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#100happydays

Those who know me are well aware that I adore social media and try my best to use it’s power for good and not evil.  I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of something called #100happydays from friends, but surprisingly there has been no mention of Chachi.

To complete this self awareness challenge you must sign up, then post a photo via your choice of social media of something that represents “happiness” to you for 100 days straight.  All the while making sure to use #100happydays to organize your images.  This was not created to brag, it was created to inspire. I’m on board with that!

The website shares that people successfully completing the challenge claimed to:

 – Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
 – Be in a better mood every day;
 – Start receiving more compliments from other people;
 – Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
 – Become more optimistic;
 – Fall in love during the challenge.

 

Today I decided to take on the challenge because:

1. I love taking photos

2. I love sharing on social media

3. I love any reason to focus on happiness

I challenge you all to join me on this journey and sign up for your own #100happydays.  Once the challenge is successfully completed you will get a little 100 page book for free of all your images. Don’t skip a day!

Here is my first #100happydays image.  It’s a post card from a former student worker who is now serving in the Peace Corps teaching in a small fishing village in Cambodia.  She wrote to thank me for my letter of recommendation which helped her get accepted into the program.  My heart swelled with pride when I read it.

cambodiapostcard

Please follow me on Instagram if you want to learn what makes me happy every day! I will gladly follow you back!

Social Events and Food Temptation

I recently attended a wonderful baby shower full of friends and family at a restaurant donned with a brunch buffet of french toast, fresh bagels, and more delicious breakfast items.  Most of all, let’s not forget the huge piece of pudding filled cake and real whipped cream icing for dessert.  Cake is my downfall but I was able to eat only half then make sure to have the remainder taken away so it was not tempting me on the plate.  I realized in keeping with my calorie logging I had already gone over my daily allotted allowance by 3pm and I would not have time to go to the gym that day.  At home that evening, I had a grumbling tummy but I just wanted a light meal.  I chose to eat a Smart Ones® South West Style soup for dinner at only 120 calories. Once again, Smart Ones® meals saves the day in helping balance out my meal choices.

baby shower

Whether it’s a baby shower, wedding, or another holiday celebration booking up your calendar, there will always be the temptation of high caloric foods at a party.  Most social engagements include an array of rich food  that you may not normally eat so your eyes may become bigger than your stomach.   I go to a social event with the attitude that “I will choose to eat the right amounts of foods and I will stop eating when I am full.”  This does not always go as planned.  I plan ahead if I know there will be the types of food I tend to to avoid.  Sometimes you get caught up in the party atmosphere and you end up overeating.  If a party has carbs and cake, I am like a kid in a candy store!  That’s why the day before a party I eat clean and exercise as normal, and the day after I plan to do the same.   I don’t starve myself, I don’t beat myself up for overindulging on the day of the event, and I don’t overexercise.  I just do my best to get back on track the next day.

Get Up and Go!

We all have our own unique ups and downs while paving our path to wellness.  It could be a setback because you are momentarily unwell or other time vortexes (work, family, travel) may derail you from your typical health regiment.

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been sick with an Upper Respiratory Infection and unable to get to the gym. After a week of rest and drinking enough water to cause a drought in my state, I finally got my appetite back but my energy was still missing. I realized I was overindulging in food with the awakening of my taste buds where EVERYTHING TASTED DELICIOUS and I had no energy to burn off the extra calories.  I’ve been tracking my calories regularly and finally after a few days of reassessing my meal choices I was able to stay within my daily weight loss goal of 1400 calories thanks to the decision of choosing Smart Ones® as one of my daily meal choices.

If you’re unable to balance life and your calories on a daily basis, it’s empowering to know that you can start fresh with a clean slate the next day, or next week, and not feel you have to go all the way back to square one.  Occasional slip ups are part of any health journey, whether it be overindulging in calories or physical set backs, and tomorrow you can choose to get up and go!  Move forward from the crappy day or weeks you’ve been having and start fresh! Just be sure you are not overdoing it with physical activity after being sick and try not to limit your calorie intake in the extreme in order to to make up for a recent overindulgence in food. My advice would be to try and choose the right foods next time.  Life is all about finding that healthy balance, and some days the scale may be tipped against you but there is always a way to even the scale over time.

katywoods

Out for a short brisk walk after being sick for 2 weeks!

