Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cutting Out the Sugar

Fun fact about me: I have a sweet tooth. I love chocolate, ice cream, cookies, cake bites ... yum to all of it. I used to bake every weekend and stuff my face with nibble on it throughout the week. Throughout my weight loss and journey to being healthy, I cut the majority of that out. Yes, I've had the occasional cookie and I've indulged in ice cream a few times, but I do that in moderation now and it's important to not completely give up the foods you love. I also have a small piece of Dove dark chocolate every day (or two if I'm having a bad day!). It's healthy for you, right?? However, even with cutting all of that stuff out, I was still consuming high amounts of sugar.

If you track what eat for a few days, you might be surprised by how much sugar you consume even if you don't have a sweet tooth. Sugar is in pretty much everything. Especially if you eat processed foods or drink soda. I started tracking my food intake last May and after seeing that sugar count, I cut out pretty much all processed foods. I make pretty much everything from scratch if I can, and read lots of labels in the grocery store prior to buying. The processed foods I haven't given up are graham crackers (good for a quick snack, but quite a bit of sugar so I don't eat them often), my Dove dark chocolate, corn tortillas (I gave up flour ones recently and I just don't have the patience to make my own. I heard Trader Joe's carries an organic corn tortilla that's supposed to be better for you so I'm going to look for that on my next trip!) and a few other things on occasion. The hardest processed food for me to give up? Cereal. I loved cereal. I would eat it for breakfast and dinner sometimes. But cereal has so much sugar it. Even your "healthy" cereals! 

Although I felt like I cut so much out of my new healthy lifestyle to get my sugar intake down, I was still surprised to find out how much sugar I was consuming when I started tracking my food again. My daily goal of sugar is around 30 grams, and I was going over that every single day without eating processed foods, cereal, baked goods or using table sugar! What the heck?! 

Taking a look at what I was eating, fruit is one of the issues. And I know, it's "natural sugar" and I'm not as concerned about it. However, did you know a small banana has 18 grams of sugar in it? Grapes are even worse with the amount of sugar. So although fruit is super healthy and I won't stop eating it, I have to remember that it's nature's candy and I have to focus on enjoying more low sugar fruits like blueberries and strawberries or snack on veggies, and only one banana a day. I am not saying give up fruit; just pointing out that it's high in sugar, but also high in fiber and other healthy, good things that it's important to eat. You should eat at least five servings of fruits & veggies a day; I just now aim for more veggies than fruit.

My other issue - the bigger one? My breakfast. I was putting brown sugar on my oatmeal and I love my coffee creamer. I use Natural Bliss so it doesn't have all the additives, but there are still five grams of sugar in one tablespoon. The brown sugar I was using had four grams of sugar in one teaspoon. I've recently stopped putting brown sugar on my oatmeal (yay!) since I've switched to unsweetened vanilla almond milk which gives it a nice flavor especially topped with blueberries so extra sugar isn't necessary. However, I don't know what to do about the coffee creamer. If I have two cups of coffee, I'm consuming a third of my sugar allowance in my coffee alone! I will not use artificial sweetners and am investigating stevia (the liquid, not the processed forms), but am still skeptical about that. Any suggestions?

Every day is a struggle for me to keep my sugar intake around 30 grams. I understand why they say sugar is more addictive than crack - I am definitely addicted! I think I'm doing so much better, but I know I have room for improvement and cutting out excess sugar will help with my overall health and getting my body to its fittest; however, it's a difficult process for me!

Until next time~

Monday, February 25, 2013

Motivational Monday: Before & After

When I started working out and eating healthy, I never did a "before" picture. In some ways I regret that, but there was no way I was going to stand in my bra and underwear or a swimsuit to do a before picture! I'm not even comfortable doing that now and I've lost 50 pounds!! However, I do have a picture of me from November 2011 and a picture of me from November 2012 to compare. These actually make a good before and after comparison ....

How crazy is that!! It's weird for me to see that comparison because, like I've referenced in other posts, I still don't see myself as thin. However, when I look at this comparison, I can see it. I don't see the flaws and not so perfect stomach or thighs that haunt me on a daily basis. I see someone who looks dramatically different. In one year's time, I lost a lot of weight. And it took this comparison for me to actually see it! In case you're curious, the one on the left is me in a size 10 dress, and the one on the right is a size two. Both dresses are from White House Black Market. 

