Keeping Myself Accountable and Setting New Goals

Hi everyone! I’m back!

I can’t believe it’s been over 4 months since I last blogged! I didn’t expect to take such a long hiatus, but one day led to another, and another — but I’m back and ready to be better than ever.

I’m back, because I need this blog. I need a community — however intangible — to surround me and to keep me accountable on my health journey. I need this concrete record of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

I’ve still been weighing myself faithfully on Wednesday mornings, but I’ve put a few pounds back on since my lowest recorded (recent) weight of 155.2 pounds on September 3. I think even more than the number on the scale, I feel the extra weight that I’ve put back on. I haven’t been exercising consistently, and I’ve been much more lax in my eating since the late summer. It’s time to get focused again.

I need this accountability, especially as we head into the holidays. Thanksgiving, my 29th birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s all fall within a period of about 5 weeks, and I need some accountability to help me finish the year strong.

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As you may remember, I set some goals over the summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to them very well. (I never even posted the update that I intended!) In order to spur me forward, I want to re-evaluate those goals and modify them if necessary or update them if they have been achieved. I will report on my progress on these on or around January 1.

Original goal: Achieve a total loss of 30 pounds by Labor Day.

New goal: Weigh 153 pounds (for a total loss of 24 pounds) on January 1.

I planned to achieve a total loss of 30 pounds by Labor Day, which unfortunately did not happen. Although losing about 1 pound per week is what I set out to do from the beginning, I want to give myself some grace during the holiday season. However, I do want to exceed my previous lowest recorded weight and weigh in at 153 pounds on January 1. My long-term goal: to be in a bikini next June in Virginia Beach!

New goal: Log every meal on MyFitnessPal.

I did not have this as one of my original goals, but it’s so important to keeping myself accountable that I need to formalize it here. I was so diligent about logging all of my meals on MyFitnessPal until about mid-September, when I really fell off. I traveled extensively for work through October, and I just about gave up on tracking entirely during that time. I plan on tracking every meal, every day, from here on out, with the exception of Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas.

Original goal: Blog 4 times per week — including weekly “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts.

New goal: Blog 3 times per week — including weekly “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts.

I love blogging here, but it does take quite a bit of time. That said, as I mentioned above, it is necessary to keep me accountable. Three times per week is definitely do-able, especially if I plan ahead. I also plan to re-start my “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts, because I’ve been weighing myself consistently anyway.

"Weigh-in Wednesday" - 11/5/14

“Weigh-In Wednesday” – 11/5/14

Original goal and new goal: Exercise 4 times per week.

As I mentioned back in June, I need to re-find the motivation to get up early and work out. When I was exercising consistently, I was losing weight consistently. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

I also want to return to doing exercise classes at my gym, especially BodyPump. This will not be possible every week, but I want to get back into the habit.

Original goal: Return to restricting my consumption of sweets to Sundays.

New goal: Restrict my consumption of sweets to the weekend, except during holiday weeks (Veterans Day week, Thanksgiving week, birthday week, and Christmas week).

Portland Creme donut from Voodoo Donut in Portland, Oregon

Portland Creme doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon

I very successfully gave up sweets for Lent this year, and I know that it made a huge difference in my weight loss efforts. I need to go back to doing this, but it is very hard for me to do!

I’m going to take this week by week during the holiday season. It may seem like I’m giving myself alittle too much grace here by not cutting myself off entirely, but I also want to be honest and to enjoy the season. I am starting out seriously this week, though: I’ve followed through thus far on a commitment that I made to myself to not eat any sweets this Monday through Friday (November 3-7)!

Original goal: Finish reading 4 books by Labor Day.

New goal: Finish reading 2 books by January 1.

Heaven, also known as Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon

Heaven, also known as Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon

I love to read, but I have such a difficult time finishing books lately! I just started participating in a book club in August with my co-workers, which is helping me to focus and actually complete the ones that I start, and I’d like to take some of that motivation and finish 2 additional books before the end of the year. (One of them will likely be American Sniper by Chris Kyle, which I promised my hubby I would read before we see the movie at Christmas.)

