Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shoveling Snow - A Great Way to Workout

We had one heck of a snowstorm last night. Well, it wasn't as bad as the one on Christmas but it was still pretty heavy. So, when I woke up this morning and saw all that snow, I thought, cool another way to mix up my exercise program! I got dressed in my my warm winter gear and headed out to shovel snow.
Shoveling is actually a really good workout. I remembered that on last season of The Biggest Loser one of their challenges had them shoveling sand. I thought, if it works with sand, it should with snow too. I shoveled two days in a row around Christmas and I certainly felt it the following days! You really use muscles shoveling that you don't normally use in a typical workout. It took me about 25 minutes to shovel out the front and the back. It was a lot easier this time as the snow as lighter and fluffier. Still, I was doing some heavy breathing and felt I got in a decent workout. It was just nice to find a way to change up my exercise routine. I try to do that whenever I can. The tasks I used to leave for my husband to do, such as shoveling and mowing, I find that I do them myself now. He certainly doesn't mind the break so it works out well for both of us!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weigh In: January 28, 2010

I lost another 1.75 pounds this week! That leaves 13.5 pounds until I reach my goal! I am really excited. I keep thinking this will be the week that I start hitting that plateau but so far I just keep losing.
I have been on a 1400 calorie diet but lately I have been trying to eat 1300 calories a day. I tried scaling back to 1200 but that was a bit tough for me. However, I did find that I could easily skim 50 calories off of lunch and 50 calories off of dinner and still stay full and satisfied for the day. Of course the important thing is to make those calories count. Lots of lower fat protein like chicken and fish along with a good helping of veggies.
Well, today is the start of another week. We shall see how it goes. We have a date night tomorrow which means eating out at yet another restaurant that I can't figure out calories for. And this time it's not one that I am familiar enough with to plan ahead. Hopefully there will be something I can eat and still do alright. I may have to really hit the exercise extra hard too. Well I hope to be posting next week with yet another loss.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Journal: Hectic Week!

It really has been a hectic week. There have been some added stress and events that came up and therefore I struggled to get my exercise in, but did manage to do it. The problem is that other things seem to suffer, like housework. I am keeping the house picked up, but I sure could use some time to do some extra scrubbing! Trying to prioritize my other activities along with exercise is a goal of mine this next month. I won't give up my exercise time, but surely there is a more productive way to manage the time I have left!
I am a bit worried about my weigh in tonight. I did alright this week but I did eat out twice. While I made good, healthy choices, it is tough to figure out how many calories the products actually are. The restaurants around here are more family owned and not chains, so I can't just get the nutritional information to be sure. I guess we will see how it goes.
I also feel like my exercise has been slacking. While I have been doing it, I haven't been feeling the burn. I can't figure out if that's because I am just not giving it my all, or maybe it's just easier for me. The last couple of days I really hit it hard though, and I sure am feeling it!
I will post my weigh in results tomorrow, so we shall see how it goes. I hope you all are having a great week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers

I was craving a burger again so my husband decided to fix his famous Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers for dinner tonight! Ok, so he got the recipe from but he is the one that found the recipe for us. While the recipe linked is pretty good and still pretty healthy, I made a few more modifications and got the patties down to 205 calories for a 4.5 ounce patty. Add that to my 80 calorie Delightful Bun by Sarah Lee and some Fat Free Mayo and you have the most awesome burger for under 300 calories!. I was so stuffed tonight that I felt like I cheated on my diet!

For my modified Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers you need:

1 pound of white ground turkey meat (this is leaner than just ground turkey) 640 calories
1 egg white 20 calories
1/2 cup feta cheese 160 calories
1 clove garlic
1/2 package frozen spinach

Mix the ingredients together, patty, and cook about 7 minutes on each side.
This divides into 4 really good size patties that are about 4.5 ounces a piece at 205 calories each (the calories in the garlic and spinach are so minimal I don't count those).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Curves Gym