(Also crazy, I wore that red dress a couple of weeks ago, and it needs to be altered. It's a little big in certain areas and needs to be taken in so it fits perfectly again!)

Just for fun, I tried on that beautiful floral dress that I wore to Amber and Joe's wedding. I loved that dress so much; it made me feel so pretty. Now, it just hangs off me. Actually falls off even when it's zipped up all the way! 

So, I will never wear this beautiful dress again. At least I was able to wear it to an amazing friend's wedding. And if you wear a size 10 and love this dress, contact me - I want to find a good home for it!

Until next time~

Friday, February 22, 2013

High Five for Friday

As I'm sitting here watching the snow fall out the window while drinking my coffee, I am reminded again how lucky I am to work from home. I don't have to deal with those slippery roads and slow traffic! On the bright side, it's Friday and time to link up with Lauren for High Five for Friday!

I love hot pink carnations. Such a simple "filler" flower, but for some reason they just make me happy. Any time I see them for sale I always have to buy a bunch. The best part? They're super inexpensive!

Last week I went and the movie Safe Haven. Oh my gosh I loved it!! I read some articles about critics slamming it because of the plot twist, but rarely do critics like the movies I do. I personally thought it  was an amazing movie and I would probably pay to go see it again!

My spoiled rotten puppy. Seriously, she gets away with everything and has been a pain lately! But a cute one at least!

I picked this nail polish up at Ulta the other day. Cute As A Button from Essie. It's awesome. It's not glaringly hot pink, but hot pink-ish. Perfect for my toenails this spring! (If spring ever comes.)

This is my favorite quote of the week. I'm going to print this off and frame it! Not only does it perfectly apply to healthy eating and fitness, it also applies to my personal life quite a bit. 

I hope you all had a wonderful week! Remember to be thankful for the good things in life, even the small ones. 

Please check out my other posts from this week: Motivational Monday: Getting Started and I'm Not a Toothpick, Nor Will I Ever Be.

Until next time~ 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Am Not a Toothpick, Nor Will I Ever Be

A few months ago I was jealous of someone I had never met because I constantly heard of her referred to as "the perfect body", "super skinny" and "hot and not an ounce of fat". She was deemed "perfect" in this person's eyes, and I felt I would never measure up to that. No matter what, I was never going to be super skinny and 98 pounds. I had years of bad eating and genetics fighting against me for that type of skinny. But now, today, those comments about this person I have never met, don't bother me. Because I've realized that I don't want to be "skinny"; I want to be fit. Thin, of course, but healthy and fit ... those are my goals. 

I am at what I would call my body's "happy weight." This weight of 120 pounds is what I can easily maintain by eating healthy, working out, and allowing myself treats or cheat days in moderation. Could I weigh less than 120 pounds? Of course I could. I could probably lose another 10 pounds if I wanted to - I could push the cardio even more and cut out those treats. But I don't think I would like my body at 110 pounds. I wouldn't be able to have muscle at 110 pounds, and that's what I want. 

Today I realized that my arms are pure muscle. Seriously, I had never noticed before. I was brushing my teeth and just noticed that I no longer had the lower arm flab that I used to have. My arms used to embarrass me and I wouldn't wear tank tops because of that flab. Now, my arms aren't just thin, they're muscle, and I love that. I want the rest of my body to be like that as well, and that has been a goal of mine for awhile now. I want those rock hard abs (or at least abs that you can see) and trim thighs. I want to have a body like the ones I admire, and those aren't the super skinny models. 

I get lots of questions about if I'm trying to lose more weight or if I have lost more weight. So here it is, no. I'm not trying to lose more weight and I've been at the same weight since the beginning of December. (So you can stop worrying, Mom!!) However, I still go to the gym and work out like crazy because I'm working on toning up, getting {more} fit and gaining muscle. In the end, I might not be 110 pounds, but I could probably kick the ass of that 98 pound "perfect" body! I don't want someone else's version of perfect or starve myself to be skinny to fit someone else's mold, I want my perfect body. The one that I can look in the mirror and be proud of what I see in that reflection. Someday soon I will have that body I've always wanted - thin, toned and strong. I get closer every day!

