Cheaters Never Win, Unless It’s With Moderation

Top of the morning/afternoon/evening/night/whatever time you’re reading this to my readers! This week I’m going to share with you a secret of my weight loss that not a lot of people understand. Just because I eat healthy most of the time it doesn’t mean that I don’t still get to enjoy some of my favorite foods. So many programs and people will tell you that in order to see results you have to completely change the way that you eat and avoid anything that’s bad for you. But the truth of the matter is, that’s no way to live your life. It’s absolutely not sustainable for long periods of time. If you’re giving up everything that you want to eat, you’re left with eating stuff you don’t want to eat and how can you be expected to keep that up long enough to see results? You can’t. I was recently introduced to the idea of the 80/20 rule which allows you to balance your diet by eating well 80% of the time and giving yourself 20% of leeway. This seems to be the way I work my cheat meals that works well for me.

So here’s one of the secrets to my success, I’ve never completely stopped eating the things that I love. For me, the number one craving I get that is hard to satisfy while keeping a healthy lifestyle is pizza. I can blame my Italian roots, or the fact that growing up we had pizza every Saturday night, but I think that really when it comes down to it I just really love pizza. I used to eat pizza pretty frequently, and when you pay for delivery it’s definitely not cheap. Now I definitely have my days where I go all out on carbs and eat a real legitimate pizza, but most of the time I try to stick to thin crust. It’s a modification, sure, but it’s definitely better than not getting any pizza at all and it honestly satisfies my cravings. Most of the time I just buy frozen thin crust pizza and have it on the days I do my long runs. With how many calories I burn, I can usually eat the whole thing for dinner and still be under my calorie total for the day. Which feels pretty awesome. Lately though I’ve been trying a lower carb meal plan so I haven’t been able to really eat pizza unless I seriously prepare for it. But you can bet that on my cheat days it’s definitely what I want.

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Last week’s cheat day dinner- an incredible build your own pizza from Blaze Pizza!

That’s another thing you should keep in mind, everybody needs cheat days. No one wants to eat salads and clean food every single day. You’ve gotta give yourself some leniency, especially given that sometimes you need to eat a little crazy to kick start your metabolism if you’re in a slump and have stalled in weight loss. Personally, I reserve my cheat days for Fridays for the simple reason that it’s Chris’s day off of work and we usually like to go out and eat or he wants to cook something that doesn’t fit into my meal parameters. This allows me to have a day that I can look forward to for most of the week, and keeps me from cheating on other days. If I know I have a cheat day coming up that’s no more than 6 days away, I can stick to my healthy eating for the most part.

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Recent cheat day included a trip to Wahlburgers Orlando which had the awesome option of putting any burger on a chop salad to make it lower carb! So I made up for it with Sweet Potato Tots instead. 

Another fun part, at least in my opinion, about making changes to your diet and eating is getting to explore new recipes. I’ve got several pinterest boards with oodles and oodles of recipes on them that are healthy. Some are paleo, keto, whole30, and some are just low calorie but I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to broaden my culinary horizons and find some new foods that I love. 2 years ago I would not eat sweet potatoes after a bad incident from my childhood that involved me getting sick and it being orange and scarring. Now I eat them probably every other week in some form. I’ve spent time perfecting my mashed sweet potato recipe and I’m pretty proud of it. In my 25 years I had never even tried Brussel sprouts until this past December, and now I can’t get enough of them. I have a favorite recipe that I got from my godmother, but I also love to use them in other recipes. I made this incredible pork and Brussel sprouts skillet a few weeks back that was seriously one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever made and it had less than 10g carbs per serving. Prior to my weight loss journey beginning, I made pasta probably twice a week and my “recipes” were a handful of family recipes and the occasional chicken dish I had thrown together. Now I make a new recipe almost every week and repeat the ones I really love when I crave them. It makes me feel like a real cook.

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This paleo pork and brussel sprouts skillet was seriously the bomb diggity. 

