Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Year in Review (In Which I Didn't Lose Weight and I'm Happy About It)

I didn't lose a single pound between Jan 1st 2011 and today. And I'm completely happy about that. Why you may ask? Because that means I've maintained a 60 pound weight loss for an entire year. It's gone! Never to be seen again! I got as low as 67 pounds lost, but the past few months I've been hovering between 150-155. And I'm OK with that. It means I've adapted my lifestyle. This whole journey is about the lifestyle change, and I think I've started to be able to do it. I still eat out with my boyfriend or friends, I still have the occassional treat. But I also go to the gym every night that I can manange to balance it out, and I'm still tracking my food a majority of the days. I started this year right around 151, and I'm ending it around 155 (this week has been busy, haha). Success!!!

I know I tend to focus on a number all the time, and I still want to get my "hovering" number down to 150 instead of 155. But that's only so my pants fit a little better, haha. I'm in amazing shape (altho my running skills have lapsed a bit), and I feel healthy. That's what's important. It took me an entire year to realize not to beat myself up over every single thing I eat, the days I miss a workout, or letting the scale jump a pound or two. It's about balancing everything, and I'm working towards that. Doesn't mean I won't pick up the pace a bit this winter so I look even better for the spring, but I'm in a good place to start 2012 right :)

And here's the reason for this post, a yearly review survey that I've filled out every year for the past 8 years. It's an interesting reflection on how it's gone and what I've accomplished.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Maintained my 60 pound weight loss successfully, ran a 5K (no, 3 5Ks!!!), traveled on a few business trips to California, ate octopus balls, grasshoppers and venison (I'm a picky eater otherwise), and bought a condo!!!!!.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions?
Last year I said "I'm committing myself to hitting my goal weight and keeping it there in 2011." I've adjusted my goal weight slightly (at least for now), but I've certainly kept my promise to keep it there all year. This coming year, I want to keep that up, and maybe even inch that number down more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few friends had babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
I didn't leave the country this year... bummer. I'll have to change that for next year!

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Last year I wished for a flat stomach... hahaha. That would be nice this coming year too... And I'll have my condo for 2012, which is going to be amazing.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Lots of fun weekends with Randy, friends and family. An awesome business trip in September to California where I got to sightsee a bit (yay Stone Brewery, where apparently everyone knew my name by time I left). My closing date on my condo is Dec 30th. And on the luckiest day of the year, 11/11/11, I put in an offer for my condo that was accepted :)

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
Getting the guts (and cash) to buy a condo, and maintaining my weight loss.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't think I've really failed at anything, I prefer to think of them as bumps in the road on the way to success. haha

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just allergies... and a nasty cold around Thansgiving.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My boyfriend, my friends and my family rock as usual.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My neighbors that live next to me, above me, etc in my apartment suck. A lot. Thank god I'm moving.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Buying a condo isn't cheap. I'm gonna be writing a very big check next week... And neither is replacing my entire wardrobe with clothes that actually fit. But I don't mind paying for either, totally worth it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Holidays/birthdays with Randy, condo hunting, condo buying... not so much the condo packing part that will come in a few weeks, haha.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
I had a thing for Adele songs this year (as did everyone else).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Definitely happier
b) thinner or fatter? Just the same, and I like it :)
c) richer or poorer? Poorer, since I'm about to give all my money to my mortgage company

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wouldn't have minded traveling even more... hehe

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Stressing out over little things like eating one snack or missing one workout. I just have to roll with it and stop freaking out.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I was at my aunt's house with one side of the family, and then Granny's house with all my younger cousins on the other side. Nothing exciting, it's what we do every year.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
I have my boyfriend, I'm a happy camper :)

22. How many one-night stands?
None, otherwise I'd be in trouble, haha

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I discovered Modern Family this year, such a good show.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Just my trashy neighbors, especially the loud dirty ones that got evicted, hahaha.

25. What was the best book you read?
Ummm... did I read a book this year....? That's sad. I need to do more of that this coming year.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Adele, she rocks.

27. What did you want and get?
A place to live that's all my own :)

28. What did you want and not get?
I wanted to get down to 140, and I'm still 10-15 pounds away. But I'm adapting as I go, so I'm not too bummed.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
The last Harry Potter movie, I loved it. So sad...

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 25, a quarter of a century. Randy and I went to dinner at Churchkey in DC (an awesome restaurant and beer bar) and we spent the evening there. And we got an amazing parking space around the corner. It's sad we reminisce about such things... haha. It was a blast :)

31.What was one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I can't think of anything... I'm happy

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
I replaced all my clothes pretty much, same style. A little preppy, business casual most of the time, but now I have cute mini skirts, nice tops, and hot shoes... hahaha

33. What kept you sane?
Beer... honestly. Beer + Randy is a good sane-maintaining combo

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Ummmm... dunno. Anyone but the Kardashians.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Just one? This whole Payroll Tax thing is pissing me off. And basically everything else Congress *hasn't* done this year. It's BS....

36. Who did you miss?
I miss my friends and family scattered around the country, but at least I always have an awesome selection of places to visit to see people :)

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Any of the cool friends I may have added to my list in the last year.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Sometimes your goals have to change to adapt to reality. Sure, hitting 140 was my ultimate goal, but I saw that my body wasn't cooperating like I wanted it to. So I'm adjusting and keeping my goals realistic. And don't be afraid to take a big leap, I never thought I'd buy a condo until a month ago when I actually sat down to look at the possibility. And now I have one :)

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Hmm... that's a tough one. Nothing is jumping into my mind. I'll go with my staple.

"Don't stop believing" - Journey

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Relighting The Fire

I just spent the last few minutes looking back at my weight loss record since I started. It was pretty awesome for the first 8 months, when I lost 45 pounds pretty quickly and didn't really plateau at all (minus a week or two). Then I slowly got my way down to 150 from 155 over another 2 months. And then for the entirety of 2011, it's been up and down within 5 pounds of 150. Plateau, maintenance, my body being content, I don't know but that's what this year has looked like.

The past week I've really been trying to assess what was different. What changed from the first half to the second half of these last 18 months? Part of it is that the last few months I've been slacking (as I've moaned about repeatedly), but there's some other unknown variable. And I think I've figured it out.

It's that motivation and earnest and unabashed determination that I had to succeed. I was full of it in the beginning. I loved how I looked, shopped for new clothes, figured out my body is capable of more than I realized. And then it sort of fizzled out when I got comfortable with my size and fitness level. I wasn't pushing myself to discover what else I was capable of.

And now I'm starting to wonder again. I'm at 154.7 lbs as of this morning, I ended 2010 at 151. My goal is to end the year 1 pound less than I was at the start. Doesn't seem like much, but to me that 1 pound might as well be 50 (which is how much I lost in 2010). It proves to myself that I'm in it for the long haul. That the weight ISN'T coming back. And that I've transformed myself into something new. But why quit there?

I need to get some momentum going into 2012. So I'm taking December to try and find what really was lighting a fire under my ass in the beginning. I want to look hot in my New Years Eve dress, and feel completely confident in my clothes, and not get tired from running after only 5 minutes (my running endurance is a bit shot right now). I need to get more strict with food, I've been giving into indulgences WAY too often and way too much. It might be the holiday season, but I want to start 2012 on the right foot.

I'm starting small. One pound a week. That's all I want to get me down to 150 for January 1st. I don't need to go crazy, hardly eat for 3 days and then the weekend throws me off. It's all about balance and keeping my days consistent. Once I'm back at 150, I can see what I want to do from there. It's still my ultimate goal to get further into the 140s. But my body put up quite the fight last time I tried, I never saw below 147 despite all my best efforts. Maybe with taking some time off the last few months, my body is ready for a bit of a shock again to drop 5 more pounds. But I won't know until I try. It might prove that I can do it, or it might prove that 150 is a good point for me.

Whatever my ultimate goal is, the fire to find out have been relit. Hopefully this motivation gets me through the holiday season and into January with lots to look forward to next year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Resetting the Ticker

After well over a month of seeing the larger number, I had to do something to motivate me to get it back down again. So when I logged into MFP this morning, I did this...

Last recorded weight: 155.7 lbs on 11/18/11

Yep, its not fun to admit, but I can't keep pretending that "oh, it's just extra sodium and it'll be back to normal by Friday". Well, it's Friday, and that's the new normal... and I don't like it. I'm only 5'2", 5 lbs makes a difference. My work pants were a tad snug, my shirts weren't laying flat, and it was frustration because it seemed like I'd get on track for a day or two, and then something would come up and all self restraint goes out the window. Especially with working out, some days I just don't feel like it. And part of it is I think the need to change it up.

Anyway, it just goes to show that it can happen to anyone. Even though I've lost (now) 59 lbs total, it is going to be a life-long battle to keep it off. I'm happy that I've caught myself after only a few pounds. I've noticed that I haven't been my usual, healthy self lately and it's disappointing. But I really don't see my life getting any less busy, I've said this a million times: I can't be a diet hermit. So I'm just going to have to start working in healthier choices into my busy schedule. It helps that Randy and I have said we need to eat out less because it's expensive, it's also unhealthy! I'm well on my way to buying a condo, and I need to save money. But it also allows me to finally buy an elliptical! It will be nice having a machine right in my second bedroom to hop on at any time. I've gotten a bit bored with Turbo Fire, I've done the workouts for a year now.

