Monday, August 31, 2015

Things I Love: Summer Edition

I thought it might be fun to share some of my discoveries this summer with you all. There are things I've stumbled on, whether it be a podcast or food, that I love so much I want to share so that you can embrace them too. Later this week I'll be sharing my favorite memories from the summer, and I may do a separate "summer jams" post.

But for now, here are 10 things I fell in love with this summer:

Smash Hit Kickboxing
I have been taking Kickboxing at my local YMCA for well over a year. But it was only once a week, and, frankly, I wanted more. So I started looking around for other places that offered kickboxing and stumbled on a small kickboxing gym near my house. They have beginners classes, cardio kickboxing, bootcamp, etc. I absolutely love it. It focuses so much on the technique and the athleticism of kickboxing. I've learned so much in my 3 months of taking classes there and I honestly feel like it's been a huge asset to my weight loss journey. I noticed a major change in the sculpt of my calf muscles from all the kicking, my reflexes are quicker, and I've gotten stronger. I look forward to every class at Smash Hit, but my favorite is the Saturday morning bootcamp style class. I walk out of there and have to wring out my headband of sweat. For those in the area, looking for a new way to workout, please check out this gym! It's been my favorite summer activity.

Trader Joe's
Yeah, I know. Trader Joe's is nothing new for most people. But I had never stepped foot in one until this summer, and now it's the only place I go for my groceries. It really is as awesome as everyone says it is. They have unique variety of foods that are usually pretty healthy, the prices are great, and the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. I'm a big fan of their chicken sausage, trail mix, Inner Peas snack, sushi, and pre made salads. But really, I've liked almost everything I've purchased from Trader Joe's. And I love the conversations I have with the staff.

Quest Bars
I don't eat a lot of meat, so I try to sneak in protein in other ways...eggs, peanut butter, trail mix, etc. I Someone suggested I try a protein bar, specifically, quest bars. You guys....they are delicious. The best part? They are healthy! Unlike a lot of other bars, they aren't packed with sugar and they are low in calories. I am obsessed with the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. It's a sweet treat in the middle of the day when you are craving chocolate. I also sneak them into movie theaters for my snack :) You can find Quest Bars at GNC, Trader Joe's, and.... 7 Eleven. Yes, 7 Eleven. I was shocked. And they actually carry a wide variety of flavors there.

Summer TV isn't exactly thrilling. I don't watch much TV anyways. But I stumbled on an article about a show on Lifetime called Unreal and I just had to check it out. The verdict? Obsessed. It is a fictional show that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the production of The Bachelor. I don't even watch The Bachelor- never seen an episode in my life. But Unreal is fascinating. It really makes you think....and it's quite scary to think that the manipulation that happens behind the scenes actually happens on "reality" tv. If you need a show to binge watch this weekend, try Unreal.

Reply All Podcast
I started listening to podcasts lasts fall when Serial was all the rage. I was addicted to Serial and Invisibilia- both of which are on a break right now. When they went on a break, so did I . I went back to listening to the radio and the music on my phone. But then my favorite morning show host was let go from the station I listened to every I was on a search to find a new podcast. Which leads me to Reply All. I know there are a zillion podcasts out there, but I landed on Reply All and I love it. It's basically a show about the Internet. It takes different "things" out there and explores Craigslist or Twitter. It's really interesting, and funny. The episodes are short so it's perfect for my commute. I was really glad to discover Reply All.

Subscription boxes are super popular right now- and for good reason! It's so convenient to get a gift delivered to you each month. I know a lot of gals who get makeup subscription boxes. NatureBox is a healthy snack subscription. My roommate got me a gift card to NatureBox for my birthday so I used it toward my first two boxes, and I will continue it. I love it! It's so fun to try different, healthy snacks. My favorite snacks have been Coffee Kettle Corn Popcorn, Honey Dijon Pretzels, Pumpkin Praline Seeds. I've enjoyed almost everything, though.

Salvation Army
My trips to Salvation Army stores used to be for Halloween costumes or just to see what kind of odd things I could find. Now, it's where I do the majority of my clothes shopping. For starters, it's cheap. But because I am still losing weight, I can't stand the thought of spending $80 on a pair of jeans that may not fit in a few months. Enter Salvation Army (or any Goodwill store, really...I've just had the most luck at Salvation Army). There is a particular store in Rochester, MI that has far exceeded my expectations. I've snagged some awesome finds there- including a beautiful purple wrap dress that was perfect for my birthday dinner- and I always find myself wishing I was nearby so I can stop in. If you've never tried to shop at a Salvation Army, go for it. You may be surprised!

