Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Winter Weight Loss Challenge RESULTS

The results are in!

I lost.

But did I?
No. I didn't lose, because at the end of the day, I'm 100% healthier than I was 8 weeks ago, and so is my family. This wasn't about the money (okay, maybe an extra $700 in my wallet could've bought a nice new industrial paper cutter) -- it was about getting back on track with eating healthy and being active. 
I have to remind myself that I had a baby less than 7 months ago. The kid doesn't even sit up on his own yet, he's still that young. To expect that I could bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight right away, was highly unrealistic. Other women can do it.. but not me. I'm 34 and am on baby #3, not to mention, I have bad genes. 
The reality is that I have to WORK for it. Like, really hard. There are no easy outs -- not for me, not for anyone. If you can lose 20% of your body weight in less than 8 weeks, chances are, you're gonna gain it all back in half of that time. 

Slow and steady is how I plan on winning this race. So even though our challenge is over and I didn't come out with the win, I still plan on sticking with it until I get to where I want to be. 

That being said, here are my final results:

Starting weight: 139.6 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Week #3 weigh in: 137.0 lbs.
Week #4 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #5 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #6 weigh in: 132.6 lbs.
Week #7 weigh in: 130 lbs.
Week #8 weigh in: 127.8 lbs.
FINAL: -11.8 lbs.
Percentage Lost: 8.45%

BEFORE: January 23, 2015

AFTER: March 22, 2015

So there you have it. 8 weeks and 11.8 lbs later, I'm well on my way to my goal weight of 120 lbs. 
The journey is far from being over, but I'm happy to say that I survived this challenge and proved to myself that hard work really does pay off.

And just an FYI, my husband ended up taking home the pot! He went from 199.2 lbs down to 179.8 lbs. with a total weight loss of 19.4 lbs (9.74%). Oh, and did I mention that he looks HOT?! :)
(I'd post his pics, but he'd probably murder me)

I hope this journey helps inspire people (especially new moms) to just go after it. Even if it's just a little bit at a time. Small changes can make a world of difference in the long run!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Week 7

Well there I was, with 10 days left in the competition, dealing with woman problems again.
I knew that this was the last stretch before our final week of the challenge, so I had to do everything right if I wanted to have a good final weigh in. I almost wrote this week off, knowing that hormones were going to take over and make me retain water, but I decided to just go all in and hope for the best.

Heck, by this point, I wasn't even concerned about winning the competition (partly because I saw how bad my husband was kicking ass in his weight loss and knew he was gonna win) -- I just really wanted to go out with a bang -- knowing that my hard work and sacrifice wasn't a complete waste of time.
Some common staples in my fridge

Salad, every day. Sometimes twice a day

Doesn't make for the most attractive kitchen, but this contraption is partly to thank for my progress

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Week #3 weigh in: 137.0 lbs.
Week #4 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #5 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #6 weigh in: 132.6 lbs.
Week #7 weigh in: 130 lbs.
Progress: -9.4 lbs.

I committed the last 10 days to low calories, ass-kicking workouts, super long outdoor walks (upto 2 hours on some days!) and drinking a shit ton of water.
And it paid off!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

WWLC: Weeks 4, 5 & 6

I dropped the water weight from the previous week, but that was pretty much the extent of my weight loss. Some major frustration kicked in, in weeks 4 and 5. This is when I really started to make exercise part of my regular routine -- I was working out at least 4-5 days out of the week. I continued to eat healthy and even though carbs were technically allowed back in my diet, I continued to limit my consumption as much as possible. The first time I had bread (albeit 100% whole wheat) I felt kinda shitty after -- both mentally and physically, so I just didn't bother with it after that.

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Week #3 weigh in: 137.0 lbs.
Week #4 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Progress: -5 lbs.

