done looking for the critics (week 1)

I've been considering this blog a lot recently. I've thought about what I want it to say. Not just in words but in a feeling. I've thought about what I want from it as the creator and writer, as the person living this day to day life. I've also thought about what I want it to be for everyone who stumbles across it and for those who follow it whether through blogger, facebook, or twitter. I've also thought about what I want it to reflect.

There's not one category I can place this blog into. It's about everything. My journey to lose 100 pounds and also my faith. There's been some talk of my writing also. And sometimes I mention my marriage and how we met and fell in love.

I want to continue to share all of these aspects. I want to tell my stories even if no one else reads or identifies with them because they are my stories. And any story that belongs to you deserves to be told. I want to continue with honesty because I think everyone needs to know they are never alone, and I firmly believe the world needs more honesty and vulnerability because that is how we, as people, connect.

And I want this to be a place of inspiration. For myself and for you. SometimesToo often, I struggle with finding the good in any and all situation. Because it is always there. Even if it is buried under a lot of other things, it is there. I know that because I know God is good and that He is always present. But I know it is hard to find in the midst of sickness and in money worries and in everything else that plagues us on this eart.

I think it's especially hard to find the good in the midst of losing weight and gaining health. Because so much of this is dependent on the scale and what the scale says in a number as well as what the scale says about us as people.

I often remind myself and friends that the scale does not dictate who I am or who they are. But I have a hard time remembering that in those moments when I step on and see that the number has not dropped at all. I struggle with that when I try on a size smaller of clothes expecting it to fit only to find that my butt is still too big to squeeze into it. Sometime I struggle with it when I hug my husband and realize again that he is leaner
than I am and wonder if I can ever be as healthy and fit as I want to be.

If I focus only on the scale and on clothes for approval and reminders that I am doing well, I will fail. Because the scale and clothes do not dictate how healthy I am or how I feel. They don't dictate hor healthy you are either. They can be tools if used properly, but they are not the end all and be all of health.

So what is?

For me, it's how hard I am pushing myself. It's seeing how far I have come from just 6 months ago. It's realizing that I can do more than I ever have. It's focusing on those things. It's also letting go of all my old behaviors and tapping into new ones. It's learning (and sticking to) what works for me in the way of a healthy lifestyle.

I want to document those things. Hopefully on a weekly basis. This will be the first week. I don't know what it will look like on a week-to-week basis. It might just be a picture dump. Or maybe a recipe. I might even do a pinterest dump. But whatever it is, it will be honest and it will reflect both what I am learning and struggling with as well as my successes and any failures I might have had.

This week has been up and down. I struggled with cold and allergies. I got not-so-great news from the doctor. As rough as parts of it were, I persevered. I never gave up; I just tried harder.

I focused on what I ate and read the ingredients list. I tracked every single calorie and ounce of water I drank. I started to cut out processed foods and plan what I would eat before arriving at restaurants.
Between Monday and Friday, I burned over 3300 calories in 6 hours and 17 minutes. I spent more time with my heart rate about 136 than I ever have before.
I was told that both my fitness and max performance were improving on more than one occassion which makes me more excited to hit the gym.
I'm proud of myself for where I am. I feel more committed to my health and wellness. I feel like I can push myself more and more each day. I'm no longer even the tiniest bit afraid of failing. Instead, I am excited.

I celebrated six-months of this journey on Wednesday. And it was hard. I was hard on myself. I felt like a failure for having only lost 25 pounds and felt like I should have been at the 50 pound mark by then. I no longer feel this way because I know that I have gained so much in the past 6 months, and what I have gained definitely outweighs the need to lose 50 pounds in six months versus 25 pounds in six months.

The next six month will have their own set of challenges. But I'm not worried because I am going to focus on each day and each week, and eventually it will work out in such a way that I can look back at the next six months and see nothing but success.

Here's to this week and to next week. Here's to not focusing on just the scale but seeing health for what is - an everything in life matters just as equally journey.

I wish every overweight person could step into the body of a fit person for one week, maybe just one day. I think it would be the catalyst for a new resolve. If you could "feel" the end, you would stay the course. Abby Rike, "Working It Out"

(title from "f*ckin' perfect" by pink)


i'm right here

Wednesday was my six-month anniversary.

Six months ago, after months of feeling sick and being in constant pain, I learned my liver enzymes were slightly elevated and that I had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It wasn't the answer I expected, and other than diet, there was no other information given to me about why my enzymes were elevated. The doctor didn't really know why, and there was no real way of finding out other than having a biopsy. Instead, he decided I should come in once every six months.

So I went back to the doctor on Wednesday.

I was ready. I had lost 25 pounds in six months. The number wasn't as high as I wanted. But I was excited to step onto the scale in the doctor's office and then talk with him about how I had lost 25 pounds.

My first experience with this doctor wasn't the best, but Wednesday made up for the first experience. He told me I was doing great - that I was losing the weight the best way possible. He reminded me that it was better to lose the weight slowly - by diet and exercise - because I was much more likely to keep it off.

