weight loss success story

Weight Loss Success // Fit Mom, Sarah

Hey guys! Happy Tuesday! I hope you Nor'easters enjoyed the snow yesterday! I did! Today I wanted to share a very inspiring story with you about my friend and fellow Weddingbee blogger, Sarah, aka Mrs. Locket, which ties right in with our newfit mom blogging series

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah
Meet-Sarah
Meet-Sarah

Sarah is fiercely tackling her weight loss goals and going about it in a multi-facet way, from running to yoga to PX90, and of course, clean eating! Like many of us, Sarah has battled her weight before, pre-and-post wedding and pre-baby! She's been down this road before, but never as determined and as focused as she is today!  

Sarah is also committed to inspiring others along her way through Instagram and her blog, Slow Mo Runner, which I love to see! Her before and after pictures are truly inspiring, and the photos (you'll see below) of her son and husband joining in on the fitness action are adorable! I'm really happy to share Sarah's journey with you, and think it's the perfect tie into our fit mom blogging series by Karlye! (Look out for Karlye's weekly check-in at noon today!) Now, Sarah's story! 

Tell us your story. When did the weight loss begin?  

I think I have always been a health-conscious individual, but my execution was lacking or misguided.  I would always get into these healthy kicks, but would find excuses or reasons to eventually stray. In college I spent most of my time being active and participated on the women's rowing team.  I also became a pescitarian (vegetarian that eats fish) for a good two years and did my best to eat a healthy, mindful diet.

Unfortunately, the stresses of working crazy hours and going to school full-time caught up to me in my senior year and I put on weight again.  A year later, I refocused and through diet and exercise was able to get to a healthier weight, but then came the "happy weight gain."  I became comfortable while living with my then boyfriend (now husband) and found it all to easy to indulge in the foods that he enjoyed.

In 2009, we moved into our second apartment together, and it wasn't until I saw photos from that move that I realized I had put on so much weight (again).  A month later we were engaged, and like many brides, I didn't want to lose weight for the big day!  So, I refocused yet again and was able to lose 20 lbs for our September 2010 wedding... I used blogging as a way to hold me accountable and it was a great motivator.  My husband and I even held weekly weigh-in competitions.

After the wedding, the happy weight came back and I gained a large portion of what I had lost back.  It wasn't until early 2011 that we decided to get back at it again.  This time around we chose to use the Beach Body Fitness Program, P90X. The infomercials really inspired us both and we liked that we could do the workouts from home (we could no longer afford our $120/mo gym membership).  Motivated to fit into a bridesmaid dress, I followed the program strictly for 1 month and I lost the 15 lbs I had put on.  It didn't last though, I became pregnant in May of 2013 and immediately packed on 10 lbs.

Do you feel like you've always been overweight?  

I've always been overweight by BMI standards.  My lowest weight in college was 160lbs and at 5'5" that put me into the overweight category.  My weight has always been a struggle for me, I've always been a heavier girl, but I typically carried my weight well.  I have an athletic build and put on muscle quite easily, unfortunately I also hold onto fat.  Soon after graduating from college I managed to get down to 155 and for once, I began to feel skinny.  My size 10 jeans were falling off of me and most of clothes became baggy.  People began to compliment me on my weight loss and recognized the change.  I enjoyed the skinny feeling, but it took a toll on my physical health.  I had lost the weight unintentionally because I was working too many hours, not getting enough sleep, and forgetting to eat throughout the day.  Because I wasn't exercising or fueling my body properly, I noticed a huge decrease in my muscle mass... I was skinny fat.  I also became severely anemic and needed to be put on supplements and monitored for quite some time.  This period of being "skinny" lead me to a period of feeling the need to stuff my face to makeup for the deficiencies.  I couldn't seem to find the right balance.  Finding the right balance is still something I struggle with, but I am getting less concerned with the number on the scale and paying more attention to how I feel.

Are you trying to lose weight now? How much? 

Yes, I am currently trying to lose weight, but am trying really hard to ignore the numbers on the scale.  I'd like to lose another 23-33 lbs to reach my initial goals.  To reach a healthy BMI (not overweight) I would still need to lose 39 lbs.

What method are you using to lose weight? 

Since March of 2013 I've lost 30 lbs through running, P90X, and by cleaning up my diet.

Are you following a special diet? Counting calories? 

After a month-long hiatus I just got back into calorie counting.  I decided to focus on clean eating for the month of October and quite honestly needed a break from the routine.  I tried to do the Whole30 Challenge for the month, but it was hard to stick with on my own.  I was able to last a couple of weeks and would love to try it again. I don't think I planned things out thoroughly enough to execute it for the entire month.

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah

What are your favorite healthy snacks – for yourself and for your little one?  

