My Food for a Day!

My Food for a Day! – November 2, 2012

We have been on this journey long enough to endure lots of comments and feedback from well meaning friends and family. I’ve heard just about everything about healthy, fitness, and food but the one that always stands out as especially annoying and hilariously inaccurate is “You’re starving your body”. Hahahaha! It still cracks me up! Ok so once and for all I’m posting this to prove to the world that I probably eat more food in a day than most people and am still losing weight every week!

Our bodies are the most precious and amazing tool we will ever possess. This gift can be compared in its complexities to a machine such as an automobile. When we began this journey to getting physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy I would hear people say that I needed to listen to my body. Well I literally had NO idea what it meant to eat based on what my physical body needed since I have for YEARS made virtually all food choices based on emotions. I had to learn about this precious gift: my physical body and discover what it needed to not only function but thrive. This is the context to which I’ve also developed the concept of seeing food as fuel, such as gasoline for an automobile, rather than a way to process my emotions. Believe me that whole concept is a MAJOR work in progress and I do better on some days or weeks than others.

I discovered over time that my body likes fuel every few hours throughout the day. This is not necessarily part of the Weight Watchers program but my “machine” functions best when I do so. Eating this often allows me to never get a ravaging hunger that often leads to less self control and bad food choices. Having a plan also helps me manage my pointsplus (calories) and not exceed my limits each day. If you read my recent post “Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks” you may recall tip 10 which was “Have a Plan & Eat Often”. I outline in this post that I eat on the majority of days based on the following rough timeframe.

6:30 am-Breakfast

9:30am-Snack

12:00 pm-Lunch

3:00 pm-Snack

5:30 pm-Dinner

7:00pm-Snack

So let’s take a look at my food consumption on a typical day!

6:35am – Breakfast – Total Pointsplus=4

Sara Lee 90 Cal English Muffin (2 pp), 1 egg cooked on a nonstick pan with just a spray of oil (2 pp), 1 cup of tomato, ½ cup cucumber, 1 cup fresh pineapple, 12 oz herbal tea with 1 packet of Stevia, about 48 oz of water.

9:20am – Snack – Total Pointsplus=3

1 Large banana, 1 Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt (2 pp), 2 Stevia packets, Light Whipped Cream (1 pp), about 24 oz of water.

BEFORE

AFTER: Smashed banana, Stevia, Greek Yogurt, topped with Whipped Cream! YUMMINESS!

12:20pm – Lunch – Total Pointsplus=7

2 slices of Sprouts Honey Whole Wheat Bread (3 pp), 4 thin slices of ham (2 pp), 1 pc of Bordon 2% American cheese (1 pp), 10 sprays of I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Spray, ½ cup homemade applesauce (1 pp), 1 cup grape tomatoes, about 48 oz of water.

BEFORE

AFTER: Hot Ham & Cheese on Honey Whole Wheat! Yumminess!

3:00pm – Snack – Total Pointsplus=4

Quaker Carmel Corn Rice Snack (3 pp), 1 Light String Cheese (1 pp), 2 cups of frozen red grapes, about 24 oz of water.

5:45pm – Dinner – Total Pointsplus=8

2 cups cooked zucchini cut in ribbons, 1 tsp olive oil (1 pp), Homemade Beef Spaghetti Sauce (5 pp), 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (1 pp), 1 cranberry orange angel food cupcakes (1 pp), 2 Tbsp Light Whipped Cream (*0 pp), about 48 oz of water.

7:20pm – Snack – Total Pointsplus=4

38 oz. Kettle Corn, 12 oz of herbal tea, 1 Stevia packet, about 24 oz of water.

Total Daily Pointsplus Used = 29 + 1 Weekly Pointsplus = 30 Pointsplus used!

WOWOWOWOWOW! That’s plenty of food right? Do you still think I’m starving? Thanks everyone for following along today! I’d love your comments and feedback below. See you again soon!