I left the doctor's office excited about my weight loss and with a bruised right elbow due to having blood drawn for another test on my liver enzymes. Both the doctor and I expected the levels to be lower. In fact, he even said we would test the enzymes just to see how much they had gone down, and he said he would then have his office call me with the results.

Six hours later, I got the call. My liver enzymes were higher now than they had been six months ago. The doctor wasn't concerned. I wasn't being prescribed any medication. But I felt the weight settle onto me.

I had a choice. I could give into the feelings that nothing I was doing enough. I could give into the thought that counting calories, sweating at the gym, and not eating fast food was no longer worth it. I could see this journey in two ways: the lack of weight lost on the scale and the liver enzymes being elevated. Or I could show everyone wrong and remind my body that no matter what it threw at me I was going to beat this thing and be healthy.

I took about 15 minutes to be upset. And angry. Frustrated. Sad. Worried. And confused. Then, I chose to show everyone wrong and remind my body that I was in control.

I had started the day off with a 30-minute work out on the stationary bicycle and burned 233 calories before even stepping foot into the doctor's office. When I stepped back into the gym that afternoon, I was determined to burn at least 600 calories.

Ninety minutes later, I walked out of the gym having burned 857 calories. Not only that, I walked out of the gym with a new outlook. As much as I loved that I burned 1090 calories for the day, I loved the outlook even more.

When I work out, I need to have music that pushes me and inspires me. Some days I listen to nothing but *N Sync and music by *N Sync members. Other days, I listen to a mix of Britney Spears and Pink. Today, I listened to what used to be my circuit training playlist. Fifteen minutes into my 40 minute elliptical work out, an old song came on. A song that not too many people know called Girl From The Gutter by Kina.

As the words came through my earbuds, I increased my speed and focused my attention on the wall in front of me. Memories of people who had hurt me, things people had said, things I had told myself I could never do rushed through my head. I pushed myself faster and moved my hips and my arms even more. When the song ended, I hit the back button and started it over again.

I still have work to do. I think I will always have some work to do. But I know that I have less work to do now than I did last week.

I'm letting go of the things that have held me back. The fears I have. The worries that sometimes consume me. The reasons I've eaten too much at some points in my life and too little at other times. The excuses I have made and the things I have said I could never do.

Because I can do this. I can lose this weight and keep it off. I can make good choices and correct the damage that has been done to my body. And I will do all of it.

Every day is a choice. A choice on what to eat and how much to eat. A choice to go to the gym and how hard to push myself. A choice to drink water and how much of it to drink. A choice to put myself and my journey first.

Wednesday I made the right choices. And I made a choice not to give up. I'll make the same choice today, tomorrow, the next day, and the next day.

Because I am going to do this. No matter what.

(title from "girl from the gutter" by kina)


pause in life's pleasures

Several weeks ago, I started to gain back a few pounds. It was a slow gain. So slow that at first I didn't realize it was truly a gain. I thought it was water weight. And maybe it was - at first.

Eventually, I realized it wasn't just water weight. It was real weight. Weight that I gained due to making bad choices and also not pushing myself with exercise. I wanted to believe that it would just fall off, but it didn't. It hung on, and eventually a few pounds turned into five pounds.

I remained quiet about the weight gain for the most part. I didn't want to talk about it or really admit to it. And I wasn't sure how to go about talking about all of the reasons for the weight gain. Because there is always a reason for weight gain; it doesn't just happen - just like weight loss doesn't just happen.

Eventually, I lost a few pounds, but I stayed at the same weight for several weeks. Nothing seemed to be working. And the more nothing work, the more I focused on the weight I couldn't lose. It seemed like a neverending battle.

But the battle is neverending. At some point, it stops. The outcome is, then, either a win or a loss.

Today it was a win. A win in the way of a loss. A three pound loss to be exact. And with that three pound loss, I am officially at my lowest weight since beginning my journey. Excited is an understatement. Even ecstatic is an understatement.

I worked hard for the loss. I counted calories for seven days straight. I thought about everything I ate and made choices that several weeks ago I would have struggled to make - like not having dessert after dinner and also not filling up my bowl or plate a second time.

I realized, though, that the loss isn't because of only the things I did. The loss is because of the support system I have - both in the "real world" and through the interconnected blog world. While the decisions are mine to make, and in many ways weight loss will always be a solo journey, the loss would not have been possible without support. And while I have some restraint, I don't think I have enough restraint or self-control to actually lose weight without anyone else cheering me on.

I need reminders that only other people can give me. Reminders that I need to look at more than just the number on the scale. Reminders that the hard work is not going unnoticed. Reminders that even on the hardest days this is worth it.

And then there are the other reminders. Reminders that don't come from one specific person but reminders that come from God and show me just how loved I am even when I feel the most unloveable. Reminders that open up a new world of dreams. Reminders that awaken parts of my heart that were hardened. Reminders to take in a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. Reminders that it's okay to not be perfect and to not be able to balance everything in one hand.

Reminders that it's okay to put myself first during this season in my life.

