Friday, August 29, 2014

Celery is 95% Water and 100% Not Pizza

I get asked quite frequently about what I eat and if I can recommend any low-carb recipes to anyone.  I am probably the worst person to ask this of.  I used to consider myself a pretty good cook and even better baker but since I don’t eat much anymore it kind of takes the joy out of dinner time.  Also, being single, it’s not worth making dinner for just myself sometimes.  I’ve become extremely regimented in what I eat because that works for me.  If you’re someone who gets bored easily then you’ll definitely need to use hubs like Pinterest or low-carb eating blogs to help you out.  After a lot of testing, I have determined that I lose more weight on weeks when I eat moderate carbs.  Now, I don’t blow it out of the water and have whatever I want but I do pick at carbs.  With the amount that I work out, moderate carb helps me lose more weight.  

This is my day in a snapshot:
Pre-workout- red delicious apple in route to the gym.
Breakfast- 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites (scrambled) with about 1 tbsp. shredded cheese and 3-4 slices of low sodium deli ham.  Sometimes I roll it up on the side and sometimes I chop it to mix it in to the eggs.
Snack- piece of fruit and/or a protein bar/shake (more on those later!) depending on my hunger.
Lunch- Varies on how much time I have but usually a salad w/ protein.  Lunch is where I work in my little bit of carb.  If I’m eating out with friends from work and we go to Mexican, I get a taco salad with chicken and just pick at the shell.  I will eat some of the chips but I won’t eat a whole basket like the old me.  If I pack my lunch, I’ll have salad topped with chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, almonds, a bit of cheese and dressing.  Another piece of fruit and a protein bar if I haven’t had one yet today.
3 o’clock crash- flavored Sparkling ICE water.  Found in the water aisle, no calories, carbs or caffeine.  My favorite flavors are the mango lemonade, black raspberry, cherry limeade and watermelon-strawberry.  This is my something sweet to get me through the rest of the work day.
Dinner- Blazin’ Buffalo chicken deli meat, small salad, sliced veggies or celery & peanut butter.  If I’m sick of green things for the day, I’ll have another piece of fruit if I haven’t had 2 yet today.
Dessert- Almond milk with NesQuick or sugar free Hershey’s syrup (see Mo’Dairy, Mo’ Problems for details).

As you can see, life is pretty boring in the food department but that’s what keeps me on track.  Lunch is my biggest meal of the day and I try to squeeze all my food in before 7 p.m.  I also only eat if I’m hungry, which is still pretty rare that I’m not.  Weekends are where I usually mix it up and actually cook meals or other items.  A few of my favorites are below.  I also allow myself to eat bacon (low sodium) on weekends for breakfast.  I have to limit it to weekends because otherwise I will eat it all day every day.  Seriously, who doesn’t love bacon?

Fake Fajitas (this is my fave meal!)
Marinate steak or chicken in your favorite marinade (I use the McCormick Grill Mates Zesty Herb and follow packet directions).  Sauté, in a bit of butter and garlic, sliced green bell pepper and yellow onion until caramelized.  Grill or pan cook chicken or steak until done to your liking.  Serve sliced meat over bed of peppers and onions and top with sliced tomato, sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream.

Barber Foods Stuffed Chickens
These stuffed chicken breasts come in a variety of flavors and are lightly breaded on the outside.  They are relatively low in carb (broccoli cheese has 13g) and are pretty delicious.  The cranberry brie is my favorite but it has a higher carb count so I stick with the broccoli cheese flavor.  Add with a veggie and you have dinner!  They’re in the frozen meat section near the chicken nuggets. 

Lean Hot Dogs
I sometimes eat these for breakfast or a snack.  Oscar Meyer makes the lean beef franks that are low calorie and, obviously, low carb.  I’ll grill up two and serve with low-sugar ketchup on the side.  If you haven’t tried low-sugar ketchup, I definitely recommend it!  It has a different flavor than normal ketchup but not enough to make you question it.  It’s a great alternative that will give you a bit of savings.