I went 2 straight weeks of not seeing a single digit drop on the scale. Every morning, I would weigh myself and every single morning I kept seeing the same number. It made me angry. All I kept thinking was "why am I going out of my way to eat healthy and exercise, if it's not even working?!". 
I came very VERY close to quitting.... in fact, I might have even said the words "I'm not doing this anymore" in my head a million times, but just didn't have it in me to actually quit. I knew I'd be letting myself (and my husband) down. So I pushed on.

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Week #3 weigh in: 137.0 lbs.
Week #4 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #5 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Progress: -5 lbs.

I did try to switch things up a bit with my diet. I figured that I may have hit a plateau because I was eating a lot of the same foods day in and day out -- and although the diet I was following recommended I eat 6 small meals a day, I was starting to think that the calorie intake was just too high for me. I mean, I should typically consume about 1200 calories a day, but in order to lose some weight, I knew I had to lower that number. 

So I began tracking my calories using the My Fitness Pal app. It isn't totally accurate, but it was better than nothing. It made me a lot more conscious of what I was consuming, and how incorporating exercise made a difference in my day-to-day. I dropped my calories to 1080 per day, with hopes of getting a little bit closer to my goal weight in the last 2 weeks of the challenge. Sadly, I was a little late in my attempts -- to safely get to my goal weight by March 22nd, I would've had to start cutting calories at least 4 weeks prior. Oops. 
But the app was telling me that if I continued to have 1080 calorie days, I would be 121 lbs. by April 12th. 

I continued to cook every meal at home -- and I seriously mean EVERY SINGLE MEAL was usually made from scratch. I think I went out to eat once, maybe twice in a span of these next 2 weeks. (It starts to take a toll after a while, when you're having to prepare all of that food. And doesn't food always tend to taste better when someone else cooks it?)

I'm not complaining though, because I really do love to cook -- especially because I always came up with something different every night and my husband was very appreciative of my efforts.

Sometimes, I would binge cook. Here's an example of a night where I cooked 5 separate meals in 2 hours:

It always helped to have food pre-made, just in case stuff came up during the week (like Xander's soccer class) that would interfere with our evening.


Week 6 is when I fiiiiiiinally got a bit of relief -- I'm not completely certain what happened, but suddenly the numbers started dropping again and I was beyond ecstatic.

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Week #3 weigh in: 137.0 lbs.
Week #4 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #5 weigh in: 134.4 lbs.
Week #6 weigh in: 132.6 lbs.
Progress: -6.8 lbs.

By this point, I think I was just all over the place with diet and exercising -- after coming off a frustrating couple of weeks, I was just trying anything and everything. I stopped eating eggs for breakfast because I thought they were too high in fat...so I tried steel cut oatmeal for a while but then realized that each serving was 170 calories and I figured that was too high. Ugh. It was a revolving door of "what's right and what's wrong" in my head and I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants.

And then guess who decided to pay me another visit?....

Yup, Aunt Flo.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Being a woman sucks for this challenge...WEEK 3

Sometimes, the stars decide to align (in a bad way) and you end up with a bunch of things that seem to work against you. That was Week 3 for me.

I realized at the end of Week 2, that part of the reason why I was so cranky was because I was PMS'ing. Now, if you're a lady then you'll totally understand this. I was expecting to get my visit from Aunt Flo -- was getting all the symptoms in full force (mood swings, lower back pain, bloat, cravings, cramps, joint pain) except I just wasn't getting it. I even gained back at least 5 of the pounds that I had lost in the previous weeks!
I'm convinced that my cycle was thrown off because of my recent change in diet, because I'm fairly regular otherwise. The frustration of being late was magnified because all I wanted was to stop the cravings and lose the water weight. Well, I eventually got it but sadly, it meant that I didn't lose any weight in week 3.

