Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Zumba, anyone?

I have been hearing about the wonders of Zumba for years now.
"It's so fun!"
"It's so easy! Anyone can do it!"
"I got great results!"
 Anyway, I have always been interested to try it, but scared to look like an idiot at the same time. Eventually I kind of forgot Zumba even existed. Until today!

I found a Zumba DVD from the library and I was pysched! I ran home and I put the DVD in right away.

Okay, a couple things.....Whoever said Zumba is easy is definitely not as uncoordinated as I am! I made it through the Basics & did one of the 20 minute workouts. The basics part just quickly showed you how to do a few moves, but it was so quick that I couldn't catch up, nor do I even remember anything they taught me.

I didn't find it nearly as interesting or fun as everyone has claimed Zumba to be! I was really disappointed. Maybe I just need to revisit this DVD again at a later date when I am in better shape. It moves way too quick for me. But I am not a good dancer, I've never tried to be a dancer, and maybe that's why this wasn't any fun for me. Who knows!

Anyone else had any experience with Zumba?

I was wondering if any of you use any workout DVD's and if so, which ones? I have 14 different ones, and only really like about 7 or 8 of them. I am thinking of writing reviews for some of the DVD's I have here. I just want to see if that's something anyone would be interested in before I try all 14 of them out & start writing reviews. Of course, this would be a very time consuming task and I would probably only review one or two a month, but let me know if that sounds like a good plan or not.

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Days 6-9

I had a very busy weekend. Lots of pool time, a trip to the drive in, and of course lots of exercising! I ended up walking about 14 miles since Friday. 6 of which were last night alone. I did a great job with keeping up with The Shred all weekend, and I even tried out Level 2 last night!

Saturday: 30 Day Shred, 4 miles on Nordic Track.
Sunday: 30 Day Shred, 4 miles on Nordic Track.
Monday: 30 Day Shred Level 1 TWICE in the morning, and Level 1 followed by Level 2 at night. Also ran 6 miles on the Nordic Track. Did 20 continuous laps in the pool, too.
Today: 30 Day Shred in the morning, and again with my friend Laurin around 2. She had to leave, so when she did I restarted it and completed Level 1 again. 20 more continuous laps in the pool. I haven't had a chance to get any time in on the Nordic Track yet, but I plan to do at least 5 miles tonight.

I am trying really hard to get ready for Level 2, but I am not ready. I may stay on Level 1 for a while. I even skipped ahead and watched level 3. I was able to do about half of the exercises on Level 3, but I will need to really get serious about this if I want to be able to pull off some of those moves! I'm trying. More comments were made by multiple people on how different I look. My friend said I look as if I've lost 2-3 dress sizes in less than a month. I'm thrilled with the results but I also want more, more, more.

I've started a new little project for myself. I am going to take one picture a day until I reach my goal of 50 pounds lost so I can see the changes on a day to day basis. Once a week, I will upload the pics & share. I started this on Monday.

I haven't been as strict with food as I would like, but I really love that even though I'm indulging occasionally, I'm still getting results!

I've got a few articles I am in the middle of, but finding the time to post every day is going to be hard. I'm thinking of dropping down to maybe 3-5 posts a week. Is there anything anyone would like me to do research on and write about? I'm working on an article for getting in cardio while having a lower body injury right now. I've been working on this one for over a week!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred; Day 5

I ended up getting a pretty obnoxious sunburn today because I spent around 6 hours in the pool, so working out tonight was a bit of a challenge. Does anyone else burn like crazy no matter how much sunscreen they put on? I used SPF 75 today and reapplied every 30-45 minutes around noon and every hour on the hour after that and still burned right up. I usually get one bad burn each summer and then tan right through the sunscreen after that. Is that weird?

Happy note: I ran into someone I hadn't seen since last August and their jaw dropped when they saw me. I guess the weight loss is very apparent! I'm super excited. My friend Laurin saw me today and said it was very obvious I've been working out and that made me feel really great.

In celebration, I split a small strawberry Coolatta with Andrew, and also got a dough boy that I only had half of thanks to the kids & Andrew's help. Not the greatest choices, I know, but damn it -well deserved!

Anyway, I decided that since the pain from my sunburn was so bad I would have to postpone the 30DS for tomorrow, but I got to thinking... If I want to see changes, I have to keep pushing through a bunch of b.s. I would probably otherwise not want anything to do with. So I tried Level 1 anyway.

I can't believe I used to struggle through this DVD. I remember just a few days ago 27 minutes felt like hours and I would end the workout soaking wet from sweating so much. That's not the case tonight! Even though I was in pain, the time flew right by & I finished the workout with no trouble.

I am not sure if my streak will last much longer though. This weekend looks to be very busy & I can't guarantee I'll be able to get a chance to use the DVD. I am going to try really hard to use it. I'm thinking of shooting for first thing in the morning before the kids wake up instead of right before bed. I need to make sure I do it when they aren't awake or else it won't happen. They love to try and steal my weights or hop in front of me during the workout, or worse - sit on me when I'm trying to do crunches.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Took my measurements tonight...

I've lost 11.5 inches from all over my body in THREE WEEKS. I don't think I've been this psyched about anything in ages! I normally will only measure myself once a month, but my son found the measuring tape and was  wrapping it around my arm so for the hell of it, I took the measurement of my arms, was shocked, continued to take measurements elsewhere.

I only took measurements for my bust, hips, thighs, arms, and waist.

11.5 inches in 3 weeks.


I'm not brave enough to post the actual numbers up here for everyone to see, but maybe in time. I have a long way to go. The goal is to lose 50 pounds by May of 2012, but it does go further than that. I am hoping to lose around 75-100 pounds total in the course of 2 years. We'll see how that goes. Maybe in a few months I will share my weight & my measurements, but not now.

If I can lose 11.5 inches in 3 weeks, I wonder what I could do in say, 2 months?!

Some photo's from the walks Xander & I have been going on lately!