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks – November 1, 2012

Welcome to my new web page! I hope you will enjoy the new format and find it easy to use! Note the pages on top to review My Story and Pictures of our journey! Also note the categories listed on the left side which are convenient for quick reference to previous posts with recipes, food tips, inspiration, my journey, and exercise. If you had previously received my blog via email you WILL need to re-establish your email in the box to the left to continue to receive direct emails. Please let me know if you have ANY questions!

When you’ve lost over 100 pounds you get countless people asking you for tricks & tips! Well that is a good thing and I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned over the last 14 months. Plus it is a good refresher for me going into a busy holiday season. Here are my Official Top 10 Tricks& Tips to live by!

1. Pray about committing this area of your life to God. God does care about this area of your life and He desires that you involve Him in the process. Allow Him to create change in this area of your life. Pray daily for strength and self control. Pray often for continued direction. Pray. Pray. Pray!

2. If you have more than 50 pounds to lose based on guidelines that your primary care physician should discuss with you then I strongly suggest joining a healthy weight loss program. I say this because if those of us (myself included) who have 50 pounds or more to lose could do it on our own we would have already! Start with talking to your doctor and then find a program that works for you. My husband and I chose Weight Watchers because it provided the structure, flexibility, accountability, and group support that we needed. There are many healthy programs available but the important thing is committing to a system that will work for you! Don’t try to do this alone!

3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep at night. I know this may seem odd to have at such a high importance but stress management begins with getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to decision making and exhibiting self control. Don’t underestimate how major this component is to your success. Doing this may require cutting back certain activities to give sleep a higher priority. If so, DO it!

4. Drink lots of water. New studies show we should be drinking 8 oz of water for every hour that we are awake. I drink about 140 oz of water each day and that makes my body really happy. So many times we eat when all our bodies need is water.

5. Get moving! Exercise is not an option it is a requirement for healthy living and certainly for weight loss. Explore new activities and seek out expert help. The best decision we ever made in this journey was hiring a personal trainer who taught us about what was best for our bodies. She educated on us muscles, taught us tons of activities, and gave me the courage to try new things. My self confidence with exercise soared through the help of our personal trainer.

6. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I have eaten an average of 5 fruits and 5 vegetables each day for the last 14 years. Our Weight Watchers plan allows us to eat as many fruits & veggies as we want without penalty. That many fruits don’t work for all people but my body seems to like it. I try to eat a fruit & veggie or two at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The healthiest way to absorb vitamins and nutrients our bodies need is through consuming healthy foods. They also fill you up with fewer calories than other foods. If you are fruit or veggie challenged, as you begin to change your habits you will adjust and eventually begin to crave fruits& veggies.

7. Eat at home more. I know eating out is popular in our fast paced culture. I’m not saying you can’t eat out at all but eating at home allows you to have absolute control over what you are putting into your body. Think about eating at home more meals than you eat out.

8. Keep track of everything you put into your mouth. Yes I’m talking everything. Coffee creamer, spray butter, no cal sweeteners, etc. No matter what plan you chose this is a helpful tip. I keep track of everything….even if it doesn’t cost me any calories. Self awareness is what we are trying to learn and writing it down helps keep you accountable and aware of your choices. It also helps you keep track of your hunger patterns and what your body needs.

9. Measure! Measure! Measure! Don’t rely on guessing or on your own estimation. Invest in a good digital food scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. Even after 14 months there is nothing that I eat without measuring. We weigh meat, potatoes, popcorn, chips, well just about anything on our digital food scale. Accuracy is critical to weight loss and in this day and age there is no need to guess at anything. Measure!

