Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Taking a Break - from Blogging not dieting

Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know that due to my strange schedule the next few weeks I'm going to take a hiatus from blogging until after Christmas, and possibly after New Year's. I will try to still update my weight everyday, but I won't be blogging daily.

If you're interested in what I'm up to during this time, feel free to email me at losingweightforadummy@gmail.com.

Have a great holiday season, happy Christmas and New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Julie & Julia' Please Parallel Me

Tonight Mike and I rented "Julie and Julia" the movie based on two true stories including the life of the famous Julia Child. For anyone who isn't familiar with the basic storyline of the movie, a woman who is unsatisfied with her career and stuck in a rut found solace, a new beginning and her life in the book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Julia Child's masterpiece and launching point. The movie parallels the modern-day cook, Julie, who cooks all the recipes in the book in one year and blogs about it while giving an in-depth look into Julia Child's life. Although a bit long, the movie was great because the two stories are incredible. Learning to cook brought Julia Child to life and taking on the cooking/blogging adventure brought Julie back to life.

While I was watching the movie, and I have a feeling while Mike was watching it as well, I kept thinking about myself and how some of this plot is similar to my life, but the amazing parts of
this movie aren't paralleling my life well enough. Is it too much to ask for the movie to please parallel me? I'm just kidding.

One of the most important things I have realized lately, whether it's because of my weight loss or poor eating habits, my job or my daily routines, is that life is better when I'm blissful. Amy Adams' character in "Julie & Julia" goes through extreme ups and downs that follow the patterns of her everyday life. When cooking isn't going well, she's arguing with her husband and her job is at its worse she has breakdowns, gets ill and wants to give up. On the other hand, when her chocolate cake is perfection (and looked delicious I must say), she lets the stresses of her job drop off her shoulders and laughs hysterically to Saturday Night Live while cuddling with her husband, she's not only blissfully happy, but healthier too.

When I'm in my highest states and singing merrily to the holiday carols, I eat healthier and in better portions, I laugh more, my back hurts less and I'm motivated to do anything and everything. Adversely, the exact opposite happens when I'm in a bad mood or my overall state is low. My mood is having much too great an affect on my weight loss program. Now don't worry please, for anyone who may actually be reading this, I haven't gained back all that weight and I'm still extremely happy that I'm at a stable 202 lbs., but when I'm having a bad day it's still really hard for me not to eat an entire box of snow caps plus a bag of popcorn, dinner and some frozen yogurt. I refrain quite well, but it's getting harder and harder to be strong as my mood becomes lower and lower this holiday season.

Amy Adams reaches a breaking point in the movie where she has "breakdowns" one after the other and eventually comes to verbal blows with her husband. She stops cooking, omits things in her blog and is really depressed. When she comes out of it however, she shines like the brightest star in her personal endeavors and that radiates clearly into her professional life, her relationships and her cooking. It's really inspirational.

This holiday season is kind of rough for me because I don't actually feel like it's the holidays since we're spending it away from the snow-covered Midwest. That combined with a few other personal factors, and I'm not my normal, sarcastic and happy self. I'm close, but not quite there. So hopefully this is my low and it takes a little bit of inspiration, a visit with my parents and a few days off work on the holidays to rejuvenate my weight-losing spirit to get back (completely) on the right track -- a proverbial turning of my frown upside down.

It's kind of ironic that I've found inspiration in a film that focuses completely on cooking and eating, when my own blog focuses on refraining from over-eating and controlling food and weight. Now, if only I could get the same following from my blog that Julie was able to get and that whole publishing deal wouldn't be too bad either ... hehehe.

As Julia Child's famously crooned, "Bon Appetite!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can

The hardest thing about trying to lose weight during the holiday season it turns out, isn't avoiding snacking on delicious Christmas cookies or gorging myself on stuffing and mashed potatoes. My problem is much more simple than keeping away from sweets, it lies in my will power and motivation.

I am seriously lacking some motivation right now and it doesn't help that Slim Fast just issued a major recall on all of their shakes. I usually have a Slim Fast shake for breakfast and dinner, but now what do I do? I know, I know, there are hundreds of solutions for this itty bitty problem, but I'm a creature of habit and I prefer not to add change to my daily routines.

It's been almost two weeks of me staying steady at 203 lbs and all I want to do is push beyond that weight and make it to that nagging 200. It sounds simple enough, but I still can't really exercise due to the disc problem in my back and without that exercise, motivation is definitely on the decrease!

It is Dec. 7 and I have only 18 days until Christmas and 18 days until my parents are in Las Vegas visiting me and my fiance for a long weekend. I really want to be at 200 pounds or below by that date. I know I've had the 200 lb. goal for a long time, but it's really time I hit it. That way I can enter the new year with a new perspective, more motivation and keep on trucking down the weight scale.

For all of you lacking motivation at this time of year, don't worry, you're not alone. We all just need to help keep each other moving in the right direction!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sluggish Friday

I'm feeling a little sluggish and unmotivated today. I don't really know what else to say about it, other than I hope I can just push past the mental side of feeling unmotivated and work hard through the weekend to drop past 203.4 -- the weight I've been for 3 days straight.

Nothing's really making me feel unmotivated and there isn't any significant reason why I'm a little blue, but I could use a little holiday cheer. Send it my way please!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Good Laugh

It's not every day that I can look in the mirror and laugh at myself, but it happened to me this morning. When I say laugh, I'm not referring to a slight giggle, but instead a full-on outburst of laughter mixed with a couple of tears.

This morning I walked into the bathroom in the master bedroom to get ready for work. I turned to walk into the closet and caught a glimpse of my little beer belly in the mirror poking out from above my pajama pants and below the hem of the tank top I was wearing. Four months ago that would have made me cry hysterically on the floor, but this morning it made my laugh uncontrollably. Something about seeing the actual roll of fat that I'm attempting to combat, and picturing myself on peopleofwalmart.com made me absolutely lose it.

I don't really think this is normal or even healthy, and I know for certain that it looked horrendous, but it made me realize that the image I have of myself is changing. I've said before that it's changing, but it's one thing to say it and believe it, and entirely another thing to actually practice it. I haven't lost 75 pounds yet, and I still enjoy a couple of slices of pizza every now and then, but I have improved so much from August until today. And I'm extremely thankful for that.

I know today's post was nothing profound, but I have been thinking about my laughing fit all morning so I thought I would share. I did add two photos of me today. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Survived the Radio

Morning everyone! I just wanted to say thanks to all of you that tuned in to The Last Cookie Club radio show last night from 4-5 p.m. on KLAV 1230 am. Former Las Vegas casino owner and author, Gary Mahoney invited me to be on his show to talk a little bit about my weight struggles and the journey I've been on since August to drop the excess fat. I think it went great!

If you missed the show and are interested in listening to it, you can visit www.lastcookieclub.com/podcast.php. This will link you to all of the Last Cookie Club archived shows. If you have any comments about things I said, or the show in general, please leave them here or send me an e-mail to let me know. I thrive off feedback, and reading comments from all of you is what really keeps me moving forward.

Also on yesterday's show was a friend of Gary's named Greg. Greg is not overweight and does not have a problem with overeating, but he's no stranger to addiction. Gary brought him on the show to talk about how he's recovered from his own addictions and to bring up the power of meditation. Both Gary and Greg use meditation heavily to help with their addictions and recovery processes. For me, I've never really tried meditating, beyond what teachers may have had us do during various college-level classes. I've honestly never really been interested in it, but I think it may be worth trying.

The most important thing that I've learned through all of this is that each one of us, regardless of our addiction or problem, recovers and moves forward in a different manner. Meditation may not work for me because I need to share my thoughts and feelings in order to move forward, but maybe it will help me focus. I think trying new methods is important, but the key is to not use everything all at once so it all gets jumbled.

I learned yesterday that talking about my story on the radio made me think a lot more about how exactly I came to be the way I am. It was extremely thought-provoking and I'm grateful for that because there are some aspects of my weight-gain and weight-loss that had never crossed my mind before. I think I have a lot more thinking to do, and maybe Gary will even invite me to be on his show again sometime soon.

I hope all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday and are back in the swing of work and school and standard schedules. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Card/Holiday Photos!


Now that the holidays are officially upon us, it's time to revisit one of my favorite passions: photographing families! If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in having someone take family photos for Christmas or holiday cards, or photos of your kids to develop for gifts for relatives, I can do that for you at extremely low rates.

I've included a few photos from a shoot I did three weeks ago with a family who are using the photos to not only document the age of their new baby, but for this year's Christmas card as well.

My services include the shoot, photo editing and a disc with the images for
a flat, low rate. If you'd like to have photos ordered as well, I can arrange
that too, based on vendor pricing.

If you're interested in more samples or more information, please email the address linked to this blog (to avoid putting my phone number up for the world to see) losingweightforadummy@gmail.com.

Last Cookie Club Radio Show

So I thought some of you may be interested in listening to the Last Cookie Club radio show this afteroon. I have been asked to be a guest on the program from 4-5 p.m. (pacific time). You can click "listen live" at www.klav1230am.com to tune in.