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred; Day 4

I woke up to a very pleasant surprise this morning.. Unlike previous mornings, I had almost pain in my muscles and could move with little discomfort. I decided to take advantage of it and go on a 3 mile nature hike with my son Xander. When we got home, we played around a little bit and ran outside while waiting for my daughter Jackie. She got home and wasn't feeling well, so we came in the house and rested for a while. I got bored after they both fell asleep and decided I would try to do Day 4 of Level 1 of the 30DS!

Not only did I make it through with very little trouble, I finished and felt even better than I did before I started! My endurance has gone through the roof. I made it through one part of the DVD that normally is rather awkward for me with NO trouble whatsoever! In addition to having trouble with jumping jacks and jump rope, I've had a lot of issues with anterior hand raises and side lunges. But today, none were a problem. Oh my goodness, my calves are on fire. hahaha. It feels good though! I am so happy to have done this 4 days in a row now. I can't wait to finish up all 30 days and eventually incorporate different 2 levels into my daily routine. I am betting that it won't be any trouble at all to do that if I keep going the way I am.

Remember that an object in motion stays in motion! DON'T LOSE YOUR VELOCITY! Keep trying harder and harder and be excited each time you surprise yourself by accomplishing something you previously couldn't.

Back to my endurance... When my son and I went on our nature hike in the woods today in very humid 85 degree weather, I wasn't all that phased by all the hills and climbing. Last year we only made it about 15 minutes into the woods, and today we were there for around 2 hours! I am so excited to be getting exercise outdoors with my son, it's so good for him & for me. His bedtime has actually been reasonable all week, and he's been less moody. My house isn't getting nearly as trashed because he's burning off all his energy on our walks! This is GREAT! More exercise, and less stress all combined into one.

I am even considering doing the Nordic Track for an hour or so while dinner is being made since I still have to sleeping kids. What an awesome day today was!

Let's see if I can do Day 5 tomorrow. Here's hoping!

ETA: I ended up doing an additional 4 miles on the Nordic Track tonight! I'm not even tired so I might even try Level 2 of the 30 Day Shred DVD before bed!

Depression & weight gain

I don’t know about any of you, but I have been battling depression since I was four, and battling anxiety since high school. I just recently started counseling and I discovered one really scary thing: the more depressed you are, the more likely you are to gain weight.  The more weight you gain, the more depressed you’re likely to be. How horrible!

If you have depression & anxiety, your chances of being obese double. Why is that? 

Depression tends to make people not want to do anything – certainly not exercise. Depressed people also tend to eat more & have more trouble sleeping. Sleep is KEY to losing weight, because it will help you be more energized the next day. You really need to try to get 8 hours of straight sleep a night. It’s better for your body if you do. You WILL lose more weight easier if you try to get more sleep, watch what you eat, & exercise more.  It can’t hurt to try and get into some therapy for your depression, either. It’s really important to treat your depression in order to reach your weight loss goals. Luckily, the two go hand in hand.

My therapist suggested I start taking 30 minutes a day of time that I devote to walking, preferably by myself so I could de-stress. That’s not going to happen, though. I’m a mother of two & their father works 2 jobs so I’m never alone since I always have the kids with me.  Instead of walking by myself, or attempting to take my 3 & 6 year old out on a walk with me, I have been making sure to use the Nordic Track 5 out of 7 nights of the week, and throw on a family friendly movie for the kids & I during this time. It calms them down & gives me a bit of peace and quiet. It’s not as relaxing as a walk outdoors by myself would be, but it’s definitely helping. My panic attacks have come to a stop in the last month, and that’s truly amazing because I’ve had problems with panic attacks since I was 15! Knowing that not only will I lose weight by doing this, but that my panic & depression issues might lessen is a great feeling. 

One thing to keep in mind: “Rather than concluding that weight loss leads to an improvement in mood, it would perhaps be more accurate to conclude that lifestyle modifications AIMED at weight loss & depression ALSO, on average, tend to improve mood.”
It’s a lot more difficult to lose weight when you’re depressed, too. That could be why the results aren’t showing quite as much as I would like. I know that for me, when I am depressed & I let that feeling take over, I tend to let little setbacks turn into an avalanche of bad news and that pushes my progress back further. When one bad thing happens, I always look for every other negative thing I could possibly add to make me feel worse all around. I get upset and eat, I definitely have had issues in the past with being a very emotional eater. I get so depressed that I have trouble sleeping and can’t focus, which means I don’t want to exercise or eat right. I just want to sit on the couch and stare at the floor. 

I truly believe my weight FUELS my depression.   
My weight & depression lead to the self destructive behaviors I just mentioned. It’s a vicious cycle.
I am depressed about my weight, and it makes me not want to leave the house, it makes me scared to meet up with old friends, and it scares me to even go out in public sometimes. I have panic attacks because of how I look. I freak out about it BIG time. 

Lately, I’ve been pushing through these horrible feelings that occasionally creep up on me. I’ve been making sure to keep exercising, keep trying to eat healthier, and always keep my main goals in mind: healthy mind, healthy body. I’m trying to relax a bit more, and see the good in things. An attempt at a more positive attitude is a great asset to someone battling depression (although probably not too common), and it is an even better tool for losing weight. 

This time is different for me than all the other times I tried to lose weight. I’m not just trying to lose weight for my physical health, but also for my mental health. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that there could be an end to my depression & weight problems if I just keep trying. So that’s what I’m doing, each and every day: trying.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred; Day 3


Someone suggested I go one day in between uses but I couldn't resist, it felt so good to make it to the end of Level 1 twice... but sadly I didn't even finish cool down tonight. As soon as the main work out was over, I shut it off. My muscles were screaming and I felt like all my limbs were on the verge of falling off, so I figured screw stretching! Hahaha.

I will walk a few extra miles tomorrow and perhaps even run one entire mile, see how that goes & just forget the DVD exists for one night. Start fresh on Friday! The pool opens up on Friday, too, so I will be getting in lots of extra exercise from that and lots of vitamin D!

In other news, tonight, on the Nordic Track, I beat my old best time for running a mile. Pretty pleased with that! I did 4 miles tonight. Not bad, considering how busy I was and & how sore every part of my body was feeling. I'm also alternating between walking and running now, and constantly using the arm cables. Also proud of that, since half the time I was using the cables and half of the time I was just holding on to the handles.