I was a member of Curves for one year and I liked it quite a bit. It can be a good solution for some women and offers many benefits. I enjoyed the 30 minute circuit and did like the fact that it gives you a full body workout, with a combination of cardio and muscle toning. I liked that you switched stations every 30 seconds so you never had time to get bored doing one thing for too long. The music in the background and the constant change seemed to help me stay focused on the task instead of counting the minutes until I was done.
I also liked that they took a full body analysis instead of just looking at the scale for the end of the month results. You not only knew if you were losing weight, but how much fat and and how many inches you lost as well. They had plenty of contests and other incentives to keep you motivated.
Of course some people do not like that you have to do the circuit as they line it out and some people do not like, or are not able, to switch stations that quickly. My main problem with my local Curves was their hours of operation. I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom, so I am not free to get to the gym during the hours my husband is at work. That means I have to run to the gym the moment he gets home, or sometime after dinner, yet I needed time for my food to settle before going. Because of that, it was difficult for me to make it through the week. I needed more time on the weekend. However, my gym was only open on Saturdays from 8am until noon and they were closed on Sunday. I was getting up each morning and getting there at 8 each Saturday. Sometimes I was standing there waiting up to a half an hour before the staff showed up. Eventually they started closing on Saturday and Sunday. To make matters worse, they stopped being open until 8 and started closing at 7 (the hour I would sometimes make it after my dinner had settled). They were also closed from 1-3 each day which is my favorite time of the day to workout. If I did perhaps have a sitter at that time (hubby off of work or grandma over) I still couldn't do it at that time. They just did not operate at hours that were convenient for me, so when my contract was up, I stopped going. I am sure in larger cities the hours are more flexible but the hours here made it almost impossible for me to make it just 3 times a week, and I longed to workout more than that.
I quit Curves and went to a 24 hour gym, but found that boring simply running on a treadmill and things like that. It was also not as "female" friendly. So, when we got our taxes that year we bought us our own treadmill and now I use that once a week or so to break up my exercise video workouts. At least by owning the treadmill I don't have the expense of a monthly gym fee. However, if their schedule had allowed for it, I might have enjoyed staying a member of Curves.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekly Weigh In: Jan 21, 2010

Well my husband certainly got in his "I told you so's" yesterday. It definitely was my cycle that kept me from showing the true loss that I had. I did make up for it at this week's weigh in. I lost 6 1/2 pounds! (That was actually a combination of 4 weeks, I just had a fluke day last week where during my cycle I suddenly gained and then lost it the very next day.)
Anyway, that puts me at 175 1/4 pounds. I have not been this small since my daughter was born 8 years ago! I was so excited that I screamed when I saw the number. I freaked everyone in my TOPS club out, but when I explained it they understood and congratulated me. They are a great bunch of girls!
So now I am 15 1/4 pounds away from my goal. I am so excited! I can actually see it happening this time. The greatest part is that I seemed to bypass any plateaus this time around. I usually hit them about this point. I think that is due to the fact that I am exercising regularly, and I mean vigorously exercising. Anyway, I hope next week I have some more good news and will be just a little bit closer to my goal!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Delightful Bread

When dieting you quickly find that every calorie you eat counts. That is why when I make a sandwich I use diet bread. It used to be that I would eat a low calorie bread but I would not enjoy it very much. Of course that made it hard for me to even want a sandwich. Then about a year or so ago I found this newer diet bread by Sara Lee called 45 Calories & Delightful. It comes in 4 different flavors, White, Wheat, Whole Wheat and Multi Grain. They are all really good and flavorful but my favorite is the Wheat. At 45 calories a slice, compared to regular bread which is about 80 calories a slice, you save 70 calories on every sandwich you eat!

Now I can enjoy more sandwiches, afford to have toast with my eggs or even have a slice of toast and sugar free jelly for a snack that's only 55 calories! Finding these simple ways to cut calories can make a huge difference in dieting. If you eat a sandwich every day at work for lunch you just cut out 350 calories in one week just by changing the bread you eat! And this bread, unlike other diet breads, makes you not notice it so much!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pudding Cups

Fat Free or Sugar Free pudding cups are an awesome way to kill a sweet tooth craving for under 100 calories. I have these pudding cups often, whenever I want that dessert or sweet fix. The Fat Free cups are 80 calories and the Sugar Free ones are 70. You can even add a little sugar free or fat free whipped topping and still keep it at 100 calories.

