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Success Isn't Measured in Pounds

Nope, sorry to burst the bubble, but I've really come to realize in the past 8 months that success can't be measured purely every time you step on the scale. If I went just by the scale, I'd miss out on so many of the equally important sucesses that come with a healthy lifestyle. I've been reminded of this lately, but especially this weekend we I got to see what a difference I can see in myself compared to a year ago.

Success is measured in inches. It cracks me up to try on old jeans and be able to pull them off without unzipping them. Or trying on a shirt that fit fine (or worse, was tight), only to find out that I'm swimming in it and the poofy stomach area of the shirt makes me look preggers (I refuse to buy shirts that are poofy in the stomach now, nothing to hide!). Even when the scale was stuck all of August, I still managed to go from fitting into 12 jeans to fitting into size 10s.

Success is measured in how many minutes I can run without stopping. I started kinda doing C25K in June, by July I had run a mile on the treadmill in about 12.75 minutes. I was up to 20 minutes without stopping a few weeks ago. Then I realized, Fall is here and I live next to a really pretty small lake with a path around it. So, I started to run outside. The first two attempts didn't go as well (max running time was a painful 7 minutes) but I realized my pace was WAYYYY too fast. So yesterday, I slowed it down. A lot. And I managed to do an entire mile in just under 12 minutes... OUTSIDE. And I ran/walked a total of 5K in 42 min 45 sec with running over half the distance. My goal is to one day be able to run all 5 laps around that lake, no walking. 

Success is measured in phone numbers. Haha... yep, phone numbers. Honestly, before I started all this, I never really got a phone number from a guy or really gave mine out, not at least to people I met casually while out. And getting hit on was a totally foreign thing that I'd just about given up on. But I've gotten a lot more confident lately and the past few weeks have actually be successful. Being offered drinks, guys striking up conversation, getting a phone number, it's all success in my book! It's getting myself out there and feeling happy and confident about it. So when a guy on Friday night told me I was pretty, I didn't say "no way, you're lying", I just thanks. Because I believed it.

Success is measured in new friends. Not only did I start being healthy back in February, but I graduated college and moved to a new state for my job. Lots of change all at once, and it meant finding new people. At first I was content staying in, not going out on the weekends, and finding the people I already knew to hang out with on occasion. Now I really think I need to put myself out there and meet NEW people. Expand my social circle. I think I finally have the confidence to do it, not just hide behind the friends I already know in new situations. So, I booked a spot on a booze cruise for 20s in the area. Alone. Just by RSVPing, I've already been in contact with a new friend that used to work for my company and we're planning to find each other at the cruise to chat. Success!

Finally, success is measured in how many people you reach.This website is such a fantastic way to reach out to people, both ones that have been down this road before with success, and those who need some encouragement to reach their goals as well. My friends and family have been encouraging, but nothing like the people on here. And I've even managed to convince some of them to become healthier themselves. It's infectious! So, spread the health! Sometimes people just need to know they're not the only one who wants to make a change. And to see that success is possible on so many different levels. 

So if you're ever feeling discouraged because the scale isn't telling you what you want it to say (mine even this morning showed me up 0.4 lbs from Friday), make a list of all the other successes that you've had. I'm certain I didn't list all of mine on here. But collectively, it makes me happy to see my own successes and when everyone on here shares their own. Keep it up!

Just Keep Running, Running, Running...

I thought I was getting pretty good at running. I had a good stride, I could finally breathe normally until my heart rate neared 180, I wasn't ready to collapse after running for a few minutes. I made it all the way to 20 minutes without stopping. But, here's the catch....

That was on the treadmill.

In light of the gorgeous Fall weather that has started to appear in Northern VA (excluding the past 2 days and today when it's been 90 again... *grumble*), I said to myself "run outside! Get some sunshine! Feel the breeze!" So... I did. And.... WOW THAT'S HARD!

