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Perfectly Imperfect

This past year has not been without it’s challenges.  I went through a heart-wrenching breakup and my dietary self-discipline was touch and go.  The thing that kept me moving towards a positive goal was finally focusing on myself.  What did I need?  What did I want?  Health, yes.  Happiness, of course.  But overall, I wanted to accept myself as I was: perfectly imperfect.

I admire those who lead a strict disciplined life of impeccable health and physique, but I know that is not in my DNA, and that’s ok.  Recently learning from my physician that my metabolic blood tests were within a healthy range despite my being “obese” makes me want to share that it’s possible to reach that healthy balance without being perceived as perfect.  You can lead a healthy lifestyle without making the right choices all the time.

The Smart Ones© message of wiping the slate clean has been a running theme on my blog and it’s one that resonates strongly with me.     Giving in to unhealthy food choices at events, family gatherings, and any sort of environment you find yourself within reach of food temptations doesn’t make you weak.  It makes you human.  If you are able to say no to the extra slice of cake, that’s great!  But in my experience, deprivation of certain foods can lead me down a slippery slope of gluttony.  I’ve learned to take desserts home if I am full, wrap up half of my plate of excessively portioned restaurant food before I start eating, and most importantly I listen to my stomach.

Occasional food slip ups are part of your journey to wellness, and it may be difficult but not impossible to keep from starting at square one.  Schedules get busy and unhealthy food makes it past our lips.  As much as I wish I had the money for a personal trainer and private chef, that’s just not the case.  Try not to let momentary set backs become permanent by realizing that it’s not the end of the world if you aren’t making the best food choices for a day or even weeks.  It may seem impossible if you are in a viscous unhealthy food cycle, but with a little help and inspiration you can get back on track.

Time is not always on my side.

Time is not always on my side.

 

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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!

Grat…I mean…Catitude.

I am thankful for so many things and for so many people.  I have numerous exciting changes going on in my personal and professional life.  I am grateful not only for the specific wonderful new chapters opening up, but for my readers/friends/family who have been cheering me on along the way.

Specifically, I wanted to extend a humble bow to everyone who has supported me with kind words, constructive non-judgmental feedback, and inspirational energy and stories regarding exercise & wellness.  I started this journey for myself, and I stay true to my goals because of you.  For that you will forever have my gratcatitude.

katygym1

Killin’ it at the gym, cool cat style.

This morning alone I had 3 people tell me that I am still losing weight and looking great, when in fact I have gained weight…muscle weight.  It’s amazing how building, strengthening, and shaping your body can make such a difference not only in how you feel and look, but in how you are perceived by others who are NOT your scale.  It’s taught me that the scale is not always the best judge when it comes to your health, but it is still a good way to make sure you aren’t going too crazy with extra calories with an increased workout.  I’m currently trying to balance out my calories with activity right now and it’s been a struggle.  I’ve been hardcore committed to classes 2x a week at my new gym (pilates and yoga) and learning other types of core work to do on my own after cardio/weight training. Needless to say, my appetite is increased a lot and late night snacking is my vice.   This is something I am working on curbing.

I honestly don’t see a dramatic difference in the mirror, my clothes are still pretty tight fitting and luckily I still think I look damn good.  Others have been kind enough to notice positive changes in my body shape and nice enough to tell me.  Even my favorite sandwich technician at Subway noticed I look more fit, without any type of selfish prompting!  To me, that is success. Look out Jared!

All in all I am grateful for everyone who has  been there for me when I was not at my best, when I was at the top of the world, and when I’ve just been blah.  It shows to the true character of my friends when you’re there for me through thick fat and thin, sickness and health, and unbalanced and balanced serotonin levels.  I wouldn’t be on this road to wellness without your unconditional love and support so from the bottom of my cat loving heart, thank you.