The point I’m trying to make here is that just because you want to lose weight and feel or look better it doesn’t mean that you have to give up eating the things that you love. If you’re like me, you might even discover new foods that you enjoy and you never would have given a second glance previously. Also I would like to add that when you’re first starting out, don’t go for broke and start eating nothing but salads or you will never stick with it. Initially I just controlled my portions and counted calories and was losing weight at a pretty quick clip. I’m almost 2 years into my journey and I just started trying a low carb diet about a month ago, it’s all about trying things and seeing what works for you. In the past, I didn’t need to do low carb to lose weight but recently I wanted to see if trying it would do anything positive for me. Since I started, I’ve lost half an inch from my waist and about 6 pounds when I spent months at the same weight. Basically try a lot of different things and see what works best for you! Weight loss is an individual activity, just because some crazy diet worked for someone else it doesn’t mean it will have the same results for you. Listen to your body and give it what it wants.

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And for me that means my body wants pizza. Always. So I have to cut it back a bit. 

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Lent: Or How I Learned About Sacrifice

As those of you, like me, who were raised Catholic may know we have reached the Lenten season leading into Easter. For those of you not raised in the Catholic Church, or brow beaten into going to Sunday school… Lent is the period of 40 days prior to Easter in which we spend time praying, making sacrifices, and not eating meat on Fridays- and fasting if you’re confirmed! Anyway the biggest part of lent, after the whole not eating meat on Fridays/fasting is the Lenten sacrifice. For the 40 days, you are expected to give something up or find some way to better yourself as a human. Though my Catholic faith is less than consistent at this point, I always attempted to participate in lent and chose to sacrifice each year in lieu of bettering myself. This year however, I’ve chosen to work on bettering myself- physically, mentally, and spiritually. But before we get to this year, let’s review some of my past lents!

Growing up, once you make first communion (2nd grade) you’re expected to begin observing lent and start participating in the whole sacrifice thing. For many years of my childhood I recall giving up something rather minuscule like ice cream. Which, while I love ice cream is not something I was eating every single day or anything. It was tough, for a kid but probably not all that difficult past elementary school. When I was younger (and even still) my family would go to Disney pretty often, always in the spring before Easter as it’s typically less crowded. I remember us going to one of our favorite restaurants, Alfredo’s in Italy at EPCOT, and ordering spaghetti and meatballs and my mom reminding me that it was Friday and I couldn’t have the meatballs. As an 8-year old I was absolutely devastated by this news. Instead of letting me absolutely lose it and burst into tears in the restaurant, my mom told me that we would just set the meatballs aside and box them up and bring them back to the room with us and I could eat them tomorrow. I stopped my almost-tears from flowing and agreed to this arrangement, pleased that my sacrifice needed only be temporary. However later that night, when I realized I wouldn’t be able to have my traditional Disney dessert of a Mickey Premium bar, the weight of what I had given up really hit me. I think this was probably one of the first times I really understood what it meant to give something up.

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You can’t see the devastation on my face in this picture, but giving up ice cream was hard. 

Let’s fast forward a few years to middle school, where my typical Lenten sacrifice was chocolate. While this may not seem a big sacrifice to some of you, it was huge to preteen/teenage Meg. Chocolate has always been a vice for me, a reward when I’ve done well and something to lift my spirits when I’ve experienced some form of sadness or defeat. Giving up chocolate for 40 days meant I wouldn’t be able to celebrate an achievement or commiserate a loss in a way. While ice cream was something few and far between for me, chocolate was a much more present sacrifice. I learned that sacrifice was something that was meant to be hard, not something casual that was a bummer here and there. When I hit high school, I really stepped up my game for lent and decided to try and give up snacks and sweets of all kinds. Obviously I could partake in fruit and the like, but I wasn’t allowed any: candy, ice cream, cake, cookie, brownie, etc. and also wasn’t allowed to snack between meals. This way I ensured that I would fast on Fridays because I had no other choice, snacks were out. Those were some tough 40 day periods, but when I came out the other side successful it meant a lot. It meant that I could give up a lot and still get by each day without these things I thought I needed.