Former Las Vegas casino owner and author of "The Last Cookie Club" hosts a weekly talk show that focuses not only on weight loss, but on the ups and downs of maintaining weight and being on a weight-focused journey. We're going to talk about my journey so far, how to handle the holidays and anything else he may come up with!

Feel free to listen if you get the chance!

Monday, November 30, 2009

They All Noticed My Changes!

While I was home over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was pleased that I received several compliments on my weight loss. People that I've known my entire life, and individuals I met only recently all noticed the change in my size. It felt fantastic to be complimented like that!

I was a bit nervous to return to weighing myself this morning like I would any normal morning because I thought for sure that the scale would prove that I gained 10, 15 or 20 pounds from all of the delicious food I ate over the long weekend. Everything from wedding cake tasting to pizza and Thanksgiving turkey to buffalo wings, I had it all and enjoyed it! I was pleasantly surprised, however, when the scale showed 205.4. That is a weight I can definitely deal with and a good way to start my journey again.

I was thinking about my New Year's goal, to be down to somewhere around 180 lbs, and I know for sure that I won't be able to do that since that's 25+ lbs in four weeks, but I would like to drop comfortably into the 100s. It would be nice to see the scale start with a "1" even when I fluctuate up and down dramatically.

Tonight Mike and I are having homemade perogies for dinner with bacon, something that isn't exactly weight-friendly, but I have to get them in before I swear off naughty foods for awhile! I survived the first big holiday filled with delicious treats practically unscathed, and I know I have another one right around the corner. It's time to be on my best behavior so when those Christmas cookies cause temptations, I can have one for taste, but not splurge and ruin all of my hard work!

There are two photos from the weekend taken with my iPhone in this blog. One is a picture of Mike with his new nephew Evan after Evan's christening on Saturday, and the other is of me and my best friend, Stephanie at her dad's 60th birthday party. Mike popped into the background of that one too!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Heading Home ...


I can't remember thr last time I had such a wonderful weekend. I don't think I've been this happy since we went to Hawaii with my parents last February/March. Spending four days with my family, Mike's family and our friends was just what the doctor ordered to prepare my mind and soul for a cheerful holiday season.

The four day weekend was busy and packed wih great food that I just couldn't avoid. I'll definitely have to work a little harder to work off those extra calories from the turkey dinner, cake and excessive snacking, but all of it was absolutely worth it.

Mike and I also got a lot accomplished for the upcoming wedding as well. Friday was extremely busy and filled with appointments, but we made great strides forward. We reserved the cake, booked the florist, chose the invitations and had our engagement photo shoot.

So we're about to take off so I have to get this posted. I'll add a couple photos in the near future!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Although I wasn't able to blog yesterday and offer some tips to all of you, I still wanted to drop a line and say happy thanksgiving!

Make sure you spend time with family and enjoy lots of great food. For me, I'm going to splurge a little bit and enjoy every minute of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family is key at Thanksgiving

I'm not going to lie, I was surprised by the results of last week's poll. When I asked readers what their favorite aspect of Thanksgiving is, I was expecting almost everyone to check the response for "The Food!" To my shock and awe, the number one answer was "being with family."

Eighteen percent of responses were for the food, 54% were for "being with family," 9% were for "taking part in traditions" and 18% were for football. I know for me, my opinion of the holiday has changed over the past couple of years. I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving with my family for three years and so this year I'm ecstatic to be around my family and Mike's family.

If you would have asked me three years ago what my favorite aspect of Thanksgiving was I would have told you that it was the food, hands down.Where else, in one sitting, can you consume juicy turkey, wine, cranberry sauce (preferably from a can hahaha), mashed potatoes with gravy, veggies, corn casserole, green bean hot dish, apple pie and on occasion, even Christmas cookies?!?! It's like heaven on one table. That may explain the extra pounds that have made a home around my waist in the past couple of years.

No matter what you're reason is for being excited for Thursday's holiday, I hope you have a great one! I can't wait to hop on the plane, see my family and eat some fantastic food. I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already! Where has time gone?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Status Update

So I figured I'd offer all of you a little update on my current condition, both weight-wise and health-related since I seem to be falling apart from the inside, out.

I finally took everyone's advice, or maybe just gave in since I was being talked to sternly, and went to visit the doctor on Friday afternoon. After getting "examined" for less than three minutes the doctor told me to take 6-8 ibuprofen four times a day. I should probably note that he also never actually looked at my back with his eyes, or touched me with his hands. His inspection consisted of him asking me to bend forward and touch my toes (which I couldn't do). It's worth adding that I can never touch my toes regardless of the condition of my back since I'm the least flexible human being on the planet.

As if that wasn't irritating and odd enough (not to mention not worth the $35 I paid for it), It wasn't until I was signing the bill at the receptionist's desk and about to leave that the 15-year-old behind the counter "reminded" me to pick up my prescription at Target. Um .... what prescription? The doctor never bothered to tell me that he prescribed me Lortab for the shooting pain to take intermittently with the ibuprofen. What is wrong with health care in this stupid state?

I began taking the medication as prescribed (both the Lortab and ibuprofen) Friday afternoon, and treating my back with heat as the doctor said (but "absolutely no ice") and my back felt a little better on Saturday. The shooting pains had disappeared, and what was left was the throbbing, consistent pain. Believe it or not, but that was easier to handle. The relief was short-lived, however, since I woke up this morning (Sunday) and the pain had returned. To make matters worse, I picked up the basket of clean laundry to take upstairs (you can all yell at me later for lifting things) and tripped over the dog that was running around my feet. I wrenched my back again and now the shooting pains have returned. It's like returning to ground zero. The good news is that I know that all it's going to take to get past this is time, and time is something I have.

As for my weight, I'm well on my way to making it to 200 pounds by Thanksgiving morning. I need to make sure I eat extremely well Monday-Wednesday especially since my movement is limited these days. I know I can do it, and boy will it feel good the first time I see 200 or 199 in almost two years!

I can't wait for this week to blow by, weight goal met or not, because Mike and I are heading back to Minnesota and Wisconsin to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, the christening of his nephew and a whole lot of wedding preparation stuff! So, in the spirit of that, I will apologize in advance if my blog-writing is less than up to par Thursday through Sunday. I'm going to be a bit busy, and I'm looking forward to every second of it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Falling Apart ... Literally

A doctor once told me that dramatic changes such as weight gain or weight loss, heightened stress levels or emotional tragedy can cause a severe shift in your body. Although my weight loss is not yet dramatic, if I were to couple that with high stress then I think my body may be reacting according to this doctor's theory. I am literally falling apart.

I have spent more than two weeks nursing the before, during and after symptoms of the flu and a cold. Now that I am just about out of the weeds with that bug, my body is falling apart. I still exercise regularly and I haven't done anything to over-exert myself physically, yet my back is barely working.

Starting yesterday during lunch, while seated in a wooden, upright chair, I started feeling uncomfortable and my lower back began to ache. I didn't think much of it, but when I stood up to leave the restaurant at the end of lunch, shooting pains ran down my spine, through my lower back, through my buttocks and into my thighs. The pain was horrendous. I ended up spending the afternoon walking barefoot (because walking in 3-inch heels became impossible) and hunched over like a 99-year-old woman with osteoporosis.

Last night I spent much of the evening taking ibuprofen and resting with a heating pad, but woke up again this morning with the same shooting pains. I can barely walk up and down the flights of stairs in our office without being on the verge of tears. It's horrible.

I called a local chiropractor and of course my insurance is worthless when it comes to this matter. Just a single visit is upwards of $60 and that's just for the evaluation to "see if anything's wrong with me." So, I'm going to keep stretching, taking ibuprofen and treating my back with heat and ice to try and relax the muscles and gain some movement back. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? I hope that's true!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A New Photo of Me -Taken Today


I Survived My Lunch

First of all I want to thank everyone who sent me Facebook messages, left comments on my blog, texted me and responded via Twitter to my cry for help regarding my lunch situation. The lunch went fantastic by the way, and I found something to eat that wasn't too far off my health/weight-watching radar.

We went to Landry's Seafood House by Palace Station in Las Vegas. Off their lunch menu I ordered "Chicken and Mushrooms." The dish was simple: grilled chicken w/sauteed mushrooms with some sort of a mushroom-based cream sauce drizzled over it. That was served with a light rice pilaf and steamed broccoli. When I looked it all up, it actually falls well within my calorie count, so I was satisfied.

As for the meal itself, unfortunately it was the driest piece of chicken I have ever eaten. I ate all of it though because I was starving!
Thanks again everyone for your great suggestions. As always, I love advice and learning from others who have gone through or are going through the same journey as me!

In a Tough Spot

So, I need some help, and anyone with ideas please feel free to comment.

I'm heading to lunch in two hours for a business meeting, and I'm going to a restaurant I've never been to before. Now, I've been in this situation before and I did what I always do: I looked up the menu online and rifled through it to find something to order before I actually go to the restaurant.

