The Get Fit Journy: Step Two (Food)

Breakfast

Welcome back to my closer look at how I lost 100ish pounds in the past year. You can check out my previous posts here and here.

Food was the thing that I figured I would struggle with the most. I didn’t know where I was going to find the willpower to say no to my favorite foods (I have a sweet tooth for sure!). As with most things along this journey things weren’t quite what I expected. Saying no became the easy part, it was tracking what I was eating that was the hard part.

So let’s start with the question I get asked more than any other question: What did you eat?

Fruits and Veggies

I am the type of person that if you tell me I can’t do something I will fight with all I have if I need to in order to prove you wrong! I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to! The same thing happens with me when it comes to food. If you tell me I can’t have something it becomes all I can think about. I HAVE to have it! For a girl who loves herself  some carbs and loves ice cream this is not a good thing when you are trying to get healthy.

This is why diets have never worked for me before. You limit what I can eat and it will set me up for failure. I would try a diet that limited certain things and as soon as I failed (and I did many times) not only was I upset that yet again I didn’t lose any weight but I had the added shame and guilt of not being able to control what I put in my mouth.

Cooking

So rule number one for me this time around was that I would not cut a single food out of my diet completely.That’s not to say that I didn’t cut back on things but I refuse to go to a birthday party and not have cake! I refuse to go to Thanksgiving and not have pumpkin pie! And you know what, I go to birthday parties and eat cake and I go to Thanksgiving and I kill that pumpkin pie and there is zero guilt and I still lost weight and continue to keep it off.

The secret for me (and it’s really more of a hard reality than a secret) is portion control and tracking literally EVERY SINGLE food I put in my mouth everyday at the beginning of my journey! If you have tried to lose weight in the past you have heard someone say you have to track your food intake. I had heard it a thousand times but never felt I needed to do that. Boy was I wrong, in those early days of making lifestyle changes keeping a food “diary” made all the difference in the world. There is no way I would be where I am today had I not done it.

That being said it was by far the most involved thing that I did in the beginning. There was a time when I am pretty sure there were more photos on my phone if nutrition labels than of my children.

Strawberries

The first step to create my food diary was figuring out how much to eat each day in order to lose weight and do it SAFELY! I was willing to do what I needed to do to see changes in my body but I would not go hungry and I would not do anything that would put my health at risk. I started doing a lot of internet research to start about the right amount of calories needed for someone like me. After I felt like I had a pretty good idea of how many calories I should have each day (as well as my exercise plan) I made an appointment to meet with my doctor and go over my plan with him to a) make sure what I was planning on doing was healthy and b) to have someone to hold me accountable.

After chatting with the doctor and getting the go ahead I had to come up with a way to stick with my calorie count each day. For me that meant logging into SparkPeople multiple times each day. There are a ton of “food diary” sites out there but with all the features (food diary, exercises, community, etc) that you get for FREE with SparkPeople I decided it was the site that worked best for me. Some things were easy to track like single serving foods. It was recipes made from scratch that became the real work.

I had a pretty good idea of the amount of calories I wanted to have for each meal. I wanted to eat often enough to keep my metabolism moving so I made sure to eat every two hours. 3 meals a day with 3 snacks in between. I then split up my calories among those six meals/snacks. It was figuring out how to stick to those numbers that caused the most work. Now, I will admit I am a spreadsheet kind of gal! I love me a good Excel document! So what worked for me was creating an Excel document that had a column for each item on the nutrition label and each item that I put in a recipe would get its own row in the spreadsheet where I would enter the nutrition information. So if you can imagine me in the kitchen with my phone taking a picture of a nutrition label putting the ingredient in the pot and repeating the process until I have pictures of every ingredient in a recipe on my phone you can see that anyone walking into my kitchen those first couple months would have thought I was insane. I would then grab the laptop while the food was cooking and enter everything into the spreadsheet. That then gave me the total nutrition information for that particular recipe. I would then divide the total by the number of calories I allotted for that meal and that told me how much of that particular recipe I could have. So I could eat what I wanted but if it was something on the not so healthy side I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat as much of it as I would be able to if I had made a healthier choice.

Writing it out it seems so complicated and while it is time-consuming (I won’t lie about that) it really made all the difference. It made it a lot easier to make better choices. I could look at my calories for the day to see how I was doing and it actually made it super easy to say no to that Dairy Queen Blizzard at 7:30 at night when I could look and see that I had stayed on track all day and I really didn’t want to ruin it when the day was almost over.

