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It’s A Veg Head Life

Being a (picky) vegetarian, having options while grocery shopping will always be a plus.  When I first became meat free in 1996, the easy and cheap food options for my very selective personality were also not the healthiest. I lived on pizza and pasta.  Over the years I have noticed that grocery stores and food companies have embraced vegetarian culture and provided more well rounded nutritious meatless meal options.  Today, if I realize I haven’t been eating the best by going back to my old ways of carbohydrate overindulgence, I know I can always get back on track and wipe the slate clean with the help of portion controlled vegetarian frozen meals like Smart Ones®.

If you read my blog post earlier this week about couponing to save money, you know I try to shop for healthy items that also provide coupons.   Just the other week the Smart Ones® meals were on sale at ShopRite for $1.77 each.  After printing two $2 off 7  Smart Ones® frozen meals, I was able to get 14 Frozen meals for $1.48 each!  The best thing is that they weren’t 14 of the same meal!  Smart Ones® provides variety not only for carnivores, but for those who prefer meatless options.  They also often have coupons available on their website which is music to my penny pinching ears.  My freezer is consistently packed with their signature red boxes:

smartones

As you can see from my hoard of frozen meals, I am a big fan of practically all Smart Ones® vegetarian dinner options.   Italian, Asian, Mexican, I will take it!   After popping one of these in the microwave after a day of caloric overindulgence, I can mentally prepare to get back on the road to wellness the following day.  I have learned to not waste time lambasting myself for making poor food choices and instead aiming to make better choices next time around.

All in all, I am definitely someone who appreciates a second chance as well as any financial assistance when trying to eat well while on a budget.  Bonus points to Smart Ones® for including such affordable and delicious selections of healthy vegetarian meals for the picky veg heads like myself.

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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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