I also haven't been setting goals for myself lately. I think without a defined goal, I let myself slide too much. So... here they are:

- Get back down to 150 by Christmas
- Don't let my weight swing up 5 lbs and back down a few in the span of a couple days, it just goes to show that I went overboard that day
- Get back into working out regularly - and with intensity! No slacking, even if it's just a 30 minute workout, I need to go 100%
- Make much smarter food choices. I'm fine when I stick to my usual routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But throw in a beer, a meal out, Donut Thursdays, and my weakness in Trader Joes (I have to give away those cookies...), and you have too much temptation.
- LOG EVERYTHING! Even if it's terrible... it's better to see the damage and know that I need to do better

So, hopefully these get me through the month of December, with all the holiday goodies, parties, Christmas cookies and busier than usual schedules. Randy's birthday is sandwiched in there too. But seeing that ticker every day will hopefully push me in the direction that I need. I can't afford to let this trend continue! Literally, I don't have the extra money for new pants :P

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ran Over By The Wagon

Lately, I've been hanging on to "the wagon". But in the last few weeks, I flat out fell off of it and got ran over by it. Repeatedly.

I will be the first to admit that I've been a bit too generous with myself. October was such a busy month with trips, birthdays, and food opportunities. My weight has been yo-yoing from as low as 152 to as high as 160. That can't be healthy! All in the span of a few weeks. I let special events, like my birthday, turn into an entire weekend of eating whatever I want. That's happened two weekends in a row and it's showing on the scale... and on my sillouette!

Going into the holiday season now, I can't afford to slip any more. I weigh more right now than I did this time last year (only by a few pounds, but still...). My maintenance is slowly slipping and I really don't want to start an upward trend. I don't feel as good as I used to, not as motivated. I thought it was just getting used to maintaining, but it seems I've just gotten back into some old habits with food and ordering whatever I want.

So I need a plan. Fast. I'm not about to let a year and a half of hard work start to slip. Surprisingly, my November doesn't look as chaotic as I would have expected. Randy is out of town this weekend so I'm on my own (aka no restaurant food). The following weekend we're going to Williamsburg, and the weekend before Thanksgiving I don't have anything. That leaves me a fairly steady schedule to stick to of working out and not eating too much.

And I didn't realize it, but I kind of miss running. When I ran, my weight wasn't nearly as all over the place. I was sticking right around 150 (usually lower) but once I stopped running regularly, it's been creeping back up. Now that I have my Touchpad to watching movies on the treadmill, it's really helping to get me to the gym and run. I've been doing intervals, my endurance is shot and I need to build it up again, so speed intervals are my weapon of choice. And I think I need a new inhaler, mine isn't spraying very well since it's kept in my giant purse and probably is somewhat broken. Anyways, no more excuses. "The treadmills are always full at the gym." So... wait for one! "I don't have the energy." Well, muster some up! There are a million reasons not to... and a million reasons why I need to.

And as for food... I think I need to avoid Italian restaurants for a while. I ate entirely too much buttery pasta this weekend. And bread. I need to go back to actually thinking about the nutritional content of the food I'm choosing! Not what looks delicious. I haven't been drinking that much, so that helps.

I know a lot of people who read my blog look to me to be an example of how to successfully lose weight... and keep it off! And I'm still 60 pounds lighter than when I started. But... that number has shrunk a bit. I really need to be accountable, log on MFP what my weight is, and work to get that number down. And with all of you watching and keeping track of me, I can stick to it. Time to step up my game!

I've said this a few times in the last two months, but I really need to make the committment to stick to it. I've gotten used to being thinner. I like looking in the mirror and not hating what I see. But I also know that I can do better. I need to see those 140s again, I'm not about to give up and I still would love to reach my ultimate goal of 140. I just need to focus and go back to what was working for me. Healthy food, lots of INTENSE exercise, and some extra motivation.

Despite that, I had my birthday 2 weeks ago, and I felt more amazing than I have in my life. The photo below says it all... I've NEVER EVER thought I could wear a dress like this. It's just motivation to make it look even more amazing when I likely wear it again on New Years Eve.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm Back in the Game!

I admit, I scared myself there. I've been so focused since February 2010 on getting healthy, losing weight, and just in general being happy. And slowly I got comfortable with my weight (148-150 with the intent to eventually get down to 140), with my eating (a treat isn't a bad thing), and my schedule (well, if I don't work out every day it won't kill me). And then comfort turned into complacent. And then just lazy. No more!

9 day ago, I came back from a business trip immediately followed by a weekend in Jersey, stepped on my scale and saw 160.0. I was angry and frustrated, but there was a new feeling I haven't had in a few months. Pure motivation! I've seen that number before, a year ago, and it was on a downward trend to 150. I hadn't seen my weight go up more than 2-3 pounds in many months. And it made me realize that I need to finish what I started!

And of course, I picked the worst possible time to get "back in gear", but is there ever a perfect time? Life happens. I have my birthday and 1st anniversary with my boyfriend this Saturday. I have a friend's wedding next Saturday. A weekend trip in November. But that isn't going to stop me from keeping my focus. I've been bad about fitting in working when I get busy. And letting myself completely go in restaurants. Really with no excuse other than I got lazy. And I know as well as anyone that losing weight and being healthy takes effort. So here's what I'm gonna do:

1. Work out at least 5 times a week. Even if it's for 30 minutes, it's still keeping my metabolism going. I've been able to work out all but one day since last Tuesday and it's helped so much. And a few extra hundred calories to absorb any birthday treats always helps!

2. Be smart when ordering food that I didn't make. Restaurants have been especially bad, and I know I'll be drinking beer on my birthday. No need to compound the beer calories with crap food calories. There are delicious, healthy things i can choose instead.

3. Don't go over my 1500 calories, preferably stay around 1300. That's the biggest change I've made in the past week, dropped my calories down from an entirely too generous number. I'm eating lots of protein, fruits and such, I just need to minimize the extra snacking. Therefore, no more Triscuits, hahaha.

Hopefully with keeping these things in mind, I'll have a great birthday weekend and I won't be playing catchup for 2 weeks after it. I have my friend's wedding next weekend too, so fitting in workouts will be a bit trickier. Hopefully working out Mon-Fri with Sat and Sun off will be OK. I feel so much better and my clothes look better that I'm not giving up now. Maybe this will give me the push I need to finally get further into the 140s! It started with just getting back down to 150, but if I'm losing and it continues, that would be AMAZING. We'll see how it goes, a week at a time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Neverending Battle

It had to happen at some point: I got comfortable. I got a bit complacent, and I got, I'll admit it, lazy.

After taking a step back from being completely neurotic about the numbers on the scale, I felt a bit better about not having to worry about every bite and every workout. I was OK with being around 150, knowing that if I let my body settle a bit and then kicked it into high gear again, I could start losing. Well, I took a few too many steps back...

All the way back to October 2010. The last time I saw 160 on the scale (probably more like Sept. actually). But anyways, I've been traveling non-stop it felt like since the last week of August. A few days in California for business, a trip to Phoenix to see a friend, spending the entire weekend at my boyfriend's place, another business trip (this one was 9 days) and two weekend trips to Jersey mixed in there too. The result, a month of eating out too much and only getting in 2 workouts a week if I was lucky. And then I realized what I really had done last night. I stepped on the scale after finally being back in my apartment after 4 days of being gone.


I thought I was losing my mind. So I reset the scale and tried again. Same exact number. SERIOUSLY? I went from flirting with below 150s to flirting with above 160? In A MONTH??? It's possible to backpeddle that much in a month???

It was a wake up call that I needed. I saw how easy it is to completely erase what was effectively a year of work. I've been great at keeping right around that 150 point, but I know now that I can't let myself have that much leeway with what I eat and when I workout. I think the food is the biggest issue. All the restaurant food I've had lately, between traveling and with friends/boyfriend/family, is adding way too many calories that I'm not burning off. I need to make smarter decisions when I choose what to eat, I don't need a pizza with 2 beers and some dessert. There are plenty of healthy options out there, and I don't need to drink that much beer (although it is delicious).

And as for the working out, I haven't been making time for it and I need to. Part of it was the crazy schedule, but the other part is just not feeling like it and letting that side of my brain win the battle. I finally packed some gym clothes for tonight, and I'm going for an hour after work. I need to get in the habit again and I'm in dire need of some cardio to burn off lots of calories.

So the moral of this cautionary tale... ANYONE can slip up. I know a lot of people like to read my blogs for advice and a point of view from someone who really successfully conquered a weight problem. But, here's proof that it's possible to take a few steps back while trying to move forward in life. I don't like that my work pants are a tiny bit snug. Or that I didn't want to wear a shirt I liked because it was a bit tighter around my stomach. Or that I couldn't run a full mile outside without stopping (when I've done 5K+ at a time before).

But, it's a place I can get back to with some hard work and focus. I've already gone food shopping to get things to make for my meals (especially packing my lunch), I packed the gym clothes, and most importantly, I'm aware that there's a problem. And I'm going to fix it. I have a week and a half until my 25th birthday (Oct 22nd) and my one year anniversary with Randy (on the same day, haha) and I want to get most of this extra weight gone. I know a lot of it is water weight from all the restaurant food, so I'm hoping it comes off fast. I need to look hot in a new dress for that day! I saw 157.7 on the scale the morning (I know, terrifying!) but I don't doubt that I can be back around 152-153 by next week. And hopefully a few weeks after that be back into the 140s. I need to get that fire back that I've had for the last year and a half.

And most importantly, learn to balance life and the scale. It's not easy, as I've learned, but it's something I'm going to have to do if I want to make this change permanent.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Not Gonna Get Any Easier...