While tracking everything was what I believe made the biggest difference that is not to say that I didn’t change my eating habits at all. It became more about making little changes, slowly. We are a family that doesn’t have a lot of time between the time we get home and bedtime so we are always in search for quick dinners. We would easily eat at least one if not two frozen pizzas a week. We now have pizza once a month and make it at home and you know what, it takes less time than cooking that frozen pizza. Instead of ice cream a couple of times a week I will treat myself a couple of times a month. That birthday cake we talked about before, I will split it with one of the kids. It’s little changes like these that made the change to better eating habits relatively easy. After a while my tastes changed and having a lot of something sweet didn’t even taste good. I got used to not having that sick feeling you get from eating too much and now I know it’s not worth it. A little taste of something not so healthy is enough. The first bite really does taste just as good as the last bite. I don’t need an excessive amount of bites in between.

I am obviously not a doctor or a nutritionist and this is just what worked for me. Hopefully though you have found some helpful information here.

Do you struggle with your nutrition? What tips and tricks have you found? Let me know in the comments below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter.

Until next time!

Books We Are Reading This Week – August 26, 2015

PicMonkey Collage

Welcome to another Wednesday! I decided to expand on yesterday’s post about my decision to start my own business and become an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador and share with you my family’s five favorite books in the Barefoot Books Library.

Soph’s favorite is Animal Boogie. This is one of Barefoot Books AMAZING singalongs. We boogie along with other children through an Indian jungle and learn all sorts of actions we can do along with the animals. I love when the kids act out the story. They stomp with the elephant, shake like the bear and slither like snake. I also love the creativity and imagination it brings out in Soph and Jack. Soph has come up with many of her own verses and will randomly sing them along with the chorus throughout the day. Each story comes with a CD featuring an audio track and an animated video great for impromptu dance parties!

The Gigantic Turnip is a sentimental favorite of mine. This is the first Barefoot Books book that I ever got my hands on and read. This is a fun, humorous tale of an old man, an old woman and ALL the animals on the farm working together to try to harvest a particularly big turnip! It is great to work on counting with your child and the rhyming and repetitive text really keeps the kids engaged through the whole story.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers is a great story all about accepting people for who they are. It is the story of a boy who grows flowers all over his body every time there is a full moon. He meets a young girl with her own secret and they discover ways that they can help each other. It is such a great message to teach our kids. We love this one in our house!

I Took the Moon for a Walk is a magical bedtime story about a boy who imagines taking the moon for a walk. I love the lyrical text and the illustrations are just beautiful. If you look closely you will notice the moon’s red shoes and if you watch them throughout the story you will notice a little story within a story revolving around the moon’s shoes. The end of the book features some great educational end notes about the different phases of the moon and some information on nocturnal animals. Soph and Jack both really enjoyed this story.

Lastly, Mama Panya’s Pancakes is a heartwarming story all about the importance of sharing, even when you don’t have much to give. This was a really great lesson that I was happy to share with my own children. This one takes place in Kenya and this one also includes some great end notes at the end of the story. Children can learn about the culture, people and animals of Kenya!

What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time!

This post contains affiliate links. As an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador I will receive a commission from any sales made from these links.

My Newest Adventure!

Table Display

Welcome back!!

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday but things have been kind of crazy around here lately and I am prepared to share with you why!

Reading with Daddy

I have been looking for a way to supplement our income for quite a while. As our schedules are I knew it had to be something extremely flexible, and since this is effectively for “fun” money (we need a vacation!) I needed it to be fun.

If you have hung around here for any amount of time you have probably noticed that I am a bit of a bookworm and am trying my darndest to instill a love for books in my children. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find great, quality books that my children, husband and I all can enjoy together.

Enter: Barefoot Books! About six months ago I was fumbling around on my phone trying to find something new and different that the kids and I could listen to on the way to daycare each morning and I came across the Barefoot Books Podcast. Each episode is essentially a short audio version of a children’s story. These quickly became a favorite with my children, especially Soph, every time we get in the car she asks if we can listen to a story (love it!!). At the end of each episode it encourages you to check out their website. After a few weeks of listening to the podcast I finally decided to check it out.

I was blown away by what I found. If you are not familiar with Barefoot Books they are a children’s book publisher and I think their Mission Statement sums them up pretty well:

At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life, focusing on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning and respect for the world’s diversity. The welfare of our children is dependent on the welfare of the planet, so we source paper from sustainably managed forests and constantly strive to reduce our environmental impact. Playful, beautiful and created to last a lifetime, our products combine the best of the present with the best of the past to educate our children as the caretakers of tomorrow.