Original goal and new goal: Re-energize my Scentsy business.

“Fragrance” is one of the three major focus areas that I established for my blog, but unfortunately, I haven’t really posted about my journey with Scentsy. I’m still figuring out where I want to — and feasibly can — take it, quite frankly.

Accomplished goal: Determine the direction of my career.

That said, I don’t intend for Scentsy to become a full-time gig, because I do have a full-time career as a nonprofit fundraiser in Washington, D.C. Since writing my original goals, I feel considerably more confident in the direction of my career. I attended a conference a few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon — as evidenced by the photos I’ve included in this post — which was hosted by the Grant Professionals Association, and it really solidified that I am in the right field and have the potential to accomplish a great deal — and make a considerable difference in people’s lives — if I continue on this path. My next step is to earn my Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification.

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Even though I do want to re-focus, I don’t want to lose sight of what I have accomplished so far — I am still down 19.8 pounds (as of Wednesday) since I re-started my health journey in late February! I’ve really come to love running and have completed three races this year — including the Marine Corps Marathon 10K — and there’s a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot still to come!

MCM 10K Medal

I finished!

That said, these are also huge reasons why I need to get serious again: I’ve made so much progress that I don’t want to throw away or lose, just because I don’t have enough self-discipline or control.

I’m so happy to be back!

Are you working toward any goals before the end of the year?

Setting Summer Goals

Hi friends, and happy Monday!

Today is my first day back to work and to my daily routine since vacationing in Virginia Beach last week. And we are already halfway through June! I can’t believe how quickly this month — and the summer — is flying by.

Now that my lengthy summer trip is behind me, and before the summer gets away from me, I wanted to take the time to set some goals to accomplish by Labor Day — 11 weeks from today. My small group is not meeting regularly in the summer, and the 3rd grade Sunday school class that I teach is also on summer hiatus, so this is a great time to double down and focus on some things that I want to accomplish:

1. Achieve a total loss of 30 pounds.

I did not weigh myself last week, because we were on vacation, but I’ve been holding steady at about 17 pounds lost.

I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve lost this much weight since late February and have done a good job of keeping it off, but I want to re-focus and get back to losing. (I’ve basically stalled since May.)

By September 1, I plan to achieve a total loss of 30 pounds, which is losing about 1 pound per week — what I set out to do from the beginning. My long-term goal: be at my goal weight and in a bikini next June in Virginia Beach!

2. Blog 4 times per week — including weekly “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts.

I love blogging here, and I want to return to doing it regularly. I also plan to re-start my “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts, because they keep me accountable. (I haven’t written one since May 1st!)

3. Exercise 4 times per week.

I need to re-find the motivation to get up early and work out. When I was exercising consistently, I was losing weight consistently. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

I also want to return to doing exercise classes at my gym, especially BodyPump. This might not be possible every week, but I want to get back into the habit.

4. Return to restricting my consumption of sweets to Sundays.

I very successfully gave up sweets for Lent this year — unfortunately, it was the only Lenten practice that I set for myself that I was able to consistently follow — and I know that it made a huge difference in my weight loss efforts. I need to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I need to go back to doing this.

I will officially re-start abstaining from sweets during the week next Monday, June 23rd. (I’ll be honest — I have some sweets in the house right now that I don’t want to throw out!) My two exceptions will be when I go home to Pennsylvania for the July 4th holiday, and the weekend trip that I am taking to Ocean City, Maryland, with family in early August.

5. Finish reading 4 books (not including the one that I just finished on vacation).

I love to read, but I have such a difficult time finishing books! My attention span is so short lately, and I tend to pick up a new book before finishing the previous one.

My goal is to actually finish 4 books this summer, in addition to the one that I just completed in Virginia Beach!

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My current book selection

6. Re-energize my Scentsy business.

“Fragrance” is one of the three major focus areas that I established for my blog, but unfortunately, I haven’t really posted about my journey with Scentsy. I think this is really due to the fact that I’ve put it on the back burner.