I keep waiting for a break in my schedule, a few weeks where I can really focus on eating right and working out every day, and hopefully that would get the scale down enough that I didn't have to deal with it bouncing up to 150 every Monday morning.

But I don't see that happening any time soon, and it's almost to the point of being frustrating. I really do enjoy my weekends, I get to spend them with Randy, we do fun things around DC, friends come visit me. It's a great time! Until I see the aftermath of it, the scale has been above 150 for 3 days in a row as of today. Something that hasn't happened in a while. And it upsets me, even though I wouldn't really do anything differently this weekend. It really was the beer that put me over, that's what happens at a Beer festival!

I don't want to have to choose between having a good time and enjoy my weekends, and being healthy. I REFUSE, absolutely REFUSE!!!! to gain any of this weight back. But it's crept back a tiny bit since June, only 2 or so pounds, and I can usually get the scale back around 148 if I'm good Mon-Thurs. But it bounces right back up again come Monday. So, I do I have to choose?

Either I say, screw it, I'm sticking around 150 and as long as I'm not higher than that by more than a pound, it's good. It's maintaining over 65 lbs of weight loss. I guess I can be happy about that. But I'm still left unsatisfied because I'm not where I want to be. I'm still sucking in a bit when I wear some of my more fitted tops. And there's definitely a muffin top in my fitted size 6 NY&Co jeans that I HATE! And I still don't feel completely confident in a bikini. AND I WANT TO! I want to be happy about all those things. And the only way to get there is to lose the last couple pounds I've been holding on to. I was all excited in June that I might actually do it. I was down to 147, it stays there for a good 2 weeks, and then I get sent on my business trip and everything collapsed from there.

I'd love a few weeks where I didn't have to worry about any of it, but that's not realistic at all. I'm already looking at a chaotic Fall because of several trips up to Jersey for a friend's wedding stuff, my sister's birthday, my birthday (probably going away for the weekend with Randy), and people wanting to visit me and me going to visit people. There's not way I can hide for 3 weeks and get my weight back down. So I'm just going to have to do it amid all the chaos. I'm not 100% sure how yet tho...

My first intention is to reel in eating crap for an entire weekend just because I'm not home with my usual supply of healthy food. I've been staying over Randy's a lot more. I'm gonna have to start stashing snacks or something there. And when we eat out, I need to stop automatically picking something unhealthy just because we're out. There're are plenty of healthier choices out there that I can go with, and he's never said no when I ask not to go somewhere because of not being able to find something healthy.

The second thing I'm gonna have to do is really focus on the workouts. I haven't been getting to the gym as much as I should, usually only that once a week with my trainer. I need to start going at least one or two more times during the week and get some good cardio in. Turbo Fire is good and all, but it's not the same as an interval run or something. At least it'll be fall and I can run outside again as much as possible.

So, there you have it. My confession. I've slacked off and I'll admit it. I just didn't have the same motivation the last few weeks and it seems it's caught up to me. I also need to stop buying gouda cheese from Trader Joes and eating a few ounces of it with crackers at night. That CAN'T be helping right now. Ugh, kinda makes me want to throw things and tell everyone to leave me alone for a month so I can lose 5 pounds and be happier. But I know it's dangerous to tie my happiness to my weight. I just need to focus, find the positive in things, and keep chugging along. God, how I want to see 140 on the scale, but I don't know if it's gonna happen, and that sucks. I'm not admitting defeat, I'm just admitting that it's a tough road ahead if I ever want to see that number. I've just got to be willing to do it... not sure if I am right now, but I'm gonna try.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Losing My... Motivation? Or Just Getting Back to Normal?

Lately, I've started to question my level of motivation. I haven't wanted to work out every single night that I'm free during the week. I haven't been packing in extra workouts on the weekends to make up for going out for drinks or something. And I haven't been always picking a salad with dressing on the side when I go out to restaurants.

But is this a bad thing?

The way I look at it, if I'm ever gonna make this whole thing stick for the rest of my life, I've gotta do it in a way that means I can keep it up! I never thought 6 days a week of working out and eating like a saint were sustainable in the long term, who can keep that up indefinitely! But in the process of this transition, I've realized a few things.

First off, I'm not gonna gain back weight just from "living a little", something I was seriously afraid of. I thought the second I slowed up my usual routine of angelic eating and exercise, the weight would start to come back on. But it's been since January since I really lost weight... but at the same time, NONE of the weight I lost has come back on. And I've definitely been a bit devilish with my eating, drinking, and workout habits at times. Not a complete reversion to my old ways, but definitely not as diligent as I was when I initially got myself down to 150.

Secondly, I can keep up the healthy lifestyle without too much pain and suffering. I don't mind working out a few times a week, I'll workout on the weekend if I'm home, and I'll happily pick a delicious healthy option from a menu most of the time. And these are things I can keep up in the long term. I'll always have my workout DVDs and a gym membership, but that doesn't mean I have to commit to them 6 days a week!

So, what does this mean for me in the long run? I'm still anywhere from 7-10 lbs away from my goal weight of 140, depending on how well I've behaved in the last few days. So is this an admission of defeat? NO WAY! I'm just realistic. With some renewed dedication and a less busy schedule, I can get that weight off. And I intend to. It'll be a slow process (as if it isn't already as slow as possible!), but I know I can do it once I stick to my guns. It might happen a pound at a time, gradually knocking off a little bit of weight that doesn't come back. When I had 3 really good weeks in June, I was able to get down to 147 for over a week and now that's the point I get back to when I'm good. Before it was 149 or so. So my lows are getting lower. And my highs are getting lower too! I RARELY see 150 anymore, and that makes me happy.

The whole point of this is that it's OK to slow down, take a breather, and reassess. I don't want life to pass me by while I'm busy looking down at the scale. I'm still gonna weigh in, keep myself in check, and hopefully with time I'll get to my goal. But it's the last 2 weeks of summer! Who wants to waste those? The important thing is to make as many days a possible "good days" so that I can enjoy myself on the "fun days!"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Slow and Steady Is Getting Annoying

I miss the days where I could log a 2 lb loss for the week and it wasn't a rare event. Much more gratifying. But now that I've basically been maintaining for the last 7 months or so, I've started to get used to the daily ups and downs of the scale. And when I do have a loss, it's a small one. And usually it doesn't last. Bummer...

This morning I was hoping to be able to record ANYTHING, even 0.1 lb. But I opted to live a little and had one beer before kickball and I ate dinner at 9:30, so no loss this week for me. I've started to realize this whole thing is about tradeoffs. I could skip out on things to avoid a bad situation, or I can adapt and deal with it. I went to a coworker's going away lunch yesterday, but ate a sandwich first and nibbled on a caesar salad (hardly any dressing) while I was there. And I let myself have the tinest slice of pizza, which I don't really feel guilty about. Same goes for kickball last night. I had one beer, low calorie, and I stopped. But I still got to spend some time at the bar before the game with my friends.

Going forward I know I still want to get down to 140, but it's going to be a slow process if I want to have any freedom to eat and do what I want on occasion. But it's having the number in mind that keeps me in check when I do. Yesterday I could have easily eaten a few slices of pizza, or had more than one beer, but knowing that I didn't want the scale to swing back up to 150 kept me from going overboard. I'll take a jump of half a pound for my efforts.

So, I've realized that setting boundaries and goals is a good thing. I'd LOVE to be down into the 145 range by the end of the month, and I'm slowly working my way there, halfway there so far. But I also know I have my sister visiting this weekend and a baseball game and crab and beer festival with Randy next weekend. So it's gonna be about balance. Be as good as I can on the days where I'm not doing something out of the ordinary, and enjoy myself a bit when I'm doing something special... but not too much!

So my goal for this weekend is to eat as well as I can, but I'm getting Thai food with Krissi tonight! Our favorite! And hopefully come Monday morning, I haven't completely reset myself. I'll be working hard next week so that I can see a loss on Thurs/Fri. It wasn't in the cards this week, but that doesn't stop me from trying next week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reversing a Bad Week (Or Two or Three...)

Here's a primer on how to reverse those bad habits that have crept back, the pounds that have slowly snuck back on, and the exercise plans that vanished or were severely limited.

I started my week at 150.6, after a solid few weeks of hardly working out, drinking, traveling, eating, lazying around and in general just not being very on top of things. That was a serious departure from what got me down to my all time lowest weight of 147.2 just at the end of June. I was pretty fed up with myself for letting it get to that point so I thought, what is the best way to fix it in a hurry?!?

Step 1: Get my butt to the gym! Or at least workout. No more "oh I'm a little tired, I'm taking a rest day" or "I don't feel like working out after grocery shopping on the way home". PUHLEEZZZZ... excuses excuses! Just get to the gym, do ANYTHING, it's better than nothing. And daily, I don't care if it's for 30 minutes, it's more than I was doing the last few weeks.

Step 2: Grocery shop for good, healthy food. I had to make a few stops to the store, but I got low sodium lunch meat, more yogurt, supplies for my protein fruit smoothies, and the fixings for healthy breakfast sandwiches. And that's all I ate! No fast food for lunch, no unhealthy snacks at work or after dinner. No alcohol (yeah, that's a hard one). After 4 days of that, things were looking better.

Step 3: Get moving on the water consumption. I was definitely slacking lately, and it's an excuse to get up from my desk, so I started drinking more water again. Definitely helps flush your system of sodium, and that was a major problem for me in the last few weeks.

Step 4: Relax! I've been pretty stressed out the last week with some other issues I've had going on. This week I just told myself to chill out, stop worrying about things I can't control, and focus better on one of the things that I can: my weight! So that's what I did this week. Workout every day, eat healthy food, get enough sleep.