I’ve tried a lot of the cauliflower substitution recipes and I just don’t love them.  Honestly, if you want a pizza that tastes like cauliflower then it’s a great alternative.  I noticed that I would load up on sauce and cheese to make it taste better.  I also went through a phase where I was obsessed with spaghetti squash.  I burned out quickly on that one.  It is a really good meal but, again, it doesn’t taste like pasta.  Again, I loaded up on sauce and cheese to compensate.  Finding out what works for you takes time and effort on your part.  I’ve learned that I’m okay eating nearly the same thing every day because that’s how I see results.  Can someone please figure out how to remove carbs from mac ‘n’ cheese already?  I’m impatiently waiting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Supa Proud Wednesday

I've decided that from here forward on Wednesdays I am going to award a "Supa Proud" title to a person, place or thing that I deem myself proud of for the week.  Today, I'm nominating and automatically awarding (no votes necessary--it's my blog!) myself as the thing I am Supa Proud of this week.  Yes, supa is now a word (again, it's my blog!).  Also, if we've never met and you're unfamiliar with Sarah speak, it's pronounced soup-ah.

I nominate myself because tomorrow I am finishing out week 32 of this journey and have officially hit the 70 lbs. lost mark!  Not only have I lost the weight equivalent of a normal elementary aged kid (or so I've recently learned) but I've lost 10 points off my BMI, 13 inches off my waist and I haven't fallen yet at the gym this week.  Knock on wood.  I decided it was time for a  new elapsed photo so I've included that in today's post.  The left is from March 23rd, or week 10, and I weighed 260.8 lbs. and had lost 30.2 lbs.  The right is from today, August 27th.  This is photo evidence of 40 lbs., y'all!  Yes, I realize that today is Wednesday and I didn't wear pink.  

Thank you, again and again, for reading!  Get excited for a post coming at you this weekend about how I'm going to survive football season and reach for my goals instead of reaching for nachos and beer.

Go Gators!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sugar, Sugar

On Friday night, with the decision to launch the blog on Saturday made, I was stressing.  I headed to Walmart to peruse some options for a (relatively) healthy treat.  I was able to find a pint of Artic Zero (vanilla maple flavor), which is 7g carbs, 5g sugars, 0g fat and 36 calories for ½ a cup.  It actually doesn’t taste horrible.  I’m not huge on the maple flavor but the other one they had was chocolate and I hate chocolate ice cream.  Weird, huh?  I also purchased a box of Good Humor birthday cake ice cream bars, which sound a lot worse (but better at the same time) than they are.  One bar is 20g carbs, 15g sugars, 5g fat and 130 calories because they’re made with light ice cream.  Obviously, the Artic Zero is better for me by miles but I’m 100 percent confident the birthday cake bars have crack in them.  Good doesn’t even begin to describe them.  I will warn you that if you have an issue with control DO NOT PURCHASE these bars!  The old Sarah would have eaten all 6 in the box by now but it’s been two days and I only had the one on Friday…in the car on the way home from the store.  :)

This Good Humor bar was not enough to curb my anxiety over the launch of the blog.  I basically can equate the “going public” with standing outside my apartment naked.  A person’s weight, to a heavy person, is an incredibly private number.  The fact that I let my closest friends and possibly strangers in on that detail as well as a lot of my hang ups is insane.  For those of you who know my mother, Momma Stew, you would probably use the word brownie to first describe her.  My momma is famous for her sweets and treats.  When I first came to college and would go to parties, kids from my high school who were older than me would ask me if I had any of my mom’s brownies on me.  Basically, she and her brownies were more well-known than I was.  I could NEVER top my momma’s banana pudding but I’ll be damned if I didn’t try this weekend.  I usually don’t eat bananas because they are higher in sugar than other fruits but let’s face it, people, I didn’t get fat because of bananas.  I scoured the cookie aisle at Walmart to find the perfect substitution for ‘Nilla Wafers.  I decided upon some honey graham crackers, which were pretty comparable to the wafers and Teddy Grahams I considered using.  More research is needed to find the perfect sub but honestly I had to get out of the aisle because the Oreos were staring at me.  Side note- they now have cookie dough flavor crème Oreos, caramel apple Oreos and I also saw some Chips Ahoy stuffed with Oreo cream.  SHUT UP, I KNOW!  I might need to put more research into those babies, too. 

