Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thank you!

I want to dedicate a post to showing appreciation for all of the love and support I got from my friends and family throughout my weight loss journey.  I'm a very lucky girl to have so many caring, supportive people in my life and I need to give you guys a shout out!

Challenging yourself mentally the way you do when you try to change your body eventually all comes down to you and what decisions you make.  That said, having the people in your life support you unconditionally throughout the process can make things a whole lot easier.  It was also great to hear so many people giving me suggestions and swapping ideas with me.  I learned a lot about good food choices and great workout ideas from other people. 

To my friends, thank you for putting up with me this whole time and not giving up on me!  I know I was cranky sometimes, and sometimes I skipped the bar in favor of getting a good night's sleep and going to the gym early the next morning.  Sorry for missing out on 15 weeks worth of Friday nights out with you for the sake of my 15 Saturday morning weigh-ins.  Thank you for loving me anyway and understanding that I was doing what I needed to do to better myself and having the patience to wait for fun Julia to re-emerge at the end of the tunnel!

One person in particular stands out among the rest as being there for me every step of the way, from going for Sunday afternoon runs with me when all he wanted to do was lay on the couch watching Bravo, to coming up with family dinner ideas that were healthy enough for me to eat, too.  To my BFF Ken, I love you so much and I appreciate all the help you've given me over the last 3 months, and even before.  You're such a positive, motivating influence in my life and I don't think I could have reached my goal without your constant encouragement and enthusiasm!

To the rest of you - everyone who "liked" my posts on Facebook, everyone who left encouraging comments, everyone who complimented me on my progress when they saw me - THANK YOU!!!  Knowing that there were people out there who actually cared about me succeeding and wanted me to achieve my goal helped me stay focused right up until the very end.  Hearing that you noticed a difference in my body reinforced the fact that my plan was working.  Just knowing that somebody out there was actually reading this blog and keeping up with my progress forced me to be accountable for everything I did or didn't do. Even on the days when all I wanted to do was give up, when I was tempted to skip the gym after work or when I was craving cheeseburgers and fries, you are who I thought about.  I didn't want to let you down, so I continued.

Basically, this challenge would have been a hell of a lot harder without all of you encouraging me and rooting for me along the way.  So thank you, from the depths of my now-16-pounds-lighter soul, for all your positivity and love!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week 15/Final Update!

Well, well, well.  Here I am at the end of my weight loss challenge and I can't believe it's finally over!  For the past 15 weeks I have been working my butt off (literally) to try to lose 15 pounds.  It all began with a giant wake-up call in the form of me stepping on the scale one day and deciding that enough was enough.  Things were getting out of hand, and my health and happiness were on the line.  It was that moment that made me decide to get myself in gear and make some serious changes, and that's exactly what I did.  I set a realistic, yet challenging goal for myself: lose 15 pounds in 15 weeks.  With Memorial Day weekend beach plans with my friends looming in the distance, 15 weeks was exactly how long I had to get myself ready for bikini season.  My plan was simple - move more, eat less.  I tracked my food intake, counted calories, and worked out regularly.  In the end, I was more than successful at achieving my goal, and now I'd like to share my final results with all of you!

I didn't post my weight on this blog when I kicked off the challenge, mostly because I was so embarassed.  Now that it's over, I'd like to give everyone the full scope of how much my body has changed over the last 15 weeks:

Starting weight: 163 lbs
Ending weight: 147 lbs
Total weight loss: 16 lbs - that's 10% of my body weight!!!

Starting BMI: 28 (overweight - 30 or higher is obese)
Ending BMI: 25.2 (Still technically overweight, but just over the line from being "normal" [18.5-24.9])
Total BMI lowered by 2.8

Starting body fat %: 28
Ending body fat %: 23 
Total body fat loss: 5%
(Average body fat percentage for women is 25% - 31%, "Fitness" level is 21% - 24%)

To put this all in perspective for anyone out there reading this who doesn't know me, I'm a 25-year old female and I'm 5'4".  Also, because I know that this is what a lot of people were hoping for, I decided to swallow my embarassment and give you some before and after photos as evidence of these changes!

"Before" photos taken: 2/2/13
"After" photos taken: 5/19/13

The bottoms I'm wearing are part of a bikini that I was really hoping I would fit back into in time for my beach getaway this coming weekend, and thanks to my efforts I'll actually be able to!

So there you have it - I wanted to lose 15 pounds in 15 weeks, and in the end I managed to lose 16!  I also drastically reduced my body fat percentage and lowered my BMI.  Now I'm right over the line from having a "normal" BMI, and I reduced my body fat by FIVE PERCENT!

