[Where I'm at with] Weight, Body Image + Dieting

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For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been either on a diet or planning to go on a diet soon. I was a “normal” sized child until age ten, when my parents got divorced (and I rapidly put on about 60 lbs over the next two years that followed). My mom went back to work full time and took classes at night to get her degree, so I was often left alone. Food was a comfort, a babysitter and a friend. I remember that I didn’t eat junk food all the time, but I definitely didn’t make the best food choices (and was clueless as to what was “healthy”). I was also never the type who could eat anything- it always seemed like if I ate a doughnut I’d gain five pounds. From my early teen to young adult years I was chubby, out of shape and extremely uncomfortable in my own body.

It wasn’t until after college that I decided to actually make a change. I joined a gym, starting eating healthier and the weight came off consistently. I got down to a very healthy weight and for the first time in my life LOVED going shopping for clothes. It’s definitely much more pleasant to shop for clothes when you’re a size 4 or 6 (as opposed to barely being able to squeeze into a 16)! Unfortunately, it was hard to see my body as “thin” from years and years of only seeing it as fat. Even though everyone else may have looked at me and seen a slim, healthy woman, I didn’t see that. When I looked in the mirror I saw a girl with loose skin, a fat stomach and always thought I needed to lose ten more pounds. I went through some pretty drastic measures to try to lose weight, which totally backfired resulting in weight gain and the loss of my period.

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I was a slave to the gym, calorie counting and trying to be thinner. Even though I had a lot of good in my life, it was one of the darkest, most unhappy times that I can remember. Luckily, I was able to pull myself out of my exercise obsession (switching from exercising a minimum of 3 hours every day- mostly cardio- to less than an hour a day, 5-6 times per week), but my issues with food were a lot tougher to overcome. When I quit my teaching job and spent all day at home studying for my personal trainer certification, the weight piled on. I gained 15 lbs. within a few months, due to lots of mindless eating and constant access to my pantry and fridge. I ended up joining Weight Watchers (for probably the 10th time in life) a few months before moving away from Maryland and lost most of the weight I had put on the fall before.

When I got to Colorado, I quickly gained the weight back. Even though I was hiking (all the time!) and working out, I went out to eat much more than I did in Maryland (and drank a lot more beer). Over the next year, I made half-ass attempts at weight loss and had very little success. I still felt “fat” and uncomfortable in my body, but started to care a little less about the aesthetics. I knew I was fit and able to keep up with my “thinner” friends, so who cared if I had more fat around my belly than everyone else? Losing weight in Colorado proved to be SO much more difficult, mostly because all of the eating out. I know that it’s easy to make healthy choices when you’re out to eat, but really- who wants to eat a salad after a hike (especially when all of your friends are eating burgers, fries and beer!)?

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[Simple] Wellness “Life Hacks”

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Whether I’d like to admit it or not, I can’t help but ignore the fact that I’ve let some of my “healthy habits” slide in the last two years. Back in my former life as a high school teacher, it was so easy to be pretty structured and organized when it came to dieting- because my whole life was so structured and organized! When I ended my teaching career and found myself at home much more often, my bad habits of mindlessly snacking and eating too much kicked in and the pounds started to pile on. Two years later, I can’t ignore it. I’ve got at least 20 extra pounds that I’d like to get rid of and need to buckle down and FOCUS.

On paper, weight loss seems so easy! You eat less, move more and slowly but surely those pounds of unwanted fat come off. The truth is, it’s not easy at all! Improving your health, whether it means losing a few pounds, getting in better shape or simply wanting to feel better overall takes hard work, dedication and staying power.

I often find that I have the most motivation to make positive changes to my diet after returning home from vacation (which I just did this week!). Something about days full of eating out for every meal, drinking more than usual, staying up late and being off of my routine seems to make me crave a healthy lifestyle. To get back on track, I refer to a simple list of “wellness hacks.” The ideas on this list are nothing new or revolutionary, but sometimes we just need a reminder of how simple it can be to make positive, healthy changes.

1. Plan ahead (even if it’s just one day- or one meal!).

As hard as I’ve tried, I am just not the type of person who can plan out a week’s worth of meals in advance. I feel pressured and I almost always end up changing everything throughout the week. For me, planning out ONE day in advance is the most realistic. I like to eat about six times throughout the day and have a guideline for what I’m going to be eating throughout the day helps me stick to a healthier diet.

