Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Highs and Lows

In any journey there will be highs and there will be lows. It's like you're circling a mountain... round and round not sure if the next bend will bring you up or down. This past week I've been soaring. My energy level has been so high and I have been on the go from the time I get up and head to work until the time I hit the pillow. I did a lot of extra hip hop this week to make up for snow days and I finished week 3 of the C25K.

But at night, just before I fall asleep I've been feeling a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. A light flutter... a memory of a life that used to dwell there. March 12th ... Alhassan's original due date is rapidly approaching and all I see are glowing pregnant women, birth announcements and pregnancy announcements. I'm so happy for my friends and family but at the same time so sad. I hate feeling sad for myself. I don't usually dwell on this sadness but it has been playing tricks on me. Filling my dreams and my thoughts. Maybe that's the reason I have been keeping myself so busy.

Since I don't know when I'll be expecting again... I'm focusing on what I can control. The journey changed from adding a baby to our family to me getting to my goal weight. I can't begin to imagine where I would be if I didn't have the support system that I have now. I'm sure a million more tears would have been shed.

Today was a bit sour but there is always something good to be seen in each day. You have to actively make the choice to see that good and to put that as your focus. Don't let the lows overpower the highs.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


When you've got a lot of weight to lose the best way to approach it is to break it up into phases. When I started this journey in September 2012 I weighed 271 pounds and set my goal weight as 190. At that point I didn't really know what that weight would look or feel like on me. I saw it as an attainable number. I didn't set specific rewards for set numbers of pounds lost but I had an idea in mind of things I wanted and things I was going to work towards.

The first thing I bought for myself as a reward for losing 30+ pounds was a wii. This kicked open the door to my activity increasing. I bought Just Dance Greatest Hits since the commercials always looked fun. I danced on that ALL the time.

As I was mentally preparing to start the C25K program, my next weight goal was met and rewarded with a new pair of running shoes. My husband actually got these for me. They're purple and silver and I love them.

Now I have set goals:

1. Meet my VDay Challenge of 193 -- 4 pairs of workout pants (I weighed in at 195 today and went ahead and bought a pair today ... a LARGE... no X in front of that L my friends)

2. Hit 185 -- A  Fitbook  or maybe the set?
3. Hit 180 -- Buy the remainder of the year for the rec center (on 3 month pass right now)
4. Hit 175 -- A mani/pedi and massage (I'll need to save up money for this one too)
5. Hit 170 -- Buy new summer wardrobe (it might have to be from family dollar but I want some new      summer dresses)
6. Hit goal of 165 (if I don't lower it again) Portraits at JCP with my old clothes. And also as a family.

That's all I've got for now but I do throw some things in here or there... still trying to find a used Zumba wii game that's less than $50 just for fun. I'd love to go to a zumba class but don't want to go alone.

So what are you gonna do to reward yourself for all your hard work??

Friday, January 24, 2014

What's on the Menu: Week 12

As I walked around the grocery store I did really have anything in mind other than the coconut cheesecake cravings I was having. Breakfast is the hardest meal for me when it comes to cooking so I settle for either egg beaters or frozen fare. I'm not and probably never will be the type of person who cooks all their meals from scratch. I give extra kudos to those are who do that but I'm not at that point. Convenience is still king for me right now.

This week my cart ended up filled with:
1 cauliflower
Bell peppers
Knor side dishes (rice and pasta many flavors)
SmartOnes breakfast scrambles
Morningstar corndogs
Morningstar sausage links
Coconut greek yogurt
Bagel thins
Special K Flatbread breakfast sandwiches
Luna bars (cookie dough and smores)

When I pre log in my meals I usually log in the main breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then I add in my snacks on the day. I almost always have a low cal string cheese and an anytime bar from Jenny Craig.