Here is where I reach my dilemma. We're going to a seafood restaurant and I don't eat seafood or fish of any kind. There are other items on the menu, but the non-seafood/fish items are all pastas or fried or are extremely high in carbs, calories and fat. So, what do I do without A) Being Rude, B) Starving or C) Cancelling?

I could order I side salad, I suppose, or a pasta and only eat a third of it. Do any of you have suggestions?

By the way, I'll write another post after lunch to let you know what happened and what I chose to do. Please Help Me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear Santa ...

In college I had a professor that asked us to write a letter to Santa Claus. She said it was cathartic and also a good writing exercise. Before that class, the last time I wrote a letter to Santa was when I was still writing with crayons. I'm sure I asked for things like Legos and Barbies or playing cards, and in college I asked for a new cell phone or car or a trip to the Caribbean. This year I've decided to revive the tradition and write a good, old-fashioned letter to the jolliest man we know. So, here goes...

Dear Santa,

I don't know if I've been good this year because I think that term is relevant, but I know I've tried hard to be a good person and given my all to fulfilling my commitments. I'm fortunate in that I'm not left wanting a lot, my fiance tends to spoil me rotten, but I've managed to find a thing or two that I would love to receive under or adjacent-to my proverbial tree this year.

If you have an extra one in your bag, I'd love a trip to London. I know we're spending our honeymoon there, but I truly can't get enough. If you'd like to throw in a flat in Kensington, I wouldn't mind that either. Also, if you happen to specialize in guidance, I'd love a kick in the right direction toward figuring out what I want to do with my life and career. I may be 26, but I'm no closer to knowing that I want to be a doctor, lawyer or Pulitzer-prize winning writer now than I was at 16.

Lastly, and I doubt you can find this in your bag of presents (perhaps liposuction equipment or diet pills, but I want neither of those), could you please find a way to get rid of my belly fat, love handles, excessively large boobs and tree-trunk thighs? I'd really appreciate for all the excess of Me to disappear overnight, preferably from Dec. 24 to Dec. 25. That would be a perfect gift.

Love,

Beth

Hmm, something tells me I'm not going to get anything in that last paragraph for Christmas, at least not directly from Santa like he waived a magic wand or something so I'll just have to stick to my own hard work. The other ideas have merit though. I'll have to let you all know if any of my Christmas wishes come true! What do you want for Christmas? If you share your letters here, maybe it can be a one-stop-shop for the big guy in the red suit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weight Causes Clinical Depression For Some

I wasn't surprised to get a large number of responses when I asked my readers about weight-gain and how that relates to feelings of depression, but I was surprised by the poll's actual results.
Ninety-three percent of readers who answered the poll responded to "has your weight ever caused you to be depressed?" with a favorable response, leaving only 7% who answered negatively. Of those 93% who answered yes, more than 20% said they've become clinically depressed either now or at some point in time, because of their weight.

That number is astounding. More than 20% of individuals who are reading my blog have been labeled clinically depressed as a result of their weight. I didn't specify what the issue with weight was in the question, whether it's an eating disorder, weight gain or even dramatic weight loss, but my assumption is that the majority of people who answered the question and who are reading this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis responded based on weight gain.

I don't answer the questions myself, but if I would have answered this poll, I would have selected "yes, but not clinically depressed." Although I've never sought treatment due to the anxious feelings I've experienced because of the weight I've gained over the last five years, I have still gone through many ups and downs. It's very tiring and the thoughts have weighed very heavily on my mind about what I'm wearing and how other people perceive me, what I'm eating and whether or not someone sitting across the table sees a fat girl shoveling chow into her mouth. It's a feeling of being very insecure overall and it was pretty much the main emotion I've experienced for several years.

It wasn't until I made the actual decision to take control, not only of my weight, but of the way I look and the way I portray myself to the public, that I've been able to shift the way my mind thinks. I'm not so worried or obsessed about whether or not someone else sees me as fat or ugly, etc., but now I put more energy into how I perceive myself. If I think I look good then confidence is growing. What I've noticed is that the more confidence I gain, the more often someone else, whether stranger or friend, notices what I'm wearing. I've been complimented more times in the past 3 months (the amount of time I've been on this weight loss journey) than I had been the entire 10 years prior. Now I know that that just seems like a sad statistic, but don't get me started on my ex-boyfriends and those self-esteem issues. Just kidding .... sort of.

So, since this is such a large issue, I decided to talk with a doctor/friend of mine about the fundamental problems that are linked with weight gain and depression issues. He helped me narrow down a couple of pointers that have helped me, and can help other people keep those feelings of self-loathing, depression and or anxiety at bay. Losing weight is a process, it's a long journey that takes time and doesn't just happen over night. My friend told me that changing your frame of mind also takes a lot of time. So, start small and get big -- in a non-weight-gaining type of way. Here are his suggestions: control your stress in whatever manner works for you without eating the entire contents of the fridge (i.e. exercise, meditation, relaxation); get plenty of sleep (even if it means taking a Tylenol PM to kick start your first 8-hour sleep-athon); catch some rays. With the last one, I know it's not possibly to sit outside and enjoy a picnic in the sunlight when it's 30 degrees, but he suggested spending more time in well-lit areas outside the office and or hitting the tanning bed once or twice to avoid seasonal depression which also leads to piling on layers and feeling fat due to extra clothing.

It's a lot to take in, but I hope a couple of these suggestions can help you. I've been trying harder lately to get a lot more sleep and hitting the gym has definitely helped keep me calm. As for the tanning, well I avoid tanning beds like the plague, but I do try to go outside for a long walk every once in awhile just to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air (even if it is only 30 degrees).

The photo in this blog was taken today. I'm down a total of 26 lbs since starting and I feel great.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

200 in 10 Days

Well we're coming down to the final days before I return to Minnesota for the first time since Memorial Day weekend. This trip is important for me too because not only are we seeing my entire family and many of our friends, but we will be mingling with Mike's family and extended family for his nephew's christening. Also, we're taking our engagement photos the day after Thanksgiving so the way I look on that day will be kept forever as digital art. I must, must, must feel good about the way I look that day.

My goal in October was to reach 200 lbs by my 26th birthday. I didn't do it, if you remember, but I got awfully close. Now, almost four weeks after that day, I still haven't reached the 200 mark, no matter how close I've come. I've ridden a couple of ups and downs with getting sick and feeling stressed, but I haven't gained a ton of pounds, nor have I lost those last precious few to reach that goal. Now is the time to do it!

This morning I weighed in at a dreaded 208.8 pounds after indulging in an early Thanksgiving dinner and eating relatively unhealthily while sick for a week. That means I have 10 days (until I fly home late Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving) to lose 8.8 pounds. Now I know what you're thinking, lose 8.8 pounds in that short amount of time? I know it sounds crazy, but my weight fluctuates like crazy between 209 and 204 so I don't think it'll be that difficult to get back down to the 204-5 range and from there it's all about pushing myself both with what I'm eating and at the gym. Now is the time to concentrate and stay on track!

Right now in the kitchen I have puppy chow (muddy buddies to some of you), apple pie, candy, cheesy puffs, pudding and leftover pizza from Papa Johns. Those are some of my favorite foods, yet I didn't indulge even the slightest all day. That may not seem like a big deal, but I've been sitting at home almost all day working on my computer with no one else in the house. Do you know how easy it is to get carried away with eating snacks when you're bored and alone?!?!?! It's my worst nightmare for a situation!

I can't wait to go back to Minnesota in 10 days. I've been dreaming about seeing my family and friends and doing some hands-on wedding planning stuff. Not to mention the fact that Mike and I can't wait to meet our baby nephew, Evan! So, I guess you should all wish me luck and help motivate me these next few days. I'm going to need all the luck I can get with this one!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Seasons Are A Changing

I can tell that the seasons have officially shifted in Las Vegas. It took a little longer than normal for the heat of summer to wear off and the chill of fall to arrive, but alas, it is finally here. Just two weeks ago we hit temperatures in the low nineties and now we're happily resting securely in the 60s. This is the weather I love. However, this weather does horrible things for my body and my diet!

I can always tell when the weather is officially shifting form season to season. My skin gets a little dry and even peels, and my appetite switches from craving refreshing items like fresh fruit and turkey wraps to mashed potatoes, hot dish and steak.

Considering last night I wanted a New York strip, mashed potatoes and bread, I'm thinking my body has recognized it's want for foods with great warming qualities. However, I think it's less about warming the body and more about warming the soul --- providing that comforting sensation during the holiday season and cold months. I am from the upper Midwest after all and haven't been out of that region for very long.

Now, have no fear, I did not give in to my temptations last night, but I know these next few months will be difficult because "winter foods" are always higher in carbs, higher in fat and higher in calories. I'm really going to need to train myself to still want low-cal turkey wraps and fresh veggies instead of all the fattening goodness --- and that's not even touching on the fact that Christmas cookie season is right around the corner!!!