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A slightly more mature (aka middle school) Meg with my friend Nicole… also at Disney because that’s where all my pictures are from apparently. 

Now let’s get around to my point, which is that this weight loss journey was about a lot of big sacrifices. I gave up a lot of things that I loved, and never thought I could live without. Truly. That’s how addicted I was to some of these things. Pasta was a part of my weekly, sometimes daily life in the past and to cut that out because of all the carbs and calories was really tough for me. In the last 20 months I’ve made quite a lot of sacrifice in the service of bettering myself physically. It’s time that the rest of my life start sacrificing things in order to better myself in other ways. This year for lent I decided not to give something up specifically, but rather just work on improving little things. I’ve starts trying to spend less time on social media- Facebook was always my go to scrolling place when I was bored or had nothing better to do. Now, instead I’m trying to spend extra time reading or writing posts for this blog. I’m trying to unplug and just enjoy things as they happen instead of constantly attempting to capture an elusive moment with my phone. As for the spiritual betterment, that’s a work in progress. But for the time being, I’m exploring my options- mostly by doing yoga and trying to use breathing exercises when I’m stressed. Working on calming the inner me and becoming mellower or something. Like I said, it’s definitely a work in progress.

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A photo with my dad & Shaun from last weekend at EPCOT. I’m really proud of the definition in my arms that’s showing up now! Happy Easter Season! 

Are any of you participating in Lent or any form of self-sacrifice for the time being? Maybe for a prescribed period, maybe for an indefinite amount of time. I would love to hear from anyone working on bettering themselves!

 

Tuna Patties & 21 Day Fix Approved Chicken Enchiladas

Time for another couple of recipes on this week’s edition of Meal Prep Monday- this week I made tuna patties/burgers for my lunches and 21 Day Fix chicken enchiladas for dinner. Both of these are fairly low cal and high in protein. Each tuna burger is 230 calories with only 10g of fat and 24g of protein per serving, I served mine on a sandwich thin for an extra hundred calories. You could add tartar sauce or lemon if you so desire. Each serving of the chicken enchiladas is 530 calories at just 10g of fat and 57g of protein, I’ve been craving Mexican food lately and enchiladas are a personal favorite of mine so I was looking for a healthier recipe. In the past I’ve made a chicken enchilada casserole that was pretty good but I wanted the real thing, well a healthier version of the real thing. This one definitely satiated my craving! My tuna patties recipe can be found here, at Simply Recipes. The 21 Day Fix chicken enchiladas is courtesy of Burn This Mama Down- here.

I decided to start with the tuna patties first, as the recipe recommended I chill them for an hour before cooking, so that they stay together better. As usual, I slightly altered the ingredients in the recipe to suit me and recommend you do the same. In place of Dijon mustard (which I dislike), I used Ken’s lite honey mustard and instead of crumbling up white bread I used seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs (which I had on hand). I also skipped the part that suggested I saute the patties in olive oil and butter, instead just using the olive oil. After combining all of my ingredients and shaping the tuna into patties I let them chill in the fridge for an hour as I started prepping my enchiladas.

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These babies are ready to chilllllllllllllll (haha pretend I’m funny)

Seeing as how I want to keep the recipes separate, we won’t do things exactly chronologically in this write up. So skipping ahead by an hour, I heated up a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a medium-large skillet and put these patties in to cook.

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Let’s get cookin’, good lookin’ (I’ve got jokes) 

After 3 or so minutes on each side (and another tablespoon of olive oil before flipping) these patties were done and ready to be packed up for my lunches for the week. The recipe made 4 patties and seeing as how my Fridays tend to be a little off the cuff for meals , it was perfect to get me through the week. Plus when you have more than 5-6 servings of the same food in a week it starts to get a little monotonous.

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These patties are a little crispy, but for my first try not bad! 