These are some of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. The illustrations are so bright and vibrant. They really capture and keep the attention of everyone from the youngest baby to the older independent reader and even grown ups.

One of the beautiful large format books offered by Barefoot Books that features peek-a-boos instead of lift the flaps to really extend the life of the book (they think of everything!) I love pairing it with the little owl finger puppet for a bit more fun!

One of the beautiful large format board books offered by Barefoot Books that features peek-a-boos instead of lift-the-flaps to really extend the life of the book (they think of everything!) I love pairing it with the little owl finger puppet for a bit more fun!

My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words is another great example of some of the amazing illustrations found in these books!

My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words is another great example of some of the amazing illustrations found in these books!

Every story is beautifully told and encourage the very values that I strive to instill in my children everyday. They inspire creativity and playfulness, kindness, compassion, they teach the importance of teamwork and sticking up for what you believe in just to name a few.

My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words is a great vocabulary book for young children and the World Atlas is absolutely stunning and filled with amazing information about the people, culture, weather, animals and more around the world.

My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words is a great vocabulary book for young children and the World Atlas is absolutely stunning and filled with amazing information about the people, culture, weather, animals and more from the many regions around the world.

Inside our beautiful atlas.

Inside our beautiful atlas.

I love their focus on raising cultural awareness in children and instilling a respect for the planet. I love that my children can pick up these books and not only hear a great story but learn something about many different cultures from all over the world.

Kids can travel the world in these beautifully illustrated tales from around the world. I think my children spend more time looking at the bright and bold illustrations in these books than actually reading them. They are gorgeous.

Kids can travel the world in these beautifully illustrated tales from around the world. I think my children spend more time looking at the bright and bold illustrations in these books than actually reading them. They are gorgeous.

Each "travel the world" book features beautiful end notes that teach children all about the history and culture of the country they visited in each particular story.

Each “travel the world” book features beautiful end notes that teach children all about the history and culture of the country they visited in each particular story.

I am  by no means a sales person and had you told me just a month and a half ago that I would become an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador I would have told you that you are crazy!! But the great thing about this company is that it is so inline with my values and I have such a passion for these stories that I don’t feel like I am selling them, I feel like I am sharing a great product with my friends, and that feels amazing!

The Barefoot Books singalongs have lead to some of the most fun times we have had in our house lately. We put these on and the kids start singing and dancing instantly!

The Barefoot Books singalongs have lead to some of the most fun times we have had in our house lately. We put these on and the kids start singing and dancing instantly!

These stories with accompanying CD are great if you need to get things done around the house. We just hand one of the kids a book and pop in the audio CD and they are content for quite a while!

These stories with accompanying CD are great if you need to get things done around the house. We just hand one of the kids a book and pop in the audio CD and they are content for quite a while!

Barefoot Books has everyone covered from board books....

Barefoot Books has everyone covered from board books….

...to early reader chapter books!

…to early reader chapter books!

I am so excited to share this news with all of you! This is just the beginning and I can’t wait to see where this newest journey takes me!

If you are interested in learning more please head over to www.katiesbooknook.com or visit my Facebook Business Page.

Please leave comments below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time!

The Get Fit Journey: Step 1 (Goals)

Last week I shared with you the first year of my get fit journey (364 Days Since My Journey Began). I want to spend the next couple weeks delving in a little deeper and share with you how I was able to accomplish it.

I knew the first thing I needed to do was figure out exactly what my goal was. I knew for me it wasn’t about a number on a scale or the number on the tag of my jeans. For me it was about feeling better and being healthy, but what exactly did that mean. How would I know when I accomplished my goal? Enter the idea of a SMART goal. SMART goals have proven to help people stick to their goals for the long haul.

So, what is a SMART goal? SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I am a firm believer that setting a goal for yourself in any area of your life keeping these five things in mind will help you make any dream a reality!

Let’s start from the beginning with making your goal SPECIFIC. Having a broad goal such as “lose weight” or “get healthy” sound good but you need something a little more concrete so you can have some sense of exactly what you are working toward.

To help come up with a specific goal it is helpful to think of the  “What”, “When” and “How” of your goal. “getting healthy” was my endgame but what exactly does that look like? I knew I needed something more specific that I could track, measure my progress and would ultimately represent “getting healthy” to me.

I had been thinking about becoming a “runner” for quite some time but I was in no condition to run for more than 10 seconds at a time. So, that became the “What” of my goal. I decided that running a 5K would represent “getting healthy” for me.

