Sunday, May 8, 2011

Planning Ahead

Tomorrow I am not going to eat healthily. Ok, that isn't the right motto to have, but considering it's Mike's birthday and I'm taking him out to dinner, I just know it's going to be hard to stick to my calorie plan.

Eating out isn't an impossible task if you can use iPhone apps to track calories or plan on what to eat in advance, but it's hard to pass up on some of the best-tasting goodies for the better-for-you options.

Since I'm not a big barbecue fan, and Mike is, I'm taking him to Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ at the District in Henderson for dinner. I know he'll enjoy chowing down on BBQ ribs and cornbread muffins, but it's a bit trickier for me because I don't like BBQ sauce. So instead of problem being that I don't know what the better option is for me, I also have to deal with the majority of the menu being slathered in tangy sauce ... not my ideal situation!

I decided to really think about this in advance and use the online resources available to figure out an option that's tasty and acceptable for my waistline. I know it'll be higher in calories than my standard dinner, but this way I can actually work backwards and save a few calories on breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately I can't find nutrition information anywhere for menu items for Lucille's so I have to use information from other sources to at very least, ballpark the calorie amount. It's situations like this that I wish I was a seafood fan because the smoked salmon actually sounds yummy. The dish is served with creole rice and steamed veggies - maybe I'll have to break out of my shell and give that a try.

Well, I think I might go with what I know, a salad (doctored a bit to reduce the fat and calories) or the steak with steamed veggies and an unloaded baked potato. No matter what I do, I know it's going to be higher in calories and fat than I would really want, but for my hubby's birthday it's definitely worth it. Maybe I'll just workout a little harder before work or balance out my calories the next day. After all, sometimes it's okay to splurge a little!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hungry at the Table

My schedule, in general, is always out of whack. I don't work a typical 9-5 with Saturdays and Sundays to spend as I please, and most often I try to fill my hours off the clock out of the house. My most consistent schedule lately has me off work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so I spend the mornings playing poker at the Mirage.

Since I'm usually sitting for the long-haul (up to 8 hours) the biggest problem I run into is what to eat and how to avoid running to the nearby eateries (BLT Burger, Carnagie Deli & California Pizza Kitchen). Even though all of those restaurants are delicious, they are AWFUL for not only dieters but everyone. A sandwich from Carnagie Deli could feed the entire state of Rhode Island for a day and the $20 BLT burger has more calories than my entire day's allotment. I could run across the street to McDonalds, Chipotle or Panda Express, but let's face it, those options aren't the best either!

So this is what I've started doing -- don't worry I don't bring a lunch box. I've been running to the gym in the morning and eating breakfast. I try to eat a big enough breakfast to tide me over for a few hours, but I know a big bowl of Special K and fruit could never keep me satisfied until late afternoon! So, just like when I go to work, I pack a couple of granola bars or crackers and I eat every couple of hours. On weeks when the oranges are tasty I even pack one or two if those. It's been working out pretty well except I'm starving by 5 pm and force M
ike & I to eat dinner really early.

It may sound crazy, but one of the hardest aspects of playing poker and losing weight isn't the food options or even the immobility, but it's the beverages. Whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, the drinks are free when you play so I tend to consume more soda or anything than necessary. I dont drink alcohol very often when I play but I'm pretty sure two strawberry juliuses are unnecessary.

But, for now it's Friday, my Tuesday which means I'm back in work mode and back to a normal routine. Work, a healthy choice meal for lunch, cereal & fruit for breakfast, a workout and dinner with the hubs tonight.

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy your weekends while I'm slaving away at work, lol!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eat That Bin Laden

So I was writing a blog to post this evening about my shitty lunch experience at Panera Bread when the news about Osama Bin Laden being killed sent shockwaves around the world. Suddenly, my petty lunch incident seemed so ridiculous as reflections of the tragic events of 9-11 and the deaths of thousands of men and women of the U.S Armed Forces flooded my mind. I deleted my entire post (after all I'll still eat at Panera in the future), and changed it to this...

It's been 11 long years of cat & mouse. Thousands of innocent men, women & children and thousands of military men & women have died because of him and plans he put into action. God bless our troops, and thank goodness that bastard is dead.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Change My Mind

I've been thinking a lot about my dad's weight loss & my best friend's parents weight loss & the Wizard jogging & various other people in my life who have recently made major changes in their daily routines to change their health for the better. A couple of months ago I made the same commitment (or re-commitment as it may be) but i've been pretty flakey about the whole thing. See, I'm being brutally honest here. Yes I've started eating better and yes I'm tracking my calories, but I haven't been strict about it. I've even been hitting the gym much more regularly but it wasn't until last week that I had a REALLY good workout. So this morning as I laid in bed wide awake before 6 am that I realized why -- I wasn't fully mentally committed.

If I'm going to make this work I need to fully commit my brain. I can't let the calorie counting go just because I'm on vacation or skip the gym because I worked late the night before...excuses will get me nowhere. Using that new found mental clarity, I got out of bed before 7 and went to the gym. Not only did I get in a good chunk of time on the elliptical machine, a 20-minute weight set for my back and legs and some ab work, but I jogged on the track. I set a goal for myself on the way to Las Vegas Athletic Club that I would jog 2 full loops on the track. That seems like nothing at all for most of you but between my weight and bum foot it's a huge fete. Not only did I successfully jog 2 laps, but I did 4. Small steps, but steps in the right direction nonetheless!

I know that doing the tough things right away in the morning gets them out of the way, but it's the getting going and doing those tough things that sucks. Now that it's 9:30 and I'm blogging and watching the Price is Right with my husband (yes he DVRs it), I am so happy that I went to the gym super early! I feel awake, I feel motivated and in general I just feel good. I guess all those people telling me to do the tough stuff first weren't lying!

As for the rest of my day, I unfortunately have to work. The good thing is that I'll be staying mobile almost all day. I'll also get to eat a healthy choice meal for dinner and avoid snacking! I think the hubs and I might even go to a movie after work tonight. Looks like a good Saturday to me!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Las Vegas

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Wedding

So most of you may not know this, but I'm in love with London & all things Great Britain. I lived there in college, honeymooned there last summer, named my dog London and gave the Underground symbol tattooed on my back. I've never felt more at home than I did in London.

