Weight Loss Tips

Fit Bride, Amber // Lifestyle Changes

AmberProfile Progress update!!

When I first started keeping this journal and writing down how I felt about being overweight I was 231 lbs. I keep remembering that number because I never want to forget where I was or what it felt like to be that size.

20 days on this program and I am now 218 lbs! That's definitely progress!

However, I have to admit, some of those old feelings of inadequacy are popping up. Even though I haven’t been this size for at least 2 years, I feel like I need to lose more. A lot more. This is knowing it wouldn't be healthy to lose this weight any fast than I currently am.

It's not all about the weight, though, right? This is a lifestyle change. With that said, I want to share a non-scale victory with you:

Today was the first day I declined happy hour with about 15 of my coworkers.

YAY! (This = major progress) 

They were celebrating a friend of mine getting a promotion and a new person starting. Happy hour was scheduled for Glory Days… I love Glory Days! But as soon as I saw the invite, I knew I didn't want to go. I am still too “new” to this lifestyle change to even want to mess it up by going to happy hour. Sure some say to just go and not drink, but that's not me. Some say just have one drink, but that's too hard, too. If I learned ANYTHING from my trip to Orlando, it is that alcohol can ruin EVERYTHING I have done to lose weight. Not to mention, it would take more than a single drink for me to really have fun at happy hour. I am an experienced drinker, which is definitely the reason I am the size I am... I think my whole life I've been overstimulating myself with things like alcohol; always going overboard and indulging (wanting to get the worst [yet most delicious] thing on the menu). Probably in an attempt to make myself feel better about myself, but really just making matters worse.

I've realized that at least right now I'm not at the point yet where I can be go to happy hour and not drink or be tempted to throw in the towel. And that's OK. 

I've also realized I need to let go of what others think of me, especially if I expect to really change my lifestyle. Everyone was on me about not going, of course. I think they look and me think, "What is one happy hour going to do? You're already huge!” They've seen me lose weight and gain it back. I doubt they think I'm taking this seriously this time, but I am trying this time. And at the end of the day, they can think what they want. They aren’t going through this weight loss journey with me, they aren’t as invested in me as I am; they probably don't care about how I'll look in my wedding dress but I do! Right now they're just worried about the big girl who likes to go out, have fun, and drink. They aren’t really concerned about my goals and ambitions. Those that do understand, know why I'm not there.

A New Perspective

Months ago I literally cried because I felt as if I had no friends. No one wanted to hang out with me….no one wanted to do happy hour. Brandon has been working this evening shift for awhile so I felt so lonely just coming home to myself, like no one cared. Of course I attributed it to me being fat…. me not being the pretty, fun girl. But my outlook has changed. Now I look forward to coming home after work and working out. I look forward to staying motivated to lose weight. I look forward to hibernating so I can just wow everyone with my weight loss. I am so determined you guys!! I am so focused. I refuse to let anything get in my way! And as upset as I was last week for gaining weight while traveling due to the alcohol, it was a learning lesson that means a lot more now because I'm making the change. Now I know just how damaging a single happy hour can be!

All of this reminds me that God is good!! Even when you don’t see what's happening, He is working in your life. I was so down in the dumps last year and literally had no self confidence. I beat myself for everything and felt like I had nothing. But God put the persona doctors commercial come on for me to see it that day. God bought the right people in my life so I have support. I see Him in all this -- there have been times of weakness in the car when I am on the way home and I just think “let me get something to take home... I want a snack” and God makes my phone ring or the line is too long. I can leave work and think “I have no energy to workout, I should have done it in the morning!” Then for some reason, as soon as I get home and walk up 3 flights of steps I feel energy take over me and I can't wait to change into my workout clothes!

God has been with me every step of the way and I feel as if this is my time.

This is my time to grow up, stop making excuses, and to focus on what really matters. Joel Osteen always says that God has something waiting for you -- something HUGE! He is going to cause a breakthrough in your life; you just have to be patient.

Honestly, I feel like God has been preparing me for 2015. Brandon's job. My job. My new house. The wedding. And finally, this weight loss. I won't let any happy hour stand in my way. ☺

Have you had to turn down friends for dinner or happy hour because you're trying to make a lifestyle change? 

Do you feel like God is guiding your efforts to live healthier? 

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AMBER IS MY SISTER-IN-LAW AND BLOGGING HER WAY TO THE WEDDING. CHECK OUT HER INTRODUCTION, CHECK OUT HER COLUMN, AND FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM

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Fit Bride, Amber // I've Started and Nothing Can Stand in My Way

AmberProfileStarting the New Year Off Right: On New Year's Eve I started taking my medication: one pill for breakfast, one 2 hours later, another with lunch and 2 hours after; then finally, one with dinner. I definitely felt very jittery from the medicine, but energized, too, which was great because I had to decorate for a party I was hosting that night.

Overall I'd say I didn't do too bad with my eating at the party -- I had 2 tacos, some small appetizers and a total of about 6 alcohol drinks, which is a lot (I know), but New Year's Eve? Come on! Everybody's drinking! Of course that isn’t the diet plan but I tried showing restraint and felt good about my efforts.

New Year's Day things were even better: I woke up and had a granola bar and 2 bottles of water immediately. Then I went to brunch with my family but it was tapas style and I really didn't eat a lot. (Literally one order of eggs benedict for the entire table to try.) Also should note I was with skinny people and a person who doesn’t even eat breakfast (my soon-to-be husband) so I tried to be like them and barely eat...

I came home and had fruit as a snack and took my lunchtime pill. For dinner I had leftover soft tacos (ground turkey - allowed on the program) and I was so proud I loaded it up with peppers and black beans,not cheese and sour cream, which is usually how my tacos roll! I also ate at least 3 hours before I went to bed (success!) and even though I forgot to take my nighttime pill, I didn’t drink anymore alcohol that evening or eat anymore food, which is very good for me. Progress not perfection people!! 

Closer

I also want to mention that I got in a great workout on New Year's Day! I had so much energy, I did several rounds of lunges and squats, lifted the 10-pound dumbbells (doing bicep, tricep, and chest moves), and a bunch of ab exercises. I even broke out the resistance band and did some walking squats! My thighs were on fire! I did leg lifts forward and backward to work my front quad and glutes (gotta work on the glutes!!) and as I took down New Year's Eve decorations and would treat the step ladder like a step stool and do 10 reps of up-downs!

From Amber's Journal January 2nd

As I wake up January 2nd I feel focused. I feel really good. I am going to kick this being fat in the butt immediately. I had eggs with bell peppers and bacon for breakfast (all allowed on the diet), 50% orange juice and 50% water, which the doctor recommended and 3 bottles of water before noon. To make it through to dinner (leftover tacos again) I am going to have some vegetables and fruit for lunch. I'm also planning to get in another serious workout today!

All in all I am feel so determined. I am so excited about this weight loss changing my life. Changing my perception of how people view me and being more confident and content with who I am. Sure weight can’t do all of that for me, its all about me and about my journey and about changing MY life. January 2nd I am implementing that and don’t want to let anything get in my way.

Have you ever felt determined on a diet? 

What helped you keep your momentum?

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JUST JOINING US?

AMBER IS MY SISTER-IN-LAW AND BLOGGING HER WAY TO THE WEDDING. CHECK OUT HER INTRODUCTION, CHECK OUT HER COLUMN, AND FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM

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Weight Loss Competition: Lessons Learned

Last Sunday, July 27th, marked the finish of an 8-week weight loss challenge I hosted among friends. I got the idea when I noticed during various visits with almost all my friends that we were all striving for the same thing: to lose a little weight. I figured why not band together, and help each other achieve that goal? I sent out an email, got a few people onboard, and we started right at summer's peak in June. The challenge was a huge success! At least three of the 10 girls involved lost more than 5 lbs! I lost 7 and my friend Michelle took home the winnings with a whopping 10 lb loss! Way to go Michelle! Everyone raved about the camaraderie and support. As the host, I was extremely pleased. This was also one of the first-ever challenges I've participated in that I was successful in sticking it out. Usually, I throw in the towel after an off day or start to slack in the end, but this time - for the reasons listed below - I stuck with it, and that makes me proud! Here's a few lessons learned.

The scale fluctuates. Boy does it, ever! When you weigh yourself for several weeks at various times you begin to see just why the scale shouldn't matter. During the second to last week of the challenge it appeared as if I put back on 2 lbs I had just lost. Rather than get discouraged and throw in the towel, I stuck with it and wouldn't you know, a week later, I was back down, minus another pound!

Don't give up, even when you slip-up.Almost everyone took a vacation during the challenge and we all experienced Fourth of July - in all its BBQ glory! I think all of us indulged a little more than we would have liked but what mattered was that we didn't stop there!

Don't give up even when you slip-up for long periods of time. To be honest, I was THIS CLOSE to throwing in the towel the second-to-last week. I had just returned from Florida and I thought there was no hope of actually winning the challenge. The girls encouraged me to extend our deadline an extra week and that was just the motivation I needed to get back on track! Even though I had a few off days (when I was thinking about quitting), I got back on track and ended up finishing strong.

It's OK to enjoy vacation! One of the girls shared this article about why you don't need to worry about what you eat on vacation. In my opinion, you've got to live a little! Just because you're actively trying to lose weight doesn't mean you have to make yourself miserable.

If you are really worried about what you might eat on vacation, check out this other article that was shared, on how to stay on track during vacation.

Believe in yourself. If you don't believe you can, then you won't. Period.