Sometimes I’ll write out a “daily diet plan” the night before, and sometimes it’s the same morning. Either way, it makes me far less likely to “boredom snack” while thinking about what to make for my next meal.

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Maximize Your Life [An Evening with Jillian Michaels]

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A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of spending the evening with one of my heroes, Jillian Michaels. Jillian is currently traveling across the country with her Maximize Your Life Tour and her very first stop was in Denver! My dear friend Kelly emailed me a few months ago when tickets went on sale and asked me if I’d like to go- and without hesitation I said yes! The Maximize Your Life Tour is described as this: Jillian shows how to harness your potential, kick-start your goals and live an exceptional life – sharing her keys to health, success and happiness. No hype, no false promises: Just results.

It was basically an intimate evening with Jillian where she shared her own thoughts and advice on how to become a better you- through better eating, fitness and better mental health. She also ended the night with a Q&A session where members of the audience could step up to a microphone and ask her anything.

Kelly had scored us some pretty great seats, and we were so excited when Jillian walked out on the stage.

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We all know that Jillian is beautiful- but (as cliché as it sounds) she’s even more gorgeous in person. And even though she wasn’t wearing gym clothes, it was super easy to notice how damn buff she is- talk about muscular legs and booty!

Jillian started off the night by giving us an overview of what to expect over the next two hours. She planned to break up her presentation into three segments:

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The Scale that DOESN’T Show Your Weight [Giveaway!]

Hello, friends! I hope that your week is off to a fantastic start- can you believe that it’s the final week of February? That means that spring is just around the corner (yay!)! As I said last week, while I certainly have enjoyed winter this year more than any other that I can remember- but that still doesn’t mean that I love it. Each day above 60˚ that we’ve had recently just makes me long for summer and warm, sunny weather every day. :)

Enough small talk- I’m really excited to share this post with you today because it features a really cool product that I’ve become a big fan of. You’re probably well aware that I’ve struggled with my weight for… pretty much my entire life. I’ve lost weight, gained weight, lost, gained, back and forth, up and down. I’ve gone through phases where I can easily lose two or three pounds in one week, to others where it takes me months to lose the same amount. There’s also been times in my life when I’ve (sadly) let the scale dictate how I feel about myself on a given day- which is just nuts.

While I’m not really about getting to a certain number, I definitely don’t feel so great about the number that I’ve been reading on the scale for a while now. To be completely honest- I’ve most definitely put on a few pounds since moving to Colorado last spring. It’s a combination of going out to eat way too much, mindless eating and just not making weight loss a priority. I’m hoping that things will change, and I’m going to be able to get into that mindset to put my weight loss efforts a much higher priority in my life.

I’m not a big fan of getting on the scale – and never have been. There’s just something about that three-digit number that draws up feelings (mostly negative) so I often just avoid it all together. But, let’s be honest- it’s a good way of tracking progress. Sure- other ways like using a tape measure or how your clothes fit are a great way to tell if you’ve lost weight. I definitely use those too (and the way my clothes fit is probably what I care about the most) but I do think that a scale has it’s merits. Recently, the nice people at Quantum Scale sent me one of their revolutionary scales to try out – and this is one that I definitely don’t mind using to track my progress!

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Here’s a (very short) video from the Discovery Channel talking about how the scale works:

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WIAW 72: Macronutrient Ratios

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Happy What I ate Wednesday, my friends! With both Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this season, it’s been a while since I’ve done a WIAW post! But, I’m back…

As you’re reading this, I’m at my very first day of ski school, trying not to break a leg (or DIE!) as I barrel down the mountain. I’m hoping to come back with a super happy post about how much I loved it tomorrow… but I guess we’ll just all have to wait and see. The program meets every Wednesday for six weeks, and I figure that if I can’t learn to love it in that amount of time it’s not meant to be. I’m thinking positively though- I will learn to ski (and even like it).