My favorite healthy snacks are edamame, green or red fresh peppers or cucumbers with a little soy sauce, and veggies with hummus.  I also love portable fruit options like apples or bananas.  My son's favorite healthy snacks are yogurt, raisins or craisins (I call them candy), strawberries, bananas, apples, and cheese sticks.

If you're comfortable sharing the figures publicly, please tell me your starting weight, current weight, and goal weight.  

Absolutely, they are just numbers and don't define me!  When I started my weight loss journey in March I was 218 lbs, currently 188 and working towards 165-155.  It would be amazing to get past those goals too, but I'll set new ones when I reach my current goals.

How often do you workout? 

I workout once a day 6 days a week.  I was doubling up workouts in the beginning, but cut back as my marathon training mileage increased.  I usually work on core exercises and yoga or stretching in the evenings when I get home.

Fit Mom_Sarah Yoga
Fit Mom_Sarah Yoga

What’s your favorite type of workout?  

I really enjoy weight training and have also come to crave running.

Do you lift weights?

Yes! I really love working on my arms, specifically my biceps and shoulders.  I think a lot of the love comes from that post lift "swole" and feeling the difference in composition.  I'm also a flex junky and love seeing the definition grow.

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah

Do you have a workout buddy? 

Not at the moment.  Does Instagram count?  I have a lot of people I follow and few of them are doing the same programs as I am!

You recently completed a full marathon! Your first! Congratulations! When we sat down to talk, you told me about the half marathon you completed. What was that like? 

It was AWESOME!  The race took place in Syracuse, NY and the course ran through a familiar path, the Onondaga Lake Park, home to my first 5K race.  As I pressed through the park passing mile 3 I had such a sense of euphoria and accomplishment.  Just 3 years prior I ran that same path full of jitters and a similar eagerness, but with no sense that I would be capable of conquering any distance greater than that.  And yet there I was, I was in it with 10 miles left to go and I felt great!

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah

I pushed myself through the entire race and was able to finish in my fastest time for that distance 2:34:42.  I typically run a 13 min mile for my longer training runs so getting a sub 12 min pace was pretty amazing.

>> To read about when Sarah went on to complete the Walt Disney World Marathon (read: 26.2 miles!!), check out the post on her blog here.<<<

How do you stay consistent with working out?  

I bring my gym bag with me to work everyday and share my routine on IG.  I also have the GymPact app for my phone and have it set to 5 workouts per week.  If I miss my goals I get fined $10 for every day I miss on my pact.  It's really helped hold me accountable because I hate losing money.  I also earn a little money every week from it, which is a bonus.  I also find that the fact that I am training for something helps keep me on track.  I don't want to miss out on any running days because it could derail all of the hard work I've already put in.

How do you find the time? Does your son go to day care at the gym, or does your spouse help?  

On days that I miss a lunch workout or need to workout from home I try and wait until my son is asleep.  The great thing about P90X is that it can be done from the convenience of my own living room.  We also own a treadmill and I have the option of running at home.  On the weekends when I do my long runs I do my best to get them out of the way early in the day.  I want to be able to have the time to spend with my family and it's a great feeling to have my long run finished before either of them are out of bed.

Does your husband support your strive to be healthier?

Absolutely, he is constantly reminding me of how proud he is of me and compliments me on my progress on a daily basis. He has also gotten me gifts here and there to help me along with my journey.  My favorite and most used item thus far are my wireless headphones.  They are a godsend for those long runs!

Has your strive to be healthier influenced him at all? 

In the beginning we were both doing the P90x workouts together and he was able to lose 25 lbs.  After a while he cut back on the at home workouts, but stayed focused on cutting out a lot of the processed and fasts foods and has since been able to maintain the loss.  He is hoping to get back into the workout routine, but can't stand to do them at home anymore.  He works from home and needs an escape every now and then.

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah

Where do you get your inspiration? 

On occasion pop on over to That Wife Blog because I've been participating in the That Weight Loss Challenge (TWLC) that she holds.  But I'm more inspired by the Facebook and Instagram accounts I follow.  It's easy to see the quick stories and progress photos and they are easily accessed from my phone.

A few that come across my feed on Facebook are:  Brandee Eagles - My Imperfect Journey to Find My Face, Ripped Goddess, Flex It Pink, and That Wife Blog. For Instagram I follow too many people to share all of them, but a few of my favorites are @adry_bella and her sister @brownnie77, @fatgirl_meets_fitworld, @estellearcher, @blondemis_fit, @IGfitmoms

What things have changed about you since having your child? Is losing weight harder or easier than it used to be?  