Well, this entire process is about ups and downs and overcoming the never-ending challenges. This is just the latest challenge to take head-on and push through . I'm sure I'll have something new to survive in the spring when the weather changes from cold to warm.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Staying steady -- and sick

Hey everyone, I'm sorry my blog has been a little meager lately. I'm still getting over this flu/cold bug and it's driving me nuts! I haven't been keeping track of my calories while I'm sick since I've been ingesting lots of carbs, juices and fluids, all of which seem to be higher in calories than I normally eat.

By the end of this weekend I should be at 100% again (I'm at about 75% right now), and I should be getting back to the gym too. I can't wait!

Not only do I feel awful, but mentally I feel bad because I'm not doing as well as I was. So, as soon as I feel rested, I'm getting back to it.

Check back tomorrow, I'm thinking of hitting the gym after work!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sick Bay

I spent the weekend sick. Although I should have spent every hour wrapped up in bed, I was able to get out a bit to take care of some errands and chores. It's Monday, day three of feeling awful, but hopefully this bug is getting past me.

I've been taking vitamins, drinking plenty of fluids (especially juices with antioxidants in them) and eating carbohydrates to absorb the acids in my stomach. I'm not exactly sticking to the stringent guidelines of my diet, but my first goal is to get healthy, and then continue dropping the pounds!

So, that's it for today, sorry it's so short. My word of advice, however, after talking to a doctor is this: If you have flu symptoms, don't run to the hospital immediately convinced you have the swine flu. Do you have a fever? If not, then you don't have H1N1. I thankfully have not had a fever and don't have the vicious bug, but let me tell you, this normal flu crap isn't that great either!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Biscuit Binge

I don't think I can ever honestly deny that I eat my emotions. Yesterday was the absolute perfect example of what I've trained myself to do for years - eat until I don't feel the pain anymore.

This week was difficult for me. I'm not sure why my emotions got all wrapped up in everything I was doing, but it seeme that the tiniest thing could make me cry or push me into a bad mood. A straw finally broke this camel's back yesterday afternoon and then came the biscuit binge.

As I was returning home, overwhelmed with frustration, irritation and a slew of other emotions, I had to stop at the grocery store for some items for dinner. What an awful idea! I also bought a container I Pillsbury biscuits. Instead of waiting for dinner, I cooked them as soon as I got home and consumed nearly the entire package.

Just as I knew I would, I feel awful today. It's not exactly falling off the wagon, but certainly a spat of weakness. My first real binge since starting this journey. I'm certainly not looking to do that again anytime soon!

So, today is a new day and a much better day at that. All I can do is take it one day at a time, and for now that's my plan.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What to Eat, What to Eat

I've had several e-mails lately (losingweightforadummy@gmail.com) asking me how I'm continually losing weight but still eating out all the time. What are my secrets? The easiest thing I can tell other people who eat out all the time is to plan ahead!

Not only do my fiance and I like to eat out on a regular basis, but on weekdays the best part about the lunch hour is getting out of the office. A group of my coworkers and I eat out almost every single day because it's a way to take a break from the office environment and it offers a lot of variety. This pattern could easily get me into trouble if I'm not prepared.

So what I do to combat this is to plan, in advance, what to eat at the restaurant we're heading to. We usually decide via e-mail what time we're going to lunch and which restaurant we're going to eat at so then I go online and look at that restaurant's menu. Oftentimes I can also find the nutritional information so I can enter it into the calorie tracker program on my iPhone.

Web sites like thedailyplate.com and Dottie's Weight Loss Zone (www.dwlz.com) have a lot of restaurants listed with nutritional (and weight watchers points) information.

Here are a couple of examples of things I like to eat when I eat out at chain restaurants for lunch during the week.
  • Jason's Deli - Either the Club Lite or the Turkey Wrap from the "Real Choices" menu. The Club Lite has 514 calories and I order it with baked lays and a diet soda. The Turkey Wrap 350 calories. The best thing about Jason's Deli is the frozen yogurt at the end of the meal. Soft serve is only about 60 calories for 1/2 cup!
  • Pei Wei - Asian food of all kinds is generally not the greatest for you, but there are healthy options everywhere. I used an iPhone app (listed to the right) to find a meal that isn't too horrible. The tricky part is the rice, and also the fact that Pei Wei's portions are calculated as 2 servings. I order the Mongolian Chicken with brown rice. A full dish of the Mongolian Chicken is 560 calories and the brown rice is 130 calories. White rice has more than 300 calories. Although that creates a meal of 690 calories, my lunch is always my heartiest meal of the day so I'm comfortable eating the entire thing. And, it's delicious!
  • Wendy's - I think the best thing you can do at Wendy's or any fast food restaurant is to order items individually and not as the meal. If you order the bacon cheeseburger, you don't need a large fries. When I go to Wendy's I order Crispy Chicken Sandwich (360 calories) and a small fries for 210 calories. Most people jump for the plain baked potato because it sounds healthier, but that's 270 calories without anything on it, let alone adding the sour cream and butter.

Like I said, eating out on a diet isn't the enemy, it's all about the selections you make. There really are healthier options everywhere, even at McDonalds or Taco Bell, you just have to find them and then order those.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

When Did I Lose Control?

I've spent a lot of time talking about "aha! moments" or those epiphanies that helped kick-start my weight loss journey, but until today, I hadn't thought about another very important aspect of this entire issue ...

A friend of mine said she recently spent some time asking herself a question, and it wasn't "when did I decide it was time to lose weight?," but instead, "When did I lose control of my wei
ght?" I hadn't even taken time to figure out this piece of the puzzle,
and now that I'm thinking about it, I b
elieve it may be one of the most important aspects behind
the emotional and mental aspects of weight gain and loss. When did I lose control of my weight?

This question is really difficult for me, as I would assume it would be for a lot of people. It may not even be possible to pinpoint an exact event or moment or time period that kick-started all of the weight-gain, but I definitely think it's worth figuring out. For my friend, she said it was when her mother passed away and she took on more responsibilities with the household and her father, etc.

I would love to sit here and blame college for that initial push into the loss of self control, but I can't. I could tell all of you that it started with the famed "freshman 15" and just skyrocketed from there due to the late night pizza, beer drinking and constant take-out, but none of that is true. I did gain the "freshman 15" (or 25), but I wasn't a drinker and I
didn't gorge myself on McDonalds and Taco Bell. I'm afraid that now that I'm really looking back on it that it has more to do with personal and emotional situations than a simple solution like bad eating habits.

I've attached a couple of photos here that I came across just this past week when I found a "photo back-up disc" in my
collection of CDs. The photos were all taken between 2003 and 2005, and I weighed about 165 lbs. I stuck around 165 lbs for the first 3 years of college and didn't waver much. I was one of the "large" girls due to that size, but I was comfortable, if not happy with the way I looked. For me, my turning point came in 2005. It wasn't just one moment though, it was a series of events that not only caused me to lose control of my weight, but sent me into an emotional
rollercoaster.

To make a very long story short, in a matter of a couple of years a lot of things changed in my life. I went from studying at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota to living in London, England then returning to Midwest to study in Wisconsin. I was in a 3-year relationship with someone from college and then was dumped via e-mail. I was a victim of bank fraud, twice and road the highs and lows of loving living overseas, but missing my friends and family in the U.S. There were quite a few ups and downs. I believe what really kick-started the weight gain was the end of my long-term relationship. Even though there is not a doubt in my mind that it was the best thing that could have happened to me, I still did a lot of emotional eating. And as I returned the states and began studying in Wisconsin, it took a long time for me
to figure out what I wanted to be doing and where I felt like I fit in.

I really believe that group of changes that happened all at once pushed my emotional eating to the next level. From there it was just a nasty downward spiral. From there I went to a desk job where I ate because it gave me something else to do while working. I also moved across the country to someplace foreign to
me and that caused me to eat away my stress.

It's unbelievable to think that your weight can change not only
based on what you eat, but on how you feel about yourself and the events that take place in your life. It may be difficult to think about and pinpoint the times in your life that transformed you, but in a way it's lethargic too. So, I challenge you, as I was challenged this morning to ask yourself, when did you lose control?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Change is Incredible

It's truly incredible to see the progress I've made throughout this journey. Although I had a rough week and a half or so, this week I've already dropped three pounds and I'm on my way to reaching that pivotal 200 lb mark!

Like with a lot of things in life, I've realized that my attitude directly affects what I'm trying to accomplish. Last week I was sort of down-and-out or in a "I don't give a crap" kind of mood and so I ate more than I usually do, ate things I hadn't in a long time and basically threw caution to the wind.

This week I'm feeling great again and I'm very committed to the journey I've been on and it's showing! I had reached 205.4 in October and then went back up to 209 lbs around my birthday and Halloween. This week I've managed to lose those extra gained pounds already and I'm back down to a fantastic 205.8. Honestly it feels fabulous and I'm looking at myself positively in the mirror again. I just think it's crazy that a minor attitude shift can change things so dramatically!