To make the pudding, I layered sliced bananas with banana cream flavored sugar-free Jell-O pudding that I made with heavy whipping cream.  If you’ve never made it with heavy whipping cream instead of the milk you’re seriously missing out.  This does up the fat and calorie count of the pudding significantly but the fluffy, creamy outcome is worth it in my book.  With the pudding mix, heavy cream, 1 serving of graham crackers and some math, I totaled the whole batch at 81g carbs and 8g sugars.  I’m not counting the 2 bananas I used because, again, bananas are something I could normally eat throughout the day.  I got 6 servings, making it 13.5g carbs and 1.33g sugars per serving.  When you add in the 2 tbsp. of whipped cream on top, it adds 2g carbs.  If you leave out the graham crackers, it would be 0g sugars for all of it.  Again, more research needed.  It sure wasn’t my momma’s banana pudding and it definitely wasn’t the Not Your Momma’s banana pudding that Paula Deen makes but it was delicious! 
I’m always on the hunt for great substitutions so please feel free to share any that you have!  You can also follow me on Pinterest and see all of the great recipes I pin (and dresses for my fictional wedding, too!) by clicking the link on my right banner.  Finally, I want to say how seriously awesome all of you have been with your comments and messages about the blog.  It was incredibly intimidating to me and to be met with such words of encouragement means more to me than you’ll ever know.  This all started as a whim and I never thought anyone would read it.  I had nearly 50 readers between today and yesterday and I want to personally thank each and every one of you.  Love you guys!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Poor 'dillo

I promise I'm cute IRL
It’s Sunday, wahhhhhh.  As I was foam rolling this morning and there was nothing worth watching in my DVR, I decided to go for a run…outside.  It hadn’t started raining yet and getting some fresh air and vitamin D were appealing to me.  Well, the good news is that I survived to tell about it.  I honestly have so much more respect for people who run outdoors.  Good-ness that wasn’t very fun.  I headed out the door a little before 10 a.m. hoping to beat some of today’s heat.  For those of you reading from Poland—that’s right, I saw you on my Blogger dashboard!—it’s hot as hell in Florida in August.  My iPhone was reporting that it was 84 degrees already.  If you’ve been paying attention, you know I’m a sweater and today I was melting like a Popsicle.  Please see photo evidence and note that these clothes were immediately put into the laundry and it took one cold shower and approximately 40 minutes for me to cool down.  Yes, mom, I wore sunscreen.  I do need to be a better prepared Boy Scout in the future though!  I had no app to track my speed or distance, I had no water, and I really should have worn a hat.  So there I am, trucking down 23rd Street (along the cow pastures) dripping sweat, blinded by said sweat and the sun, and praying that I don’t see any snakes.  That’s when I see him (or her) right in my path.  I HAD TO DODGE A DEAD ARMADILLO.  You know, in the gym, where sane people exercise, there are towels to catch your sweat, handy water bottle holders on all the machines, no sun, no fear of crossing a snake and the only dead things I have to see are dead lifts.  I don’t know how you people do it.  Gainesville is a very active city and you can’t drive anywhere without seeing someone walking, running or biking past you.  I saw some of these people on my run and only saw one person doing a walk of shame home from last night.  I’m disappointed, Gainesville.  It’s probably because school hasn’t started yet.

I quite honestly didn’t hate it.  It was fun to play the, “sprint to that next bus stop” game.  I’ve already downloaded a new tracking app so that I will have some results to look at next time.  Sometimes I don’t even know who this girl is that I’ve become.  I’m not ready to run a 5K or anything but this girl is making progress, y’all!  Seven months ago if you had told me I would someday enjoy running, I would have thrown a cupcake at you.  Who am I kidding?  I would never waste a cupcake. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Man Down