B -- Aunt Jemima scramble, 1 c. mandarin oranges, string cheese
S -- anytime bar
L -- JC mesquite chicken
D -- JC chipotle chicken

B -- JC tortellini soup, small ice cap with milk not cream
S -- kettle corn, 6 hershey's hugs
L -- JC Pasta Ole
S -- Peanut butter crackers
D -- JC cheese ravioli

B -- Smart Ones Scramble
L -- 1 c. Knorr taco rice with 6 oz. chicken tenderloins cooked with Pam and taco seasoning
D -- 4 morningstar sausage links in 1 c kraut

B -- Flatbread sandwich
L -- 2 morningstar corndogs w/mustard baked turnip fries w/ketchup
D -- 1 1/2 c taco rice with spicy cauliflower

B -- SmartOnes scramble
L -- 1 c. Knorr Chicken flavored fettucini w 4 oz. balsamic marinated chicken tenderloins
D -- 4 oz hamburger on flatbread

Tuesday and Wednesday I don't have figured out yet. I think I'm going to make another Knorr Rice dish. I use the Spanish rice version, add marinated chicken and 1/2 cup seasoned black beans and serve over a bed of lettuce, top with salsa.

I've been good about marinating and preparing a bunch of chicken that I then store in the fridge, weigh and then add to dishes. It makes cooking time so much shorter!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why Make a Plan?

Anyone who has ever been successful at losing weight will tell you: "It pays to have a plan" Sure, it can be a pain in the butt... why do I have to THINK about food ALL THE TIME??? Well... you just do!!! It has been proven to me time and time again that when I don't plan... I don't make the best choices. I don't always stick to my plan 100% but when I have my main meals logged into myfitnesspal for the week, when I have to make a choice on the fly I tend to make a better choice then if I had had NOTHING planned.

I used to hate going to the grocery store. 

Now I have a much better time. I take my time circling the store, looking at serving sizes and nutritional info. Some people tell you to avoid the middle aisles at all cost... well, I'm not that extreme. Meal planning for me is about convenience and potential to volumize. Volumizing is all about beefing up your meal with non-starchy vegetables and giving yourself an abundance of food without an abundance of calories. Do the research on what is considered a non-starchy vegetable. I also HATED veggies but roasting them and using different spices have opened up a world of new foods I would have never given the time of day before.

Yesterday as I was driving home I really wanted a cheesecake... or coconut cream pie. So I headed to the store with an idea in mind. And so were born:

Mini Greek "Coconut Cheesecakes"

What you need:
- mini cupcake cups
- coconut flavored greek yogurt (I used Yoplait)
- graham cracker crumbs (I used about 2 1/2 tbsp for 9 minis)

I used a mini cupcake tin for convenience but you can set your cupcake cups on a plate.

I filled each cup 2/3 full of yogurt and topped with 1/4 tbsp of graham cracker crumbs... then FREEZE

I really enjoyed them... Greek yogurt reminds me of cheesecake with it's tartness but I think next time I'll mix in some of the sugar free cheesecake flavored pudding mix into the yogurt and maybe some sweet n'low.

Tomorrow I'll get into my full grocery list and menu for the week... I intended to do that tonight but hip hop kicked my butt! My pants are WAYYY too big and it's an awesome problem to have but there was a lot of extra fussing with my pants and having to tuck my shirt in during jumps.

GETTING IT!! (I'm in the purple)

I just LOVE tucking my shirt in.... NOT

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weigh In Wednesday

Wednesday's have been my weigh in day since I started Jenny Craig in September 2012. I learned early on that weight loss is NOT linear. It is an up, down, turned around, crazy process. There are weeks where I worked out everyday, ate perfectly and still saw a gain at my 11:40 am trip to the scale... only to see 3-4 pounds less on the scale the next day. It's important to 1) realize that there are MANY factors that will play out when you hop on the scale and 2) do your best to keep things "controlled". I weigh in at the same time of day and for the longest time I wore the same clothes. As time has progressed I've been less and less worried about keeping everything the same. The sooner you come to realize just how much your body fluctuates, the better.

