weight loss inspiration

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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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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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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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

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:

Timeline-Photos
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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***

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!!

Monday Pep Talk

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Psalm 139:14

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Confession: I've been less than forthright with friends and family about my desire to become a bootcamp instructor and have a side business focused on fitness.

However, after last week's event--as amazing as it was and as enthusastic as everyone was--I feel more compelled than ever to just own it! Own this little blog and all the dreams and goals that go along with it, despite what others think.

But, for me at least, that's a lot easier said than done. I've given it some thought, though, asking myself: Why am I so self-concious about Fit for a Bride? Why don't I want people knowing I am studying to become a personal trainer?

Is it because I'm shy? That's a bit of a stretch; I'm pretty outgoing. Is it because I'm ashamed? What's there to be ashamed of? I'm posing often! The content is strong! Is it because not everybody understands what a blog is, and it's difficult to explain? Eh, maybe.

Or is it because I need to let go of negative labels?

I listed to Joel on the way home from Williamsburg yesterday and he told the story of David; and how Samuel came to find a King among Jesse's sons-- there were seven total. David was the smallest and youngest of all his brothers and his father didn't even call him from the field for the line-up. See, cause, David was the least likely to be chosen as King. His dad thought he was too small, too young, too inexperienced, whatever...

Well, as the story goes, Samuel asked David is there was another son, and when David came, God said he was the anointed one.

Most of us know what happens next, right? David was chosen and later, he defeated Goliath. This too small boy, whose own father thought he should stick with tending the field, became a legend. He became a giant-slayer, despite the negative labels ("too small;" "too weak").

I can relate to David. I'm the last of several people I know who you would think of as a fitness instructor. I certainly don't look the part (buff arms and six pack), and there's been a lot of negative labels put on me (remember? My first crush called me fat)!

But there's something to be said about removing those negative labels. Overcoming them. Deciding that, in fact, you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you are fully capable of fulfilling God's destiny for yourself (the dreams he's put in your heart), no matter what anyone else thinks (even family)!

Do you have negative labels holding you back? 

Did someone once tell you that you were too small, too big, too slow, too fill-in-the-blank? 

My goal is to remove those negative labels from your mindset and encourage you to uplift yourself with positive affirmations. As a start, write a list of positive labels you could use to describe yourself. I'd love if you left your list in the comments! Here is mine:

I am friendly. I am strong. I am knowledgable about health and fitness. I am not fat. I am not too big. I am not too slow. I have a knack for uplifting others. I would make a great personal trainer. I am a motivator. People like me. People look to me. I will fulfill the dream of encouraging others to have better health-- it's part of God's plan!

Now it's your turn!!

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!
 

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: Weekly Check-in

{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!} So this week was a little better, I was able to work out every day and I had the whole week in the office so no excuses when it came to food!

  • Monday - short ride then gym cardio session (659 calories)
  • Tuesday - Ride to work and walk from train home (905 calories)
  • Wednesday - Toning session (330 calories)
  • Thursday - Walk (153 calories)
  • Friday - Workout DVD (461 calories)
  • Saturday - Walk (135 calories)
  • Sunday - Rest Day

Being in the office for the week also meant that I could get some decent meal planning happening! I also was able to enjoy all my snacks at consistent times and keep my energy up without getting too hungry! Although I did have a lot of work on and wasnt sleeping very well, so I did have a few days (namely Thursday and Saturday) where my workouts werent optimal, but I have a 20 minute minimum agreement with myself. As an absolute minimum I MUST go for a 20 minute walk everyday. My job is very sedentary - I drive to the office, sit on my backside all day, then drive home. I dont even walk to get lunch because we have a canteen at work!

I also had a huge night on Saturday night celebrating our end of season party for our Oztag team, where I won the Most Improved! Yay! Apparently I have fooled most of my team to think that I suck less than I did at the start of the season - brilliant!

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*You may note that it is perpetual trophy with the year printed on it... adds character really!

So the numbers for this week are not that exciting, but exciting for me as this is the week I usually gain due to my lovely womanly time (too much information?) Here's the stats:

Weight Loss This Week: 0 lbs

Total Weight Loss (since Jan. 7th) : 4.5 lbs!