Alternative Sweets for your ‘Sweet’

Holidays and sweets go hand in hand.  Valentine’s day is one of the many holidays pushing sweet treats and candies and chocolates in excess.  The biggest chocolate heart is supposed to show your loved one how much you love them.  That irks me.  It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality!  While at the grocery store last night I was surrounded by sweet temptations because of today’s holiday.  Do I love all of those things?  Heck yes!  But, in order to support this healthy lifestyle of mine, I came up with two options to battle the Valentine expectation of sweets for your ‘sweet’.  One is obviously healthier than the other, while the other one deals with making the right choice as far as portion size while at the grocery store.

1. Heart Shaped Fruits

01-fruit-heart-624x362

If you happen to have just 15-20 minutes to prepare something sweet and healthy this Valentines day evening, then I’d recommend the simple act of cutting up fruit like honeydew,  melon, apple, etc. into heart shapes (using a heart shaped cookie cutter is recommended if you aren’t confident in your carving skills) and piercing them with a BBQ skewers as pictured above.  It’s not only delicious and healthy, it’s simple and adorable!  Or get creative with it, make it your own Valentine presentation!  There are so many healthy alternative ideas  for holiday treats thanks to the wonderful internet that houses blogs like Sincerely, Paula where I first saw this recipe and where she lists a plethora of other healthy Valentine food options including both sweet and savory.  Obviously, the best choice health wise would be if you chose fruit instead of chocolates as your Valentine sweet.  I’d rather take a little extra time to create something unique on a holiday where store bought chocolates and cards are the norm, but I know that is not always possible when life gets in the way.  If you do not have the time to make something simple and unique for your loved one, it’s understandable for those who have very busy lifestyles.  This brings me to option #2.

2. Freshly Baked Mini Cupcakes

Cupcakes

I squeal with delight whenever I see mini cupcakes.  Most mini cupcakes are around 100 calories each.  Most larger cupcakes are around 300 calories, give or take depending on ingredients and freshly baked or packaged.  This means you can have just one mini cupcake for 100 calories if that’s all you can afford in your calorie count, or 3 mini cupcakes for the same calories as one larger one.  Besides the fact that you can easily pick up the better choice of mini cupcakes in most any grocery store on your way home tonight, mini cupcakes are just cute!  If you are someone who cannot have the box of 9 or 12 mini cupcakes in your house tempting you, opting for one larger cupcake from a bakery instead of a prepackaged 6 may be better.  Purchasing one large cupcake instead of an entire ice cream cake or a box of chocolates can mean so much more on a holiday like today.  To me, sharing something small and sweet with someone you love is extremely special and meaningful and intimate.  It shows you care about their health but you don’t want to miss out on the small joys in life, and you want to enjoy these things together.   Who wouldn’t love receiving just one adorable mini cupcake along with a lovely personal written note or spoken word of affection from your sweetheart?  Someone without a soul, that’s who! 🙂

Quick Confession of an Overeater with Anorexic Tendencies

katy edit

2/13/13
230 lbs.

I’ve officially gained back 4 lbs. since my 10lb. tonsillectomy surgery weight loss (226 lbs.) recorded exactly 2 weeks ago on 1/30/13.  I am OK with this.  The surgery’s all liquid diet was a fear of mine, a valid fear.  I wanted to maintain the weight loss after I was healed.  I knew this was not impossible but a long shot knowing my past habits.  When I decided to get the surgery, I was very nervous to be forced into a 2 week fast because of my history with feeling the high and euphoric rush of a quick weight loss.  During the 2 week recovery, I felt happy when I could tell that outer layer of water weight was gone and I could feel more of my collar and hip bone popping out.  I felt happy when I saw the scale drop 2-3 lbs. in a day, knowing very well that it was an unhealthy way to lose weight and difficult to maintain.  I told myself not to be happy with this, to fight your euphoria, but it was difficult.  It took until this morning to accept the fact that I have gained back 4 of the 10 lbs.  I came to terms with it almost immediately after stepping off the scale, I just don’t have the energy anymore to keep beating myself up over the feeling of going backwards instead of forwards.  If you feel yourself going backward, stop and re-evaluate.  Move forward again as soon as you can.  After a couple of weeks of ups and downs in my food choices, I now feel that I have a handle on my workout/movement routine and healthy diet.   I’m ready to accept and move on.  I’m ready to feel human and healthy again.