The thing that's changed the most is my mid-section.  Pregnancy did a number on my belly and I was left with stretch marks and a lot of loose skin.  I also lost nearly every ounce of core strength.  In the beginning of my journey, the core workouts were the hardest for me.  I would wipe out within the first 30 seconds of any ab work.  I think it's a lot harder to lose the weight.  I don't know if it's because my body composition has changed so much or because I started weaning my son in June, but my body isn't as responsive to changes as it once was.

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah

Do you think being a mom has influenced you to want to be healthier?

It has been my biggest motivator!  By my son's first birthday he was well adjusted to walking (he started at 8.5 months) and had nearly mastered running.  I remember chasing him down our hallway (our very short hallway) and getting winded.  It scared me.  I had the realization that some day soon my son would be fast enough to get away from me.  What would I do if I couldn’t catch him?  What if he wriggled away and ran in front of a car because I couldn't react quickly enough because I was too out of shape?  I needed to do something so that I could commit to being the best mom I could be.

Why is being a fit mom important to you?

I need to be the healthy mom.  I want to be the healthy mom.  I want to get my life back (I felt so trapped being overweight).  I also don't want to plan on a second child until I drop the extra weight.  I’ve read too many articles about how moms who don’t lose the baby weight within the first 6 months are more likely to not lose it and to continue to gain with each subsequent pregnancy...  I cannot fathom being any bigger than I was and I don't want to become a statistic.  I want to prove to myself that I can do it for myself and for my family.  I also want to be sure I set proper groundwork for my son to be as happy and healthy as he can be.

Lastly, what advice do you give other moms who want to get healthier, starting working out, or lose weight?

My biggest piece of advice is to go at your own pace, but push yourself while your doing it.  Think about why you want to quit a workout or a diet plan and then think about what it will get you.  Setting goals is the most important part of a healthy lifestyle. The goals can be small because many small changes can lead to big results.

Another huge factor for me was creating a network of people through IG, FB, friends and family to act as a support/accountability group.  Having other people with similar goals, triumphs and obstacles has really kept me on track.

Most importantly, it's good to remember that results take time.  If you're too focused on immediate results you may give up too soon.  If you hang in there long enough and keep pushing you will see progress.

Fit Mom_Sarah
Fit Mom_Sarah

Wow! I love that advice, Sara! Hell yes! I couldn't agree more! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. Best of luck continuing to tackle those goals! You're doing amazing and I know there's no stopping you! I'll be following along! :) And, guys, you should too! If you have a chance, please "Like" Sarah on Facebook or check out her Beach Body page! Thanks again Sarah! 

Talking About: Too Much Weight Loss

I wasn't going to mention it but the buzz about the Biggest Loser, Rachel losing too much weight hasn't lost any steam in the last two days. Everywhere I look there's something about Rachel being "too skinny," and the Biggest Loser being a "bad show" because of rapid unrealistic weight loss. I'm dying to know what you guys think! Do you watch the Biggest Loser? Does the show motivate you, or do you agree with the nay-sayers that it's too much weight loss, too fast. Biggest Loser

And what about Rachel? Is she too skinny? How does she compare with last year's winner, Dannielle?

Another question: is saying someone is too skinny the same as saying they're too fat? Body shaming is body shamming, right? Should America just butt out? Share your thoughts!

Image courtesy of NBC.

Weight Loss Success: Jessica of Get Busy Living

May_2013-11-2JessicaJessica is an elementary teacher in Pennsylvania, who has lost over 80 pounds and transformed her health through exercise and clean eating. Yep, you read that correct: 80 lbs!! Jessica loves running and recently completed her second half marathon. She has a blog called Get Busy Living and can be found on Instagram @jessicasmith626 -  sharing post-run selfies and lots of clean eats! When I read Jessica's story, I cried y'all. After experiencing devastating tragedy, this girl grabbed life by the bullhorns and began an incredible transformation. What I love most about her journey is that it's not over. She didn't meet her goal weight, and then go back to her old lifestyle. She lives one day at a time, striving to be healthy (not skinny), and has developed some great habits along the way. On her blog, I love reading how she's working on accepting that she's not the girl she used to be. (Oh I can relate, Jess!) And I love all her clean recipes from squash fries to the world's best cup of coffee. I'm honored to share Jessica's story here. I hope it inspires you like it has me!

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

My weight has been an issue for me since the summer before 6th grade.  Before that, my mom used to say I was a “string bean” – it was hard to find pants to fit my long skinny legs.  That changed seemingly overnight. It was like I woke up one day skinny and the next day I was fat!  At first, we attributed it to hormones – but when I continued to remain overweight, it became clear that wasn’t the cause.