Next I moved on to the “When”. Being in a state that can get darn cold in the winter and having never run a mile in my life I set my eyes on spring. I knew that would give me the time I needed to work toward that 5K without trying to push myself too far too fast.

Lastly, the “How”. I was pretty much starting out at zero so I knew that I was going to have to start slow and work my way up. So I decided to start with using my lunch break at work to go for a walk 3 days a week. After a month of that I downloaded the “C25K” app for my phone and used that as my guide to lead me to being able to run a 5K.

Once you have a SPECIFIC goal in mind you need to make sure that it is MEASURABLE. You have to have a way to measure your progress. If you can’t see yourself progressing you are very likely to give up and quit. Measuring my progress was pretty easy as I was using the “C25K” app at the time and was able to see myself running longer each time I used the app.

Next up is making sure your goal is ATTAINABLE. While it is good to think big when goal setting if you make goal too big you’ll set yourself up for failure. You need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you really believe you can achieve it and you have the resources available to you to accomplish it. You need to make sure that your goal falls in line with your priorities. Part of this for me was family time. I don’t get to spend the amount of time with my family that I would like as it is. I was not willing to give up time with my family to do this. For me that meant getting up before the family, hitting the gym on my lunch hour and going to bed after everyone else.

Your goal also needs to be RELEVANT. Your goal has to be meaningful to you and fit with your lifestyle. If I hated running and I had decided to make running a 5K my goal I never would have stuck with it. You need to ask yourself why you want to reach your goal. The reasons why you want to achieve your goal are going to provide you with the momentum and inspiration you need when the going gets tough, and it will get tough!

Lastly, your goal needs to be TIMELY. You really can’t gauge your progress and tweak your approach if you don’t have a deadline in mind. This will also help to hold you accountable. I would have days where I just didn’t want to go out and run but I knew that I would feel good once I did it and having that end date in mind and knowing if I didn’t get out there I was setting myself up to fail really helped keep me motivated.

Once you have your SMART goal all set and you are working towards it make sure to check in now and then and see if you need to make any adjustments to help you along the way.

Just in case you are wondering, I did accomplish my goal and ran my first 5K in March of this year. I now have several under my belt and have set my sights on the next goal which is to run a 10K. My 10K is coming up next month and I have been hard at work training for it!

If you are a fan of worksheets like me, SparkPeople.com has a great goal-setting worksheet that you can use to create your goal right here.

What are your goals? How are you measuring your progress? Let me know in the comments below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter!

Good luck reaching your goals whatever they may be!

Books We Are Reading This Week – August 19, 2015

PicMonkey Collage

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means!! It’s time to take a peek at some of the great books we read this week.

I See Summer is a great bilingual book all about the fun things to see and do in summer. We had a great time looking at the illustrations and I am sure the kids loved mom trying to read in Spanish.

In, Out and All Aroundwas a book that the whole family really enjoyed. Mom and Dad even got in on the action trying to find out which snail was ready for a dance. Each page features a picture with a bunch of similar snails and it is your job to find out which one is different. It was the perfect challenge for a 3 and a 1 year old. This book was a huge win for us and we will be looking for more titles by this author.

In Where Is Bear?we follow several forest animals as they play hide-and-seek. Rabbit starts out and finds most of the other animals fairly quickly but the biggest animal of all, Bear, is nowhere to be found. We follow the animal friends on their adventure to find Bear! This was a really cute story with great rhymes that the kids really enjoyed.

Construction Kitties takes us out for a day at the construction site where we follow four kitties to work. They spend the day digging and moving dirt to help create a beautiful playground for the neighborhood. The bright illustrations in this book and the straightforward text made this book very engaging for the kids.

Lastly this week I  want to share First the EggI love this book! It starts with the classic question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? It then follows up with the life-cycle of other creatures like the frog and butterfly. This book has beautiful illustrations and uses diecuts in each page in a really clever way to help tell the story. Soph had a really great time trying to finish each sentence.

What are you reading this week? Let me know below or over on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

Learning the Alphabet – Letter O

Both Letter O Coloring

Next up on our journey through the alphabet is the letter O. We are starting with the letters used in each of the kids names since they are already sort of familiar with them and will hopefully make this more organized approach to learning their letters a little less overwhelming. Truth be told this week, Soph wasn’t really feeling it so this should be a short post!! We never push the organized learning on the kids and when they say they are done we are done. I feel like this is important so we don’t burn them out and they see learning as something fun not a chore.