Now on to the chicken enchiladas! First you’re going to need to preheat your oven to 350. The prep for this one takes a bit longer, as the recipe calls for the chicken breast to be already cooked and shredded. So I used a quick and easy method to cook the chicken with a southwest flair. I simmered 3 cups of chicken broth on the stove and added my 3 breasts as well as 2 bay leaves. I cooked the chicken for about 16 minutes- 8 on each side flipping them halfway through. Because cooking on the stove top isn’t always accurate I used a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature was 165 before I set them aside to shred. While I was waiting on the chicken to cook and cool, I combined the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl (15 oz of black beans, 2 cans Rotel 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, and 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Southwest Seasoning) and after shredding the chicken I added to the bowl and mixed.

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I know, it doesn’t look very delicious now but wait- there’s more! 

Next we’re going to heat up our tortillas in the microwave for a bit so they are easier to handle. The ones I used were Mission “super size” white corn tortillas and I made a line of filling in the center and then rolled them up placing the seams down in the pan. After doing that 9 more times, you’ve got a full pan of enchiladas (or in my case 2). I used one large can of Old El Paso red enchilada sauce to cover them and then sprinkled about a cup and a half reduced fat Mexican cheese on top before placing them in the oven for 30 minutes.

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All 10 enchiladas, covered with sauce but pre-cheese. 

After 30 minutes in the oven, the chicken enchiladas were done cooking and ready to pack up for my dinners. Because as usual I used a larger amount of chicken than required (2.4 lbs instead of 2), I ended up with extra filling for the enchiladas so I just put them into each container along with 2 enchiladas. they fell apart a bit when packing up, but they don’t need to be pretty, just tasty.

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Fresh out of the oven, still looking pretty and smelling delicious. 

This week’s recipes were relatively easy to make and super delicious. As always, I’ll write up the recipes with my modifications below, if you decide to try either one out feel free to comment and talk about your experience. Happy prepping!

Tuna Patties 

4 servings – 230 calories each

Ingredients 

  • 12 oz. tuna (canned or bagged)
  • 2 teaspoons Ken’s lite honey mustard
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water (or liquid from the tuna)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onion
  • Salt & ground pepper to taste
  • A couple squirts Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 egg raw
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Drain tuna: Drain the liquid from the tuna cans. If you are using tuna packed in water, reserve a tablespoon of the tuna water, and add a teaspoon of olive oil to the tuna mixture in the next step.
  2. Mix tuna with mustard, bread, zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, hot sauce, salt, pepper, egg: In a medium bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, torn white bread, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste the mixture before adding the egg to see if it needs more seasoning to your taste. Mix in the egg.
  3. Form into patties, chill: Divide the mixture into 4 parts. With each part, form into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Place onto a wax paper lined tray and chill for an hour. (You can skip the chilling if you want, chilling just helps the patties stay together when you cook them.)
  4. Sauté in skillet: Heat the olive oil and a little butter (for taste) in a cast iron or stick-free skillet on medium high. Gently place the patties in the pan, and cook until nicely browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.

21 Day Fix Approved Chicken Enchiladas 

5 servings – 530 calories each

Ingredients 

  • 3 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded as described above)
  • 15 oz. can of black beans (reduced sodium) – drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans Rotel tomatoes & diced green chilis (no salt added) – drained
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1.5 cups reduced fat Mexican cheese
  • 1 large can Old El Paso red enchilada sauce

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine chicken, beans, chilis, tomatoes, yogurt and seasoning in a large bowl.
  3. Heat tortillas in the microwave before assembling.
  4. Add chicken mixture to each tortilla, roll up, and place in baking dish seam side down.
  5. Pour enchilada sauce over enchiladas so that all of the tortillas are covered.
  6. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.

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1 serving of the tuna patty – on a sandwich thin with some arugula and all 5 servings of enchiladas with the leftover filling. 