Three pounds is a lot to lose in one week, and I'm sure a lot is water weight, but I'm glad to be back on track. I really think I'll be down below 200 lbs before thanksgiving and well on my way to 180 lbs. by Christmas. I just need to keep the positive vibes flowing .... getting complimented on how look never hurts either. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dieting During the Holidays

Anyone who has done it before can attest to the fact that dieting during the holiday season is difficult if not treacherous. I'm not actually sure there's any fool-proof method of surviving Thanksgiving dinner through post-Christmas holiday cookies and champagne on New Year's Eve without gaining a few ounces (or 15 pounds), but I'm determined to give it a shot.

I've decided the best thing I can do to prepare for the impending holiday season is to get myself on track and stay focused. I need to make sure I eat right and keep track of my calories every single day from here on out, and make it to the gym whenever possible. If I get back into a steady routine, then it will be easier to stick to the plan. I know that the worst thing I can do is get lax about my goals and my weight management because as soon as I smell mashed potatoes and stuffing, or freshly baked apple pie, I'll ditch the "no thanks, I'm watching my weight" line and ask for seconds or thirds.

There are some tricks I'm going to try and use, both exercise-related and food-related to help stay on track while still enjoying the wonders of the holidays this year. I hope some of my ideas/tips can work for you too!

  • It's imperative to stay active and keep moving so why not do all of my holiday shopping in stores and not online. This forces me to walk around a mall or a shopping center. It's not a ton of exercise, but movement is key! Also, parking lots will be packed anyway, but choosing a spot far from the building forces a longer jaunt to and from the car. The added weight of packages and bags will just help with resistance training on the arms.
  • I don't live in a snowy state anymore, but I used to love ice skating, sledding and building a snowman or having snowball fights. If any of these are options for you then take advantage of it! Get outside and have fun, you'll be surprised that sledding can burn a couple hundred calories!
  • At Thanksgiving dinner try a little bit of all of your favorites, but don't go back for seconds and don't take huge portions. Also, make sure you choose the turkey without skin on it for less fat. If you feel like you took too much, then pass your plate to your spouse or a family member to finish it off. The best thing you can do is stay in tune with how your stomach is feeling. If you feel like you are full or will be full very soon, then stop eating!!!!!
  • The holidays are all about the sweet treats. I don't think I could enjoy Christmas without Christmas cookies (especially my best friend's mom's chocolate chip meringue cookies) or Thanksgiving without apple pie. This is a good time to share a dessert, or if that just isn't an option (believe me, I understand!) then don't add ice cream to it or whipped cream. Or instead of wine/alcohol and dessert, skip the glass of wine or the beer. It's all about trade-off and balance.
  • My number one thing to remember this holiday season is not to withhold anything from myself. I say this because if I restrict myself from trying all of my holiday favorites or indulging here and there then not only am I making the holiday season miserable, but I'm setting myself up for defeat. I can just see it happening: I avoid everything tasty during Thanksgiving then gorge myself on Christmas because I can't take it anymore. I would have been better off having a little bit here and there because I could exercise in between to burn the extra calories.

As my dad always tells me, it's about portion control, balance and the give-and-take. If you eat a little more today, exercise a little more tomorrow. Maybe I'll put in a lot of extra work from now until Thanksgiving so I have a bit of leeway, but then again, I wouldn't want to see all of my hard work just disappear in a flash. I guess moderation is key.

Do any of you have any good ideas for surviving the holiday season? Please share them with me, I can use all the help I can get!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Being Fat is Hard

In life there are thousands of "aha!" moments. As a writer, I have mini moments along those lines on a regular occurrence, but instead of being epiphanies they are simply out-clauses for writer's block.
One of my biggest "aha!" moments for my weight came a few months before I started this little adventure when I realized I couldn't do certain things anymore, or at least that I couldn't do certain things in the same way anymore. I realized that being fat is really hard and it actually inhibits you from doing even the most menial tasks.

Although the moment I'm thinking of isn't the most P.C., it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was using the facilities and as I was getting ready to clean up and pull my pants up I stopped and questioned what I was doing. Because of my added weight and new size I had to re-teach myself how to wipe in order to accommodate the larger body. I wasn't sure at first if I was having memory loss or if it was truly a weight issue. I think I would have preferred amnesia.

There have been several moments like that for me in the past four years or so as I have come to the haunting realization that I can't do even the most menial tasks in the same fashion anymore. Have you tried gaining 60 lbs and trimming your toe nails? What about shaving your legs in the shower when all of a sudden you realize you have to maneuver around extra rolls of body fat and larger breasts? It's not only a disaster for the task at hand, but boy does it do wonders for your self esteem, and not in a good way.

I could probably write a long list of things that have become complicated because of the weight gain, but I'll spare you. Have you noticed anything like this with your weight gain? Am I all alone in this venture? I get winded when I take the stairs (this is at least improving for me since I exercise now), tying my shoes is a challenge and don't even get me started on picking out clothes to try on at a department store. I really don't think the many days and nights of indulging in ice cream, mashed potatoes or chips were worth it at all. Losing out on living to the fullest is a horrible trade-off!


The photo added was taken today. When I feel fat I wear all black! Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Helpful iPhone Applications

When I first started Losing Weight for a Dummy, I offered readers some of the iPhone applications and tools I was using to help keep me on track. To this day, more than two months after starting my program, I use Lose It!, Restaurants, Nutrition and Good Food on a weekly, if not daily basis. I literally do not go a day without entering in my weight and calorie count on Lose It! It really helps keep me on track.

There are quite a few calorie counters out there, and Lose it! is just one of the bunch. I've also taken a look at Livestrong, DailyBurn and Tap & Track - Calorie, Weight & Exercise Tracker, but none of those offer me anything more or different than the application I started with.

So, as I have continued checking for application updates and newly created products, I thought I would share a few of the ones I have come across with you.
Locavore -- This application is good for those of you who like to cook. It allows you to search for items that fresh and in season according to your location. It also offers local fare which is good especially if you're in a seafood place! This app costs $2.99 and was listed as one of the top 10 apps for cooks by Apple.

  • Distance Meter (Pro) -- This application is offered for free and also as a "Pro" edition for $2.99. As with other applications that offer different price points, you get more for your money. Distance Meter (Pro) acts as a really good pedometer/distance calculator and caters to walkers and hikers. It helps people track how long a trail is as well as the path's difficulty. Lastly, it translates the route walked in length and difficulty into calories burned. The app can be found in the app store under Healthcare and Fitness.

  • FoodScanner -- The FoodScanner application is great if you want to keep track of the calories you're eating, but don't always have time to enter in a lot of information and data into a program. Utilizing the camera on your iPhone, the application allows the user to take a photo of the barcode on a food item and uses the stored information from the barcode to keep track of calories and nutrients. This is great if you consume lots of packaged goods throughout the day like Lean Cuisine meals, 100 calories snack packs or even a serving of frozen vegetables! FoodScanner costs $2.99 and can also be found under Healthcare and Fitness in the app store.

  • Weight Watchers Mobile -- From what I hear, the Weight Watchers Mobile application is fantastic, but the one down side is that you have to be a Weight Watchers member with a login ID to use it. I'm not a WW members so I don't get to use it, but it's really helpful for tracking calories and nutrition information, calculating WW Points and offering great information to stay on your WW program. It is free under the top 10 free apps in Healthcare and Fitness.

  • iTreadmill -- iTreadmill is a really helpful exercise app, and for me it's really convenient because I can turn it on and use my phone to listen to music so it's not like carrying and extra piece of equipment around the gym with me! The application is basically the ultimate pedometer for treadmill users. It tracks step count and steps per minute, along with your target speed, current speed, speed average, calories burned, distance, time and it lists a history so you can calculate your progress. The application also has a built in timer. It's only $0.99 at the app store, but an update is on the horizon so it may become $1.99 or $2.99 in the near future.


  • Your Ideal Weight -- I've talked a lot about body mass index and individual ideal weight in my blog, and this is an application that caters to that. Entering age, current weight, height, activity level, etc., the application calculates not only the doctor recommended weight for you, but also what the average weight people want and also the weight recommended by your body mass index. It's a free application offered under the Healthcare and Nutrition category. The downside to this app is that once you use it, why keep it?

  • Virtual Trainer -- Virtual Trainer is another free application that can be found in the Healthcare and Fitness category (see a trend?). This application offers the user more than 250 exercises (with 3D video animation) and 120 work out programs in order to vary their exercise routines. You can choose from cardio or specific to a body region, etc., and the lengths ranger from 6 to 60 minutes. There's also a built-in timer and a stats section so you can gauge your improvement.

I'm not going to lie, I don't use each of these applications everyday. A lot of the applications that are offered for cooks or weight-conscious individuals have overlapping features that you have to figure out for yourself. Find the apps that work best for you, and for those people who have Blackberries, take a look at your app store and see if there are equivalent programs.