Reason To Be Fit

Until next time~

Monday, February 18, 2013

Motivational Monday: Getting Started

One of the greatest compliments I receive is that I'm an inspiration to someone trying to lose weight. I love knowing I inspire others! I lost weight completely for myself, to be healthy for me, but it's amazing to hear that other people see me as inspiration. So, I thought it would be a good idea to start a weekly fitness/ healthy lifestyle motivation post ... Motivational Monday. I'm not a health or fitness expert by any means, but I can give you advice and motivation based on what worked for me. I hope you enjoy this new series!

I thought I would kick off the series with how I got started on a fitness routine. Everyone needs to begin somewhere, right?

I joined the gym at the end of April 2012. Other than walking my dogs twice a day for about 20 minutes each time, I had not been working out at all. Because I didn't know how many calories to burn or what goals to set for myself, I also started using the My Fitness Pal app on my iPad and iPhone to help me set those. My goal to lose the amount of weight I wanted was to burn 277 calories with cardio each time I went to the gym. I thought that sounded easy enough!

To begin with, I went to the gym six days a week. I worked out on the elliptical trainer for 35 minutes and usually burned around 330 calories at first. I used the "manual" setting on the elliptical and could only work out at the first level, but would eventually force myself to move the resistance level up for a challenge. I would alternate some days with walking on the treadmill at an incline to burn around the same amount of calories. Burning of calories was my goal, not the time, so I would go for as long as I need to so I would burn those 330 or so calories. I would also do the weight machines they had at the gym twice a week.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend working out six days a week. I'll admit that I'm a gym addict (since I was just called that on Saturday!), but I do think four days a week is a good place to start. You don't want to burn yourself out by going too often, but you need to go often enough to make a difference. And I highly recommend using a fitness app like My Fitness Pal to help set goals and track what you're eating and your exercise. It will set help set goals for your calories intake, your sugar intake, carbs, protein, and of course, exercise. And do get in daily exercise like walking the dog. It helps on those days off! Also, have a set routine. I highly recommend a routine; it helps you stick with it! Go to the gym at the same time every day if you can.

So that's how I started. 35 minutes of cardio to burn around 330 calories six days a week along with weights. Good luck!

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Friday, February 8, 2013

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday! This week has been a typical week - just work, going to the gym and hanging out with Mercedes. Let's see what good things I can come up with to link up with Lauren for the weekly High Five for Friday post....

These sunshiney flowers. I'm not usually a rose fan, but lately I've been drawn to them when looking at flowers. These pretties were on special and I figured it was Monday and I deserved a treat!

Mercedes decided that she needed to "help" me write some emails this week!

Drinks with Lisa. On Tuesday evening, Lisa and I met up for Happy Hour at TGI Fridays. They have amazing drinks and my favorite is their Skinny Blackberry Margarita. Love them!! I need to learn how to make them at home.

Ugh, Valentine's Day is coming up next week. I have to say, I thought I would have plans, but sadly that is not going to happen. My friend, Amber, sent me this link about what to do when you hate Valentine's Day, and I thought this card perfectly summed up my feelings! 

But, although I might hate Valentine's Day this year, I'm not giving up hope. :)

I hope you all had a wonderful week! Make sure to check out my other posts from this week as well - Feeling {Not So} Beautiful and My New Favorite Workout.

Until next time~

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My New Favorite Workout

I've been starting to feel a little bored at the gym. Ever since I joined back at the end of April last year, I've done the same couple of workouts: 35 minutes on the elliptical with the "random" setting at various resistance levels or I walk at varying inclines on the treadmill. (I also lift weights twice a week.) However, I recently noticed that my body had plateaued, nothing has changed over the last couple of months. So, with a combination of being bored and reaching a plateau, I knew I needed to switch things up a little bit. 

I started with running. I can make it a little over two miles before I lose my concentration/ motivation and get a little bored with it. And I always end up having to run on the elliptical after to burn the right amount of calories for the day! So, although I like running and will keep doing it a couple days a week so I can eventually run a 5K with my friend Lisa, I needed to find something else that kept my interest and burned more calories.