8 months down, 53 pounds lighter.

February 4th, 2013

February 4th, 2013
5’9″, 226 lbs.


How did you do it?

I’ve been asked that question a few times recently after posting a photo of my weight loss progress on Facebook.  It’s really a simple answer:  I watched my calories and I started moving/exercising.  I am still overwhelmed by the number of supporting comments and likes that the photo received.  Losing 53 pounds is definitely no small feat, but I am still 26 pounds away from my goal (to be reached in 4 months) and starting this blog will be a wonderful motivator for me thanks to all the positive feedback from my Facebook family.  If I can inspire just one person to lead a healthier lifestyle, I consider that a beautiful sentiment of giving back.

Let’s begin with how I got started.  8 months ago I made a decision to change how I lived my life and take control of what I put into my body.  I didn’t change overnight.  I didn’t dive right into this new lifestyle without any struggle or set back or fluctuating numbers on the scale.  I didn’t take a magic pill and wake up 53 pounds lighter.  It took me 3 months to find a rhythm where I actually wanted to work out and move my body on a daily basis and eat healthy to fuel my newly blazed fire for wellness.  I always felt I needed to move, but I never truly ever wanted to.  I’m lazy by nature, but I knew I had it in me to not let my laziness dictate my future anymore.  When I lost a lot of weight the first time in 2005 (please read my About Kate page to learn more) I truly loved the endorphin release resulting from a good work out so I knew I could get back to that mindset with a few minor tweaks of expectation.  I saw some decrease in numbers on the scale the first couple of months after making this change, but nothing extraordinary and with a lot of up and down numbers.  I still have ups and down on the scale, but that’s normal as your body is an unpredictable machine, and nothing to get down about.    My journey is an ebb and flow.  I had to re-calibrate my thinking constantly to accept the fact that slow weight loss is better in the long run, no matter how many times you hear it, you need to believe it and live it.  Instant gratification was not welcome here on this journey of mine.

In addition to finding the time to move and go to the gym or find time at home to do Pilates/Yoga/Wii Just Dance!, I decided to pay closer attention to what and how much I ate.  Being a vegetarian, you’d think I’d be 120 pounds and fit as a fiddle.  If you make the right choices, sure that could happen (for you not me!).  But when you choose a diet heavy in carbs without paying attention to portion size or calories and you don’t exercise or move much during the day, your body is not going to be as energized as you may like and you will not lose weight.  I also made the decision NOT to cut anything out of my diet (aside from meat after all, I’ve been a vegetarian since 1996!).  I still eat carbs, I still eat sugar, I still indulge from time to time in unhealthy cuisine, but I make sure to keep track of it all.   Like I said, I’m lazy.  Keeping track of calories is not appealing to me.  I admit that and I’m grateful to have technology on my side.  I’m also mainly lazy when dealing with myself.  That is not a healthy mindset to be in at 34 years old, or any years old for that matter.  Thankfully I live in a technological age where smart phone apps can make you realize you don’t have an excuse anymore to be lazy.

Myfitnesspal.com is a website and app I found randomly in June when trying to keep track of my calories. I had a failed attempt at counting calories on Spark People a while back.  SP was not as intuitive or visually appealing as MFP was for me.  Counting calories is a daunting task I avoided for years.  But if I learned anything during my weight loss, it truly helps you become accountable for what and how much you choose to put in your body.  The best part is the food index on MFP is massive so you can choose dishes from restaurants or personal recipes and food product calorie content without entering in the calories yourself manually.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  MFP also gives you the big picture per week of calories consumed, so if you are over your calories one day it’s not the end of the world.  Don’t eat as many calories the next day.  It will all even out at the end of the week.  Just remember to log, log, log your food and workouts and try to be as accurate as possible.  I like looking at the big picture in many areas of my life, so this website was perfect for me.  It’s great to know exactly how many extra calories you earned by working out and realizing you will still lose weight if you eat!  Who knew?  I also found that I was able to keep my womanly curves and shape by not cutting out too many calories and foods.  This is very important to me and for my self-esteem.  If you are interested in starting your own weight loss healthy living lifestyle, please friend me on MFP and get started today.  If you are already a member, great!  Log in and request to be my friend!