It’s Fridayyyyyyy!  To start your weekend off right, I thought I would begin today’s entry with a laugh.  I fell at the gym today.  I’m talking the tumble down, on my butt in front of everyone type of fall.  Go ahead, I allow you to chuckle.  I know that I uncontrollably laugh whenever I see someone fall down, especially little kids.  I can’t help it!  As someone who falls OFTEN, I think it’s my way of empathizing with them.  I was doing lunges, alternating legs with each rep, and when I pushed up to pull my left leg in, my right quad cramped up and couldn't stabilize my body back to standing position.  My options were to fall sideways into the bench next to me or to fall backwards on my butt.  I chose butt and was sitting in the middle of the gym among the weight rack and benches.  My friend, Alexa, didn't even realize it for a few seconds and when she saw that I had gone down, she said, “What are you doing?”  At this point, I’m laughing and embarrassed so it took a few seconds to stand up.  I’m hoping all the guys next to us were too engrossed in their own reflections to notice in the mirrors that Sarah took a tumble.  I lost count and decided that my quad couldn't take anymore lunges so that was my last rep.  It’s worth noting that this was my second leg day of the week and Tuesday’s routine was brutal. 

Super set #1: 12 lunges, each leg, no weights x3 sets.  20 standard squats, no weights x3 sets
Super set #2: 180 lb. leg press, 8 reps x3 sets.  180 lb. calf raises, 20 reps x3 sets.
Super set #3: 10 Bulgarian lunges w/ 20 lb. weight, x3 sets.  12 one-leg dead lifts w/ 20 lb. weight, 12/leg x3 sets.  10 plié squats w/ 20 lb. weight, x3 sets.

Needless to say, I was limping around on Wednesday and Thursday.  I shouldn’t have done legs again today as my muscles haven’t recovered from Tuesday but I couldn’t go to spin class because there was a substitute instructor and I’m picky.  I’ve actually sustained a few injuries the past weeks and I’m an AVID stretcher!  I’m going to invest in a foam roller this weekend so I can start rolling at home because it really seems to help work out the knots.

I called my mom to tell her about my fall and her first response wasn't, “Are you okay?”  No, that would be normal, instead she asked, “Was it because you were staring at a cute boy?”  To which I had to respond, “No, mom, he wasn't there today but excellent guess.”  Woman seriously knows me better than anyone.

Moral of the story, friends, is that stretching and recovery are really #1 in injury prevention.  Without these, you could end up on your ass.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Three Car Tires, 240 Sticks of Butter or 6 Gallons of Water

As stated in a previous post, I’ve mostly given up caffeine as a part of my journey.  Well, folks, I’ve officially ruined my life.  I can no longer have caffeine without it negatively impacting my sleep schedule.  I hadn’t had a diet coke in about three weeks and at lunch on Tuesday I decided to “treat” myself to one, no refills!  That one dang diet coke had me awake until almost midnight and resulted in a horrendous night’s sleep when I did finally fall asleep.  I was, however, able to accomplish so much when I got home from work!  The caffeine had me wired beyond normal.  I’ve had a hard time lately sitting still, I’m talking on days without caffeine.  I haven’t been traveling on weekends as much and I find myself so bored with watching TV on the couch with my dog.  I have to get up and do laundry, wash dishes, clean the bathroom, etc.  It’s great coming home to a clean house day after day!  I never considered myself a lazy person but this weight loss has really fueled me to constantly want to be moving.  Even after a tiring day at work, I struggle to make myself sit and relax.  In the past, it wasn’t rare on weekends for me to never get out of my PJs and not leave the house, besides to walk Oliver.   This got me to thinking about how tired my body must have been carrying all that extra weight.  Did you know that 20 lbs. equates to the weight of a car tire, 80 sticks of butter or 2 gallons of water?  I can’t even imagine myself carrying around 3 car tires right now but that’s what used to hang on my body 7 months ago.  That’s HUGE to think about!  No wonder I was uncomfortable all the time and would get out of breath easily. 