Fat Free and Sugar Free Pudding Cups are a delicious way to stay within your calorie range, lose weight and still enjoy a little chocolate now and then (or vanilla or whatever flavor you choose)!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Water is essential for life, but many people do not get enough water each day. While we do get water into our system through foods and other beverages it is essential to our health, and even our weight loss efforts, that we drink plain water.
It has been said that a person needs 8 glasses a day but I read that you should divide your body weight by 2 to determine how many ounces of water you need a day. At my current weight of around 180 I should be drinking 90 ounces of water. That's over 11 glasses of water (8 ounces) or 5 and half bottles of water (16.9 ounces each). Of course if you exercise or are very active you will need to replenish more often.

Water provides many benefits to the body. At they say the following about the health benefits of water:
According to Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of Power Eating, staying well-hydrated prevents "fatigue, headache, burning dry eyes, burning in the stomach, dry mouth, loss of concentration, reduced mental and physical capacity, and poor heat acclimation."

But the benefits don't end there. Over time, well-hydrated people suffer less colon, urinary tract and breast cancer, kidney stones, constipation and mitral valve prolapse.

Water can also help with weight loss because it helps you feel full. Staying full with water can keep the snack cravings away. Drinking plenty of water is one important way to stay healthy so be sure to get your daily intake each and every day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spiritual Health: Putting God First

While this is a health blog I will tell you that I am a Christian who believes the Bible. I do think that my spiritual health and well being are more important than my physical, however, I feel that I am called to take care of my body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I have tried for years to get my body in shape but it did not seem to be working until I began making time with God a priority. I spend each morning (well most of them) in the Word of God and in prayer. It seemed to me that once I gave my spiritual life priority, it was then that I was able to make the wise choices about my physical health. I found a verse in my reading of Proverbs this morning that really confirmed and spoke to that.
Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.

8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

Simply reading the Word and praying will not be enough. We must do as James says and listen to the Word and "do" what it says. This is what brings us health. While I think it is important to care for our bodies, eat healthy and exercise I know that in the end God is in control of the length of my life. While I want to live a long life and be here for my daughter, in the end God is in control of when my time comes. I just want know that when it comes it was His time, not simply me reaping the results of the poor choices that I sowed.

For those out there who are believers, or who are at least interested in learning more, I wanted to share a tool that am utilizing to read through the Bible in a year. Did you know that if you just read one New Testament Chapter a day for 5 days a week you will have read the entire New Testament in one year? If you have never read the entire bible you might want to start off with just that. I follow that plan but I also follow a plan to read the Old Testament too. So on my weekends off I am reading Psalms, Proverbs and the Prophets. During the week I have my 1 NT chapter and 2 OT chapters. After that I spend time in prayer. This helps me to keep my priorities straight. While I want to make sure I have time to exercise, I do not want it to replace my time with God. Instead I want it to enhance my witness. It was through such a time of devotion that I quit smoking 9 years ago as well. Making God a priority can help you to make the chioces that will not only enhance your spiritual life but will give health to your body and nourishment to your bones. If you want to give that a try, start with a bible reading plan I am using (or find one that you like). offers a large variety of plans in several different versions. You can start now, today, anytime. You don't need to go back to January 1 and try to catch up. Just follow the plan starting today and you will finish reading one year from now. There is no time like the present. As the Word says, keeping God's commands will lead us to make wise decisions that will prolong our lives.

Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,

2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sonic Treat: Lo-Cal Diet Cherry Limeade

Last night we were bored and tired of being indoors. My husband recommended taking our daughter to Sonic for a late night treat but knowing how I had to watch my calorie intake he wondered if I was alright with that. I said no problem, I will just get a diet soda. Well, when I got there I saw on their menu that they offered a Lo-Cal Diet Cherry Limeade so I thought I would try it. It was really great! I was anxious to see how many calories I had when I got home and at first I was really upset. It appeared that it was 350 calories. I was like, what?? Well, it turns out that the first number on the Sonic Nutritional Guide is the weight of the product. I was much relieved to find that there were only 10 calories in my yummy Lo-Cal Diet Cherry Limeade drink! So if you have a hankering to just go have a treat, Sonic offers an least for now. I read that it may be a limited time only offer so go give it a try and let them know we like it. Maybe then it will become something we can enjoy anytime!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Breakfast: Weight Control Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a yummy way to start the day, especially in these cold winter months. A few months ago I tried this Weight Control Oatmeal by Quaker. I found it to be very delicious and also filling. Protein and fiber are essential ingredients for a healthy diet which also help you to feel full longer. Each serving of Quaker Weight Control Oatmeal is 160 calories and has 7g of protein and 6g of fiber which is about twice as much as you get in the average bowl of oatmeal. That makes for a very filling and satisfying breakfast.
I also think they are very delicious. In the variety pack you get Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Banana Bread. Banana Bread is my favorite, but I really like them all. Personally I tend to eat these more in the evening then in the morning (I do break the rule of eating breakfast most of the time). I find this to be a great bedtime snack. It's warm, sweet, tasty and filling which allows me to rest without waking up hungry first thing in the morning.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Weekly Weigh In: Jan 14, 2010