Visualize Your Goals: Seriously visualization is EVERYTHING. Halfway through the competition I tried on a few bathing suits - I squinted my eyes a bit in the dressing room and snapped a few pictures. I'm not exactly where I want to be but I can almost *see* it happening in the mirror. See is believing, friends!

Share your troubles: Sadly, two of the girls lost their dogs during the competition. As a pet owner, I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for them and I have no doubt it completely threw off their focus and routine. I think having a place to share the sorrow, receive some encouragement and talk through why they didn't want to stress eat during such an emotional time was helpful. If you're going through a tough time (and it's affecting your health; which it probably is!) reach out to someone and tell them!

Try new exercises: I went to hot yoga and zumba in an attempt to switch things up and I think that made a big difference! Even though I love CrossFit and it will always be my *favorite* type of workout, you have to jolt your body into change sometimes. The other girls agree and did all sorts of exercise from running to body pump to Jillian DVDs! Naomi (below) even went to the Washingtonian Fit Fest and tried three different workouts in one day!

My friend Naomi at the Washingtonian Fit Fest
My friend Naomi at the Washingtonian Fit Fest

Looking good, girl!

Experiment with new foods: I absolutely love that we used our shared forum to share our favorite brand of healthy chips or trail mix. I learned about a lot of alternatives to traditional chips, like these from Snikiddy:

EatYourVegetables
EatYourVegetables

Share healthy recipes. Recipe sharing is a fun and easy way to switch up the same old healthy foods you might be used to. We all tend to go with what we know but branching out can help keep things tasty! There were a lot of crockpot and spaghetti squash recipes flying around, and I shared this favorite of mine: ground turkey stuffed bell peppers.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed Bell Peppers

Push yourself to workout, even when you don't want to. There were several occasions that I didn't want to workout but seeing the other girls in the group wake up at 5 am or go to an 8 pm workout to squeeze it in motivated me to get to the gym, too. Despite being reluctant, I always felt great (and grateful!) after a workout.

Get into a habit. Along those same lines, I noticed that it was a lot easier to go workout the day after I'd worked out. On the other hand, going after a few off days was HARD!

If you can get to the gym, go and then go again tomorrow!

Workout whenever you can.Even 10 minutes of ab work, like planks in your office, are helpful. Move more as much as possible!

OfficePlank
OfficePlank

Have a little friendly competition every now and then. During the challenge one of my CrossFit friends dared the other CrossFitters to try to beat her time for the day's workout. I didn't feel like going to the gym that night - it was a running WOD - but that little competitive push got me there and guess what? I beat her! Woo hoo!

Have some food rules:One of the rules of the challenge of not to eat anything with more than 20 grams of sugar. I think this is an excellent rule of thumb! (You could even make it 10 or 15 grams of sugar.) This encouraged everyone to check the label, do research, and just generally be more leery of the food they were consuming. Food rules like this can cause real awareness and change!

Log your food. We also had to keep a food log but this really helped keep me on track! I log everything in MyFitnessPal and that were a number of occasions that wanted to keep snacking after dinner, but didn't because I knew (from my food log) I'd had enough!

Always meal prep. ALWAYS meal prep! Get to the grocery store on Sunday and prepare a few things for the week. Even a mini-prep is better than no prep at all.

Fruits_Veggies
Fruits_Veggies

Stay away from fast food.There was a lot of information sharing about the Naked Juice and Subway scandals. Usually fast food is not the healthiest option. If you're on a mission to get healthy, one of the first things you can do is vow to stay away from fast food! 

Take lots of post workout selfies -Hey! You deserve it!

My hot yoga face.

Hot Yoga
Hot Yoga

Remember that muscles weighs more than fat and 5 lbs lost is nothing to sneer at! 

MuscleWeighsMorethanFat
MuscleWeighsMorethanFat

Soak it in when those endorphins hit. And they always hit after CrossFit workout!

Hi say hello to my fellow CrossFit chicas!

CrossFitSelfie
CrossFitSelfie

Drink A LOT of water. Whatever you have to do to get it in, get it in!

Hydrate
Hydrate

And, finally, strive to love yourself more and know that your weight is not your worth. 

LoveYourself
LoveYourself

Read the full details about our Weight Loss Competition here.

Have you ever participated in a weight loss challenge? 

What advice would you give someone trying to lose weight? 

Fit Mom, Karyle // Four Easy Ways to Be More Active

Fit-Mom-MonikerHappy Tuesday!  I hope everyone enjoyed their Cinco de Mayo.  As much as I would have loved a margarita or four, I resisted and spent my day running errands and staying active.  I've been having a hard time making it to the gym at work these past few weeks, and I suspect this may be a struggle for a lot of busy peeps.  If you're like me and have a small window to make it into an actual gym, remember that missing that window is no excuse to sit on your butt and call it a loss!  Here are some great ways to incorporate extra activity or mini workouts throughout your day.

Go for a Walk.  Spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming and birds are singing. When it's not raining, I've really enjoyed going for walks outside and getting some fresh air.  Depending on your schedule, you can take a stroll in the morning, evening, or during a break at work.  Still can't find the time?  Make it a point to park your car far away from entrances. Get up and walk over to a coworker instead of sending an email or picking up the phone.  One way or another, get some walking in!

Take the Stairs.  Do you know what a broken escalator is? STAIRS!!  Walk up escalators whether they are moving or not.  Instead of taking the elevator, look for the stairs.  If you don't think you can walk up or down all the steps, take the stairs as far as you can go and then hop on the elevator.  If you're like me and have stairs at your apartment building, take one or two grocery/shopping bags in the apartment at a time instead of trying to only make one trip up the stairs.  If you have stairs in your home and you fold your laundry downstairs, take one small stack of clothing upstairs at a time.  There are tons of ways to get some extra steps in whether you're a business woman or a stay-at-home mom. I work on the 7th floor in my building and plan on taking the stairs more often, starting today!

Escalator Broken Meme
Work While You Watch.  I keep a mat and 10 lb weights in my living room at all times so that I can do mini workouts while I watch TV in the evening.  I call them "mini" workouts, but I feel the burn and sometimes I'm even sore the next day!  Keep some work out equipment (dumbbells, resistance bands, jump ropes, etc.) in view wherever you watch TV or use your computer.  If you don't have work out equipment, pick up a case of water, gallon of milk, or cans of food.  You can even just do body weight exercises like planks, push-ups, or squats. I also use a work out ball as my desk chair so that I'm tempted to do crunches while I'm on the computer. Hahaha. It doesn't matter what you use, just move your body!

Create Daily Habits.  This is one I haven't started yet, but I think it's a great way to stay active.  There are certain things we all do every day - wake up, brush our teeth, bathe, etc.  Pick one or two of the things you do every day and create a workout to do with them.  For example, do 100 jumping jacks when you wake up in the morning, squat while you're brushing your teeth, or do 20 burpees before you jump in the shower.  You can even make a circuit, like 10 squats, 20 jumping jacks, and 10 burpees when you wake up.  Be creative!  I must admit, I sometimes squat while I wait for things in the microwave.  That's not a habit, though... that's just me being weird. Lol. But, the more you do these corresponding work outs everyday, the faster they will become good habits.  Before you know it, you'll be brushin' and squattin' without even thinking about it. :)

On another note, it's time for new measurements!  Here they are.  Being more active is helping, but I'm hoping to get into the gym more this month to see even better results.

P.S.  I measured my waist three times because I couldn't believe it!!

Bust: 49.5 (same) Waist: 43 (down 2 inches!!) Stomach: 52 (down 0.5 inches) Hips: 48.75 (down 0.75 inches) Thigh: 28 (same) Arm:  16 (down 0.5 inches)

How do you guys keep yourselves active outside of the gym?

Do you already do some of these things?

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Just joining us? Check out Karyle's introduction, Meet Karlye: Our New Fit Mom Blogger and to see her previous posts, search "Fit Moms" in the category dropbox. 

Crowding Out & 11 Healthy Swaps

Hey guys! How are you? It's pouring rain in DC in today and I'm totally bummed the spring weather has abandoned us once again! Come on!!! I'm so ready for tank tops, flip flops, and driving with the windows down! Did you hear temperatures are supposed to get into the 20s tonight? Ugh! I'm having some technical difficulties with Karlye's weekly post, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share this concept of crowding out - have you heard of it? My friend Stephanie, a health coach, told me about it when I consulted with her about my husband's lack of interest in eating paleo. I explained to her that in his mind, cutting out grains, dairy and legumes didn't leave room for much else! Aaron's not a big vegetable eater either, and that was another concern. Stephanie explained the trouble newbie-health goers have with restrictive diets and suggested the "crowding out" approach instead. Here is the definition from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:

The theory of "crowding out," is an effective way to overcome habitual consumption of unhealthy food. The principal of crowding out suggests that you add more to your diet, instead of taking away. By adding healthy, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains, you will crowd out the unhealthy foods. The body can only take so much food. If you fill the body with healthy, nutrient-dense food, it is only natural that cravings for unhealthy foods will lessen substantially.

I truly believe in this now, guys! And recently, I thought back on it when I realized there were certain foods I just didn't want to give up - namely, my coffee creamer, margaritas, and ice cream. :)

The crowding out concept says I don't have to give up those things- I just have to find healthy swaps! I remember when I used to think I had to have pasta and then I discovered spaghetti squash. I used to think I had to have store-bought salad dressing, until I discovered some healthy homemade versions! And ice cream? That's what mocha shakes and banana ice cream is for!