Step 5: Watch the scale drop! Monday = 150.6, Tuesday = 149.6, Wednesday = 149.3, Thursday = 148.5, Friday (today) = 147.4!!!!!!!!!!!! That's a whopping 3.2 lbs in 5 days. And guess what I didn't do?

- Starve myself (look at my food diary, I was at 1500+ calories most days)
- Do any sort of wacky cleanse where I drank only juice or something
- Dehydrate myself
- Workout 3 hours a day (it was between 40-70 minutes each day)

So, there you have it. When you get off track, it's not impossible to get back on. It doesn't require any crash diets. Your body LOVES healthy food and some exercise, and it will reward you if you stick to it for a couple days. This is my motivation going into the weekend to keep myself in check. I will workout this weekend! I will enjoy myself and relax! And I will keep the restaurant food and beer to a minimum. A salad with dressing on the side won't kill me... in fact... that sounds delicious :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cupcakes in the Gym Followup

Just a few things to add to the blog post from yesterday (Cupcakes in the Gym).

I wasn't really mad at the trainers who brought in the cupcakes and ate them in the middle of the training area. They're free to eat whatever they want, and chances are they earned it from working out. They're all in great shape and have INSANE metabolisms from all that. Why shouldn't they be allowed a treat? And that was the only time I had seen them doing something like that in the 7 months I've been a member. So, I don't hold any (well, not much) resentment towards them.

The main issue that I was trying to get across was the interesting situation i found myself in. I was in my gym, where I tend to focus on fitness and being healthy more than any other place. And right in the middle of that gym was maybe the one food item that most represents everything I was before: red velvet cupcakes! They are seriously my favorite food in the world. And to see them invading my healthy space threw me off a bit.

And it made me think. There were days where I'd inhale 3 cupcakes and not think about it at all. Didn't care how unhealthy it was or how many calories it had or if it was somehow shortening my lifespan. They were just delicious, icing-coating mini cakes of goodness. Same with all the crap food I was eating on a regular basis. I was flat out unconscious of what it was really doing. Yes, I knew I was overweight, but I didn't really have any drive or know how to fix it. At least until after I graduated college and got my act together.

Anyways, seeing that cupcake in my sacred workout space reminded me why I'm there! I'm working hard every day, when I slip up I get back in gear, and there are times where I'm allowed to have a treat because I'm not gonna go my whole life without another treat. When I have a treat, I don't need that as an invitation to throw the entire day or weekend out the window. It's a conscious effort to do that, and I'm getting more aware of when I do. Since seeing that cupcake, I've had even more resolve this week, and it's paid off! I've eaten healthy every day this week, and the scale is down to 148.5 already. That's only 1.3 lbs from my lowest weigh in. So I didn't do as much damage as I thought in July, and I know my body will get back to normal quickly. Now I just have to keep it up! Even if that red velvet cupcake appears again, there are times to say yes, and times to say no!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cupcakes in the Gym

Who in their right mind brings CUPCAKES to a GYM??? My personal trainer, that's who! I finished my 30 minutes with him, a hot sweaty mess because we used the rowing machine and did a circuit twice with a weighted bar (27 lbs no less!) I walk over to the PT area and what do I see... all of the trainers... EATING RED VELVET CUPCAKES! That my trainer brought in!

Can we just take a minute to appreciate red velvet cupcakes and their cream cheese frosting delicious? 

Ok, back to the issue. I get these trainers are ripped and toned and the ideal weight and body composition. But do they really need to eat cupcakes in front of the less than ideal clients? I looked at them and flatly said "that is how I got fat!" And then I checked my heart rate monitor watch.

442 calories burned.That's about one really icing-loaded cupcake, right?

And I felt better because instead of having junk and eating a cupcake like I might have in the past (not that my trainer would let me anyway), I burned off every single calorie that one would contain. And my muscles benefited from it in the process. AND I had a good calorie deficit for the day.

I thought about that cupcake while pounding out 2 miles on the elliptical in 19m 20s. And when I got home and had my healthy dinner and evening snack. Sometimes it's nice to work hard for a reward, like a cupcake or a treat. But it's even better to work hard for the reward of not giving in and moving on! I'm trying to get down to 145 this month, after messing up my entire July and going from 147 to 150 again. And that incident convinced me that I've got the willpower this time. There are better rewards out there than a cupcake, like...

- Looking hot in my bikini, not just decent
- Being in better shape than people the same weight as me
- FINALLY making progress towards my goal weight, after nearly a year and a half on MFP and stalling out since January.
- Being completely comfortable in my skin, instead of 90% of the way there

So, next time you are presented with a cupcake, think of what it represents! For me, it's all the demons with food I still deal with, but I'm learning to take control of. So next time I'm in a situation where my trainer isn't hauling me away from the cupcake and sticking me on the elliptical, I'll have the same resolve to say NO!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reboot for August

July was both a fantastic and terrible month, depending on how you look at things. I had fun with trips, friends visiting, fun weekend adventures with Randy, and being more social than usual. But with that came 3 pounds of weight that I thought I had lost for good. But each week they slowly crept back on, and I don't like it.

Time for a reboot!

New month, new week... new gameplan! I can't keep eating out this much, and letting myself make bad choices just because it's there. I managed to get myself in line a majority of the weekend, I went for soup and a healthy salad for dinner last night. My schedule is much better in August with less visitors and crazy weekends planned. It's actually a bit of a relief. As much as I love being active and going out, its really draining. I'm in dire need of some "Me Time".

Goals always help me to stay on track, so here they are for August:

- Lose a pound a week, with 150.5 as my starting point today. I want to at least be back to 147 by the end of the month, with 145 as my Super Duper Awesome goal. That would be 2 pounds lower than anything I've seen. I'm logging my weigh in on Thursday, whatever it may be, higher or lower than what I have on here as my last weigh in (I think 148.1 was from 2 weeks ago).

- Stop ordering bad food at restaurants! There's a lot of temptations out there, but I have rarely encountered a situation where I can't find something on the healthier side. I'm not saying I can have a little treat on occasion, but not every time I eat out!

- Get back into the habit of working out 4-5 times a week. This working out on Monday and Tuesday and then nothing for the rest of the week has got to stop. Yes, kickball is Thursday and that's something active, but I've been genuinely lazy and busy in the past month. More workouts!

- Cut down on the unnecessary snacking. I've been nibbling on cookies, having a piece of candy, or buying food that I really shouldn't be eating. So if it's not in my house, I can't eat it. Randy's cookie addiction is rubbing off on me.

- Drink more water. I've been slacking lately, I need to get up more to refill my water bottle during the day at work and drink a glass of water at night with dinner. Flush the sodium out of my system.

- Start getting in the habit of bringing lunch in to work again. Eating out all the time is killing my wallet and my food diary.

All these goals are simple and achievable. I don't need to go crazy to enjoy myself. I'm hoping that August is a relaxing month where I can focus on myself a bit, I haven't done that enough lately with everything else going on in my life. I still have another month of wearing my bikini, I want it to look good!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lots of Little Voices

The voices inside my head really need to stop getting to me.

There's the inner fat girl, that keeps thinking that food is the answer to problems. "I'm stressed, let's eat something. I'm going out with friends, lets drink 3 beers and having an unhealthy dinner. It doesn't matter, you'll eventually get back on track." Or that sees the number on the scale creeping upward and freaks out because I don't ever want to get back (or even start moving towards) where I started with all of this.

And then there's the inner healthy girl, that keeps trying to tell the inner fat girl to shut up. "I've been doing this for a year and a half, it's not impossible, it's not even that painful anymore. Just get off your lazy butt and workout! Put down the extra beer, or the cupcake! Back away slowly..." She's always trying to get me back on track.

Inner OCD girl is freaking out lately. "Oh my god, I can't handle this schedule, or lack there of. I need normalcy! I need to workout every single day and eat the exact same thing or I'll gain weight! Or even worse, I won't lose it." I crave schedules and normalcy and knowing exactly what situation I'm going to be in and how to handle it.

And lately, my inner Social Butterfly has been screwing with all three of those other girls. "I love to go out with my boyfriend and my kickball team and my friends visiting me. A few meals out and a few nights at the bar won't hurt. You can't be a hermit forever" And that's partly true, but I also don't need to take that as an invitation to go crazy. And in the entire month of July, that's how it's been. I started out at 147 right before I went on my business trip. I came back and got it almost all the way back down. But with each passing weekend, the scale would be higher and higher on Monday and it wouldn't get as low by Thursday. So now I'm at the point where it's Thursday, and I'm 151.4.

So it appears I have a small Greek Chorus inside my head that just won't shutup, you can see how I get stressed out. But I've got to learn to balance it all! Yes, I can still go out and be social. No, I can't eat crap just because it's there. And no, inner skinny girl, you don't have to feel guilty about one beer or one meal in a restaurant. And OCD girl, put a lid on it, you'll be back to your normal schedule on Monday!!!

Right now, I think my inner skinny girl needs to take the lead, keep me on track, and stop me from freaking out over every little situation. The scale will start coming down again and I have every intention of keeping it down. August is shaping up to be much calmer, minimal trips and I think only one visitor (my sister who can't go to bars anyway). But I still want to go out, enjoy my weekends, and not completely deprive myself. I just need to get smart about it. I've felt like complete crap the last week, and the scale has a lot to do with it. I HATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! seeing 150+. It's just such a mental block for me that I get really frustrated thinking about it. The 140s is at least one digit closer to my goal of 140. I still feel like 150 sounds "fat" and I don't know why. And I think I still look a little chunky and I hate that. I'm in the best shape ever, but I still focus on the less than flat stomach. Maybe it won't ever go away, but I won't give up trying. It really was getting better when I got down to 147, so if I keep going it can only improve.

