Fellow Blogger Friday: Beth’s Journey

One of my very first blog posts was about some of my favorite sources of inspiration, and I’m going to continue that conversation…

On Fridays, I’ve decided to feature a fellow blogger that inspires me in my fragrance, faith, and/or fitness journeys.

Beth’s Journey has inspired me in so many ways, and that is why I’ve chosen her page as my first feature. I stumbled upon Beth’s site a year or two ago when I was really searching for some healthy living inspiration, and I’ve been following her ever since. (I think her site is the first healthy living blog I ever came across.)

Beth and I are close in age and both live in the D.C. area–2 facts that really resonated with me. She lost almost 90 pounds by following the Weight Watchers plan and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

She became a Weight Watchers leader when she met her goal, and after following her blog for awhile, I tracked her down and started going to her Weight Watchers meetings. (She led the Tuesday morning meetings at the Weight Watchers store near my office–so coincidental!)

Beth stepped away from being a Weight Watchers leader this summer in order to focus on recovering from surgery she had to remove excess skin that was left after losing so much weight. The results are incredible! She is now including her plastic surgery journey as a key component of her blog.

I especially love Beth’s focus on whole foods on her blog and in her recipes. Sometimes it seems like Weight Watchers focuses on processed or low-fat foods a bit too much–especially because they have their own line of processed products–but I am more interested in “eating clean” and eating satisfying “real” food.

Beth recently posted this on Facebook:

Every January, US News and World Report releases the Best Diets list, and for 2014, they are releasing 8 real-life success stories along with the list. And a few weeks ago, they reached out and asked ME to be one of the success stories!!!! So tonight, I am going to be interviewed (on film!) about my weight loss journey and they will be making a video of me to release with the launch of the list! I’m so excited!!

I know Beth will continue to inspire me–and many others–as I continue on my journey!

Do you have a favorite fitness or healthy living blogger?

Thursday Thoughts on Faith: How Should I Live?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I should live, because I claim to be a follower of Christ.

This poem attributed to St. Teresa of Avila has really been resonating with me:

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world,
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

C.S. Lewis said something similar:

“Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. . . . He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection.’ Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

Sometimes, I think as Christians, we focus too much on what we are against, and not on what we are for. Christ was for meeting people right where they were–for healing broken bodies and broken hearts. How can I meet real needs in the name of Christ? How can I truly become a “little Christ”?

Jesus says himself in Matthew 25 that we are honoring him when we honor others, especially the most vulnerable:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’“

I’m not sure I have the answers to my questions yet, but I’m enjoying–and growing–by thinking it over.

Are you mulling over a particular theological question?

Tuesday Weigh-In (Two Days Late): There is No Failure, Only Feedback

I’ll be honest: I’ve been struggling this week.

Tuesday morning was rough–my husband and I both had vehicle trouble–so I didn’t make it to the Weight Watchers meeting at 7:30 a.m. I was sure to weigh in, though, before I headed to the office. (I’m very lucky that my office is 2 blocks from a Weight Watchers store that has great hours. You can walk in and weigh in and/or purchase products almost all day, every weekday.)

The results of my weigh-in were not what I was hoping for. I gained 0.2 pounds.

Now, it was such a minor gain that it could have been due to my choice of clothing or the meal I had the night before, but it was still really discouraging. I was hoping for a more substantial loss after all of the exercise on Saturday and the fact I didn’t keep anything down that night.

After the weigh-in, I remembered something that I heard at Weight Watchers when I went several years ago: “There is no failure, only feedback.” I need to look past my unsatisfying results, figure out what happened, and re-adjust my behavior accordingly.

What worked last week: continuing to monitor my intake of sweets. I’ve cut down my intake of sweets from something every day to a small treat 2-3 times per week. I make sure what I do have is worth it when I do choose to treat myself. The cravings are not quite as bad as I thought they would be, honestly.

What didn’t work last week:
1. Eating more high-calorie foods. While I’ve been pretty careful to monitor my portions and fullness (except for when we went to Japanese hibachi last Friday night), I did have more high-calorie foods last week (including an abundance of fried rice at the hibachi restaurant and barbecue and macaroni and cheese twice on Sunday.)
2. Eating fewer fruits and vegetables. (Weight Watchers calls these foods “Power Foods,” along with some whole grains and lean proteins.)

Results of my goal last week (work out 2 times): Partial success. I did work out twice on Saturday, as noted in my last post, but I had in my mind to work out once per day, on two separate days. Unfortunately, I planned on working out last Sunday, but after Saturday’s episode, I decided to take it easy, and I haven’t done anything since.