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

Motivated Mondays: Tactics to Stay Inspired

Hey everyone! Happy monday! Did you enjoy the Grammy's last night? My favorite performance (although it's hard to pick just one) was probably by Alicia Keys! Kelly Clarkson was a close second, though! What'd you think of Justin Timberlake's comeback? Alright, so how's everyone feeling this monday? For me, today marks week two of the #FFABChallenge to meal plan and stick to it. I don't think many of you are participating but, I have to admit: week one went GREAT! I stuck to my meal plan almost exactly and enjoyed the food (I even lost a pound!)-- I really enjoyed the restrain and that feeling, waking up in the morning, knowing all the details were already sorted out and my egg casserole was ready for me to devour! My downfall came, however, after my Saturday cheat meal; it was hard to get back on track after french toast!

Of course, I'm not ready to give up and it's Monday and that's synonymous with a fresh start/clean slate. However, I know what I need: a little motivation, which can go a long way to put my goals in perspective. (Like these "lbs to lose," and "lbs to destroy" bottles!)

This morning I'm throwing everything I can at you! Here are my favorite motivational pics and reminders from Pinterest. I hope they help you bust through your rut and get started on a meal plan or whatever health/fitness goals you have!

Motivational Wall

{via}

Motivatational Tactic-2

{Diet Girl}

This one is kind of gross, but it definitely puts things in perspective!

Motivatational Tactic-3

{via}

On that same note:

One Pound

{via}

However, always good to keep in mind:

Scale Motivation

{Operation Beautiful}

Motivation-Run

{via}

SONY DSC

{via}

Mind Over Matter

{via}

To see these and more, check out my Pinterest page!

Happy Monday!

Meet Sarah: Our Real Housewife Blogger!!

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I'm over-the-moon excited about this morning's post because it's coming from a fellow Weddingbee blogger and friend, Sarah! :) (with an "h;" I'm Sara without an "h!") Sarah lives in AUSTRALIA (how awesome is that?) and like me (and many of you!), she just got wed! She's passionate about health and fitness and just started writing Eating the Olives, an extension of her lifestyle blog Licorice and Olives.

I've invited Sarah to be a featured writer/contributor for Fit for a Bride!

So many of you are newlyweds dealing with post-wedding weight (getting off the weight you once lost for your wedding), and Sarah can relate. Here's her story:

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Hi!! I'm Sarah from Licorice & Olives and some of you may know me as Mrs Teaspoon from Weddingbee, which is how I "met" Sara! I have been beyond excited about the launch of FFAB for months-- you see I have let things go a little since we got married back in September 2011.

Since our wedding (and too many pancakes on our honeymoon), I have been reasonably active. I ran a half-marathon in May 2012 (that damn near killed me but I made it and I didn't come last!), but, another thing I've been doing though is baking and eating and cooking and eating and well... you get the idea! Basically just enjoying married life with my wonderful husband! So now it is time to crack down and get serious about this workout and nutrition thing. I hope that blogging for FFAB will keep me accountable, and hopefully prevent other women from doing the same thing.

(Now the hard part!) Even though it's nerve-racking and uncomfortable to share this information with you-- here's it is:

I weighed 72kg (159lbs) for our wedding day and after 6 months of a poor diet, I was staring at 84kg (185lbs) on the scales. (Writing that down in pounds sounds far worse!) I have slowly taken a little off and in January, I was 82.7kg (182 lbs) and now I am working to get to my goal weight of 65kg (143lbs).
Each week I will check in at FFAB and let you know how I am doing with my health goals and I will be posting regularly on Eating the Olives, too. You can also follow along with @LicoriceOlives on twitter and Instagram and LicoriceOlives on MyFitnessPal (pop "FFAB" in the request please).
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Sarah-- thank you SO much! Thank you for being enthsuastic about this blog and for being so honest about your weight-- sharing it publicly takes a lot of guts!!  Friends, did you gain back weight you lost for your wedding?

Weight Loss Success: Monica Rysavy

I am beyond thrilled to share today's transformation story with you! I met Monica through Making Things Happen back in 2011, then, late last year we decided to team up, meet again, and help each other achieve big goals in 2013! We each drove about an hour and a half and met for lunch at Borders. I had just received my Mac & Photoshop Elements and Monica spent the day showing me how to use my nifty new tools! We totally hit it off!

I encouraged her to open her Etsy shop and do online tutorials for Photoshop (she's an amazing teacher!), and she encouraged me to finally hit publish on that first Fit for a Bride post! If it wasn't for her, I don't know if I would have ever shared (or started) my Facebook page! She's been a real cheerleader!

Little did I know we also shared a weight loss story! I could hardly believe it-- she's so tiny! Then she sent over the pictures. Wow- what a transformation!