In comes Pinterest. Oh how I love that site! I saw a workout that promised to burn almost 400 calories in 32 minutes doing intervals on the treadmill. I thought that sounded awesome and decided to try it out the next day. At the end of the workout, doing it almost exactly like they had said, I had to go just about 40 minutes to reach 400 calories. Not just 32 but, that's fine since I don't know what weight they used to determine the calorie burning. The best part of doing this interval workout was that I felt like I got an amazing workout. I was sweaty, my heart was pumping and the next day my legs were sore!

Today I did the same type of workout, just adjusted slightly to my personal fitness level. I felt like running for only a minute at a time wasn't enough of a workout so I wanted to adjust it slightly. So, here is my new favorite workout if you're looking for something new to try out during your next workout!

Minutes 0 - 3: Warmup, walk at 3.8 speed, incline of 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 3 - 5: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 5 - 8: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 8 - 10: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 10 - 13: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 13 - 15: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 15 - 18: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 18 - 20: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 20 - 23: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 23 - 25: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 25 - 28: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 28 - 30: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 30 - 33: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 33 - 35: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 35 - 38: Walk at speed 4, incline 15.0
Minutes 38 - 40: Run at speed 7, incline 1.5 or 2.0
Minutes 40 - 43: Cool down, walk at 3.8 speed, incline of 1.5 or 2.0

Doing this workout, I burned 432 calories and went 3.58 miles. I think it's a great workout and if you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! I have a couple more interval routines pinned and can't wait to try them out!

Until next time~

Monday, February 4, 2013

Feeling {Not So} Beautiful

Lately I've been struggling with feeling beautiful and liking what I see in the mirror. I don't know if it's an issue with my weight loss or what, but every time I look in the mirror all I see are my flaws. I see the five to eight pounds I still want to lose, the flat stomach that still isn't there no matter how many crunches I do, the skin that constantly breaks out thanks to the birth control I'm on, the thighs that still aren't slim ... and on and on and on. How sad is that? I think that the most beautiful women are those who think that they're beautiful. So why can't I get there?

I feel as if a lot has changed these last few weeks and maybe that's why I've been feeling down on myself. Things that I can't control, and I severely dislike that loss of control.

I miss those daily "good morning, beautiful" texts I used to receive. Such a short message that meant so much to me to hear every day. Maybe I should just learn how to say that to myself every morning rather than relying on someone else. 

I've also being weighing myself twice a week. I should probably stop doing that and obsessing over those numbers. I'm still working out the same, eating healthy and my clothes fit me the same. Why do I feel the need to weigh myself all the time? 

I was so happy with who I was becoming and what I saw in the mirror. How do I get that happiness back?

This is what I need to do!

Until next time~

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Very Special Birthday and High Five for Friday

Today, February 1st, would have been Rod's 41st birthday. I would like to take just a small part of this blog to wish him a happy birthday. I believe that they celebrate birthdays in heaven without keeping track of your age! Or something like that. Birthdays were never a big deal to Rod, like they are to me. He never wanted to have a party or do anything fun to celebrate. I would always make him one of his favorite meals for dinner, bake him a cake, we would rent a movie and of course there would be some NASCAR themed present. To him, that was the perfect birthday celebration. So Rod, on this very special day, Happy Birthday! Your last birthday present is still displayed in my office.

Now on to this week's link up with Lauren for High Five for Friday ...

Last Saturday I went out for dinner and a movie. I saw Silver Linings Playbook. To be honest, I picked the movie just because Bradley Cooper is in it and he's hot. The movie started off slow, but it picked up pace and ended up being a pretty good movie.

Monday I went to Trader Joe's. I literally had 10 minutes to run in and find what I needed. Which I have now determined is not enough time! What a fun store! I want to go back when I have free time and just wander looking at all the organic food. So many options!

The reason I went to Trader Joe's was to get quinoa. My local grocery store carries it, but it is super expensive and I heard Trader Joe's has better prices. I've been trying to look for healthy grains to eat and I heard such good things about quinoa. My first experience with it was good and I look forward to experimenting with it more! Check out what I made for Meatless Monday here

I couldn't leave Trader Joe's without buying some of their beautiful flowers ....

I'm getting so excited for spring and have been dreaming of spring fashion. These arctic cold temperatures are not for me and I can't wait until I can wear cute clothes like these!

I hope everyone had a great week or at least can find some good in their week. Remember, every day might not be good, but there is good in every day.

Until next time~