The same has been true for milk, until I discovered almond milk; PAM until I discovered coconut oil; and white potatoes, until I found sweet potatoes! Over time, in exploring healthy food alternatives to my favorite treats, I've learned that sometimes - most of the time - I like the healthy food better, which means I don't have to feel like I'm giving something up, but rather, just choosing the option that I enjoy just as much and that makes me feel better.

With this in mind I made a list of my favorite healthy swaps and challenge you to test out a few!

Healthy-Substitutes

I'm also challenging myself to find healthy alternatives to some of those lingering unhealthy parts of my diet, and find alternatives. Here's my list of must-haves:

  • CoffeeMate Creamer
  • Egg salad or tuna salad with mayo!
  • Margaritas - is there such thing as a healthy version?
  • Brownies
  • Donuts

I'll be back with the swaps for these things, as I'm making it a mission to replace them with healthier alternatives... I'd love your ideas for a healthier donut! Lol! :)

This might seem like a ridiculous exercise but I truly think it will help me. By identifying the things in my diet I'm holding on to, I can begin to explore alternatives and starting crowding them out!

What are some foods you don't want to give up?

What are your favorite healthy swaps? 

Have you heard of crowding out? 

Fit Mom Karlye // Conquering Telework & Kid's Cravings

This is our weekly check-in with our resident Fit Mom, Karlye! Hi, guys!  I officially completed my first week of this FFABulous Fit Mom journey.  YAY!!  Cue the confetti!

My first week was actually quite interesting because my work schedule was completely different than it usually is.  My team at work took full advantage of National Telework Week and came up with a schedule that required only one of us to be in the office each day.  My day to be in the office was Monday and... it SNOWED!  Lucky me, I got to telework allllll week.

There are two major downsides to teleworking when I am trying to lose weight:  (1) I am not able to work out with my personal trainer at my work gym because I do not live close enough, and (2) my kitchen—and the food it contains— is only steps away.

2014-03-10_0004

My solution for the first problem was to create at-home workouts using my body weight and the few pieces of equipment I have.  Every day I broke out my yoga mat, exercise ball, and dumbbells and got to work.  These workouts definitely were not as intense as my personal training workouts, but I was breathing heavy, I broke sweats, and I burned calories.  Most importantly, these workouts helped keep me on track.

As for my issue with the kitchen being accessible at all times, I prepared by stocking it with tons of fruits and veggies and meal prepping some meats the weekend before.  I generally only keep healthy food in the house, but for this week, I had to make sure I would have enough for all of my meals and snacks for an entire week so that I wouldn’t be tempted to drive through McDonald’s for an egg mcmuffin just because I ran out of eggs at home!  I made it through the week without an egg mcmuffin, so I think it was successful!  I made fresh juice a few times and had lots of green smoothies.  I snacked on nuts and raw veggies and when I wanted something sweet, I ate fruit instead of running to the store to get ice cream.

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My biggest win was with my son.  As a mom, I know that my bad habits can quickly become his bad habits.  Kids look up to the adults in their lives and mimic their actions.  Well, as you guys know, I am an emotional eater and would often want to stop somewhere to get a snack (cookies, ice cream, etc.).  Naturally, my son started to expect this and now he asks to go get snacks all the time.  Every.single.day.  I know this is my fault and it is not something I’m proud of .  So, as I am working on myself, I am also working on him.

One day I picked him up from school and he insisted we go get ice cream.  Admittedly, I would have loved ice cream that day, but I had to resist for the both of us.  He was upset.  There was a lot of pouting and possibly some tears, but I stayed strong.  I needed to go to the grocery store, so we were suddenly surrounded by all kinds of sugary goodness, but he finally accepted that I was not caving.  Then something magical happened.  He requested a cup of cantaloupe instead!  Yes,!!  We enjoyed the cup of fruit together and he actually tried to keep it all to himself towards the end.  Lol

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As parents, we are going to mess up sometimes.  We may inadvertently teach our kids to do things we’d rather they not do.  The important thing to remember is that you still have a chance to purposefully teach them the right thing to do.  I am still fighting my sugar addiction and probably had more during the weekend than I should have.  But, knowing that I have to be a good example to my son has definitely been helping me think twice before picking up a cookie.

 Have you ever noticed a loved one adopting one of your bad habits? 

How did you try to turn the situation around?

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Previous posts in this series:

Navigating Diets & Finding a Weight Loss Method that Works for You

Hi guys! Sorry for being quieter than usual lately! As you can see, I've been making a few changes around here. We now have a static homepage - www.fitforabrideblog.com - that will soon link my shop and bootcamp! Eek! There are a few other tweaks on the way, so please bear with me! This website is a constant work in progress!  So, lately, I've been feeling more and more confused when I think about how I want to approach weight loss and advise others on weight loss. There's so many diets and methods out there, and having experimented with quite a few myself, I tend to overcomplicate the process in my mind, and stall actually getting started... sound familiar?

FUNDAMENTALS
FUNDAMENTALS

Having this realization, I decided to nail down the things that have always worked to help me lose weight in the past, and, surprisingly, they're quite simple! No diet restrictions, no memberships, or expensive proteins or pills, just 5 fundamentals! 1. Get Motivated - Whether it's an upcoming event (ahem, like a wedding!) or just another summer season, I need something to get me motivated. An upcoming trip is good motivator and so is an upcoming anniversary of some kind (my 3 year wedding anniversary is in April). I also get motivated by taking a before picture of myself, making visual reminders (like below), reading about health, searching crossfit and weight loss on Instagram, trying new workouts, and combining forces with others. There's so many awesome ways to get motivated - it' just a matter of tapping in! In the past, I've used challenges to motivate me, too, but I've often fallen way off the bandwagon at the end of the challenge and gained back all the weight I lost while on it. I read this word of caution about Paleo Challenges and "Clean Eating" Programs and could totally relate! In my opinion, a challenge might motivate you, but it won't sustain you.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 1.36.07 PM
Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 1.36.07 PM

2. Change it up - Just like I constantly need motivation, my body needs constant change; this is especially true with workouts. If you've been doing the same workout or same type of workout for the last 6 months and you haven't seen any changes (and you're looking for change), you need to switch things up! Try something new, whether it be the workout itself or even the time of day you're working out. Challenge yourself! I love the quote "If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you!" So true! I think that's why CrossFit has been so beneficial.

Challenge-Change
Challenge-Change

Change is also the reason why strict diets that only allow for certain foods or meals don't really work for me. I've received meal plans that were the same two day's worth of meals repeated for an entire month! No thanks! I like to use those meal plans as a guide, but ulitimately, I need there will be a lot more variety in my own diet. I like to experiment! The key is experimenting with healthy foods, not new flavors of oreos!

2. Meal prep and log your food - These are big. Huge. Majorly important fundamentals to weight loss in my book. I do so much better when I think about what to eat ahead of time and then log as I go. While a diet might work to outline WHAT you eat, I find that just being prepared and watching it WHILE I eat is a much more effective and long term.

Meal Prep
Meal Prep

4. Have some accountability - I'm always thinking about new ways to incorporate some accountability into my life because I do my worse when I go unchecked for several days and weeks at a time. That's one reason why I think programs like Weight Watchers and other weekly weigh-in programs are great. Not because they focus on your weight (I don't think that's good), but because they add an element of accountability. I mean, cause, let's face it, how easy is it to ignore what we don't want to deal with? Too easy!

5. Get into a routine - Even though I like to change things up and try new workouts and recipes, my routine - with work, working out, sleeping, and meal prepping - always directly translates into whether I have a good or bad week in terms of weight loss.  If I don't go to bed at a decent hour, I'm traveling a lot, or bogged down with lots of obligations one weekend, it's easy for me to get off track. And then it's easier to stay off track than to refocus! I know it's important to be healthy on the go, but it's hard for me! I do much better when I have a set schedule and stick to it!

If you're navigating lots of diets and not sure where you should begin, it might help to brainstorm the simple solutions that worked for you in the past! I wouldn't be surprised if we had some in common - most people agree that tracking food and having some accountability helps!

And, here's an idea! Let's help each other! Beginning in March there will be weekly challenges that reinforce these simple weight loss fundamentals. One week you might be challenged to track your meals, or prep your breakfast for the week! You might be challenged to change up your workout and go for a run outside, or try a CrossFit class! I'll publish the Get Motivated March calendar tomorrow, and all the challenges will be typed into each day!

Get-Motivated
Get-Motivated

There will be a new calendar and a new set of challenges in April! I'm really hoping these challenges motivate us to stop stalling and do what we know we ought to! Who's with me??

Do you overthink healthy sometimes?

Do you go back and forth about how to go about losing weight?

The 6 Secrets to Weight Loss

Do ever feel like you're searching for the solution to weight loss? Chatting with your friends or your personal trainer, do you ever find yourself trying to determine what will be the *trick* for you? I know that feeling so well. I get caught up talking about weight loss with almost everybody I know - my mom, stepmom, coworkers, friends, even my husband! And I've noticed, we're all searching, asking, wondering, exploring what might finally work for us. Having shared my own weight loss journey on the blog, it should come as no surprise I've struggled with this question my entire life. Try as I might to get away from the weight loss talk, it's never far from my mind. What is the answer? That's why when I received this infographic from Elena of Courthouse Clinics - I got excited. Not because the secret is here in this graphic, but because yep, you guessed it: there is no secret! And that's what these tips remind me. There's no magic pill or formula or diet, but there are tried-and-true approaches that can and often do work.

And funny thing? It's all common sense... stuff most of us already know! I especially love point #2, as it's something I struggle with myself.

