5 Things to Work on in 2016

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I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions. However, at the annual party we attend on New Years Eve, we do a toast that looks back on something we’re thankful for in the last year and looks forward to what we hope is coming in the next. I’ve done a lot of looking back lately, so here’s my chance to look forward. Here is a list of a few things that I’m working on and hope to accomplish next.

1. Get up early. When I get up early, I accomplish a lot and allow myself time for a healthy breakfast and reading before work or whatever responsibilities are ahead for the day. Because I’m a bit of an idealist, I’m determined to fight my natural instinct to throw my phone across the room when my alarm goes up and sleep until noon. I’ve been trying out a new alarm app on my phone called Alarmy. The concept is great. You have to get out of bed and take a picture of a predetermined item in your home to turn off the alarm. The problem is that the picture needs to be precise (the right lighting, angle, etc.). When I used it this morning, I had to take so many pictures that I was tempted to flush my phone down the toilet or cry. Needless to say, I’m trying a new app called Morning Routine where I just have to scan a bar code instead.

2. Eat fruit and veggies with most meals and snacks. In theory, I love fruit and vegetables. We eat them a lot for dinner, but the other meals of the day aren’t always easy for me. Apparently, I’m too lazy to peel an orange sometimes. I want to get into the habit, though. I feel better when I eat a lot of fresh produce, and I really enjoy them once I get started.

3. Keep my house clean consistently. As I’ve discussed a little bit here, I’m working on some cleaning habits. At first glance, it doesn’t seem related to weight loss. When my home is clean, though, it’s easier for all of us to cook, find workout clothes, get to my weights, and more. I’m also less stressed and can focus on other things. I’ve been listening to a great podcast called A Slob Comes Clean to keep me motivated.

4. Actually get my routine blood work done. For some reason, it takes me months after getting a yearly physical to go get my blood work done. I don’t even have a good excuse, like being afraid of needles. I just procrastinate. Well, January is going to be the month. I want to see how things compare to last time, since my triglycerides were a little high last time.

5. Stop eating dessert when I’m satisfied. I’ve been focusing on slowing down and enjoying every bite of food. This typically means that I eat less, but not when it comes to dessert. There have been a few times recently where I’ve noticed about halfway through a dessert that I was satisfied. This is a new feeling for me. I stopped for a second each time, realized I could be done, and then kept eating. Oops. My next step is to actually be done when I experience this.

Do you have any goals or resolutions for the coming year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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5 Things I Did To Get Started

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Check out my shiny new toy! It’s a Garmin Vivosmart. My husband bought it for me for Christmas. Woohoo!

Almost no one asks me how I’ve lost weight. Most people get questions about this when they drop pounds, but I have only had one or two. I have a few of potential explanations.

  • Maybe people don’t notice because I’m taking it slow.
  • Maybe I don’t bring up the topic much.
  • Maybe I volunteer too much information and advice (if that’s the case, I’m sorry because it’s about to happen again).

Well, since I was getting started around a year ago and lots of people are going to be getting started in about a week, I’ve decided to share what I did first…even though no one asked. And, now to the list!

  1. Take some time to reflect. It was easy for me get so caught up in every day life that I didn’t notice things like how my clothes fit, or how I looked in pictures, or how I had stretch marks that hurt (I didn’t know that was possible). Even with all the craziness around me, I decided to take a step back and have an honest look at how my actions were affecting me and the people around me.
  2. Just do something. I am so good at researching and dreaming about things that I want to do. The problem is that I rarely get past that stage. This is why I’ve never written a book (I’ve started several), tried to get my poetry published, become fluent in Spanish, or played in the NBA (okay, there are SEVERAL reasons why I didn’t fulfill this childhood dream). This time around, I did something different. I didn’t wait until Monday or until after Christmas or until January 1st. I didn’t wait until I had everything figured out. I got got started.
  3. Find support. About a week into losing weight, I met with my good friend Deanna. This lady is serious about fitness. She has been in figure competitions, is a consultant for ViSalus, and volunteers as a coach for Girls on the Run. She also has a family and a job and is active in her kids’ schools and at church. From the outside, I was mystified at how she fit in things like exercise and food prep. I also had to know how she could be healthy and still eat delicious food at parties. She walked me through a typical day for her and explained a few of her strategies. Trying to lose weight and keep it off on my own had never worked. Finding steady support was crucial, and I knew Deanna wasn’t going to quit.
  4. Figure out your current habits. For the first few days after that meeting, I tracked my food using MyFitnessPal without any other pressure or expectations. I just wanted to know what my starting point was. My physical activity was nearly non-existent other than walking up the stairs at night to put the kiddo to bed, so that was easy to figure out.
  5. Set one or two easy goals. Once I had a handle on my existing habits, I started working on improving them. Following Deanna’s advice, I focused on two goals per week. I started with the easy stuff, like going to the gym twice a week. I didn’t worry about setting up a perfect workout routine first. I just had to get myself there, and whatever came next was just a bonus. Ramping up slowly allowed me to get the habits to really sink in and become a natural part of my life.