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

I have attempted to lose weight many times since high school. I’ve tried Weight Watchers (with some success), South Beach, Medifast, Slim-Fast, and other diet programs like that.  I’d always lose the weight and then gain it back when I went “off my diet”.  I finally decided to stop looking for things with the word “FAST” in them, and just start eating quality, healthy foods.  This lifestyle change, not diet, has transformed my life!

Did you measure body fat?

Yes! The gym I belong to started with a measurements that included my weight, body fat, and measurements of various areas of my body. When I started, my body fat was 47% - it’s now 26%!

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

I lost my first 40 pounds by exercising regularly and cutting out processed, fast, and sugary foods – no calorie counting! I got stuck at a plateau then and started to use the MyFitnessPal app to track my calories, and that helped me lose the next 40 pounds!

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Has anyone been doing this with you?

I haven’t had anyone doing this “with” me – but through my gym I ended up meeting many wonderful friends, some of whom are now my best friends.  We sign up for races together, plan workouts together, and text each other almost every day to help each other stay on track!

Have you reached your goal yet?

I haven’t reached my goal quite yet – I have about 20 more pounds to go! I settled myself around 170 pounds for a few months, and just allowed my focus to shift from calorie counting to properly fueling myself as I was training for my 2nd half marathon and a 10-mile obstacle race.  Now that those races are behind me, I’m getting back to calorie counting and trying to get rid of these last 20 pounds!

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

My weight loss has progressed along for over 2 years now.  I’m taking the “slow and steady” approach and seeking to make permanent life changes, not fast fixes!

What are some of your staple foods and favorite recipes?

Every single weekday morning I make a green smoothie.  I mix unsweetened coconut milk, a handful of spinach, and protein powder as my base.  Then I add frozen fruit and other mix-ins like cocoa powder, powdered peanut butter, flax, chia seeds, coconut oil, or almond butter.  I also eat a lot of fish and quinoa.  My go-to dinner is baked salmon, broccoli, and quinoa!

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

I work out 5-6 days a week.  I used to hate it, but now I’m addicted!  I belong to a great gym in my area called Phases Fitness.  At Phases, you work with a trainer every 8 weeks to check progress via measurements, discuss goals, and they set up an 8 week strength training program for you.  It’s a smaller gym, so I’ve gotten to know a lot of people there.  You schedule your workouts by appointment, so if you don’t show up – someone notices and sooner or later, they’ll call you to see what’s up!

I run 2-3 days a week (more if I’m training for a race) and strength train 2-3 days.  Right now I just finished training for 2 big races, so I’m spending November shaking things up! I’m working with a personal trainer at my gym, attending a friend’s outdoor boot camp, and taking some Bikram yoga classes.

I know from your blog that you enjoy running. What got you started running? What races have you done? 

I started running around August 2012.  My gym offered a training for the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in New York City, and I thought it sounded like a great challenge.  I did the 10 mile course as part of a relay team, so I had to run approximately the distance of a 5k.  After tackling that challenge, and learning that I COULD run (I always swore I couldn’t!), I registered for my first half-marathon and I haven’t looked back!  I like the half-marathon distance the best right now.  It’s challenging and requires focused training, but yet it’s not as tough on my body as a full marathon.

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

My parents are super supportive! They are enjoying an active retirement touring the country in an RV and it’s so fun to be able to go places and do things like hike and kayak with them.  I also would be lost without the help of “The Fab 5” – 4 girlfriends I met through my gym.  The 5 of us text each other constantly for support, advice, and encouragement!

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

Get up and get started! Even if it’s to walk around your block, or start cleaning the crummy food out of the pantry – just make one change and then get up and do it. And if you’re a person of faith, as I am -  pray about! Ask God to help you, invite Him along on the journey. Don’t assume that your struggles with eating and exercising are outside the realm of God – He cares about these things! Romans 12 tells us that taking care of our bodies is an act of worship!

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Jessica, can I just say thankful I am for you, your willingness to share about your journey, and your outward expression of your faith? The way you've made these changes stick; the way you've intertwined them with your faith; you are incredible. Your success is a blessing and inspiration to many! Keep it up girl! 

Friends, if you need some motivation, check out Jessica's blog, where she shares a lot more before and after pictures. You can follow her on instagram, shoot her an email or leave a comment here. 

Thank you again Jessica! You are INCREDIBLE! Good luck with bikram yoga!! And check back with us again sometime, k? :)

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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small-38

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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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!!

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!

Throwback Thursday: Reminders of My Progress

Say hello to Ghadeer and me, circa 2001:

Ghadeer-Sara

Throwback-Thursday

I've been nervous to post this for awhile but my personal trainer says it's good to look at pictures of the old me. You know, the overweight me.
 
He said I should put these pictures on the refrigerator and everywhere, really as a reminder of where and who I don't want to be.
 