So last week I was at 198.4

This week..... 199.4! + 1

Here's some things I know about this week and these non-scale victories often carry me through to the next Wednesday.
 -- I am no longer sick
 -- I got in 3 hip hop workouts
 -- I started c25k week 3 and didn't pass out LOL

As soon as I got back to the office after my weigh in I quickly realized that my monthly visitor was now in town and that could have played a part in my gain as well. But, my newest pants are falling off so I know I'm still losing the inches.

During my c25k run tonight I wanted to quit! I was almost done with my last 3 minutes of running and the week off was really catching up to me. Then I slowed my pace and realized... slowing down is ALWAYS better than stopping. I'm glad I finished the run and then after that I headed to the grocery store to get some staples for the week. Tomorrow I'll go over my meal plan for the week and share some recipes that I plan on using or trying out.

I also tried out a new snack bar (170 calories) by Luna... it's Chocolate chip cookie dough flavored. I get leery of protein bars and often HATE the taste but this was UH MAZ ING:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Transformation Tuesday

I'm sitting here... home and showered after hip hop and watching The Biggest Loser. It's makeover week for the contestants. I missed out on this show for many years ... partly because I was in school and then in Africa but when I started my weight loss journey I just happened to catch an episode and quickly got OBSESSED. I know the show isn't quite realistic and there's a lot behind the scenes (length of a week, etc) but it's still inspiring to see how people change and how much the physical changes really change how the person's confidence blossoms as well.

The more weight I have lost the more excited I get about getting dressed in the morning. When you're fat and uncomfortable... you tend to wear things to make you blend in. I rarely wear make up but now I enjoy putting it on. I still will never wear it every day but before I never saw the point... I didn't want people to look at me anyways.

HIP HOP!!! I cannot say enough amazing things about this class and how much it has helped to transform me even more into the person I've always strived to be. It takes patience, concentration, and spirit to stay with it. I absolutely love going to class each time and I've met so many awesome people that are helping me to break out of my shy little shell. Some of my favorites are "Get Big", "Transform Ya" and "Like the Ceiling Can't Hold Us". If you're in the Columbus area I urge you to come to a class!! Ride with me :)
The schedule for classes is in the link below:

C25K! Another program I credit a lot of my success to. I downloaded this app for my smartphone and made myself a running playlist at the urging of another Jenny Craig lady on the forums. I started the program and YES, it was hard ... but it was also easier and easier by the day. I began to CRAVE running. I would get cranky if I couldn't find a way to sneak away and fit in a run. I've restarted the program and am training for the Color Me Rad 5k on April 12th!

So, I still have some more changes in my future and I'm in the process of writing my goal and accomplishment list. I'm thinking I want to try the Polar watch and maybe even have some more portraits taken when I get close to or AT goal weight.

Can't wait to add more progress picks... weigh in TOMORROW!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014


Ugh! I have caught something. Last week I was up on the scale a little bit but that was no big deal. Hey, it happens, right? Even on weeks where I'm on point with food I occasionally see a slight gain. Luckily, the 9+ months I've spent on this journey have prepared me for this happening.

Friday night I went out. I had even saved calories for a few drinks with my hip hop family.

Was the double fisting of the beer necessary... eh, probably not but it happened

I still drug my butt out of bed the next morning and went right to hip hop... I felt like there was bud light on tap running out of my pores but I felt great just sweating all that junk out. But last night's mascara was not a welcome part of this workout. My eyes were stinging so bad after that hour.

I burned almost 500 calories and got in almost my entire step goal for the day. Later that day we were expecting family in from Cincinnati so I headed over to my parent's house. That's where things started to go downhill for me. My body was so sore which isn't always unusual after hip hop... but this was EXTREME fatigue and pain in all of my muscles. Then I started to feel a tickle in my throat and couldn't stop coughing... Did I post before that my husband came down with STREP THROAT over Christmas!!??