We started with the “Cover the Number” dot sticker sheet from This Reading Mama’s Learning the Alphabet – Letter O pack. I loved this sheet because each spot on the sheet for a dot sticker is numbered 1-10 so I had Soph start by identifying the number “1” and place a sticker on it then moved on to the number 2 and so on until we had them all covered. This allowed us to work on her being able to recognize a number when she sees it. Soph loved this activity and was super excited when she got one right on the first try. Once she was finished putting the stickers on she of course wanted to cut around the edges of the paper so we got some good scissor practice in as well. Two birds, one stone! I love it!

Soph Letter O Dot Sticker

Next up was good ol’ fashioned coloring! I grabbed a coloring page from the Learning the Alphabet Letter O pack and set both kids down with some crayons. This kept them busy for a few minutes before Jack wandered off to do something else.

Soph Letter O Coloring

For Soph it was back to more cutting as we did the cut and paste on the letter O activity. She had a great time cutting out each picture and pasting it to the letter O. As she was cutting and pasting we went over the name for each picture and talked about how they all have the same beginning sound which is the sound the letter O makes.

Soph Letter O

Lastly, we pulled out Soph’s Preschool readiness workbook (this one is similar to the one we have:Big Preschool Workbook). I picked out a couple different sheets focusing on the letter O but we only got through the “What Starts with the Letter O” coloring page before she was done for the day. She did have a great time coloring and going over the beginning sounds for each picture again reinforcing that they all have the same beginning sound.

Sophie Coloring O

Overall, I think we had a successful time with the Letter O and can’t wait to share some more of our letter work with you.

How are you teaching your kids the alphabet? I am always looking for new ideas. Please share below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter.

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

364 Days Since My Journey Began

It has been 364 days since I woke and decided that enough was enough. I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live. I had let my weight get out of control and I had been dealing with the effects of being obese for a while and knew something had to change. Tomorrow wasn’t good enough I had to start that day! In the 364 days that have past I have lost 100 pounds (give or take depending on how delicious dinner was the night before!) and gained more than I could have ever imagined.

I am excited and nervous to share my story with you over the next couple weeks and mortified to show some photos (slim pickin’s! Pun intended). I am by no means an expert and what has worked for me may not work for you but if one person reads this and feels like it is possible and they can make the change to a healthier lifestyle it is worth sharing a few photos that make me uncomfortable. I want to share with you my motivation, lessons I learned along the way and ultimately how I was able to do it and my plan for the future. This is a life-long journey, I don’t get to quit and go back to old habits because I have gotten to where I wanted to be. Now I find out what I am really made of!

Before

Let’s start at the beginning, I was a 31-year-old mother of two and by any doctor’s calculation I was obese. I was never really concerned with the number on the scale though, the bigger problem for me was how I felt. Everyday I woke up not happy with how I looked or how I felt. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I would nearly have a panic attack if someone wanted me to be in a picture. I have so few photos of my children and I together because I refused to have my picture taken. I dreaded buying new clothes because it was never about how much I liked something or how confident it made me feel it was always about finding something that fit that wasn’t hideous or horribly uncomfortable.

I won’t lie, a lot of my problem with my weight was pure vanity. I didn’t want people to see me this overweight but more than how I looked it was the way that I felt that was the biggest motivator in my decision to make a change. I wasn’t able to play with my kids the way that I wanted to and they deserved. I couldn’t make it up a set of stairs without being winded. In my twenties, I like most people felt invincible, I never worried about how my weight would affect my health in the long run. Now I have kids to think about and it is my responsibility to make sure that I do everything in my power to be around for them for as long as I can.

IMG_0550

I knew a change had  to be made but it seemed impossible. I have two kids, I am gone from home 12 hours each day for work and there just seemed to be no way that I could make the changes that I needed to make to live the healthy life I wanted so I just never tried. Then came August 15, 2014 and everything changed. I had had enough and things were going to change that day.

I am now 364 days in and gearing up for day 365. To celebrate I am running the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Milwaukee, WI! I heard about this race from a girlfriend of mine and as soon as I found out the race was August 15th exactly one year from the day that changed my life I knew I had to do it. This will be my chance to really prove to myself how far I have come in just one year.

Wish me luck tomorrow! Bring on the mud and bring on the obstacles! I am ready to show that course who’s boss!

Fun with the kids

Is weight something that you struggle with? Do you feel like it’s impossible to find the time to live a healthy lifestyle or have you found that balance? I would love to start a conversation about this. Let me know in the comments below or find me over on Facebook or Twitter.
Until next time!

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