Weight gain, for me at least, usually happens as a response to another event. Whether it be an event I was a part of or something someone did to me or just how I feel. I generally turn to (or used to turn to) food. Ice cream. French fries. Pizza. All those foods that aren't exactly healthy.

But the event can also be something I am not even aware of. That's what happened before I said no more in April and began this journey.

I spent almost two years of my life dedicating every waking, and sleeping moment, to other people. To families who were broken. To children who needed a constant. To parents who didn't know where else to turn. To co-workers who were the only ones who understood. Most of those years were spent in the car - traveling the state of Oklahoma and passing through a McDonald's for a quick lunch and a diet coke. And then by the time I got home, I was too tired to cook, and so we either ate out or I threw something frozen into a skillet or a pan or the microwave. And the pounds piled on.

I don't blame the weight gain on the job. People joke that in a job like that you either take up smoking or drinking. I took up neither, but I fell back on the familiar. I could have stopped it. I could have committed to spending time in the gym and packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. But I didn't. I just let it happen.

I let it happen because I focused every ounce of my energy on other people. And I helped a lot of people. I think. But I didn't help myself, and that was one of the biggest hinderances.

Now I am focusing on myself. I am doing everything I can to help myself. And it is such a hard thing for me to do because I feel guilty for placing myself above everyone else. I feel like I should be doing more for other people and less for myself. Like I am wasting my time by not being there and volunteering and filling my plate with so many other things.

But I deserve it. I deserve this chance to be healthy and to fully move on from those things that I used to turn to. I deserve to turn the 26 pounds lost so far into 100 pounds lost total.

We all deserve the chance to take care of ourselves.

So what do I do during this time? When I feel guilty for placing myself first, when I feel like I am  not doing enough for other people, how do I continue to push myself? I turn to others. I remind myself that I have cheerleaders, and I do what is so hard - I let them in on my feelings.

But what I am finding, more and more, is that people are receptive. People care. People reach back to you when you reach out to them.

And then there's God. God who speaks through a pastor on Sunday morning and stirs up a dream that is too big for me to accomplish on my own. God who shows me that this time in my life right now will help me to get to that dream. God who reminds me that my efforts are not wasted, and God who shows me that by putting myself first I can eventually help others.

God who celebrated my three pound loss and provided me with others to celebrate with.

(title from "hard times" by eastmountainsouth)


a story to tell

From the start, I knew this would be a journey. I knew there would be ups and downs. I figured there would be moments of weight loss and moments of no weight loss. And I knew that I would have to change my path.

Just like any journey, I had to be ready when I started. Most people don't wake up one morning, decide to travel to Europe and then jump on a plane that day. When there is a trip to Europe, there is planning. Lots of planning. I know; I've done the planning.

And just like any journey, I have had to be flexible. Not everything goes according to plan when traveling. There are missed connections and bus routes that are almost impossible to understand. If you travel with a group, there might be negative relationships. It's up to you to decide whether or not to be flexible. And not being flexible can ruin the entire journey.

With a journey, you have to be ready to push yourself into trying new things - into doing things you never thought you would. When traveling, this can mean trying new foods like the time I tried donkey meat in China. With weight loss, it can mean trying a new class or it could be actually running.

I pushed myself tonight. It wasn't much by a lot of standards, but for me, it was a lot. I didn't give up even though I wanted to. I pushed through the 20-minute mark on the elliptical - the one where I usually decide I am tired and move onto the next thing. I ran right past the 1-mile mark on the elliptical - the one where I decide I've done enough.

I spent over 40 minutes on the elliptical. I ran over three miles. And then I lifted weights.
I could have gone longer on the elliptical. I could have lifted more weights. It was the biggest breakthrough I've had. It showed me just how strong I really am. It reminded me that I have so much farther to go, and it made me so excited for the rest of the journey.

I loved Europe. It was one of the best experiences of my life. As was my time in China. And this weight loss journey I am on? It's just as good.

(title from "gotta figure it out" by erin mccarley)


the great unknown

Last night, I got home from work at 5:45pm. I started boiling a pot of water and heated up the spaghetti sauce and meatless meatballs. Fifteen minutes later, we sat down at the kitchen table for a dinner of whole wheat cappelini, garden vegetable spaghetti sauce, and meatless meatballs. My husband also made some garlic cheese bread for himself.

With dinner consumed, I settled onto the couch for the rest of the night and alternated between reading Master Your Metabolism and pretending not to watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead. I was exhausted. And I hurt.

I skipped Sunday's work out and thought I would be back to normal by Monday morning, but when my alarm went off Monday, I found it extremely difficult to get out of bed and make it to the gym. My calves were screaming, and my vision was blurrier than normal. But I went, and I finished a 30-minute circuit work-out. I was frustrated with my heart rate remaining below 136 for most of the work out, but I knew just finishing the work out meant something given that it was so hard to get there.

Monday afternoon, I spent my lunch hour swimming laps at the pool and completed 48 laps. Last week, I divided the laps and spent only 20 laps swimming while 22 laps were spent either just kicking or just pulling. This week, 40 of the 48 laps were either freestyle, breast stroke, or back stroke and the other 8 laps were just kicking.