I also wanted to mention that I don’t know much about BMI or any of those body measurement formulas.  I am not the best person to write about that.  But I do know that the BMI chart for my large frame and muscle mass is bogus so I don’t pay any attention to that nonsense.  I’m also not one to measure everything on my body or weigh my food, though in the past I have kept track of inches and found it rewarding.  I’m just shocked to now have a non-abusive relationship with my scale!  I am not ready to add more numbers to my journey.  I believe that eyeballing portions with a trained eye can be just as effective as measurements.   If you feel measuring out your food and keeping track of your BMI and other body measurements works best for you, great!  It was just not a choice I made for myself.  I know myself in that area best.  I can become obsessed with numbers, so I decided to track my progress with how my clothes fit and how my stomach reacted to my chosen portion sizes.    Listening to your body is so important, I cannot express that enough.  This is also very important during your exercise and movement plan, in my opinion.

My 2012-2013 Monthly Progressive Workout Regiment:

  • June:  I started slowly moving every other day at home by using Wii Just Dance!  That is an amazing way to move at home without leaving the house.  If you truly mimic those dance moves, you can burn a lot of calories in a short time.  I used the Wii early on because I was embarrassed to go the gym without having some sort of stamina or looking a little more fit.  That was my own hang up, quite ironic in a way, and I quickly learned in the following months that the gym is full of very supportive members of all shapes and sizes.
  • July-August: I started going to Retro Fitness in Lawrenceville, NJ 3x per week, making sure to rest every other day.  I’d run on the Elliptical for 15 minutes, lift weights for 15 minutes alternating upper and lower body every other day, stretch and do ab work for 15 minutes.  I did this for a couple of months until I felt motivated enough to increase my days of movement and time at the gym.
  • September:  I felt like I was truly on the path to getting healthy.  3 months down and I had lost over 20 pounds.   I was on track and feeling great.  I increased my Elliptical workout to 30 minutes and lifted weights for 30 minutes.  I went to the gym 4-5x per week and rested when needed.  I am a firm believer in weight lifting to burn calories and feel more fit.  I did not want to bulk up, I wanted to feel stronger and leaner.  I did many reps on lower weights and did a lot of ab and pilates work in the stretching room with and without weights.  This is something I learned I can do at home if making it to the gym was not in the cards for that day.
  • October:  I found a balance between going to the gym and working on movement at home and outside due to a major plateau being hit in my weight loss.  I needed to change up my routine and kickstart my metabolism.  Autumn is my favorite time of year so taking walks around the TCNJ campus where I work, 1.8 miles, was a nice alternative to sweating at the gym at 6am or 6pm.  I also tried different machines at the gym to try and use unique muscles and kickstart my weight loss again.
  • November-December:  Holiday Indulgence! I dreaded the holidays last year.  But, I continued to move my body daily in between family and friend holiday events and starting up a new relationship.  My movements may not have been as calculated as before with days at the gym, but a walk in the evening or a pilates session after work  in my living room or a cleaning frenzy around the house still burned calories and I continued to lose weight slow and steady by logging everything I ate even if I didn’t have time to move that day.
  • January: I went to the gym only once the entire month of January, mainly to avoid the rush of New Years Resolutioners.  I pretty much maintained my weight immediately after the holidays.  Then, my tonsillectomy mid-January was the equivalent to a 2 week juice cleanse.  I lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks on a liquid diet and I’ve been able to maintain that weight loss 1 weeks later.  It’s not how I wanted to lose the weight, but i was very diligent in drinking/ingesting at least 1200 calories a day during recovery as not to cause my body to go into starvation mode.  I am very aware of keeping my metabolism moving in order to reach my goal in a healthy way.
  • February:  After this week I have clearance from my ENT to work out vigorously again.  I’m not sure what my immediate plan is, but I’ll surely keep you all updated via this blog!
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