 

You Are Not Alone

elliptical

I have been on an amazing roll as far as portion control and exercise, I can honestly say I am very proud of myself!  I’ve tried all the crazy machines at the gym to try and switch things up, but I will always end up on the elliptical.  The elliptical runner burns major calories and it’s heaven on your joints while feeling natural to my running gate. If I can’t get to the gym, I do yoga or Pilates at home or if it’s above 30 degrees out I’ll go for a walk outside.  I am in the beast zone!  If I don’t get at least 30 minutes of cardio, I feel off.  Naturally I am worried about my addictive behavior and exercise becoming an obsession as I attain the endorphin “high”.  I also fear falling off the wagon as my social and work schedule pick up.

The thing that keeps me hanging on is that I am not alone.   Knowing that there are others out there who don’t have time to spend hours working out at home or at the gym puts my mind at ease.  It’s been refreshing to learn about others who may fall off the wagon with their portion control as well, but are encouraged and supported to get back on.  I am one of many who struggles with knowing when enough is enough.  Having a clean slate mindset has helped me stop beating myself up for losing control once in a while, and start fresh the next day.  When others confess to me that they overindulged, I’m the first one to not make a big deal out of it.  No judgement zone here!  You are not a horrible person for losing control.  Knowing you overdid it is the first step to getting back on track, but you must want to get on that healthy track or it can just become a vicious unhealthy cycle.  But always know, you are not alone and tomorrow is a new day!

Thoughts on Addiction.

I have a pretty serious addiction.  It may be arguable but it’s actually in the Top 10 Most Common Addictions in America.

I find myself constantly thinking about one of the things that gives me a high, which is food.  Whether I’m happy, sad, complacent, or bored, I’m always thinking about my next “fix”.   Moreover, it’s usually unhealthy sugar or carbo loaded food that I know is poison to my body and will make me feel physically and mentally horrible afterwards.  It may also be an urge to eat any food (healthy or not) and feel that extremely full where it’s almost painful food coma, also known as overeating.  Both of these acts to be followed by shame and disgust.  I also find in trying to control my addiction to food, I tend to fill my “need hole” with a behavioral addiction in the form of exercise or shopping.. The only downfall is that exercise is work, shopping can cost too much money, and eating food is cheap & easy.  I am the type of person that likes cheap & easy!

So why do I still feel this urge to eat such horrible foods when it’s been proven from experience and SCIENCE that eating healthier not only makes you feel better but live longer?  Is it the taboo?  Is it depression?  Or is it addiction?

It’s a constant cycle no matter what your drug of choice.

I recently read a short article about how impulsive personalities are linked to food addiction, stating that while their “study shows that impulsive behavior was not necessarily associated with obesity, impulsive behaviors can lead to food addiction.”  It made me wonder if I have this type of personality or if I have an addictive personality, or if all of them are rolled up into one!  In doing some self analyzing I concluded that I just might have an impulsive personality but I struggle to contain it in accordance with social norms.  I do things that make me feel good, even if it may be defined as “unhealthy”, as long as it does seem to be hurting another person.  I’m not stealing from or attacking people because of my addiction.  This is how I justify my actions.  But in doing this I fail to take into account myself, and how my demise may effect those who love and care about me.  This is something I’ve been trying to figure out in therapy for the past year.  Addicts don’t realize how their decisions effect other people emotionally, because the need of getting that next high is too powerful.  So we see addiction as selfish and stupid.  This is why the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman struck a cord with me as people ridiculed him for overdosing on heroin while he had 3 children and a lucrative career.  I may not have an illegal drug addiction or an alcohol addiction, but food is my drug of choice.  And food is available almost anywhere and at any age so I don’t have to walk into a dark alleyway to buy a loaf of delicious crispy Italian bread for $50.