So the bottom line is that I focus way too much on weight. And I don't really know how to stop it. And no, I can't put away my scale. I've found that I go COMPLETELY off track when I don't have a scale to keep me in check on a regular basis. It's a daily reminder to get back into my healthy habits if it goes up or to keep doing what I'm doing if it goes down. Maybe one day I'll be able to move away from it, but not now. I really hope I can get to the point where I'm happy with where I'm at and I can stop obsessing so much. It's really draining to focus on it all the time, and then beat myself up about it when I slip up. It's a major factor in the stress I've been feeling all week and I don't handle stress in the best ways.

Anyway, I'm rambling now, it's just writing down all the crap I've had in my head that no one else really understands. I just need to start fresh, on the proverbial Monday. I'm hoping these extra 4 pounds are sodium from all the crap food I had in the last week and TOM. They need to go away as fast as they came on...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons, Don't Eat Them!!!

And by lemons I mean feelings. It seems to be a problem that I, among many people I encounter on MFP, have when the going gets tough. Food is comfort, and an escape from our issues (albeit briefly), and can even be celebration or reward. But it's a dangerous habit to tie food and your feelings together.

I'm not much of an emotional eater 90% of the time, but even when it gets rough for me (like last night), I find myself wandering into the kitchen and picking up a snack. It's only a saving grace (and smart move on my part) that I don't keep junk food in my apartment with very few exceptions. So last night after I found myself upset, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a Fiber One brownie. 90 calories of damage but it's no pint of Ben and Jerry's.

This still shows a greater issue... food shouldn't be a way to solve my problems. I had the same issue in California on my business trip and the damage was WAY more than a 90 calorie brownie. Sometimes it's a few beers. But lately I've noticed that sometimes my first reaction isn't to find food. It's to go for a run, or do a workout DVD. Something to get the stress out that ISN'T FOOD! This is a much better habit to have and I would have done something if it wasn't 11pm last night and I just went to bed. It's something I'm going to have to keep working on because it can only lead me back down a path that I've worked really had to get away from in the last year and a half.

So, when life hands you lemons, don't drink the lemonade. Don't eat the lemons. Juggle with them or something. I don't know, something that gets the stress out that isn't digging you back into the hole that emotional eating may have gotten you into in the first place. I started texting my boyfriend and we talked about what was bothering me. And it really helped. So maybe talking to the lemons is the way to go... or about them... you don't want to come off crazy for talking to lemons. But lemons represent our feelings, our problems, and our demons. I'm making an effort today to eat as well as I would any other day. Just because I'm in a crappy mood doesn't mean I need to blow my calories out the window.

So instead I'm plugging in my headphones, putting on some Led Zeppelin, and not eating the lemons! But I am going to lunch at Wegmans with my boyfriend for a salad or sushi. I can still eat, but my feelings are not on the menu!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You Are What You Eat!

It's an adage we've heard over and over again, you are what you eat. Notice that it doesn't say you are HOW MUCH you eat, and I just read an article that addresses that very point.

Still Counting Calories? Your Weight-Loss Plan May Be Outdated

The article details a long term study done that tracked the eating habits of its participants over 20 years and correlated their weight gain, loss or maintenance with the foods they were regularly consuming. Note that no where does it say HOW MUCH of these foods they were consuming.

This is a fact that I've slowly learned (and sometimes the hard way) over the last year. I can eat 1500 calories a day in a variety of ways. Lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, yogurt, etc.... or a fast food salad, frozen dinners, 100 calorie packs, and a candy bar. Still 1500 calories, but looking at where the calories come from makes a BIG difference. Once I cleaned up my act, ate 1400-1500 calories a day consistently of healthier foods, a magically thing happened. THE SCALE MOVED! Just cutting out fast food lunches alone was enough to get it going in the right direction. And I find that the weeks where I'm away from my usual food, especially eating out, it doesn't move.

So, why is this? It's all about macro nutrients (protein, carbs and fat), in addition processed vs. fresh, whole grain vs. white, natural vs. artificial sugars. So in reality, you are what you eat! For example (from the article):

“This study shows that conventional wisdom — to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories and avoid fatty foods — isn’t the best approach,” Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in an interview. “What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories won’t matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you’re eating.”

And now, for the facts!
- The average participant gained 16.8 lbs in 20 years
- Eating certain foods on a regular basis lead to more weight gain over a 4 year period, such as:
        * French fries = 3.4 lbs
        * Potato chips = 1.7 lbs
        * Sugar-sweetened drinks = 1 lb
        * Red meats = 0.95 lbs
        * Processed meats = 0.93 lbs
        * Potatoes = 0.57 lbs
        * Sweets and desserts = 0.41 lbs (phew, that's not a lot, I love cupcakes, lol)
        * Refined grains = 0.39 lbs
        * Fried foods = 0.32 lbs
        * 100% fruit juice = 0.31 lbs
        * Butter = 0.3 lbs
- But on the contrary, those who ate more fruits, veggies and whole grains LOST WEIGHT! Whole grains don't slow the metabolism, while processed refined grains (like white bread) DO!
- And, on top of that, those who lost weight ate 3.1 more servings of veggies a day on average.
- Good news for my fellow lovers of yogurt and peanut butter, those who ate more of those foods lost more weight! Those who ate yogurt lost an average of 0.82 lbs over 4 years.

So what is all this telling us? Yep, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! Especially over a long-term period. I tend to agree with all of this information, to a point. I'm not going to never eat french fries again, but this is where the moderation comes into play. The article states:

“The notion that it’s O.K. to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want.”

And on a daily basis, I believe that is true! If I ate 1500 calories of french fries, butter, potato chips, etc. every day, I'd guess that I'd be pretty unhealthy. Where moderation is key is when you are allowing yourself to have these kinds of foods. I eat french fries once every few months. Ditto for pizza, and big cups of ice cream, and whatever other treats I enjoy. But when you break down my daily food intake, it's the good for you stuff, the stuff that I want to be made of, not potato chips.

So the bottom line: your diet isn't going to last very long if you aren't changing your healthy eating habits. And the long term research in this article shows that. I highly suggest that everyone check it out, and even read the study that's linked in it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Lovin' and Loving Summer

I'm starting to realize staying "on track" this summer in the sense that I imagined it isn't very realisitic. My weekends for the next 3 weeks are booked with trips or visitors. August will probably be similar, so being a diet hermit on the weekends just isn't gonna work for me. So... new approach.

My goal is to stay under 150 at all times. Right now I'm right at 148, and when I left for my business trip 2 weeks ago I was right at 147.2. I'd say with all that travel, that's pretty awesome! And my moving average for my weight chart never went above 150 even with all this upheaval. I'm a reasonable person, and I don't believe in missing out on summer fun just to keep losing weight. Doesn't mean that I'm done tho! I'm still going to make every effort that I can to keep losing, when it's appropriate.

For example: I'm going to Williamsburg, VA this weekend for a trip with my boyfriend. Lots of walking and being outdoors so that's great exercise! But I'm not gonna eat a salad and skip the local beer! I'm going to a Colonial Tavern on Sat. night and I'm trying the local brew :) It's a balance between moving and eating, like it is every day. I think it's the reason I did relatively well in California/Jersey (once I flushed the sodium out of my system). I was active, and I didn't go nuts eating but I enjoyed myself.

When my friend comes to visit, I plan on taking her to see the local sites, more walking! Perhaps find a bar for some dancing. Or hit the pool for a swim. When I go to the lakehouse for kickball at the end of the month, I'm not gonna sit on my butt, I'm gonna try water skiing or something crazy!

So, here's my tips to surviving the summer, and perhaps even losing some weight!

1. Be active! The weather is awesome, the pool is open, I'm getting out of the house and off my butt as much as possible, that should definitely burn lots of extra calories.

2. Enjoy summer foods but not too much. Included in that is delicious summer beer. I'm still gonna be picky about what I eat, but I'm not going into a full on guilt trip for having one delicious BBQ meal.

3. On the days/weekends that aren't out of the ordinary, behave myself! If I'm at work and I have time to workout afterwards, there's no excuse not to. It will help balance out the weekends that I'm busy.

So, there you go. That's my gameplan for this summer. As it got started, I realized I don't want to be a hermit. But it would be awesome to keep losing. If I can managed to keep the high peaks on my chart lower and perhaps reach new lows during the week by behaving myself, maybe I'll sneakily lose some weight by the end of it. I figured it's worth a shot, the worst that can happen is I maintain in the upper 140s and keep moving downward to the 130s once the summer fun/craziness winds down.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When It's No Longer "A Diet"

I was wondering when this day would come, when I don't have to think about every bite that goes into my mouth and write it down. When I don't feel a crushing sense of guilt when I miss one day of working out. Or when I choose something off a menu that isn't a salad with dressing on the side.

And this doesn't mean that I don't still focus on my healthy habits. It's just that they aren't something I force myself to do 99% of the time. I just do it. I realized my overreaction to the In N Out Burger incident. It's not even an incident, I had one cheat meal and it was my first fast food burger meal in a year and a half. It doesn't mean I'll spiral out of control and start eating like crap again. Things like that are so much more worth it when you earn it and let it be a treat and not a habit.