So, since today was a momentous day for Prince William, Catherine Middleton, their families and all of Britain plus it's commonwealths, I just wanted to say congratulations and I wish I could have been there to see this event in person.

Enjoy your fruitcake and chocolate biscuit cake!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Minnesota Escape

In the past five days I have eaten some of my favorite things. I had a cupcake from A Piece of Cake, mac n cheese from Noodles, a home-cooked meal by my dad and munchies by relatives on Easter. It has been absolutely delicious and delightful. Mind you, I didn't say it's been wonderful for my waistline, but the risky calories were 100% worth it.

When I got my work schedule for this week last Thursday I had more days off than usual due to the store being closed for the Easter holiday. I decided to take advantage of those days off and take an impromptu trip to Minnesota to spend a few days with my family and closest friends. I think it was just what the doctor ordered for me (and completely surprising my parents was a bonus!). As I described it cheesily to my seat-companion on the plane back to Vegas, "the trip was a little dose of happiness for my soul." If you've stopped laughing at that, I can tell you that it's true. I haven't felt that calm, relaxed, unstressed, happy and comfortable here in Las Vegas in a long time. Minnesota brings me back to my roots and reminds me what's most important in life -- family & friends. I can't wait to some day move back and be surrounded by those people more consistently.

With that being said, whenever I go home I don't pay much attention to what I'm consuming because I'm usually only there a few days and I figure I can work it off when I get back. It's true, I can, but I think during my next trip home I should just stick to counting calories and not worry about working off any ounces gained. Between last Thursday and today, I gained one pound. That isn't too bad at all, but it is a gain instead of a loss. I also didn't do anything athletic at all. My soul was definitely taken care of, but I didn't pay any attention to my body! Come to think of it, between the black flats and a pair of boots, I didn't even bring any shoes I could have gone for a long walk in!

Mike and I have another trip planned to Minnesota on June 30. We're lucky because we get to celebrate our one-year anniversary (a couple days late) with our friends and family. I'm hoping that I'll pay more attention to my waistline and also make an effort to go for a walk in the mornings or maybe hit the gym with my dad when he goes. Speaking of my dad, he's dropped nearly 40 lbs working out and eating better and looks amazing! My best friends parents have both also dropped a lot of weight using the Seattle Sutton food program and look amazing. They are really inspiring for me.

I don't work until 4 p.m. today and my plan was to literally relax all day, write a little and catch up on my DVRd TV programs, but I think after getting these few things off my chest I feel more like going to LVAC and getting in a good workout.

I hope all of you had a good Easter holiday and are enjoying Spring wherever you are.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog Neglect ...

I haven't purposely not written anything on my blog for a few days because I'm off my plan, but I basically ignored social media in general for a bit. I checked Facebook sporadically and avoided regularly posting to Twitter because I simply needed a break away from everything. Don't you ever reach a point where you don't want the whole world knowing exactly what you're doing, when you're doing it? That's what I was feeling ...

The last few days have been pretty difficult in terms of dieting and staying motivated. I haven't gained any weight, but I haven't dropped the normal handful of ounces either. The reason is simple - I haven't been moving around! I know it was my "weekend" but I have been so lazy! The most movement I've taken part in was a photo shoot for a friend on Tuesday evening. That simply isn't enough for my diet or my health in general. Now before you think I've just sat on the couch watching TV, don't worry, that isn't the case. However, most of what I have been doing has involved sitting. :-(

So what can I do to keep myself motivated on those days dedicated to relaxation? I really don't have an answer for that. The only thing I know is that I need to get back into a precise exercise pattern. When I was at the peak of this program before my wedding, I stuck to not only my diet/tracking/blogging plan, but I had specific exercise goals each week and I stuck to them. The base of those goals is Extremely simple ...keep moving for 30 minutes every day. This goal could be as simple as taking a walk with the husband, doing pilates, a long day of housework, etc., but truthfully that isn't enough to help me reach that June 1 goal. So I think I need to add a new exercise plan as well. This plan is also easy - make it to LVAC 3 times a week.

Going to the gym 3 times a week doesn't seem like much, but for someone who's barely been going at all (certainly not on a regular schedule), this often is a lot and will make a big difference. The hardest part will be convincing myself to go each time.

Really, how in the hell did I get back to this point? When I was doing this before I got myself to the point where hitting the gym was habit and I actually enjoyed it. In reality, it's a good stress reliever! So when did I stop going on a consistent basis and lose my gusto for it? I really hate these wild ups and downs.I need to find that happy balance, and that is exactly what I'm struggling with. Figuring out my eating and tracking is a huge part of the battle, but it's time to establish the boundaries for the other half - exercise. The good news is, it know I can do it, after all I've done it before, right?

Any pointers for me would be great if you have some. How do you stay motivated?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Wizard Says to Jog

I tried running around the neighborhood once. I guess you could say I went "jogging" and failed miserably; at least I looked the part though. Before heading out for my "nightly run" (it was a tradition I was attempting to start), I geared up with nice 3/4 length running pants, a dry-fit Nike top, cross-trainers and my handy-iPhone tuned to my favorite exercise mix -- I must have looked like I was planning on running a marathon. I think I even stopped right outside my front door to stretch a little bit, after all, I wouldn't want to cramp up, right?

With good intentions and motivation boiling over inside of me, I took the first few steps away from my house and felt amazing. A few more paces passed and I could literally feel the burning sensation growing in my calfs. After what seemed like an eternity (just past the first turn off my street), I started feeling winded and really, really tired. It was at that moment, the intersection of Red Passion and Sole Addiction (yes, those are real street names) that I realized that if I left the neighborhood intending on jogging, that I'd probably need my husband to come pick me up. So instead of turning the corner onto Red Passion and exiting our neighborhood, I kept going straight. Sole Addiction curved onto another road and that turned into another and eventually I made a square and ended up on my own doorstep. I listened to less than two songs on my iPhone and made it back before the next commercial break started during the movie my husband was watching.

Now before you start thinking that I ran super fast ... I didn't. I barely ran at all. Back at the corner where I had my epiphany, I stopped jogging and started power walking. I walked until I could see my house and then jogged the rest of the way. I was already embarrassed enough that I wasn't going on a long, soul-searching run, but I told myself that there was no way in hell I could arrive on the front lawn walking. And I didn't.