I have been doing great with all my goals so far, except I did give in and have 10 full size Tostito's last night around 1am. Andrew, my boyfriend, came home and he was snacking on them so I gave in and had a few. Oh well, as long as it doesn't become a habit again, right? I'm trying not to feel bad when I do something like that, and instead learn from it.

Salt, sugar, and your diet.

If you’re looking to lose weight, there’s an easy solution: take all the table salt in your house and instead of throwing it out, use it for cleaning! I wish that was all we had to do in order to lose weight, but sadly, that's only one small step you can make towards meeting your weight goals. In addition to avoiding excess salt & sodium, you need to exercise. We all know that. You also need to avoid sugary foods. I know this sounds like common sense and everyone knows these things to be true, but do you really know WHY?

Let’s start with salt.

Your body needs sodium to balance fluid in your body, it also has influence on your muscles. Salt and sodium are not the same thing, though.  According to the saltinstitute.org, “One level U.S. teaspoonful of granulated evaporated salt contains approximately 6,200 mg sodium chloride, or approximately 2,400 mg sodium.”  Salt can have a negative impact on your diet & your health if you consume more than your body needs.
 If you consume salt, your body retains water, which leads to weight gain. Not only that, but salt elevates blood pressure,  which causes your metabolism to slow down.  If, over years, you regularly consume excess salt, your risk for heart disease and stroke skyrockets. Salt has also been linked to kidney problems and stomach cancer.

Taken from http://www.chewonthis.org.uk/fat_salt_sugar/salt_home.htm: “Most food labels tell you how much salt is in your food, but they call it sodium. Sodium is just a part of salt, so you have to multiply the number by 2.5. And then you have to multiply it by the amount of food you're going to eat... all to find out how much salt you're eating!” SCARY!

Since salt is used as a preservative, it is found in a lot of processed foods. The best way to avoid salt & sodium in excess is to prepare everything yourself from scratch. If that’s too difficult for you, there are a few key words you can search for instead: "sodium free," "very low sodium," "unsalted," "no salt added,"  etc. Any word combination that says there is a lower amount of sodium or no salt added is a good thing to look for, but read the label and double check. Remember, we’re only supposed to consume 2000 mg of salt a say or less, and a teaspoon of table salt has over 2300 mgs!

Why is sugar so bad for me?

Sugar does a lot of the same things to your body as salt. Just like salt, sugar causes people to retain water. Retaining water leads to weight gain, which slows your metabolism down & can lead to even more weight gain. It also can eventually lead to heart problems, stroke, & diabetes.

There’s a really interesting website I stumbled onto with 111 reasons sugar should be avoided. Here’s the link:  Health Risks of Sugar. I am going to copy & paste some of the health risks from that website and elaborate on a few of them a bit.

 “Sugar has the potential of inducing abnormal metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual and to promote chronic degenerative diseases.”

“Sugar can impair the structure of your DNA.”
Um, This is even scarier than some of the other reasons listed above. I did some research and found this quote from this article: “Eating a single chocolate bar might cause harmful genetic changes or mutations that could have serious effects on your DNA, changes that could last for up to a couple of weeks.” Read the article here.

“Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach.”
I found a wonderful link that breaks this down a lot better than I ever could, so I offer it to you now.

There are many more things listed on the website itself so I would definitely suggest reading and doing your own research. But those are some pretty scary truths, don’t you think? Does this mean you should avoid sugar entirely? No, everything is okay in moderation. And please, don’t think that this means it’s okay to start using artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, or sucralose. Those are WORSE.


I also want to take a minute to discuss high fructose corn syrup, aka corn sugar. High fructose corn syrup is  made from genetically modified corn. For more on genetically modified foods, please also visit Going Green For Kellan. It’s the most commonly used sweetener & it’s in almost everything that we eat! What does it do to your body? Well, it definitely can lead to excessive weight gain, liver damage, bad cholesterol, more cavities, an increase in heart attack risk, and guess what else? MERCURY EXPOSURE! Doesn't sound so appealing now, does it? I highly suggest ditching whatever you can from your cupboards that has HFCS in it. If you can't afford to do that, make sure that once you run out of products that use HFCS, you do not replace them with more HFCS products.
In short, be really careful what you eat. READ LABELS! If you don’t understand something, do research online or at the library and find out as much as you can about EVERYTHING that enters your body!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred; Day 2

My muscles have been sore all day long, and I was in a good amount of discomfort for the better part of the day, but it was all worth it because tonight, yet again, I made it through Level 1! I did it. I keep shocking myself... in January I barely made it through the first 10 minutes of Level 1! Yesterday & today I reached the end of Level 1. I'm really pleased with how far I've come. I still have a long way to go, but things are becoming much easier for me.

I did have trouble not taking breaks for water, that's a killer for me. I love water & drink over 100oz. a day! I would say about half of that happens while exercising. So yeah, I took three water breaks. I did make it through the jumping jacks with a bit more ease tonight, though! I even did better with the push ups! Amazing what one day can do for you, eh? I can't wait to try tomorrow!

In addition to using 30 Day Shred, I also went on a two mile walk with my son, and did another 2 miles with my daughter as well when she got out of school. We went on a bit of a nature hike. I may start posting pictures of our nature walks on here just to give the page some eye candy. I did 3 miles on the Nordic Track as well. I took  my vitamins yesterday& today, haven't been snacking on anything except for fruit after 7pm. My cravings for sweets & salty snacks have pretty much come to a halt, so I am having no trouble with eating only fruits as snacks. Even had some broccoli with dinner.. but that's nothing new.

I have a big article coming, it's involved a ton of research, but it will be worth it. I'm working on getting together as much info and as many links as possible on the effect salt and sugar have on our body, and also information on artificial sweeteners. Give me a day or two and it will be here.