If anyone reading this has a great application for nutrition or exercise or that's simply interesting, please post a comment here so everyone can take a look!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Best Weekend Ever

Thank goodness today was a new day because I needed a fresh start with calorie counting. I just had an amazing weekend, and with that, I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed everything that came my way. And by everything, I mean the Rio buffet, the Paris champagne brunch buffet, frozen yogurt and Pho Saigon 8. Believe me when I tell you, I haven't eaten that much, or that poorly since Summer, and I'm definitely paying for it now.

Although I didn't gain tons of pounds, I can feel the physical difference in my body. Foods like bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and candy haven't been a staple in my diet since I started watching what I'm consuming, but I indulged to the 10th degree this weekend. And let me just add, the indulgences were divine.

I wouldn't recommend a weekend of indulging for anyone trying to lose weight and stay on track because it really does throw you off the wagon, but sometimes it happens. I know, however, that I really don't want it to happen again anytime soon because my body simply can't handle it. I have a headache, my eyes hurt a little and my stomach has been in a constant state of unrest since Friday. How did I do this day in and day out for years?

Every single calorie and gram of fat I consumed was beyond worth it. I got the best birthday gift a girl could ask for this weekend. After months of going through a difficult patch, and being away from my closest friends and family for a really long time, I got a great surprise at dinner on Saturday night. I thought I was meeting some really close family friends who happened to be in town for the weekend, but they brought along a little surprise for me: my best friend, Stephanie. We've known each other since the day I was born, and I literally started crying when I saw her. It was just what the doctor ordered, even if I didn't realize it until that exact moment.

Mike was in on it, my parents and sister knew Steph was coming, and her parents played along even confirming our plans. On Saturday afternoon Stephanie even kept up the charade that she was still in Minnesota even though she was in a hotel room on the strip by telling me she was at one of our favorite restaurants in Minnesota having lunch. I believed all of it! I still can't get over the fact that she was here. I just brought her to the airport, and I feel better than I've felt in months. I feel like I can now just breeze through November until my visit back to Minnesota. A mini re-birth if you will. Now I just have to hit the ground running with exercise and dieting again. I'm looking forward to it actually. Bring it on!
The photo above is of Stephanie and me on Saturday night, right after I saw her at dinner. Sorry it's a bit blurry, but again it was taken on my iPhone.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Stumbled, but Didn't Fall

I'm not going to lie. This past week has been difficult in terms of eating and sticking to my diet. With my birthday coming and going, and other opportunities including dinner at Olive Garden and Sensi at the Bellagio, it's been very difficult to stick to my program.

Since starting my diet, I have reached a low of 205.6 lbs. Today I weigh two pounds more than that. Although that's difficult to absorb, since the two-pound gain is entirely my own fault, I know that the ups and downs are also part of the progress.

Some days are more difficult than others, but I need to be able to make sure that those days not only happen few and far between, but that they are also spread out far enough to not make a permanent impact.

This week I allowed myself to only have one shake instead of two per day which means I ate out more and consumed more calories. I also only used my calorie counting program in a slacking manner instead of diligently like I had been doing up until this week. It's time to get back on the wagon completely instead of teetering on the edge of oblivion. Tomorrow is a new day and a new week and that means I'm recommitting to my program 100 percent .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

26 For My 26th

In light of my 26th Birthday, I thought I would offer 26 facts about me. Don't worry, these aren't weight loss related because that would be fairly boring, but they're just random things that make me, me.

  1. I love London, England more than any other place in the world. I have also never felt more at home anywhere than I did in London.
  2. I could eat mashed potatoes for every meal and never tire of them (of course, I don't allow this to happen).
  3. When I first met my fiance, Mike, I thought he was the most annoying person in the universe because he was too sarcastic and never stopped talking. My distaste for him didn't even last two weeks.
  4. I once went an entire week in college without wearing anything other than pajamas -- this was allowed to happen because our university had underground tunnels that connected all the buildings and sheltered us from the blistery northern Minnesotan winters.
  5. Mike and I have four pets, two cocker spaniels named London and Aribella and two cats named Madison (a boy) and Autumn. Mike was never allowed to have pets growing up so I think he's getting his fill for his entire childhood right now.
  6. I come from a family of strong marriages and I hope mine will resemble what I've grown to view as the norm. My parents have been married for more than 30 years, my dad's parents have been married for more than 50 years and my mom's dad was married to her mom until she passed away, and has now been remarried for more than 25 years. Also, my sister has been happily married to her husband since 2005.
  7. I have been best friends with one person my entire life, literally since the day our mom's introduced us on Oct. 21, 1983, the day I was born. I call her George, a nickname that started back in junior high, and she calls me Bob.
  8. George and I have never gone to the same school, and were in fact one year apart grade-wise.
  9. I live in Las Vegas, Nev. with Mike and our pets. We came for a job and stayed for our jobs, but if the circumstances allowed I would give my left leg to move back to the Midwest. (Someone once asked a famous comedian, "Isn't the desert beautiful?" Her response? "Mmmm, maybe when they finish it." I feel the same way.)
  10. Mike and I have no real anniversary and don't really know when we started dating. We figure we'll have the rest of our lives after June 26, 2010 to celebrate anniversaries so why worry about it now?
  11. Although I haven't lived in London since 2005, I still check the weather, news and tube system updates almost daily like I did when I was a resident.
  12. I attended three different universities between 2002 and 2007: Bemidji State University, Richmond University -- The American International University in London and University of Wisconsin - River Falls.
  13. On the worst day with the most horrible circumstances, watching my cats and dogs play can still make my laugh til I cry and feel elated.
  14. Cold Stone Creamery ice cream is my favorite, but I'd much rather have a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. In fact, I have a Dairy Queen ice cream cake every year for my birthday without fail, including this year even though it's horrible for my diet.
  15. I work in media relations (public relations). I jumped ship from journalism/reporting after I saw the newspaper industry, the proverbial Titanic, hit an ice berg and start sinking.
  16. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, but you'd never know that from looking at me now. I played softball, basketball and volleyball. And for the record, yes, I was the choir president.
  17. I have a tattoo that says London on my back and is an artistic version of the underground tube symbol. I can say this publicly now because my mom saw it when I was wedding dress shopping.
  18. Speaking of wedding dresses, I found my perfect dress, literally one I had dreamt about after trying on only five or six at the first shop we went to. We went to other shops afterward just to be safe, but I went back that afternoon to buy it.
  19. I love photography and used to be pretty good at it. Sometimes I wish I would have pursued a degree in fine arts with an emphasis in photography, but I know how hard it is to make a living that way.
  20. I despise Las Vegas for one simple reason, and it's the same thing I dislike about the Twin Cities in Minnesota: public transportation isn't good enough. In Las Vegas, public transportation exists, but it mine as well not since it's useless.
  21. I am almost more excited about the before and after of my wedding than the actual event. This is because I get to have my hair and makeup done with my girls and mom beforehand and go to London with my new husband afterward. Of course this isn't a true placement of my excitement, but it gives me even more to look forward to.
  22. I have an iPhone and treat it like a permanent extension of my right hand. Life may cease to exist if I lose it or it breaks.
  23. I used to drive a 2000 Ford Focus, but Mike loves me and so we traded it in for a 2006 BMW 325i four-door sedan. I love it and now understand why mom jokes about being buried in her BMW.
  24. I was in two very serious relationships before dating Mike, but I've never been more comfortable with myself or with another person than with Mike. It took all of one month of dating to be undeniably sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
  25. I love my sister and consider her a close friend, but it took all of childhood and the start of college for us to treat each other like friends and not like battling sisters. I only wish we lived closer now that we've reached this point.
  26. My favorite place in the world is Postman's Park in London followed closely by the Killarney National Forest in Killarney, Ireland.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's No "I" in Team

Do you remember when you were a kid and your teacher in gym class or coach on your school's athletic team would say, "There's no 'I' in team?" It's taken me 26 years, but I'm beginning to realize that, yes, there happens to not be an "i" in the word team, but that without a team of individuals around you, life would be virtually impossible.

Think of it this way: A business almost always takes more than one person to make it successful, even if it's just the operator and the customer. Likewise, a family takes at least two people otherwise it's just a single individual. Similar to families, teams, companies, communities and organizations, reaching goals takes an army of individuals in order to make them happen.

I took my inspiration for losing weight from a friend of mine, automatically taking the "I" out of my situation and creating a "we," but there are many more people involved in my journey. Everyone from my family and fiance, to friends, coworkers, random readers, tweet peeps and strangers have created a team for me to rely on while going through the ups and downs of this lifelong adventure. As I was struggling to decide whether to have ice cream last night or a 100 calorie snack of popcorn, I happened to jump online on Facebook and see someone post something nice to me on one of my blog links. It was those few words of encouragement that pushed me in the right direction -- the way toward having popcorn instead of ice cream.