At this point it still just felt like a cold and I had dinner out with the family. My daughter and I shared a meal and I didn't finish my part. I knew I was over my calories slightly but knew there was hip hop and c25k training in store for me the next afternoon.... well, NEVER count on eating your exercise calories back before you burn them because as I lay in bed that night I started sweating and shaking and couldn't find a position in which phlegm wasn't choking me. So, downstairs I went... feeling miserable and knowing there was no way I was going to be able to workout. Even if I had tried my husband would have rightfully given me the death stare. 

My fever pushed past 100ยบ and I was really feeling crappy now. What did I do to make matters worse... I decided to get on the scale STU-PID!! If you're sick... do yourself a favor and don't get on the scale.

This morning I need to go have the dreaded step swab so I haven't eaten anything yet but I did consume about 3 glasses of orange juice. I'm trying to cater to my body but weigh in is on Wednesday. I've decided I'm going to employ my own advice here and ask for a free pass... My JCC can weigh me but I'm going to stand backwards on the scale. She can tell me next week what my total loss/gain was over this past week and next week.

So yes, I wasn't perfect this week on my own but being sick is no joke. You need to hydrate, up your vitamin c and make sure your energy stays up. So... take a free pass when you're sick... okay, I've put off the strep test long enough.... off to the DR.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sometimes You Gotta Vent

Men... gotta love 'em. I LOVE my husband. He's patient, intelligent, uncomplicated (for the most part) and he's been the rock in this crazy life I've led from Peace Corps until now.
See, what's not to love?

But, what I don't love is his diet advice. Why?
1) He's a guy! He can eat whatever he wants and doesn't gain anything
2) He's from NIGER!!!! I can honestly say that while in Niger I never met a person with an eating disorder ... see notes below
 -- I do not have an eating disorder
 -- Some people (a lot, actually) suffer from malnutrition in Niger but it is not out of a diet-conscious    mentality

 -- In Niger, food is most often shared communally and while starch heavy YOU WALK EVERYWHERE

I promise, everyone is actually happy here... typical Niger picture with no one smiling

3) I don't know a lot of the words to explain how Jenny Craig works in French... i.e. calorie, deficit, etc

So, he sees me eating every 2-3 hours and offers me this brilliant solution.... quit eating so much. What he doesn't realize is that this is what my meal plan is. Smaller meals lower in calories and volumized with plenty of non starchy vegetables. I've been having a really ON POINT week... exercising like crazy, signed up for my first 5k of 2014 (Color Me Rad on April 12th) and have been prepping my meals and weighing, measuring, and logging everything... even my cake today YUM... but it left me so frustrated.

I hate not being able to communicate everything and feeling critiqued. I know deep down in my brain that he didn't mean anything by it. Just in Niger, you eat your meal and that's it... then you eat your next meal, you pray and you sleep... repeat.
Sometimes you dance, too!

So, there's my vent! I feel more understood already! And I love sharing some photos from Niger :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Weight Loss Journey

On the Jenny Craig forums someone asked how to keep up their motivation once they've been on a plan for more than 6 months... it got me to thinking about what I've done in the past, what has worked and what hasn't worked. I think a large part of making the program into your lifestyle is your mindset. Here was my response:

I really started gaining weight in college when I completely stopped playing sports and led the typical college life of too much bad food, alcohol (not a ton but even a little is too much when it comes to calories) and not enough physical activity. During my junior/senior year of college I tried nutrisystem which is just gross and that lead to failure on that plan... then I went to weight watchers which I had success on but I was also going through a big breakup and I didn't have a huge appetite so it was easy to stay within points although looking back I was using my points on JUNK!!! Not on fruits and veggies and protein,  but on fast food and carbs. After 3 months, I had lost 40 pounds or so but stopped when I went back to school and quickly gained them back. 

After college I joined the Peace Corps and lived in Niger, West Africa for 2 years. I walked or biked EVERYWHERE and while the foods were high in starch everything was fresh and mostly unprocessed. I weighed in the 180's and was in the best shape of my adult life. I ended up marrying a local and when we moved back to the US I quickly gained everything back and more, got pregnant after 2 months and kept gaining.