Infographic-official This infographic was made by Courthouse Clinics

 Do you identify with any of these?

What's been your secret or rather, approach to weight loss?

”The

Tips for Staying Healthy During International Travel

Hey friends! This week I've been sharing all the fabulous eats and restaurants we experienced in Florence -- the food was definitely a big part of our trip! But I wanted to balance things out by sharing the ways we countered all this eating and tried to stay healthy abroad. I can't say I followed all these tips for staying healthy on my recent trip to Europe, but I took note of what the more seasoned travelers in my group were doing; several of them had tried-and-true methods for feeling a little more balanced away from home for so long.

How to Stay Healthy Abroad

+ Drink a lot of water. One lady made it a point to buy a liter of water from the hotel everyday to ensure she was getting enough. Because they don't serve huge glasses of tap water with meals (like they do in the U.S.), it's easy to get dehydrated. Experts also say it's easy to get dehydrated during long airplane rides. Make it a point to drink water, even if you don't want to. (Also, check out this article from Today with tips for making your next long flight a pleasant one!)

+ Take the stairs every chance you get. One couple passed us walking into the elevator on their way to the stairs almost everyday! Mind you, they were on the fourth floor and we were on the third! I finally smartened up and took the stairs too. The little workout gave me an instant energy boost!

+ Pack lots of different types of shoes. The feet have different pressure points and because of this, it's helpful to wear different types of shoes over the course of several days if you're doing a lot of walking. Once again, I failed in this category and learned my lesson! My feet were aching so bad by the end of the week from walking in the same shoes every day, and walking so much! I'll definitely pack more shoes next time to switch up the pressure points getting hit during long walks each day.

+ Opt for one light meal, whether it's lunch or dinner. In Italy, it's easy to feel like you need (or rather, want to) eat pasta, pizza and gelato with every meal, and if you're on vacation, why not?! A better approach would be to aim to have a light lunch or dinner because inevitably one of those meals will be heavy.

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+ Find fresh fruit. About mid-week we found a market where we bought the most delicious oranges! They served as the perfect snack midway through the day when we wanted something, but didn't have anything handy. I'm definitely a snacker so finding this store was a lifesaver! You could also buy almonds to keep handy for quick and easy snacking!

+ Sleep. My husband had an especially hard time sleeping and it definitely effected his energy level. One lady said she always asks for the room in the back of the hotel, which may seem a little over-the-top, but she said I can see her logic: sleep is so important to an overall sense of health and well-being. If you can't control what room you'll be in, pack ear plugs and sleepy time tea -- both should help combat any loud noise you hear from your room (we had a lot)!

+ Eat a sensible breakfast. So, I'll be honest - the first few days at the breakfast buffet I went straight for the prosecco and orange juice (vacation=mimosa) and chocolate crossiants, but I eventually realized this sugar-laded breakfast wasn't lasting long on my stomach, or giving me a lot of energy for the day. I switched to eating yogurt with a sliced banana and granola and water, and found that I stayed full longer and more satisfied through the morning.

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+ Opt for espresso instead of wine, sometimes. My husband doesn't drink so he'd get espresso when I got wine at the hotel bar in the evenings. However, wine is usually served with dinner in Italy, along with a cocktail (on the house, believe it or not!). Alcohol reaks havoc on any weight loss efforts while coffee boosts your metabolism. Try swapping the wine for an espresso every now and then. 

+ No milk in your coffee after midday. So this is an unspoken Italian custom, but I think it would serve Americans well. We all know sugar and dairy laden drinks from Starbucks can totally blow your diet, but sometimes you just need an afternoon boost; what's a girl to do? Again, try espresso or an Americano. It's not as delicious, I know, but save those calories for real food - something chewed! Not an afternoon drink that's gone in less than 5 minutes!

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+ Go for an early morning walk or run. One of the guys in our group is a former navy seal and we heard he went on an 8-mile run one morning! Now, that's a little extreme and of course, us ladies aren't as safe as a navy seal running through an unknown town early in the morning but, if you can, make some time for exercising while you're away. If your hotel has a gym, make use of it! It'll make you feel good. I promise.

Are you an international traveler?

What are your travel health tips?

My 4 Non-Weight Related Goals & Rewards

I've always been in the mindset that 135 lbs was the goal. Growing up overweight, I constantly thought to myself: If I can just get down to 135, or 140, then... fill-in-the blank will happen. (I'll be happier... I'll get a boyfriend... I'll feel better... I'll look better... everything will be better!) Even during wedding planning, I celebrated getting under 160 and then under 150, and I was sure to weigh myself the week of the big day. In all truth, the scale has always been an integral part of my health & fitness routine, but more recently, between meal prepping and crossfit, I'm putting less "weight" on the meaning of the number on the scale.

The Scale

Photo via Operationbeautiful.com >> An amazing site!

I'm sure you've heard it before: the scale means nothing, but do you really believe it? Ask yourself what exactly is driving you at this moment. Why are you doing arms everyday, or starting up a salad club? Are you dieting? Eating paleo? WHY? Is it because you want to lose weight, or have more confidence, be stronger, and healthier? All of the above? Really ask yourself WHY. For me, the answer is changing from "be skinny," to "be strong," and from "to be able to wear a bikini," to "be able to bench 75 lbs!"  

To reinforce this mindset, I decided to come up a list of 4 non-weight-related goals and rewards. These are goals that have nothing to do with my weight, and rather, reinforce true healthy lifestyle principles, such as strength and consistency. The rewards are because I love incentives (and makeup and stuff - Lol)!

1.) 100 days logging in MyFitnessPal :: $100 worth of new workout gear (clothes, headbands, socks, etc.)

  • I recently reached 35 days of straight logging on MyFitnessPal and wow, what a great feeling! I hadn't even realized I was logging everyday because it'd become so second-nature. When I saw the notification, I truly felt I'd reached a milestone. It reinforced the "this is my lifestyle," mindset and that's a good thing! 

2.) 1 non-assisted pull-up :: $100 worth of new makeup (I love makeup but never feel like I can afford it!)

  • Yes, I think ONE single pull-up is worth $100. They're THAT hard right now.

3.) 8 Saturday workouts in a row :: A new pair of sneaks!

  • I love working out on the weekends but sometimes life gets in the way. I'd love to get back to the dedication I had back when I was training for a marathon and workout every Saturday.

4.) Get into handstand pose :: FT4 heart rate monitor

  • I think my biggest problem with handstand push-ups is the initial act of throwing my body up onto the wall. When I get myself up there -- one day -- it's going to be the best day ever!!!

What are some non-scale goals that you have?

What are your incentatives or rewards?

Weight Loss Success: Brooke Not on a Diet

Good morning and happy Tuesday! Today's post is dear to my heart because I've been following Brooke's journey over on her blog, Brooke Not on a Diet. As you can see from the pictures below, Brooke totally turned her life around -- losing an incredible 178 lbs and becoming an "after" for the Weight Watchers campaign! Her weight loss journey is utterly amazing and you will not regret reading this Q&A.

Brooke: I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your story with FFAB readers. You are such an inspiration!

Brooke-FInal
Brooke-FInal

Has your weight always been an issue for you? Since what age?

Weight has always seemed to be something I have dealt with. I really cannot remember a time when I was “thin.” I was always a chunky kid and an even chunkier teen/adult.

When did you decide to make a change? Were you engaged at the time? 

I decided to make the change after a really crappy relationship and realizing that I really needed to start loving myself if I was ever going to find “the one.” My mom invited me to a Weight Watchers meeting around that time and as they say, the rest is history. ;)

Has your decision to get healthy been on-again off-again, or did something just click?

I did do some fad diet stuff throughout my teen years and there was even a doctor recommended diet. But I never stuck with it for long because I was doing things to lose weight that I wouldn’t be able to do for the rest of my life. (Grapefruit diet, anyone?)

When I started Weight Watchers back in 2009, it just sort of clicked. Sure there have been times where I wasn’t fully on track (Wedding planning brought on a bit of stress eating and who can forget the honeymoon where I started everyday off with a Mudslide cocktail!), but I’ve never strayed so far that I’ve gained a lot of weight back. I’ve been doing this awhile, so I’m pretty good at reeling myself back in when I’m straying a bit too far. I always remind myself how much better I feel when I’m eating things that are better for me.

What was your starting weight? 

My starting weight was 327.6lbs. Talk about a shocker when I stepped on the scale at my first Weight Watchers meeting! I knew that night that I would NEVER see that number again.

Did you measure body fat?

I didn’t measure body fat in the beginning, but it is something I pay attention to now.

Did you use a particular program to help you lose weight? What program? (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, MyFitnessPal?)

In case you haven’t figured it out by now; I follow the Weight Watchers program. I follow the Simply Filling Plan they offer. I did the PointsPlus for most of my journey, but made the switch to Simply Filling last November. I absolutely love Weight Watchers and cannot sing enough praise for the program. I love that you can eat anything you want, but they teach you to choose more fulfilling foods. I go to meetings and just love the support and encouragement I get there weekly. My plan is to eventually work for them and then demand they put me in a commercial. ;)

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small-26

Has anyone been doing this with you?

My mom started out with me, but jumped off the wagon a few months in. She joined again last year and is now down almost 50lbs! I love that I inspire people everyday with my journey, but I’m most proud when my mom tells me that I inspire her. It’s awesome!

When did you start to see the number on the scale go down?

