Before and After

Week 11 Weigh in: My Lowest Weight in Six Years!

So… I’ve been a little bit MIA from the online world this week. It’s Spring Break for my kids, although if you were to look out our window you would think it is Winter Break given the remaining foot of snow that has yet to melt after last weekend’s blizzard! I’ve chosen to be more available to them this week, instead of spreading myself thin while working to put content out on the world wide web. Don’t worry, I’ll be back dropping some knowledge again after this next weekend. But before I take the kids swimming today, I wanted to make sure that I get my weekly weigh in post up.

End of Week 11 Before and After Pictures:

Week 11 Food Journal:

This week turned out to be a far more active week than the last handful of weeks since my back injury. Between that and having gone 2.5 weeks without an indulgence meal, I have found myself just wanting to eat. For the most part, I’ve staved off the indulgent cravings, but they have definitely been there! I only hit my target macronutrient range one day this week. The rest of the week, my carbs were more around 30% of my daily macronutrient intake than the 20% that I’m shooting for. My calorie intake ranged between 1351-2153 each day. Most of the days ended at around 1800 calories for the day.

It’s fine. I know that my numbers, and food choices weren’t perfect. But I still stayed in a calorie deficit state conducive to fat and weight loss. I’m not complaining.

Here’s my food journal from the day that I ate the most, but was also the most active (last Thursday). The rest of the week’s food journal can be found at the bottom of the post. As always, the food reported in my food journal has the correct quantities, but may not have been consumed in the order it was reported.

Here it is:

Week 11 Bioelectrical Impedance Results:

My total body weight: 129 lbs. (Decrease of 1.4 pounds since last week, and a total decrease of 13.9 lbs. since start date).

Breaking my total body weight down into different categories of body composition:

  • Total Body water: 76.1 lbs (Decrease of 0.6 lbs. since last week. Total of 2.2 lbs. decrease since start date).
  • Dry lean mass: 28.2 lbs. (Decrease of 0.3 lbs. since last week. Decrease of 0.9 lbs. since first weigh in. Remember that this includes muscle, organs, and bone minus any fluid)
  • Body fat mass: 24.7 lbs. (This was a 0.4 lb. decrease from last week. Total of 10.8 lbs. of fat lost since start date!)
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 58.2 lbs (Decrease of .7 lbs. from last week. Total of a 1.8 lb decrease in muscle since start date).
  • BMI: 22.1 (Decrease of 0.3 from last week. Total decrease of BMI is 2.4 since start date)
  • Body fat percentage: 19.2% (This decreased by 0.1% from last week. Total of 5.6% decrease in body fat percentage since start date.)
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1391 calories (This decreased by 33 calories.)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 2160 calories
  • Calorie target range for weight loss: 1560 calories (I’m keeping this target range the same, but allowing for a couple hundred extra calories to be consumed if I find that I’m more active than could be considered moderate.)

For more info on Bioelectrical Impedance, check out this link here.

Week 11 Measuring tape results:

  • Right calf (measured at widest part): 14 1/4 inches (Same last week, and down 2 1/2 inches from first measurement)
  • Right thigh (measured at widest part): 21 1/4 inches (Down 1/2 inch from last week, and down 1 3/4 inches from first measurement)
  • Hips (measured at widest part): 37 inches (Down 3/4 inch from last week, Down 6 inches from first measurement)
  • Butt (measured at widest part): 36 3/4 inches (Down 1/4 since last week. Down 2 5/8 inches from first measurement.)
  • Right below my muffin top: 33 1/2 inches (Down 3/8 inch from last week, and down 2 3/8 inches from first measurement)
  • Waistline (measured across belly button): 31 3/4 inches (Down 7/8 inch from last week, and down 3 1/2 inches from first measurement)
  • Chest (measured at widest part): 36 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week. Down 11/8 inch from first measurement.)
  • Shoulders (measured at widest part): 39 7/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week. Down 5/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Biceps: (measured at widest part): 10 7/8 inches (Down 1/4 inch, and down 5/8 inch from first measurement).

This is what my workouts looked like:

This week was a bit extra active. Thursday I did my own workout in the morning, then did the workout with my bootcamp class in the evenings. I don’t always do the workout with my class (I often just coach), but last Thursday I did, and burned an extra 800+ calories that day. I plan to do that again tonight, for no other reason than I really really love the movement!

Some additional activity came from our friend Mother Nature! We had a blizzard, here in Denver, over the weekend and ended up with 2 feet of snow in 24 hours! I’m so mad I wasn’t wearing my heart rate monitor during the three times that I went out to shovel. The snow was super wet, and heavy. Each of those times were 30-60 minutes of extra workouts, and I know that I burned some additional calories, I just don’t know how much. LAME!