My husband and I are diligently trying to eliminate some debt, and some extra income would be great for us right now. As such, I definitely want to put some effort this summer into re-energizing my Scentsy business. I do think it is possible to be successful at direct selling with some hard work!

7. Determine the direction of my career.

That said, I don’t intend for Scentsy to become a full-time gig, because I do have a full-time career as a nonprofit fundraiser in Washington, D.C. I want to take some time this summer to seriously think about where my career is heading and what exactly I would like to accomplish in the next 5 to 10 years.

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I plan on providing an update on these goals around July 24th — about 5 1/2 weeks from now — and again just after Labor Day!

Do you have any summer goals?

What are your summer plans? I’m happy to be heading back to the beach at least one more time!

Friday Favorites #1: Week of March 21, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone!  We made it!

One of my favorite things about having a blog is learning from and following other bloggers. Going forward, I’ve decided to participate in Heather of Housewife Glamour‘s Friday Favorites link-up!

Housewife Glamour

Here are some of my favorite things from the past week!

1. Snow day on Monday

I was thinking we were only going to have a two hour delay, at best, on Monday morning, but we actually had the whole day off!  It was glorious. I had time to be crafty, read, and relax, which I didn’t do at all last weekend.

2. Moroccan Lentil Soup from Pret a Manger

On Wednesday, I went out to lunch with a new friend at Pret a Manger, one of my absolute favorite soup and sandwich places. They originated in the UK and are all over London, and I went there many times when I studied abroad in college. Pret has journeyed across the pond and is now in New York, D.C., Boston, and Chicago, too!  It was a crazy exciting day about a year after I moved here when I learned that they were coming to D.C.

Anyway, this week I tried their Moroccan Lentil Soup for the first time, and it is absolutely delicious. It is vegetarian and full of fiber and protein, and the flavor is fantastic. I can’t wait to go back and get it again!

3. Working out in the morning

Thursday's a.m. walking/jogging intervals

Thursday’s a.m. walking/jogging intervals

I never, ever in my life thought that I would become a morning exerciser, but I am loving the energy and sense of accomplishment that it gives me first thing in the morning.

4. Scentsy’s Yuzu Dragon fragrance

I keep a Scentsy warmer in my office at work, and to celebrate the first day of spring, I started warming Yuzu Dragon yesterday. The guava and dragonfruit notes are perfect for thinking warm, springy thoughts.

5. Relevant magazine’s articles

I discovered Relevant magazine some time ago, and I am a huge fan. They publish thought-provoking articles on timely topics related to faith, culture, calling, and social justice. I’m not a subscriber to the print piece, but much of their content is available for free online. Yesterday, I read excellent articles on “Why Fred Phelps’ Death Isn’t a Cause for Celebration,” “Your Purpose is Not Your Job,” and “A Pope for Protestants?“. (The article on Pope Francis is premium content but can be accessed by creating an account.)

Thanks again to Heather at Housewife Glamour for hosting the link-up! I look forward to participating each week!  I will be sure to start taking more photos to add them here.

What have you been loving this week?

Weekend Wrap-Up: March 16, 2014

Happy weekend, everyone! (I know, it’s almost over, but it’s not Monday yet, so I can still celebrate…)

This weekend was a whirlwind. My hubby was out of town for the weekend, so I tried to make my time without him as productive as possible.

I stayed home on Friday night. I’m usually quite tired on Friday nights from the week’s routine, and this Friday was no exception. I enjoyed leftover fajitas at home and then did some work on the blog and my Twitter page. I also figured out how to make a blog reader for myself using Feedly. What a cool website!

On Saturday morning, I made a list of the things that I wanted to accomplish for the rest of the weekend. I’m happy to say that I did get done 75% of them!

My biggest accomplishment on Saturday was reaching one of my goals for the week–I attended back-to-back BodyPump and BodyCombat classes at my gym! What an incredible morning workout!

I absolutely loved the BodyPump class. While I know that weight lifting is essential for creating a lean physique, it’s not something I will usually do on my own. The class, with a combination of bar work and some free weights, uses great music to make the time pass quickly and an instructor to encourage proper form. When I had done it in the past, I used too much weight and was in serious pain for days. I started small and only added a total of 5 pounds to my bar this time. I’m still quite sore today, but it’s a good sore. I know it means I am getting stronger.