I haven't tried running since. I love the treadmill at the gym, but I mostly walk briskly or switch to the elliptical or stairs for cardio. I've never been able to run on the treadmill and not feel like a giant horse's ass. I mean with every thud of my feet I feel like the people on the floor below me at LVAC can hear my paces.

It turns out, however, that the Wizard is the same way. She's never been much of a runner either and she doesn't like running on the treadmill at the gym. She wasn't a jogger ... until now. She said she's dropped more than a couple handfuls of pounds since she started sporadically jogging. She doesn't go out daily, but she goes out enough to keep into the habit of it and even encourage herself to do it more. Like me, though, after a certain length it gets hard and so she does what I'm calling milestone jogging. When she jogs (most frequently with a friend) she starts jogging and sets a milestone or a goal to reach. For instance, "let's jog to the third lamppost or the tree on the far side of the field." If she reaches that milestone and has more gusto in her, then they keep jogging. If not, they slow down to a brisk walk and then look for another milestone to reach. She said it's really become something she enjoys and seeing pounds actually drop away is even more encouraging. In her own words, "I'm really an outside jogger; I don't like running on the treadmill so much."

Maybe it's a method I could try too? I've honestly never been a fan of running, even when I was a three-sport athlete. I mean, there's a reason you never saw me attempt to try out for track & field or cross-country. But that doesn't mean that some form of jogging or running couldn't work for me, right?

Anyone out there a habitual runner? Any tips for a newbie? I've read the "Couch to 5K" plan and even started the process but I didn't like having to time myself. Having to keep track of seconds or minutes reminded me of the things I dislike about the treadmill. On a treadmill I constantly watch the clock, and even when I cover the clock I keep track of my time on other people's treadmill timers. I guess this "milestone jogging" is similar to the interval running in the "Couch to 5k" program, but without counting seconds. I think I definitely want to try it.... what's the worst that could happen anyway? I find out I don't like running and don't do it? Oh wait, I'm already being that lazy. I guess there's only upsides from here!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How're Those Goals Going?

I decided that since I've been back on my plan for about a month & since I set specific date-oriented goals that It's only fair for me to check in with myself and all of you about my progress.

Reminder: In my post "Who's in the Mirror?" I examined the ups and downs of the past couple of years including losing a ton of weight and gaining a little bit back. After examining that, I set two clear-cut goals for myself for this year.

"Feb. 1, 2012 - This is my year goal. By this date I would like to weigh 170 lbs. In Feb. 2012, I am going with my parents, husband and family friends to Grand Cayman, and I'd like to wear a bathing suit without cringing.
June 1, 2011 - Step 1 goal. By this date I would like to be back to my weight-loss point of 192 lbs. Once I reach this goal, I'll be finished re-tracing my steps and ready to move forward."

So ... that was March 20 and I weighed 209 lbs. This morning the scale showed 206.4 lbs. (Just a piece of info - I weigh myself every morning in the same manner at about the same time to keep it as honest as possible.) I'm not going to complain about a nearly 3 lb. loss, but I would love it to be more. I don't like excuses and I don't care that I was laid up immobile for a few days. I know that I made decisions like having a few drinks or not counting calories a few times that contributed to not losing more.

Checking in on my progress is definitely a necessary evil. I need to push myself harder if I'm going to make that June 1 goal of 192 lbs. I know I can do it, I've been there before, but I need to make a distinct effort in order to do it. So here we go, or continue going, full steam ahead ...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paint the Room Blue

I was listening to the radio this morning and the radio personality was listing off tips from a new study that are supposed to help you eat less when you sit down to dinner or breakfast or whatever. As I thought more and more about each of the items on the short list, the more I think they all make perfect sense.

By the way, I looked for the link to the article or source for the list but I couldn't find it so we'll just have to list these as helpful pointers from an eat-less angel .... or something like that.

Here are the four pointers:
  1. Light a vanilla scented candle: the vanilla scent reduces dessert cravings and is supposed to help you stop eating earlier. The scent alone is sugary enough to put those thoughts of chocolate cake out of your mind.
  2. Listen to soft or soothing music: slower and soft music tends to be relaxing. Like when you get a massage, the music playing in the background is usually soothing and without lyrics. Its purpose is to calm you down; so, the same goes with eating. Calmer music can help you relax and slow down which gives your tummy time to digest what you're eating.
  3. Turn the lights on and keep them bright: just like trying on clothes in a dressing room with fluorescent lights, bright lights make food look less appealing. Dimly lit restaurants make more money because the low lights help people throw their eating inhibitions to the wind causing them to order and devour more.
  4. Lastly, paint your dining room blue: wherever you eat your meals, if that room is painted in blue shades then supposedly you will eat less. The reasoning behind the color theory has to do with the light causing the blue of the walls to reflect a blueish/gray hue on the food making it look less appealing. Apparently, the study showed that people who ate in blue rooms consumed 33% less than others.
Most of that makes perfect sense to me. Bad lighting can make food look less appealing, vanilla scents are so sugary that it could replace the want for dessert and music can be calming. The only part that I'm not so sure about is the blue room. Do colors really make a big difference in how a person is feeling, the way they look or how much they'll eat? They say taupe is soothing and yellow can cause panic. So now blue can stunt your appetite? In that case, let's paint the kitchen, dining room and living room blue -- just to cover the whole ground floor. Or maybe I'll eat in the guest room from now on since it's already painted in a blue color.

I think these pointers are good ones, though, despite the fact that they may or may not come from a medical journal or academic source. Tonight at dinner I think I'm going to turn off the TV and turn on some soft music. I can't do anything about the color of the walls, but I can light a few scented candles and see if that curbs my appetite at all. I do fell bad for the hubby though, he's 125 lbs soaking wet and certainly doesn't need to eat any less, but he'll sit through my experiments just because he knows how much I want to drop the weight. Let's give this study a shot!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Busy Day, Forgotten Stomach

Busy days are a blessing and a curse. Today felt like one of those days where every decision and request made me want to tear my hair out. However, on the upside, a busy and frantic day means a fast-moving work shift.