Wherever you are in your weight loss journey, Google things that equal the amount of weight you’ve lost.  It’s amazing to see the results!  It might help you quantify how far you’ve come not just in a number on the scale.  The next time someone asks me how much weight I’m down, I’m going to reply, “Three car tires, a bag of sugar and a human brain.”  BTW, that’s 68 pounds!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Get Up and Get Goaling

My very first appointment at the weight loss clinic they asked me what my goals were.  I drew a complete blank.  I honestly hadn’t thought about it beyond, “I want to be skinny.”  I can be such an idiot sometimes.  The girl taking my stats said, “How about we start with 10 pounds as a short term and what do you think about a long term?”  Uhhhhh.  My response, “I think I just want to weigh under 200 pounds.  I don’t even remember what that’s like.”  Later that week, I decided that it was going to be extremely important to outline goals for myself to reach this year.  There’s a quote on the wall at my gym, “People who set goals achieve success because they know where they’re going.”  If you don’t set goals, how will you know when you’re done?  How can you celebrate accomplishments?  For a very long time, I’d given up on dreams and goals and not even just where my health is concerned.  When I was in college, if anyone asked me what I was doing next my immediate response was, “When I walk across that graduation stage, I’m getting on a plane to New York City within hours and never looking back.”  Well, that didn’t happen.  Oh, to be that carefree girl again who had little responsibility with practically no bills who thought that a bad day was when she couldn’t find anyone to go to Beat The Clock with her at the local bar. 

I haven’t really shared my goals with anyone until now because I was too afraid of not reaching them and being a failure.  I decided to be pretty realistic in my goals but the deeper I’m in to this process the less conservative they seem from here forward.  Here we go:

Jan. 16-Week 1- 291 lbs.
Jan. 30- Week 2- 10 lbs.
Feb. 27- Week 6- 20 lbs.
April 10- Week 12- 30 lbs.
May 1- Week 15- 35 lbs.  For wedding #2 of the year and bridesmaid dress #1.
June 5- Week 20- 41 lbs.  To be at 250 lbs.!
Aug. 7- Week 29- 60 lbs.
Oct. 9- Week 38- 75 lbs.  For wedding #4 of the year and bridesmaid dress #2.
Dec. 4- Week 46- 92 lbs.  To be under 200 lbs. (199 to be exact!).
Jan. 15- Week 52- 100 lbs.  My year anniversary of starting.

Today, I’m on week 31 and the goals thus far have been attainable.  I’ve actually exceeded them by several pounds each time.  However, looking ahead, I think the 75 lbs. will be reached but probably not exceeded.  Even further, the last two will be a bitch.  My only hope is to exceed past the 92 lbs. lost mark by December 4th because 8 lbs. in six weeks will be extremely difficult considering my current average is around the 1.4 lb. per week mark but that will severely decrease as weight drops.  I’m also planning a blow-out birthday trip, which will inevitably involve cupcakes and pizza. 

While these goals are very important to me, there are also many in development that are not a number on a scale.

1.       Be able to shop at a “normal” clothing store.
2.       Run a mile without stopping.
3.       Run a 5K.
4.       Go surfing.  Would be my first time.
5.       Go skiing.  Another first.
6.       Do something that scares you.
7.       Go skydiving.  Again, another first.
8.       Ring in 2015 happier & healthier.
9.       Have a date to my 10 year high school reunion next summer.

Ha!  That last one was a complete joke.  I probably won’t even go to the reunion J.  Numbers 1-8 are totally authentic and the list is always in progress.  If you find yourself unsure of where to start like I did, start small.  Just focus on that first 10 lbs.  Maybe you don’t even care about the weight and just want to focus on fitness.  Start with wanting to try a new fitness class, surviving an entire spin class, benching 50 lbs., whatever.  The greatest thing about a goal is that it’s yours.  They’re never dumb, insufficient or stale.  Embrace them and go meet them!  When you’re done with one it’s time to start another.  Don’t become the girl that I did who was afraid to have goals or dreams because she thought she would never reach them.  She was a pussy.  Sorry, again, mom.