Like many of us, she lost weight, put it back on, and then lost it again; except this time, she vows, it's for good!

Monica's got a really busy schedule, commuting twice a week to get her Ph.D from Penn State (impressive, ay?) and her story is great for girls on the go! Who am I kidding? It's great for all of us!

Thanks again Monica for sharing your incredible story! You look fantastic!!

Monicas-Transformation-1

What contributed to your being overweight?

During my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to go to college full time through a dual enrollment program. I spent most of my day at the local community college and returned to high school about once a week to turn in paperwork. As you might imagine, being 17 years old and suddenly having a lot more freedom and unstructured time was a lot of fun (and really a fantastic experience), but that also led to me eating more junk food. I was never a snacker until I started college that year. Before I’d eat breakfast, lunch, a snack before sports practice, and then dinner. I think the main reason for this was because in high school you weren’t allowed to eat in class! In college most professors didn’t care and there was a café with all sorts of tasty (and primarily unhealthy!) treats. So I started snacking a lot more. And drinking a lot of sugary coffee drinks and sodas. That’s when my weight gain started.

2002_before

When did you decide to make a change? Has your decision to get healthy been on-again off-again, or did something just click?

I first decided to make a change in the spring of 2004. I was at my highest weight, just shy of 200 lbs. I clearly remember one moment when things sort of clicked for me...My boyfriend (now husband!) and I left the Cheesecake Factory after lunch on Saturday and we were staring to walk through the mall when the snap on my jeans popped off. I still remember the “pling!” it made as it hit the marble floor and rolled in front of us. I remember my hubby staring at it rather dubiously (bless him, he didn’t make one negative comment and never has), and then eying me to gauge my reaction. I remember being extremely upset. I think we left the mall at that point. That was pretty much the last straw. I had been half-heartedly attempting to diet and exercise up to that point but things really began in earnest from there on out.

I ended up loosing a significant amount of weight over the next 8-10 months and was down to about 115 pounds by the following Christmas (December 2004). I wouldn’t recommend going about it the way I was though. I wasn’t following a really healthy eating plan. I was following a“I didn’t eat very much and worked out like crazy (for me) plan.” I ate three meals a day, but I didn’t pay much attention to so-called “healthy” calories or “good” carbs, I just ate low-calorie food for the most part.

Monica_WeddingMel Russell

I maintained that weight through our wedding in June 2006 through about a year later and then I started to put weight back on again. It crept on slowly until about I was at my highest weight again of about 168 (again I followed the stay away from the scale pattern like I did the first time) last April (2012).

Making Things Happen New York

When I met Monica in 2011 / Photo by Gina Zeidler

This last time I decided to lose weight again because it just felt like it was time. I was in a really good place emotionally speaking. After a few up and down years, I decided to leave my job in August 2011 and went back to school full time. I’m a Ph.D. student at Penn State, and absolutely love working in my graduate position there! I was enjoying school, family life was good, so I felt like I had all of the professional and personal aspects of my life together so it was time to get me physically together again.

2012_before

When did you start to see a difference in your weight?

I notice weight loss really quickly in me because I’m so short! J So that’s the positive side, the negative is that any weight gain shows equally quickly. My sizes change dramatically fairly quickly. For example, in the high 160s, I’m in a snug size 12 in pants. At my current, still losing weight of 142, I’m in a size 6. At my pre-Christmas weight of 137, I was in a 4!

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

I’m currently using Weight Watchers and have done it off and on over the years. I’m not the biggest fan of point tracking, but writing down everything you eat with a declining balance of points is very helpful for me.

What are some of your staple foods?

Oatmeal! I used to make my own using whole oats (cheaper and tastier than the packaged stuff!) but recently I discovered two different flavors of Weight Watchers Oatmeal (Berry and Maple Brown Sugar) that I like a lot. The Berry has 10 grams of fiber in it! I have yet to find one that has that much in it at the grocery store so that’s why I’m ok with paying more for it.

Monica Rysavy Instagram  Monica Rysavy Instagram

From Monica on Instagram

I know you're on the go a lot, in the car and at a hotel. What saves you from eating out all the time?

I am definitely on the go a lot! I commute to school each week. It’s about 170 miles each way so I stay overnight in a hotel a few nights each week. That contributed A LOT to my weight gain last year. Going out to eat, living a graduate student lifestyle of too much coffee and bad for you snacks, all really bad habits that I picked up.