Somewhere between climbing out of the pool and driving home at 5:00pm, my back started to hurt and to spasm. I considered taking the easy way out and stopping somewhere for dinner. Anything sounded good. Subway. Wendy's. McDonald's. Whataburger. I strongly considered taking the easy way out and doing anything but cooking.

Food impacts everything. How I feel. What I weigh. How I work out. My bank account. And the impact food has on everything is the reason I chose to head home, throw together a healthy dinner of spaghetti and then rest on the couch.

I also considered having a glass of wine (or two) with dinner or even after dinner, but I made a commitment to myself that I was going to drink only water this week. And I am sticking with it no matter what.

These little decisions are what will determine how quickly I arrive at my main goal. So much of the time I focus on the big picture and the end result. What my new wardrobe will be like. Running a marathon (I hope). And while it is good to have goals and to focus on those goals, I need to concentrate more on the little steps I need to take in order to get there.

I had a decision to make this morning. Once again, it was a decision that centered around food. When my alarm went off at 5:00am, I could have jumped out of bed and raced to the gym. There would have been cardio and weights followed by stretching, and then I would have raced back home to jump in the shower. I would have tossed eggs onto a pan and fried them on the stov, and I would have packed my lunch for the day. There would have been no thought to dinner, and we likely would have picked someone quick and relatively cheap to eat at for dinner.

But I know food is important. Possibly more important than exercise. I don't want that to be the truth, but it is. So I made the choice to stay in bed a little longer and then get up and spend the morning preparing three-bean turkey chilli. This will make tonight the third night in a row that I will have cooked dinner.

I wish I could eat whatever I wanted, work out 15-20 hours a week, and continue to lose weight. But I've tried that, and it doesn't work. It doesn't even work if I work out more than 20 hours a week and kind of pay attention to what I fuel my body with. So I am making food a priority. And enjoying searching pinterest for new recipes.
Baked Chicken, sauteed cauliflower, and butternut squash. Spaghetti. Turkey and 3-Bean Chilli.

And by cooking dinner most nights, I ensure that I have lunch the next day. I'm depending less and less on pre-packaged frozen dinners. I'm learning how to listen to my body and how to portion food correctly. I still have a ways to go, but I'm getting there. And I know reading books about diet and exercise will help to enrich my knowledge and empower me to continue to make better choices.

So far, my favorite part of Master Your Metabolism is how open Jillian is about her own struggles. With binge eating. With diet coke. With everything. It's reminded me that it is all about the choices we make, and it's reminded me that no one is perfect when it comes to health - not even one of the most famous trainers.

I'm open with my own struggles because I don't know how else to be. Losing weight is not an easy task. Nothing worthwhile is an easy task. So often, though, other people make it look easy, and suddenly you are looking at everyone around you and wondering why life has to be so difficult for you when it doesn't seem to be difficult for anyone else. So having someone be open about their own struggles speaks to me more than anything. It makes me want to be healthy; it helps me to make the choices that are right for mybody.

And the fact that I've lost two pounds already this week helps too.

(title from "keep your eyes open" by needtobreathe)


the time is right

I wanted to quit Thursday. I blamed it on the fact that there was a different instructor for zumba and on the fact that I couldn't quite get into the zone on the rowing machine or on the bicycle. But placing blame on anything other than myself is futile. It's up to me to make a workout into what I need and want it to be.

Still, I was beyond discouraged. I had done so well sticking to my exercise goals. I didn't want to let go of those goals. But what I quickly learned was that it was my body telling me it needed something other than what I fed it.

The morning started with McDonald's Egg McMuffin and a non-fat caramel mocha. It was the second morning in a row for to me to eat and drink those calories for breakfast. I blamed it on the fact that we were out of eggs at our house and said I was out of time. But it was my choice to wait in the drive-thru and pay for breakfast rather than eating greek yogurt for breakfast and not for a mid-day snack.

I felt like my eating had been under control. I felt like I was making better choices. And I was. Only my better choices were better than what I had made months ago when I might have splurged on two Egg McMuffins.

There's a quote by Jillian Michaels that says "The past doesn't define you, your present does. It's okay to create a vision of the future because it affects your behavior in the "now," but don't dwell on past mistakes. Learn from them and focus those lessons in the moment. That’s where change can really happen."

While I've learned to let go of the past, I am still holding onto the thought process of what I am doing now is much better than what I've done in the past so the weight should just be falling off. After all, I completed a total of nine work outs between Monday morning and Friday afternoon; that should be enough.

But it's not enough. Because how I fuel my body impacts how I work out and how I feel at the end of the day.

So while I wanted to quit, I chose to keep going. I made better choices for lunch the rest of the week. I rushed home and made a healthy dinner for my husband on Thursday, and then I headed to the gym for circuit training with a personal trainer.
a combined 815 calories burned.

I, honestly, do not think I have worked out as hard as I did that afternoon. With someone watching me, telling me how to complete the reps and making sure I kept my heart rate up the whole time, I finished the 30-minutes of circuit training with sweat dripping down my forehead and soaking my back. My legs felt like Jell-O, and I felt accomplished.