Friday, August 15, 2014

All The Things

Well, y’all, I fell off the wagon.  Even as I write, I am slowly coming out of a carb-coma.  The worst part?  I don’t even regret it.  I know I will when my scale is up 7 lbs. next week but for now I’m basking in breadstick heaven.  It all started yesterday after my week 30 weigh in at the doc.  I was down 5.6 lbs. from last month and I’m a horrible person for feeling disappointed in that.  My doctor was so happy at my consistency and said I was doing such a great job.  On the inside I was crying because I needed to lose more than that.  I just kept telling myself, “You’re still on track to make goal!”  It wasn’t helping.  We were spreading good cheer at work yesterday so my boss treated some staff to Jimmy John’s (please see previous posting about its deliciousness).  They offer lettuce wrapped sandwiches but the lure of the dreamy French bread got me.  Oh, and then my boss and I split a chocolate chunk cookie.  I seriously ate that sandwich in like 30 minutes because I was savoring every morsel.  It was REALLY good.  I woke up this a.m. and went to spin as normal and did some arms before class, but then my friend and I made a conscious decision that today would be Fat Kid Friday.  For lunch, we went to Olive Garden where I proceeded to eat 2 breadsticks, chicken parmigiana and a side of spaghetti.  Oh, I also had salad and ate the croutons.  Oh, wait, I also ate the two mints they bring you at the end.  I almost forgot about those suckers.  It doesn’t stop there either.  When we got back to the office, there was cake in the kitchen in celebration of August birthdays (my job gets cake every month to celebrate anyone who had a birthday that month).  I used to be a regular at cake time and I haven’t had any since my own cake last December.  Today’s selection was yellow cake with white buttercream frosting and strawberry filling.  I DIE and ate a piece.

Now I sit here, epically full at my desk watching my belly rise and fall with my breath.  I’m so uncomfortable but the guilt that usually follows a “cheat” isn’t here.  This scares the ever-loving shit out of me.  It’s scary how easily you can fall back into old habits.  Even anyone who hasn’t been on a diet can relate.  You know that old relationship you always go back to?  My relationship just happens to be with food.  So why do we do this?  Why do we allow ourselves to be controlled by food (or that old boyfriend)?  I think the past two days happened out of frustration, boredom and overstimulation.  I was frustrated at the fact that I’d only lost 5.6 lbs. last month.  Well, silly, you’re not going to lose any more if you eat like you did the last two days!  I was bored with my usual lunch of salad with protein, protein with vegetable, yadda yadda yadda.  I was also overstimulated by Olive Garden commercials playing this morning and highlighting the butter glistening off the breadsticks. 

My doctor always stresses the importance of balance.  At this time, in my weight loss journey, I should be working my “diet” into my everyday life.  The only way to be successful is to be faced with the real world problems of food choices.  Yesterday and today were not the best choices, however, it’s up to me to tell myself that it ends here and now.  Tomorrow is another day and the difference between Sarah now and Sarah 67 lbs. ago is that my eating all the things streak cannot continue for the next week.  I pledge to you, dear reader, that as of dinner tonight I will be back on track.  I can’t let one (or two plus cake) meals ruin all the work I’ve put in.  It can be a downward spiral but only if you let it.  I promise you that you have the power and you control what your next move is.  So stop answering the phone calls of that old boyfriend and don’t let his Facebook updates cause you to think about him non-stop for 7 days.  Don’t let commercials temp you into filling your grocery cart with Little Debbie snack cakes and tell yourself that you can and will do better.  Food choices we make are not something to punish ourselves over.  They happened and it’s time to move on.  It’s okay to forget for a minute that you have to eat a certain way but make sure you stop when you’re full, drink plenty of water and get back on track if you feel out of control of the situation.  Moderation is key and your best friend for success! 

A big part of me hopes that guilt didn’t accompany my lunch because in my gut I know that this won’t define or change anything.  I don’t feel guilty about a food choice I made because it’s not the first and it’s not the last.  There will always be a craving I give in to or an over indulgence I have but I will always get back on track.  It might take less than a day or it might take several days.  At the end of it, I will never be my old self again.  I will never lose control so long that I have to break out the 2X size sweatpants.  This round, a Fat Kid Day won’t change anything long term because I have changed.  My mind and my determination are finally on the same page.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Plat-eau No!