This is a totally new tactic for me. I'm definitely a lot more comfortable looking at skinny pictures-- my college years and pre-wedding-- and keeping these suckers stashed under my bed. 
 
(By the way, does everyone categorize their photos as skinny vs. fat, or is it just me?)
 
Looking at skinny pictures feels good. I can wallow in my longing, wishing I was back there, comforted to know I was there!!
 
But my trainer says the reverse psychology is much more effective. (To make me think, I don't want to be like that and act accordingly?!) I'm not sure it's totally working (or that I buy into it), but I am willing to give it a try (especially since there's a cool hashtag for it! #tbt).
 
One bonus I do find in looking back, is an acceptance of how far I have come. Growing up overweight, the negative self-talk is omnipresent, and it's not easily overcome. Even after losing 20 lbs, my freshman year at college, I still felt like a fat girl on the inside. Even today, sometimes, I feel like that. These pictures help remind me I'm not that.
 
Do you find throwbacks helpful or hurtful to your progress?

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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IMG_3851[1]

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?

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!

IMG_3826[1]

*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!

Real Housewife, Sarah: Week Three Check-in

[This is our weekly check-in with Real Housewife Blogger, Sarah in Australia! Sarah weighs in on Wednesday, then checks in with us on Thursday to share what’s working and what’s not! She's three weeks in and 5 lbs down! Her consistency is so motivating!}

From Sarah:

Firstly, we are the champions! Yes, the 2nd division mixed Wednesday night CHAMPIONS! That's me front and centre with the blue t-shirt under my singlet. Organised sports are an awesome way to keep fit!

blogger-image--12753871

This week was a little rough workout-wise because I had a sore hip early in the week. But here's the rundown of my workouts:

  • Monday - Run (508 calories)
  • Tuesday - Rest (went to physio)
  • Wednesday - Oztag game (320 calories)
  • Thursday - Strength workout (186 calories)
  • Friday - Rest (flew to Melbourne)
  • Saturday - Step Class plus 20 minutes cardio (833 calories)
  • Sunday - Rest

Meals were also pretty off this week. MyFitnessPal tells me that I was 1200 net calories over my goal of 1200/day. So that should be no surprise that I have the results that I have with my weigh-in. Comparing with last week, MFP had me at 3304 under my net goal, which is a 4,000 calorie difference!

Here’s my stats for the week:

Weight Loss This Week: +0.6 lbs

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

Sarah, you're doing fantastic! I love how you're keeping your workouts fun!

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!

Real Housewife, Sarah: A Total of 5 lbs Down!

[This is our weekly check-in with Real Housewife Blogger, Sarah in Australia! Sarah weighs in on Wednesday, then checks in with us on Thursday to share what’s working and what’s not! This lady is rockin' it! So inspiring!} From Sarah:

Last week was a pretty easy week work wise and I absolutely nailed all my workouts. I was in Sydney all week so it definitely makes it easier!

I thought I would do a little round up of my workouts to show what I am up to each week and to make me realise why I was a little sore on Monday morning!

Monday - fitness test: 1 km run, plank, wall hold, 1 min pushups and flexibility. Plus a 4km walk (484 calories) Tuesday - Ride to work - 14km each way. (1477 calories) Wednesday - Oztag game (433 calories) Thursday - rest day Friday - Cardio circuit at the gym (524 calories) Saturday - Step Class plus 40 minutes cardio (1054 calories) Sunday - Oztag training (919 calories)

Really looking forward to next week, I have an entire week in the office and I am already planning for my 3 riding to work days! Monday, Wednesday and Friday!

Meals were 100% on track for the week, with Meal Planning February, I was able to get some great planning ahead. I am also slowing working on Meal Prep Sunday (Meal Prep Monday whilst it sounds better, is so impractical) where I prepare as much as I can for the next few days, such as my breakfasts, some of my lunches, any vegetables etc. It really helps cut down the time in the mornings and at night to make meals!

I have also discovered a new found love for Chobani yogurt!

Mrs Teaspoon

Here’s my stats for the week:

Weight Loss This Week: 1.5 lbs!

Total Weight Loss (since Jan. 7th) : 5 lbs!

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 Success Story: Cris of Kiss My Tulle {Part 2}

If you're just now joining us, be sure to click back to Part 1. We're finishing up getting the scoop from Cris of Kiss My Tulle on how she lost a total of 40 lbs for her wedding day!

DOESN'T SHE LOOK TOTALLY AMAZING~!?

Cris Kiss My Tulle

I asked Cris to talk about her diet and exercise regimen since we all know those are the key components to a healthier lifestyle. Here's what she had to say:

What program or method did you decide to use to help you lose weight? What made you chose that particular path?