I planned to head home but instead went to another class which focused on abs and the back. By the end of the hour long work out, I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. The evening work out surpassed my expectations and made up for the lunch work out that was not.

I no longer wanted to quit. Instead, I wanted to keep going (and going).

Friday morning I had every intention of jumping out of bed at 5:15 and heading to the gym. I wanted to spend time running and walking on the treadmill. I wanted the sweat and achy legs every good morning should start with. But my legs still felt like Jell-O when I woke up. My shoulders and triceps ached. My nose was stuffy. And my body told me it needed more rest.

Maybe it was the fact that I stayed up too late watching Tuesday's episode of The Biggest Loser on my DVR. Or maybe it was that I ate too much ice cream (sugar free!) last night while watching The Biggest Loser. It could have been that after eight work outs in four days my body was just plain exhausted. So I listened. And I cuddled up with the dogs and fell back asleep for another 90 minutes.

When I woke up, I felt refreshed. My legs were a bit more firm, and I was ready to tackle the day. I promised myself that I would make good choices. I promised myself that I would succeed, and I did. I focused on what I ate and how much I ate. I pushed myself at the gym during spin class. I drank nothing but water - including when we went out for dinner.

Most of the weekend was a success as well. I completed over 50 minutes of cardio on Saturday morning. I recognized the bad choices I made (finishing off the sugar free mint chocolate chip ice cream) and promised myself that I would keep from making those same bad choices again. And I decided on a plan to prevent future excursions into the ice cream container - not buying ice cream unless it is already in an individual serving. I ate sushi and drank lots of water before going to the Taylor Swift concert. I allowed myself to take a day off from exercise, allowing my body to heal some, and rewarded my hard work with new workout clothes and two books.

And then I took a picture of myself in my new workout clothes and started to see what others have been telling me that they saw - change.

Comparing my current state of mind now to the state of mind I had on Thursday isn't something I can really do. Because I don't want to return to where I was on Thursday; I want to recognize my current successes and remind myself that I am capable of doing this. And I want to move forward.

So I will.

I will allow myself days off when I need them. I will reward myself with healthy rewards (IE: anything but food). I will take time to see my successes, point them out to other people (which I did with my husband), and remember that there are more successes to come. And when I stumble? Because I will stumble. I will pick myself back up and never give up; I will take the responsibility I need to and then move forward.

(title from "you are here" by needtobreathe)


keeping my hopes unbroken

After cupcakes and conversation with friends Tuesday night, I came home and stretched out on the couch. I placed an ice pack on each knee, alternating between icing the top of my knee and behind my knee, and didn't move for over an hour. It was after 10pm when I finally got off the couch, dressed and slipped into bed.

I do my best to sleep in the clothes I plan to wear while working out. It helps motivate me to get out of bed when the dreaded alarm blasts, and it generally cuts down on the amount of time I spend getting ready. So I did just that last night. Grey shorts and a bright orange tee-shirt from my time in China.

The alarm went off this morning, and I hit the snooze button three times. I knew I wanted to complete a 30-minute circuit training workout. I planned to shower and change at the gym (and hopefully grab breakfast there because I think they serve bagels and coffee in the morning for members!). Once I finally pulled myself out of bed, there were two dogs to let out, a bedroom floor to sweep, and lunch to make.

I moved a little slower than I should have, but I got it all done. And I got my gym bag packed. Then I remembered that my heart rate monitor strap was hanging in the bathroom drying. So I grabbed it along with all the goodies I would need for a shower at the gym. I was late but still determined to make it to the gym.

And it was at that time that I realized I had left the actual heart rate monitor at my office following yesterday's second work out (I accidentally threw my monitor into the laundry basket along with my dirty clothes. It was later recovered my my fearless roommate while I was at work.)

Frustrated. Late. Discouraged. Tired. Angry. Those emotions quickly raced through my mind as I tossed things out of my gym bag and purse in hopes of being surprised by the monitor. There was no surprise, and it was too late to make the 15 minute drive tot he gym, squeeze in a 30 minute work out, shower, and drive the 40 minutes to my office.

So today is a day of changing plans. Of taking a deep breath and moving workouts around. Of not letting a little hiccup throw me off for the whole day.

There was a time (ahem - only a week or two ago) that something like this would have kept me from even making it to the gym. Because I would have been lazy. I would have been too set on having my lunch break be an actual lunch break at least once during the week. I would have grabbed onto any reason not to make it to the gym.

But now, though annoyed, I can look past the early morning and lack of work out and instead focus on what I will do for the rest of the day. And I can also be thankful for my two gym memberships that allow me to work out near home in the morning, evenings, and weekends or during the work day.

Having missed the morning workout makes me wonder about taking some mornings off. Like this morning. I could have gone back to sleep. I wanted to go back to sleep. And judging by the yawns and cuddles on the couch, I think my dogs also wanted me to go back to sleep. But I stayed awake instead. As tired as I was, I knew I needed to remain in the habit of being up and alert. So even if I do decide to take a morning off from exercise (which I think my knees and abs were secretly grateful for), it seems important for me to get out of bed and at least do something like sit on the couch. Because then my body is awake even if it is not moving.