My goals for my next weigh-in: Work out 2 times (once per day, on two separate days), determine a consistent exercise schedule, and stay steady with my weight.
1. The week is already quickly passing by, but I do want to make sure that I work out twice. My current plans are for Saturday and Sunday.
2. It’s time to get serious and make a consistent weekly workout plan. I think I’m just going to have to face the music that early morning exercise is going to have to happen. I’m planning on creating this tonight and implementing it on Saturday (in conjunction with the goal above.)
3. Ordinarily, I would be hoping for weight loss, but I think I need to be realistic this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the wisest choices at lunch today–sandwiches, chips, and sweets were provided for a lunch meeting–and last night I cooked a rich meal to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. (I can’t believe we’ve been married 3 years already!) I’m also going out to dinner tomorrow night with a friend; out to dinner Saturday night for a more formal anniversary dinner; and to brunch/lunch on Sunday after church. I will be happy if I can just sustain the loss I’ve already achieved.

Here is some wisdom from fellow blogger Clare at Peak313 Fitness that I need to remember every day–and especially at times when I am discouraged and not motivated:

“In a world where we can download a book immediately after buying, start our favorite show from DVR as soon as we want it, and get your meal from the phone to door in 20 minutes, there’s one message that can never be heard enough….

The LONG HAUL works. It’s not glamorous. It’s not sexy. It’s even counter-cultural. It’s not what you will or want to hear–but change–solid, lasting change–it takes time.

So whether it’s dropping weight, gaining muscle, increasing speed….fill in the blank…then you need to give the process time. Think about 3 months out before you even consider quitting or making a huge change. Trust the process. Stop changing it every time you get discouraged. Pray for a spirit of endurance and for faith to see beyond what’s looking back at you in the mirror.”

How do you push yourself to succeed when you’ve faced a setback or when you’re just not motivated?

How do you balance your love of delicious (sometimes high-calorie) food with healthy living?

What is your favorite healthy recipe? I need some ideas, especially for salads! (I’m currently a non-salad eater and can really only stomach spinach.)

A Lesson in Overexertion

I am happy to report that this fairly sedentary lover of the indoors spent a fair amount of time active outside yesterday! This gorgeous weather just couldn’t go to waste.

Except all of that activity really took a toll on my body.

After breakfast, the day began with a hike in Prince William Forest Park. I had never been to this National Park until two weeks ago, and it is only 15 minutes from our house! In addition to wooded hiking trails, there is a lengthy running/biking path, camping areas, and picnic spaces. My husband and I took our dog and met up with another couple and their dog for a 1 1/2 hour trek through the woods, which included stops at a waterfall and small pond. The weather was cool and great for such an activity. The most challenging part of the day was the steep hill climb from the pond back up to the trail!

Hike 1

Hike 2

Hike 3

Thank you, Kris, for taking these beautiful photos!

After grabbing some lunch and some down time–still outside!–I started another part of my get healthy journey…I went running!

Since re-starting Weight Watchers, I’ve been trying to come up with a concrete activity goal that doesn’t necessarily involve going to the gym. (Weight Watchers does encourage but doesn’t require activity–you can lose weight by following the program and not exercising. However, I really want to live a healthy lifestyle, and moderate exercise should be a part of that.) Although the gym we belong to is right across the street from our house, sometimes it seems like it takes a tremendous effort to get there. I really liked the idea of going running–I could step outside of my front door and just get it done. I also really liked that I could create a set, measurable goal for my running journey–especially with the Couch to 5k Running Plan from Active.com.

Couch to 5k is a 9-week plan, involving a combination of running and walking 3 times per week, 30 minutes per session. The goal is to take the participant from sedentary to successfully completing a 5k in about 30 minutes in the 9 week time frame. The program gradually progresses from walking and running intervals to running for the full 30 minutes.

Nine weeks from September 14, my first day (yesterday), is November 16…and I’ve already signed up for an official 5k on November 17! I will be running the King of the Road 5k in Rockville, Maryland.

The first Couch to 5k workout, which I completed yesterday, involved a 5 minute walking warm up, intervals of 60 seconds jogging and 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes, and then another 5 minute walking cool down. I was so proud of myself–I didn’t walk at all during the jogging portions! At one point, I even had to jog up a hill–and I did it! I really wanted to quit at about the half way mark, but I pushed through and completed the workout. I was exhausted, but extremely proud. My husband even helped me with proper stretching when I came back in the house.

I felt great after showering and sitting down for a bit, but then it hit. I got a killer headache and almost instantly felt nauseous. I ended up vomiting a total of 4 times last night.