So what are you all up to this week with exercise & dieting? I know quite a few of you are in the midst of challenges, which is very cool. I think I may do something like that a bit further down the line.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred; Day 1

Justi finished Level 1 of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD and Oh! My! Good! God! Am I in pain right now!
I actually made it through the entire level 1 workout. It was not easy, and I am exhausted. I am glad I managed to do 4 miles on the Nordic Track BEFORE doing this DVD!
I almost died during the jumping jacks. Who would have thought that out of all the exercises on Level 1, that the jumping jacks would be the worst? I admittedly did "phone it in" a bit on a few of those, and also on the jump rope portion. Maybe after a week or so I will be able to do it! I'm really hoping. 
I made sure that because I was slacking off a bit during anything that involved jumping, that I made extra effort in every other exercise. I am so proud of myself because this is the first time I have ever made it to the end of Level 1!
I can't wait to try it again tomorrow! Do you think I should really do this DVD daily, or should I take a break in between? I have heard mixed reviews. So for now, I am going to try to do it 2 days in a row and follow it up with 1 day off, and repeating this process.

Have you ever tried using the 30 Day Shred DVD? What were your thoughts? I have about 10 workout DVD's and this is the one I tend to always go to. I can't even tell you why I pick this DVD so frequently, I just do. If you haven't tried this DVD but use other workout DVD's, I would love to hear your thoughts on them! I plan on eventually rating workout DVD's in the future, but I need to get in shape first!

Weekly Check In.

I am going to do a check up on my goals and progress every Monday to see that I am staying on track with everything I am hoping to achieve.

On Saturday I wrote up some goals for this week and I am going list them here:

Goals for 5/22 - 5/28
- 30 miles on the Nordic Track
- Use the 30 Day Shred DVD every day
- Drink nothing but water
- Stay on track with fruits as snacks

I already messed up on Sunday by going to the drive-in and snacking. I even had fast food, which has been a big no-no for me. I had mozzarella sticks, french fries, all sorts of stuff I have been avoiding for the last few months. I am not happy with this, at all. It was nice to indulge a bit though, and I made sure to eat everything in moderation. I am sad to admit I even had a little bit of soda. I will not let this get me down though, instead I will keep trying.

I have decided that since I usually only have access to the internet Monday - Friday, that I will change the start date for my goals to every Monday, instead of Sunday. If I set my goals too high, they will be daunting and I will avoid the extra work. If I choose, smaller, more manageable goals, the odds are better that I will reach and maybe even surpass them. That is my goal with this week... lower the bar a little bit so that maybe, just maybe, I can give myself a boost in confidence by not only meeting, but blowing right passed all my goals!

- This week I have to do 25 miles on the Nordic Track, which really isn't that bad. I am positive I can do 25, since even my worst week had me at 24.

- I should be able to get some time to do the 30 Day Shred DVD 4 times, but every day is a bit much. I will do what I can, though!

- I am confident that I can drink nothing but water this week, I know that drinking soda on Sunday was a fluke. I don't usually drink soda, so it should be easy.
- I have been doing excellent with eating fruits as snacks. In fact, last week, we picked up strawberries, apples, bananas, canteloupe, grapefruit, grapes, etc, and I was very good about eating them (except when I went to the movies last night!). I am hoping to continue that trend this week! Money is a bit tighter, so my options will be cut down drastically. I will be sticking mostly to apples and bananas.

So, my new revised list of goals is as follows:

-25 miles on Nordic Track
-30 Day Shred DVD 4 times
-Drink nothing but water
-Choose fruits over unhealthy, salty snacks like chips.
-Take vitamins daily
-No eating anything other than fruit after 7pm

Wish me luck!

Can vitamins really help me in my weight loss journey?

The answer is YES, they can! You need to continue to work out, eat healthy, and make healthier decisions as well, but the extra boost that these vitamins can give you certainly are worth trying - once you receive the go ahead from your doctor, that is!
My friend Alyssia (check out her blog at www.goinggreenforkellan.blogspot.com!) got me really interested in the idea of taking vitamins for help with things like appetite control, sickness, depression, and even weight loss back in October of 2009. I had honestly never even considered the affect taking a few vitamins each day might have on my overall health.

Make sure you get a lot of vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. All these B vitamins keep your metabolism running and ensure a healthy thyroid. B vitamins are great for helping your body break food down quicker, which boosts your metabolism. So if you are careful and eating a low calorie diet each day, b vitamins could definitely help.  If you’re really interested in what B vitamins are the most important, I have created a list. A good B Complex will have all of this and more! I take a B Complex myself, along with an extra dose B-12.

Vitamin B2 is very good at increasing & stabilizing your metabolic rate. Vitamin B3 helps fats and carbohydrates burn quicker. 

Vitamin B5 can help burn off fat. 

Vitamin B6 is a big deal too, because some people have issues under-active thyroid and Vitamin B6 will help with that! You may have an under-active thyroid if you are tired consistently, keep trying to lose weight by diet and exercise but nothing happens, etc. What B6 does is helps to regulate your hormones and can boost your thyroid and metabolism all at once. 

Vitamin B12 is great for giving energy boosts  and digesting food quicker. 

Vitamin D is very important! Some people even argue that besides Vitamin C, D is the most important thing you could take for good overall health! Many of us have a Vitamin D deficiency. A Vitamin D deficiency  can be related to weight problems such as not being able to lose weight and uncontrollable weight gain. Another big problem with not getting enough Vitamin D is that it can lead to thyroid problems and fatigue. How much should you take daily? Around  2000 - 4000 units if possible.  Another solution could be to make sure you get at least 20 minutes of sun a day. I make it a point to spend at least half an hour a day outdoors on sunny days, and I feel that it really does make a difference! 

Omega 3 with Fish Oil is another big one to be on the lookout for. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that are not made by your body and are obtained by your diet only. Omega 3’s and fish oil contain DHA and EPA which are really good types of fat that help your body in a bunch of different ways like:  lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke, lowers blood pressure, can help prevent cancer, dementia, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.  On top of all that it can help with building muscle and losing fat! Definitely start taking this if you can. 

