Happy Denver Day!

995660_474269999314042_107887170_nToday marks the two year anniversary of my hubby and I arriving in Denver to chase our dreams of a different life.  In the past two years I have gained so much in my life.  I’ve found independence, confidence, my marriage is stronger, my mind is stronger and definitely my body is stronger.

Two years ago we knew it was time to make a change.  We were very unhappy with our life in Illinois where we were living.  I loved my students and coworkers but hated my job.  My hubby was scared of getting fired every single day.  Our marriage was suffering and we rarely went out with friends or family.  The Illinois life style is much different than Colorado.   Walking or getting physical activity is definitely not the norm.  Foods are always fried and ranch dressing is considered a side dish.  Now, I could have changed my life in Illinois.  I’m sure if I looked harder at menus and nutritional facts I could have accomplished the same weight loss.  However, I don’t think I would have DONE it.  We were very stuck in our life there.

I was terrified to move several states away from my family and everything I had known.  We had a small safety net waiting for us in Denver and we just hoped for the best.  It was the best decision we’ve ever made.  We are now happier and stronger than we’ve ever been.

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So why put this on my blog?  I know not everyone can or will just up and move.  However, such a drastic change in my life allowed me to see what else I wasn’t happy with and take control of it.  Is there someone holding you back? Why haven’t you done something about your weight whether it’s 10 pounds or 100 pounds? Is there an area of your life that needs attention that is manifesting itself in your weight? Sometimes I would look at my life and think “What’s the Point?” If I can’t change anything, why change one thing? I discovered it was a change reaction.  When I took control of small areas of my life, it lead to me taking back control of my WHOLE life and extending it for many healthy years on this beautiful planet.  Make a small change today that could change your life!

Restaurant Blues

As I began my diet, one thing I did not want to give up was meals out with friends or the hubby.  I knew this was something I had to figure out and quick.  One of the first things I did was look up what I used to eat and compare it to a healthier option on the menu.  Even if your local eatery doesn’t provide nutritional facts, you can usually find them online or find a close comparison.  Let’s start with a restaurant we all know and love: McDonalds. 1280px-Mcdonalds-90s-logo.svgI know I know I know.  McDonald’s is a soul sucking corporation that blah blah blah.  We all eat there when we have to right? Here’s a comparison on what I used to get to what I get now:

Large Coke, Big Mac, Large Fry        1340 Calories and 53 Grams of Fat

Cheeseburger Kids Meal                     410 Calories and 17 Grams of Fat

While still not nutritious, this was an easy switch.  I still got a burger.  I still got fries, just less.  Oh and they still give you a toy even when you are an adult!

 

Simple Switches

Here are some restaurant rules to ease anxiety when eating out.  I guarantee any restaurant will have healthier choices, you just might not have looked before!

453ae713-fba8-4a68-94e6-a39e65b815061. Dressing on the side – We’ve all heard it!  It works.  You don’t know how much they have put in if you don’t measure it yourself.  Some salads have as much as a quarter cup of dressing on them, which makes them a worse decision thaa a sandwich with fries.  It might feel healthier but is probably higher in calories.  At one of my favorite Denver restaurants, Sam’s No. 3, they have a wedge salad with bacon, blue cheese and AN ONION RING ON TOP!  The first time I got it it was drenched in dressing.  The next time I asked for it on the side and they brought be a CEREAL BOWL of dressing.  Yikes. Still a salad with an onion ring on top? Yes please.

2.  Baked Not Fried – I love me sc7872d_748811296c3e4137bc936e44cb4c5ddeome chicken! However, I try to find a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried.  This can be especially hard if you are a wings lover.  Most places fry their wings but you will occasionally find them baked if you ask.  Did you know Buffalo Wild Wings boneless wings are 100 calories a pop? Don’t worry. I cried too. Baked chicken is much less in calories and fat than fried.  Also, then you don’t have to feel bad about having cheese on it or other condiments.  If you’re only option is fried, eat half!  My hubby and I order a sandwich split between the two of us at a local bar.  They bring it out in two baskets and we usually end up with extra fries!

 

 

3.  Buns – Eat half.  Bread is not Hamburger Bun smallimportant to me although I know there are bread lovers out there.  I’d rather eat the whole sandwich with half or no bun then eat half with.  This might be hard for some of you.  However, cutting out half of a huge restaurant style bun will save around 200 calories every time.  Again, I’d rather eat other things!

 

 

 

deep-fried-heaven4.  Fried Awesomeness – You will never be able to hide from french fries, onion rings, tater tots and chips forever.  AND they usually come as an automatic side to most dishes.  If you don’t trust yourself not to eat them, ask for a side salad, fruit or veggies.  Most restaurants will do the switch free of charge.  However, like I said you can’t avoid them forever.  It is FINE to have some but the usual portion is more than enough.  Have just a few and then take them off your plate.  Try to see how many you can have left after you feel full.