It started going down right away and steadily went down for a while. Of course there have been many plateaus since then. Getting under 200lbs was the most difficult and I played around with that for over a year. The day I hit Onderland (199) I ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed scaring the crap out of Mr. B who was snoring peacefully. Haha

What's been the best part about getting healthier/losing weight? 

Sex. ;) Seriously though the way I feel now is the best part. I can do things like bike 100 miles in a month and run up stairs. I don’t get tired as easily and my body doesn’t ache daily. I found a love of cooking and exercising. I became confident and found the most amazing man to stand by my side during this journey. I also get to inspire people everyday by showing them that they don’t need a fad diet or surgery to become healthy. Being healthy is AWESOME!

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What's been the hardest part?

The hardest part is always dealing with the scale. I know they say not to let the scale define you, but man sometimes you just let it. Of course I deal with it better now than I ever would have in the past and I always remind myself of how far I have come.

Another hard part is the loose skin I now have. It is so freaking annoying and frustrating! But again, I remind myself that it’s there because I worked my ass off. I also much rather have the loose skin than the extra 177lbs!

Have you reached your goal yet?

I have! I hit it in the beginning of May and it was one of the best days ever! If you want to read about it, I posted a lovely detailed story on my blog, including the part where I took off my bra! ;)

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2013-06-10_0003

If you made these changes because of your upcoming wedding, what specifically was motivating? The wedding gown? Seeing all your family and friends? The pictures?

I started losing weight before I got married, but obviously getting married kept me on track with my efforts. The pictures really kept me motivated, no one wants to look back on their wedding day pictures and hate how they looked. And it worked too! I actually had to reorder a smaller dress a few months before my wedding!

What are some of your staple foods and favorite recipes?

Gosh, where do I even begin? Lol. On my grocery list there is always light vanilla yogurt (which I always top with fruit for a snack), unsweetened vanilla almond milk, PB2 (powdered peanut butter), bananas, eggs, oatmeal (regular & Better Oats Oat Fit Maple & Brown Sugar), Hendrickson’s salad dressing, and frozen fruit. Oh and you can’t forget the occasional pint of Ben & Jerry’s. ;)

Mine and Mr. B’s favorite recipe at the moment is Philly Cheese’steak’ Filling. It is crazy delicious! We also love us some roasted green beans!

Do you workout a lot? How often?

I’m not crazy about my workouts, but love doing DVD challenges! I just finished Turbo Fire and have done couple of Jillian Michael’s DVDs. Jillian is by far my favorite! I would say that I workout anywhere from 3-5 days a week depending on my mood and motivation!

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small-63

Do you workout at home or do you belong to a gym?

I have lost all of my 177lbs without ever owning a gym membership! I have only worked out in a gym once during this whole journey. This means all of my weight has been lost by working out at home, outdoors, and with the occasional Zumba class.

I have quite the variety of workout DVDs and have done several challenges. My favorites by far are my Jillian Michaels DVDs; I have such a girl crush on that woman! I also love biking when the weather allows it!

What are your favorite exercises? Do you lift weights?

My favorite workout DVDs are the 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30 by Jillian. I don’t do a lot of weight lifting because I don’t have access to a lot of weights, but it is incorporated with each of the DVDs I mentioned.

If so, do you have a favorite body part you like to work? (Such as quads or delts?)

I really don’t have a certain body part I like to work. My favorite part to flex though is my biceps. I flex in the mirror at least once a day. It is totally surreal to me that I have actual muscle! I also tell my husband constantly that I’m stronger than him, which I’m not, but he plays along. ;)

Where do you find your motivation? Other blogs? Magazines? Which ones?

I read a lot of different blogs and get great motivation and inspiration from them! I love Fit & Free with Emily, Kelly @ Curvy Fit Girl, Mel @ The Daily Mel, Rachael @ The Domestic Geek, and a million others. I absolutely love blogs! :)

As for magazines I love Health, Fitness, Shape, and Weight Watchers. Oh Cooking Light has some pretty great recipes too!

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small-126

Are your family and friends aware of these changes in your life? Are they supportive?

My family and friends are both aware of my changes. I’m not quiet about it at all. I love hitting a new milestone (scale or non-scale) and quickly texting everyone about it. ;) They have always been supportive in anything I’ve chosen to do and my journey is no different. It’s awesome to have them cheering me along!

What does your husband think of these changes?

I didn’t meet Mr. B until I had already lost over 100lbs, so he didn’t know the old Brooke. He has really only knows ‘healthy’ Brooke. So, he has always been supportive and is a great cheerleader. He is my recipe guinea pig and even sometimes pushes me out of bed in the morning to exercise. I couldn’t ask for a better support really. This is why he’s my soul mate because he loves me for whom I am and supports me in everything I do. Cannot sing enough praise for my Mr. B! I’m one lucky gal. :)

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Finally, do you have any advice for other women who are trying to be healthier and/or lose weight?

My most important piece of advice is: You Are Worth It!! So many women don’t feel like they deserve to be healthy and shouldn’t put themselves first. But, you must remember that in order to be there for others, you need to be here. If you’re unhealthy, the chances of you being around for a long time are slim. Take care of you and your health (physical and mental) first, and then tackle others.

Other advice is to look for some support, whether it come from family or a group like Weight Watchers. There’s also awesome support online! I have found a great community of healthy lifestyle bloggers who are super supportive and then my readers are also awesome. All I have to do is send out a tweet that I’m struggling with something and I can get a slew of tweets back offering support. There are Facebook groups, online message boards, and so much more. You can find support anywhere these days!

Also, be sure to take it one step at a time. When I started my journey I focused mainly on my eating, then slowly incorporated exercise. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too much, because you’re more likely to give it up. Small changes add up to big results.

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2013-06-10_0007

Oh and don’t forget to set some goals! Reward yourself for hitting those goals too! I try not to focus solely on scale related goal either. My goals consist of drinking 100oz of water daily, moving my body at least 30 minutes daily, and trying a new recipe weekly. This journey is much more than the scale and we all need to remember that sometimes. :)

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Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 11.18.20 PM
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Thank you so much for letting me tell my story on Fit For a Bride! I hope you all get something from it! If you want more inspiration from me, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Oh and of course my blog! Hope to see you around!

Thank you so much, Brooke!

I'm so inspired by your hard work and drive. You look AMAZING!!!!!

I vote Weight Watchersput you in a commerical ASAP! :-) You totally deserve it!

Do you know someone who has lost over 150 lbs?

Have you ever tried Weight Watchers?

Wedding photo credit: Creative Wedding Package

10 Tips for Getting Your Husband Healthy

Hey guys! Happy hump day!

I'm having some trouble posting the real wedding I had planned to share today, so instead, I'm going to share these tips for getting your husband healthy!! My sister-in-law called me the other day pretty excited to share that she had recently started going to the gym and was trying to eat healthier. She gave up meat and "cow's milk," (her words) and is now devoted to drinking several bottles of water a day... The problem? She said my brother wasn't thrilled with her new-found commitment. She said, "he likes pork," and "eats in the middle of the night." Ha! Sounds like my gene pool alright. ;)

She said she wants to slowly start incorporatating healthier meals into their rotation, as she's the one who does the grocery shopping (and most of the cooking), but she was disappointed he didn't jump right on her healthy bandwagon. Having dealt with a particular eater (my husband), I suggested switching out brown rice for white rice, and slowly introducing salmon. I suggested Costco's frozen salmon because each piece is pretty big (about 7 ounces) and it can be cooked from a frozen state in about 10 minutes on the stove. (She's a mom of four!)

The whole conversation got me thinking about the way our strive for better health (or to lose weight, or workout more) often affects those closest to us, and isn't it true that their support can make a big difference? I think it can! Here are some tips for making the transition easier!

Skeptical-Spouse
Skeptical-Spouse

1. Insist, Don't Insult: When you're first learning about healthy eating, it's easy to get tunnel vision and forget you, too, used to scarf down oreos. Just because you're now commited to "no sweets," or "no processed foods," or "no meats," doesn't mean that's the only way to healthy living. It also doesn't give you a right to judge others for their food choices. With our husbands, we tend to speak our minds (I know I do) but be careful not to insult your husband's choices, just because they don't align with yours. I think it's better to insist they try drinking a glass of water with dinner, than tell them how crazy they are for drinking Coca Cola. 

2. Don't Be A Know-It-All: Again, similar to above- don't go around acting like you're the only one in the world with a clue about eating healthy! One thing I love about the health community, is that there's also something new to learn. ALWAYS. 

This is especially true for working out. I know with crossfit, I've really had to humble myself to the knowledge Aaron has about muscle groups. Even though he doesn't workout as often as I do (and I could easily think I know more), he's really smart about what exercises strengthen certain muscles and I'm better off LISTENING to him and LEARNING from him, than acting like a know-it-all. 

*Additionally, this is an area that can strengthen the bond you have with your husband. At the gym, let him show you how to do a few chest presses or whatever you're not comfortable with that he may know about. My brother was big into sports and going to the weight room when he was younger, so I know he has a lot to offer my sister-in-law in this realm (she's never been a gym-goer). 

3. Be Creative: Three words: black bean brownies! They're yum and chocolatey, and people often don't realize they're also healthy! Same goes with protein pancakes - he won't miss Bisquick. I promise! New recipes will give you more variety and entice him. 

4. Don't Poke Fun: This is something I'm particularly worried about with my sister-in-law because she's tiny, and my brother, well, his weight has always fluctuated dramatically. I know he is sensitive about it when he's heavier, and even though the family jokes with him, we all know our weight can be a really touchy subject. I don't think it's ever a good idea to use insults as a way to "help" someone. A good rule of thumb is the age-old, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.