My body just rebelled. I think the combination of the morning hike and the Couch to 5k workout that my body wasn’t prepared for was just too much. I definitely overexerted myself.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve gotten an exertion headache, but it might take the cake as the worst one. (I vividly remember the same thing happening in college, after I jumped into a 60 minute aerobics session.) I tend to decide that I’m going to go all in, without easing into a workout in moderation. Then, when the overexertion makes me sick, I have a tendency to give up (which is exactly what happened with that aerobics class in college). I am not giving up this time! I think I need to moderate my expectations and possibly just speed walk the Couch to 5k plan for a week or so, until I feel like my body is ready to jog.

Regardless, I am determined to finish the 5k in November! I’ve completed one other 5k about 2 years ago that I really didn’t train for–I walked about 2/3 of the race–and I think I finished in 40 minutes. My goal for this race is to finish in 35 minutes.

I think the thing I need to remember now with exercising–just like with weight loss in general–is that slow and steady wins the race. Going too hard, too fast isn’t good for my body or my motivation.

Are you prone to exertion headaches? About 1 in 100 people get them, especially those people who have had trouble with migraines. As I child, I used to have migraines often, but they have subsided to less than 2-3 per year as I’ve gotten older…but I obviously still struggle with these exertion headaches.

Have you attempted to jump into exercise too fast? How did you moderate your expectations?

What is your workout of choice? I really enjoyed hiking yesterday, especially since it didn’t feel like a “workout”. I was enjoying time with family and friends while still logging activity.

Tuesday Weigh-In: Success!!

This past week–my first week back on the Weight Watchers plan–went remarkably well! It wasn’t perfect, but I felt like I was more focused and determined than at any other time I’ve attempted to lose weight.

My focus certainly showed on the scale–because I’m down 2.6 pounds this week!!

I basically had a party on the scale with the Weight Watchers staffer who was checking me in at the meeting this morning. I think this is the most weight that I’ve lost at one time ever.

The crazy thing is, I really didn’t feel deprived in the last week. Sure, there were a number of times that I was hungry–I’m still trying to figure out how to eat well and still stay full–but there was really no time when I was angry or frustrated because I was dissatisfied with what I was eating. I already can feel the weight coming off and I just feel better–I haven’t had indigestion at all in the past week, I’m sleeping better, and I already have more energy–and that is worth more to me than junk food right now.

What worked last week:
1. Tracking consistently. Basically everything that I ate this week–with the exception of a few nibbles–was written down in my tracking book or logged on my phone via the Weight Watchers app. Tracking is a key part of the Weight Watchers plan, and for good reason–you are completely accountable for what you are eating when you have to see it on paper.
2. Looking up the Points Plus values of menu items before eating out. I actually ate out several times this weekend, but I was most apprehensive about going to Ihop on Sunday. I looked up the points for all of the Ihop menu items before we got there, and I made a compromise with myself–while I wasn’t going to get one of their low-calorie items, I was going to get something reasonable. (What I normally would have chosen off the plan was incredibly high in Points Plus values.) I settled on the Two-Two-Two–two eggs (for protein), two bacon strips (for enjoyment), and two blueberry pancakes (because Ihop is the International House of Pancakes, after all). With the added blueberry compote topping and the glass of 2% milk that I had, the Points Plus values ended up being more than I would have liked, but I felt good knowing that I made a compromise and a conscious choice without feeling deprived.
3. Deciding if a treat is worth it, and enjoying it if it truly is. I went out to dinner to one of my favorite restaurants–Mike’s American Grill–with my husband and in-laws on Friday night for my mother-in-law’s birthday. One of their desserts, the Flourless Chocolate Waffle, is one of my absolute favorites and was worth it to me to get. I hadn’t had sweets in four days at that point and decided that the treat was something I really wanted. We split it four ways, so I didn’t go overboard, but I was able to eat something that I truly love while staying in control.
4. Being aware of portion sizes and not overeating. As I mentioned, I haven’t had indigestion or heartburn all week, which is something that I suffered through often when I over ate. I had good size meals at several points in the week and ate to the point that I was full but not stuffed, but being conscious of how much I was eating really helped keep my consumption in check.

What didn’t work last week:
1. Planning ahead on the weekend is difficult. Our weekend plans are often fluid, and it can be hard to plan weekend meals in advance. This weekend I just went with the flow and tried to make the best choices possible in a given situation. (The Weight Watchers meeting topic next week is actually going to be “Secrets of Successful Weekends,” and I’m looking forward to hearing their advice.)
2. Running out of time to go to the gym. Saturday and Sunday were both busier than I expected, and I did not make it to the gym like I had hoped. I need to work on a set exercise schedule, including making time to work out during the week.
3. Getting too hungry and bingeing as a result. As I mentioned, I’m still working out how to eat well but stay full. There were a few points in the week that I got hungry but didn’t eat a snack between meals. On Thursday, in particular, I was so hungry by the time that I got home from work (but before dinner) that I demolished two pieces of bread with butter.

