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Purpose, Hope, and Impact.

I wanted to write today about the purpose of this blog, what I hope to achieve by maintaining it, and what impact it is having on my journey towards health and wellness so far.

My purpose here is part personal therapy through writing and part joy in the possibility that telling people they are not alone in their struggles with food and weight loss may help them find their own happiness.  I felt alone for most of my life regarding my relationship with food and weight.  There were numerous helpful outlets for under-eaters, not so much for over-eaters when i was growing up.  It was not fun.  This blog is a personal account of my relationship with food and exercise.  Will my decision always be the healthiest for me?  No.  Will I try to get back onto a healthy path if I fall off?  Yes.  I’m a work in progress.  I know this.

I’ve received mixed feedback about this blog but I love the energy and conversations coming out of my posts.  My approach to wellness may be unorthodox compared to other weight loss and health blogs by scholars and professionally trained health gurus.  As a commenter wrote on my first post, my testimony is a ‘common sense’ approach to health and happiness.  Am i happy and healthy? Most days.  Could I be happier and healthier? Sure.  Am I happier and healthier than I was 8 months ago?  Heck yes!  Do I want to go back to where I was 8 months ago?  Heck no!  I would love to be able to lead a completely organic whole and fresh food diet with no processed foods.  I know many people who do lead these amazing lives, feel great, and I admire them for that.  I am not saying it’s impossible for anyone to reach that lifestyle, I encourage it if you feel it’s what you want to do.  I really enjoy delicious fresh meals and organic vegetarian cuisine, but sometimes I just have time and money to reheat that lean cuisine in my freezer.

Life can get in my way as far as maintaining a healthy routine.  Work, relationships, and health issues (like surgery) can put a temporary hold on your path to wellness if you don’t make that extra effort to find the time to make the right decisions regarding food and movement.  You are not a bad person if you forget about your journey for a while due to these distractions, but it will certainly take it’s toll. I tend to internalize negative thoughts and doubts that can cause constant road blocks deep in my psyche that effects my decision making skills during these times. I can feel like I’ve failed or sabotaged myself if I don’t make the perfect decision.  I started this blog to not only remind myself, but remind all the yo-yo dieters, moms and dads, workaholics, lazy butts, and others that if you fall down on your own personal journey, it’s OK.  Get back up, make a plan to continue on the path to wellness and make it a lifestyle, not a temporary goal or “diet”.  Don’t lose hope.  Change your thinking.  Don’t get discouraged by time passing you by.  If you fall off course it makes it difficult to get back on track, but it’s not impossible.  I am still learning what’s best for me nutrition wise, I’m hammering out this journey as I go, I’m still growing into the best version of myself.  My hope is to be a positive and supportive friend through this blog for all my readers.  Being happy is more than just achieving your goal, it’s living a life that’s right for you.

The positive impact of this blog has been quite substantial in less than a week of going live, and for that I cannot be more thankful.  I’ve had numerous friends/acquaintances/strangers give me such genuine support and feedback about my writing and kudos as to my weight loss accomplishment thus far.  This drives me to continue on course the right way.  The not so positive feedback reminds me to be clearer in my message to the public, and to find my voice.  I am thankful for that as well.  The best review I received was from my father.  He told me the other day that I am an engaging writer and he’s shared my blog with people he feels would appreciate my story.  That is the highest form of flattery from someone I have extreme respect for.  It’s a nice example of showing someone how their actions make you proud of them.  I thank my father for that, and for his and my mother’s ongoing support of such a public display of intimate details about their daughter.

This blog has been a positive influence in my life in such a short amount of time.  My psyche feels free and lighter with each post.  The feedback keeps me sharp and honest with myself.  I think this blog will help mend my mind and lead not only my body, but my soul to achieving the highest form of health and happiness for me.  I welcome all types of feedback and I’d love to start a dialogue with you about any topic I’ve covered on my blog or one I have yet to write about.  Please feel free to e-mail me at katyells@gmail.com or comment here.

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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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