The first outside run around the lake next to my apartment (0.62 miles around, Thank you MapMyRun) I did one lap of the lake in about 7 minutes. And then I wanted to die. My heart rate was 189, I was in pain, I couldn't breathe... what's going on?? What happened to 20 minutes?!? I did another 3 laps and I'd manage to run for a minute to a few minutes and then I'd walk another 1/4 or 1/2 a lap. Burned a ton of calories though. I tried again this past Tuesday. Didn't eat or drink enough water in the afternoon so I didn't do well at all. I managed less than half a lap before I had to walk. And then I did pretty pitiful intervals after that of run about a minute and walk at least as long. Somehow, after an entire summer of working my way up on the treadmill, I was effectively back at Week 1 of C25K!

This is definitely an unfotunate setback, I thought I'd at least be able to go for 10 or 15 minutes. However, there are a few factors that I've considered. First off, the path is definitely a bit hilly, not extremely, but enough to require effort. Second, I think I was running entirely too fast. My pace definitely was faster than on the treadmill when my speed was set to 4.7mph (and I'm a shorty). I just wanted to bolt around that lake for some reason, need for speed!! Anyway, towards the end of my second attempt at running outside, I did the running parts at much more of a jog... and it wasn't as bad. I was still exhausted from the first 3 or 4 laps (I did 5 total for 5K miles), but it wasn't killing me.

So, despite all this, I'm sticking to it. It's a much better workout than I was getting at the gym, I liked being outside now that it's not hot and sticky every day.  I'm thinking I just might start C25K alllll over again. It's proven to be the best way to work up to running 20 minutes, might as well go with it. Maybe it's what I need to get me to my goal, or at least push me in the right direction. I'm at 161 right now, and I want to lose another 21 pounds. But being as I'm nearing the healthy weight for my height (140), it's defintiely getting harder. I get a pound a week now, still respectable, but I miss 1.5-2 lbs a week. However, I DO NOT miss the fat version of myself, so I'll take it. 

And I'm just gonna keep running... running.... running....

Pictures of my Jewelry - I Need Opinions!

My latest crafty business venture is to knit jewelry from wire and make it pretty with crystals and pearls and things. I'm going to be selling it at a local Christmas boutique that runs between Thanksgiving and Christmas and part of the sales go to the charity that is running the boutique. This is where your help comes in! I want to know what styles people like! I want my jewelry to sell well, so if you have a few minutes, please look through these pictures and the album at:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2326839&id=419387&l=415e36007d

 I make earrings and most recently necklaces. Please post comments with what you like and don't like... be honest! I want to make the best jewelry I can :) I'll be filling an Etsy shop with what doesn't sell at the boutique and new creations after Christmastime, if you see something you adore.

 











Summer Successes and Fall Goals

This summer didn't feel like anything amazing happened, but looking at it all at once really shows how far I've come. When the summer started, I had only been working the Healthy Life Style for about 3 months, I still wasn't used to it, and I wavered a bit. 3 months later, I feel confident and this whole change isn't new anymore. I've adjusted and no one around me questions it because they're used to it. And I'm REALLY seeing RESULTS! So, here's a fun recap of my successes from this summer (from Memorial Day to Labor Day).

1. I lost a total of  18.1 pounds, and I went from 180 pounds just before Memorial Day to 161.9 lbs as of last Saturday. 

2. I've lost 3.5" off my waist and hips each, and 2.5" off each thigh.

3. I started the summer just fitting into size 14 jeans (for the first time since I started college) and I've ended the summer wearing a solid size 10 in pants, and I'm a size 8 in some skirts (SINGLE DIGIT... WHOOOO!). I've also gone from a size XL in tops to a Small or Medium (rarely a Large from the Juniors dept). 

4. I started doing the Couch 2 5K program at the beginning of June with the goal to run a mile without stopping by the end of the summer. Well, I ran a mile without stopping in JULY (mid-July) and now I can run for 20 minutes without stopping and I can run 25 out of 30 minutes with a walk break or two in the middle.