Lastly, I flew progeny #1 out to hang out with his cousin in SLC, yesterday. After handing him over to my in-laws, I had to run all the way from the ticket counter to the gate. I made it just in time, but I’m figuring I ran, easily, a mile and half to make it to my plane on time (I don’t recommend running in jeans, a sweater, and wedge sneakers, though! My feet are angry at me today!). I didn’t have my heart rate monitor on that time either. I’m estimating an additional 100-125 calories burned.

Summary:

Another week of weight loss progress has come and gone. Although my macronutrient numbers haven’t aligned to meet the range that I’m aiming for, I still lost weight. Last week, I lost 0.3 lbs of fat, and this week I lost 0.4 lbs of fat. I assume I’m just at the point where fat loss slows down as I am coming really close to my target goal. I am really excited, though, because I haven’t weighed below 130 lbs since 2015! A whole lot of life has happened since then, but this time I’m determined to never allow myself to cross over to the opposite side of 130 lbs ever again!

This weekend will be my first indulgence meal in three weeks. I’m really excited about that! But then I’m going to go another two weeks without an indulgence meal. I want to make as much progress as I can before we head out on our beach trip. SWIMSUITS BABY!!!

Anyway, that’s a wrap for today. Talk to you soon!


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Food Journal Entries From the Rest of The Week:

Friday, March 12:

Saturday, March 13:

Sunday, March 14:

Monday, March 15:

Tuesday, March 16:

Wednesday, March 17:

Before and after Before and after Before and after Before and after Before and after

people toasting wine glasses

Still Working On Your New Years Resolutions?

While I was working at the gym, this morning, the employee in charge of the check-in desk made the comment that the number of people coming to workout is back to it’s “normal” quantity. For the most part, the “New Years Resolution-ers” have fizzled off. It’s something we see every year, maximum capacity for the first three weeks, and then we’re back to the sea of regulars- the same people we’ve been working out with for years. Don’t get me wrong, there are usually a small quantity of new faces who want to achieve their goal bad enough that they keep coming. But the rest…

Go get a pen and and paper and write the answer to these questions down (no seriously, stop reading and go get your writing material…)! Write down the answers to these questions: What is it that you wanted to accomplish three weeks ago? Why did you want it (check here if you need some help with your why)? Do you still want that same thing? Do you want it badly enough to push through the discomfort to achieve it? What’s your game plan that will get you there? What are the small baby steps you’re taking to make your dream a reality? Starting today, or even this hour, what is the one thing that you can do to push yourself along in your process?

pen and paper, writing material

Let’s assume that you set out to lose weight, this year. Which approach are you taking? Did you make efforts, in these last three weeks to change your habits? Are these habits becoming more a part of you? Have you stuck with your weight loss approach? Or did you happen to get derailed in your efforts?

There are so many things that can halt your progress in the weight loss game.

Perhaps you’re the only one in your household working to lose weight (Believe me, I know exactly how lonely that can feel). Get yourself a community! Join a Facebook group. Talk to your friends. Guaranteed there is someone else in your life who is also working toward their own weight loss goals. Reach out to me! I would absolutely love to respond to a message with a word of encouragement!

Maybe someone brought a treat home or to work that you weren’t planning for, and you “gave in”. Maybe you haven’t found a way to pull yourself back into action. I get that too! That has happened to me so many times! I have two things to say about this. Shake it off! What’s done is done! Move forward! Love yourself enough to leave that delicious treat (which maybe led to total derailment) behind you, and pick yourself up. Commit right now to practicing the baby steps which will lead you to meeting your goal. You can do this!

Second, maybe you have the temptation screaming at you, but you haven’t actually given in just yet. This is ok! There is nothing wrong with being tempted to eat something that is against your goals. This is going to happen. So let it in, acknowledge it, and then recognize you have options.

dumpster

Life is full of little choices, and here is one of them: you don’t have to eat it. If you haven’t planned for it, and you’re still on a trajectory of strategic behavior, then do everything in your power to maintain your trajectory! You can throw the tempting treat away! That’s right, pick it up and walk it all the way to the stinky outside dumpster! You can ask someone else around you to eat it so that it’s no longer available to you. You can ask someone in your life to hide it from you (I ask Adam, my hubby, to do this all the time and most the time I don’t find it!). Or you can put it in the freezer and save it for your planned indulgence meal. You are strong enough to not eat it. Remember what it is that you want (your why?) more than you want the unplanned treat. Focus yourself in on your ultimate goal. Take a deep breath and fully commit to not even having one little taste. You can do this!