Starbucks Cold Brew
I am an Iced Coffee kind of girl. And, I like my coffee strong. So when Starbucks announced that they were going to be selling Cold Brew, I was ecstatic. It is so delicious, and oh so strong. Folks who aren't a fan of coffee probably won't like it. I had Tom take a sip once and he shook his head like a wet dog. But I love it. Even though I try to cut back on coffee, I just can't resist Cold Brew. It is perfect for a summer day.

I've only become a somewhat serious runner this summer. And by somewhat serious, I mean I run once a week.... for 3 miles, tops. But, RunKeeper has been my best pal during this journey to becoming a runner. It counts your miles, tracks your pace, plays music while you run, etc. There are a couple apps just like this, but I prefer RunKeeper over any of them. I like that, when I finish, it compares it to my other workouts so I can keep track of my progress and personal records. I use it for walks, too, and you can use it for hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, and even swimming (still haven't figured out how you can do that without killing your phone but hey). It's a great app for those who want to keep track of their workouts.

I had never heard of StitchFix until I complimented a coworker on her blouse. She responded by telling me it was from StitchFix- a subscription box that sends you new clothes based on your style. After taking a survey on your sizes, style, etc, you are assigned a personal stylist who picks out items for you. You pay $20 for the box, which you can then use toward any item (s) you want to keep. I signed up because now that I am a smaller size than I can ever remember being, I need some help dressing myself. I'm so used to just wearing frumpy clothes because that's all that fit. I need some assistance in wearing clothes that fit and that look good! I have not gotten my first box yet, but I plan on posting a review on the blog when I do.

So there you have it, some of my favorite things I have found this summer. Have you tried any of these? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Up and Down and Up and Down

My energy level is quite low right now so please excuse me if this blog lacks pizzazz! 

So, I've hit a point in the weight loss where I just keep going up and down. Which has happened a few times during this journey, but it's especially frustrating now because I am just 7 lbs away (most days) from my goal weight. Some have told me that I'll be battling these 7 lbs the rest of my life, that most likely my body has already decided it's in maintenance mode and that I'll be going up and down like this forever. My answer? Too bad. I'm sorry if you feel like this is it, body, but it's not. I just want to see that number on the scale. Then we can play roller coaster. Please, let me get these last 7 down without you interrupting me. We've got a lifetime of going up and down, let me reach that goal. 

Part of me also feels like this CAN'T be it. I can't have just reached where I need to be. Where's my confetti and trophy? It can't just "end" quietly, right? I mean come on! This has been two years and 3 months of hard work. I can't just say "well I guess that's it". 

Then there is the part of me that knows I will never be "done". As daunting and frustrating as that may seem, it's true. I will need to continue to work out, eat healthy, track my calories. I'll need to be careful. Partly because I don't want to ever go back to my old habits, partly because I am terrified to gain weight back, and partly because... Well, I actually enjoy living life this way. So if I'm enjoying it and I'm healthy, why go back?

So I guess you could say I'm a bundle of mixed emotions right now. I am back to being exactly 7 lbs away from my goal and with the pattern, I'll go back up again, then lose it. My goal is to break this pattern and drop those last 7 lbs. I'm  trying some new tactics to help me get there, like not eating a few hours before bed, but I'm still stuck. Any advice/tips appreciated!

Also, when I do reach that magic number, I'm not sure what will happen. Don't get me wrong, I'll be excited. Overjoyed. Incredibly thrilled and relieved. beaming with pride But then I have a feeling a May get a little sad, because nothing will ACTUALLY happen. Life will go on as normal. Is that at all slightly depressing to anyone else? Probably not....but as I mentioned up above, when you work SO hard for something and then it's just... Over...there's a feeling of emptiness that comes along. No one wants you about this when you start a weight loss journey! 

Sorry to be a downer guys, just slightly frustrated. But I keep working hard! My health remains my top priority and I'm not stopping !

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back To School Advice

It's hard to believe, but it's already "back to school" time. This time of year makes me extremely nostalgic. Sometimes I wish I was back in school. Sometimes I count my lucky stars that I'm not in school. No matter where you stand, though, we can all admit that when you're going back to school, whether you are a 5 year old starting kindergarten or a seasoned teacher getting your classroom and lesson plans ready, this time of year brings out the butterflies.

Today I want to offer some advice to students going back to the classroom. 