I got an elliptical machine of my own and started reading fitness magazines (starting with chick-friendly Fitness and Shape and eventually moving up to the more hardcore Oxygen). I did hour-long workouts at home and experimented with incorporating high impact interval training into my cardio and learning how to lift weights properly. Then, after seeing the photo of me at Amanda’s wedding, I joined My Fitness Pal and started logging every single thing that I ate into its calorie calculator. I religiously stuck to my daily allotted calories and the weight started peeling off. I was starting to see the muscle under the fat.

Did anyone do it with you?

Nope. I started off with my sister but 98% of what I have done has been me, myself, and I. I do have a great group of supporters on My Fitness Pal and sometimes, The Boy goes to the gym with me. But this journey has been mine alone.

KMT 11

When you started, did you love it immediately or was it difficult to adjust to?

Going from zero to 100 is ALWAYS difficult, but I never followed a specific diet – I learned to slowly eliminate “bad” foods, add “good” foods, and portion control. Using My Fitness Pal was a huge help. When I go out to eat, I can plugin menu options before I order and see exactly how many chicken wings I can enjoy without going over my calorie limit for the day. That was a big thing for me.

I refuse to live my life eating only boneless, skinless chicken breasts and barley – I want to enjoy everything… just in moderation.

Kiss My Tulle Cake

What are some food “staples” that held you through? 

Berries - I could eat them all day.

Spicy Feta Burgers – a recipe from an old issue of Oxygen magazine that I make with deer meat. The Boy LOVES this and I make it at least once a week.

The Big Salad - Elaine knew what she was doin’. Add whatever veggies float your boat and a bit of grilled chicken. Yum.

Hard Boiled Eggs - I do a dozen every shopping day and snag one when I’m hungry but don’t want or can’t have a whole meal.

BumbleBee Lemon Pepper Tuna + Crackers - This was a go-to when I worked outside my house. No mayo and tons of taste.

Wedding Fruit

Did you join a gym or workout at home? What was your exercise regime like?

No gym or set program for me. I tried to do a half hour of cardio (steady rate on Tuesdays and Thursdays and HIIT on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) plus half hour to 45 minutes of strength training (alternating upper body one day and lower body another) every day.

Do you have a favorite exercise or body part that you like to work? 

I discovered that I love strength training – specifically my shoulders and biceps. Those are the muscle groups that showed results the fastest. Plus, I love being the weight room now with all those guys. I can lift more than some of them now!

Were your family and friends aware of your diet and exercise routine?

Everyone was aware and while they said they were supportive – they weren’t all the time. I got lots of “too skinny” comments and remarks from my side of the family, but The Boy has been supportive from the beginning. He was on board (not happily but he did it) when I started cooking healthier at home, when I began eliminating foods from our cabinets and fridge, and he joined a gym with me.

KMT 8

What did you learn that you're trying to incorporate in your newlywed life? 

It’s really important to talk about your health with your partner. The Boy knew my goals and expectations and why they were important to me. That allowed us to have a frank discussion about our goals together and to see if we what changes we needed to make to our health to make them happen. It was eye-opening.

I'm truly, truly honored that Cris agreed to answer my questions and share all of her lovely wedding photos! She responded to my inquiry with enthusiasm and this was back before I even started the blog! Thank you for that, Cris! Congratulations on your marriage and I hope we'll continue to be blog buddies! I'd love to have you post again at the end of #12MoF, and maybe we can even collaborate on a post-wedding weight-loss journey!

Did I mention I want that spicy veggie burger recipe?! Sounds delish! =)

Thanks for reading this, Fit for a Bride friends!

Please comment: give Cris a high-five, visit her blog, and email me if you have a similar story to share.

*All Images Courtesy of Miranda Laine Photography

Wedding Weight Loss Champ: Cris of Kiss My Tulle {Part 1}

I am CRAZY excited about today because I'm sharing the first-ever Fit for a Bride transformation story, and it's from a blogger many of us know and love: Cris of Kiss My Tulle!! Yay!! Cris lost a whopping 40 lbs before her wedding! Wow! And, she blogged her entire weight loss journey! Double wow!

Weight Loss Success_CrisI absolutely love when Cris talks about being able to zip up her gown for the first time! The pretty lace halter was her big motivator-- she got it through the Wedding Dress Project and between that, and some photos of herself she didn't like, she jumped right into fit-bride-badass mode! She sought better HEALTH and a better self-image, and guess what? Not surprisingly, weight loss came with the territory, and her wedding day was a sweet-sweet payoff-- she weighed 132 lbs down from near 200!