10. Have a Plan & Eat often! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are key meals and NONE of them should be skipped. It is preferable to eat those meals sitting down at a table rather than in the car on the go. You will be more fulfilled emotionally if you give each meal time the respect your body needs. If you are out and about during a meal or snack time, Plan ahead! Take a snack in your purse or car that will help you maintain control when the munchies come. There is no doubt that physical hunger is a reoccurring biological cycle, so plan ahead for a healthy choice for the next time you’ll be hungry. Here’s my meal schedule on an average day:

a. 6:30 am-Breakfast

b. 9:30am-Snack

c. 12:00 pm-Lunch

d. 3:00 pm-Snack

e. 5:30 pm-Dinner

f. 7:00pm-Snack

There are so many more things I could list but these are the top 10 because I feel they have really sustained me through the last 14 months. I hope you have found them to be helpful!

My Testimony!

My Testimony! – October 28, 2012

I surrendered my life to Christ and began to completely follow Him on April 16, 2001. I was 24 years old and although I had grown up in a Christian home this was the first time I had truly allowed Christ to be Lord of my life. I had grown up in church and knew the truth but in my late teens I began to make choices that took me down a very dark path. As I began to walk out this Christian life I was in awe of God’s forgiveness and passionate about serving Him with my whole life. My story for a long time has centered on the wonder of Christ taking a broken and lost young life and receiving me into His kingdom, just as I was. I now stand before God complete & whole. Justified. Redeemed. Forgiven. My salvation is secure and I know who I am in Him.

As I celebrate 103.1 pounds lost this week I found myself reflecting back on all the work that God has done in my life over the last 14 months. I realized that my testimony of the story of God’s work in and through my life does not end with my surrender to Him. God desires that we continually allow Him to work in and through us so that we may always have a story of His transformation to tell. God has used my obesity, my addiction, my recovery, and this journey to bring Him glory! As I have allowed God in to this dark area of my heart and seen Him bring healing and wholeness I have to wonder what would happen if I allow Him into the other dark areas of my heart? Yes it has been at times a very trying and painful process to develop self discipline, to deny myself, and to surrender of my old habits & desires. BUT I have never felt a closer connection with the Lord and have never know His love & strength more intimately than I have the last 14 months. I realize that if we are walking through this Christian walk feeling completely comfortable than we may be limiting God’s work in and through our lives. I absolutely believe that God has NO intention that we be comfortable. God’s every intention is that we grow and growth requires movement, stretching, molding, and sometimes pain. Our growth brings God glory and ultimately shows the world around us that He is the one and only living God. He is the one and only path to Life.

As I celebrate this current victory and continue on this physical, emotional, and spiritual path of transformation I am daring to allow God into even more dark areas of my heart. This is not the end of His plan for me, this is just the beginning. I am daring to be brave enough for even greater transformation of my soul. Are you brave enough? Has your testimony gotten stalled at your salvation or is God allowed into every area of your life to create change to His glory? Let’s be brave together and trust a loving God to allow growth and fruit in our lives! Praise God for the great things that are yet to come!

Holiday Confessions!

Holiday Confessions! – Originally posted January 19, 2012

Reposted on September 29, 2012

I do fully realize that Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & my birthday (January 8) are now long gone and we would all like to move on with this New Year 2012. However I felt it would be remiss if I didn’t communicate some interesting things that I learned passing through this time of year about myself and about this journey to becoming healthy.

Going into Thanksgiving we had been on this journey for about 3 solid months and our home “environment” was very much changed. If you read my recent blog entry “Targeting for Change” I talked at length about the stages of change based on a graph from Weight Watchers (if you haven’t read it you have to check it out cuz it is my favorite blog entry so far!). Well environment is the first and easiest area to facilitate change. Regarding food we no longer had anything in our refrigerator or cabinets that would not be good for our body. House environment under control, check!

When going out to eat we by this point had developed the routine of choosing a restaurant ahead of time, looking at the menu and nutritional info on said restaurant’s website, and pre-choosing our meal in advance. In this day and age all restaurants no matter how small, yes even Berry’s in Norwalk, OH, has a menu on their website. Not all have nutritional info but we have found we make better informed food choices if we minimally look at the menu from home first and come up with a game plan before entering into the restaurant. You know they pay marketing people millions of dollars on jingles, commercials, & menu pictures to ignite your taste buds and tempt you into all kinds of delicacies that are not good for you or your wallet. So our restaurant environment was under control as well, check!