But habits like going for the healthy options on a menu, or suggestion activities that don't involve sitting on your butt are good ones to have! I said I didn't really exercise in the last week, but when I thought about it, it wasn't entirely true. My window of what "exercise" is can be a bit narrow at times, since I'm not really wearing my HRM for most of these things. But on Wednesday I played kickball, Friday I spent 4+ hours walking around a mall, Saturday I was swimming in the pool (leisurely but I was moving), and Sunday we were water tubing. There was hardly a day where I didn't get some form of activity, and that's the important part! It's easier now to just have an active lifestyle instead of sitting around all the time. I'm burning more calories without even realizing it or accounting for it, and I managed to make mostly decent food choices with some allotment for treats (and beer... haha).

So I think I'm moving away from being in diet mode all the time. Yes, I still get on my scale, and yes, I still hope to lose more weight. But I'm OK with it coming off on its own. I don't want to stop at the weight I'm at, but it's not quite the chore it used to be to do that. It's almost become second nature, I don't question it but at the same time its not all I think about. The last few weeks of just dealing with "normal life" type things really helped me to see that. I've always been worried I might "fall off the wagon", gain it all back, but I've managed to convince myself that isn't gonna happen. I've made the commitment, it's stuck in my brain, and I know how to balance things.

So, moving forward I'm going to stress less about considering what I'm doing a diet, and think of it more of "this is how things are now". One day or one meal can never put me back to where I started 2 years ago.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Life's Tough, Get a Helmet

My business trip was a bit of an eye-opening experience. I had my good moments, I had my OK moment... and then I had my In N Out Burger moments.

The good aspect of things: I didn't let the freedom and new environment block out everything I've gotten used to in the last year or so. I scoured menus for the healthiest options possible, and picked restaurants where I knew I could find something to eat that didn't kill my calorie count for the day (and yes, I did keep trying to count every day of my trip). Usually soup and a salad were my choices, dressing on the side. I did my best by myself, where I could eat wherever I wanted and could take the time to search the menu.

I also worked out every single day or got out for some exercise by walking around! I went to the gym Mon-Thurs and ran/walked intervals on the treadmill while watching the personal TV on it. And Friday I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific and then walked around the harbor before dinner (a few hours total of walking). So I was really proud of myself for sticking to that. It was an extra 2500+ calories burned that I otherwise wouldn't have, that offsets a lot of my indulgences!

Oh yes, about those indulgences. I had a few treats. My Jamba Juice frozen yogurt, my sweet potato fries with dinner one night, my nightly beer with dinner. I admit, I lived a little! But I didn't let it go to my head and at least I worked out first! I was basically sitting for the entire time I was working out there too. I had bought healthy snacks to eat during the work day tho, mini Fig Newtons and protein bars.

And then there's the In N Out Burger. At first I felt gross and guilty and pissed off that I let myself get to the point where I ate it. But then I reflected on the decision while running on the treadmill that night (I wouldn't step off the thing until every calorie in that milkshake was burned off!). And I realized something...

2 years ago, would I have thought twice about ordering that burger, fries and shake? NOPE! Would I have hopped on a treadmill afterwards to make up for it? NOPE! Would I have enjoyed it way more while eating it because it was my first fast food burger and fries in a year and a half? NOPE!

That's a big difference! I knew what I was doing, yes it was 1265 calories and 65g of fat, and yes it is pretty darn unhealthy. But that's not my daily lunch, or even my every so often lunch! It's my "I've been doing this a long time and you really expect me to go the rest of my life without eating In N Out Burger, sent from the heavens?" Hahaha, I'm from the East Coast, we don't have In N Out and I only get to California on a rare occasion.

So, I learned a few things in the past 2 weeks. Yes, life happens. Yes, life is tough sometimes when it comes to making good choices in an environment you're not used to. But it's possible to do. And it's possible to have a meal that you wouldn't normally order (or an extra delicious beer at The Yard House...). You have to have a thick skin when it comes to these things. At first I was freaking out, but I can't live in a weight loss bubble my entire life. I did come back and weigh in at 151 lbs, but that was yesterday morning and my weight was 149.4 this morning. At this rate, the water weight (not fat because I didn't go nuts!) will be off as fast as it came on.

I have kickball again tonight (playoffs!!!), a BFF visiting from AZ tomorrow, a 4th of July celebration on Sat night with my boyfriend (Alexandria is weird and does it the weekend after so we can go together, since we spent the holiday apart), and then water tubing on Sunday. I'm gonna enjoy it! Not think about every calorie that goes in my mouth. And at the same time, listen to the voice in the back of my head that steers me towards better choices when I can, and lets me have a treat.

So my lesson to you all: Trust yourself! You're changing your life, not ruining it. Do you really want to go the rest of your life without a Neapolitan milkshake from In N Out Burger (or insert favorite junk food here)? I know I don't! But it's way more special when you have it once a year, instead of once a week. I'll be back to losing weight again next week when my schedule settles down. But that's because I don't let losing weight get in the way of enjoying myself and living a little. One milkshake isn't going to magically add 68 lbs. I just have to keep telling myself that...

And if you recognized the title of my blog as a quote from "Boy Meets World", you get a gold star in my book :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stress Eating

I caved. One cheeseburger, an order of fries and a Neapolitan milkshake from In N Out burger, I still don't feel any better. In fact, I feel worse. If the stress from my business trip isn't sufficient, I now have a stomach ache to go with it from all that crap. Delicious crap, but 1268 calories of it. With 65g of FAT.

I'm pretty disgusted right now. And I'm writing this down to remind myself that next time I'm feeling stressed, food isn't the way to cope with it.

I can't eat my feelings. I'm not really that much of a stress eater when I'm at home. I have my snacks, my usual healthy places I can grab food, and the comforts of my own home. But when I'm out on vacation or in this case on a business trip, it's all gone. I have a hotel room with a few snacks that i bought (my usual healthy ones), and an endless supply of per diem cash from my company and a selection of take out and restaurants. Oh, and unhealthy coworkers.

Yesterday, it was our catered lunch that had the brownies. Last night was the dinner at Yard House when I behaved at the restaurant and ended up getting ice cream afterwards. And today was In N Out with my coworker. No more, I need to hold my ground when I get into these situations. If I'm stressed, take it out at the gym after work, not at lunch during work.

So, this is a lesson to myself. I highly doubt the scale will still say 147 when I get back on Saturday, and I have to drive straight to Jersey for 3 days in which I'll have more food temptations to deal with. But I've learned my lesson. It's back to my strict food plan when I'm back in Virginia and back to my usual routine. I just hope it doesn't take long to get back down to 147 so I can keep losing again. I was really hoping to see 145 soon... maybe I can do it by the end of July if I stick with it and don't get off track again. Stress sucks, feeling sick from eating the stress sucks even more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Magic Number

Now that I've decided to go for 140 again, I'm really starting to think about why that number has such significance. It doesn't mean that magically I'll look exactly the way I want to. And it doesn't mean my size 4 NY&Co jeans will magically fit without a muffin top. Or my bikini will look like a Victoria Secret model. But it means that I'm in the selective group of Americans that are a healthy weight. At only 30% of the population, I'm calling it a pretty exclusive group. And its one that I don't think I've really been in my entire life. I went from chubby child to overweight teenager to really overweight adult... and now to a slightly overweight adult at 147 lbs and a BMI of 26.

But there's another magic number that I would love to attain, and it's partly tied to my weight. That's my Body Fat %. My gym just got a computer system that has calipers and computes body fat with a few skin fold measurements. MUCH more accurate than a handheld bioimpedence device. And it told me I had 29.8% body fat in mid-June. That's a healthy fat percentage, so it shows that BMI isn't all it's cracked up to be. But I've got a magic number in mind for that as well.


At this number, I'm not merely a healthy body far %, I'm FITNESS! Me, FITNESS! Its the point where people might actually be able to see my muscle and even those elusive abs. And while 140 is important, I think that 24.9% is even more so. Maybe I'll get there before I hit 140. Maybe it will take a few more pounds. But I want to keep that number in mind more than the 140 number. And now that I have an accurate way to measure that isn't at all based on an inaccurate handheld toy, it's a goal I really want to aim for.

So far on this business trip, if I had to grade myself I'd give myself a B. I've been making better food choices, trying to log everything that I can (usually guessing for my meals) and I'm not drinking like a fish. I worked out for an hour yesterday. But when it comes to what I'm ordering, I think I need to scale back on the quantity. Last night at dinner was a soup, a salad, bread (oy...) and one beer. I should have told the waitress to take the bread back. But, I think I'm definitely making progress and I don't feel gross like last time. I'm coping with not having my scale, but that really is my way to see how I'm doing. We'll see when I'm back on Saturday, but I'm going to try to make even better choices for the rest of the week. I don't think I need a 3 course meal... haha

I'm also not setting a date for either of these magic numbers. It will happen as I go. I'm currently thinking about a beach vacation in January, so ideally I'd like to have reached my goals by then. It's over 6 months away and I definitely can get there by then. I've finally sorted out why I stalled, what I need to do to fix that, and I've cleaned up my eating habits. Now it's just a matter of getting back to a normal schedule after these two weeks of upheaval. I think I can do it, I just can't stress myself out over getting stuck or having a few off days that are out of my control. Slow and steady...