I strangely identified with this tragedy, which I thought was crazy since I’ve never been around any sort of illegal drug activity in my life.  Then I read that a study suggests “in some people’s brains high calorie foods can elicit cravings and trigger responses similar to those caused by addictive drugs,” and I felt compassion and sadness that his addiction got the best of him.  It must be great that some of those who spoke out angrily against Mr. Hoffman don’t have an addiction, good for you!  But for those of us who constantly have that feeling of needing something we know may kill us or make us unhealthy, whether now or over time, it’s not as simple as “he just didn’t care about anyone but himself.” It is more than that.  Addiction is a complex disease that changes brain chemistry in the user.

Addiction also comes in many forms aside from illegal substances & food, including the internet/technology, caffeine, pornography, sex, prescription drugs, gambling,  smoking, alcohol, video games, hoarding and yes even shopping!  The list does not stop there either.  There is that fine line between having a healthy relationship with these things and having a problem, and personally I feel no one should be judged for how their addiction controls them. Addiction may be difficult for those who don’t understand, I get that, I just hope people can find compassion in themselves for those who may not be as strong or as disciplined as they are.  I’m constantly wrestling with my addictions and though I feel I’m in a much better place than previous years, I will always struggle with unhealthy impulses.

All I can do is try to live better each day, work on being emotionally stronger, and ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask for help.  Please take time to read this compelling article by actor Russel Brand about his own struggle with addiction.  No words can describe the thoughtfulness and rawness of his words.

Kate’s Christmas Playlist

It’s Christmas Eve and driving home from our new family tradition of a delicious meal in Chinatown in Philadelphia, I was bombarded with the tunes of the season on the radio and I ate it up as easily as I did my broccoli in garlic sauce.  It reminded me I wanted to share with the world the top 5 Christmas songs I can’t wait to hear during this time of year.

1. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

I love this song so much, I automatically turn it up on the radio and sing to the car next to me.

2. Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney

I don’t care how overplayed this song is, it’s cute and fun and catchy as all heck!

3. Last Christmas – Wham!

Because well, it’s Wham!

4. Santa Baby –  Eartha Kitt

I love her breathy voice so much, I don’t mind the cheese factor of the song lyrics.

5. Christmas in Hollis – Run DMC

My Xmas jam!!

HONORABLE MENTION

Happy Christmas – John Lennon

A little heavy for my holiday liking, but a good song nonetheless.

I hope everyone has a joyous holiday.  Relax, celebrate, enjoy.  MERRY CHRISTMAS BLOGISPHERE!  xoxo-Kate

xmas-exercise

Maintaining in Both Worlds

I’ve gotten into the habit of using my personal Facebook account as my voice instead of my blog, and that needs to get rectified.  I want to share my thoughts and ideas with the world not with a limited group of friends!

One of the things that has crossed my mind lately is how awesome I feel in my skin. I’ve had a lot of personal road blocks this year, but right now I am in such a good place I need to share it with you all.  I found my goal has slightly changed as far as my clothing size.  Naturally, I’d like to feel lighter, stronger, and ultimately reach a healthier weight goal, but I also realized that losing more weight may hinder the natural curves of my body.  In the past when I’ve gone down one pant size lower than my current size 16, my ass got lost.  I have such a larger bone structure that I literally have to lose my ass to fit into a size 14.  I can feel my sit bones protruding and it’s actually uncomfortable sitting on hard surfaces.  If anything, I should maintain my booty for seat comfort alone!  I’m hoping glute exercises will help me keep the meat on the bone as I continue on my journey, but it seems when I get to a certain point of losing weight my body pulls from the areas I quite rather appreciate, like my derriere.  Does it pull fat from the rolls in my belly or my double chin, not so much!  But, I digress, that is a subject for another post entitled “Embracing the Rolls!”.

So for now, I’ll keep up the regular exercise and well as drink a milkshakes every so often to make sure I keep my curves nice and full.

milkshake

My Milkshake bring no boys to the yard because I’m still single.