This year things have been completely different! I pack my lunches and snacks and sometimes bring a meal for dinner or go out. My typical lunch consists of Greek Yogurt (I like the 80-calorie Dannon’s Light and Fit kind), freeze dried fruit that I mix in the yogurt, and fat free popcorn (the individual pop your own bag kind) or fruit. Snacks are typically fruit or a granola bar. I like the Weight Watchers snack bars, but will try anything that is about 2-3 points or less. Sometimes I have a serving of nuts like almonds for a snack. Dinner is either a TV dinner (though I try really hard not to eat these as I don’t really like them.) or I buy one meal at my favorite restaurant at school (Noodles and Company) and split it over two nights. I love their Japanese pan noodles with tofu and split it comes to under 250 calories for each meal with a big portion.

I also significantly cut down on the amount of Starbucks I drink. I love Starbucks but many of their drinks, as advertised, are not very healthy. I’m currently trying to drink the lighter versions, like a Skinny Latte vs. my terrible for you White Chocolate Mocha with Peppermint (eek! The calories! It’s awful!), but to be honest, I haven’t found a light drink that I’m ok with yet. The sugar free syrups (I’ve had caramel and vanilla so far) don’t taste very good to me. So that’s a work in progress.

2012_during weight lossBarbie Hull

Do you workout? How often?

Yes. Typically 4 days per week during the school year. I made it to the gym 5 days a week from May through August when I was home from school and that was great! During my school year it’s difficult to get all 5 days in because of my schedule. I try to do at least 45 minutes, but usually an hour. I’m also working out with a trainer (thanks to a gift from my wonderful Mom!) once a week for weight lifting.

When did you start? Have you always been athletic?

I’ve worked out off and on for years, but consistently since April 2012. While I was really into organized sports in high school, I don’t really consider myself athletic when it comes to team sports. I think I liked the social aspect more than anything else. I don’t like working out, but I like how I feel afterwards, and the healthy effects that it brings so that’s why I do it. I also watch my favorite TV shows that I never have time to watch while I work out on my iPad so that’s a big incentive for me to exercise.

What's been the best part about getting healthier/losing weight? (For example, shopping for clothes, hubby's compliments?)

I love clothes so shopping for clothes in smaller sizes is cool, but the best part has been seeing how proud my hubby is of me. He’s always been supportive of me – he really is my biggest cheerleader! – but this past summer he really showed it in a big way but encouraging us to get pictures taken together in Seattle. He’d like us to get more taken again too. He’s not the biggest fan of being in professionally taken photos so that’s a big deal for him.

2012-during weight loss 3

Kate Callahan Photography

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

Don’t lose hope if you start a new plan – or any plan for that matter – and you don’t see the pounds coming off immediately. It took time to put the weight on, it takes time, sometimes longer, to lose the weight. The same advice goes with beating plateaus. I thought I’d never see below 15 this past summer. I must have hovered there for nearly a month. I was exercising, eating well, etc… but just stuck. Then one day it went down and just kept going. Same thing has happened before at 140 too. Something about those numbers!

I really like this message that Monica added: I’d also say that if you want to be healthier and/or lose weight, then you need to stand up for yourself. What I mean to say is that if you are currently going out to eat a lot with friends, your significant other, etc…, then you can still go out to eat, but what you eat needs to change. However, if your friends, partner, etc. are encouraging you to eat the old foods, let them know you aren’t going to, and stick with your plan!

Something that really hits home with me is this thought: Each of us has so many things that are beyond our control. Life, what other people do, etc., etc., but your diet is the one thing that is completely in your control. What you put in your mouth is based on your decision, no one else’s. While it’s easier said than done, now I think about why I’m eating something before I eat it. Am I really hungry? Or am I eating for another reason? And that has made a world of difference.

Great advice, Monica! Thank you so much!

Has anyone else experienced on-again off-again weight gain/loss?

Stay tuned for a giveaway later today-- something from Monica's Etsy shop!

Weight Loss Motivation: Visualize Your Goals

I usually post a quote on Monday to get us motivated for the week, but today I'm sharing a different motivational technique- visual cues! When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I loved it! I ran straight out to the craft store and it cost me less than $10 to make these fun, visual reminders of my goals. I set them up on my desk at work last week and all my coworkers thought it was a great idea! Have you seen this before?

Visual-Motivation

Would you make something like this?

Are visual motivators helpful for you?

See others here and here.

Let me know if you decide to make these- I'll blog your photos!

Happy Motivated Monday!