On Monday I posted a review of a pretty incredible book that has caused a pretty big shift in how I eat (and how I view food!). I started paying attention to my macronutrient ratios in the middle of December and found that it was pretty easy to do! I fell off the wagon between Christmas and New Years (thanks to going out almost every day and just not caring enough to pay attention) but was easily able to get back into the swing of things after January 1st. I know it’s not rocket science, but man- it’s amazing how much better I feel when I pay attention to what I eat (and eat “clean”) and lay off the massive amounts of sugar and fat that I consumed around the holidays!

I explained my calorie/macro goals in this post, and this past Monday shows a pretty good example of a typical day. Even though I prefer to work out first thing in the morning, I’ve always had trouble knowing what and how much to eat (and even being able to eat anything) beforehand. I’ve started to make a smoothie (usually this one) before my workout and drink half before and the other half immediately after I’m done.

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I put the rest back in the fridge and enjoyed it after my workout (Bodypump) with the rest of breakfast:

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Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: How It Changed My Eating Habits

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Looking at the top shelf of my bookcase, I guess you could say that I have my share of “diet” books…

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Ever since I started paying attention to what I eat, how I exercise and how to lose weight, I’ve tried to read every single “diet” book that I can get my hands on. I’ve taken a few key pieces of knowledge and inspiration from almost every book I’ve read, and some of the bits of information that I’ve learned from these books have become important healthy habits in my daily life. That being said, there have only been a select few books that have caused me to honestly evaluate my eating and exercise patterns and decide if what I’m doing is really working. The only book that really sticks out in my mind (that has been “life-changing”) is Jillian Michaels’ Master Your Metabolism, which I read on a plane ride (on my very first trip to Colorado!) in the summer of 2009. After reading that book, I gave up using artificial sweeteners (I was a total Splenda addict) and started buying organic produce, meat and dairy.

Even though it wasn’t as revolutionary to me, Jackie Warner’s This is Why You’re Fat hit very close to home and was a big help to me when I read it. I still go back and reference a lot of the tools that Jackie shares in her book and really like her style of eating and exercising. (And I just really like her!)

It wasn’t until last month that I had another life-changing experience from reading a “diet” book. And really, I can’t even call this a “diet” book, because while it does give you the tools for successful weight loss, it’s about so much more. That book is Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. I could easily make the word count of this post well over 10,000- but I promise not to do that. I could write several posts based on what I’ve learned from reading this book – and I probably will do that.

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Weight Loss Motivation: The DietBet Game!

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If you have a really good memory, you may remember me posting about a little game called DietBet back in January of this year. I had gotten the opportunity to try out the campaign as part of my ambassadorship through Fitfluential and thought it would be really good motivation to lose a few lbs. Unfortunately, through all of the chaos and stress during that time (with putting our house on the market and preparing to move across the country) I let life get in the way and didn’t really focus on losing weight. I think I ended up losing one lb. in the 4-week time period (and trust me, at that point I was grateful just for that!).

Lately, I’ve been working really hard on finally getting back on track with my weight loss and healthy eating (and drinking) habits. I’ve been doing a pretty good job for the last two weeks! Just yesterday curiosity got the best of me- I got on the scale for the first time since we moved. I know that whatever is reflected on the scale is just a number, but no matter how much I tell myself that (and believe it) it still doesn’t really feel that good when the number is much higher than what I’d like to see. I was convinced that I’ve gained at least 10-15 lbs. since moving here, because all of the hiking and exercise I’ve done definitely doesn’t override the vacation-like eating and drinking that’s gone on in my house for almost three months now. I was shocked to see that I’ve (only) gained 5 lbs. My clothes definitely feel a lot tighter, and my main goal is just to have them fit loosely (or at least comfortably). Knowing now where my starting point is makes the idea of losing some weigh not seem so daunting, and I’m excited to keep this healthy streak going!

So, that’s where DietBet comes in. I decided to start my own game (this is not affiliated with Fitfluential or any other organization) because I know the motivation of winning some money will help. Here’s a little bit about how it works (much of this is from my original post):

DietBet isn’t a diet or weightloss plan. You won’t be getting a food or exercise plan to follow, and you won’t be expected to attend any weekly meetings. DietBet is simply an incentive and means of accountability. And if you’re like me, that might be just what you need to shed a few of those unwanted lbs. Since I already know about eating well and exercising, what helps me is finding the motivation to commit to losing weight. As they say on the website, DietBet is a 4-week social dieting game.

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