Having missed the morning workout also reminds me that I need to sometimes change my plans on what kind of work outs I will do. Today I was scheduled for a 30-minute circuit workout and then an hour of water aerobics. But instead, there will be 45 minutes of swimming, sans heart rate monitor, and then cardio with lower body weights alongside a friend. I'm excited for working out with a friend - even though I am a bit scared of pushing myself harder to keep up (which will be a good thing in the end).

Not having the heart rate monitor for the swimming portion of my work out saddens me. I'm excited to track every single calorie burned and to see myself inching closer and closer to burning the number of calories I am supposed to this week (3750) and also spending the allotted time in each zone. I'm really not sure how I went about exercising without this thing. But at least I know I will not allow the lack of the heart rate monitor to be an excuse to not work out.

I also had the opportunity to step on the scale. After slowly gaining a few pounds over the past several weeks, I am now back down to the 25 pounds lost mark. And I'm feeling better. I'm also eating better. I needed a break from counting every calorie and watching everything I ate. And while on that break, I made good choices but still ate more of some things than I should have (like french fries and blizzards/milkshakes from DQ [which we don't have in OK so they were eaten while on vacation in TX and were both smalls!]). Now I want healthier things versus unhealthy things. Now I choose no sugar added ice cream and sugar free bread because I want it not because I have to have it. I'm also starting to make a mean turkey sandwich (today's sandwich can be seen to the left) rather than depending on Subway to make the sandwich for me.

It's the little things in life, and it's what you do with the frustrations of life.
Part of abandoning the all-or-nothing mentality is allowing yourself room for setbacks. We are bound to have lapses on the road to health and wellness, but it is critical that we learn how to handle small failures positively so that we can minimize their long-term destructive effects. One setback is one setback—it is not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your journey toward a better you. Jillian Michaels

(title from "your love is a song" by switchfoot)


the walls we crashed through

My alarm went off at 5:10 Monday morning. I pressed the snooze button and then rolled out of bed at 5:17am. It was difficult to keep my eyes open, but I stumbled through the house and pulled on shorts, a tee-shirt, and a sweatshirt since it was cold outside.

I arrived at the gym a little after 5:30. My bleary eyes were clear, and I felt ready to tackle a 30-minute circuit workout. One sweaty bra, several ounces of water, and five minutes of stretching later I was done. My forehead was dripping sweat. My heart rate got up to 153 and averaged at 132. I knew I could have pushed myself harder and promised myself that I would - next time.

That afternoon, instead of sitting at a table and eating my sandwich (and then twiddling my thumbs for an hour), I took to the pool for my lunch break.

Swimming is something I love. Being in chlorinated water is like being home for me. I spent several years improving my stroke and racing alongside other swimmers for the Katy Aquatics. There were many times I fought against practice, and eventually, I quit.

My parents were never ones to push. They wanted me to maintain my commitments, but it was always up to me to decide what I would do and to see it through. They supported me in all my endeavors (acting, voice lessons, horseback riding, swimming, etc.), but it was up to me to do the hard work.

There's a part of me that, just like then, wants to quit now. Because it's hard. But unlike then, I refuse to quit. I am going to see this weight loss thing through because I can.

When I stopped swimming, I didn't realize how it would affect everything. I went from being relatively athletic to being overweight. I was never as thin as my friends, and I remember looking at the picture of my in the swimsuit and seeing a chubby girl. What I see now is a girl who had muscles and a different build than many of my friends. At the time, I wanted to win races and compete for a long time, but I stopped, partilally because it seemed like everyone else was so much better and faster than I was.

It doesn't matter how fast I am. I don't have to compete against anyone else. This journey.. this LIFE.. isn't about comparing myself to someone else. It isn't about losing more weight than another woman in my shoes or being better than someone else. It's about losing the weight I have to lose and being better than I have been in the past.

I've heard from many people in my life that I seem so dedicated. That I am doing well. That they are proud of me. That I'm inspiring them to go after the same things I am. And while I appreciate the words, I so often feel like I am none of those things. I so often feel like the girl who loved the chlorinated water but still quit.

I would take it back if I could. I would stick with the swimming. I would have made sure to try out for the team in high school. I wouldn't have settled for just lifeguarding and eaching swim lessons.

But I can't take it back. And it's time that I stop wishing I could take it back or wondering what would have happened if I had stuck with it. All I can do right now is see this thing through and not quit as I have in the past.

Workout #1 and Workout #2 from 10/10/11. 598 calories burned.

I remembered all of this as my alarm went off at 5:00 this morning, and I strongly considered hitting hte snooze buttonand falling back asleep for another hour. Instead of slipping deeper into the covers, I threw both legs off the bed and got up - excited dogs and all.