That said I have to be honest and tell you that going into this holiday season was overwhelming to me as much of the environment phase that we have mastered would be tested and challenged. Thanksgiving is spent every year with my husband’s grandmother who is an amazing cook. She has been cooking since she was seven years old and had to pull a stool up to the stove top (not kidding). We split the cooking duties and my husband and I make the turkey, several sides, and usually one dessert. She does the ham, the rest of the sides, and several yummy desserts. This Thanksgiving we were armed with a plan. We discussed in advance the entire menu with his grandmother. This helped us prepare in two major ways. We could then plan to bring at least one side and a dessert that we would feel good about putting into our body. This also helped us determine what dishes we didn’t want to sacrifice for and what dishes we wanted to factor into our points (caloric intake) for that day. For instance there is always a traditional pasta salad on hand at any of our family gatherings. Though I like it and have eaten it in the past many times, this isn’t a “special” dish that we only get this time of year. Whereas his grandmother makes “The Best” stuffing this side of heaven (please don’t be offended Ohio family but I’ve converted) and I had to eat at least a cup of stuffing. This delicacy is only offered at Thanksgiving and Christmas so it was prioritized in my plate that day.

Our plan for Thanksgiving survival also included the following:

-We started our planning in prayer to ask for God’s help in preparing and making choices that would honor him.

-We made sure to eat breakfast, small snack, and lunch as we would normally so as to not go to dinner completely starving.
-We drank plenty of water all day including all evening at the event.
-We got plenty of rest that week and prioritized sleep even with family in town.
-We pre-choose the items including quantities that we were going to put into our bodies that day. We enjoyed the foods that we love including dessert and did not deprive ourselves while being in control.
-We brought a measuring cup and measured the food items such as stuffing, rice, potatoes, etc. just like we would in our home environment.
-We positioned ourselves at the end of the table furthest from the food so that we were not visually looking at food all night. This also allowed us to connect with family and enjoy the conversation with Thanksgiving.
-I know a lot of his grandmother’s recipes and I pre-calculated the calories for some of the dishes ahead of time so that I could be informed on what the values would be.
-We planned ahead that we would not take any food home, and if pressured only items that we could fit within our healthy routine.
-We went to the gym and exercised good all week and then the following weekend as we normally would.
-We attended our WW support group meeting faithfully which fostered encouragement and camaraderie. This is not a journey that you can walk alone through, we need people.

Long story short we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were successful in our plan and even got more activity with my husband’s Latin family spontaneously broke out the salsa dancing later that evening. It was one of the most fun holidays we have ever had. At our WW weigh in the Saturday following we both actually lost weight that week. All this planning may seem ridiculous or exaggerated to you but you have to understand the power that food has over me & others. It is a powerful addition like any other. I have been “dieting” in the past countless times and the holiday season has completely thrown me overboard. One compromise leads to another, then another, which leads to shame, regret, & humiliation. It is a slippery slope and I never want to under estimate its power again.

Thanksgiving laid the framework for the rest of the holiday season. With its success we maintained a similar plan at Christmas, New Years & my birthday. We didn’t deprive ourselves but made choices that would honor God. We cooked a lot, we made informed decisions when going out to eat, we exercised daily, and we loved on and enjoyed family. For so many years of my life my mind over the holidays has been consumed with food and followed by a New Year that began with shame & guilt. It is amazing how God ministered to my heart this season as I have allowed him into this area. My time with family was so much richer, my connection with the meaning of the holiday was so much more vivid, and my joy was complete as we got on the scale at our WW meeting and in the end both lost weight through it all.

Questions for you….