Maybe you started working out, and your muscles were so sore that you decided you’ve done your time and enough is enough. Or maybe you decided you were too busy for all the exercise that you originally set out to accomplish. It could be that you like your sleep more than you like the idea of waking up early to exercise. Whatever your perfectly logical explanation might be (my husband calls these PLE’s aka an excuse), call yourself out! Creating new habits of exercise is challenging! I know! It took me all the way until I became a mom to find it in me to make exercise a regular part of my life. And guess what?! At first I didn’t necessary love it. But, with enough consistency, it started to grow on me, and eventually I did!

Find it in yourself to push past your excuses. Remind yourself who it is that you want to become. Make peace with the fact that getting there will require you to do the work. Do what you need to do. Set a time on your daily calendar or an alarm to remind yourself. Set out your workout clothes the night before (I’ve done this for years since my workouts typically fall in the 5:00/6:00 am hours). Go buy yourself some cute new workout clothes and shoes (monetary commitment is a powerful motivator). Find a friend to exercise with you. Start small. If you haven’t been in the habit of exercise, commit to two days a week. Then gradually increase from there. Baby steps are the way to lasting lifestyle changes!

Maybe you’ve tried some of the meal plans I’ve put on this blog and have thought to yourself, “the food she wants me to eat is absolutely disgusting! How can she even recommend that!?” Maybe you are a really picky eater, and have the hardest time talking yourself into eating vegetables in one meal, let alone six times per day.

Food preferences can be a legit challenge for some people to overcome. But guess what!? You don’t have to eat exactly what I eat. Do some research to find foods and recipes that work for you based on your goals. Challenge yourself to try new things. Allow yourself to be open minded. If you really want to meet your goals, you will do what works for you. I can’t set them for you or make you achieve them. So spend a few minutes scouring the internet, you’ll find recipes out there for every single approach that can be taken to lose weight. Move past the “I don’t want that” and ask yourself “What do I want?”. Then actively pursue finding the foods you enjoy that will keep you properly nourished while losing weight.

Let’s change the subject (sort of)…

Have you heard the concept of the “Heroes Journey?” This idea permeates all of our favorite stories. Tell me if you recognize this. A protagonist, quite often unremarkable and inconspicuous, is presented with a fantastic opportunity. One which includes both epic adventure and great reward. This character is often quite comfortable in their current situation, without much desire or want to change. That is, until either an internal/external event occurs and the new adventure is something they just can’t shake off. They understand that the road ahead will come with challenges, and there is a high possibility for failure. And yet, the call is great enough that the character knows there’s no other option than to proceed.

Perhaps this was you at the onset of your journey for change. At that time, there was no other option than to proceed on the road to your reward, be it weight loss, feeling stronger and healthier, or even something completely different.

Take a minute and assess where in the Heroes Journey you are right now:

  • Call to Adventure: The Hero sees the adventure that she/he desires or needs to go on.
  • Crossing the threshold: The hero prepares for and embarks on the journey
  • The road of trials: Reality sets in and the hero feels smaller than the challenges ahead of her/him
  • The abyss: The only options for the hero are to change, become someone different, and either press forward or quit entirely
  • Metamorphosis: The hero changes and becomes something more
  • The Ultimate Boon: The hero learns the lessons which enable further growth and change
  • Returning the Boon: The hero returns home to share what she/he learned
Hero, Hero's Journey, The Abyss

Each character has to go through this process to become the heroic version of themselves. Take the example of the heroes in the Marvel movies. The main character, or hero, is typically a human who is heavily flawed. They go on an adventure, meet obstacles, face the reality of their weaknesses, they learn essential lessons, don’t give up through the process, and they return to share their learned lessons with the team. All heroes follow the same journey. We see their story and we gain admiration and respect for their courage, conquering spirit, and endurance through their difficult challenges.

The fact is, you are the hero of your own journey. You might have just barely heard your call to adventure, you might be knee deep in your road of trials, or you might be facing the abyss where you allow yourself to become something amazing. Whatever you do, don’t quit on your yourself! Press on! You are worth finding that hero in yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to gain the self respect for having accomplished something so great!

I believe in you! Take the moment right now to recommit to that goal you are working on. I know that you can accomplish it, and I know that you will be so glad that you did!

You are my hero!

Talk to you soon!

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Chronicles of the two voices inside my head, installment #2 – Before the Cheat meal

Client Amy:

Today, this feels hard!

Trainer Amy:

Okay we’re going to need to get a bit more specific than that! What feels hard?