My weigh ins are on Thursday nights, so my Friday blogs will probably be about my results. I have had no official weigh in for the past 2 weeks due to the weather. After 3 weeks it turned out that I turtled (stayed the same). That was really discouraging because I felt that I did really well over the holidays. I did not over-eat and I continued to exercise. Of course, this is my cycle week. (Sorry guys, it's a fact us women have to deal with and it does effect our weigh ins!) My scale at home is already showing an improvement today. Why did we have to weigh in yesterday?

I should really stop beating myself up. My husband reminded me that I go through this every month. I have a bad weigh in or just a slight loss but the next week I have a really good one. So I will wait and see. I just thought I was down about 4 more pounds more than I showed, so I guess I do still have over 20 pounds to reach my goal. The good news was that our end of the year report revealed that I am 16 pounds lighter this year then I was last! This will be the year that I reach my final goal. I am not giving up!

To keep track of my progress I am posting my Tracker from The Ticker Factory. You will see that I have a permanent link to this on my side bar and it should always be updated with my current weight. Here is where I currently stand. I'm about halfway there!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dinner: Smoked Turkey Sausage

Last night for dinner we had sausage and sauerkraut with a side of green beans. Of course you all know that sausage is fatty and high in calories. Well, awhile back I found Butterball Smoked Turkey Sausage at our local grocery and tried it. I found it very delicious and now I use it all the time. Anytime you want Smoked Sausage try using a turkey variety instead (any brand should do, just check the nutrition label to be sure).

The ButterBall Smoked Turkey Sausage was 100 calories for every 2 oz. serving. There were only 6 grams of fat per serving as well. The sausage my husband ate was 190 calories per 2 oz. serving with a whopping 16 grams of fat. This is an excellent way to make your calories count! You get twice as much meat and protein with a lot less fat. Add to that the sauerkraut which is only 5 calories per serving and you have nice, low calorie, low fat dinner. Not only that but it's an easy to prepare meal on those days when you are rushed and don't have a lot time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tracking Exercise Progress

Exercise is a vital component to a healthy lifestyle. If you do not implement a regular exercise routine into your daily life, you will struggle to lose weight and will not be able to maintain it if you do lose it. Exercise needs to be a regular part of any healthy lifestyle. One way to help yourself maintain consistency is to keep track of how often you exercise. I have a TOPS Tracker that I use that keeps track of my weight loss and physical activity. Each time I exercise I jot down what day of the week it is and what duration and/or distance I completed. While that works alright for me, I really prefer to see my accomplishments on a larger scale. So what I did was find a calendar program that allows me to put in whatever data I choose. I made this calendar My Workout Journal.

Now I can view my progress in a monthly view and have an overall feel for how much exercise I am getting a week (this calendar has other view options as well).

My goal is 3 hours a week over 4-5 days. I usually end up with 2 hours and 45 minutes as my average. That is working really well for me and I am seeing results so I am pleased with that. I would eventually like to see more, but the realities of being a busy homeschooling housewife and mother makes it hard for me to find a consistent time each week that I can exercise. Therefore a journal is imperative to keep me accountable to myself and make sure I am making the time I need each week.

While this particular calendar program at is public, you have to give the URL for anyone else to be able to access it. There are several other calendar options you can choose from that are not public. My Google email account comes with one but I wanted something I was more willing to share publicly so I could be accountable to all of you as well as myself. There are also several sites online that let you keep track of various other weight loss data too. Choose whatever works best for you. The important thing is that you use something to make sure that you keep track of the amount of exercise you are getting.

