my way of thinking. And to change my thinking, I have to change the many wrong beliefs about myself, God, and even others. The Bible tells me that Jesus makes me free. He will show me the root causes of my bad eating habits and not only will He show me the problem(s), He will show me the answer to them! I know that the love Jesus has for me will never change because His love is not based on me or my performance, but solely based on His character, which NEVER, ever changes. The best way to change my way of thinking is to not "try" to think differently, but rather to first change the way I believe. When my beliefs change, then so can my thoughts.

Remember the super hero the Incredible Hulk? Whenever his alter ego, Bruce Banner, became angry a metamorphosis occurred and he went from being calm, cool, and collected to a raging monster because he struggled to handle adversity. Anger was a trigger that changed this calm man into the form of a monster. That, obviously, was a negative and dangerous transformation.

However, there was another super hero that was mild mannered. Can you guess? Clark Kent. Clark Kent never broke a sweat when faced with adversity. How could he stay so calm and collected no matter what threat he faced? It was because he had a power living within him that he knew gave him supernatural abilities. Even during difficult times he was able to transform into a dependable person in times of trouble. Well, that is the transformation I need!! I have the power already living inside of me that will help me through the challenges of making changes and sticking to them. I have the power to help me say that no matter what is going on, no matter how difficult the day may be, that I am content and I can praise God that I am on the winning side. Philippians 4:12,13 - "I know how to be abased (humble), and I know how to abound (to be plentiful): everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." This passage says that it is not by MY power, it is not by MY strength, but it is by the power of the Almighty that will lift me up when I'm feeling discouraged and sorry for myself. So, not only can I say "I can" but that "I can do all things." Someone once told me that all means all and that's all that it means. It's true. This journey I'm on is very much a part of the "all" in Phil. 4:13!

So how does this apply to my eating and living? Well...I am guilty of eating when I'm not hungry and eating more than I should. I reach for crunchy snacks when I'm stressed and, most times, coffee as well. I think those are outlets for my stress. I don't really NEED to eat - I'm not hungry, but I AM reaching for those foods when I'm feeling stressed. It's called emotional eating. So instead of reaching for a snack when I'm stressed, I need to stop and ask myself what is going on, realize that I'm stressed, and instead of eating - pray and ask God for help to get rid of the urge to snack. Then jump on the exercise bike or run up and down the stairs a few times. I need to ask myself every time I get ready to eat something, is this really the best for me? Am I glorifying God? (meaning am I eating the wrong foods or drink?)

Does God want me to succeed and have victory? Yes! I CAN do this and I CAN do it better and gain victory with God on my side! I believe YOU CAN, too!

Today is the first day of the rest of my healthy life! Happy New Year!