I'm also very proud of the fact that I did this completely on my own.  By that I mean that I didn't have a personal trainer, nutritionist, or chef, I didn't do any cleanses or fad diets, and I didn't take any supplements or mystery pills; all I did was get a gym membership.  Pure diet and exercise is what it really comes down to when you're trying to lose weight. 

All in all, I just feel so much better after having finished my own personal weight loss challenge.  This was really about so much more than just a number on a scale, even if that's what my impetus was for getting things started.  I've made so many positive changes in terms of my diet and exercise habits, and I hope to keep those healthy new habits and use them to maintain my body the way it is now.  Maybe in the future I will challenge myself once again and try to make more changes in my body, but for now I'm so perfectly happy with all that I have achieved over the last few months and I fully intend to enjoy my renewed sense of happiness and well-being throughout the summer!  Cheers!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weekly Tip: For the Snackers

You know who you are.  You're the one who strays to the kitchen cabinet when you're bored, looking for something to munch on.  You're the one who can't sit through a movie without something sweet to nibble on.  You're the one who will keep eating even after you're full as long as there's still food in front of you... You're a snacker.  Don't worry, no judgment here - I'm a snacker too, and today I'd like to give you some helpful tips to curb your snack-stealing ways.
  • Chew gum - If you're anything like me, you just need to have something to chew on.  Many times I find that I'm halfway through eating something and I realize that I don't even want it anymore, I'm just eating it to have something to munch on.  If that's the case, always having gum nearby can give you something to chew on without giving you extra calories.
  • Stay busy - A lot times I find I'm snacking out of boredom, which means I just need to find something else to occupy myself with until I stop thinking about using food as a means to pass time.  If this means going out for a stroll or finally getting some cleaning done, even better!
  • Track it - It's very easy to trick yourself into thinking that if you only eat a tiny bit of something then it doesn't count.  Well let me tell you, it does.  If you start tracking everything you eat, even the tiniest little spoonful of something, you'll see that it all definitely adds up in the end, which could stop you from reaching into the pantry for "just a little taste" of something.
  • Surround yourself with healthy snacks - If you don't have junk food nearby, you're a lot less likely to eat it.  If you must keep a supply of snacks around at all times, make sure they're healthy ones.  I'm a big fan of trail mix, but those 100-calorie snack packs also work (if you can stick to just one), or fresh veggies and hummus.  If your healthy food is as easily accessible as some of the other less-healthy options, you're more likely to make smarter choices.
Hopefully these little tips will help you as much as they've helped me!  I know I love to always have a little something around to munch on, and that was one of the hardest challenges to conquer throughout my weight loss process.  Implement these tricks and you may find your weight loss goals are more attainable too!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuna Macaroni Salad

One of the recipes I made this week was this healthy take on Tuna Macaroni Salad that uses greek yogurt as a subtitute for all the mayo you'd usually use.  It tasted great and I'm happy I found a healthy version of one of my favorite summer foods!

You will need:
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cans of chunk light tuna packed in water, drained
3 cups cooked whole grain pasta (I accidentally made 4 cups so it came a little more dry than it probably should, but still tasty!)
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
2 tbs light mayo
1/2 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 tbs red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

-Mix everything together

Literally, that's it!  I'm a huge fan of mac salad with tuna and peas in it, so when I came across this recipe I was pretty pumped.  The greek yogurt really saves you a lot of the fat and makes you feel a lot less guilty about eating this!  I also used whole wheat pasta to make it even better.

Estimated nutrition info from Yields 6 servings, serving size: 1 cup.  Calories 244; Total Fat 2.5g; Saturated Fat 0.2g; Cholesterol 13.3mg; Sodium 261.8mg; Carbs 43.7g; Dietary Fiber 4.8g; Sugars 5.4g; Protein 17.7g.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Week 14 Update

Well, folks, here we are: it's almost over, only one week left in my challenge!  Since losing the 15 pounds, I have tried to stick with my plan and see if I can lose any more weight, but I have to admit I've been particularly lax, especially last weekend.  I had friends in town visiting, went to a beerfest, and it was cinco de mayo.  I may have partied a little too hard because of those things, but really I only have myself to blame for my week 14 results.