It's ironic that I think so much about how boredom affects my diet and eating habits, but I rarely think about the exact opposite. Today we were busy as ever at work. It seemed like every customer we ever had waited in the parking lot until a big group got together and decided all at once to walk inside. It was one thing after another and that meant that our breaks were put off slightly and our hunger didn't matter at all. I ended up eating half of my lunch at 3:45 p.m. and by the time I left work at 8:30 p.m. I was starving! And feeling so hungry for me is a great thing!

I love the feeling of being hungry. I know that sounds crazy, but I really like it. I went so long with eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and although I may have thought I felt hungry, I wasn't having hunger pangs. Now that I'm eating less and more carefully, I can actually feel when I'm full or hungry. Today, I was definitely hungry, no doubt about it.

Yesterday Mike bought a dozen red roses for me and today he had dinner waiting when I got home. What an amazing husband I have! I'm certainly not hungry anymore, and on top of that, it's officially my weekend! Things are good. I'm a lucky gal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weight Loss & TV

I get it, America is overweight. A few years ago reality shows like VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and Biggest Loser took the TV world by storm. Now, it's hard to turn on the TV and not be bombarded by weight-loss television. I was flipping through the channels recently in order to set up my DVR recordings and I came across Dance your Ass Off, Biggest Loser, Shedding for the Wedding, FitTV, la di da di da di da and the list continues. It's madness!

I know once one type of show becomes popular - first came reality TV and then came weight-loss reality TV - that as many networks as possible jump on the bandwagon. I don't have a problem with all of those shows. Many of them are actually encouraging to me to get off my ass and into the gym, and remind me to eat healthier. After all, the participants are average people like me who let their weight get out of control and now they're trying to change their lives for the better ... aren't we all?

The type of TV I'm starting to take issue with are news-based programs. Every morning before work or at the beginning of my day I watch the Today Show or Good Morning America. At night my husband and I also tend to watch the evening news. Like normal rituals, these things have become habit, and these shows that I've been watching for years are starting to irritate me to no end. I literally cannot remember the last time that I watched news-based TV during a day and there wasn't something related to weight loss. Every time I flip on a news program, like this morning on Good Morning America, there's a new specialist or "doctor" or guru telling America to "Eat This, Not That", to stop eating egg yolks or start eating egg yolks, etc., etc. Keeping up with the schizophrenic nature of weight-loss TV is exhausting and, more often than not, the only thing each of these segments have in common is the overall message. I just wish the paths to that end goal of obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight were the same.

In one day, literally the same day, I was watching a program in the morning that had a "specialist" talking about how wonderful poll-dancing classes were for losing weight and toning your body and that night a news program was discrediting what poll-dancing classes are capable of as far as fitness goes. MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

I know it's all very simple: eat healthier, less-processed foods and exercise regularly and you can lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It literally is that simple ... However, getting the motivation to be that disciplined after decades of having processed foods shoved in our faces is the difficult part. But, I just wish that I could watch a week of television and not be forced to re-think my eating habits. On Monday I'm supposed to focus on a balanced diet with fruits, veggies, healthy carbohydrates and plenty of protein. On Wednesday I'm told that all carbs are bad and that I should go vegan. By Friday it's best that I just watch calories and eat five meals a day of whatever tickles my fancy. Maybe my only solution is to turn the channel when those "healthy" segments hit the screen.

I like that I've personally found a balance in my weight-loss journey. I have found a program that works for me. I watch what I eat, focusing on calories, along with exercising regularly and blogging in order to keep me accountable. Guru A may think potato chips are the devil, but if I have a small portion within my calorie allotment I know I won't die and I probably won't even regret it. Guru B tells me to go vegan, but let's face it, I love steak and chicken and beef and pork and .... oh forget it, there's no way in hell I could give up meat let alone all animal byproducts.

It seems that every person that's lost a ton of weight or gotten fit or who went to college to be a nutritionist is a "specialist" and deemed worthy of being a trusted source on TV. Just because I lost 40 lbs before and I'm on my way to losing another large chunk doesn't make me a reliable source. The only thing I can actually say for certain relates to me and my actual journey. Just because I tell you that eating Lean Cuisine fresh steamers meals for lunch every day has kept me on my path and helped me drop a few pounds doesn't mean that I KNOW it will work for you. It's just a suggestion of something that worked for me. So who knows, maybe if all of these trusted sources came on TV and shared these tips as they pertained to their own path to healthier living then I'd be more likely to listen. But as it is, I have to do what everyone else does: sift through the weight-loss/healthy eating information overload and figure out a balance that works for me.

Maybe I'll start changing the channel too, after all, Dawsons's Creek and Saved by the Bell reruns are on at the same time as Good Morning America and The Today Show. I could revisit the shows of my youth and remind myself what life on the Creek was like instead.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Puppies, piggies & people, Oh My!

So it may sound dumb, but I forget how exhausting being outside all afternoon can be! Today Mike and I joined The Wizard and Kristi from work and their pets at Mix 94.1's Pet-a-Palooza. The outdoor event featured headliners David Cook, Fefe Dobson and Train along with dozens of pet organizations. Everyone brought their dogs (and piggies!). I loved it! London and Aribella, our two cocker spaniels, also had a blast socializing, humping and being pet by lots of random pet-owners.

One thing that fairs and other large gatherings always does is amaze me. What is it about outdoor festivals that gets people to exploit their normal diets and eat things way outside their comfort zone? I saw a man and woman each walking (and eating) juggling plates of nachos, french fries and hot dogs. I watched them walk a ways hoping to see them run into a gaggle of people whom they were going to share their goodies with. It never happened!!!

I knew I was going to want to eat something, and everything looked good, but I limited myself to half a portion of french fries and a shared pepsi. That small amount is guaranteed to be between 500 & 800 calories depending on how exactly the french fries were made. Thank goodness I don't have anything else planned today so I can ration the rest of my allotted calories. Fair food is such a disaster for people trying to lose weight or watch their figures. On the upside, we spent the entire time walking around and controlling out pups and that's a calorie-burning affair in and of itself. Walking even at a slow pace with any sort of tension for an hour can burn more than 150 calories! I doubt our rate was that high but it sure helps get rid of the guilt over the french fries!