Time After Time-hop

Reflecting on the past is something we all do, sometimes we moon over the good old days or recollect our sorrows. As a society we care so much about our past that we’ve invented 2 separate days to share our memories with the social media word- throwback Thursday and flashback Friday. One of the biggest proponents of reviewing our past has been the rise of the app “Timehop” which gives you a daily dose of all your social media posts on this day for multiple years, as far back as your social media history goes. Like many millennials, I used to spend a lot of my time posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so my Timehop tends to be filled with gems.

As much as I enjoy cringing at the Facebook statuses an 18 year old Meg thought was worthy enough to share, after my weight loss journey it has provided me with a lot to ponder. On the days that I see pictures from 2-3 years ago I find myself wondering how much I ate that day and how I was feeling about myself at the time. Truthfully most of the time I know the answer is that I ate far too much and probably felt pretty sorry for myself. Sometimes I see posts about me trying to diet or getting back to the gym and how good it felt. I tried so many times before to improve myself- lose weight or get into better shape, and none of these attempts ever lasted longer than a couple weeks. I try to think about what it is that deterred me from achieving my health goals back then, how I could let one slip up get me off the wagon- so to speak.

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January 3, 2013 – “Bought loads of veggies for what I’m calling the Healthy Initiative so that dieting sounds fun.” This lasted all of maybe 1 month. 

The real explanation for why I never kept up or committed to health in the past is that I wasn’t in the right place mentally, and I didn’t have the support I needed. When I began this journey 20 months ago, I had the best possible support system. The love and support of a man who truly believed in me, a best friend/roommate in crazy good shape (despite never giving up cheese) to not only keep me on track but encourage me, a literal superwoman for a godmother who provided endless inspiration and support, and a whole community of losers (weight losers) on Reddit to keep me accountable.

However the wisdom I really want to share with all of my readers is the importance of being open and honest in weight loss. When I look back at those pictures of the overweight girl occasionally smiling uncomfortably, I’m reminded of the things that girl did to make herself feel better. To avoid judgement from that same supportive roommate, I would wait until after she was asleep to make myself 2 grilled cheeses and dip them in Thousand Island dressing while I watched Netflix and avoided going to sleep at a reasonable hour. I hid my body in baggy, mostly black t shirts and knee length shorts or jeans. I would hide the shame I felt about how I looked by burying my feelings down deep and distracting myself with excessive internet usage and binge watching television and movies. These days I still watch entirely too much TV and movies, but I consider myself a pop culture enthusiast so we’ll call that normal.

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March 17, 2014 – This girl was very dishonest with herself about what she was eating and how she felt. But that girl is no longer! 

I no longer hide anything, I mean I did make an entire blog dedicated to talking about me and my fitness journey and my feelings, blah blah blah. I record every calorie I eat to the best of my ability in MyFitnessPal. I wear dresses that show off my legs and tank tops that show off my linebacker sized shoulders and arms. I don’t keep my feelings bottled up for the most part (hey old habits die hard!) in that I consciously try to talk about the things that upset me and be honest with the people in my life.

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This is by far the shortest dress I’ve ever owned, and I love the way it looks on me now! This skinny girl is very happy. 

Losing weight and bettering yourself overall isn’t by any means easy, but it is a pursuit that’s truly worthwhile. While I may occasionally struggle to stick to my healthy lifestyle (Taco Bell I’m looking at you), I do my best to stay committed to being the best that I can be. Maybe someday you too will look back at your previous photos and think that you can’t even recognize the person you see and it’s not a bad thing. When I see that girl from even 2 years ago and realize I barely even remember what it was like to be her, I swell with pride in the woman I’ve become. With the existence of Timehop I’ll never truly forget the old Meg, but I will always look at her and know she would be proud of what I’ve done and how happy I am now.

What Comes Next For Our Hero?