Chromium Picolinate is not made by your body and can only be obtained from your diet and from supplements. Chromium  an essential mineral for the metabolism of carbohydrates,  controlling fat & cholesterol, and it can help to prevent hypertension or high blood pressure.  Chromium promotes higher brain function and muscle tone as well.  Vitamin C helps your body absorb the chromium, so try to take it with orange juice. But be warned, just like everything these, you need to use this in moderation. Look up the proper amount for your body type and age. 

In addition to these vitamins, it can't hurt to take a multivitamin on a daily basis. 

There are many more vitamins that I have read up on that can help with weight loss, but these were the most common. I want you to remember that these are not diet pills, they are not an excuse to not exercise or eat right. These vitamins and supplements can help you get where you should be if you eat properly and live an active lifestyle. Vitamins are not for everyone, and not everyone will receive the same results.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not saying all of these vitamins can be used together, nor am I saying you should start a vitamin regimen without your doctor okaying it ahead of time, I am simply going to give you a list of different vitamins that can help you lose weight and stay healthy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Weight Loss Plateau & How to Beat it!

Plateau. What a horrid word for any of us who are trying to lose weight! I’ve reached this point quite  a few times and just given up because it was too frustrating. I’ve decided to dig deeper and find out why we plateau and what we can do to avoid it from happening again!

  • What does a weight loss plateau really even mean?
When someone hits a plateau in terms of losing weight, it generally means that despite their best efforts to continue exercising and eating healthy, their weight stays exactly the same. Yes, this does happen to almost everyone trying to lose serious weight. At this point, losing additional weight becomes more difficult. But only because people let the numbers on scale get to them. Don't do it! Try harder, switch things up.
  • How can I avoid a plateau?
You may hit a plateau even with the advice I am about to offer, but these are your best tips for not hitting the dreaded plateau! Firstly, I suggest keeping a food diary if you aren’t already. You will most likely discover that you are snacking heavily after working out and killing any chance of your workout actually benefiting you. You may realize that even though you only eat a few times a day, your caloric intake is 4000, who knows! It can’t hurt to be more aware of everything that is entering your body, though.  Once you’ve figured out roughly how many calories you’re eating a day, try to cut that number down. Right now I am on a 2000 calorie a day diet, I plan to cut 100 calories off every other week.

Next, you need to step up your game a bit. Add an extra mile to your run or walk every week or once a month, whenever you feel ready for an increase.  Or maybe you could just try to run or walk faster. Whatever you’re more comfortable with. You could always alternate between maybe 5 minutes of walking and then a minute of heavy jogging. You could expand on this as you feel comfortable. Anything to keep your body from getting too used to whatever you’re doing!

Try to incorporate some weight training into your exercise regimen. I don’t mean that you need to pump iron and come out looking like Arnold or anything, simply just add a few reps every other day with some weights, or maybe use ankle weights & wrist weights if you’re walking or running.

Change is good. If you’re doing the same thing night after night, your body will build up tolerance and you won’t be seeing as much beneit anymore. Mix things up by perhaps buying a bunch of different work out dvd’s and switching them out each week. Using the same one weeks after weeks might be comfortable, but it’s not going to do you much good in the long run.

I highly suggest letting as many friends and family in on what you’re doing to try and lose weight and try and get their support. Maybe you have a friend who is interested in losing weight and would like to try it with you! Make sure you have someone you can call to keep you motivated if you just aren’t feeling like doing it. Even if all you do is find a buddy on sparkpeople.com or buddyslim.com, it’s just got to be someone you can rely on to motivate you! Having the support of those around you is wonderful, so try it!

Most importantly: do not let your plateau get to you. Keep on moving, keep dieting, keep going! You can reach your goal, you just need to want it badly enough. Do you want it?

My progress.

This week hasn't been so great for me, workout wise.

There have been a million things going on, and I was sick. We went down to Rhode Island on Sunday to see Andrew's dad in the hospital, and then went down again on Wednesday. Those were 2 nights I lost for exercising. I also missed Friday because I went to the drive in to see Pirates of the Caribbean and Thor.

The plus side is I've given up my late night snacking, I'm opting for fruit over crackers or chips, and I am drinking tons of water. My diet has definitely improved dramatically over the last two weeks. I can already see results! My face is thinner, my shoulders, my belly, my legs. My clothes are becoming more loose. I even weighed myself and discovered I have lost around 15 pounds! I am aware that most of it is water weight, but it still makes me feel as if I am doing something right.

Tonight I plan on making up for lost time tonight and doing a full hour on the Nordic Track without a break, and doing an additional 3 miles to make up for the 3 nights I missed this week, even though the 3 nights I missed equal 18 miles - not 3. It's still something though! I am going to start using my 30 Day Shred DVD on Monday. I didn't want to start it mid week, it felt like something I should begin a week with. I'm weird, I know.

I am hoping I can stay on track this coming week and do at least 30 miles. I think 36 was a bit much to expect to do this week with everything I had going on. 30 miles gives me 5 nights to get everything done and 2 nights off, and I really think that I need the break.

Goals for 5/22 - 5/28
- 30 miles on the Nordic Track
- Use the 30 Day Shred DVD each day
- Drink nothing but water
- Stay on track with fruits as snacks

- Limit myself to 2 treats in the week, not 8 like I had this week ( 6 Girl Scout cookies and 2 donuts - ouch!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Understanding Nutrition Facts

Have you ever really looked at the nutrition facts on anything you buy? I used to always glance at the calories and totally skim over the important words next to it: PER SERVING.  I always check the sodium level though, and that’s something I’ve done even before I was trying to really lose weight. These are the only things I ever really paid attention to. Let me just tell you that skimming the facts is not enough, you need to really understand what each percentage means for your health.

Remember, this is one of the most useful tools you will ever learn in your quest for losing weight. Part of eating healthy is actually knowing what it is you're really eating.

Serving size:  Pay close attention to this number, as it is probably the most important one on the box.The numbers and percentages that follow this number are based on ONE SERVING – so be sure to pay attention.  Another thing to keep an eye open for is servings per container.  Just because the box of Girl Scout cookies  says 1 serving is 180 calories, that does not mean the whole box is 180 calories!