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Escape the 150s! (Or any plateau really)

I've had quite a few people ask me what I did differently to get out of the 150s, after spending a solid 9 months in that decade. A LONG 9 months! And as you know, 6 months right around the 150 mark, dipping below to 149 for a day or two as a tease and then jumping back up again. I can't guarantee what I'm doing is the best or easiest or most efficient way to go about it, but all I know is that I've lost 3 lbs in 2 weeks and the scale hasn't jumped more than half a pound in one day. No more swings of 2-3 lbs in the span of a few days. So... onto what I did and what you can do!

1. New workout routine: I was running 4-5 times a week and I had one 30 minute training session where I did strength/circuit training each Tuesday. After my last 5K of the season, I switched to a circuit training-based routine. I still run, but maybe 2 times a week. The other days I do my Chalean Extreme circuit training workouts and I have my personal training session still, where I told my trainer I want to focus on strength. Given my weight and height, more strength and circuit training at this stage is definitely key. I can burn more fat by building up some muscle and I still get some cardio in for fat burning too. That together has helped increase my metabolism, I believe.

2. Stopped eating fast food: Convenience is dangerous. I didn't want to take the time to pack a lunch and buy the stuff for it. So I'd go to the cafeteria at work, Chick Fil A, Subway, etc. And in theory I was making the healthiest choices possible at these places. But it's just completely different than a fresh homemade lunch. And SOOO much less sodium!!! I went from 2500-3000mg of sodium a day to just 1500 on average. Low sodium lunch meat, less frozen foods, etc. Now I have a sandwich, fruit, and yogurt for lunch and it's delicious. I don't miss fast food one bit. And once a week, I let myself have a treat and I'll get Wegmans with my boyfriend.

3. Started getting more protein, especially at dinner. This is a more controversial choice, but I have been drinking protein smoothies for dinner every night for the most part. I make my own with fresh ingredients tho, none of the premade sugar laden protein shakes. It's 1 scoop of protein powder, soy milk, Trop50 juice, 0% fat greek yogurt, and frozen fruit. Delicious and filling. I've also started eating better snacks. My food diary is public if anyone is curious about my specific eating habits.

4. Make smarter choices when dining out. I stopped drinking 3-4 beers at once. I stopped ordering terribly unhealthy food when I go to a restaurant because it's there. I have one beer, 2 at most, and I pick a healthy dish. Fresh grilled fish, grilled chicken, a salad (after making sure it's not a surprise 1000 calories salad). It is worth the 10 minutes to scour the menu and check MFP for available nutrition info to pick a better meal, than just ordering something unhealthy. That's the biggest contributor in not swinging 2-3 pounds after a bad day.

My chart from the last 3 weeks is that big drop at the end. It's been a quick drop into the 140s and then a slower gradual decline. All that I've changed isn't making me lose several pounds a week, but at my weight, I'm happy with a pound a week on average. As long as that line keeps trending down, I know it's working.

I have my business trip and vacation for the next week and a half, and that will be the biggest test of keeping up these changes in a difficult environment. Having to eat out, having to squeeze workouts around 12 hour work days potentially. It will definitely be a challenge, but I really want to stick with it. I don't want to erase the progress that is 6 months in the making! So, help me stay accountable, yell at me on my wall to make good choices, and hopefully when I come home to my scale on July 5th, I won't cry when I see the number. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Busting my 6 month plateau was both a blessing and a curse. I've always had 140 as the number in my mind, not 150, and I've never been the personality type to settle. So all along I felt that 150 was settling. But then over the last 6 months, I gradually became OK with that number, enough to change my MFP ticker to 150 and declare that I've reach the goal my body wanted.

Then something strange happened. The scale decided to start moving! And not inching downward and then jumping back up again. Nope, a steady march downward just about every morning and when it hit a new low number, it stayed there. No seeing 149 and then it was gone as quickly as it came. I've been a proud member of the 140s Club for exactly 2 weeks from today, when I weighed in at 147.2. I've seen as low as 146.8.

So, of course my brain starts getting into the "what if" mode. What if I can really get to 140? It's looking possible for once! 3 lbs in 2 weeks is significant, especially since I haven't actually lost weight and kept it off since December. I can honestly tell my body is getting smaller again, and I'm liking what I see. A flat stomach? Toned arms? Thinner legs? All signs that I was overweight are vanishing and I'm embracing being a healthy weight.

But, that nagging in my brain keeps telling me that I can get to 140! I'd have a healthy BMI for the first time in my life. I'm really be comfortable in my own skin without the extra pudge on my stomach. I won't care when I wear a bikini if people still think I'm an overweight girl trying to wear something she shouldn't be. And I won't be giving up on the goal I set for myself. I think it's a reasonable one, I'm 5'2" so 140 is the very top of the healthy weight range. My doctor told me given my body type 130-135 would be healthy for me.

The important thing to focus on is not obsessing over getting there. I'm going to let it happen and if I don't have a big loss one week, the main focus is to at least maintain the new lower numbers. That's really what will help it to stick, not some crash diet to drop 5 lbs and they're back as quickly as they came. I'm not doing this with anything besides good old exercise and a good healthy diet. I've cut out some of the things that were unhealthy, like fast food lunches and unhealthy dinners. It still fits into my lifestyle change, I love my delicious sandwiches for lunch with some fruit and yogurt.

Right now, I'm taking it one pound at a time. Focusing on how I look and feel rather than what the scale happens to say. But I've got to admit, I really like what I'm seeing and it can only get better :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lift Like A Man!

I'm 5'2", 147 lbs, and I can dead lift a 90 lb dumbbell. 12 times. Haha! That's a solid 61% of my body weight!

I've been working with a personal trainer once a week for 6 months now. It's been a tough journey, he kicks my butt every week and usually I feel like I'm gonna die at the end of it. But this week I really saw how far I've come since I started.

My trainer is having all his clients do a circuit (one for men, one for women) and timing them to see who is the best out of all of us. It was 25 dead lifts with a 60 lb kettlebell, 25 reverse crunches, 25 squats, and then 12 pull ups with a bar about 2 feet off the ground. And I KILLED IT! My time was 1:57.9, the best by a mile from the other girls! So I have officially earned my "girl wings" and now I'm moving onto the men's circuits that he does. Once I get the moves in them down (dead lifts with the dumbbell and hand clings I think they're called), he's going to time me on the men's and rank me on the leaderboard with the guys! Until then, I sit atop the women's leaderboard, proving that girls kick ass :)

But of course a common response to this triumph (which came from my concerned boyfriend, typical), was "don't get all weird and muscle-y". Ugh... pet peeve right there!

I'm not taking steroids. Girls CANNOT get "weird and muscle-y" just from lifting heavy weights once a week for 30 minutes. I still have 29.8% body fat (and shrinking...), whatever muscle I do have is still hiding for the most part altho it's coming out in an attractive way! I'd have to be doing a hell of a lot more to get muscle-y any time soon.

So, my point is that girls can lift like guys! We're strong too! Even if I'm only 5'2" and don't look like I could lift a 60 lb kettlebell, I like to surprise people ;) And the benefits of it are increasing your muscle tone while losing fat from burning more calories at rest. Muscle burns fat! Basically lifting and strength training increases metabolism. So by swapping out a cardio workout or two a week to strength train, I'm still able to lose weight with the right diet (SO important, I can't say that enough!).

And don't worry, dear boyfriend, you won't notice any crazy muscles, just thin toned arms and legs and a sexy flat stomach in a bikini. And really, what guy is looking at my ARMS when I'm rocking a Victoria Secret bikini? :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Business Trip Challenges

One of the awesome parts about my job is every few months I get to travel to California... Where they pay for my food, my drinks, keep me occupied 12 hours a day on testing and support, and then exhaust me so that I go to bed at 8pm and wake up at 6am to do it again.

Sounds fun right? haha. I do enjoy getting out of the office for a week, but it throws my schedule for such a loop that it's kind of terrifying me. And here's why:

The last trip I went on was in January. We had issues with the testing and I was stressing out. Plus it was the first time I was on a trip on the company's dime. So, restaurants with awesome food, big lunches, snacks, beer, good lordy if it was there I ate it! And the last night I was so stressed I ended up on a bit of a bender off of beer, food, and red velvet cake (I may have been eating red velvet cake while sitting at a bar table drinking beer. YES it was THAT BAD!!)

So needless to say, I'm concerned about my will power and stress levels this time. I'm FINALLY losing weight at a consistent pace, the scale goes down nearly every day and when it does jump up, it's less than half a pound. So a week away from my routine, my gym, my smoothie maker, and my premade lunches is stressing me out. I'm gonna need a game plan, but it'll be a little hard since they haven't even told me when I'm flying out!

1.) Don't eat crap! I'll be smart about the hotel buffet, get some eggs and yogurt or something healthy. Lunch will be tricky since I'll be at the vendor and have to find food around there, but I'm not going nuts this time. Dinner I can take my time choosing where to eat, and there is a Jamba Juice down the street from the hotel. I can definitely go there for something healthy like my protein smoothies.

2.) No skimping on the workouts! Last time I went in saying I'd work out every day. But then I gorged myself at dinner and drank beer and came back to the hotel and went straight to bed. This time, I will workout for half an hour each night. Not a huge time commitment, and I'm bringing Chalean Extreme and the thigh toner with it to workout in the room.

3.) If I indulge, I have to keep it in moderation. I can still grab lunch or dinner out somewhere, but I don't need a giant plate of mac n cheese and 3 beers to chase it down.

4.) Don't let stress get to me. Chances are, I'll be stressed, and I don't want to undo everything from the last 3 weeks in the span of a few days. I'm planning to hit up a supermarket when I get there for snacks to keep with me at the vendor and for at night, that way I can have smaller, healthier meals with healthy snacks. My hotel room has a mini kitchenette and a fridge I believe.