So much of Cris' story resonated with me, like her saying she'd "always been fat," and get this-- we were both 10 lb. babies! (Any other 10-lbers out there?) I think her story is downright INCREDIBLE and if you haven't been following her, it's time to start! She just launched a challenge to encourage small, healthy changes in 2013, and to share them on social media with the hashtag #12MoF! I LOVE that!

This is PART ONE of her story. I'm posting the second half later today, which will include her staple foods and exercise regimen.

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

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? I have always been fat. My mom LOVES telling everyone how I was born 10 pounds/10 ounces.

What kind of household did you grow up in? Do you feel you were taught healthy eating principles? I grew up in rural Alaska with no fresh veggies or fruit (literally none), no gyms, and a family that did not work out or eat healthy. In gym class, I was the one who walked laps instead of running them. I was the kid at the pool party wearing an over-sized T-shirt and shorts. I considered French fries a vegetable.

When did you decide to make a change? Did your wedding have anything to do with it? A couple of Christmases ago, my sister discovered fitness. Not “starve yourself skinny” fitness but actual “becoming a healthier and stronger person” fitness and she begged me to join her every morning at the gym so that we could spend more time together. I went and messed around on the elliptical a bit but, again, I didn’t understand the machines, the weight room scared me (and was filled with mirrors and dudes), and I literally had no clue what losing weight entailed. But, I liked being with my sister and she was so happy to have me there that I continued going. And one day, I stumbled upon a machine in the back of the gym called the Koko Fitness SmartTrainer– an all-in-one strength training computerized machine. It changed everything. That machine showed me how to do different strength exercises, it taught me what a rep was, it encouraged me to try harder. From the minute I first struggled to do the exercises on that machine, I was interested in learning more about how I could become a fitter and healthier person.

Do you have any sort of wake-up call or was your progress more on-again, off-again? It was actually in August of 2010, I saw a picture of me from my best friend’s wedding and I was embarrassed. I was working out 5 days a week and was still nearly 200 pounds. I decided that it was time to do something about it (well, first I cried my eyes out and then I did something) .

What was your starting weight? Did you take measurements? Did you measure body fat? I was 5’5” and nearly 200 pounds. I actually didn’t take exact measurements in the beginning (I didn’t even own a scale) but I was too big for the XXL section at Target and lived in The Boy’s T-shirts and sweats.

When did you start to see a difference in your weight? Once I started counting calories, the weight came right off. By January of 2011, I came back from Alaska having actually lost weight over the holidays and was down a whopping 40 pounds.

What was the best part about getting healthier/losing weight? Finding out I could do it. Gaining the knowledge to help me lose it and KNOW that I can keep it off. I can do this. It is possible.

What did you enjoy the most as a pay-off ? No lie – I love being smaller. I can finally buy and wear all those cute outfits that people pin on Pinterest!

If you made these changes because of your upcoming wedding, what part of the wedding, specifically, was motivating? For me, it was my wedding dress. I was the recipient of the very first Wedding Dress Project Dress because of the original owner’s complete faith in my weight loss journey. When I got the dress, I was still 20 pounds away from fitting into it. But on my wedding, it not only fit – I zipped that sucker up myself.

Finally, how did you feel on your wedding day? Great. But I REALLY felt great after getting my wedding photos back – my ass looked amazing.

Were you able to keep with the program after the wedding? Yes, but with some alterations. I didn’t feel the need to diet or exercise on my honeymoon - I ate all the food. Then, I cut back to working out only an hour instead of an hour and half M-F. I was able to maintain (people even commented on it) until recently when some minor medical issues forced me to stop working out and start eating more. I’ve totally gained weight but I’m not discouraged. I have the tools and the knowledge to get myself back into shape once I’m allowed to.

Do you have any advice for other women trying to get healthier and/or lose weight? Since I first began regular posts about my fitness journey, I continually get comments, emails, and tweets asking HOW I lost all that weight and toned my body. Well, let me share the answer with you: I ate less and moved more. That’s it. I tried every month to make small changes to my diet and/or my fitness level to improve my health. Along the way, I lost weight and shaped up. All by making small changes and turning them into habits. That’s why I started the 12 Months of Fitness (#12MoF) challenge- join me in 2013 and challenge yourself to make small changes in 12 Months of Fitness (#12MoF). Every month, I’ll introduce a new small change for you to make to your diet/fitness and suggest several ways to adopt the change.

YES! I'm IN, Cris! I'm ready for small changes and big impacts!

What about you? Are you not inspired? How could you not be?

Come back around noon for more and PLEASE, leave Cris some love in the comments!