 

Especially at the beginning of losing weight, these switches will help you drop the pounds faster as well as feel hungry again sooner.  You know the feeling of “Can Someone Please Roll Me Out To My Car?” after endless pasta and breadsticks? You’re not supposed to feel that way after eating a meal!  Once in a blue moon for a special occasion is fine, but Thursday night? Not so much.  Use these tips and stop when you’re full and you’ll feel much better!

At the Start Line

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I think the hardest part about starting a diet is just that, starting.  For me there was no real start date.  I didn’t wake up one morning and decide ‘Today’s the day!”.  I made small changes through time and then realized I was dieting.  I think there are a few questions to answer before and as you begin a diet plan.

1.  Why am I overweight?

2.  What do I want from losing weight?

3.  Why am I doing it now?

For me, I didn’t want to be on a ‘diet’.  I have tried diet plans in the past like Weight Watchers, the Special K plan, and Slim Fast.  None of them worked for me because I felt like they weren’t plans for real life. I needed to learn how to eat in the real world and not be obese.  So I’ve never considered myself on a diet, just making healthier choices with the options that I have. Turns out other people make these choices naturally.  I just didn’t naturally make those choices before now.

My Answers – I’ve supplied my answers to those questions to give you a few things to think about.  Perhaps your answers are not even close to mine but I do think they are all things you need to be aware of and dealing with when starting a diet.

2014 Response:  1.  Why am I overweight? I always knew I was overweight.  I was not in denial about my health.  But I can honestly say I didn’t know it was as bad as it was.  I found a way to convince myself I wasn’t THAT bad.  I could get my mail and walk to have coffee with friends.  That’s good enough right? I finally got to a point where that wasn’t enough for me anymore.  I wanted to be able to do all kinds of things.  So, how had I got here? I think the answer was a combination of a lot of things.  Since I worked a very intensive full time job (teaching K-12 music) I didn’t have the ‘time’ to think and worry about being healthy.  Being healthy and worrying about calories takes a ton of time and energy that I had convinced myself I didn’t really have.  Another reason was I felt I wasn’t taught to care about health. (Sorry Mom!) As a child, I don’t remember being taught what was healthy and how to balance eating with activity.  My adult mind understood what calories were and I was obviously eating more than I was burning.  However, ‘a balanced diet’ was not naturally on my mind.  I think the last reason I was so overweight is because I didn’t care.  I have a husband that loves me at any size so why do I need to be thin? I would bother me if a student made a comment about my weight and I felt uncomfortable in social situations but felt like it was my ‘role’ to be the fat one.  As an adult you start to find your place in everyone’s life and I thought mine was the fat friend.  Would dropping weight change who I was? At the base of it, I was terrified to lose weight.  It seems silly to say that now because being overweight is so much more scary.  But I was SCARED.  I didn’t know if my skin would shrink back.  I knew if I got healthy kids would be much more closer to our future.  I was scared I would change who I was and I loved the person that I had become.  She did a lot of amazing things. (PS…..I was that overweight.  When I look at this picture now, I don’t even know who that is!)

2016 Response: When I read that back, it’s still all true.  And for those that are wondering, my skin didn’t shrink back.  But the overall journey was harder than I imagined but 10X more rewarding than I ever thought it could be.  Now I know though that I’ll always be overweight, in my head. I don’t mean “I’ll always think I’m fat”.  I mean I’ll always know what it was like. I’ll always have issues with food and anxiety over if I’m doing it right.  Once you’ve been in the Fat Girls Club, it’s membership for life.  Other members might not recognize me anymore but I’ll always be thankful for my new health because of where I came from. 

2017 Response: Well, that person below seems even more far away now.  I feel less and less connected to her at all.  In some ways I think that’s awesome.  My life barely resembles hers.  Most people are shocked to find out where I’ve come from.  BUT, in other ways I think that’s sad.  I don’t ever want to forget where I’ve come from.  My skin continues to heal and look better but hasn’t changed much in the last year.  I’ve continued to drop body fat in exchange for muscle, my weight mostly maintains on the scale.  I worry less about ‘doing it right’.  I pretty much know when I’m making good choices and conscious bad choices.  As I rebalance my workouts, I rebalance my diet. 