So now we're home and both dogs are not only passed out, but snoring. It feels good to relax a bit. My foot's pretty sore from being pulled in every direction and walking so I think I'll put it up for awhile. No real plans tonight, but today has been pretty great! I hope all of you have had a good Saturday too!

Here are a couple of photos from Pet-a-Palooza!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Call to Arms

Almost 2 years ago I started my journey to lose weight and subsequently began writing this blog following the ups and downs. In that time, I've lost a lot of weight, gained a bit back, got married, been on 13 trips and changed jobs. It's been quite an adventure.

I'm thankful for the entire experience so far and I'm looking forward to the journey to come. One of the best aspects of this adventure, however, has nothing to do with me at all, but instead has everything to do with you, the readers.

I've always made myself accessible to anyone who reads my blog and wants to ask questions, show support or share their story. Hell, many of the people who read this are people that I know in person now or knew at some point in my life. Through Facebook, e-mail, Twitter & text message I have received a large number of responses to my story. Not only have I received commendation for being open and honest about the true story behind trying to drop the pounds, but some of you have shared your own weight struggle journeys with me.

So, here's the point I'm trying to make today. I know that I'm not alone. I'm not the only one who looks in the mirror and wants to cry some days because of the transformation that seemed to happen in an instant between then (cute & thinner) and now (um... Less cute & fat). What I don't know is if all of you who are struggling with your own weight journeys (including weight-gain struggles) know just how many people are out there that have stories just like yours.

It's heart-breaking to read about discouraging parents and partners & motivating to hear stories about friends who keep each other on track. I already have permission to share a couple of the stories I've been told (without using real names in some instances), but I want to extend the offer to anyone who wants to talk to share their story. Sharing your story, whether it's similar or erratically different from anyone else's journey can be liberating. Trust me, when I started writing this down it felt like a weight off my chest (no pun intended) and made me feel like I had to keep pushing because others were rooting for me. Now that's motivation!

I'm thinking of sharing someone else's story once a week so I'd love if some of you would share yours with me. If you want to share, please please please send me an email at

I hope everyone has a good day. Don't forget to watch your portions when you eat, drink lots of water and keep your booty moving!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Back At It

Well I haven't written in a few days, but to be fair, I've been pretty busy. I finally returned to work on Friday and the day felt like it lasted forever. I was suppose to work until 6, but I left a couple of hours early because my foot was throbbing and standing seemed to be an impossible task.

Yesterday went a bit better, I thankfully didn't drop anything on my already injured foot (I did the day before), but working the full shift really took a toll on me. When I got home I felt like all i could do was sit and rest. When we went to dinner I think I winced the entire time.

So anyway, here I am, day 3 back to work. My foot is still wrapped and I'm hobbling around like a penguin without the coattails. I think the extra effort I have to put into walking and standing is helping my diet though. I've pretty much lost those few pounds I gained while I was immobile! Woo hoo! On top of that, I'm right back on track watching what I eat and sticking to a plan. Feels good to have structure in my life again -- even if that structure involves standing on a bum foot for 8 hours.

As for tonight ... No rest for the weary. The hubby and I are going to make a grocery list and plan out our meals for the week --- I can stay on track that way --- then do a little shopping. I hope that ice cream doesn't tempt me too much!

It may be sad, but i can't wait for me "weekend" on tuesday and Wednesday so I can mix motion with relaxation. I also hope the doc says I can go to Petapalooza on Saturday. We'll have to see what he says during my follow-up visit Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 31, 2011

UPDATE: My ankle, errrrr foot

Hey there! First of all I want to say thank you to everyone who has showed care, concern and interest in my injury. Everyone has been so nice this past week and you've all really helped me push through the ups and downs!

Since I've had numerous texts, tweets and facebook messages asking about my doctor's appointment today and the outcome, I thought I'd add a mini update blog.

Here's the good news ... I get to return to work tomorrow and with very few restrictions. I have to avoid excessive use of stairs and absolutely all ladders. I also have to rest or sit down when my foot/ankle starts aching to rest it. That's not too bad at all.

Here's the bad news ... Although my ankle is a bit sore (like most of my body), the problem is not with my right ankle, it's with my right foot. After the doctor did a thorough once-over of my foot and ankle he realized that the pain was in the top of my foot and ordered more xrays. I have a very very slight hairline fracture in a bone on the top of my foot. I don't need a cast, just a boot to keep it stable and to keep me from flexing my foot when walking.

Bad news part 2 - I am developing an allergy to latex. Over the last few days a rash and a few sores developed on my ankle/foot in the exact shape of the air cast I was using. Turns out the air cast is made partially of latex. The doctors (yes he got a second opinion who then taped a piece of the cast to my arm for an hour) agreed that I have an allergy developing to latex. They both said it wasn't too serious, but to keep it in mind if any health issues pop up in the future. Oh, and I can still use condoms as a form of birth control, lol.

So anyway, today's appointment wasn't my last although I was cleared to return to work. I have to wear this boot thing and take it easy for a week, but can ditch the boot for a sturdy shoe if my foot feels up to it in a couple of days. Looks like I should be as good as new in no time. The appointment really turned out better than I thought it would considering the first thing the nurse said when she saw my ankle was, "Oh my god. Gross." I figured it was all down hill from there!

Thanks again everyone for the interest and kind words of support! Now it's time for me to stop being lazy (I don't have an excuse anymore) and get back to my plan. Tomorrow will be healthy and a step in the right direction!

Judgement Day

I can't lie, the past few days have been really hard for me. My days have had a simple structure: wake up, take the dogs out, eat breakfast, watch some DVRd programs, eat lunch, take care of the dogs, watch a couple of movies, eat dinner, watch TV and go to bed. Moving has been minimal.

Today, however, is judgement day and I am ecstatic! It was an enormous pain in the ass to find out who I need to see to get cleared in my worker's comp case, but eventually a wonderfully nice woman from my company's corporate HR department dug into my case profile and found out who I should make an appointment with. So, at 2:15 today, I will find out how well my ankle has heeled (along with my elbow) and see whether I can work tomorrow at 9:30 a.m or not. I'm praying to be cleared; I want to get back to a normal routine!

There have been distinct positives and negatives in being forced to sit with my leg up and not move a whole lot. Here they are ...