If you notice I have offered access to view my calendar on the side bar of my blog. Look for the exercise image and click on it to see just how much exercise I have been getting in!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

TOPS - Take Off Pounds Sensibly

TOPS Club Inc. is a nonprofit, noncommercial, weight-loss support organization with chapters all across the country. I am currently the president of our local chapter and have found it provides an inexpensive and helpful tool for keeping me accountable in my weight loss journey. I have been a member of TOPS for 2 years now. Our chapter is small, but sufficient to meet our needs.

There is a yearly registration fee of $26.00 to join TOPS and after that you only have to pay whatever amount of dues your chapter determines. Ours is only .50 per week. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to get some support and accountability, TOPS just may be the place for you.

Each week we have a weigh in followed by a 30 minute meeting that offers various tips and advice on weight loss and general healthy living. They do have an exchange system diet plan that you can use, but they do not teach you how to work it like other clubs do. They give you the tools to use, but you are free to use the plan that works best for you. I count calories and find that works really well for me so I do not use the TOPS exchange system. They do, however, encourage you to use a plan that is healthy and will lead to long term success rather than implementing some diet fad that is not workable for the long term.

They also provide you with opportunities to meet other TOPS members in your area as well as on a state and national level. With conventions and workshops throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to motivate yourself and others within the TOPS club. It's not the type of club that will hold your hand in every decision you make, but they will help you learn how to make good choices on your own and provide you with the tools and support you need to meet your weight loss goals.

Those who reach their goal weight become KOPS and are welcome to remain in the club to help them maintain their weight as well as encourage others to do the same. It is my goal to become a KOP this year. I am only about 17 pounds away! To find out more or to find a TOPS Club near you visit their website at

TOPS Benefits

Inexpensive - Weekly accountability that won't break your bank
Flexibility - Your ability to choose the plan that works best for you
Support - A place to find support and encouragement
Rewards - You are rewarded for goals throughout your weight loss journey, not just at the end

Monday, January 11, 2010

Applebee's has meals for under 550 calories!

We had a special day this afternoon. My husband took the day off and we went out of town, did some shopping and got to eat out at a decent restaurant. (I live in a really small town so I get excited when I get to go somewhere different!) Today we ate at Applebee's. I had not been in an Applebee's in over 5 years and I was really looking forward to it, especially after learning that they now had menu items that are under 550 calories a piece!

I only have 1400 calories to spend in a day, so usually my lunch and dinner do not consist of more than 500 calories. That makes eating out almost impossible! But with the new 550 calorie menu selections at Applebee's, I can enjoy a delicious meal and still stay within my daily limit! They all looked so delicious that I did not know which one to try first, but the new Grilled Dijon Chicken & Portobella's looked like a good place to start.

Well, I certainly was not disappointed and I enjoyed every bite (however I did take off the red peppers as I am not a fan of those) . The onions, mushrooms and cheese on top of the chicken in that Dijon sauce was simply delectable! The potatoes were really flavorful as well and having a side of veggies made it the perfect meal. Nutritious food, reasonable portion sizes and yet I was stuffed and felt like I had something special! (And did I mention it was under $10?) I was a very happy camper indeed!

I think next time I will try the Asiago Peppercorn Steak.

I think I have hubby talked into a date night which will include another trip to Applebee's. I hope they keep these items on their menu. It certainly makes eating out a whole lot easier on those of us who are watching what they eat!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Counting Calories

The first thing one must do when they decide to lose weight is figure out how. What diet plan or weight loss program will you follow? I really do not like to use the word "diet" because we should be changing our lifestyle, but the truth is that in order to lose weight we do need to cut back more than if we were just eating to maintain our current weight. We have to do something. I have basically tried two different methods to lose weight over the years; counting calories and following the Weight Watchers point system. I will discuss my experience with Weight Watchers in another thread, but in this one I want to discuss the method I am using this time, which is counting calories.