Fat: The most important numbers are for saturated and trans fats. These are the two you want to AVOID. Polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, think of these numbers aren’t so bad. You want food which contains as little saturated fat and trans fat as possible. You want it to have MORE polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Fat free doesn’t mean it’s good for you! Pay close attention here.

Cholesterol : Something found in animal products, meat. Limit your intake to 300 milligrams or less. Too much can raise your chances of heart disease.

Sodium: The recommended daily limit for an average adult is 2,000 milligrams. Sodium can elevate your blood pressure.

Potassium: 4700 milligrams is suggested for adults. Too little can cause an irregular heartbeat, weakness, a general lack of energy, etc.  Potassium is very important, and sadly most people don’t even come close to the suggested amount!

Total Carbohydrate: Pay attention to the sugar and fiber numbers before you decide if the carbs in your food are unhealthy or not. Examples of healthy carbs would be fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans. Bad carbs would be sugars, pastries, cakes, potatoes, fruit juice, soda.

Dietary Fiber: An adult should consume 21-35 grams of fiber daily. Fiber is important for regular bowel movements. Anything with the word "whole" in it is a good bet, but check the label to make sure!

Sugars : Examples are glucose, dextrose, fructose, and galactose. They are not really good for you in any amount, honestly. Eat sugary foods sparingly! One thing to remember is that sugar is prevalent in supposedly healthy foods because they need extra flavor, diet foods, or low fat foods have especially high levels.

Ingredients : One thing to remember when looking at ingredients is that the first one listed is the most commonly found ingredient in the product. My friend Laurin likes to say that if she can't pronounce it, she won't be buying it, and it's a great philosophy! Avoid everything with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-k) artificial colors, MSG, caffeine, anything “enriched”, and also hydrogenated oil.

Nutrients: You really want to be buying things that are high in Vitamins A & C. Most people aren’t getting enough potassium, calcium, or iron. Try sticking to foods with higher percentages per daily value here!

I really hope this information helps you. I actually have printed out a list I downloaded that I bring with me whenever I go shopping now so I know what to look for. I still haven't quite gotten used to what I should really be focusing on, nor have I memorized the amounts. I suggest you do the same when you do your grocery shopping! I can't find the link for the info I printed out but this should do nicely: http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/consumerinformation/ucm078889.htm#twoparts. Happy shopping!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The benefits of walking.

Walking is going to be the main form of exercise I will talk about here since walking is available to everyone. You don’t need to have an athlete’s body nor do you have to have an expensive gym membership to walk, it’s something everyone can do! No excuses!

While it is recommended that you should get in an hour of walking daily, it may not be possible for everyone at the beginning. The best method is to start slow. Maybe take a 10 minute walk each day just to ease into it, you can always increase the amount you walk by a few minutes each day. Before you know it, you’ll finally be hitting that hour or more mark! 

When I started using the Nordic Track, I could barely do 7 minutes. Now I am doing sometimes as much as 2 hours a day! It is definitely possible to reach your fitness goals as long as you don’t give up and you keep pushing yourself. 

Did you know that walking dramatically lowers your cholesterol, your risk of heart attack, breast cancer, colon cancer, and type 2 Diabetes? It's true! Still need more reasons to go walking? 
If you spend just 2 hours a week walking your cognitive function will also improve. 
One study showed that people who suffer from depression can benefit greatly from walking. The group walked half an hour a day 4 or more times a week for 1 month. Almost half of them agreed they felt less depressed at the end of the month. People who are depressed & sedentary also tend to get sick more frequently, so the amount of colds you will get each year will be cut down as well!
Those are JUST A FEW of the benefits to walking, there are many, many more.

If you feel like you can’t go walking because the weather isn’t perfect, you can always invest in a treadmill, elliptical, or a skiing machine like the Nordic Track that I am using. I am averaging anywhere from 4 miles a night to as many as 10! It is definitely possible for ANYONE to be able to claim the same thing with just a bit of effort! 

"But I don't have the time to walk with school, work, and being a parent. It's just not possible!" Stop making excuses. Instead of trying to find the time to walk, MAKE the time to walk! How much time do you spend on facebook or blogger each day? How much time do you spend sitting in front of the TV? How much time do you spend on the phone, chatting, texting, whatever? How much time do you spend wishing you looked and felt better? If you prioritize, you will see that you have plenty of time for walking. It is definitely worth the effort! MAKE THE TIME! Even if all you do is take the worst parking spot in the lot, or use the stairs instead of the elevator, you're walking.

Here is a special calculator to find out how many calories you’re burning while walking. Calories burned and distance calculator!

Helpful tips for weight loss.