1. Can you relate to what I shared about feeling guilt and shame following a holiday?

2. What has been your biggest food struggle around the holidays?

3. What tips do you use to surviving the holiday?

4. What tips that I shared stood out to you that you might try?

5. Maybe you don’t have issues with food but you have friends or family that do. How can you use some of these tips to support them during your next get together?

One year down! Let’s Celebrate!

One year down! Let’s Celebrate! – August 29, 2012

Today marks a major milestone in our journey to getting physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy because it is our one year Anniversary of joining Weight Watchers! I remember last year so vividly it seems like yesterday. We were in Ohio visiting my family and had been talking about taking the plunge and doing it for weeks. We had fiercely analyzed several different program options and after MUCH discussion decided to go with Weight Watchers ….but then never signed up, funny huh! I guess we were just waiting for the perfect moment but the problem is there is NO perfect moment. So in the middle of our vacation I woke up one morning and just had a burning desire to do it! To sign up! Nothing holding us back! After a little bit of rationalizing and resistance from my husband he finally recognized that there was nothing that would stop my zeal and determination! So we did it! We signed up online from Ohio on Monday, August 29th 2011 and began tracking our food with a plan to attend our first Weight Watchers meeting at a location near our home that Saturday morning. The first week went great and we seemed to fall into place. I lost 6.5 pounds which was probably a lot of water weight since I was still on steroids at the time but it was just the boost I needed to keep motivated. Our meeting that Saturday was great and we seemed to fit in immediately with the Weight Watchers group we chose. They were friendly and open to us and we loved our leader Sandra right away, which really says something because my husband tells me that I can be pretty hard on leaders 😉

Achieving the one year mark on this journey was definitely cause from some self reflection and goal setting. What better time to set new goals then when you have achieved so many. To celebrate this momentous occasion I decided to go out this morning and walk/jog as far as I could manage which in my mind was a glorious 15 miles! Well about half way through my intentions changed and I decided on a 6 mile walk/jog and that is exactly what I did. As a reflected on the last year I can see the hand of God all over our lives. Who would have thought that God could take illness, unemployment, and several other major trials and mold it into such a marvelous testimony of His grace & mercy? The physical transformation has been such a small part of this journey as we have truly learned to honor God with our choices on SO many more levels. I can honestly say this has been the most intimate time that I have ever shared with the Lord or with my husband. In my devotions today I read a line by Oswald Chambers that really brought it all together for me, “Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into personal possession only through conflict.” My faith in myself, my spouse, and most importantly in God has grown tremendously over the last year and I can’t even imagine what the next year will hold!

Having Fun with Homemade Granola!

Having Fun with Homemade Granola! – August 22, 2012

I’ve mentioned to you in the past that I always get stuck when it comes to breakfast. Well one thing that I love is fruit, low fat yogurt, and homemade granola! Today I whipped up another batch 🙂 It is so quick and easy and lasts me several months. Here’s my recipe for today’s batch:

½ Cup Canola Oil

Canola Oil cooking spray

24 Oz. of Honey

1 Cup Molasses

2 ½ Cups Creamy Peanut Butter

2 Tablespoons of Salt

3 Tablespoons of Ground Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons of Ground Ginger

½ Tablespoon of Ground Cloves

3 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

42 oz container of Whole Oats *(NOT instant or quick Oats)*

3 Cups of Whole Almonds

½ Cup Chopped Pecans

½ Cup Dried Cranberries

1 Cup White Raisins

Preheat oven to 300* and spray two large cookie sheets with Canola Oil cooking spray. In LARGE pot heat oil, honey, molasses, peanut butter and stir often on medium heat. As it begins to melt add salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and vanilla extract. Once this mixture is completely melted and mixed well, turn off the heat and remove from the burner. Add in ½ of the Whole Oats and stir well. Add in almonds & pecans and stir well. Add the remaining ½ of the Whole Oats and stir until everything in the pot is covered. Pour and spread evenly onto the two cookie sheets. Cook at 300* for 10 minutes and stir, cook again for 10 minutes and stir, cook for another 10 minutes and stir well and remove from oven. The goal is to absorb a good about of the moisture in the cooking process but it will still be a little sticky when you remove it from the oven. Cool completely and then add Dried Cranberries and White Raisins.