My workout was a little rushed due to needing to get home and shower before work, but I finished the 52-minute workout sweaty and sore thanks to the 15 minutes of stationary bicycle and 7 minutes of treadmill and then 30 minutes of weights. Looking at my heart rate monitor, I know I need to work on icreasing my heart rate and getting into a different zone as my maximum heart rate was 145 and the average was 130.

The goal I had for the lunchtime workout was to spend the majority of the time in "zone 2." I headed off to zumba and checked my heart rate monitor periodically. I wanted to pump my fist every time I saw I was in the right zone but instead just did my best to complete the steps as close to correctly as possible. And hour later, I found that I had spent just over 50 minutes in "zone 2" with a maximum heart rate of 152 and an average heart rate of 137.

Workout #1 and Workout #2 from 10/11/11. 989 calories burned.
Seeing those numbers (989 calories burned!) inspires me. It makes me want to head right back to the gym after work. But instead I'll spend the night with friends from church - burning calories from laughing. Seeing those numbers also reminds me of just how far I have come - all the way from the girl who quit swimming to the girl who is pushing herself past the point of quitting. And those numbers make me quite excited for tomorrow's work out. 30-minute circuit and water aerobics - here I come!

(title from "long live" by taylor swift)


i ain't lost - just wandering

I started my weight loss journey with one thought in mind. And that thought was that I would make no excuses.

I did well with no excuses for a few months. There were morning workouts and everyday afternoon workouts in the pool. I tracked almost every morsel of food that I put into my mouth. I weighed myself weeklydaily and saw a consistent (slow) loss.

I struggled through some of the first months, but I still did something almost every day. There were days when I ate more than I should have, as well as things I shouldn't have, but I continued to track the calories.

I saw a stall in my weight. I found it more difficult to wake up in the morning. I stopped having someone to meet at the gym. And then I stopped going to the gym in the morning. I stopped tracking what I ate. And I started making excuses.

For the past several weeks, I realized that the excuses were getting out of hand. Every night, I set my alarm, and every morning, I woke up with the alarm but made the choice to reset the alarm and fall back into a not so very restful sleep. And every day, I regretted the choice and promised myself that I would wake up the next morning for a workout.

My excuses were vast. No one to go work out with. Dogs who wanted to cuddle in the morning. A late night the day before. The fact that I could go work out after work or during lunch. Needing a break. Letting my muscles rest.

In moderation, those things are good. There does need to be rest. Some mornings it is okay to feed my soul by cuddling with the dogs instead of lifting weights and sweating through my sports bra. But when the reasons for not working out overpower the number of workouts in a week, there is a problem.

I saw the problem, but I didn't see a solution. I wanted motivation that just wasn't coming. I also wanted it to be easy, but it wasn't easy. It was really hard.

But that's the point. If exercise and weight loss were easy, then no one would sit on the couch and contemplate heading into the gym instead of actually heading into the gym. Because it's hard, a person has to make a daily choice to exercise and an hourly choice to eat well and eat for the right reasons.

Armed with a week off work, a pair of new shoes, and a new heart rate monitor, I am back into the game of making no more excuses.

It started on Friday. I left for the gym and concentrated through a 30-minute circuit work-out. And then, on Saturday, I dropped my husband off at the golf course and then made my way to the gym. A little over an hour later, I was sweaty and had burned off almost 600 calories. I felt invigorated and excited to be back at the gym. Sunday morning came, and I promised myself I would make it to the gym that day - whether in the early hours of the day or later in the day.

It didn't happen this morning, and when the afternoon rolled around, the skies continued to drop several inches of rain and partially flood the roadways. The easy thing would have been to said it wasn't safe to drive. The easy thing would have been to change into a sweatshirt and cuddle up on the couch. But I didn't want to do the easy thing.

So I started by putting my shorts and tee-shirt on. Then I slipped my feet into my new shoes and jogged out into the rain. I took the drive slowly, but I made it to the gym. Nothing was going to hold me back.

The heart rate monitor I received tracks my workouts. It also suggests how many hours a week I should spend exercising in order to lose weight,  and it informs me of what "zone" I am in as well as how much time I need to spend in each zone every week to meet my goals. It's like a personal trainer but without all the yelling.

I wore it on Saturday, and I wore it on Sunday. And already I don't know what I did without it. Seeing the number of calories I've burned as well as knowing what my average heart rate is inspires me and makes me want to push myself more. I'm able to let go of the handrail on the treadmill and actually run for part of my cardio work out.

Now, I want to make a workout plan and stick to it. Now, I am excited for pressing the "train" button on my heart rate monitor and then pushing myself to run for a whole minute and then walk and then run again for a whole minute. I lose seeing my heart rate get above 158 and knowing that I did it on my own without someone pushing me and forcing me to work off the pounds.

And then, when I sit down to eat, I want to make better choices. I don't want to eat something greasy and fried just for the sake of eating something greasy and fried. There are moments when I will make the decision to have pizza for dinner, and those moments are okay as long as they are just moments and not every single day of the week happenings.