I gave myself a cheat day at the end of Week 2 because I really felt I deserved it:
BurgerFi: There's an option to get your burger "green". They replace the bun with lettuce, which was probably pointless because I split a side of garlic parmesan fries and a red velvet & custard dessert with Brian :P

The South Beach diet usually allows the re-introduction of healthy carbs in the third week, but I still continued to keep them out of my diet as best I could throughout the week:

Baked salmon with miso/low fat mayo spread on top, wasabi broccoli slaw 

Roasted Brussel sprouts and served them with a chicken breast stuffed with a quinoa pesto and fat free mozzarella cheese and topped with a dollop of tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese

Fish tacos: marinated and pan fried tilapia and served on romaine lettuce instead of a tortilla. Topped with broccoli slaw (lightly tossed in low fat mayo, lime and cilantro), avocado, fat free sour cream and salsa

Hearty chicken salad: pan fried 1/2 chicken breast (used weber grill seasoning), served over a salad of romaine, broccoli slaw, tomatoes and avocado. Sprinkled 1 oz. of blue cheese and used less than an ounce of a honey mustard vinaigrette

Grilled round steak and veggies: Seasoned steak and veggies with Weber grill seasoning

I continued to snack in between my meals, however, I wasn't as diligent this week as I was in Weeks 1 & 2. Water intake was also a struggle for me - for some reason, I hate drinking water when I'm PMS'ing. Weird.

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Week #3 weigh in: 137.0 lbs
Progress: -2.4 lbs.

So, even though I ate well all week, I didn't lose any weight but I'm totally blaming being a woman on that. Better luck next week.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Week #1 and #2

The first week of the WWLC was successful! I know that the first week is always pretty easy because you typically lose a bunch of water weight, but I'll take it!

I started the challenge by changing my diet. I completely cut out all carbs -- it was a strict protein and veggie diet. I made sure to eat small meals and had healthy snacks in between meals. I increased my water intake and also tried to keep my salt intake low.

I logged every single meal, which I think is really helpful for the challenge -- I feel more accountable. I stayed home this entire week and cooked every single meal from scratch.

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Progress: -5.6 lbs.

I continued with the exact same regimen for week 2 -- another week of no carbs and sugars. I noticed I was pretty cranky this week. I'm assuming that it was because I was going through withdrawal, but I powered through it as best as I could.
Thankfully, the weather was poor on Superbowl Sunday, and it forced us to stay in. This was a blessing in disguise because we weren't tempted to eat poorly!

Here are some of the meals I prepared for both weeks:

Black bean brownies: Used Splenda instead of sugar

Egg Cups: Line the muffin pan with a piece of back bacon, lay down a bunch of spinach, crack an egg over top. Sprinkle with onion and herb Mrs. Dash and fat free cheddar cheese.
I eat 2 of these for breakfast with a tablespoon of salsa

"Tacos": Prepare lean ground turkey with homemade taco seasoning. Use romaine lettuce instead of taco shells. Top tacos with avocado, cilantro, fat free sour cream, salsa and red onion

Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup: Cook shrimp with ginger, garlic, onion and cauliflower. Add 5 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and a bag of spinach. Add 1/2 can of light coconut milk (Trader Joe's).
Serve with fresh cilantro and lime

Starting weight: 139.4 lbs.
Week #1 weigh in: 133.8 lbs.
Week #2 weigh in: 131.9 lbs.
Progress: -7.5 lbs.

The meal planning has been fun - coming up with dishes that are satisfying and tasty at the same time. I like the challenge of cooking something different everyday!

Still a long way to go, but I'm on the right track -- next week, I'll be introducing some exercise into the regimen. We'll see how that goes..

Friday, 30 January 2015

Journey #3 - Right here, Right now

Okay, so we're all caught up on my weight loss journey background, right? Awesome.

Here we are now. The baby is almost 5 months old and I'm 20 lbs. too heavy. The cold weather has been no help...neither was the holiday season (which I assure you, was filled with over-indulging).