5. I completed the 30 Day Shred, and lost about 7-8 pounds during it. It was really great preparation for what came next...

6. I actually started some serious strength training using Chalean Extreme! I've now completed Phase 1 and I'm a week into Phase 2 as part of a hybrid combining Chalean Extreme and Turbo Fire.

7. I survived my first dreaded PLATEAU! It lasted basically the entire month of August, stuck bouncing between 163 and 165. I know I had been drinking on the weekends and I had just started strength training with Chalean Extreme, so it took adding in Turbo Fire and cutting back on my calories a bit to bust it last week. I've since lost 2 pounds and the scale is steadily dropping again.

8. I logged my calories every single day this summer, despite traveling to visit people and having a hectic schedule sometimes. It helps to have the MFP app on my phone for this.

9. I WORE A BIKINI!!!!! For the first time ever! It was just to the apartment pool a few times, but it felt awesome :) And I'm even smaller now than when I wore it in June.

10. I've had much greater success when I go out to bars (when it comes to guys). I've even had a few buy me drinks... that's a new one!

 

I think it's been a pretty awesome summer, and I"m looking forward to even more success in the next few months. And since I'm super organized and love lists, here's some of the goals I want to accomplish by the end of the year:

1. Meet my minigoal of being 150 by Christmas. At this point, that's 12 pounds away so it's only about 4 pounds a month to lose. I have a Super Minigoal in the back of my head to reach 145 by Christmas, but I know that's ambitious and my weight loss is slowing now that I'm about 20 pounds away from a helathy weight.

2. Run 5K without stopping. Right now, I can run a little over 1.5 miles in 20 minutes without stopping. In the next few months, I want to work up to running 5K, at least on the treadmill. I also might enter a 5K race in the area.

3. Wear a size 8 in pants. If I want to be really ambitious, I'd say a size 6, but I don't know how much my legs will shrink by then so a size 8 would rock my socks :D

4. Finish the Chalean Extreme/Turbo Fire hybrid program. Right now, I've got 15 weeks to go in the schedule, and I might cut out a week or two just because I get bored fast... lol. I have just enough weeks til Christmas to finish. I'm determined to stick with this one til the end!

5. Try and cook more for myself, I tend to rely on the microwave too much. I need to use my neglected oven and stove top more. I'm planning to cook a really yummy and low calorie/healthy dessert to bring to Thanksgiving dinner so  I won't be as tempted to eat 1000 calories in dessert.

6. This one has nothing to do with my body, just my mind (and wallet). I need to focus on making enough earrings to sell at the Holiday Boutique that my aunt is running. I also need to finish the baby sweater for my new cousin for Christmas. Must get back into crafty mode.

 

I think I've set some reasonable goals, and I like to have a deadline to complete them. Otherwise I get lazy and keep pushing things out. I really want to hit my initial goal weight of 140 by my 1 year anniversary on MFP on Feb. 15th of next year. That would be a total of 60 pounds lost using MFP. I've lost 38 pounds on here so far (15 before I found the site). These should really set me up to be on track to achieve that :)

How Did We Get Like This?

I feel like it's a question that every person asks themself at some point, when they realize that things have gotten out of control and something needs to be done. For some reason today, I've been thinking a lot about how so many people can end up being overweight or obese. In the United States, 66% of the population is overweight, and 30% or more of the country is 30 or more pounds overweight. Is it an accident? Do we all just love food so much that we can't control ourselves? Are we all essentially oblivious to what eating whatever we want and sitting around doing nothing all day will do to our bodies?

I hate to say it, but it's yes to all of those. We're lazy, we're uninformed, we're lacking in the resources and knowledge to do better.  It's something most of us were raised with. I never knew how to make healthy choices when I was growing up, and I never was presented with healthy choices from my parents or my school or anything. I grew up with horrible habits, like a lot of people who end up overweight as adults. Or we had an active childhood but once we got to be an adult and kept eating the same and sat at a desk all day, the weight started to pile on.

