Tag Archives: living healthy

Get Fit Journey Step 3 (Workouts)

Treadmill

If you have been following along on my journey that has led me to lose 100 pounds in a year we started out by talking about why I wanted to get fit, how I was going to measure my progress, and how I changed my eating habits. Next up I wanted to talk about some of the workouts that I have added to my daily routine.

I will state again that I am obviously not a doctor and what works for me may not necessarily work for you but I have truly fallen in love with the “programs” I have found and want to share them with you.

Let me start out by saying that when doing my research on the exercise portion of my journey I became VERY discouraged very quickly. I kept reading the same thing over and over: If you want to lose a significant amount of weight you have to work out for 60 minutes most days of the week. That one sentence alone kept me from moving forward for a long time. I am a mom of two young children and work a full-time job with a 45 minute commute each way. Where in the world was I going to find a 60 minute chunk of time for my self (I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself!)? To make things even more difficult I had promised myself that I wouldn’t take more time away from my kids. I don’t have enough time with them as it is so I wasn’t willing to lose even more of it. This all became very overwhelming for me and I started to think that this was too much, I couldn’t do this.

Then I started coming across some articles (like this one from SparkPeople) that explained that yes, 60 minutes a day, most days of the week is what you need BUT it can be done in several chunks as small at 10 minutes! This made things seem a little more possible. I knew I was in no shape to head straight into 60 minutes a day but this gave me somewhere to start.

So I started with 20 minutes a day. I work at a desk all day and had gotten in the habit of sitting at my desk until lunch, walking the 50 feet to the lunch room and sitting on my butt again until lunch was over and then head back to my desk and sit back down for the rest of the day. So, I decided to start taking walks on my lunch break. This was a way for me to ease into exercise and I didn’t have to take time away from my family. I found a great public trail not too far from my office and started heading there three days a week. As the weather started to change I knew that Wisconsin winter weather was not conducive to an outdoor walk on lunch so I decided to sign up at a local gym for $10 a month and use the treadmill on the days that I would have gone for my walk. I figured while I was at it I would try my hand a “running”. I downloaded the C25K app and successfully used that app to run my first 5K in March! I have since moved on to the 10KRunner app and am on track to run my first 10K in two weeks!

After about a month I was ready to add a little more. I got a text from one of my girlfriends one day that knew that I was trying to live healthier that she had found a workout that she thought I would really enjoy (I have the most amazing and supportive friends and coworkers a girl could ask for, but we will talk about that later!) and she thought I should give it a try!

This was when Briana Christine, the Bikini Body Mommy entered my life! Briana is known for her 90 day challenges. This was exactly the type of workout I needed and it continues to be a favorite of mine. I never miss a day (who would have ever thought I would look forward to working out?)! I love Bikini Body Mommy for so many reasons the first of which, it’s FREE (she has added a members only platform with bonus material that I have since joined but the 90 day challenges are free and amazing)!! Second, I don’t have to think about it. I wake up in the morning and open up my email and the workout for that day is there waiting for me. Third, It is truly for EVERYBODY!! Every age, shape, fitness level, everyone can do this. Why, because you can go at your own pace. Bikini Body Mommy workouts are done in a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) format, which basically means you work really, really hard for a specified amount of time and then take a break and keep repeating that pattern for the workout. This really allowed me to not pay so much attention to whether or not I could do as many reps as Briana but I could do what I could do. One of the things I love most about this program is Briana’s encouragement to keep track of your scores for each exercise. This was a great way for me to check in and see how much I was improving with each workout. In the beginning I don’t think I could do jumping jacks for 20 seconds forget about the minute that she wanted me to do them. Fast forward and now not only can I do them for the full minute but I make an effort to beat my previous score. While all these things are great the number one thing I love about Bikini Body Mommy is that IT IS REAL!! I turn on my computer and I see someone I can relate to. I see the kids running around, I see that some workouts are better than others, I see her struggle sometimes just like me.

All of the Bikini Body Mommy workouts are around 20 minutes long so I decided that I could take 20 minutes before I went to bed to eek out a workout so now I was up to 40 minutes a day and didn’t have to take any time away from my children. Now I just needed my last 20 minutes. Enter the 4:30 a.m. wake up call!! Yep that’s right! A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!

About 4 months into my journey I discovered Blogilates! I have switched things around these days and hang out with Bikini Body Mommy in the morning and Cassey over at Blogilates at night before bed. She posts a playlist of videos on YouTube everyday (again it’s super easy which I like) focusing on a different area of the body and the playlist usually takes 45 minutesish to complete and they will kick your butt in the best way!! She offers two beginner calendars (which I highly recommend) as well as her monthly workout calendar. The playlist is made up of several videos ranging from 3 minutes long to about 30 minutes long so it was very easy for me in the beginning to pick a few to get to my 20 minutes and just do those. I have since fallen in love with these workouts and now do the full playlist everyday! I love Cassey upbeat personality, she is so positive and pushes you in a really good way! You will be burning and you will be sore the next day but you will LOVE it!!

As I said before these are what I have found works for me. I am a firm believer that when it comes to working out you have to find something that you like to do. If something gets boring try something else and don’t be afraid to try new things!

What are some of your favorite workouts? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

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!

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!

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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