My goal by my next weigh-in is to work out 2 times.

Overall, I’m super thrilled with the results of this past week, and I’m hoping to repeat this success and see a similar result at the next weigh-in!

How do you ward off hunger between meals?

How have you lost weight without feeling deprived?

Tuesday Weigh-In: I Will Win This Battle (and the War)

As promised, I went back to Weight Watchers this morning! I arrived around 7:45 a.m. — a bit later than I wanted to for the 7:30 a.m. meeting — and signed in at the front desk before settling in for what was left of it.

As part of the sign-in process, I stepped on the scale to receive my official starting weight. As expected, I did not like what I saw.

Here are the official results printed on the sticker that is now fixed to my Weight Record:

Weight: 177 lb
5% Tgt: 9 lb
10% Tgt: 17 lb
DPT: 26 Pts

I’ve never stepped on the scale and seen 177 pounds in my life, so that was a bit of a shock. It makes sense, though, based on how I’ve been eating, not exercising, and avoiding the scale like the plague.

Weight Watchers assigns each member a 5% and 10% goal when they receive their starting weight, milestones that are supposed to serve as mini goals along the way. They tell you not to focus on your overall goal until you lose your 10%, but I can’t help thinking of where I ultimately want to be. My eventual goal is to reach 115 pounds — a very reasonable weight for someone my height (5′ 1/2″). I’m planning on reaching that goal by October 31, 2014 — which amounts to a loss of between 1 and 1.5 pounds per week. My total loss, when I reach my goal, will be 62 pounds.

The “DPT” is my PointsPlus daily target — basically, how many PointsPlus I am “allowed” to consume in a day, not including the extra 49 points each member receives per week to use at their discretion and whatever they “earn” through activity. I’ve found it very difficult to stay within this amount in the past, but I’m determined to make a more concerted effort this time around. Here is an explanation of the PointsPlus system from Weight Watchers.

Calculating points means tracking everything you eat, which has been proven to lead to weight loss, Weight Watchers or not. I find that it makes me much more conscious of what and how much I’m consuming. I’ve tracked everything I’ve eaten so far today, and I’m proud to report that I chose grapes instead of chocolate as my afternoon snack!

I’m determined to win this battle and–eventually–the war. Katy Perry’s new song “Roar” is my theme song on this journey!

[Side note: Have you ever wondered how old you will be when you finally stop listening to pop music? I thought by my late 20’s I would have come to that place, but it hasn’t happened yet.]

How has the scale convicted you? Today was definitely a wake-up call. The numbers don’t lie!

Have you ever had a personal theme song?

Autumn (Fragrance) Is My Favorite

Welcome to the day after Labor Day and to the unofficial beginning of Autumn! As much as I love summer–especially going to the beach (multiple times)–Fall is my favorite season. Crisp air, pumpkins, sweaters, falling leaves… Is it wrong that I’m already excited for Thanksgiving?

Fall is also my favorite season with Scentsy. Our Fall/Winter 2013 catalog was released on September 1st, and this season’s products are incredible. (We now have bulbless warmers, part of the Element Collection!) My favorite thing, though, has to be the scents. My absolute favorite, Honey Pear Cider, is back after being discontinued for spring/summer, along with Pumpkin Roll, Caramel Pear Crisp, and Cinnamon Vanilla. Warming any of these is sure to get you in the Autumn spirit, even while the temperature remains above 80 degrees.

What is your favorite season?

What is your favorite thing about Autumn?

Do you have a favorite fragrance?

Sources of Inspiration

I love weight loss success stories. They are sources of inspiration to me and remind me that sustaining a major loss–true transformation–is possible.

Some of my favorite sources of weight loss inspiration:

1. The semi-annual People magazine cover stories that feature real people who have lost significant amounts of weight. The most recent weight loss cover story features a woman who lost over 100 pounds by following Weight Watchers!
2. The “You in Shape” section of Shape magazine. I’ve been getting Shape for years, and the section of success stories is the first place I turn when I get a new issue.
3. The “Success Stories” section of WeightWatchers.com. I love reading about people who have been successful on the plan I’ve chosen to follow. You can even customize a search to find people who have been in your situation — your age, the amount of weight you need to lose — and have met their goal.

What are your sources of inspiration for healthy living?

What other examples should I use to stay motivated, especially when the going gets tough?