I would like to apologize for my lack of entries this month, but it’s been really crazy with the holidays and such. Here’s one last entry to wrap up the year since I achieved my weight loss goal finally! It has occurred to me that I never really explained what my ultimate goals were with my weight loss, especially since I so infrequently use the numbers on the scale in my blog. The truth is, that for a while I was pretty embarrassed of how high my starting weight was and didn’t want anyone to know just how far gone I was at the start. Now that I’m below my goal weight and I’m no longer ashamed of the number on the scale I’m not afraid to share my weight or where I started. When I began this journey, my weight was not the highest it had ever been but it was certainly much higher than I ever expected to be at 264.6 lbs and a BMI of 39.1, which is right on the edge of being classified as morbidly obese. Now here I sit about 18 months later weighing 163.6 lbs with a BMI of 24.2 (healthy weight!) and in the best shape of my life. I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made and hope I can continue to reach future goals going forward.

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12/16/16 – I reached my weight loss goal! 

Now comes the part where I admit to you that I’m not perfect and I’m only human and have legitimate fears, one of which has to do with my weight loss. I’ve lived my life as an overweight person for a very long time, more than half of my 25 years. For the last year and a half, I’ve lived my life as someone losing weight and I’ve been pretty ok at it, to put things modestly. But what absolutely terrifies me is what comes next, when I reach the goal weight. I have no idea how to live as someone maintaining weight, as it’s not something I’ve ever had to do before and I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be very good at it. Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying about things like gaining the weight back and ending off worse for it, but I do worry a lot so that’s not particularly unusual for me.

What is unusual for me, is having finally reached this goal and not knowing where to go next. I work well with linear things like schedules, lists, and goals. When I started this weight loss journey, I never really expected to get this far or to ever make it to the goal I had set initially (which was 200 pounds and I have long since surpassed). Now as I have surpassed my V-W Day (Victory in Weight Loss)  I worry about the next step of my journey. When I began this noble quest, I knew that this was a lifelong journey and I was going to make changes in my lifestyle that were permanent. I guess I just didn’t expect to reach my goal so quickly, not that 18 months is a quick amount of time to lose 100 pounds, but it is much faster than I expected for sure. Based on my previous weight loss struggles, I didn’t even think I would make it this far.

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December of 2013 weighing in around 279/ December of 2016 weighing around 165

When I started running I used the Couch to 5k plan and loved having a schedule, then I got signed up for a 10k and began the Bridge to 10k program. After my 10k I took a couple days off and relaxed, I said I wasn’t going to run for a week but I ended up lacing up my shoes and heading out for a run 2 days later. When I finished my two and a half mile run, I got home and felt very odd, sort of empty, when normally I feel great after a run. I realized that I felt empty because I had nothing I was working towards, I had completed my 10k and had no future goal for my running. This was when I allowed my godmother to swindle me into doing the Disney Half Marathon in January 2017. Having several months before I needed to start training granted me the freedom to take things easy and spend the summer running shorter distances and working on my pace which I am certainly grateful for. Around October 4th I began my half marathon training program and was so happy to have a set schedule leading up to the half marathon next weekend.  But I’m getting away from the point here, which is I like schedules and programs and when I’m without them I tend to get distracted easily like I am currently.

Another great concern I have is that after losing all of this weight I will have become someone who is never content with their body. I’ve lost 101 pounds and I still occasionally find myself noticing things I want to change, like how I wish my arms would be slimmer or that my tree trunk thighs would get smaller (granted I’ve lost eight and a half inches from them) but I am my own harshest critic. I suppose as long as I’m still working toward a goal (finishing the half marathon in this case- which is 7 days away) I’ll have room to work on my body and won’t have to worry about my weight so much.

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Stretching like a dork before the Jingle Bell Run 5k in Bradenton earlier this month, it looks like I have no idea what I’m doing but I swear I’m a real runner. 

Basically I just wanted to take this last entry of the year to talk out some of my anxieties and show you all that I’m not some awesome perfect weight loss guru. I’m just as unsure and anxious as anyone else, maybe even more so. If anyone else has struggled with the same thoughts or has been through it, I would absolutely appreciate comments and discussions on the matter.