I think I often times try and do everything myself without allowing others to help, or without allowing myself to rely on someone else. Whether it's with simple tasks like doing laundry or taking care of the dishes, or larger tasks like planning our wedding or coordinating the honeymoon, I keep trying to do things myself. It takes a little reminding from my conscious that those people that are offering suggestions and helping hands aren't trying to "intrude" on my life, but instead are trying to make it easier. I've even read a few comments on my blogs that irked me and I had to remind myself that those comments aren't meant to be insulting or to shine a negative light on my words, but instead are trying to enlighten me and offer a new way of thinking or a new suggestion to follow. Every little bit helps, even if I don't realize it at the exact moment. Sometimes I also forget to say thank you.

Here's my word of advice today. This is something I'm reminding myself to do today as well since I've forgotten in recent days. Tell people "thank you" and remind those special people in your life that you love them. It may be completely random, but it's 100% worth it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Changing Perspective

"I want to see myself as beautiful at the wedding."

Almost a year ago, Mike snuck a diamond ring into his luggage when we flew from Nevada to Minnesota. While I was showering on Christmas morning he woke up, wrapped the present, addressed it from Santa Claus and placed it under the tree with all of the other gifts from my parents, sister, family members and of course Santa. When I hopped out of the shower and returned to our room to wake him up, he acted as though he had slept the entire time, and I had no clue that he was actually awake.

Not two hours later, Mike got down on one knee in front of my mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law and said, "Beth, I love you more than anything and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?" To my mother's shock and excitement, her youngest daughter was engaged to be married, the trick was, my dad was in on it the whole time. To be honest, it was perfect. Family is so important for both of us and being able to share that moment with my family, then immediately with my extended family, and then the next day with Mike's family was perfect. The wedding planning started immediately, and as Mike left Minnesota, I stayed behind to book the church and the reception location. I finally had some time to myself and that's when my mind ran wild. I distinctly remember saying to myself while lying in bed one night when I was still in Minnesota, "Now if only I could change. I want to see myself as beautiful at the wedding."

From that moment, I was on a mission. I started a new skin treatment, looked for the perfect diet and swore up and down that I would be my ideal weight, have sparkling white teeth and a glowing tan on June 26, 2010 when I walk down the aisle in my gorgeous white dress and join hands with Mike. That was how it was going to work.

As of right now, we have 8 months until our wedding. My skin isn't perfect and my teeth aren't sparkling. Hell, I'm no where near that "ideal weight" I swore I'd reach eight months ago, but something is different. I had a few moments to myself yesterday and I spent them thinking about our impending nuptials. I have the most beautiful dress, an amazing groom and the perfect wedding party. We've picked a great location, and we've completed almost all of the requirements to get married in the Catholic Church. My wedding planner even says that we're ahead of the game, and that for a bride I have quite the level head. As I tried to picture our wedding day eight months from now, the same thoughts I had last December returned to my head, but this time I said, "I just wanted to see my self as beautiful on my wedding day."

I'm no longer worrying about how I will perceive myself on June 26, 2010. It may have taken me seven months to truly get on the right track for losing weight and gaining confidence, but I got there. More and more I look in the mirror and actually tell myself that I look good in that outfit, or today I look slim. I'm not worried that on my wedding day I'm going to feel like I look fat, or I'm going to be upset if I weigh 175 lbs instead of 150 lbs. because none of this has actually been the point. The entire point of my attempt at a transformation has actually been to change my perspective of myself. I didn't realize this until yesterday. I'm trying to change my body, yes, but I'm trying to change it because I need to change the way I view myself. What a strange thing to realize. I guess it's true what they say about just about everything, 75% mental, 25% physical.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Compliments Not Always Welcome, but Necessary

You can ask anyone that knows me, I struggle when it comes to accepting a compliment. I know I've brought this up before, but I really find it difficult to just smile and say thank you when someone tells me I look great, asks if I've lost weight or compliments what I'm wearing. I have no idea why it's so hard, but sometimes I even find a simple positive statement unbearable to receive cordially.

Even though I have no idea how to properly accept a compliment, I've discovered that part of my losing weight/gaining confidence process is receiving them. I don't think I'd actually be doing as well as I am if I didn't have people telling me that I look good, or that they can see the difference every once in awhile. Hopefully my attitude toward compliments is changing as well, but really, only other individuals could tell me that for sure.

Within the past month or so, since I've dropped about 20 pounds or more, I've been trying a lot harder to appear the way I feel. I feel really good about the weight I've lost and the direction I'm heading so I've been attempting to portray that through the clothes I've been wearing. This whole thing is entirely new to me because I've never given much care to what I wore before now. And with that, I've noticed that I've been more confident in what I'm wearing and therefor more confident in myself as well. It really is a change for me, a new me in some ways.

I would not call myself a confident person, and I know I have a long way to go before I look the way I want to look, but it's a start, right? Now despite what this blog appears to be saying, I'm not asking everyone to tell me I'm beautiful or look great or anything like that, but I'm merely pointing out that hearing things like that further solidify that what I'm doing is working. I may not be very good at accepting a nice comment, but I know that those positive words of encouragement are certainly helping me achieve my long-term goals.

I guess the best thing to say right now is thank you! Thank you to everyone who has commented about the way I look and encouraged my weight loss journey. The blog-writing is lethargic; the words of encouragement are motivational.

I've added a photo of me today. These jeans were just bought this past weekend, size 16!!! That's a huge accomplishment for me. I think I've worn the sweater in a photo before, but you get the point.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trick of the Trade

Last week due to a change in my schedule, I started drinking Slim Fast shakes for dinner. For about the last four of seven days, I've had a Slim Fast shake for breakfast, a regular lunch and a shake for dinner. Although at first I felt like I wasn't consuming enough in the evening, I later realized that it's doing wonders for my diet!

A lot of shake-based diets tell you to consume two shakes per day and one standard meal. By having that full meal in the middle of the day, a lot of the calories, fat, sugars, salts, etc. are worked off throughout the day due to the natural movements of the body and the fact that people move more during the day than in the evening. When you consume that standard meal in the evening, most people then tend to settle on the couch to catch up on the shows they DVRed or curl up in bed with a book, etc., and that doesn't give the body ample time to digest and work through the nutrients.

Since I started consuming the shakes at each end of my day, not only have I felt better going to bed because my stomach isn't filled with rich foods, but the scale has been absolutely amazing to me! I'm still consuming my necessary amount of nutrients, and I still watch what I eat for that one main meal, but my diet has had a little resurgence.

If you have the ability to change your eating patterns in some way, I recommend you try doing it. Try consuming your largest meal in the middle of the day instead of in the evening. Even if all you do is climb stairs, walk to your car or run errands, that amount of movement/exercise helps work off the nutrients from the meal.

I know a concern is focused on eating with family, and I wouldn't trade that for a simple Slim Fast shake. Mike and I eat different things most of the time as it is due to me dieting and his ability to eat and never gain an ounce, so me changing when I have meals and shakes doesn't affect the habits we've already established. If you have family meals most nights, try sitting down with your shake with your family. It'll be hard, but I bet you'll see a difference!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Short-Term Goal Deadline

A friend of mine who is also on her own weight loss journey set her goal weight deadline as her birthday. Losingmythighs goal is 130 (lbs) by 30 (age). I didn't realize it until just recently, but I am doing practically the same thing with my first mini goal. I set my deadline for reaching 200 lbs as my 26th birthday, approximately two months and one week after starting my weight loss adventure.

When I weighed myself the first day the scale tipped at just over 228 lbs. I had previously reached 230 lbs on a different occasion, but for all practical purposes, on the day of my epiphany, that is what I weighed. Now today, nine days shy of my 26th birthday, my scale is 21 lbs lighter at 207.8 lbs. That in and of itself is an enormous accomplishment for me. When you're able to watch the numbers decrease slowly and steadily, not to mention, watch your clothes grow on you as your body shrinks, it's a mini miracle that helps catapult you forward. Or at least, that's what it's been like for me.

In order to reach my goal, 200 lbs by 26, I have to lose 7.8 more pounds in nine days. That's actually a lot of pounds for a short period of time, since four pounds in two weeks is the healthy norm, but we'll see how this next week and a half goes. Whether I reach the actual goal or not, I still feel great about myself. If I could step on the scale on Oct. 22 and see 199 lbs, I think I may have to take a day off work just to celebrate my accomplishment! (Just Kidding).

What I've learned through this entire process is that my attempts at using diets or fads or starvation or just exercise, etc. were all the absolute wrong methods of going about trying to lose weight. Some of those methods work for other people, but I really did need to find something that not only worked for the actual weight loss, but that also fit into my lifestyle seamlessly.

I stopped and asked myself, "what if I do reach that first mini goal by Oct. 21? Then what?" and to be honest I have no idea. The best thing I can do is set another mini goal for myself and try to reach that too. Maybe I'll say 180 by Christmas or 175 by New Year's. I don't know. What I really want is to be able to keep watching the scale slide further and further away from that 228 mark. I want to be forced to go to the store and buy a pair of size 16 then 14 then 12 then 10 jeans and I want that shirt that I used to wear because it was flattering on a bigger body to look huge and unflattering instead. It's all of these little accomplishments that truly make this experience worth going through. I know that someday I will reach 150 lbs, and that that day will be incredible, but for now, the new jeans and the baggy shirts, the dropping scale and the nice compliments are all the gratifying nods I need to keep me moving in the right direction.