So, by the time I joined Jenny Craig I was plain sick of being sick! I'm not going pretend that I went gung ho and NEVER ate off plan because that's not true. But what I did was write down EVERYTHING. I used Jenny's menu planner and wrote all over it, still use them to this day though I get the blank ones to write in my meals on my own. I also log everything into myfitnesspal. It was a sore wakeup call when I saw exactly how many calories I was consuming and it changed my mind as to how I wanted to eat. 

I still enjoy Chipotle, candy, and other previous favorites but now I really want to STAY at my fighting weight :) Also, I have really started getting into blogging. I do it for myself and for others to read if they want. I also take tons of pictures and look for motivational quotes. Constantly seeing pictures of my former self and my progress keep my going doing 90% perfect on my diet and 10% of "off plan" but still it's controlled. I count out my portions... no more are the days of sitting down with a box of cheez its or cereal. No, I literally count out 18 chips or measure 1 cup of cereal.

The longer you do this the easier it gets. But, you have to realize and decide that THIS will have to be your new way of life. If you do all this hard work and then just stop at goal... your work will go down the tube. I also read a lot of blogs about people going through the same type of journey.

Also, get active. Start slow and do what you can. I started with a wii and Just Dance... then was given a gazelle machine then I started the app c25k and then branched out to a hip hop dance class, body pump and spinning. I've tried lots of things and the more active I got the more I can't stand to NOT be active. Just be patient with yourself. For me it will ALWAYS be a struggle... always be an extra hour I have to spend planning my meals the week before, etc but I feel GREAT and it's worth it...

Now, here are some pictures I took last night of my old jeans (size 24) although I actually started in a 26... now I'm in a 14/16 depending on brand:

Me in my 14's from TORRID!!! Best plus size shopping, EVER FYI

These don't look as big, I am wearing my other jeans underneath too. But they were ROOMY

Front view

I plan to get real portraits taken with my before pants when I'm completely done losing weight and that picture is going in every room in my house.... okay not seriously, but it will go in my bedroom on a large canvas and a 4x6 print on my fridge.

Friday, January 3, 2014

This Week! Pt. 2 Stress and Exercise

 For the longest time I honestly believed that people were either born athletes or not. I was born and wasn’t a particularly overweight child. But as I went into school I could always tell that I developed faster than my peers. I was taller and wider but not FAT. 

My cousin Daniel helping to open my diaper

That's me in the inner tube age: 9

I'm in the striped swimsuit age:12 ... see how much bigger I am than my 2 cousins who are the same age as me (girl in glasses to the right of me and boy facing the camera next to girl in red towel)

I grew up playing soccer but I loathed running. My fitness was not the best nor my diet and that probably contributed to why I found running so difficult. It was not something I took joy or pride in and I didn’t find it relaxing. I quit playing soccer competitively in high school when I couldn’t keep up with the conditioning. My goal was to run the same trail where I gave up the game and this past summer I ran it quite a few times. But how did I ever get to the point where I actually ENJOYED running and being active??

When I started this process I was 270+ pounds and could barely walk around without tiring easily. I started first worrying about my food intake and getting that under control with the help of Jenny Craig. Between 20 and 30 pounds lost I decided it was time to reward myself. I went to the local GameStop where you can buy video gaming systems secondhand and bought myself a Wii and Just Dance Greatest Hits. I started out slow and uncoordinated but it was FUN. I danced for ten minutes to start and built up to doing 30-45 minutes without stopping.

Yes, I look like a dork but it's fun!!!

Then I was given a gazelle by a former coworker. This was different than the dancing and I could barely do two minutes without getting tired and looking at the clock every 15 seconds to see if my fifteen minutes were up. So I changed my game plan. I DVR all my television shows and I started by using the gazelle during commercial breaks and resting when the show was back on. As this became easier I reversed it and worked out during the show, pausing at commercials. After awhile I could keep it up for a whole show.