*This is especially important as our husbands are our lifelong mates! It's important to them (whether they admit it or not) that they are pleasing to us, as their wives! You don't want to bruise their ego for the sake of saving a few calories. It's not worth it. Love on our husband all you can. Period.

5. Realize They're Men; They Eat More: It amazes me the way my husband can put back two peanut butter and banana sandwiches and a few scoops of vanilla ice cream after dinner. But here's the thing, there's a lot of differences in how men and women eat. According to Eatingwell.com, "one biological fact is inescapable: most women have lower calorie needs than men." This is a reminder that a.) it's OK for them to eat more and b.) we do not need to try to "keep up." (The latter is a common newlywed problem!)

6. Lead by Example: Besides being creative and cooking new things, being consistent has gotten me the furthest with Aaron. He hears about me going to the gym everyday at work, and it compels him to want to workout too. When I did crossfit in Silver Spring, he was immediately interested. When I make delicious banana-peanut butter protein shakes, he's intrigued. 

Trust the process and know that as you continue to make health a part of your life, your husband really has no choice but to follow suite, cause it's contagious! Your upbeat attitude (from having some time to yourself at the gym), or your new-found confidence in the bedroom (yep, that happens!) will not go unnoticed! 

7. Find out what they like: When we visited my mom's house for Easter, she had a bowl of hard boiled eggs as part of breakfast. Aaron couldn't stop talking about how much he loved boiled eggs and a light bulb went off in my mind: this is something I can prep for him that's healthy, and that he'll actually eat (versus, for instance my egg white casserole, which he wants nothing to do with)!

8. Don't Be Forthright: So this sounds like bad advice because of course, you want to be honest with your husband but I swear mine does not know the difference between sour cream and Greek yogurt... until I tell him it's greek yogurt! What they don't know won't kill them! It could make them healthier! :)

 9. Know that Everyone is Different, Including You and Your Husband - It's a proven fact that men lose weight faster than women (read some reasons why). Men are also better able to perform certain exercises, like pull-ups, but hey, that's life. Different things motivate different people, too. We can't expect that our  husbands will take the same approach or have the same methods. Their journey is going to be different; it's going to be theirs.

10. Let Them Eat Cake - Everyone should be allowed to eat cake! I mean, life is too short not too! :) 

The bottom line is that you don't make your healthy lifestyle the end-all be-all with your husband. Don't be a drill sargent and don't micromanage him! Just do you and get healthy! He'll come around!

Do you have any suggestions for getting your husband (or kids) onboard with healthy eating?

What's worked for you? What hasn't?

*Of course there are some health conditions that require a stricter approach to healthy eating/living in your home. If you husband has one of those conditions (or you do!) I suggest speaking with a registered dietitian or doctor about the best approach for you rand your family.

Weight Loss Success: Amy aka NiftyFoodie Down 70lbs (& Counting)

Over the last several months I have watched (and been inspired by!) this lady's weight loss journey. Week after week, on MyFitnessPal, I see her steadily and consistently lose the pounds. On Facebook and Instagram, I see the photos-- she's literally shrinking!-- and I'm honored to bring her story to the blog!  Please welcome Amy, author of the popular food blog, the Nifty Foodie-- she's lost a whopping 70lbs! 

Nifty-Foodie-Pic
Nifty-Foodie-Pic

My Q&A with Amy:

Has your weight always been an issue for you? Since what age? 

I've been a bigger girl as long as I can remember. Definitely since elementary school.

What factors contributed to your being overweight growing up?

I'm not really sure. Perhaps portion sizes? As a background, I was very active as a kid (preferred to be outside rather than inside), and never had a problem eating fruits/veggies. I would think my only downfall is how much I ate when it came to family meals.

What kind of household did you grow up in? Were you taught healthy eating principles?

My mom made sure we had a home cooked meal most nights, and I'm very thankful for that. She also made sure we ate healthy... we never really got snacks in our house (very rare that a kid wanted to trade lunch items with me in the cafeteria haha!)

When did you decide to make a change? Were you engaged at the time?

I actually lost some weight while wedding planning, but packed it right back on after (and 60 more lbs.). I decided to make a change, because the scale was at 298.5. I was a meal away from seeing 300 lbs. on the scale! I had to do something.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 10.29.04 PM

Has your decision to get healthy been on-again off-again, or did something just click?

I've always attempted diets...every Monday seemed like a new week. I think the big clicker was ignoring the scale for a long time, and finally seeing that number. I got out of control.

What was your starting weight? 298.5

*To show off Amy's amazing progress, I put together this timeline:

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Timeline-Photos

Did you use a particular program to help you lose weight? What program?

Calorie counting, via MyFitnessPal.

Has anyone been doing this with you?

My husband. He's lost 115 lbs.!! It's great to have that support at home.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 10.30.40 PM

When did you start to see the number on the scale go down?

Within the first month, I lost 10 lbs. The results were awesome!

What's been the best part about getting healthier/losing weight?

Fitting in regular sized clothes again. It's still SO crazy after shopping in plus sized stores for over 10 years.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 10.07.21 PM

What's been the hardest part?

Resisting the binges. It took me a while to face the fact that I had/have a binge eating problem. It's a daily struggle.

Have you reached your goal yet?

No. I'm about 50-60 lbs. away from my goal.

When you started, did you lose weight immediately or has it been a gradual loss?

The weight loss was fast in the beginning (I was SO spoiled by it, too haha!), but after 17 months of doing this, my weight loss is a steady 0.5-2 lbs./week.

What are some of your staple foods and favorite recipes?

Greek yogurt, fresh/frozen fruit and hummus with veggies are my favorite snacks to have on hand. I love making fruit "ice cream" (food processing frozen banana with a few berries until it's like soft serve...like the Yonana machine). I also enjoy tortilla pizza, which is basically adding marinara, mozzarella cheese, and turkey pepperoni on top of a whole wheat tortilla and baking for 10-12 minutes at 350. I also love a simple banana protein smoothie (1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup ice, 1 RIPE frozen banana and blend until smooth)...it tastes like a milkshake!!

Do you workout a lot? How often?

I try to aim for 4-5x/week with workouts. 2-3 times/week with cardio, 2 times/week with weights

Do you workout at home or do you belong to a gym?

We belong to a gym, but for running, I prefer to run in our neighborhood. I mainly go to the gym for weight lifting, and if the weather is terrible, I'll go there for cardio.

What are your favorite exercises? Do you lift weights?

I'm a big fan of running and strength training.

*Read about Amy's experience doing the Color Run 5k on her blog here.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 10.05.42 PM

 *Also pictured is Amy's sister who has recently lost 40 lbs!*

Do you have a favorite body part you like to work? (Such as quads or delts?)

My shoulders. I was using 10 lbs. on the machine when I started out in January, and now I'm up to 40 lbs. I finally saw a little crease in my shoulders a couple of weeks ago. It's very cool to see my body changing!

Where do you find your motivation? Other blogs? Magazines? Which ones?

I like to read blogs for motivation. My top 3 favorites are: Can You Stay for Dinner, Runs for Cookies & Prior Fat Girl.

Are your family and friends aware of these changes in your life? Are they supportive?

Absolutely! My family/friends are very supportive, and are always throwing compliments when they notice my weight loss. :-)

What does your husband think of these changes?

He's very supportive. He's on a weight loss journey himself. :-)

Finally, do you have any advice for other women who are trying to be healthier and/or lose weight?

Take baby steps, and recognize that you're only human. Weight loss (for me) wasn't a flip of the switch. As in, it wasn't like I was one day eating terribly...living a sedentary lifestyle...the next, I was eating 1200 calories/day and running 5Ks. NOPE! That's not how it happened! I started at 1800ish calories/day, and then gradually went down. I slowly added activity into my day...started doing Couch to 5K, and really just started doing weights in January.

I also don't beat myself up if I go overboard for a meal. I know I won't gain back these 70 lbs. by eating an extra slice of pizza. I just adjust for the next meal. There are days where I go over in my calories, but I treat this journey like this will be my life forever (if that makes any sense?). There's no way I'm going to be perfect everyday...I'm only human.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing all these inspiring photos, Amy! Even though you didn't mention it, I have to share your rewards list, which I think is really cool! Check it out:  

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Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.39.19 PM

I also have to brag on Amy's success with Dietbet (I learned of Dietbet through her, and blogged about here). She's participated in three games and if I'm not mistaken, won them all! (Impressive!)

And (you may already know this but) Amy's a beast in the kitchen! I love that she's started incorporating healthy recipes in with all those delicious baked goods on the Nifty Foodie! Check out this Banana Biscoff Protein Shake Recipe:

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8513661513_c498eda4e9

***

If you want to continue reading about Amy's journey, which I highly recommend, visit her life blog, Nifty Foodie Life!

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Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.36.38 PM

Thank you again, Amy!!

Tips for Sticking to a Meal Plan: May-ke it Happen Check-in

Can you believe we're almost half-way through May already? Where does the time go? It's flying!! As many of you know, I'm doing a May-ke it Happen Challenge and my goals are to:

a.) stick to my meal plan;

b.)  incorporate weekend workouts; and

c.) log my food in MyFitnessPal.

So far, I'm doing great! Last weekend I did Barre in Ashburn and this past Saturday I did TurboFire with my sister-in-law (omg, that workout was intense)! I've been logging consistently in MFP, too. (My diary is public, so you can see what I've been eating.) But, guess what's been the hardest part of the challenge? Sticking to my meal plan!