I think everyone needs to go through their list of excuses of why did I end up this way? Its a lot harder to get out of this mess when we don't know what got us into this mess. I've been thinking lately especially about how kids think about food and healthy choices. I've been trying to steer my cousin towards healthier choices, and to learn how many calories are in what foods we eat. And when I watch the TV show "Too Fat For 15" and I just want to scream when I see how little support the kids get from being at home sometimes. They make really great progress at the boarding school, but their families reverse it once they are back at home. 

It takes a lot of willpower to reverse all these years of reinforcement for an unhealthy lifestlye.  But honestly, I'm surprised how easy it has been. I don't ever question what I'm doing. I don't really have extreme moments of weakness. I've never had a day in 7 months where I'm like "Screw it, I'll eat whatever I want and not care about calories". I log everything every single day and I workout 6 days a week. I honestly can't tell you where it comes from, since for the first 22 years of my life, I could care less about any of it. It's almost like I'm addicted to it. I like how it makes me feel. I feel accomplished when I work out, I feel successful when I can buy a new clothing size. I feel beautiful and wanted when I get attention from guys. It's so completely the opposite of everything I used to feel that I don't want it to stop. 

Anyway, I've just been thinking a lot today. I feel like everyone is capable of change, it's just a matter of seeing why we need to change. And getting a catalyst that starts it all in motion. 

Fashion Show!

So I've been promising everyone some pictures in the new clothes that I've bought recently. These are just a few of the items I've bought, there are about twice as many as I show here. But these are my favorites, especially my new black dress to wear to my cousin's wedding! Anyway, let the fashion show commence! Let me know what you think! Especially the last thing...

 Top: Kohl's, Large - Jeans: Gap, Size 10 short



Same shirt, view from the front



Top: Black lace tank, Size L from Papaya (it's kinda hard to see, but I put a tank top under it otherwise it's see thru!)



Top: Cache, Size M, super on sale! Love when that happens



Top: MIchael Kors (from the Nordstrom Rack), Size S



Top: Kohls, Size M, Skirt: Kohls, Size L



TOp: JCrew, Size S, Skirt: JCrew, Size 8!!!!!!!! The only thing I've ever worn in a single digit size. I love it even more for that reason.



And the piece de resistance....

Dress: BCBG Max Azria, Size 12 (those darn dresses run incrediblely small) and quite possibly the hottest thing I've ever worn, and I'm not wearing any spanx or anything either :) It's for my cousin's wedding in a month, and it'll be my hot black cocktail dress in general. I'm getting it hemmed shorter, probably an inch above the knee.

 

Plateau BUSTED! And a Few Thoughts on Measuring Progress

I'd say this was short, by MFP plateau standards. 3-4 weeks bouncing between 164 and 166. I think it's safe to say I won't be seeing those numbers again. My glorious new body fat scale told me I weighed in at 162.9 lbs this morning!

And more telling, I think, is the body fat percentage change that I've seen. I bought my new scale 2 weeks ago from tomorrow. My body fat was 33.4% when I started, and this morning it was 33.1%. I've only lost a pound in those 2 weeks. It definitely helps me to see that sticking with the higher protein and the weight training has been successful. My weight loss has definitely slowed in the month that I've been doing this (to a grinding halt... lol), but the scale is just a number. Body fat is really what dictates how good I look. I could be 163 lbs and an amorphous blob with no muscle tone. However, I'm a comfortable size 10 in pants, a small or medium in most shirts, and I have muscle tone. It's hidden still in some areas, but continuing with my plan will take care of that over time.

It's definitely not a race to see my goal weight on the scale. Maybe I'll decided I don't even want to keep pushing to see 140 on the scale. But for now that's my target, a healthy weight for the first time in my entire life. Being healthy is really the key in everything that we do. Better food, better habits, better exercise all equals results on so many levels. Weight, body fat, measurements, energy level, nutrition, blood tests, mood, how hot my clothes look on me... teehee. I think I just get a bit happier when I see new results for any of these. It's the push that keeps me going day to day. Especially when I wear my new small clothes. I'll be taking some pictures of what I bought this weekend, I'll definitely post them on here :) I went a tinyyyy bit crazy at the outlet mall with my best friend this past weekend.