So, there you have it: the first baby steps in my weight loss journey. Keep in mind that everyone is different and just because I did it doesn’t mean it will work the exact same way for everyone. However, I hope this is helpful if you’d like to lose weight, get healthy, or change any habit but don’t know where to start.

 

5 Things I’ve Learned

birthday-cake-843921_1280One year ago today, I started to make changes to my life. Enhancements, one might say. I was tired and in pain all the time. I was overweight. Very overweight. I was the heaviest I’d ever been at 275 pounds, but that was just a symptom of my much deeper issues. I’ve lost weight over and over, and I’ve gained it back over and over because I didn’t realize I would need to change my life forever.

I’ve come a long way in a year. I’m down 35 pounds, but that’s just a symptom of the real change that has happened. To celebrate my weight loss anniversary, I’m starting a new series called 5 Things. The first one is about five things I’ve learned in the last year. Let’s get started.

  1. Put your habits to work for you. All of my previous weight loss attempts were based on me working harder. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I could build habits to make it less work. Instead of always focusing on drinking water, I could make it a habit to refill my water bottle every time it was empty and sip on it all day without much effort.
  2. Eat and do what you like. For a long time, I thought I had to force myself to do things I hated in order to be healthy. This is just not true. I didn’t have to give up sugar or run a 5K to lose weight (while these are great for some, they are not the only way to go). If my body is used to sitting all day and eating junk, I can make progress by working out a couple of times a week and replacing some of the junk with some protein and fruits and veggies. Also, picking workouts and healthy foods that I thoroughly enjoyed made it easier to build the habits.
  3. Constantly adapt. Just because something has worked for me in the first few weeks didn’t mean it would work for me forever. At one point, we made some adjustments in our budget and I couldn’t afford a gym membership. I had been going consistently for a few months, so I had to figure out what I could do at home. For this to be sustainable, I had to learn to roll with the punches. As a bonus, changing this up can be a great way to avoid plateaus.
  4. Try new things. I like trying new recipes and foods, but sometimes trying new physical activities makes me a little nervous. What if I look ridiculous or hurt myself? For instance, I had always wanted to try boxing. I even got some hand wraps so that I could use the heavy punching bag at the gym, but they sat there unused for way longer than I care to admit. I didn’t want to look stupid. This time around, I promised myself that I would try things like this even if I was scared. So, one day, I walked right up to that punching bag and went to town. Did I feel a little silly? Yes, but I pushed past it. Boxing isn’t necessarily my thing, but I am so glad that I tried it because I’ve done a bunch of cool things since then because of that day.
  5. This is forever. I am not going to wake up one day and not have to be aware of and intentional about my decisions. Just this morning, I ate three donuts. I avoided them the night before, but for some reason I gave in. I want my changes to be permanent, and that means a lifestyle change and not just a diet. A year may seem like a long time in some ways, but it is just the beginning.

The Workout Shirt

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My husband said I needed to write a post about this, so here it is!

Weight is not the only thing I’ve been working on lately. I’ve also been trying to improve my housekeeping habits, like dishes and laundry. These don’t come naturally to me, but I know they’re important. As I was folding my clothes last night (this in itself is a victory), I found the only t-shirt I owned that I could fit in a year ago when this whole thing started. It’s a 3XL and I hadn’t worn it in a while (possibly because it was under a pile of other clothes…like I said, I have work to do…). I HAD to try it on, and I was thrilled to see how it fit (or didn’t fit, I guess).

I’m down 36 pounds as of this morning. Here’s to the stomach flu for getting me to the 230’s! 🙂 The next time you hear from me will be my one year anniversary post next weekend. I’m starting a new series called 5 Things, and my first one will be looking back at the five things I’ve learned in the last year.

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Thanks to my 6-year-old photographer.

 

Holidays: Trial, Error, Repeat

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So, I reached a weight milestone the week after Thanksgiving. I weighed myself this morning at 236.8 (a total of 38.2 pounds down). Of course, my 6 pound weight loss was no miracle; it was a result of a stomach bug that tore through 5 out of 6 people in our house this week. However, I will say that Thanksgiving itself was a success. I ate some amazing food, including half a plate of desserts. But, this year wasn’t all about the food. I had a great time with my family, and I didn’t feel guilty about enjoying the delicious treats.

I know a lot of people who are trying to lose weight see the holiday season as a minefield. While it’s tricky, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as I thought. The beautiful thing about this time of year is that you don’t have to wait months to put into practice what you learned during the last holiday. Just wait a month, and you can apply new strategies and improve upon your last holiday eating experience. I’m thrilled that I was able to eat half a plate of dessert and not gain weight, but that might not be the healthiest end game.

Since I’m not in the middle of a Halloween to New Year’s binge, that means I’ve improved. On the other hand, I know that I still have room to grow (figuratively, please). Christmas is just around the corner, so here’s my chance.