Thanks For The Memories (And The Tips)

I would like to start off with an apology to all my faithful readers for missing the last couple weeks of posts. I’ve been incredibly busy with school and sales have been picking up on my Etsy shop so I’ve been stretched a bit thin. I definitely wanted to take some time before the holiday this week to talk about what I’m thankful for especially regarding my weight loss and fitness. I also intend on sharing some of my “tricks of the trade” for getting through Thanksgiving without winding up overstuffed (stuffed, like a turkey. Get it? I like puns, I’m not sorry). So kick back and enjoy this post full of sentimental nonsense and a couple eating tips.

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Had an early Thanksgiving with my second family, the Tyos over the weekend! I’m so thankful that they always have room for me at their table. 

As we approach the day in which we give thanks, I typically tend to take some time to reflect on what I’m thankful for like many others. Mostly so that when I’m inevitably asked on Thursday while sitting around a table full of people, what I’m thankful for I can be prepared with an answer. In the past it’s always been something smarmy like my family, or more recently my dad for always taking care of me and my brother and keeping us together even without my mom. But this year there’s a lot of things I’m thankful for besides the generic answers.

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Chris is of course #1 on the list, the Superman to my Wonder Woman. Hence the Halloween costumes (this is also the most recent picture of us such a coincidence). 

I’m thankful for my boyfriend and biggest supporter throughout this journey, Chris, without whom I would’ve never made it this far or probably even past the first month. I’ve tried losing weight so many times before and I’ve never stuck with it for more than a month. Thanks to his endless support and a bit of my perseverance I’m going 17 months strong and have lost 98 pounds. I’m also incredibly thankful for my godmother, who’s been a huge inspiration for my fitness journey and has helped me through my weak moments and not only started but has supported my running habit for nearly a year. Yeah, I said habit, like a “drug habit” because it’s a serious addiction. I wake up at 6:30 am 3 days a week to run, something I would’ve never believed possible before. My godmother is more than just a fitness mentor to me, she’s always been an important person in my life but since beginning this journey she’s really become such a close friend and I love that so much. Her family is so important to me, even if we’re not blood I consider them to be my family. I’m thankful for my friends, especially the ones who make time for me even though they might not live near me or have a lot going on in their lives. Emily lives 2 time zones away but we manage to text nearly every day and Facetime pretty often to keep up with each other.

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I love any time I get to spend with my godmother, especially if it’s at Disney. 

I have so much to be thankful for that it’s hard to just reduce it down to bite size chunks for a blog post, but those are mostly the greatest hits. Believe me, I could spend hours droning on about how great my life is and all of the fantastic things I have to be thankful for but no one wants to hear all of that. The other side to that coin of course is that there are plenty of things in my life and everyone else’s that aren’t perfect or idyllic and can drag you down on any given day. I’ve chosen to ignore those bits as best I can and try to look on the bright side of things as often as possible. If I don’t feed the dementor of depression, sometimes I hope that it will go away for good (If you don’t get this metaphor, see my earlier blog post about finding your patronus).

Rather than end things on that downer of a note, I’ll give you my tips and tricks for surviving thanksgiving without packing on the poundage. Tip #1 if you can take some time to get a little cardio in before the feasting it will allow yourself some extra calories for feasting! I had an early thanksgiving over the weekend with my second family, the Tyos and I ran 4 miles in the morning so I would eat without guilt. It was so worth it to enjoy a piece of pecan pie. Tip #2 don’t waste plate space or calories on things you don’t absolutely love. I go for my favorites first and I can usually fill up on that without things like salad and corn. For me it’s white meat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and a roll. Rule #3 always save calories and/or room for dessert- you will want pie and you should have it. Tip #4 and this one is the most important, portion control will save your life. You’re more than entitled to fill your plate, just be careful of things like extra helpings and calorie fillers like alcohol (unless your family supported the opposing presidential candidate in which case alcohol may save you). Let yourself have dessert, just don’t eat half the pie. Or something useful like that. I know I said that the last tip was the most important, but tip #5 is actually the MOST most important. Tip #5 don’t be afraid to let loose and enjoy yourself! If you eat a little too much don’t beat yourself up, you’ll get back on track the next day or the next week. You can survive the holiday season and you can do it while losing weight. I promise. Just stick to your guns!