Client Amy:

I am in food prison! I just want to eat and not think or care about the nutritional value of what is going into my mouth! In fact, this is feeling daunting enough that I even took a bite of my kid’s pizza and had like eight spoonfulls of homemade Mac and cheese, yesterday!

Trainer Amy:

Okay, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve been very diligent in your nutritional approach for over two weeks now. That’s huge! That is a long time to stick with a strict regime when before that you were eating whatever your taste buds desired.

Remember that in order to meet specific goals, we need to follow specific rules to get to that point. You’re following a specific nutrition strategy which, you have seen, is actually working to change your body composition for the better.

Let’s pause and look at the bigger picture for a minute. Tell me, what do you feel you are doing well within this process?

Client Amy:

Okay… well… I’ve planned, food prepped, and stuck with a meal plan for two whole weeks. Even though it has felt like a lot of work, I do see the value in those efforts as they’ve helped me stay the course. I’ve also diligently logged my food intake each day. I usually hate food journaling, but doing so is helping to keep me on track. Also, I’ve exercised about 5 times each week, and a few of those days I’ve done two workouts!

Trainer Amy:

That’s awesome! Those are all habits which will lead you to success. Now, tell me what areas you feel like you can improve in your weight loss process?

Client Amy:

Well… For starters, I had those unplanned bites of “non-strategic” foods yesterday…

Trainer Amy:

OK, let’s talk about that. Was that your first unplanned food indulgence? Where did you end up in your calorie and macronutrient targets for the day?

Client Amy:

Yes, that was my first time eating something that wasn’t in my plans. I really tried not to be obsessive about it once I had a little taste. Ya know, “let it go”, “brush it off”, “quickly stay the course on my food plan”, and all. But I did manage to stay under 1700 calories. The only hiccup with my macronutrients were that my carbohydrates landed around 40 grams higher than I intended (Stupid Pasta!).

Trainer Amy:

Let’s celebrate this! Yes, you took a few unplanned bites of food, but you didn’t turn that into a binge-fest, and you stayed under your calorie goal! You should totally feel good about those things! Did you enjoy those tastes of pizza and homemade Mac and cheese?

Client Amy:

Yes! It was just enough to be able to enjoy the flavor without eating too much to carry frustration and guilt! Thanks for pointing that out!

Trainer Amy:

You’re welcome! Are there any other areas that you feel like you can do a little better in to take your efforts to the next step?

Client Amy:

Perhaps adding more foods to my weekly meal plan that will help me get enough potassium and iron so that I don’t worry about supplementing. Also, not beating myself up when I do happen to miss a day of working out.

Trainer Amy:

We can work on that the potassium and iron foods, no problem. But yes, be kind to yourself! If you are unkind to yourself you will lose your focus on why you’re taking on this journey. You’ll have negative feelings toward the process, and lose your desire to continue to push through. This is a journey of self love, where you are learning to instill habits which will help you feel your best both physically and mentally. You’re human. There’s room in life for “oopses”. Just as you did with the pizza and Mac and cheese, you pick yourself up immediately and keep placing one foot in front of the other. And you’re doing that! Have you seen how your body has changed over that last two weeks? Between following your nutrition strategy and doing your five days a week of exercise you are making progress!

You say that you feel like you’re in food prison. Let’s remember that you have a planned indulgence meal in three days. You’ve already made it through 19 days sticking to your eating strategy. Let’s talk about the indulgence meal, and review what the rules around that are.

Client Amy:

Uggggggh…. More rules!

Trainer Amy:

I know, I know, but rules are the safety nets which help us meet our ultimate goals! Rules are our friend. We become our best self when we adhere to rules!

First, we don’t call this a cheat meal because cheating has a negative connotation. Cheating is being dishonest and disloyal. When it is planned out, you aren’t being disloyal to your plan, it’s literally built in! There is a plan in place which invites you to have a meal which helps you feel a little bit more free. You can eat anything that you want, all within your set hour. Itching for those Crumbl cookies? Go for it! More Mac N Cheese? Down it! Really! Whatever you want, eat it! No measuring! No Tracking! In fact, I discourage you from journaling because we are working on being balanced and not obsessive about the numbers.

Doing this also acts as a psychological break. Listen to your body through this meal. Be super mindful, slow down, and stop when you feel like you’ve had enough food. But don’t make yourself sick! Remember that this will not be the last time you get to have these foods! Beginning this next week, you get to have an indulgence meal every week, if you want! Once your indulgence hour is over, you’re right back to your weight loss nutrition plan for the next seven days.

With all this in mind, will you commit to three more days without any food indulgences?

Client Amy:

Yes, I know I can do that. And I can commit to giving the indulgence meal the respect it deserves.