Positives: I have finally relaxed (if you know me, you know how huge that is). I got to catch up on DVRd programs & watch some movies I didn't get to see in theater. Most importantly, I have a greater appreciation for everything Mike's doing for me. He's waited on my every need since we went to the hospital on Sunday and I couldn't be more thankful.
Negatives: I've gained 3 pounds. I have eaten more unhealthy in the last week than I did throughout March, which in turns mean I threw my diet out the window due to laziness. I still have a welt/bruise on my left calf & a cut on my right elbow. My body still aches as though I fell down a flight of stairs or was hit by a truck (oh yeah, I did fall down some stairs). Lastly and most newly, I have two blisters, a rash and a cut on my ankle caused by the air cast that is now battling for being most irritating/painful. What a joke.

I can't wait to be back on my feet working and in the flow of an actual routine. I feel helpless sitting at home while things go on at work, and I feel useless not hustling around the house doing chores and being a good wife. If the doctor says it's a go, even with restrictions like making sure I sit every so often or wear a brace at work, then I will happily rejoin the workforce both at work and at home.

As part of my plan of attack for after the doctor's visit, I will also return full force to my diet and routine since I was doing so well before the fall. The crazy part is ... I'm looking forward to it! I'll let you all know how the doctor's visit goes. Pray for the best!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


If you're my friend on Facebook, follower on Twitter or an actual acquaintance in real life then you're well aware that I had an accident at work on Sunday.

Here's a quick recap: while taking trash from the store to the dumpster out back I fell down a small flight of stairs. With a combination of strong winds and the size of the boxes I was carrying, I fell hard on my ankle and managed to bump every limb on the way down!

Thanks to the quick response and diligence of my two coworkers, I was on my way to the hospital with my husband for xrays in practically no time at all. Xrays were taken of my head, elbow and ankle, and thank goodness there were no breaks! The most painful of all of them, my ankle, was the spot to be worried about. The doctor told me it was a bad sprain and prescribed me a few days completely off my feet (yeah right), and some pain medication. That being said, I went from having a renewed motivation for losing weight and being active to being a couch potato. Bummer.

I warned my husband this would happen, and it happened very quickly since the accident -- I'm going stir crazy! I don't handle days off at home all that well normally since I like to keep moving and struggle relaxing, so being forced to sit at home for several days on end and NOT meander around the house is excruciating! I've already managed to ditch the crutches so I can hop on one leg and crawl up and down the stairs. I'm also considering pulling out my old pilates DVD so I can at least get a little bit of exercise without disrupting the progress on my ankle (it's done almost entirely sitting and lying down). The other physical effects of the fall include a very sore right arm with a cut and bruise on the elbow; a large welt and bruise on my left shin; two sore underarms caused by crutches and a continual headache. Is it May yet? I'm sure I'll be 100% by May. Yeah, I want it to be May, let's just skip the whole month of April for good measure.

Here's what this unfortunate incident has done to my diet:
- I am not only not going to the gym or exercising, but I'm not walking practically at all so burning just regular daily calories isn't happening.
- I went from being down 2 lbs on my new journey to being up .8 lbs (back to 209 it is).
- I'm barely cooking which means eating a bit less healthy because standing on one leg for a long period of time is exhausting.

Here are my goals for the next few days of immobilization:
- Exercise at home: do the pilates video or do crunches, etc. Focus on things that won't aggravate my ankle.
- Stick to my calorie-restricted diet.
- Blog: Sharing my story with you and getting feedback always helps me stay on track and look forward instead of backward.

So that's my plan. Any suggestions for me, the newfound invalid? I can't wait for the next few days to pass so I'm back on my feet and back to a normal routine.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Alcohol & (candied) Orange Slices

Here's in a bit of learned advice from me to all of you: alcohol and candied orange slices are not the ideal items to consume when dieting.

I don't think that advice was a bombshell or would surprise absolutely anybody, but I got a first-hand lesson in how going crazy one night can have adverse and immediate affects on your diet plan. Not only did I feel tired and sluggish the next day (that could also be attributed to the fact that I didn't get home until 1 a.m.), but I gained .8 lbs. I know, I know, it takes time for food to actually cause real weight gain or loss, something like 3 days, but the scale was the proof in the pudding.

Here's the second thing I learned: Sometimes alcohol and candied orange slices, even with all of their fat and calories, are totally and utterly worth it.

Friday night was awesome. There really isn't any other way to say it. I had decided earlier in the day that it as going to be a cheat day for me. I don't have a weekly cheat day, but I knew that I wouldn't be "good" during the evening's plans. It started with seeing two of our friends, Morgan & Preston at Buffalo Wild Wings. M&P moved away from Vegas in January so not seeing them on a short visit was not an option! We had dinner and chatted for a few hours before they had to make the trek back to San Diego and we had to meet our friends from my workplace.

It's the next set of plans that got my diet into trouble. Mike and I met our friends at Brendan Palms Theater to see "Sucker Punch" in IMAX. We had some, um, "Sucker Punch" fans in our group who thought it was going to sell out so we got there early ... really early. In order to pass the time we went to one of the bars and grabbed a drink. I ordered a vodka cranberry and it was the strongest drink I can ever remember having. Sadly enough, that one drink made me tipsy! I know I'm a lightweight, but that's incredible even for me. By the time we found seats in the theater I was acting like a 15-year-old schoolgirl. Lucky for me, so was The Wizard. Don't worry, by the time the movie started we calmed down and watched the show. Even the guy behind us stopped laughing at our shenanigans.

By far the highlight of the evening was an exchange between The Wizard and Jska:
Jska offered all of us a candied orange slice. Taking one, The Wizard asks "is it sweetened?" Um .... what? It's candied so of course it's sweetened! Jska's sarcastic response was timely and priceless, "No, it's savory."

All I know is that I want to try some of those SAVORY candied orange slices. Just kidding.

The extra calories, the tiredness, the feeling a bit bloated the next day were all worth it because it was a lot of fun. Now, I won't stack several of those days together because it's not good for me or my diet, but once in awhile is definitely worth it.