Although you may be nervous, this is also so exciting. You are about to begin a brand new year, full of fresh opportunities. There are memories to be made, friendships to spark, lessons to learn and so much room to grow. It's normal to be nervous. Most people will probably tell you to walk into that school with your head held high and not to worry about what others say to you. I'm going to tell you, straight up, that there will be days where you can't hold your head high. There will be days where you fight with your best friend or get a bad grade or just have a rough day. And that's okay. You're allowed to look down. You're allowed to be sad. What you can't do, though, is let that one moment define your entire life. It will be okay. What you also must know is that you are never alone. Even if it feels like the entire world is against you, you are deeply loved and cared for. You're also not the only one feeling sad, scared, or like you don't "fit in". Every single one of us has been there. 

It's so easy to get caught up in drama, or to treat life like a competition. We want to look good, we want to be the best athlete, we want to be the funny one or the smart one. Don't put so much pressure on yourself. You don't have to be the best, you just need to try your best. Find what it is you love to do and do that. It may take some trial and error. You may think you are destined to be a professional volleyball player but learn that you actually prefer theatre. That's okay. Try new things. Treat yourself with new opportunities. You never know who you may meet along the way or what kinds of adventures you may have. Also, it doesn't matter if what you want to do is "cool" or not. Just try it. Years from now you will wonder why you ever cared about being cool. In the long run, it so doesn't matter. The "popular" group? They are just like you. It just so happens that one day someone decided they were the popular group. That's it. It's not because they are any better than you. 

On the bad days, the really bad ones, the ones that make you want to lock yourself in your room, just remember that those days don't last forever. Remember that you are a human being who is worth being loved and cared for, so please take care of yourself. You're destined for something big on this earth, don't miss your chance to shine.

Don't spend all of your free time on social media. Have conversations. Get to know your classmates and teachers, face to 
face. Talk to your siblings about their day. Don't miss the chance to have real life conversations with those that you love. It may not seem like it now but life will felt by you, and you don't want to look back and have no memories besides your Twitter feed. 

Pay attention to your teachers. They are dedicating their lives to enriching yours. They work countless hours to prepare you, teach you, and guide you. You are their number one priority. They have a vested interest in your life and well being. So even if they are "boring" or even if they have you a C when you felt you deserved an A, pay attention. Ask questions. Each teacher will leave you with at least one valuable lesson, if you let them.

Treat those around you with kindness and respect. There is no need to be cruel or harsh. People will remember how you treat them. They will remember that more than they remember anything else about you. So treat them in a way that you want to be remembered. 

Remember to thank your parents. They are making sacrifices for you and they are putting your first. You may find it totally embarrassing to have them around now, and maybe you don't see eye to eye, but chances are, they are your number one fan. Let them be. 

In summary: Each day is a new chance. Take risks. Be brave. Reach out for help  when you need it. Give others a hand when they are struggling. Be kind to yourself and to those around you. Make memories. Be you. 

Good luck this school year, and know that there are millions of us who have been where you are, and we've all survived. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Weight Loss Wednesday: Confidence Bucket List

I've had some ups and downs the last few weeks. Last week I saw an unexpected "gain" on the scale. This week, I'm back down. But with a crazy work week this week, and an upcoming girls weekend up north, I won't be surprised if I go back up again. But for now, in this moment, this is where I stand: I am down a total of 124 lbs. I am just 7 lbs away from my ideal weight. These are some crazy numbers. I can't believe how close I am. Ever since I started this journey, I had a number in mind of where I wanted to be. It's nearly impossible to wrap my head around the fact that I'm almost there.

So today, I thought I would share my confidence bucket list- or dthings I hope I one day have the confidence to do. Spoiler alert: I'm getting close to feeling confident enough to do some of these. I'm not giving myself a deadline to accomplish these "Confidence Goals", there are merely things I have in mind that I want to do.
  • Wear jean shorts in public. 
  • Eat something that's not on my "diet" or health plan, and eat it without having a panic attack or getting angry at myself.
  • Go in the pool in my apartment complex, even if people are watching. 
  • Go to a rock climbing gym...and actually climb
  • Write a book
  • Share an idea in meetings, rather than wait until they are over and e-mail someone about it
  • Wear a low back dress
  • Do kareoke 
  • Do a photo shoot
  • Share my weight loss story in a public forum... I've obviously been pretty open about my journey, but I would love to speak about it in front of groups!

What is on your confidence bucket list? And, as always, thanks for the support on my journey.