One of the greatest benefits of counting calories is that it is an inexpensive and simple way to lose weight. Since I was starting on my own without anyone to guide me I had to sort of hit and miss in order to figure out where to start my daily caloric intake. Since the average recommended daily allowance seems to be 2000 I decided to start at 1800. I was not really losing anything at that amount so I cut it back 100 more calories and kept doing that until I started to lose weight. I began to see a difference at 1600 but eventually that too seemed to taper off. So basically all I did was eat the number of calories that seemed to help me lose weight. If I had a couple of weeks with very minimal or no weight loss I would then cut back 100 more calories from there. (The amount of calories you need is reduced as your weight is also reduced so the amount of calories you eat does need to be adjusted as you lose more weight.) I am now currently eating 1400 calories a day and I am still seeing a steady loss at this amount, especially since I am also following a consistent exercise regiment as well.

Since having muddled through this on my own I found a really great reference that tells you exactly how to calculate how many calories you should be eating when attempting to lose weight. It came from the Biggest Loser Complete Calorie Counter Book that I ordered to help me calculate my caloric intake. At the beginning of the book they spell out their plan which says:

The Biggest Loser Diet calls for 7 calories per pound of current body weight until you reach your target weight. (If you weigh over 300 pounds, count 300 as your starting weight for this formula. Likewise, count 150 pounds as your starting weight if you currently weigh less than 150 pounds). 12 calories per pound will usually maintain your target body weight.

When following these calculations that put me close to 1300 calories. Since I am still having steady losses at 1400 I have not yet gone to 1300 but at least this gave me a general sense of how many calories I should be eating. I am not really trying to get to my goal weight in a hurry, I am more interested in a steady, slower, but consistent weight loss. Since currently 1400 calories is doing the trick that's what I will eat.

The hardest part of counting calories is calculating the calories when you are cooking a meal at home. It's really easy to look at the label of a boxed meal, can of soup, or TV dinner but it's difficult to figure out how many calories are in that casserole dish you made. That is where calorie counter books come in really handy. You used to be able to find these at the checkout of the grocery store, but I had the hardest time finding one this time. That is why I went online to buy one, and even then, I did not seem to find that many. I ended up purchasing the The Biggest Loser Complete Calorie Counter Book from Wal-Mart for $4.00. This is my main tool for counting calories. However, the book is not as complete as I would like it to be, so sometimes I just have to surf online for the information that I seek.

One site that I found I use is the Calorie Chart which has foods sorted alphabetically. They usually have most everything I am looking for, but I am not sure how accurate it is. However it seems to have served me well so far.

There are other sites as well, all you have to do is search for them. The point is that you need to tabulate all the ingredients in a recipe. After you have tabulated the amount of the total for the dish, divide it into servings to find the amount of calories for each one. This can be a bit of work at times, but if you write down the total calories for the entire dish plus the per serving calorie cost on your recipe card or in your calorie counter book you will only have to do it once. I even tabulated the amount for the Christmas fudge I made and wrote that down on the cards I handed out with it. It certainly was fattening fudge and knowing the calories made me decide to only eat a half a piece! This information is important to know before we put anything into our mouths.

While we need to watch how many calories go into our body, we do need to pay attention to other nutritional information as well. If you look for things that are lower in fat for instance, not only will you find a more healthier food, you will find that you will get fuller when eating them because your serving size tends to be larger. For instance, you can eat a much larger helping of chicken then you can beef. While 4 ounces of a boneless, skinless chicken breast is 132 calories, a 4 oz. sirloin steak is 254 calories. When you only get about 400 calories a meal, you want to make every calorie count.

Other tools that are helpful to have on hand for accurate calorie counting is a food scale. I have a digital food scale that measures my serving size in both grams and ounces so I know exactly what size and how many calories the serving on my plate is. You can pick those up at your local retail store or just about anywhere online. They are not that expensive and very beneficial to counting calories.

There is one other adjustment that I have made. There are certain vegetables that are considered "free" in Weight Watchers. You can eat things like carrots, broccoli, lettuce, celery, cabbage, green beans, etc and not count them at all. I still do this, even though they do have calories in them. So far this has not kept me from losing weight, so I will continue to do that. You may decide to count them if you want, it's up to you. The important thing to remember is that while the vegetable itself is free, what you add to it is not. The vegetables in a salad may be free, but you must count the calories in the dressing, eggs, cheese, bacon bits, etc. that you add to it. The green beans are free, but you count any butter you put on them. Broccoli is free, but count the cheese if you add any to it. A carrot is free, but not the ranch you dip it in. Only the vegetable is free. Also, not all vegetables are free. Extra starchy ones like corn and peas are not. Use common sense here. I may try to compile a list of free foods in the future.