I’m gonna say it.  Plateaus effing suck.  Not only do they make you question every decision you’ve ever made but they put you in a bad mood.  I hit a plateau recently and my scale didn’t budge for over 2 weeks.  I weigh myself every Thursday and take my measurements.  Thursday #1 I was down weight and sitting pretty at 225.8 lbs.  Thursday #2 I was UP weight and frustrated at 227.2 lbs.  I normally skip the gym on Thursday mornings as a day off but this week I had skipped Wednesday for a work thing and couldn’t afford another skip.  Therefore, I attributed this uppage to my pre-workout apple and 2 bottles of water.  Not a ginormous concern, yet.  Thursday #3 I was back down to 225.8 lbs.  SCREW YOU SCALE.  You’ve obviously bumped your battery and are reporting wrong.  Had I been perfect on my diet?  Nope.  Had I upped my workouts from 3 to 4 days per week?  Yes.  Was I sleeping enough?  Nope.  I think I was exhausted, y’all.  My normal gym partner was on vacation so I started waking up 30 minutes earlier to get in more cardio at the gym.  I was working out HARD the last two weeks and not getting anywhere near 8 hours of sleep per night.  This plateau really had me in a funk.  I wasn’t in a good mood, I was distracted at work and I overall was just feeling like a loser.  Every bite of food had me thinking about how I’ve been stagnant for 2 weeks.  This really sucks.  This is where the old Sarah would have a cheeseburger and fries for lunch because why not?  The weight isn’t coming off anyway!  This is where the old Sarah would eat her sadness and frustration in the form of a cupcake or cookie, whatever could make its way into her mouth fast enough.  Well, that bitch is gone.

My new motivational board!
By Friday after Thursday #3, it was time to reevaluate and I was determined to murder this plateau.  My goal date is set for 18 weeks from this point and I still have 26.8 lbs. to lose.  I need to cut the crap (well, it’s more like a tortilla chip here, a crouton there) and focus.  I figured out that I needed to lose an average of 1.6 lbs. per week in order to meet my next 2 goals (75 lbs. by bridesmaid’s dress #2 of the year and 92 lbs. by my 28th birthday).  My average per week thus far was 2.2 lbs. but that includes the quick losses I had at the beginning.  I’ve talked about this goal so much that failure is not an option.  I want to weigh under 200 lbs. by my birthday.  I will weigh under 200 lbs. by my birthday.  I went home after work and made myself a motivational board with post-it notes of “you can do its!” and photos of the old me.  My favorite is probably the one that says, “Do it for the, ‘Holy shit you got HOT.’”  I also made a new chart that shows where I need to be week to week in regards to the 1.6 lbs. lost per week.  Over the weekend, I slept late, did housework to cleanse my soul and only went out to eat once.  On Monday morning, I woke up down 1.8 lbs.  Ahhhhh.  Take that, plateau! 

Plateaus will come and go throughout any journey.  It’s how you respond to them that’s important.  You can’t let them derail you or allow them to affect you negatively.  Do not call Dominos if your scale hasn’t budged.  Keep working and really dig in to what the issue could be.  Are you picking at foods you shouldn’t be?  Are you skimping on your cardio?  Are you overworking yourself into exhaustion?  It could be a combination of a lot of factors but it’s important to recognize them and make a change.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mo' Dairy, Mo' Problems

The low-carb life lends itself to be pretty dependent on dairy.  You’re welcome, cows!  While I am an avid cheese eater, I despise milk and always have.  I will have it with cereal but the thought of drinking it when my Lucky Charms are gone, quite frankly, disgusts me.  However, everything has a caveat.  I will throw down a glass of milk if I am eating it with Oreos or best of all, CHIPS AHOY!  Get those disgusting chewy ones away from me.  I want the original, crunchy, crumble-in-a-glass-of-milk cookies.  Oh, yum.  Needless to say, cookies and cereal are not in my daily eating anymore so I never buy milk.  I’ve always considered myself to be semi-lactose intolerant but mostly because I was forced to drink milk as a child in grade school and I would get sick every day because of it.  Shudder.  I’m obviously a huge fan of cream, whipped or iced, and can definitely put down some sugar free Jell-O pudding.  My usual dessert (daily) is one of these delectable cups with a little bit of natural peanut butter and whipped cream.  I think it’s the only thing that keeps me from strangling people on the regular. 