*Very important to always add the dried fruit AFTER the cooking process because the fruit will dry up and harden in the oven and it is not good for your teeth or the flavor.*

This recipe makes two large gallon bags or 32 cups of granola. It freezes really well and is perfect for gifts! I eat this a few times a week and it will usually last us about 4 months. The beauty of homemade granola is that you can play with it and add what you like. I’ve decreased the honey in the past and added 1 cup of brown sugar. I’ve also added cocoa powder and cayenne powder which add a great flavor. I’ve used a bunch of other dried fruits and nuts in the past too. I’ve heard of people adding chocolate chips or marshmallows once it is cooled as well. I almost never make it the same way twice and always try to use up whatever I have in my home. Have fun with it and Enjoy!

Losing a battle but Winning the War!

Losing a battle but Winning the War! – August 21, 2012

I remember waking up day after day, week after week, year after year; filled with self loathing regrets and shame because I had done IT yet again. I had eaten too much, over indulged, fallen off the wagon, binged, splurged, or gorged myself. After so many of those mornings filled with regret I finally gave up trying….which led to eventually “Not caring” at all….or so I told myself. You could literally put this record on repeat and this was my life for about the last 20 years. Unfortunately this is NOT a new story; I am NOT all that different from many other people who cycle through the same patterns of ….dieting-binge-shame/regret-not caring-caring-diet etc…..over and over again. I know this because as I have been so open about my journey with others COUNTLESS people have shared their hearts with me and exposed the truth about their own struggles. The truth is that even if your issue is not food most of us go through this cycle in one area or another at some point in our lives. I felt powerless to break through and truly defeated before I would even begin.

At this point to date I have lost a total of 94.1 lbs and have been on this journey to getting healthy exactly one year on August 29th. You may think that I have it all figured out by now. That I have made this lifestyle change and ever fiber of my being is on board, focused, and in route to the finish line. At the risk of sorely disappointing you I must share the honest reality that is not always the case. I read a very interesting blog post recently by the CEO of Weight Watchers, David Kirchhoff called “Do all habits and no play make Dave a dull boy?” Kind of a funny name, huh? Anyway in the article he talks about how important habits are to sustaining change. Well the good news is that over the last year I have built many wonderful physical, emotional, and spiritual habits that have had a tremendous impact in my life! Obviously to lose 94.1 lbs some drastic elements of my life have changed!

However the bad news is I spent 34 years building those unhealthy habits and occasionally, especially when I am exhausted, stressed, angry, or otherwise highly emotional….the unhealthy habits will prevail! Also I AM a human being and not God so I am imperfect apart from Him. I woke up recently on a Tuesday after eating all of my weekly points (49) and all of my activity points (25) in just 3 days with the EXACT same shame, regret, & fear that I had in the past. As I showered & prayed I repented to the Lord for not honoring Him with my choices. In that moment a thought came to my heart “My emotions had won THAT battle, but ultimately I (with God’s help) WILL win the war”. It occurred to me as I meditated on that reality that in a war you won’t win every individual battle. There will always be losses at times in war. Even the great champion King David from the Bible experienced losses. When we lose a battle it helps us refocus, reevaluate, make necessary changes, and reconnect with our source of power – God! I was so encouraged by this truth! It released me from chasing after perfection which always leads to disappointment since perfection is unachievable. My greatest fear has been that somehow I would “fall off the wagon” and go completely back to my old unhealthy lifestyle. Guess what! I’m NOT on a wagon! I don’t have to live in fear of every little daily mistake I make! This helped me realize that God has a purpose even when we lose a battle. I have surrendered my physical, emotional, and spiritual health to the Lord and He will sustain me. Losing this battle helped me refocus & recharge and I’ve been backing kicking butt with God’s strength ever since!