UPDATE: Since Friday, I've gotten back on track with my eating and tracking calories using my Lose It app. I have also re-dropped that .8 lb.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blah Blah Blah

I didn't think it was possible, but this morning I woke up with nothing to say. I didn't say a word when I took the dogs outside to do their business (abnormal since I always talk to them), I didn't even send a text or make a phone call like I normally do. I finally broke my random silence when I sent a message saying "good morning" on Twitter.

Anyway, that being said, I really don't have a topic to write about today. It's just another day. I work in a few hours, I'll watch what I eat and then I have a fun evening with friends planned. If I think of anything fun or profound to say then maybe I'll write a full blog later.

For now, have a good day everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cry-Baby Me.

I cried myself to sleep last night.

The fact that I cried myself to sleep isn't anything astounding, but it happened. It happens more often than I'm comfortable with, and usually I don't have a distinct or monumental reason to be crying. I'm just emotional ... apparently. The bizarre part is that for the longest time, as a teen and young adult, I didn't cry -- ever. Now, living in Las Vegas and having a life apart from everything I want to be around, I cry all the time.

The person that bears the brunt of these minor emotional breakdowns isn't me, but instead it's my husband. Last night I was lying on my side facing away from Mike trying to fall asleep. I didn't think there was a single thought in my mind, but one teardrop slipped from the corner of my eye and rolled down my cheek to my pillow. I didn't make a noise, and I don't think I even changed my breathing. Like a waterfall, several more tears streamed from my eyes and silently rolled down my face. At that moment, Mike snuggled closer to me and asked if I was okay. I know I was silent, so how did he know?! Truthfully, I think he can just tell when I'm having a rough moment, without seeing my face or having me say a word. Man, I love him.

The crying didn't last very long. For maybe 5-10 minutes i cried silently, but never pin-pointed a reason. Sometimes if I start crying I'll think about something sad like my pets getting lost or never moving back to the Midwest, and that fuels my tearful fire. I didn't do that last night though. I fell asleep shortly thereafter, and it became just another night where I cried myself to sleep without reason. How pathetic am I? One thing I have noticed is that I've done it more often since I've been on a weight-loss journey. As I've had distinct ups and downs I've simply been more emotional. Can't wait to see how I am if I ever get pregnant! LOL

Anyway, I'm really glad to be back in the mode of losing weight, eating right, exercising and blogging. It's been much better for me and I feel like I'm actually regaining my self-esteem and confidence in the way I look -- and that's only a few days in! We'll just have to wait and see what the future brings!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You're a FAT PIG!

I've been thinking a lot about my weight and what that's done to the way i see myself over the years. As I've thought about this vast topic, I've remembered some of the worst moments I've ever experienced. I remember the time I was in an elevator in my dorm building at school and was randomly called ugly and cow by a male I'd never seen or spoken to before. I remember the first time I looked in the mirror and called myself those names, and I remember the first & only time I ever spoke something that awful to someone else and how I felt in its wake. None of those experiences were good, but the worst, was by far, the last.

I don't remember how old I was, but I know I was old enough to know better. I have to believe it was summertime and I was home from school being looked after by my older sister. If you ask either of us we'd tell you that we didn't get along the greatest as children. We didn't truly become friends until we were both older and starting to live our own lives in college. I know that I never did anything to encourage a better relationship when we were kids, and as a matter of fact, I was a mean little brat.

One day we were home by ourselves and disagreed about something. I don't remember at all what the argument was about, but it was probably over something stupid like what to watch on tv or what game to play. The argument escalated into a yelling match (me yelling and her walking away) and before she shut the door to her bedroom leaving me in the hallway, I yelled the one thing that I knew could truly hurt her. As the words dripped from my tongue my mind already began processing how awful what I was saying truly was. Regret flooded over me instantaneously, but I said it and couldn't take it back. I yelled, "You're a fat pig," and listened to her slam the door. It may have been my imagination, but I heard her cry a little bit too. I've never experienced instant regret like that before.

The reason those words stung, and I suppose knowing they'd sting was the reason I said them, was because my sister was a bigger kid. I knew she was self-conscious about the way that she looked and I used it against her. Having gained weight over my adult years and knowing what struggles I've gone through emotionally/mentally because of that has made that single experience even more awful. It's two decades later and I still feel bad for what I said. A true blow below the belt. To be fair, she's never brought it up since and it's not a story that we've ever relived in any way. I'm not sure she'd even remember it because we bickered so much that it might have just been chalked up as one ridiculous instance in a long line of incidents, but I'm still sorry.

I know children don't sensor themselves when they speak, but most learn over time the very distinct difference between right and wrong. I knew, without any doubt, that calling my sister a fat pig was wrong, but I did it anyway. It wasn't until I was called fat by a stranger that I realized just how wrong or awful those words can be. Quick story: While riding the elevator in Tamarack Hall at Bemidji State University my sophomore year of college from the ground floor to my room on fifth floor, a young man whom I had never recalled seeing or speaking too stood apart from me. He selected the sixth floor as his destination (every other floor was men, likewise, the opposite floors were for women). There was a third person in the elevator with us who I later met and became friends with through mutual acquaintances. He also lived on sixth floor. The ride was silent, literally no one spoke to anyone. As the doors opened on the fifth floor and I began stepping out of the elevator, one of the guys said "hey" in order to get my attention. I turned around, blocking the elevator doors and the guy said to me, "I just can't help myself, but did you know you're really unattractive? I mean you're kind of like a cow."

The guy that I eventually became friends with gasped and the asshole laughed. I stepped out of the way of the doors and let them close in front of me. I didn't show any reaction to the guy who said that to me, but when I got to my room with the door firmly closed and no way of anyone walking in on me, I cried. The kicker - I wasn't even overweight then, at all. I'm not sure I was truly hurt by his words because I had a boyfriend, lots of friends, I was happy and physically active. I went to the gym regularly and played intramural sports. I think the words really bothered me because I couldn't, and still can't fathom how anyone could say something like that to a stranger completely unprovoked.

I could say that I have a great moral to this story, but I guess I'm sharing it just for the sake of showing that words hurt. I've been on both ends of unkind words, and I have to admit that I was hurt more when I spoke them as opposed to when they were spoken to me. I thought yelling "fat pig" would make me feel better in some way, but it didn't. Think before you insult someone else, especially about weight. Body image plays into self-confidence to an extreme. And if you've been on the receiving end, just remember that those words are empty. Whoever said that to you is insecure and just trying to feel better about who they are by making you feel worse about how you look.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are those hunger pangs?