While I'd like to believe I can get as fit as I was before the baby, that would be a very unrealistic goal. For one, I don't have access to a gym the same way that I used to -- being on a single household income, I can't justify the monthly expense of a membership right now.
And although a lot of the exercises I used to do required very little equipment, there are still things (like running on a treadmill) that I just can't replicate at home.
Second, I don't see myself being as disciplined as I used to be. Having two kids at home, means that the chances of becoming distracted, have doubled. Knox isn't quite on a solid schedule yet, so a nap could mean an hour of exercise time, or it could mean fifteen minutes of exercise time. Heck, it could very well mean zero exercise time. When he's awake, he prefers to be carried...and that is a problem.
I guess it sounds like I'm making excuses, doesn't it? Hmm..

So this is what this mama looks like now:

Ew. Note the sad face.
Yeeeeeah, you could say I have a long road ahead of me.

My current stats:
Age: 34
Height: 5' 5"
Weight: 139.4 lbs.

Goal: 117-120 lbs
I'm hoping to lose approximately 20 lbs. That is equivalent to 15% weight loss. 

My plan:

- Get my stomach stapled

- Hunger strike

- In the past, I've had success with the South Beach diet, which requires me to eliminate carbs and sugars for a 2 week period and then reintroduce healthy carbs after that initial phase. I hope to lose at least half of my 20 lbs. just from diet alone. 

- Of course, I'd like to exercise as many times a week as I can. My exercise plan is a little wishy washy right now, as I mentioned above, I'm not really sure how I'll be able to incorporate it into my day... but I'll come up with something. Hopefully.

- I can't use any types of supplements, as I am still breast feeding. I'll have to be mindful of my calorie intake, if I want to take full advantage of the calorie-burning affects that nursing has. 500 extra calories a day? Sweet. However, I also have to make sure that I'm not under consuming either, as that could affect my production of milk and the quality of it as well. There's a very fine line.

- I'll obviously increase my water intake and eliminate any types of juices or sugary sodas (not that I even ever drink them) and alcohol.

- I'll be tracking all of my meals along the way and will even try to share some of my meal plans and recipes here on the blog.

So there we have it. The challenge has officially started and I have 8 weeks to get into shape!
Let's do this...

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Journey #2.1

I call this Journey 2.1 because it's somewhat of a continuation of Journey #2. I mean, I laid off a little bit for the months following my initial weight loss, but never really gained any weight back, so I wasn't really starting from scratch.

So this journey was when I decided to take 'healthy' to another level. 

I was getting comfortable in my new country. I was finally reunited with my husband and we were waiting for our house to be built. During this time, we were staying with my sister-in-law in Wheeling, Illinois.
I was still un-employed, and Brian was working up in Milwaukee for 4 out of the 7 days in the week.

Time. That's what I had. A whole lot of it.
So I decided to join a gym.
Thankfully, they had childcare there and Xander was at an age where he was comfortable with me leaving him with other kids for an hour, while I worked out every day.

Again, I started off pretty slow -- just got my feet wet by doing cardio 3-4 times in the first week, and then eventually free weights. Until the infamous sales people got a hold of me, and before I knew it, I was signed up to meet with a personal trainer, once a week for the next month.

I figured it probably wasn't a bad thing. I had a plan: I'd use the trainer's expertise to get me going, and once I got a good handle on things, I'd break up with him. Easy.

The good news? I worked out harder than I'd ever worked out in my life and I saw results immediately.
The bad news? I worked out harder than I'd ever worked out in my life and I saw results immediately...which made it SO hard for me to quit, like I originally planned. So I continued with the trainer and actually increased my sessions to twice a week. I only did this for another 4 weeks or so until I finally said enough is enough.

I didn't take a lot of photos throughout the length of this journey, but here is a snapshot of 10 days during that time:

I started drinking amino water before my workouts and protein shakes after my workouts and continued to eat healthy. I rarely stepped on the scale -- because of my increase in muscle, I knew that the number would be skewed and I didn't want that to discourage me. I think I floated around 115 and 118 for the most part though.

My body felt tight and I had a ton of energy. I was wearing clothes that I never imagined I could wear again. It was the fittest I'd ever been and the best my body ever looked....

and then, well....
we decided we were going to try to have another baby.

And this is where Journey #3 begins...

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