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Be like Linda, and conquer Thanksgiving. Be the alpha turkey. 

Happy Hallo-Weight-Loss!

Well folks, All Hallows Eve is nearly upon us and it’s certainly one of my favorite holidays (if not my actual favorite). This week I would like to take the time to talk about Halloween and share with you some of my favorite memories. I would also like to talk about how much I’m looking forward to celebrating this year, and the costume I’ve been dying to wear for years is finally one I feel comfortable in after my weight loss. Which is not to say that plus size women can’t wear any costume they want to, but more just about my personal preference and feelings about my body.

Growing up, Halloween was always a big deal in my house. My dad would take my brother and me trick or treating and my mom would stay behind and give out candy while the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloween, or The Exorcist played. Our house was always very well decorated and I couldn’t wait to pick out a new costume each year. My mom loved horror movies and generally all things spooky, and every year on October 31st she would watch John Carpenter’s classic Halloween. As a kid, I of course didn’t partake but once I got older I would join her every year. Once I went off to college we would both watch at the same time and text each other things like how dumb Laurie was being. It was a tradition that we loved and I carry on each year even without her here.

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In case anyone needed proof I’ve always loved making faces in pictures. Halloween 1993 as Mickey Mouse. 

As I grew older, I found that I never really grew out of my love of Halloween unlike so many of my peers did. I would often start planning out possible costumes as early as August, and slowly assembling what I thought would be perfect. As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of comic books and often times I like to come up with fun costumes from that. A few years ago, when I was “ballin’ on a budget” I made myself a “poor man’s Thor” costume for a party. This entailed hot gluing CDs to the front of a black shirt, dark leggings, boots, wearing my curtain as a cape, and the Thor helmet my mom bought for me. It was hilarious and I had a great time wearing it. The next year I decided to step up my comic book costume game and made myself a Black Canary costume, complete with platinum blonde wig and fishnet tights. I’ve always been a confident girl, but being comfortable enough with my body to wear that costume was a bit of a stretch for me. Looking back, it’s one of my favorites and it was a great costume, but with how I look now I would’ve been much more comfortable with a comic accurate costume.

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My “Poor Man’s Thor” costume, was a big hit in 2013. 

After you hit college, Halloween doesn’t hold the same meaning for women as it did to me when growing up. Every year I would see these “sassy” versions of great characters being made into short skirts and low-cut tops for girls to wear. Not only were most of the women’s costume offerings of the more revealing variety, they often didn’t sell them in a size I could wear. When I was at my heaviest and wearing a size 22, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have been able to find a costume at Spirit Halloween or Party City that would fit me. Rarely did you see a creative store-bought costume that had coverage if you didn’t feel like flaunting your assets for a Halloween Party, which is why I started making my own. I didn’t want to be “sassy Captain America”, I just wanted a women’s Captain America costume I could wear that wasn’t a short skirt. I have no judgement for those women who like to wear these costumes, it just wasn’t something I was comfortable with at my size.

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When I couldn’t find a costume I liked, I made my own Black Canary costume for 2014. 

This year, after losing 96 pounds, I’m finally ready to wear the costume I’ve been dying to wear but too anxious to try for most of my life. This year, I’m dressing up as Wonder Woman and I could not possibly be any more excited. I’ve always felt like I have the spirit of an Amazonian warrior (and the height to match), so Wonder Woman has been a big inspiration to me since childhood. After my weight loss and fitness achievements of the last 16 months, I think my body is finally in Wonder Woman shape to pull off one of her many iconic looks. I have some last-minute tinkering and crafting to do before the weekend, but I hope to do one of my favorite characters justice this Halloween. And of course to show off my rockin’ new body.

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I may not have Adrianne Palicki’s body, but hopefully my Wonder Woman costume will do the character justice.