The photo added to the blog is of me today. I know, I know, the bootie craze is a bit weird, but I thought I'd test it out. Enjoy!

And Baby Makes Three

On Saturday morning I texted Mike's sister to ask how her pregnancy was going, knowing that she was just days away from her due date. When she responded she told us that she's been really tired lately, hadn't been feeling the greatest and hoped the baby waited another week or so until they were ready for it's arrival. Not an hour later, Erica's water broke and she went to the hospital to endure a day-plus labor.

This morning, at 4 a.m. central time, Mike's sister, Erica, gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Mike's first nephew and his god son. Although the baby boy doesn't have a name yet, or at least the name hasn't been shared with us, we're ecstatic to welcome the addition to the family.

I realized this weekend as Mike and I anxiously awaited updates about the labor and birth of the new baby that I was almost instantaneously snapped out of the funk I've been in the past few weeks. I know I'm not completely out of it and a lot of the personal stuff that's been getting me down is still around, but there's so much more to what's happening in my life, in our lives, that letting all the crap keep me down is ridiculous.

I have a lot to be thankful for and a ton to look forward to within the next few months. I turn 26 next Wednesday, and I get to celebrate with a few friends this coming weekend. Mike's sister had her baby! We get to go back to Minnesota for five days in November! We're getting married in 8 months. Although everything's not perfect, when it comes right down to it, life is good. Oh, and since this blog is tracking my weight loss progress: This morning the scale showed me 207.8. I'm down more than 20 lbs in two months, and my clothes are practically falling off.

As Robert Frost said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on," and on I shall go as well.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don't Eat My Emotions

I have never had to remind myself not to eat my emotions as often as I did yesterday. Mike and I had our all-day Pre Cana, pre-marriage course at our church yesterday. Instead of being an interactive type forum where we get to meet the other couples and strengthen our relationships, it ended up being a 9-hour lecture where various married couples lectured at us. Although some parts were informative, when it comes right down to it, it was awful and rather ineffective.

I knew the day was going to be difficult, as any day would be that required sitting in a room from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. listening to talks. I brought with me a Diet Coke, bottle of water and two 100-calorie snack packs just in case. It took all of my will power not to devour the snack packs within the first two hours, just out of boredom. Luckily, I only ate one of them, but that second one taunted me from my purse.

When it came to lunchtime, we were served pizza and cookies. It was like a shower of sunlight from heaven; a mini blessing, and it had nothing to do with the food. I was thankful to have something to break up the day. I indulged in a cookie and two slices of pizza knowing full well that I'd have to curb my food intake the rest of the day.

When the all-day event wrapped up, Mike and I headed home and prepared for a relaxing evening. Unfortunately, it didn't quite happen that way, and as we ran out of the house to run some last-minute errands I found myself repeating "do not eat my emotions" over and over again. I wanted to swing through McDonalds for a Big Mac, large fries and delicious Coca-Cola, not Diet Coke. Don't worry, everyone, I didn't give in to my own temptations. I had a Slim Fast shake for dinner and a 100 calorie pack of popcorn.

I went to bed with my stomach feeling less-than-satisfied, but I woke up to a new day, and a happy scale. I guess yesterday ended up being more emotional for me than I thought it would be. Although it wasn't emotions of overwhelming happiness due to our impending nuptials, I was stressed and frustrated at the all-day course and I really disliked being talked at instead of being a part of the conversation. I did it though, I stayed away from eating food to cover the emotions that were eating away at me, and I guess that's the lesson I needed to learn.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Please Motivate Me

As I opened the refrigerator door I scanned the shelves for something that peaked my interest. I stared at Slim Fast shakes, low-calorie Jell-O and pudding, fruit, vegetables and eggs, yet nothing that made me want to pull it off the shelf and consume it before I could shut the door. Last night, I needed something to fill my craving, but I couldn't even figure out what the craving was for!

I ended up drinking a Slim Fast shake and eating a 60-calorie pudding cup for dinner. It filled me up as I expected it to do, and was well within my calorie limit, but it didn't fill that craving. This morning when I woke up, I still had an empty spot in my stomach, and right now, almost a full day later, I have no idea what I'm looking for.

This seems to be a pattern with me right now. I'm having cravings for somethings, yet I'm not as hungry as I used to be so I'm in this constant state of limbo. I also have been lacking complete motivation to hit the gym. Will someone please motivate me?!?!? The scale dropped below that 210 mark this morning when I weighed in at 209.6. I was ecstatic, literally. I jumped off the scale, threw my hands in the air and did a little naked shimmy scaring my cat to death in the process. I felt like I reached my first milestone. However, I still don't fell like going to the gym.

I know, I know, if I hit the treadmill or the elliptical it will help drop the pounds, but my mind isn't in it. Where did it go? I honestly have no clue. I've been on this weight loss journey for 7.5 weeks, and I haven't fallen off the wagon, but I need something to rejuvenate my spirit, that spunk I had toward reaching my goals in the very beginning. So today, this is much less of a blog sharing an experience as it is a call to arms or request for help. Do any of you, my fellow weight loss buddies have any words of wisdom for this lost soul?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Higher Calorie Fruits & Veggies

Since I'm focusing my diet on counting calories, I asked the question to anyone who wanted to answer: What is your favorite low-calorie snack? Last week I had quite a few people vote, and these are the results:
-popcorn - 13%
-Any 100 calorie snack pack - 18%
-Fruits/Veggies - 63%
-Other - 4%

Not to my surprise, most people selected fruits and vegetables. I have to admit, I love fruit, and I'm a fan of many vegetables, but my favorite low-cal snack is popcorn. It's my favorite treat!

So as I've come along on this journey, I've paid close attention to which fruits and veggies are high in calories and which ones are lower. Not taking into consideration fiber or sugar or any other nutritional information, I thought I'd share a little bit of what I've learned.

The fruits with the highest calorie count include: dates, raisins, blueberries, raspberries and prunes. Apricots, lemon, apples and most melons, however, are really low in calorie. Another thing to keep in mind when buying fruit is to make sure they are unsweetened (if frozen) and unconcentrated. This helps keep the calorie count lower as well.

The vegetables with the highest calorie count include: spinach, collard greens, peppers, carrots and mushrooms. Low to no-calorie vegetables include: chives, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower. The only warning I have about purchasing veggies is to be careful when selecting canned vegetables. It's the added salt, liquids, etc. that add the calories.

When it comes right down to it, though, grabbing for a handful of baby carrots or raspberries is a much better decision than a handful of chips or cookies. Despite the calories in the items, whether fresh, frozen or canned, eating fruits and vegetables is a much better habit to get into than to avoid!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Didn't Hate Shopping -- This Time!

For the first time I can remember, I didn't hate going shopping yesterday. I've pretty much relied on two pairs of jeans for the last few months. Both have the same cut, but one pair has the distressed look (yes I paid for pants with holes sewn into them) and the other are plain. However, since I've had them so long and my body has changed while wearing them, they both got baggy and just didn't look right. So, I decided yesterday was the day to buy a new pair of jeans.

I went to the Galleria at Sunset, a mall in Henderson, Nev. and searched for a pair of jeans, and anything else that struck my fancy. At New York & Co. I found a pair of jeans, a blouse and a skirt! As I was trying on clothes, I didn't hate myself, and even found that I was embracing the way I looked in the mirror. Instead of having a negative mind-frame and concluding that EVERYTHING looked horrible on my fat body, I was actually analyzing each piece of clothing determining whether it looked good or bad, tight or loose, etc. I think that it was the first positive shopping experience I've had in a very long time.

While walking through the mall, I also managed to find a tunic sweater at Macy's (which I'm wearing today). I also stopped at Victoria's Secret and realized that instead of just getting in and getting out with the bare essentials, I found myself thinking about the various types of undergarments. Usually I just think, ok, plain bra, plain panties, nothing special because my body looks horrible in all of it, but this time I looked at lace and colors and patterns. I may not be ready to strut around the house in some tiny negligee, but this is the first time I can remember spending more than 2.5 minutes shopping in a lingerie store. In my eyes, that's progress.

***Funny Revelation*** I just had a friend take a photo of me with my phone and while I was looking at it, prepared to upload it for the blog, I realized that the jeans I just bought are actually a little too big as well. I know the waistline is really comfortable, and maybe on the large size, but I didn't want to buy pants too snug -- I'm still too paranoid about my weight for that. Looks like I should have gone a size smaller! ***

Ok, well this blog was fairly random, sorry for the revelation in the middle, but it's another part of this process. It's funny that clothes become such a big part of peoples lives because that's what everyone else sees. I should probably just learn to embrace shopping, if I keep losing weight I'm going to end up spending a lot of time at the mall!