Trainer Amy:

Awesome! Let’s review your “why’s?”. Tell me the reasons that you’re working on losing weight.

Client Amy:

  1. I want to be my healthiest, eliminate gross tummy aches, feel my best.
  2. I want to eliminate risk of developing cancer and heart conditions that run in my family.
  3. I want to have energy to play with my very active boys.
  4. I want to feel my best in my own skin, and like the way that my clothes fit on me.
  5. I want to teach the world that this process works, and is totally doable (even for those with binge eating tendencies).
  6. I want to inspire others to make their own healthy lifestyle changes.

Trainer Amy:

Is this enough to help you focus on three more days of intentional food intake before your planned indulgence meal.

Client Amy:

Yes. My head is in the right place. I’m excited for the additional progress I’ll see on weigh in/measurement day on Thursday morning. I’m also excited to show myself that I can last all the way until Friday evening before eating my indulgence meal.

Trainer Amy:

You’ve got this! I can’t wait to hear all about that indulgence meal! Talk to you soon!


Want more info on indulgence meals? Check out this link from the University of Colorado.

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Week 2 weigh in: This is why women shouldn’t weigh themselves weekly

Let me start by saying I am actually enjoying this blogging process far more than I anticipated. I feel like I’m back in those days of having a tiny little baby. Do you remember feeling so excited to see your newborn baby in the morning, or when they woke up from a nap? This experience can’t even compare to that on the same level, but I am catching glimpses of that same excitement of nurturing a little one. My thoughts are dominated with, “what am I going to write about today?” and “how can I best share what’s in my mind and heart on the topics of weight loss, fitness, and nutrition so that it can help someone else on their own journey?” I’m learning my limits, and working to implement systems. One of the systems that I’m implementing, moving forward, is to make Thursdays my weekly results post days. I’ve actually been taking my measurements on Thursdays through this whole process, I’m just moving up the day that I “reveal” my weekly results.

Now, I’m really excited about this week’s weigh in because I get to show you what the real process of weight loss looks like, and why the scale isn’t our best measure of progress. This week, I’ve followed the plan to a “T” (What a weird phrase… I should research why “a T” means exactness…) and I actually weigh more than I did last week. It is at this point that many people get discouraged and assume their efforts aren’t working. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. The information we get from the scale is simply the total weight of our body. Most scales won’t tell you all of the different components contributing to our total weight such as body fat, muscle mass, water weight, bone/dry lean mass, etc. (You can actually purchase a “smarter scale” such as the Renpho scale which will measure your weight, BMI, body fat content, and muscle mass. It will also store your biometrics (aka measurements, in an app on your phone.) I’m a firm believer that women should only step on a scale once a month, unless you have one of these more advanced scales to give you more specific information.

There are a few factors that might contribute to why you have increased your total weight even if you’ve been following all the rules for weight loss.

  1. You might be retaining water at certain stages in their menstrual cycle.
  2. You might have increased your muscle mass.
  3. You might have had an indulgence meal, or eaten a higher carbohydrate quantity than normal and you’re retaining a bit of extra water.
  4. You might have had a drink of water close to your weigh in.

I believe my water weight is up this week for all of these reasons except the third. I’m happy to say that I have stuck to my plan, and have not had an indulgence meal or increased carbohydrates.

Now on to my weekly results.

First we start with the before and after pictures from the last two weeks:

End of week 2: Before and After pictures

Here is my food journal from myfitnesspal from last Saturday. The rest of the week’s food journal pictures will be shared at the end of this post. For the most part, I followed the week 2 meal plan. Although, I believe that most days I ate one less meal than was suggested on the meal plan. Just like last week, the food may have been logged in a different order than it was actually consumed. But the food quantities are correct.

Week 2 bioelectrical impedence assessment results:

Breaking my total body weight down into different categories of body composition:

My total body weight: 139.8 lbs (That’s up a half a pound since last week! Total of 3.1 lbs. lost since start date).