Then people on the Jenny Craig forums started talking about c25k. It’s an app on your phone or computer that you use to ease into running a 5k. It literally stands for Couch to 5k. I started out very apprehensive but the program couldn’t have been any easier. I set up a music playlist and the app would vibrate and turn down the music slightly in order to tell me when to walk and when to jog. Each day and week had a different amount of walking and jogging. I would come home ready and raring to get my running shoes and hit the sidewalks of my neighborhood. I invested in more workout clothes, an armband for my ipod, and a camel back water bag. During all the craziness at work, coming home and running was what I looked forward to so that I could unwind.

I credit that program for the strength I feel and for pushing me to try new things. With a great "new client special" I got a $30, 30-day unlimited pass to a gym where they specialize in bodypump and spinning. To be honest, spinning was a little intense for me and I HATED not being able to stay up and out of the saddle with everyone else but I would like it more if it was a 30 or 40 minute class. I also really like the bodypump and wish I would have had more free time to fit it into my schedule that month.

Hip hop has been the class that was introduced to me that I’ve loved the most!! It’s so fun and challenging. A friend brought me and in turn I’ve been urging my friends to come with me and try it out.

What kind of activities have you done that changed your fitness style? What do you want to try?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

This Week! Stress and Meal Planning

This week has just felt crazy insane to me. We worked a day and then a half day, were off for New Year's which then made me feel like I was already in weekend mode.... back a full day today and another half day tomorrow. I am really NOT a big fan of change... never have been... probably never will be (at least in most aspects of my life... seeing as I am REALLY enjoying the changes I've been making in my body). In college my freshman room mate and I had a verbally knock down, drag out fight about moving the configuration of our room... see, even then I wasn't a fan of change.

Things are changing, yet again, at work. We're shifting things around and gearing up for expansion but I still don't feel adequately trained as an office manager. It's leading for a lot of stress in my daily life. But, the one thing keeping me sane is the new schedule I have been developing with my exercise and meal planning. In this post, I'll focus on the meal planning aspect of my new lifestyle and tomorrow I'll get more into my exercise routines.

 Each Wednesday I have my official weigh in and then I go home with a blank menu which I fill in with meal ideas. I try to put everything in from main meals to snacks, to the fruit and veggies I plan on eating. But some days I leave the "extra" calories open to fill in with what I feel like. I then log everything into myfitnesspal which I use on my phone. I stick to my meal plan about 90% of the week and move things around as need be.

I try to go grocery shopping Wednesday night or Thursday for the fresh things I need and I make sure I have staples in my pantry so that I'm never at a loss as to what I can eat if I don't get to go to the market when I want to.

On Jenny Craig you start eating primarily Jenny food.... a combination of frozen or shelf stable meals and you add in veggies, fruit, and dairy. There is a new "MyDays" program but I am not familiar with it. When you reach halfway, you are guided to making meals on your own. Little by little you ease into making a whole days worth of food on your own.

Due to financial constraints while paying off my medical bills I am currently doing almost every meal on my own. I just LOVE Jenny Craig breakfasts and I've bought a few but I just wanted to give a glimpse into what I buy for a week's worth of food.

I have left to right:

- Cottage cheese and dry ranch mix (plan to put in a food processor to make a smooth veggie dip)
- pork chops
- reduced fat pepperjack, cheddar, and mexican blend cheese
- instant tea mix and my infamous cup
- miracle whip lite
- real bacon bits (for my green beans)
- lettuce
- celery sticks
- italian flatout bread
- cajun turkey
- 2 heads cauliflower
- 4 grapples (delish)
- frozen broccoli florets
- roasted red peppers
- frozen chicken tenderloins
- assortment of pasta sides (mexican rice, parmesan, cheddar, broccoli and cheddar rice)
- progresso lite soups (french onion, cheesy enchilada, and cheddar bacon potato)
- green beans
- diced tomatos

And my ever trusty food scale... (p.s. if you see the oreos I promise they're not mine... hubby can eat anything and everything he wants)

I'd love any recipes and would be willing to share some of my go-to's. Comment with any questions or input you have and PLEASE, share my blog :)