I've been in this exact situation before. Although I don't remember the exact date or time, I do remember reaching this crossroad ... let me explain.

Last night I was having trouble sleeping so I was reading on my iPad while lying in bed (I highly recommend the book Waiter Rant if you haven't read it yet.). We had dinner around 6:30 p.m. and by the time I was reading my night away, I was hungry! Most of you are probably reading this wondering why being hungry is such a phenomenon, but for me it's an amazing feeling. When this happened before, I realized that I hadn't actually experienced feeling hungry, like legitimate "I-need-food-now" hungry for a very long time. I don't know when recognizing that feeling went away, but sometime over the past few months I was eating so regularly that I never actually felt hunger. Last night, the pangs returned ... and I was happy to feel them!

On that same note, I've probably said to myself or someone around me that "I'm super hungry," or "I'm starving" hundreds of times in the past three months alone, but I think that those feelings of hunger are more superficial and based on time, situation and my need to eat in order to suppress emotions/stress than anything else. At work yesterday, I started feeling those pangs of hunger too and even took my break a few minutes early. Whoever thought I'd say that it feels good to feel hungry? My bowl of Special K with Red Berries and light soy milk never tasted so good as it did this morning. I absolutely devoured the whole bowl, and now I feel satisfied. I'm already looking forward to lunch!

Anyway, it's my "weekend!" That's right, two days off of work with absolutely no plans. I'm hoping to get to the gym, or if the wind/weather cooperates, maybe go for a hike at Red Rock. No matter what I do, I'm feeling so good about the path I'm on that I'll definitely be eating right!

UPDATE: We went to the grocery store last night, and I bought some of those Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice "steamers" products. I'll definitely do a comparison sometime this week!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 2 -Full Steam Ahead

I survived Day 1 of re-emerging myself into my diet. Woot woot! However, it's only day 1 so there's still a long road ahead of me. When I have one good day though, it usually puts me in the best frame of mind for the next day.

This time around is proving to be quite a bit different than last time. When I started the weight-loss journey before my wedding, I was working in a location where several of us took lunch breaks together and most commonly ate out at a nearby restaurant. Now, I'm working in a retail location and I take my breaks by myself allowing me to be the only person who influences where and what I eat. This time aroun
d, the responsibility is not only entirely my own (which it was before as well), but I have no o
ne else to blame my cheating on. Brilliant!

Over the past couple of months I've discovered some newer items on my local grocery store's
shelves that are perfect for my 30-minute lunches and still stick within the guidelines of my program. Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers (in the pasta aisle) are each around 300 calories, very filling and have a lot of flavor. My other
new favorite was introduced to me by The Wizard (my fearless leader at work). She recommend that I try Lean Cuisine's new Market
Creations (I call them frozen pouches). What an idea! They're delicious! The only problem I've had since first trying them is that I've had trouble finding grocery stores that aren't sold-out! The meals I've tried thus far have been under 300 calories and really tasty! I also think that traditional frozen meals taste pretty stale and icky, but these are fresh and light. If you haven't tried them yet and you want something quick & tasty for your work day, then go out and buy one!

This is funny - as I'm writing this I was looking online at Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine's
websites to be sure I had the name of the products correct and I see that now Healthy Choice has released a product mirroring Lean Cuisine's! Time to try something new! I had plans to grocery shop with my husband tonight, and maybe this week I can taste test the frozen pouches from both lines! Results to come ....

Anyway, today is another work day, and for my 30-minute break I'm going to have soup. Something about chicken and vegetable soup on a windy, rainy and cloudy day sounds absolutely delightful. That 30 minutes will give me time to think about what to cook for dinner too. So many tasty options to choose from! I love looking forward to a meal without feeling guilty. One of life's many pleasures.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who's in the Mirror?

I'm disappointed in myself. There's not a better way to describe the way I feel about myself at the moment other than to say I am completely and utterly disappointed. I haven't gained back all of the weight I lost or let myself get completely out of control, but I've reverted enough back to my old habits in order to not recognize who's looking back at me in the mirror.

August 2009 - I weighed more than 230 lbs and was less than a year from getting married.
June 26, 2010 - My wedding day. I weighed 194 lbs and looked fantastic in my wedding gown.
Labor Day Weekend 2010 - I weighed 191 lbs and was confident.
November 2010 - I weighed 193-194 and felt good going into the holidays.
March 2011 - Today I weigh 209. What?

Sometime between November and the beginning of 2011 I lost all control of myself. I know I'm an emotional eater and a stress eater, but this is ridiculous. If I continue to let myself go in this direction then I will be back to my lifetime high weight before I know it, and I am determined to not let it get that far.

In order to get back on track, I should say it's time to go back to the drawing board, but the plan I was working before was perfect. So, it's not time to go back to square one, but it is time to re-commit myself to my basic goals and create new mini goals to strive for. That being said, I'm not sure what my super long-term goal is, but here is the start to the next phase in my weight-loss program.

Feb. 1, 2012 - This is my year goal. By this date I would like to weigh 170 lbs. In Feb. 2012, I am going with my parents, husband and family friends to Grand Cayman, and I'd like to wear a bathing suit without cringing.
June 1, 2011 - Step 1 goal. By this date I would like to be back to my weight-loss point of 192 lbs. Once I reach this goal, I'll be finished re-tracing my steps and ready to move forward.

So those are my two current goals. I know they're manageable, I just have to commit to making it happen. How am I going to do that you may ask? It's simple. I'm going to do the same thing I did last time. I'm going to watch what i eat and use programs like Lose It, Nutrition and Restaurant Info applications on my iPhone to help me eat according to my allowed calorie amounts. I'm also going to go to the gym a set number of times per week or exercise outdoors or at home when I don't get to LVAC. Lastly, I'm going to keep myself accountable of my progress and my pitfalls by continuing to blog.

Sorry I've been absent for so long. My only excuse is that I got lazy. Wish me luck please; I can use all the support I can get. Time to re-gain control of myself, and I can't wait to start seeing some progress.