I did really good the first week, probably because I had a solid plan, full stock of groceries, and, I took the time to meal prep, but as my healthy food supply dwindled, so did my ability to stick to my plan! Here are some observations and bits of advice for those of you trying to stick to a meal plan, too.

Meal-Plan

*It's nearly impossible to do well, if you don't have healthy foods on hand.

So, here's the thing: you have to eat. Therefore, if you don't have healthy foods readily available to eat, you're inevitably asking for trouble. An empty refrigerator at home may turn into pizza night, and an unprepared lunch could turn into a midday run to the vending machine. This is where the whole "by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail," thing comes in! You have to make grocery shopping and stocking your home and work with healthy options a priority!

*It's difficult to avoid social gatherings that involve alcohol.

Is it just me? Friends call and want to meet for dinner; coworkers want to go to happy hour; and then there's all those birthdays, graduations, and holidays you can't avoid. The past weekend was my husband's cousin's graduation. We took him out the night before and everybody was drinking. (We intended to go to the movies, but when the movie we wanted to see was sold out, we ended up at Friday's.) I totally regretted it the next day (alcohol is not on my meal plan, hello!), but, I also realize these social gatherings are impossible to avoid.

My advice? Manage your social gatherings, and be aware of how often they're occuring. If you're going out once a week and on the weekends, you can't expect to drink at every occasion and still lose weight. I'm going to dinner with friends this Wednesday but I absolutely will not drink. I had a few drinks this past Saturday, and I have a wedding June 1st. That will be my next indulge.

*Food is expensive and prepping food is time-consuming.

I just about ran out of food last week. My celery supply, protein powder, tilapia, apples-- all my go-to foods were gone! It made sticking to the plan harder. For example, one day, I had written that I would eat salmon salad for dinner, but guess what? We were all out of salmon at home! I ended up with a grilled chicken salad, but those sort of loops will throw you off track easily!! Once again, you've gotta make time to get to the grocery store, and you may have to sacrifice spending your money on some other things so that you can afford to stay stocked up on healthy foods.

*You have to make time; it doesn't just happen.

I'm one of those people who ends up with a full schedule without realizing it-- plans every night during the week and a full weekend. I have been getting better with this, but you have to make sacrifices, whether it' stime with family or friends, or watching your favorite shows to get to the grocery store. I wanted to do a few things after work tonight, but because I couldn't get to the grocery store yesterday, my only plan for tonight is to re-stock my kitchen. To be successful, you have to make sacrifices. You have to make the time. I'm not making any excuses today-- I need my healthy foods at home!

*You have to go against the grain.

Just because everybody else is doing it doesn't mean you should. Last week, my office had a huge party and it was on my telework day. Everybody wanted me to come in and participate, but here's the thing: I wanted to stick to my meal plan. I know people might have thought I was anti-social but I can't just go along with what everyone else is doing because then I'll never meet my goals.

What tips do you have for sticking to a meal plan?

Do you run into these same problems?

Real Housewife, Sarah: Modifying My Calorie Intake

{This is our weekly check-in post with Real Housewife Blogger, Sarah in Australia! Sarah weighs in Wednesday, then checks in with us Thursday. Since she started blogging her journey (end of January), she’s down 8 lbs!} From Sarah:

What a week, I was at home all week - it was absolutely delightful! I started off the week with an appointment with my nutritionist bright and early Monday morning, which is actually a perfect time because it really gave me a good stance for the week. Weight-loss wise, I am right on track with where she wants me to be but she still thinks I can tighten it up and be losing more.

On average, over the past month I was sticking to 1500 calories and I still lost weight, but some days were far worse than others. All of the days I was at 1200 calories were days when I had completed control over my food; either working from home or in the office. So, the new plan is to aim for 1200 calories on those days (including the weekends) and 1500 on the days when I am travelling or out of the office.

There were also a number of other things she spoke about that really helped me, such as having a critical look at your food intake on at least a weekly basis (if not daily) to see where you went wrong (if you did) and ways you can fix that next time. I was just mindlessly plugging my food into MyFitnessPal and not looking at it again. This is definitely something to consider if you are finding yourself in a bit of a rut or plateau.

So, I am now following a bit of a new structure and will be trying to log on here at Eating the Olives every few days rather than once a week to really keep things accountable.

As for exercise this week, things went quite well:

  • Monday - Run (522 cals)
  • Tuesday - Walk (130 cals)
  • Wednesday - None
  • Thursday - Fitness Test (400 cals)
  • Friday - Step/Cross-training class (400 cals)
  • Saturday - Gym Cardio (568 cals)
  • Sunday - Oztag (796 cals)

During my gym workout on Saturday I tried out the new feature on the bikes that I hadn't used before and I went on a very scenic bike ride through New England! It also gave little tips about the area as I rode along which was quite nice.

Sunday in Sydney was an absolute cracker of a day, the sun was out in full force and we enjoyed a great tag session before the rain started on Monday night. Just quietly, how good are my footy boots! Orange may or may not be my favourite colour (see above photo drink bottle).

My stats for this week:

Weight Lost This Week - 0.5lbs

Total Weight Loss (since January): 7.5lbs

*I am almost back down to my lowest weight after those travel weeks (100g to go), then just need to keep on seeing that downward slide!

Also, my fitness test results weren't a huge improvement but still a step in the right direction! I ended up doing mine a week late due to travel but the results were:

  • 1 km run - 5 min 40 secs (no change)
  • 1 minute of pushups - 28 (no change)
  • Plank on knees 3 minutes (14 secs longer!)
  • Wall sit - 1 min 15 secs (6 secs longer!)

I was a little dissappointed, but I have to say I will definitely make sure my husband is around for my next fitness test in 4 weeks because he really pushes me to go further. I tried not looking at the clock but it was all quite mental I think.

To catch up with Sarah, by check out her intro or search the Real Housewife-Sarah category! You can also follow Sarah’s journey over on her healthy living blog, Eating the Olives!
 

FAQs: Meal Planning

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

-Benjamin Franklin

You may have noticed that meal planning has come up a lot on the blog and it's because (at least for me) it's been the best method to sticking to a balanced, healthy diet. I've received a few questions about my meal plan so I thought it would be fun to put together a Frequently Asked Questions post! But let me first start off by saying that meal plans are not for everyone! Some people don't like the restrictions, eating a lot of the same things, or planning out every meal! Some people ___(fill in the blank)___. I totally get it!

This blog celebrates all paths to healthy living, so just putting it out there: I don't believe meal planning is the only way to lose weight (or get healthy). I do it because it works for me. Everyone is different.

Here's a bit more about my experience with it!

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Does it take a long time to meal plan?

It takes about a half-hour to sit down and figure out what I'm going to eat for the next week, but I don't consider that a long time. For me, that half-hour saves me time and effort thinking about my diet during the week.

I also like looking at my calendar and seeing what's ahead and when it may be difficult to eat clean (such as at upcoming events like weddings and baby showers).

How do you choose what foods to eat?

I eat the foods I like that I know have nutritional value.

How do you determine when you are going to eat certain foods?

I try to take into account several factors such as when my sweet tooth usually hits (mid-afternoon!) and when I workout. I know I need an afternoon snack because when I return from the gym around 3:30, I'm famished. I love protein shakes after a workout! They feel like a reward!

I've also been trying to incorporate some general information I've read or heard from personal trainers about the best time to eat carbs (including fruit) and when to load up on protein. I'm still learning these principles so I don't incorporate them as often as I should (i.e. I do not count carbs), but I do hope to become more knowledgeable.

Do you meal plan for your husband?

I try, but everyone's meal plan is going to be different. He can't eat salad for lunch everyday, and he isn't interested in chicken breast and veggies for lunch either. He likes his turkey sandwiches and I make him what he likes. I do try to sneak in healthy foods (chopped cucumbers and strawberries or baby carrots), and I also try to make a balanced dinner (one that includes greens)! It's up to him if he decides to eat more after dinner (which he usually does!) but I don't try to control anyone's diet but my own.

How do you avoid eating the foods that aren't on the plan?

This is the trickiest part because in life, things come up! I just try to use my head and be honest with myself about what's acceptable and what's not... Additionally, I try to set myself up for success! There are certain sweets that my husband is not allowed to buy because they're too tempting for me (i.e. soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies)! He can, however, have oatmeal raisin cookies, because they don't tempt me; so that's what we have in the house.

At work it's definitely harder! We have office parties all the time and there's vending machines everywhere; even a frozen yogurt dispenser in the cafe! I've definitely had several slip-ups at work (too many!), but lately, since trying to stick to the meal plan, I've done several things to try to counteract the temptations:

  • I always have Extra dessert gum in my drawer! It helps with my afternoon sweet tooth a lot!
  • I buddy up with others who are dieting and/or trying to eat healthy. We commit to not going to the ice cream social (yes-- they have freggin' ice cream socials at my job!!), and it's way easier not to go when there's some accountability involved!
  • I go to the gym, almost everyday. (I'm very fortunate that I'm able to go to the gym during the day.) This definitely helps me make better choices. The gym is where I feel motivated that I CAN DO THIS!!! Lol. So when I come back, I'm a lot less likely to blow it.

Is meal planning the same as dieting?

I don't think meal planning is dieting, but it's similar. First of all, it doesn't feel like a diet. I'm eating a lot of calories (approximately 1500/day) and I'm eating foods I love. That's the beauty of creating your own meal plan- you include the foods you like to eat!