  • Total Body water: 79.5 lbs. (This actually increased by a whole pound. Total of 1.2 lb. increase since start date).
  • Dry lean mass: 29.7 lbs. (Increase of .7 lbs. Remember that this includes muscle and bone minus any fluid)
  • Body fat mass: 30.6 lbs. (1.1 lbs less than last week. Total of 4.9 lbs. lost since start date)
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 60.8 lbs. (Increase of .4 lbs from last week. Total of .8 lb. increase in muscle since start date)
  • BMI: 24 (Thanks to increased water weight and muscle, this actually increase by .1, this week. Total BMI decrease of .5 since start date)
  • Body fat percentage: 22% (Decrease of .8 from last week. Total of 2.8% decrease in body fat percentage since start date.)
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1438 calories. (This actually increased by 15 calories, meaning I burn an extra 15 calories per day at rest!)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 2232 calories.  (Because my BMR increased, this number increased by 33 calories from last week)
  • Calorie target range for weight loss: 1700 calories. (I decided to decrease last week’s target of 1800 calories to 1700 calories. I never ate over 1700 calories in a day, besides today (but I did workout twice today, so I felt like I needed a little bit more). I was plenty satiated, and never felt deprived staying between 1500 and 1700 calories per day. Also, I’m anticipating an indulgence meal at the end of this next week, so I kind of want to be conservative throughout the rest of the week and not stretch to the top of my calorie range).  

Week 2 measuring tape results:

  • Right calf (measured at widest part): 14 1/2 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 1/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Right thigh (measured at widest part): 22 5/8 inches (Down 1/4 inch from last week, and down 3/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Hips (measured at widest part): 39 7/8 inches (Down 1/4 inch from last week, Down 3 3/8 inches from first measurement. I’m still highly convinced that the first week’s measurement was a measuring tape user error. I might just go off of week 1’s hip measurements moving forward.).
  • Butt (measured at widest part): 38 1/2 inches (This measurement stayed the same from last week. Down 7/8 inches from first measurement.)
  • Right below my muffin top: 35 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 1/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Waistline (measured across belly button): 34 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 3/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Chest (measured at widest part): 37 ¾ inches (no change here since the beginning. The ladies aren’t wanting to budge. I’m a tiny bit surprised by this…but my hubby is happy!)
  • Shoulders (measured at widest part): 40 3/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Biceps: (measured at widest part): 11 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from first measurement).

This is what my workouts looked like:

My rest day was Sunday, and I ended up skipping a workout on Monday. I made up for it by doing two workouts today.

That’s it for today. Progress is being made. I love the way that I feel with all of these healthy and delicious meals I’ve been eating. I’m feeling focused and ready to tackle another week. The one thing I am going to focus on improving upon is getting around 8 hours of sleep. I’ve been falling short at 6 hours most nights of the week. Here’s to self improvement, and taking it one step at a time!

Talk to you soon! (In case you care to see what I ate the rest of the week, it’s posted at the bottom:

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Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday (today):

(I did an intermittent fast, today, so I didn’t actually eat until lunch time. But I still consumed plenty of food!)

Finding your “Why”?

The following content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Have you ever paused to take a look at your family’s health history? I was required to do an assignment for a college nutrition course where I gathered information for my own “health genome”. This informs of any health issues in siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I was supposed to make a report of any known instances of cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease (heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc), type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, eating disorders, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, my extended family on both sides is HUGE! My mom was one of seven children, and my dad is one of seventeen children (yes, you read that right! Three of those are half siblings). As I began to pull in health information from as many of them as possible, I learned that three of my four grandparents experienced adverse heart conditions. Of my 22 aunts and uncles, there are six known cases of various types of cancer, a good handful of pre-cancerous polyps, a high number of them are on blood pressure medication, and there are a handful of other recurring medical conditions among the bunch…

I’ve lived over 3/4 of my life without my mom alive. She passed away in a car accident when I was young and this has had a profound effect on how I view life with my family. From this, I am highly motivated to do everything I can so that my own kids don’t have to experience the same loss. Knowing that my own chances for developing a variety of health conditions are high, I find myself wanting to do everything in my power to be my healthiest. There are many good reasons for wanting to lose weight, but in my opinion, working towards optimal health is the best reason of all.

Before I go on, I want to make sure to stress that I realize that sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes we develop health conditions for reasons that we don’t understand. I assure you, I pass zero judgement upon anyone for their unfortunate health circumstances. But I do know that there are actions that we can take to reduce our risk of developing such conditions.

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

The following are a list of the top chronic conditions that we have the ability to reduce the risk of developing based on our diet choices:

Obesity

The United States is facing a major obesity epidemic. With our over abundance of “quick grab food” options at the drive through, the processed foods in the grocery store, and the lack of physical activity (perhaps due to too much Netflix binging?) it’s a no brainer that America’s waistline is expanding at an alarming rate.

Check out these facts about obesity from the CDC:

  • The prevalence of obesity was 42.4% in 2017~2018. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief]
  • From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. [Read CDC NCHS data brief]
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. [Read guidelinesexternal icon]
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read paperexternal icon]

Obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are the leading causes of preventable, premature death (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2013). 