To recap and to provide some other helpful advice I will close with some tips to remember when counting calories.

Tips to Remember:

Calculate the amount of calories per day you should start with - Use the formula above from the Biggest Loser Calorie Counter Book (7 calories per pound if you weigh between 150-300 pounds) or simply start at under 2000 and keep adjusting until you see results.

Serving Size - Be sure that you only eat the amount of food that is in a serving size. Do not count a 6 ounce piece of chicken breast as a 4 ounce portion size. Look at the serving size on every label and know how much a serving is.

Measure everything - In order to be sure your serving size is accurate, measure everything.

Prepare food at home - It's almost impossible to lose weight if you eat out too much. You can control the size of your portion and what goes into your food when you make it yourself. When I crave a hamburger I make one at home out of the 95% lean ground beef and use my light or fat free mayo, low fat cheese instead of the high calorie content you get from a fast food joint. I usually save about 300 calories per sandwich and it tastes a whole lot better.

Log your calories - You must write down everything you eat and the amount of calories that were in it. If you don't write it down you are bound to forget some things and risk eating too many calories.

Plan Ahead - If you are going out to eat plan ahead. If it's a restaurant look up their information online before you go and know what the calories are before hand. Also take your calorie counter book with you so you can figure it out on your own. The BL Calorie Counter Book does have some restaurants listed in the back.

Allow for some snacks - Denying yourself any goodies will only make you want to gorge on them later. I allow myself to have a couple of sweets when I want them, I just count the calories. I have found fat free or sugar free pudding cups to be a great source of sweets. For just 70-80 calories you can have your chocolate craving fulfilled and still lose weight. Also have healthy snacks available during times when you know you will be weak. I love to munch during my evening television shows so I pop some 94% fat free butter popcorn which costs 100 calories. Keep fruits or healthy protein bars on hand when you need an afternoon pick me up.

Eat protein and fiber - Protein and Fiber are essential for a healthy diet but they also help you feel full longer. Be sure you have protein with every meal and that your diet consists of plenty of fiber as well. You will find that you will be less likely to be hungry between meals if you do.

Eat plenty of veggies - A well balanced diet is essential and getting your fruits and vegetables is a must. There are some vegetables that I even consider as free food. They say you burn more calories eating celery than are actually in the celery itself. So eat vegetables with every meal to help you fill that void without having to count that many calories if any at all.

Exercise - Yes, I know this is just about counting calories but it's just as important to burn calories off as it is to take them in. Regular exercise will help you lose weight, get your body in shape and make you feel better. I have personally found that now that I exercise regularly I am a lot less likely to snack between meals.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Health Assessment

We had our annual health assessment and blood work draw at the end of December and I got an excellent report from the doctor. She was really excited and said that based on the blood work alone she would estimate that I would live to be 100! Everything (other than my BMI which I am working on) came back perfect! When going over my family history of diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, etc she jokingly asked me if I was adopted. I had no signs or indicators at this time that I had any of those problems. For those who do not know, I am a 42 year old married woman who has three children ages 24, 22, and 8. Here are some of the results from my test.

Total Cholesterol Reading 125 Optimal
HDL Cholesterol Reading 52 Protective
LDL Cholesterol Reading 64 Optimal
Triglycerides Reading 47 Normal
Ratio of Cholesterol to HDL 2.4 Normal

Glucose 91 Normal

My vitals, my liver, and my kidney readings were also all in the normal range. Even though I continued to eat too much over the last couple of years and it took me time to lose the weight, I had started to make healthier choices. I kept fluctuating between 200-188ish by making some changes such as eating grilled chicken when I eat fast food instead of devouring that greasy burger. I do not fry any foods when I cook at home, instead I bake things in the oven that I used to fry. Just those small changes seemed to have really shown up in my blood work. I have read recenlty that you should limit red meat to 2 times a week. I tend to only eat it 2 to 3 times a week anyway just because it is higher in calories. I did not realize the impact it was having on my health. Looking at these results have really got me examining what caused them because I want to make sure that I continue to keep my body healthy. All these choices, and more, will be the topic of future blogs. I am so excited I just can't wait to share it all!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Progress in 2009

I wanted to give my readers a visual of the progress that I made this last year. Look below to see what I looked like on New Year's Eve 2008 and what I looked like a couple of weeks ago on New Year's Eve 2009. Here are my before and after photos.