 

Until then, don't forget to track your progress as many ways as possible! When the scale is stuck, the body fat might be going down, or you can put on your skinny jeans again, or you get taken off your blood pressure meds. All of it is worth celebrating as much or even more than a pound lost!

How I Lost 51 Pounds, and How I Plan To Lose 25-30 More

I've been asked a lot recently how I've successfully lost over 50 pounds, how I've stayed motivated, what I did, what I ate, etc. So I've decided to record it all in a blog to share with everyone :)

First off, a tiny bit of background. I've never been skinny, or even normal weight, I've always been overweight basically as long as I can remember. The smallest adult size I've ever worn is a Size 14. I was never miserable about my weight, but I was never comfortable. I was just too busy/lazy/tired/unmotivated/etc. to do anything about it, until I was in my last semester of college last fall.

Starting out, I didn't really do much, or make a pledge "I'm going to get healthy and lose weight". It almost happened by accident. I moved into a rented room on campus at the bottom of "The Slope", which is a GIANT hill that I had to walk up whenever I wanted to go anywhere on or near campus. So I had some great built in exercise. It wasn't much, but it really got my heart rate up by time I reached class! And I also was living out of a minifridge and microwave. I ate a lot of low calorie instant meals, my breakfasts were small and low calorie, and lunch was on campus most days. I was just so busy that I didn't snack much. So subconsciously it seemed, I changed my habits to be healthier. When I came home after graduation in December 2009, I had lost 15 pounds!

Once I started my full time job in February, I knew that if I sat on my bum working 8 1/2 hours a day. kept eating like I had in the past, and didn't exercise, I'd gain back the 15 pounds and probably a ton more. So I made a decision not to let it happen. I started going to the free gym in my office building. I bought EA Sports Active for the Wii and did it 5 times a week, even if it was just for 20 minutes, and I started using MFP to log my food and make some awesome friends for support. I've kept this up for a solid 6 months now.

Lately, I've been eating more protein, I've worked strength training into my routine (using the 30 Day Shred to start and now the Chalean Extreme DVDs), I eat back half or so of my exercise calories, I make an effort to workout every day, I've taken up running through Couch to 5K.  Everything together has helped in getting to 50 pounds lost. It's slowed up somewhat since I upped the protein and strength training, but I can tell I'm building muscle as well. I've stayed motivated using MFP and by shopping.

Yep, shopping is my #1 motivation. I love clothes, I really do. And I've never really been 100% happy with how I look in clothes. Every time I fit into a smaller size, it was an extra boost to keep going. Never been in a size 12 before and I fit into it in June. Never EVER thought about being a size 10 before and these past 2 weeks I've bought 3 pairs of size 10 pants. I buy medium tops for the first time ever... even a few smalls! It's exhilarating! And maybe I also have a tiny, somewhat superficial reason of hoping to meet more guys with dating potential once I've lost the weight. 

 

Anyway, that's my story of how I did it and why I did it. For the next 25-30 pounds I need to lose to reach my goal, I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing. Keep eating my protein, doing Turbo Fire and Chalean Extreme 5 times a week, go to the gym 2 times a week, improve my running distances/times, and stay POSITIVE! I haven't really lost a pound in 3 weeks. Has it stopped me? Nope. Have I said "Screw it, I'll eat a carton of ice cream!" Nope! I trust my body and I know that what I'm doing now is WAY better for it than what I was doing. The scale isn't the only measure of progress. I take measurements monthly (lost 6" off my waist in 5 months), and I just bought a body fat scale and I'm nearly in the healthy range of 21%-33%, despite still being 24 pounds over weight. I know the scale will move eventually, but it's not my biggest concern.

If anyone has questions or anything, let me know! I hope my story can help someone in some way to meet their goal :)

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