Obesity can be decreased or overcome through these effective tips:

  • Choose to eat foods which are low in saturated fat
  • Choose food and beverages which are low in added sugar
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce intake of fatty meats, processed foods, and foods with high salt content
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (or not at all)

Heart Disease

Heart disease includes blood vessel disease (coronary artery disease), heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart valve disease, disease of the heart muscle, and heart infections. These diseases can lead to larger complications such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, peripheral artery disease, or sudden cardiac arrest. The good news is that many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices!

The Mayo Clinic has a hefty list of recommendations for avoiding heart disease, but we’ll just focus on the dietary recommendations:

  • Control your portion sizes
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • East more whole grains
  • Limit unhealthy fats (no more than 5-6% of total calories from saturated fat & NO trans fats); monounsaturated fats are preferred
  • Choose low fat protein sources such as fish, lean meat, legumes, and low fat dairy products
  • Reduce sodium intake (no more than 1500 mg per day)
  • Plan and create menus ahead of time
  • Treat yourself on occasion

Cancer

Decades of research have effectively demonstrated that diet can directly affect cancer risk. Some of the foods we eat, such as red meat, salt, and highly processed food, have been shown to heighten the risk of developing cancer. While cancer can be developed by genetics and environment, these two factors usually amount to smaller than 30% of one’s lifetime risk of getting cancer. We have control of the majority of factors that help in reducing risk of cancer. These dietary recommendations are associated with a lower incidence of cancer rates:

  • Eat foods high in anti-oxidants. These come in the form of our bright colored fruits and veggies (i.e. dark green leafy kale, orange bell pepper or fruit, purple beets, red tomatoes, etc.)
  • Eat low glycemic foods (This article from medicinenet.com will teach you about the glycemic index, and what a low glycemic food is); High glycemic foods are associated with greater risk of developing certain types of cancer
  • Increase your dietary calcium intake (Foods highest in calcium: dairy products, dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, fortified cereals and fortified orange juice)
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Type 2 Diabetes

The connection between Type 2 diabetes and diet is overwhelming (There is a small number of occurrences where type 2 diabetes is caused through genetics, or occur naturally). Both type 2 diabetes and obesity are strongly tied with each other, and are both influenced by dietary choices. Sedentary lifestyles and dietary habits are both the cause of rapidly increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes. Rapid and substantial weight gain, combined with high quantities of added sugar in food and drinks play a major role in developing Type 2 diabetes. The dietary recommendation for preventing type 2 diabetes is to consume a diet low in added sugar and total calories


What would it be worth to you to conduct your own personal family medical research to identify and work to avoid these health conditions? What if you were to find out for yourself that you have effectively eliminated your own risk of developing obesity, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes by living your healthiest lifestyle? So here’s your homework, if you’re able, go call your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and siblings (they’ll love catching up with you!), compile a list of all of the health challenges they are facing (this will help you to identify the risks that you are up against). Then go and implement the health recommendations to overcome your specific risks. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

An awesome side effect of eating more fruits and veggies, avoiding processed foods and added sugars, and all of the other above recommendations, will be the weight that you will lose in the process!

Let’s do this! Let’s make our “why” to be the healthiest version of ourselves!

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Why is losing weight so hard?! Or is it…?

I get it. Losing weight can seem like you’re climbing a 14,000 foot high mountain. As you stand at the base of the towering rock, you wonder how in the world will you ever survive making it to the top. Now, I will be the first to tell you that your own weight loss journey will most likely not be easy, but it will be extremely rewarding. New habits will be created while old habits are purged. You will have to face sacrificing the “old” way you did things in favor of creating a “new” you. Through all of this, thinking about the length of time you’re required to commit to the process can seem daunting, overwhelming and even so heavy, you simply won’t start! And believe me, there have been many times where I have done just that! I gave up. I gave in. I felt so hopeless it was depressing. But, as you get your mindset adjusted, just like climbing that 14,000 foot mountain (we call them 14’ers here in Colorado), it begins with your first step.

Here are a few of the weight loss processes that I’ve felt discomfort from in the last twelve days of this project:

  • Creating the habit of a daily food journal
  • Saying “No!” to the chocolate chips that are in the cupboard, or the stock pile of soda in the fridge, or sugar cereal in the pantry.
  • The slow pace
    • Only being twelve days into this project (That’s it!?!? I swear it seems like it’s been months already).
    • Not seeing a distinct visible change…yet (It can often take a week or two for you to notice your own change, and up to a month before other people start to see it as well).
    • Acknowledging that I still have months of work ahead of me
  • Knowing that I still need to go a little longer before I allow myself my first indulgence meal.
    • Thinking ahead to my indulgence meal, fearing that I’ll allow it to be a binge session rather than a reasonable reset meal.
  • Meal planning
  • Meal prepping (It makes me grumpy how long it takes!)
  • Eating the same thing multiple days in a row
  • The changes to my body as it is adapting, such as detox headaches, lack of energy, acne break outs on my face, needing to pee ALL. THE. TIME. (TMI?)