To get things off to a good start, I’ve decided to supply a lit of the most helpful hints & tips I’ve seen in my rather extensive research into what will help me lose weight.
  1. The easiest bit of advice I can give anyone is to stand at least once or twice and hour, preferrably for a minimum of ten minutes. Doing this will burn calories and speed up your metabolism. Anyone can do this!
  2. Your brain takes up to 15 minutes to realize your stomach is full.Trick it by drinking 1-2 8 oz glasses of water about ten minutes before. When it comes time to eat, take no more than a portion the size of your fist.
  3. Chew food slowly and thoroughly! Do not rush eating, ever. I have begun counting my chews and make sure to chew everything 15-20 times before swallowing.
  4. Never starve yourself. Make sure to eat 4-5 small meals/healthy snacks a day. I know that in my case, I am overweight not from being inactive or from overeating, but because I tend to eat only once a day. Eating once a day or starving yourself is the absolute worst thing you could do.
  5. If possible, try adopting a vegetarian diet.
  6. Never put salt on anything. Watch your sodium intake! 1,500 milligrams per day or less if possible is suggested.
  7. Invest in smaller plates. The smaller your plate, the less you can fit on it! You will also trick yourself into thinking you ate more if you put a smaller serving on a smaller plate.
  8. Mint is known to be an appetite suppressor. Try keeping a pack of minty gum around. Or brush your teeth whenever you're hungry.
  9. Team up with a friend and keep each other motivated. People tend to lose more weight when they have support.You could turn it into a contest, forcing both of you try try even harder.
  10. Think positive! If you miss a day of exercise, it’s not the end of the world. If you had too much for dessert, don’t let it bring you down! Keeping a positive attitude will help you stay motivated and on track. You need to have a good mindest in order to obtain your goals.
  11. Don’t slouch. Not only do you look chunkier when you’re hunched over, but you're not putting the proper strain on your muscles. Sitting or standing erect is much better for your body and will burn more calories.
  12. When you do go for walks, it can’t hurt to slap on a set of ankle weights or wrist weights.
  13. Challenge yourself. Avoid escalators and elevators, take the stairs! Better yet, take 2 at a time.
  14. Keep a food diary for a week. Put EVERYTHING in it. You may be shocked by your eating habits and maybe even learn to control them if you keep the diary up!
  15. Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. "After fasting all night, breakfast can kick-start your energy level. If you choose healthful, slow-burning foods, like whole grains and fruits, you should be able to control your appetite until midday. Overeating throughout the day is also less likely. Studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to make up for the calories later in the day, often with unhealthy, high-fat and high-calorie convenience foods." taken from this link.
  16. Add some extra spice to everything you eat. Spicy foods cause your circulation to go into overdrive, your temperature goes up , and you burn more calories.
  17. Make a list of realistic short term and long term goals for your weight loss plan. Review them frequently and try to stick to the plan as closely as possible! Making small, easily obtainable goals will help keep you motivated!
  18. Do not eat within 3-5 hours of going to bed.
  19. It pays to be a neat freak. Cleaning counts as exercise and can burn tons of calories if you're doing it properly.
  20. Keep an exercise log. For instance, I have a Nordic Track and I made up a list of my calories burned, miles walked, and total time. I try to improve on the previous night’s workout each day, even if only by a tenth of a mile or for an extra minute or two. Keep challenging yourself.
  21. When you have a really bad craving for something sweet, drink 8 oz of water, and give yourself ten additional minutes. Odds are the craving will pass, but if you have to give in, just give yourself a taste and make sure to savor it.
I am sure I will add much more to this list over time!

What am I Doing to Lose Weight?

Starting this week at 65.0 and hoping to end it at 90.0 or higher on the Nordic Track! I know I can do it, I have been great about exercising lately. I am setting the goal a bit lower because this week is jam packed with stuff, and I don't want to fall short because I was aiming too high.
The main thing I am focusing on besides portion control, is using my Nordic Track for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, at least 6 times a week.
I've been on this current plan for 11 days and I am starting to see results! The picture above is of how many miles I have done up to this point. I am changing one thing this week, I am hoping to go for a minimum of 60 minutes each day. Don't get me wrong, most days I go way beyond that. The Saturday before Mother's Day I ended up doing 9 miles and it took around 2 hours. Most nights I tend to go anywhere from 60-90 minutes.
In addition to the Nordic Track, I am about to start using the 30 Day Shred DVD by Jillian Michaels. I plan on starting that at some point this week. I also am drinking nothing but water, having healthy snacks every 2-3 hours, and not giving into my sweet tooth.
Wish me luck! Keep me motivated! I will be posting my mileage once a week along with any changes in what I am doing to lose weight.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Soda is EVIL!

I have been a long time drinker of soda, started drinking it at age 2.
I don’t know why on earth my parents let me have soda so young, but thanks to my parents mistake with me, it is a big no no for my children. I let them drink water, juice that has been watered down so much that it might as well be water, and occasional glasses of soy milk.
For many years, I would drink as much as 4-6 cans A DAY. I knew this was a problem but my laziness took over and I just let it. It was easier than struggling through giving up something I loved so much.
Before I started working out, whenever I tried to limit myself to one or two cans I was absolutely miserable.  When I started going to the gym in November of 2009, I decided that picking up a 20 oz bottle of Wild Cherry Pepsi was seriously hindering the impact of my workout, so I gradually stopped drinking it. I noticed that the more I worked out, the less I wanted soda. Water became very appealing to me.
It took a long time, and even to this day I will occasionally grab a bottle of soda, but I consume less than 2 liters of soda in a 2 month period, and I feel so much better! The chronic headaches I was suffering from before have actually disappeared.  I was drinking so much caffeine that my body was going through withdrawals which resulted in me consuming more, more, more. It was horrible! I was also drinking so much soda that I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night, which caused me to be very cranky and snippy the next day and made me drink even more soda.
Since putting a stop to regular soda consumption I can honestly say depression and stress levels have gone down considerably. I am sleeping better, feeling more energized, not getting those pesky headaches, and -this is possibly my favorite perk of living a soda-less existence- I am seeing the difference in my clothes!
Benefits ofgiving soda up:
  1. Preserve your bones. The phosphorous in soda can suck up calcium from your bones. Did you know that children who drink soda are far more likely to break bones than children who avoid it? People who drink soda are far more likely to wind up with osteoporosis.  Calcium is VITALLY IMPORTANT to your body, you should be doing everything to keep calcium in, not draw it out.  DON’T DRINK SODA!
  2. Avoid tooth decay. I know from experience that soda ruins teeth. Soda is known to break down your tooth enamel and make way for cavities.  http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Oral-Hygiene-Basics/article/Soda-or-Pop-Its-Teeth-Trouble-by-Any-Name.cvsp
  3. Are you a woman suffering from PMS? Women who drink even just ONE soda a day (or anything caffeinated such as coffee or tea for that matter) are far more likely to experience PMS symptoms.  The more caffeine your body takes in, the worse your symptoms.
  4. Weight loss. If you drink 4 8 oz cans of Coke a day,  that is 420 calories right there. Sadly, I know many people who can kill 6 or more sodas a day like it’s nothing.  You don’t realize as you are drinking soda that it is truly nothing but sugar water and empty calories. Drink a glass of water instead.  Remember: The link between soda consumption and your weight is so strong that it’s been calculated that for each soda consumed, your risk of obesity increases 1.6 times!