Physical Fitness:
-5/4/13: ran on the treadmill for 45 minutes
-5/6/13: went on the elliptical for 30 minutes and then ran 1 mile on the treadmill
-5/8/13: BODYSTEP
-5/9/13: ran outside for 35 minutes, went 3.2 miles
-5/10/13: ran on the treadmill for 45 minutes

I tried to work out extra hard to make up for my weekend fun.  I've been doing a lot of running and it's grown to be much more bearable than it was in the beginning.  I used to hate running, now it's something I tolerate.  After all, it's one of the best forms of straight up cardio you can do.  So far the spring weather has been perfect for running outside, but I'm concerned that once the DC summer weather really kicks in it'll be too hot and I'll be relegated to the treadmill.  Or maybe I'll try to force myself to get up earlier more often to fit in morning runs before work, and before the temperature rises too much for the day.

I did a good job with food during the week and ate pretty much all the normal things.  The problem during week 14 came from my weekend partying.  In particular, on cinco de mayo my friends and I all went to a beerfest and despite my best intentions, I let the alcohol influence my food choices and I wasn't strict enough about it.  The beerfest was followed by a cinco de mayo dinner, complete with margaritas.  I know I've talked about this before, but alcohol really is just completely terrible for you if you're trying to lose weight.  Not only is it empty calories with little to no nutritional value, but alcohol itself slows down the fat burning process, and influences you to make poor decisions food-wise.  That's why as of the seis de mayo, I decided that I wouldn't drink any more alcohol until my challenge is over and I'm at the beach with my friends.  The Outer Banks trip that I'm taking over Memorial Day weekend was what inspired me to start losing weight in the first place and marks the end of my weight loss journey, so what better place to celebrate my success and end my detox than a sunny beach vacation surrounded by my friends?  God, I can't wait to have a gin and tonic...

Once again I didn't use my time efficiently enough to schedule in a night to cook something new.  I am making up for it by making 2 new recipes during Week 15, though!  One of them was a healthy tuna macaroni salad that I made last night - recipe to follow.

Thanks to my partying ways last weekend and depite my attempts to make up for it with 6 workouts throughout the week, last week I lost...


That's right, once again I have stayed the exact same.  It would have been nice to lose another pound, but I'm still very pleased with making my 15 pound goal so it's good to know that I didn't derail all that progress by gaining weight back last week.  I also think at this point my body has completely gotten used to my new lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise so I'm hitting that plateau I've been dreading.  I'll try and push through that to see if I can lose any more weight in the last week of my journey.  I'm motivated and ready to move forward through the 15th and FINAL week of this challenge!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Workout Song of the Week: Conor Maynard

This week I'm feeling the pop tunes more than the angry rock ones, so I'd like to share this little gem with you that I found a while back thanks to iTunes: Conor Maynard "Animal"

This song gets me pumped up for workouts for so many different reasons.  It's got a great bouncing beat and you know by now that I'm a huge fan of anything synth-heavy.  There's also something so motivating about a guy singing about a woman who keeps messing with his mind!  A pop song to the core, this jam gets me up and running every time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Weekly Tip: Translating Restaurant Menus

It's going to happen to you at some point in your weight loss journey, it's inevitable: you're going to eat out at a restaurant.  Situations like going out to eat make it difficult for people to make good food choices because there's so much temptation, but there are ways to interpret the menu and figure out which dishes you should opt for.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

-Good: grilled, broiled, roasted, baked, steamed, steamed, blackened or poached

-Bad: pan-fried, sautéed, battered, breaded, au gratin, cheesy, creamy, buttered, deep-fried, béarnaise, or crispy

-Go for veggies!  You don't necessarily have to order a salad, but when looking over the menu try to pick out the items that include lots of veggies.  Opt for sides like steamed vegetables instead of french fries.

-Keep it simple! Aim for the simpler sounding dishes.  The more complicated a dish sounds, the more ingredients it has in it, which means the more calories it probably has.

-Sammies: order sandwiches with whole wheat, pita, or multi-grain bread. 

-Get saucy! Watch out for cream or cheese sauces, try to choose lighter sauces and clear broths instead.

Of course there are other great tips for eating healthy when eating out as well:

-Look up the menu online before hand and have an idea of which things you can eat before you go.  Try to make a plan and stick with it.
-Ask for a half portion, or ask the server to box up half your entree before serving it to you.
-If you know you're going out to eat for dinner, try to eat lighter or get a good work out in earlier in the day.  Don't skip meals, however, since then you'll show up to the restaurant starving and probably make poor choices.
-Remember: you're the guest at the restaurant, which means they'll give you what you want.  Don't be afraid to customize a dish or ask for substitutions.

Happy dining!