So, there's my gameplan. It's gonna be a challenge, especially since I'm going straight up to Jersey once I'm back in Virginia for 4th of July weekend (don't get me started on how to handle that!). But, if I go in with a plan, at least I have something to stick to. The fact that I'm finally out of my plateau should be motivation enough! And all those hot bodies in Southern California can remind me to keep up. Now if only they would tell me what day I'm flying out to California... haha

Monday, June 20, 2011

Droopy Drawers

Yesterday I realized that I needed to invest in some new underwear. Particularly the moment that I was purposefully walking in the mall to get to Victoria Secret and my underwear nearly fell down.

Yep, I nearly dropped my drawers in the middle of a mall! I was wearing a dress... it was a close call. HAHA! So it became even more obvious that I've shrunk in the last 2 months since the scale seems to be moving again (3 lbs down and counting from my plateau weight of 150). Luckily Victoria Secret is having their semi annual sale, so I spent a good hour in there picking out some undies that fit, all size small and medium! And then I ducked into Express and they had a bin of undies on sale. So, I think I'll be safe from dropping my drawers in public. Unless I'm trying to get arrested for public indecency, so you never know :P

I kind of thought I was safe with the size I'm at, but it's looking like I can get even smaller. I didn't know my body could do that! But I can see my stomach shrinking and my bikini improving and it's totally possible. Clothes I bought 3 months ago are a bit loose. The size 10 denim skirt I had just got replaced with a size 6. And my little sister is asking to borrow my dresses... haha (the last picture in the banner at the top of the blog). It's a good feeling after nearly having resigned myself to being 150 for good. It was just a matter of eating better! Oh yes, and chilling out. I've adopted the mentality that every extra pound is a bonus at this point. My body fat is 29.8% and falling (measured with a computer and calipers, way more accurate than a handheld thingy). I'm by all accounts healthy, and happy. I just need to invest in some smaller clothes again...

And people wonder why I'm addicted to shopping... hahaha. Yes, it's something I admit I do a bit too much, but it's become a bit of a necessity so that I have clothes to wear that fit! Especially undies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

80% Diet, 20% CHILLING OUT

We've all heard how losing weight isn't all just about working out. The food you put in your body has an equally important impact. But then again, there are other mysterious factors out there that can keep the pounds from budging. One of the biggest one is stress, at least for me. It's a self-perpetuating cycle: I stress over not losing that week, the scale doesn't move, I stress because it didn't move... it doesn't move the next week... yada yada yada.

So, I tried something. I set my ticker to 150, the weight I've been at for 6 months. And I stopped freaking out. I'm happy with how I look 95% of the way, I'm fitting into the clothes I want (I'm a size 6, my size 8 AE denim shorts I bought a month ago are roomy now). And I'm happy in a bikini. So, I took the pressure of myself. No deadlines, no crazy goals, just going with what my body wants.

And so, exactly two weeks after I did that, the scale says 147.4. HUH???

Yeah, I'm as baffled as you. I got rid of the stress and reevaluated my habits and voila, bye bye 150s. So, what exactly did I do?

1. Cut back on the cardio! I rediscovered my Chalean Extreme DVDs. I've been chaining myself to the treadmill or the summit climber at the gym with no major effects. Great calorie burns, firmer tush, but no weight loss. Swap out my running days for circuit training or strength training and things have gotten a lot better.

2. Stop eating whatever I please when I go out. It's fine to have a nice treat meal on occasion, but that's not lunch every day. I have no need to go out to Chick Fil A or Potbelly or something 4-5 days a week. Oh the sodium... badddd. So I started bringing delicious lunches, and I can still eat with the guys I work with in the cafeteria. I've been getting more protein and WAY less sodium and less carbs. For dinner's I've been having a protein smoothie, plus a nice evening snack.

3. Took a chill pill. I don't mind taking a day off from working out. Or taking it easy that day. As long as I'm moving. I did a 30 minute Chalean DVD yesterday before going to kickball. I took Wednesday off because my calves were (still are) killing me from my nice 4" wedge heels. Now I just need to keep the stress level down. The scale cooperating does help.

So, if you're stuck, take a look at what you're doing. I said up and down that I didn't want to change my habits because I was comfortable. But you're body isn't gonna change when you're comfortable. So I looked at a few relatively painless ways to adjust things. Less running doesn't suck (and it's the hot summer anyway), so I"ll pick it up again full force in the fall when I've lost the rest of the weight. It'll be a good way to maintain it and look good. I don't mind brining my lunch, and my wallet LOVES me, haha. And the less stress is always welcomed :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greetings Earthlings!

Somehow in the last year and a half, a lot of things have changed. My body has shrunk, my confidence has grown, my wardrobe shrunk and then grew exponentially with smaller clothes, my status as single vanished, and my love for writing down what I'm thinking reached a new level. So, Earthlings, you have the inaugural launch of The Shrinking Rocket Scientist blog!

This all started on MFP (, a website near and dear to my heart. Without it, I wouldn't be a shrinking rocket scientist. I'd be an unhappy oversized rocket scientist. But after using it daily for a year and 4 months (give or take), I don't know how I'd survive without it (and the amazing people on it!)

And to sum things up: I've lost 67 lbs as of this morning (finally plateau gone!). I've gone from a size 16 to a size 6 (with one magical pair of size 4 Tommy jeans). And I've gone from couch potato to 5K runner and lifter of 60 lb kettlebells (don't ever get in a bar fight with me :P)

I'm working on importing all my MFP blogs onto this one, but I'll continue to post my blogs here and on the MFP blog as well. I tend to talk about my weight loss progress, tips for others, and my occasional screw ups and successes. But I like the ability to talk about anything, so you never know what you might see from me. I promise I won't start ranting about Calculus or orbital mechanics equations, I had enough of that in college... haha.

Feel free to contact me at any time or leave comments with questions. I'm happy to answer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

10 Little Secrets

We all hear tons of advice on how to lose weight, exercise, get healthier, and what not, but what really works??? I'm somewhat inspired today to write about little everyday things that I've done, swapped out or cut out that have added up to a lot of weight loss. And... finally breaking the maintenance plateau! (as I'm calling it, since it was a bit of both). And I really think a few of these tricks helped.

1.) Avoid eating out when it's possible to eat your own food. I've started bringing my lunch to work every day (except Friday, my treat day and I get lunch with the guys). I know exactly what's in my food, and best of all it's low in sodium! I really think that's contributed the scale moving again. I go for a roast beef and cheese sandwich with hummus on a pita, greek yogurt, and some sort of fresh fruit. I have a fridge at work and I can buy groceries. There is NO reason other than my own laziness not to bring lunch.

2.) Protein doesn't have to come from a chicken breast. I'm a HUGE fan of non-meat proteins. So I've been eating lots of greek yogurt, peanut butter, protein bars (Zone taste the best) and protein smoothies (I like Designer Whey and Optimum Nutrition). Some people might not agree that getting protein from bars and shakes and yogurt is preferable, but for someone like me that doesn't like to cook a giant chicken breast every night to get my protein count up, it's a good alternative.

3.) Sneak in exercise. I don't spent 5 minutes trolling for parking spaces. I'll take an extra lap around the mall when I'm done shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. I've been known to do chair dips at my desk at work... haha. It's great to get that 30 minutes of a workout in, but your body benefits from even a little extra movement for the day.

4.) Don't drink your calories. This is a pretty basic one, but I only ever drink my calories when there's alcohol involved... haha. Otherwise it's water for me (aside from my morning coffee). Or diet iced tea is another favorite of mine.

5.) Carbs aren't a horrible thing. Especially when the carbs are simple carbs from things like fruit. I love eating fruit, but I balance it out with the protein that I get. No need to cut them out entirely, fruit is delicious! When was the last time you heard someone say they gained back weight from eating more fruit? haha

6.)  You don't need to do cardio allll the time. I think the best thing I've done in the last few weeks is cut back on my cardio... but replace those workouts with either circuit training or strength training. I'm still getting a calorie burn from it, but it seems to be helping my metabolism more than all cardio was.

7.) Trade out indulgences for healthier ones. I love a treat every now and then, but I tend to go overboard. So instead of ice cream at night, I have a greek yogurt or a protein smoothie. Instead of cookies I have hummus and crackers. Instead of a chocolate bar I have a little pack of Skinny Cow chocolate dream thingies. And then when I do have a treat, it's even more of a special occasion and I enjoy it. And i don't feel the need to overindulge.

8.) Your MFP app is your best friend. I spent a solid 10 minutes (probably more) at the Cheesecake Factory on Saturday looking for something to eat. And ya know what, I didn't gain a single ounce this weekend instead of the usual pound or two.

9.) Take a rest day, or two. I don't work out 7 days a week. I'm not saying my rest days are entirely restful, I'll go to the pool or mall or do something with the boyfriend so I'm moving. But my body feels so much better afterwards and I have more energy to give on my workout days. Right now, I seem to be averaging 4 days a week with a dedicated workout, sometimes 5 depending on my kickball game being canceled or not.

10.) Measure your progress in any way possible. Given the scale was a putz until this week, I had to have SOMETHING to keep me going. So I had my 5K personal best goals, and my goals for fitting into smaller clothes or looking better in existing clothes. I measure myself once a month. And I've been lifting heavier and heavier weights and kettlebells at the gym. So, numbers do matter... but the scale isn't the only one.

Feel free to contribute tips and tricks of your own in the comments below!