New Year's Eve 2008
200 pounds

New Year's Eve 2009
180 pounds

Because of the weather we haven't had an official weigh in since then but my scale at home shows that I have lost at least another 3 pounds. My progress was slow this last year. After a trying pregnancy that led to a miscarriage I basically started over again at 200 in October. It's been going steady again since then. Also, while there is only 20 pounds of difference you can see that the numbers do not define the entire success. Some people seem surprised, even shocked, when I tell them how much I weigh. But you see, I have gained muscle and have been toning my body as well as slimming it down so I actually appear to look like I weigh less than I do. I am about 17 pounds to my goal which is 160. I haven't seen that number since I became pregnant with my daughter about 9 years ago. This is the year I will finally do it!

Why I made this blog

I have been enjoying blogging for a few years now. My main blog is Special Connection Homeschool which is my blog about homeschooling my daughter who has special needs. I also have a personal blog titled Lori's Say on the Matter where I give my opinion about whatever is on my mind. I also occassionaly blog about Open Source Software and Parental Rights. However, the last few years there has been a new focus in my life that I felt deserved it's own blog. My health. I hope that sharing my personal journey, opinions, recipes, tips, and things that are working for me might not only encourage others, but it also keep me accountable.

I have fought being overweight for quite some time. I diet, lose weight, slowly regain it all back: rinse - repeat. Sometimes I use the same plan, other times I use something different. The key here is that even though I have never been over 225 pounds, I seem to spend most of my time near 200 rather than under it. It's a battle I seem to be used to. But the last few years have really been tough and have changed my perspective greatly. It is not just about my weight anymore, or about how I look. It is now about my overall health.

I already mentioned that I have a daughter with special needs. Specifically she has Down Syndrome. When you know your child is still going to need you as an adult it really makes you think about what you can do to make sure you are around for as long as possible. But beyond that there was something else that happened that really made me open my eyes. It was the death of my father on November 17, 2007.

My father died from a stroke and the complications that arose from it. But truly the stroke was just a byproduct of years of him neglecting his health. My father had diabetes, heart disease, kidney trouble, and high cholesterol (among various other things). Yes, he was also overweight. The problem is, he did not really do anything about any of those conditions (except to take any medications prescribed for them). He ate what he wanted to eat, when he wanted to eat it and seldom was it a healthy food choice. He also smoked, worked too hard, slept too little and never exercised. I love my father dearly and I miss him terribly. But when he died, I knew that he had no one to blame but himself.

Now my mother is also getting older and I see her health also starting to wane . She too was just recently diagnosed with diabetes. She also has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many other problems. She too is overweight and has been battling with that for as long as I can remember. I also love my mother dearly and I don't want to be missing her anytime soon. But I fear that with her diet and poor health habits, I just might.

Seeing a person suffer is hard enough, but there is nothing more frustrating than seeing someone suffer when they do not have to be. People say they want to lose weight, feel better, and be healthy but their actions tell a different story. What they mean is they "wish" they could lose the weight without having to do anything. Well, that is NOT going to happen. That's life folks. It takes hard work to get anything that is worth having and that includes good health.

Yes, sometimes we have to eat things we do not like or worse yet, not eat things we do. But as we make the right choices and our bodies become adjusted we CAN finally get to a point where we do like what we eat. Yes, sometimes we are going to have exercise and we are going to hate it. Believe me, I do not exercise because I find it fun. But after the panting and groaning are done, we will actually feel better. Yes, sometimes we are going to have give up stuff we like. Whether it's a cigarette, a certain beverage, a Ho-Ho, or a Big Mac we have to be willing to say our health is worth it. We are in a huge health care crisis in America. Not because the care is not available and not because the prices are too high but because American's are refusing to take care of their health.

Well I for one am going to take care of mine. Will you join me? I hope to inspire as well as be inspired by those of you I meet along the way. I look forward to where this journey will take us! Shall we get moving together? I hope so!