0112014 Response: 2.  What do I want from losing weight? I wanted to look NORMAL.  I constantly felt judged being in stores where I couldn’t fit the merchandise.  I was tired to my hubby pulling the table towards him when we sat in booths.  I was tired of crossing my fingers for a 2X shirt when they would always be mediums or larges. I wanted strangers to look at me and think looked totally normal.  When I started I didn’t set out to lose this much weight.  I set three attainable goals in the first month.  I thought when I got to my goals that would be “good enough’. 1.  Walk the stairs in my building without having to catch my breath, 2.  Fit into normal non-plus size clothes, 3. Run the mile loop across the street.  I wanted to reach those three goals regardless of what number was on the scale.  I knew that would allow me to do other things that I wanted to do like 5k walks, hiking with friends and never having to worry about friends inviting me to events that I couldn’t physically do. 

2016 Response:  Now that all the weight is gone and then some, I realize how small and big those goals were.  They were literally life changing and life saving.  I saved my own life in the last 3 years.  I’ve now fallen in love with health and fitness so much that I consider a career change and I’m training for an amateur competition.  Those goals seem like such a small rung on the ladder that I’ve climbed.  But at the same time, crossing each one of those goals, felt just as good.  I’ll never forget running my first mile.   I’ll never forget trying on my first non-plus size pants.  It felt the same as crossing the finish line of my first half marathon.  It felt like winning my first real sparring match.  It’s all about perspective and where you go. 

2017 Response: This year I actually went through the process of gaining weight and it was glorious. 🙂  When I was fighting at 132 pounds, I was having to do every possible thing to keep my body at that weight.  It was not healthy and I quickly went back up to 140 pounds.  Now I fluctuate between 140-145.  I’m still just in love with health and fitness, if not more and I AM changing my career and life to incorporate fitness.  I had a lot of successes this last year too: I competed in the Golden Gloves State Boxing Tournament and lost.  I’ll never forget those 10 minutes.  I completed hundreds of miles in every type of weather.  I’ll never forget being called a peer by a fitness trainer I admire.  I’ll never forget learning to climb my first rope or getting my internship position.  It felt just as awesome as completing the Funky Monkey 2.0 in my 2nd Tough Mudder or running into Folsom Field on Memorial Day during the BB10K.  So many amazing memories and opportunities that I’ve experienced because of the health.

2014 Response: 3.  Why am I doing it now? I knew I was at a turning point in my life.  My hubby and I had recently moved to Colorado and were discussing the future.  I wanted to have a baby and when I was pregnant, I wanted people to know I was pregnant.  I had always feared that when I was heavy and pregnant, no one would even know.  It was time.  I was running out of my ‘young years’ and needed to make a change before I started the next step of my life.  If I couldn’t give my child a healthy environment for the first 9 months before they are even born, how am I going to give them the skills to be a healthy person? It was time to grow up and make adult decisions for my future.  I love my husband more than I can explain.  We are partners in everything and are a strong team.  I began thinking, “is carrying this extra weight worth it?”  I knew that being overweight caused all sorts of health problems that I was lucky to not be experiencing yet.  But what about the future? Would being so overweight rob me of years with my husband in the future? 5 years? 10? 15? I couldn’t be so selfish to overeat and not make healthy choices at the cost of a future with the man I love.

2016 Response: And I could not be more happy that I did.  In the last three years since I’ve started this journey I’ve been given so much and I’ve been able to give so much.  I’ve met people I would have never known.  I’ve done things I never thought possible.  I SAVED MY LIFE. And it just gets better.  Do it.  Do it now.  The 2012 me wouldn’t believe the 2014 me.  The 2014 me wouldn’t believe the 2016 me.  What will the 2018 me be like? I can’t wait to find out. 

2017 Response: Here’s 2017 me checking in.  In the last year I’ve been changing so much.  I’ve made a lot of great changes and hard changes. I’ve met new friends and let old ones go.  I feel like this will be a transition year for me and  I’m still just as eager to know what the 2018 me will be like.  Maybe she will be a mom 😉

Hello World!

Wow……my first blog on my first website!  SO EXCITING!

This is a site for anyone that is thinking about losing weight and getting on with living!

Hopefully you will find my own journey both inspirational and attainable.  To be clear, I conquered my obesity without the use of a ‘diet’, pills, surgery, support groups, personal trainer,  or an eating disorder.  This is a blog about the real deal of losing weight and everything that goes with it.  I won’t censor my feelings (but maybe the language!) or my experience along my journey.  Please explore the ‘About Me’ tab if you are interested in where I started and where I am now.

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When I look back at my journey, the weight came off in five different ‘phases’ by which I will organize my posts:

Prephase – Before I started losing weight

Phase One – My first thirty pounds

Phase Two – Fall of 2013

Phase Three – Adding Fitness

Phase Four – Maintenance (Not there yet!)

That way you can see what you need and not what you don’t.

 

Hopefully this blog will be a place where you can ask questions, hear the truth about losing weight and get healthy!