Plus, the meal plan is just a guide. I'm lenient with myself-- to a point. I might switch around when I eat something, like my protein shake, or switch the day I plan to have my cheat meal (if plans change, for instance), and I also allow myself a few small cheats. As an example, my boss brought in ribs and I totally had a bite! I didn't eat a ton, but I didn't want to be rude either!  I can't isolate myself from life!

Where did you get the idea to meal plan?

My personal trainer back in 2011 advised that I try only eating a handful of certain foods. She knew I was struggling with a busy schedule (dinners with friends and lots of family events). In between I didn't know what to eat. I wasn't taught healthy eating principles growing up (unless Five Guys has a lesson I don't know about!?). So one day she wrote out a very simple meal plan: oatmeal for breakfast, greek yogurt for a snack, salmon and chicken breast for dinner, lots of broccoli, halves of sweet potatoes, and brown rice. (It's all the same foods I eat today!) For whatever reason, something clicked. I rotated those foods and ... well, you know the rest of that story! I felt fantastic on my wedding day!

Anyway, I hope this information helps you to develop a healthy eating system for yourself! If you have other questions that I didn't answer here, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will respond!

Also, I really appreciate the support of my readers, ESPECIALLY those of you who have reached out via email or text! You're inspiring me, and giving me confidence in my goals and the future of this blog! Thanks for being so great!!!

Motivational Quote: Don't Stop Trying

I just got the most encouraging email from a new reader (Hi Meg!!!) and it made me feel so much better about the fears that I've associated with becoming a personal trainer. Thank you for your vote of confidence, Meg! I really do appreciate it! With that, I think this quote goes along perfectly with Meg's advice not to try to get it perfect "out of the gate." Things take time and often, failure is a apart of success.

Michael-Jordan

I'm also applying this quote to my diet. As of late (Easter, really) it's been a complete wash. I always have a lot of healthy go-to meals and snacks (like salad club and my greek yogurts), but I went overboard with the sweets! DietBet is ending this weekend and I'm sad to say that I don't think I'll lose the 4% required to win. But, that doesn't mean I'm giving up.

I say all this to let you (yes, you!) know I'm not perfect and chances are, niether are you. But that's OK! We can't have perfect diets or be perfect in the gym (or doing whatever) all the time. We should strive for balance. We should strive. Period.

Who's with me?

Happy Monday friends!

Real Housewife, Sarah: Maintaining During Intense Travel

{This is our weekly check-in post with Real Housewife Blogger, Sarah in Australia! Sarah weighs in Wednesday, then checks in with us Thursday. Since she started blogging her journey (end-of January), she's down 8 lbs!} So last week was ridiculously out of control. No amount of meal planning, food tracking or alarm reminders could have saved me from it. Just as an indication: I was in Auckland, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Sydney all in the span of 7 days~ Tuesday to Friday, I spent 15 hours in an airport or on planes. Needless to say, I was exhausted. I still managed to squeeze in a few workouts this week, though:

  • Monday - None
  • Tuesday - Walk (130 calories)
  • Wednesday - None
  • Thursday - Walk (407 calories)
  • Friday - None
  • Saturday - None
  • Sunday - Tag session (939 calories)

I only managed to maintain my weight this week, which I will be honest, was an absolute win! Considering I was 963 calories over my weekly net goal.

This is only a quick check-in because I am once again traveling and feel like I am working 24/7, things should settle down soon! I'm looking forward to having my meal plan and routine back next week!

Weight Loss this Week: 0 lbs Total Weight Loss (Since Jan.7): 7.9 lbs

To catch up with Sarah, by check out her intro and Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5! You can also follow Sarah’s journey over on her healthy living blog, Eating the Olives!

Real Housewife, Sarah: A Rewards System & Six Pounds Down

{This week is our first check-in post with Real Housewife Blogger, Sarah in Australia! Sarah weighs in Wednesday, then checks in with us Thursday to share what’s working and what’s not!} One thing I am a big sucker for is the "I deserve a treat, I did a huge workout this morning." Now that I am tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal (join me - LicoriceOlives), I can see that "treat" has actually just taken away all my good work that I did in the gym! I could not have the treat and not do the workout and still be in the same boat.

I dont want to be in the same boat!

So, I have to stop rewarding myself with food and instead here are the different milestones I have set for myself and when I reach them I get a little reward of the non-food variety.

  • 1 minute plank on my feet - new workout item (likely from Lululemon)
  • Run 5km without stopping - new lipstick
  • Under 80kg - pedicure and manicure
  • Lose 5kg - new workout item
  • Lose 10kg - to be decided
  • Lose 30cm from my measurements - workout headband
  • Lose 50cm from my measurements - new jewelery
  • 50 days continuous food tracking - new work lunch box

There are a couple there that I am not sure about, but I am quite excited about all of them! I am really close to getting a few (like 50 days tracking and being under 80kg) but I know I can achieve them all!

How am I funding all these expenses? I pay myself a dollar every time I work out. If I burn over 1,000 calories (or more than 2 hours) - I get $2! The idea came from a similar picture to this and it is a wonderful motivator!

Reward

{Image source: Brooke: Not on a Diet}

Now for my check-in!!

So last week was spent travelling a little and usually that means too many calories in and not enough out. I made a conscious effort to keep up my water, though, and at least do my walking for 20 minutes!

  • Monday - Walk (220 calories)
  • Tuesday - Morning and afternoon walk (685 calories)
  • Wednesday - Toning session and walk (493 calories)
  • Thursday - Rest
  • Friday - Gym Cardio Session (503 calories)
  • Saturday - Cardio Session (806 calories)
  • Sunday - Rest

Lucky for me, it went very well this week. Despite having 2 rest days and one light day, I was careful with my calories and some of my walks were tough!

I was in Perth and there are some fun stairs that are common workout stairs- there were so many people! The view at the top was definitely worth it though!

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So this weeks numbers are awesome, not in whole numbers I guess, but in that mental figure- I am under 176 lbs! I managed to weigh in at 175 lb this week! So exciting!! My husband was standing in the bathroom next to me when I weighed in and I clapped! Just need to keep down here!

Weight Loss This Week: 1.8 lbs

Total Weight Loss (since Jan. 7th): 6.2 lbs

Readers, if you’ve missed something, check out Sarah’s Intro, and catch up on Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3! You can also follow Sarah’s journey over on Eating the Olives, her healthy living blog!

Four Great Sources for Transformation Stories

Last night was the finale of the Biggest Loser's Season 14. I didn't watch it, but everyone is talking about the transformations today. They are absolutely incredible!!  This is the season winner, Danni and she lost a whopping 121 lbs:   

Biggest Loser Danni

via Yahoo News 

You can see the other Biggest Loser transformations by clicking the Yahoo News link above. They are all pretty amazing and very, very motivating, which brings me to today's post-- Four Great Sources for Transformation Stories!

If you're on a weight loss journey, chances are you love before and after photos, you love transformation stories! They're just so encouraging. right? Especially if you find a person you can relate to (who may be the same starting weight or height as you) and you can envision yourself meeting your goals, just as they have met theirs!  Transformation stories usually come with a slew of great tips and advice, too; some even detail diets and workout regimines (like those here on Fit for a Bride). All of that added motivation is why I compiled this list, an endless well of weight loss success! Go ahead, dive in!

:: Half Size Me ::

Heather lost 170 lbs and decided to help others find the motivation to do the same by sharing podcast weight loss stories on her blog, Half Size Me. Each amazing story comes with links to awesome resources and she's almost got a total of 60 podcasts! Sit back, tune in, and be inspired!

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:: MyFitnessPal ::  

The Success Stories page on MFP is updated several times a day and it's easy to get lost in the sea of success stories! Personally, I love that the stories are from REAL people, losing weight the REAL way (no gimmicks or quick fixes), and the photos are REAL too (no photoshop)! 

Even better still is that the 'loser' is just a click away should you have a question about their method, or just want to say "GREAT JOB!" That's the true definition of community, in my opinion.

Success Stories

 

On MFP you can also look for posts that are specific to your goals. Today I found a thread "5'6 who have lost 30-50 lbs, post your success pics!" That's the PERFECT board for me because that's my height and I'm trying to about 20 lbs! I've also seen "30 Day Shred Before and After Pics," which is also perfect since I'm half-way through Jillian's shred myself!

:: NBC's the Biggest Loser ::

What's 14 seasons of weight loss look like? A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS WELL OF WEIGHT LOSS MOTIVATION!

Even if you don't watch the show, seeing the before and after photos, and reading the stories of these men and women will definitely motivate you.

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Another idea is to check out past episodes and seasons- there's been a lot! I haven't kept up with it at all but several of my friends say it's extremely motivating! If you're in a rut consider pulling up a few past episodes on Hulu or from Netflix and see if you're not inspired! (I know Jillian [aka "TV's toughest trainer"] alone gets me focused, quit!)  

:: Bodybuilding.com  ::

Bodybuilding.com is a great resource for a number of things, from workouts to learning about supplements, to just about anything weight loss/weight lifting related, but my favorite feature is the weekly transformation stories. They're broken into categories: men, women, teens, etc., and they're very inspiring!

Weight Loss Success

On BB.com, they almost always detail what the diet and fitness routine was; they also include the person's email address, in case you want to email them to say you've been inspired, or ask questions! I think that's pretty cool! The only "con" is that a lot of the "after" stories are fitness models, not just your average ladies! If you're looking for something more "realistic," or long-term, you may want to look elsewhere.

Of course those aren't the only palHere are some other sources for transformation stories! Happy motivation!

Where do you get your motivation? What are your favorite resources?