Another reason I’m enjoying this time to maintain my shape while sharpening up the curves a bit with some yoga/cardio/pilates 3-4x per week, is because I’m wearing the perfect clothing size for a woman who loves to shop.  I’m 5’9″ and wear a size 14/16 in plus.  I also wear a L/XL in non plus sizes (depending on the store).  This is an awesome size to be because I get to shop IN BOTH WORLDS.  I get to wear clothing especially made for larger curvier ladies at Plus Size stores, as well as the higher end sizes at non-plus sized stores.  It’s quiet magical to say the least. I truly do find some items that fit me  well at shops like NY&Co., H&M, Kohl’s and TJ Maxx since they carry up to XL as well as some plus sizes,  but I tend to shop at more plus size specific stores like Lane Bryant because the clothing really caters to my curves.  (Please see my Curvy Fashion Page for a list of Plus Size friendly  stores.)

I recently invested in the Scalloped Boudoir Lace Dress in size 14/16 from Kiyonna, a high end plus size designer, to wear to a wedding last November in Manhattan.  Kiyonna’s designs are not cheap but they are simply stunning as well as durable and well worth the cost.  She is actually one of the only plus size designers who starts at size 10 instead of 12, which reaches a wider range of women but ultimately leaves out sizes lower than a size 10.   I wore this dress to two Halloween parties as well as the intended Manhattan wedding and I’ve gotten wonderful and genuine compliments on how classy and well made it is for my shape.

kiyonna 1

Manhattan Wedding November, 2013

halloween 2

Halloween Party #2 in Philly Oct. 2013

Halloween Party #1 at Artworks Trenton, Oct. 2013

Halloween Party #1 at Artworks Trenton, Oct. 2013

Needless to say, I got my damn moneys worth out of that dress.  I’ve been asked where I purchased the dress as well as the designer, both in person an on Facebook, by numerous women.  Being one who is not ashamed of being a plus size lady, I simply tell the gals who are clearly not more than a size 8 that it’s from  Kiyonna, a plus size designer for sizes 10 and up.  I do feel bad if it’s not available in their size, then I think about the clothing items I find online and in stores that only go up to a Large and I know by the cut I will never be able to squeeze my T&A in that item.  C’est la vie!

So, let’s wrap up.  Where am I on my journey to Health and Wellness?  Well, I’m taking some time to maintain my weight and health where it is now.  I’m not going to obsess over losing weight, even though I’m only half way to my “set” weight goal.   I feel if I can maintain at the half way point and find it’s not the end of the world difficult, then when I do reach my goal I won’t sabotage myself like I have in the past.  My tattoo artist (he lost 100 pounds!) gave me some advice regarding my journey to health & happiness.  His advice was NOT to set a weight goal and just do your thing, be healthy, be active, until you feel you have reached your goal.   For some of us, that sounds awesome and for others it sounds like a train wreck.  You know you.  You know if you need structure, goals, a plan or if you can change your mindset for the better and ride it out until you find your  healthy weight.  I’ve gone the regimented plan before and it works only temporarily for me.  Once I hit that goal, I seem to self-sabotage in order to find that other “goal” I need to reach.  Maintaining is not fun for me.  There is no prize at the end, except perhaps living a longer healthy life and not feeling like crap.  But that’s apparently not enough for me! So we’ll see if having no goal in the back in my mind (for now) is either worse or better.  Commence Happy & Healthy Kate Experiment #53983404.

I’m still leading an active life, I’m not counting calories or cutting back on any certain food, but I’m just trying to be more aware of portion control and what my body is telling me.  Do I still overeat? Yup.  Especially with the holidays surrounding me.  But as weird as this sounds, I don’t overeat as much or as often as I used to and to me that’s a small victory.  I’ve also realized a setback won’t be as huge in my crazy mind as if i was trying to lose weight.  Maintaining is just as challenging as losing weight for someone who has struggled with the scale their entire life, so once I master the art of maintenance I think I’ll finally have the knowledge I’ve been lacking in the past throughout my yo-yo dieting to finally live life at a healthier weight, whatever that may be.

Focusing on strength instead of weight has also really helped my overall mindset regarding my health.  On some level it feels great to fit into a lower dress size, it shows your hard work is paying off, but for me I’m at the point where I am OK with the number printed on my clothes.  Why?  Because I feel healthy, I feel great in my clothes, and I look damn cute.

owl

TJ Maxx – Owl Sweater in XL

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