Here is my current motto:

(I’ve loved Kelly Clarkson since she was on American Idol, and I saw her in concert last summer at Scentsy Convention in Indianapolis! She was excellent and so down-to-earth: she played most of her set without wearing shoes.)

I also felt so accomplished completing a full BodyCombat class after BodyPump. The session was pretty intense, with lots of kickboxing and martial arts type moves. I will definitely do it again, because it is a great workout and immediately follows BodyPump on Saturday mornings, but I think I prefer Zumba.

The weather was so amazing on Saturday afternoon–about 70 degrees and sunny–that I decided to make my lunch on the grill outside. After doing some work around the house, I took our dog for a delightful 35 minute walk. (After working out so much in the morning and walking in the afternoon, I hit 15,000 daily steps on my FitBit!)

On Saturday night, I went out with three of my best girlfriends to one of my top restaurant picks, Lebanese Taverna. I’m having a love affair with Mediterranean food recently, because the cuisine is so delicious, fresh, and relatively healthy. And as much as I love the hummus that you can buy at the grocery store, nothing compares to the fresh stuff that you can get at the restaurant.

This morning was filled by church, and afterward I treated myself to lunch at Panera. I had alot of errands to run, and getting a quick bite to eat somewhere seemed easier than going home and having to go back out again. I’m having a love affair with Panera right now, too, for almost the same reasons that I love Mediterranean food: if you plan it right, you can get a really delicious meal for a reasonable amount of calories. (And their kettle cooked potato chips, which I really love, are only 150 calories.)

After all of those errands this afternoon, I finally made it to the gym tonight in the last hour that it was open! They had to tell me to leave at closing time, just as I was finishing by stretching. My legs felt like lead, but I still managed to get in a great workout:

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I will be honest, though–probably my primary motivation for going to the gym today was to indulge in these without going over my daily calorie target:

Delicious!

Delicious!

For those observing Lent, every Sunday is a feast day, when the Lenten fast can be broken.  I did not break my fast last Sunday, because I felt that I had done enough damage with the Dominos pizza that I ate, but I decided to enjoy a treat tonight. Wegmans, my favorite grocery store on the planet–which also happens to be just across the street from our townhome development (like my gym)–has some of the best cookies around. Aptly named, their Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies were exactly what I wanted. I enjoyed them with 1 cup of milk, which I also really haven’t had since I cut out sweets.

While the weekend was good, I really didn’t get to relax much (with the exception of Friday night). Even though it was 70 degrees yesterday, it is snowing again, and I’m holding out for a delayed opening tomorrow, at least.

Have you ever tried BodyCombat? What did you think?

What is your favorite treat? Those chocolate chip cookies rank very high on my list!

Moderating Expectations

I’ve been struggling the past few days with feeling overwhelmed and putting a lot of pressure on myself. I have always been very hard on myself, and most of the time, the stress and pressure I feel comes from within.

I need a number of reminders today–a reality check to moderate expectations:

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  • There are only 24 hours in a day, and about 7 of those need to be reserved for sleep in order for me to function at my best.
  • I work a full-time job and commute 45 minutes to an hour each way (about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours round-trip) every weekday. These are my circumstances right now and I need to work within them.
  • As my accountability partner told me, I need to work at my health and fitness like it’s my second job. Behind the Lord and my husband, this journey needs to be top priority.
  • Realistically, it will take me at least a year to reach my goal weight of 115 pounds. At my weigh-in last week, I was 172.4 pounds–57.4 pounds from my goal weight.  At a rate of loss of 1 pound per week, I will reach my goal in 57 weeks–one year and one week from last Wednesday. Patience is a virtue, and slow and steady wins the race.
  • I love food, and I probably always will, and that’s okay. Even Psalm 34:8a says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (The problem comes when food becomes an idol, a comforter.) I’ve made a number of great, sustainable changes over the last 3 weeks, and there’s still considerable room for improvement, but I’m unwilling to completely give up everything that I love. I read a weight loss success story yesterday about a woman who lost a ton of weight but basically gave up cheese, pizza, and chips, among many other things. I still want to enjoy those foods in moderation. Because of this, my weight loss journey may take a bit longer than others’.
  • Going along with my last point, splurges are okay, as long as they are built into my goals. Also, I shouldn’t feel guilty about decisions that are willfully and knowingly made. Case in point: I really wanted Dominos pizza (the Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch) on Sunday night, and I had it (and loved it). I’ve been eating lightly since then and am planning to make up the 400 or so calorie overage after dinner tonight with a high-powered Zumba class before my weigh-in tomorrow morning.
  • I would love to blog here everyday, but some days it just might not happen. What’s more important are the things I am blogging about: my health journey and my faith, with Scentsy on the side.