What to drink instead?
  1. Water! I cannot stress enough how important drinking water is to your diet. If you’re curious as to how much you should be drinking a day, I suggest heading here: http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm
  2. Try drinking tea. Tea has some amazing health benefits and also tastes great. Drink it within reason though, too much of something – even if it’s good for you – can be bad.
  3. Sparkling water or seltzer water.
  4. Add flavor packets like Crystal Light or products of that nature to a bottle of water.
  5. Flavor your water yourself with mint or lemon! Tastes great and both lemon and mint are known to reduce your appetite.

You may not believe it but quitting soda is a lot like quitting cigarettes. You shouldn’t attempt to quit without a plan.
  1. Give yourself a timeline to go by. Allow yourself x amount of days to get used to the idea. Once day X has arrived, you’re done. I gave myself two months to quit.
  2. Buy lots of water or the alternatives mentioned above.
  3. If a really bad soda craving hits, ignore it. Drink water until you’re full and the feeling will most likely disappear. If it doesn’t disappear and you NEED that soda, you should make yourself earn it. Walk a mile, walk two, whatever – just do something - get acitve in some way. When you’re done I want you to think about all the calories burned and decide if it’s worth drinking the soda. Odds are, you’ll pass.

I really hope this helps some of you. The thing that gave me my motivation was learning all the health risks. The health risks themselves are enough to make anyone want to quit soda cold turkey! If the evidence I have presented to you today is not enough to sway you, please check out this link to see what happens to your body when you drink Coke!

Taking Your Own Measurements > Using a Scale

Ditch your scale. Forget it exists.
I suggest taking your measurements once a month instead of doing weekly weigh ins.
Your body weight fluctuates so much on a day to day basis based on many factors like what you’ve eaten, water retention, if you’ve recently gained muscle, if you’ve been sick, etc. Really, almost anything can affect the numbers on the scale.

If you weigh yourself on a daily basis, you’re going to get artificial results. You may see that you lost 5 pounds, only to find out the next day that you gained 7 more in their place. The scale is nothing but a tool for making you feel discouraged, in my opinion. I know that when I weigh am dieting & exercising, I get the urge to weigh myself every single day. It’s hard to control that urge but I know it’s for the best. I decided that instead of weighing myself compulsively, maybe I would just wait and see if my clothes started fitting differently. That’s another solution, but it won’t give you much to go on for your before & after story!  The clear solution was taking measurements.

Have you ever taken your measurements? I never had bothered before, but a few weeks back I decided it could be a really great way to find out what kind of results I am getting, much better than any scale could. Sure, a scale gives you numbers and says what you’ve lost, but it won’t tell you WHERE the weight has disappeared from. Measuring yourself will! I can’t think of any better motivator than to realize I lost an inch or two from my waist, hips, or thigh.  News like that would make me go through the roof with excitement!

How do I measure myself?
-          I suggest measuring yourself only once a month, not any more than that.
-          Always take measurements FIRST THING in the morning.
-          If you’re a woman there is one important thing you need to remember: DO NOT measure yourself before, after, or during your period. If you can give yourself at least a 10 days before it begins or 10 days after your period has ended, that would be best.

Bust: You want to wrap it all the way around your back and bring it forward so it is perfectly in line with your nipples. Be sure not to hold your breath or inhale during this time. Do not pull the tape tight, also try to make sure it’s not too loose.
Chest: Bring the tape around so it comes just below your bustline.
Waist: Measure the smallest part of your torso, even if it’s not perfectly in line with were your belly button is. We are all shaped differently.
Hips: The tape should wrap around the widest part of your hips and the fullest part of your    backside.
Thighs: Find the thickest part of your thigh and measure.
Calves: Find the thickest part of your calves and measure.
Upper arm: Wrap the tape around the largest part of your arm.
Forearm: Wrap the tape around the largest part of your arm from the elbow down.

It’s as simple as that! Your results will be much more satisfying this way because you will know what areas you need to target and work harder on for the next month. I know that there's no such thing as spot fat removal, but you CAN tone up the areas that need work. You need to include a lot of cardio & a good diet to achieve results.

My first entry somehow disappeared.

I had one post up but somehow it got deleted, along with my layout and everything I had customized. Oh well. Could have been worse, I could have lost a years worth of stuff rather than one entry, right? Positive thinking!

I have been overweight most of my life.
I have had a few years here and there where I looked good and felt good about myself. For example, in 2004 I lost around 80 pounds! I was walking 10 miles a day, drinking tons of water, and being as active as possible. I went swimming, rode my bike, etc. I didn't do things the healthy way at all, even though it may sound that way. I was barely eating, I would go days without food. I'm surprised I lost anything at all. I have similar weight loss goals this time around (80-100 lbs gone within 2 years, please?) but this time I plan on doing it the healthy way!

I did eventually fall into my bad habits again. Soda drinking, fast food, no more exercise. I didn't gain all that much weight back though. In 3 years I put on an additional 25 pounds.... Until I got pregnant in 2007 and gained 65 pounds. The weight never came off. In fact, it brought a few friends along for the ride. I always thought that once I became a mom it would be much easier for me to burn calories, but the truth is I am so exhausted from taking care of the kids that I haven't thought of doing anything for ME since before my son was born.

I tried going to the gym in November of 2009, and I saw results quickly. I ended up moving in March and stopped going to the gym in February when we began packing. The weight I had lost started coming right back. It's been a vicious cycle like this for me since I was 11 years old. Lose some, gain it back + extra. What was I doing wrong?


I don't plan on letting that happen to me again. I have had my eyes opened in the last few weeks. Life is short, you never know what might happen. My boyfriend's father recently suffered a devastating heart attack. It happened almost 3 weeks ago and he is still in the hospital. That scared the hell out of me. I also lost a friend very recently, he was in the military.... He died at the age of 26. Granted, his death was not due to health issues but it did make me realize that I need to make what little time I have on this earth count.

I am writing this blog to motivate myself. I figure, if I have an audience, maybe I will finally stick with a plan. I am going to share weight loss tips, recipes, anything at all that I can think of to help others get the body they want. I welcome any comments you might have!