*All Images Courtesy of Miranda Laine Photography

My Wedding Weight Loss Before & After Story

My Wedding Weight Loss Before and After Story

I thought it would be fitting to start this blog with my story, which also happens to be the inspiration behind the entire Fit for a Bride idea!  Growing up overweight, I never thought I'd get married. My first crush was on a boy named Michael Chin and I'll never forget when he called me fat. I was devastated. Afterward, throughout middle school, high school, and even in college, I dealt with a lot more name calling and bullying, and in my mind at least, it seemed I would never have a boyfriend because I was fat. Granted, I was very outgoing and talkative, and I had a lot of friends, but beneath a happy-go-lucky exterior, I felt rejected. Anyone know this feeling? Yea. It sucks!

On my wedding day, after months of eating right and falling in love with exercise (zumba, running, and weight lifting), I vowed to make health a priority. I decided to love my body and treat it well, and to help others do the same.

 

wedding weight loss before and after

Wedding photo credit: Meredith Perdue

Growing Up Overweight

When I was young, I didn't know anything about nutrition. No offense to my mom, but we ate out A LOT. She worked long hours and usually didn't get home until late. I remember eating a lot of Chinese food, pizza, and Five Guys! We would spread it out on the living room table and go to town! My mom, my brother, and me were all overweight.

In middle school, my dad tried to get me involved in sports. He was a well-known and respected basketball coach at a local High School and had a reputation for no-nonsense training. He's a tough coach, but he has a big heart and the toughness is all part of getting athletes to their fullest potential. (A little insight: he cries every time he watches Hoosiers!)

My dad worked with me, teaching me how to shoot the basketball, get into a defensive stance, everything. The problem was my weight. I couldn't run a full mile! I did manage to make the junior varsity team in High School, but it was a small, private school and I was a junior; meaning, I should have been on the Varsity team. I played anyway--played my heart out--and we lost every game. No, seriously. It was rough!

I probably should have thrown in the towel after that, but my senior year, I tried out again. I remember tryouts vividly, running those four laps around the track... I was so proud of myself because I ran the ENTIRE time, a FULL mile. I think it took me about 14 minutes and I ran straight to the locker room afterward- I thought I was going to die I felt so sick! Sadly, I didn't make the team and so, in lieu of basketball, I joined color guard. Any other color guard folks out there?

Fast forward to college and I'm living a very unhealthy lifestyle: eating horribly, never exercising, and, I'd picked up a new habit: smoking. In 2004, my freshman year, I did manage to drop 20 pounds, but I didn’t do it the right way. I walked a lot, which was good, but I didn’t eat healthy or do any weight training, and, I smoked a pack of cigarettes A DAY. Horrific, I know!

Believe it or not, losing 20 lbs didn’t do much for my self-esteem. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I spent my early twenties in a state of “skinny fat,” meaning I looked skinny but I really felt fat, and I had a lot of flab from losing weight and never weight training.

In 2009, two things happened: I got engaged (woo hoo!) and joined a Biggest Loser competition at work. At the first weigh-in, I was shocked to see that I was almost back to my pre-college weight of 175 lbs! Needless to say, I wasn't happy.

These photos are from our engagement session:

wedding weight loss before and after

wedding weight loss before and after

Photos by Kelly J. Mihalcoe

With an upcoming wedding, I started to change my life for good. I joined a gym and began working out daily. I went to zumba classes and took up cycling and running. I absolutely LOVED running and I still do. I love it because I don't have to be skilled or fast-paced. All I have to do is keep going, and so long as I believe in myself (sounds corny), I can do that. In 2010, I ran my first 5k and not long after I ran a 10k. I also ran two 10 milers (the Army Ten Miler and Cherry Blossom Ten Miler) and eventually, I ran a full marathon (26.2 miles)!

When I got married in April of 2011, I weighed 145 lbs, an all-time low.

{At our rehearsal dinner}

 

{Wedding day via Meredith Perdue}

I had come a long way since Michael Chin and my pre- and post-college weight-- I wasn’t just thin, I was strong! I was healthy! After the wedding, I realized I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Industry or my new-found love for fitness. I wanted to continue to learn about healthy living and bring these new and improved concepts about food and exercise to my newlywed kitchen and life, and to others! That’s what Fit for a Bride is all about! Motivation. Change. Encouragement.

Wedding photo credit: Meredith Perdue

My journey is far from over and I really believe in the old saying, "It's a lifestyle, not a diet."

I'm fighting old habits every day and believe me, they die hard! My default mode isn't healthy, but I'm striving to change that. I'm finding new ways to incorporate healthy foods in my diet and eliminate the toxic stuff. I'm also studying to get a personal training certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, because I want to be a personal trainer and help others achieve their health goals!

I really, really appreciate you reading my story. To learn more, go to the About section of this blog and definitely subscribe! I'll be sharing a lot more about my past in future posts.

Do you have a weight loss story to share? Email it to fitforabrideblog@gmail.com. I'd love to feature you!

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