So what is my plan? I want to work out once every day for the next few weeks. But if a work out doesn't happen one day, I want to be okay with that. And I want to work out for the sake of working out - not to make up for the poor choices I made earlier in the day (as I've had a tendency to do). I know that food plays just as much, if nor more of, a role as exercise does. But I also know that the more I exercise the better I will eat. So I will start with time spent in the gym, and I will finish with better choices in the kitchen.

My exercise plan is as follows:
Is it ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No.

This time it is up to me. There will be no one to meet at the gym in the mornings. No one to decide when I complete each work out. No one except for me. And as much as I want that assistance, that accountability, I know that this journey is a solo journey and every decision comes down to me.

I'll either succeed because of my hard work and determination. Or I will fail. No one else can make me do it. And while it's a difficult realization to come to, I'm excited that no one else will be able to take credit for my success.

(title from "hometown glory" by adele)



doesn't happen overnight

Last Friday, we said goodbye to our dogs and filled our Ford Fiesta with two duffle bags, one pink suitcase, and a full set of golf clubs. It was the first time we would leave both dogs (under supervision) for more than a night. It was also the first time in almost two years that we would both visit my family.

The break was needed and deserved. The past weeks/monthsyear has been stressful. Not just stressful because we are 25 and 26. But stressful because of everything on top of being 25 and 26.

Before the break, I was struggling. I had maintained my weight loss but hadn't lost any more pounds. I was still exercising but not twice a day at least four days a week. I was watching what I ate but was not recording what went into my mouth.

I stopped writing because there are only so many ways to say I am struggling and then to list my current struggles. My struggles are the same today as they have been through this entire process. So I took time. Needed time. Much needed time. It was time away from the computer and time spent with some of the people who mean the most to me.

The drive to my parent's house took almost nine hours. Generally, it takes a little under eight hours, but several accidents stalled us. We talked. My husband and I. About where we are in life right now. About where we want to be. About what we would do if we could do anything at all. The conversation was just what we needed. Lines of communication opened, and I realized there are certain things I need to stop.

I need to stop complaining. I need to stop focusing on the negative. I need to stop seeing my failures and missing my successes. I need to stop making I need to take more deep breaths. I need to push myself further. I need to see the positives and focus on the positives.

It's not easy to not complain. Human nature is to see those things that are less than perfect and to then concentrate on those things. Before the drive from Oklahoma to Texas, I was aware of my tendency to focus on the negative, but it wasn't until this particular conversation with my husband that I realized just how out of hand the negativity had gotten.

I made a decision during the drive to stop the negativity and begin focusing on the positives. And when there isn't a positive to focus on, my hope is to just remain quiet and keep my complaints to myself. I didn't do a perfect job while on our trip, but I did my best.

Once we arrived in Texas, and at my parent's house, I breathed a sigh of relief. There are many things I love and appreciate about Texas but driving in Dallas and Houston are not things I love and appreciate. But we made it. And once we were settled in, we left from my parent's house to eat real Mexican food.

Dinner that night set the tone for the weekend. We knew there was laughter to look forward to. And lots (and lots) of good food.

Over the weekend, we ate steak, shrimp, and lobster. And that was just dinner. For lunch there were leftovers and amazing hamburgers to be had as well as incredible chicken sandwiches eaten outside and overlooking the bay. For fun, my parent's took us out on the boat and into the bay. Justin golfed with my dad and my brother while my mom and I took a 2.5 mile walk and then pampered ourselves with pedicures. We also saw the Saturn Rocket and meandered through the Rocket Park before meditating/praying while walking a labrynth.

I was off work for the next week, but my husband returned to Oklahoma on Monday. Following his drop off at the airport, my mom and I tackled a large item on my list which was to purchase a new pair of shoes.

I bought running shoes a few months back and had hoped they would work for everything. But with sore knees and aching feet, I realized they weren't doing the trick. I also spoke with the instructor at the Zumba class I attend, and she mentioned that I should look into cross-trainers with a pivot point.

Seven stores later (and a bigger bill than expected), I found a pair of cross trainers. On Tuesday, I ordered a heart rate monitor (a gift from my Nana). I finally had all of the needed items to complete work-outs that pushed me.

I spent my entire time in Houston making better choices with food than I had during vacations in the past. I also completed several work-outs including another 2.5 mile walk/run, swimming laps, and Zumba. 

Since arriving back in Oklahoma on Thursday evening, I've completed two work outs. I've watched what and how much I ate. And I've pushed myself by increasing weights and running on the treadmill. The pushing paid off, and I burned nearly 600 calories in an hour.

So, right now, I feel inspired. I feel strong. I feel like I can do this and that this truly is the time for me to do it. But I know that the inspiration and the strength is easily lost. I was there just a few days ago. 

Inspiration will not always be there. I want it to be, but I am realizing that I can't count on inspiration. I saw a post about motivation while on vacation, and it stated that motivation isn't what a person needs. Instead a person just needs to start and keep going. So that's what I am doing. I am making a plan. And I am going to keep going - whether I want to or not.

So what is my plan? That's for the next post. For now, just know that I am here. I am not stopping. And I am going to kick ass this next week.

(title from "a little bit stronger" by sara evans)


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