I could sit here and give an explanation for why we have to go through each of these things (and more), but that’s not what this post is all about. This post is intended to show you that you CAN push through the discomforts of the weight loss process.

Let’s talk about mindset. What does that even mean? Trusty old Miriam-Webster defines mindset as a mental attitude or inclination or a fixed state of mind. This being the case, we need to first dig deep and hear what our thoughts have previously been telling us about how we feel about the weight loss process. If those thoughts are what have kept you away from embracing the work to lose weight, then acknowledge that. This might require you to call yourself out on the fact that you had a previously fixed state of mind which was against doing the work required. Have you heard of the six stages of behavior change? These stages are:

  • The first stage of change is known as the Pre-contemplation stage. In this stage, you might not even realize, or you straight out deny that there is anything that needs changed about your current behavior. This is where you might be unaware (blissfully or otherwise), that you have habits or behaviors that aren’t doing you any favors.
  • The second stage of change is the Contemplation stage. In this stage, you have become aware that there are benefits to making a change. But you are also aware that these changes will come at some sort of a cost. You might be hindered by your awareness of the sacrifices you’ll have to make in order to make the change. You might “hang out” in the contemplation stage for quite a while as you work to wrap your head around the work required towards self-improvement. You’ll weigh out the pros and cons, and at the end of this stage, you’ll finally make the commitment towards the change, which you believe will help you improve.
  • The third stage of change is known as the Preparation stage. Here, you begin the process for change. Since our focus is weight loss, you might take steps like joining a gym, hiring an online personal trainer, throwing out the non-strategic foods from your pantry, adding a few extra veggies to your shopping list, write goals or motivational quotes on your mirror in dry-erase marker, and join support groups, etc. You might work to learn new ways to alter your behavior in this stage (Perhaps since you’re hanging out with me here in “self-improvement blog land”, you’re finding this is the exact stage you’re in?).
  • The fourth stage of change is the Action stage. This is the point that you’re all in with your efforts. You understand the processes required of you, and you are working hard to make consistent efforts (Notice that I don’t say that you’re working for perfection, just consistency). It’s important to point out that many people find themselves retreating to their old ways after only a few weeks in the action stage. (This is why all of the regular gym goers love the last week of January. At this point of the year, all of the “New Years Resolutioners” have cleared out by then, and it’s less crowded on the gym floor). This can be avoided by making sure that you mentally work through each of the previous steps before “going all in” on a new goal. Make sure that you are also rewarding yourself for the efforts you are taking. I had a grand idea recently, that for every day I comply with my nutrition and exercise strategy, I would put $2 into a jar. Then either monthly, or when my goal is met, I can go and buy myself something fun. I have yet to act on this, though. I guess it’s still sitting in the contemplation stage until I’ve processed it enough to move the idea up to the preparation stage.
  • The fifth stage of change is the Maintenance phase. Here, you are in the habit of continually avoiding former behaviors and consistently acting on new behaviors. You have systems in place which help you to avoid the temptations of breaking your goals. You are replacing old habits with more productive and positive ones. Once again, rewarding yourself is a useful tool to help you continue to maintain your efforts. If (or dare I say when) you have set backs, you’re kind to yourself. You quickly get up, brush yourself off, and are back to work. You understand that your efforts are not sabotaged by one slip up, allowing yourself to continue recognizing the positive behaviors that you’ve been exhibiting. This stage is really empowering as you’re able to recognize that you have changed yourself from your old ways, and you are able to continue making progress in your efforts.
  • The sixth stage of change is Relapse. That’s not what you want to hear when you feel like you’ve made it to the top with maintenance, is it? Since you’re human, this is part of the process. In any behavior that we are working to change, it can be a common eventuality that one experiences a relapse. When this happens, you might find yourself frustrated, disappointed, wanting to quit altogether. But don’t! You can’t allow these hiccups to undermine your self-confidence. If a relapse happens, call a time out, and dig deep to understand why it happened. What was the trigger? How did you entertain the trigger to hang around with you? How can you avoid such trigger as you continue on your journey? The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep going in your efforts in the preparation, action and maintenance stages of change.

Where do you find yourself on this list? What do you need to do to move yourself up to the next stage of change? What are you going to commit to in moving yourself forward with your weight loss efforts?

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