Maybe the moral of this story is that I can’t compare myself to anyone else, and I can only do the best that I can. This need not be an excuse–I still need to try my absolute hardest–but I also need to be realistic and give myself some grace.

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Do you struggle with being hard on yourself?

How do you keep momentum when you know the journey will be a long one?

Monday Musings

Happy Monday and happy snow day!

While I am more than ready for spring, I am very happy to have an unexpected three-day weekend.  (Federal offices in D.C. are closed today because of the weather, and my office operates on the federal schedule even though we are a private non-profit.)  I’m grateful for the extra time to blog, clean, watch House of Cards, do laundry, and organize my Scentsy supplies.

Some thoughts for today:

1. Even in this lousy weather, I went to the gym this morning!

Killed it!

Killed it!

I fell asleep on the early side last night, and my cat woke me up before 5 a.m. this morning. I just could not go back to sleep after getting up to feed her, so instead of wasting the time, I decided to head to the gym. (Surprisingly, they were open on time!) I wasn’t planning on going today because of the bad weather and not having to work, but it really wasn’t terrible when I left the house around 6 a.m. (Another upside: the gym is part of the town center located just outside of our townhome community.) I’m so glad that I got in the hour walk on the treadmill (on a hills setting at 3.4 mph), because now I can spend the rest of the snow day doing sedentary things and not feel guilty! I also think it set me up to be productive today — it’s crazy how alert and motivated being active can make me feel!

2. Scentsy’s Spring/Summer 2014 catalog is here! I always love the excitement of transition, the bi-annual time when Scentsy’s catalog changes. One of my favorite things in the new catalog is Roosevelt the Rabbit:

Roosevelt, Scentsy's new Charitable Cause Buddy benefiting the March of Dimes' "imbornto" campaign

Roosevelt, Scentsy’s new Charitable Cause Buddy benefiting the March of Dimes “imbornto” campaign

Each catalog, Scentsy introduces a new charitable cause product. While often a warmer, the Spring/Summer 2014 charitable cause product is a Buddy! Scentsy Buddies include a Scent Pak that can be inserted into the back of the stuffed animal to emit a soft fragrance–perfect for children. For every sale of Roosevelt the Rabbit at $30, $6.50 will be donated to the March of Dimes “imbornto” campaign.

3. Wednesday is the first day of Lent: Although I’ve been attending an Anglican church for about 6 years, I’ve never really observed Lent faithfully. I’ve decided to do that this year and will post more about what that looks like for me later this week.

4. I started a “Workout Log” on the blog! I’d like to keep a consistent record of my workouts and figured that this is the perfect place to do that!  I tried to remember the best I could what I did last week, and starting today I will update the log regularly.

5. I’m looking forward to trying this new recipe this week:

I love this magazine!

I love this magazine!

I’ve been a Cooking Light subscriber for many years, but unfortunately, I don’t make as many dishes out of the magazine as I should. This recipe for “Chicken Cutlets with Mushrooms and Pearl Onions” featured on the cover was calling my name from the moment I pulled it out of the mailbox, and I look forward to trying it this week!

What is the weather like today where you are?

Have you gotten to take a look at the new Scentsy catalog? If so, what is your favorite new product?

Have you tried any new recipes lately? I’m always looking for recommendations!

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?