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the effects of dairy on your skin.  I decided that I was going to break up with cheese.  Since it is such a huge part of my life, this wasn’t going to be easy.  I used to eat ham rolled with sliced cheese as a meal or snack being that it is low carb.  Then, I cut the cheese.  Ha!  I couldn’t resist.  Now, the little cheese that I do eat is about 1 tbsp. in scrambled eggs for breakfast and any that is included in a salad I might order out for lunch.  I no longer buy cheese snacks, sticks or cubes in an effort to reduce dairy.  I noticed a HUGE difference in my skin clearance with just this little change.  I’ve had hormonal acne since puberty.  Another joy of being a girl.  I am 27 years old and still breaking out once a month.  By the time you recover from the breakout it’s about time for another one to surface.  Last month, with cheese reduction in full swing, I noticed that my several breakouts turned to a few.  Then I went and screwed myself.  I was craving pepper jack cheese really badly so I bought a block on my weekend shopping trip.  Well, this week I’m broken out.  Now, it is approaching time for a breakout but this month is noticeably different from last.  I’m becoming a believer in this whole dairy/skin thing.

In an effort to further test my theory, dear reader, I have made the bold decision to cut out my nightly pudding with whipped cream.  Gasp!  I know, I know, I too fear for the lives of those around me.  In searching for a substitution, I had a light bulb moment when a friend posted an Instagram photo of herself drinking chocolate almond milk (hey, Jen P!).  While at the store last weekend I checked out the milk aisle and discovered that this chocolaty goodness (so says Jen) doesn’t come in unsweetened!  One cup of chocolate almond milk is 100 calories, 2.5g of fat, 1g protein, 19g carbs and 17g sugars!  AKA I can’t drink this stuff. 

Here’s a fun fact, 3 Oreo cookies are 160 calories, 7g fat, 2g protein, 25g carbs and 14g sugars, which basically means I’d pick 3 Oreos all day.  I get less grams of sugar and 1 more gram of protein!  I see that as a win. 

Publix, where shopping is DEFINITELY a pleasure, obviously was reading my mind and knew I would search for my pudding stand in because right next to the milk case is a Hershey’s syrup display.  Thank you, Publix!  Someone had conveniently left a bottle of a sugar free version for me to look at.  Two tablespoons has 5g carbs, 15 calories, 0g sugars and 4g sugar alcohols.  Another light bulb.  I wonder what the nutritional facts on NesQuick to be.  I scoot over to the syrup aisle and find a no sugar added version of the chocolate powder I loved as a child.  Two tablespoons has 7g carbs, 35 calories and 3g sugars!  I bought the syrup and the powder with my unsweetened Silk almond milk vanilla and decided to have a taste off.  I couldn’t declare a winner, friends!  They both tasted pretty good.  It’s been almost a week and I’ve successfully used this “chocolate milk” as my pudding substitute and haven’t choked anyone out, yet! 

Further research is still needed to develop my no dairy/no acne theory.  I think the less dairy coupled with better eating, less caffeine, hardly any diet soda and tons of water might be the key to clearer skin.  I will, as always, keep you informed and up to date on my findings.  In the meantime, anyone have any substitutions for cream cheese, sour cream or ranch dressing that DON’T involve yogurt?  Another milk-based food I despise…unless of course it’s in frozen, soft serve form.  There’s always a catch!  Some things I might just have to sacrifice a pimple for because this girl doesn’t want to live in a world without ranch.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gym Boyfriends

I have a confession, I violate one of the “no-nos” that my gym scrolls on the TV screens- I stare at others when they’re working out.  I’m a people watcher to the core.  I think it’s hereditary as it’s one of my dad’s favorite pastimes, too.  Whenever he and mom come to visit me in Gainesville and we go shopping, dad happily parks himself outside Dillard’s on the comfy leather sofas to watch the people come and go.  Then when we pick him up after browsing, he is full of stories about people he wishes we could have seen.  At the gym, I mostly stare when I’m looking at your form or workout because I’m interested in what you’re doing that I’m not.  It should be a compliment.  Hey, you have a nice body and I want arms like yours!  I think staring is a bit harsh of a word to use, I mostly glance…often.  Well, in my often glancing I sometimes spot a very cute gentleman.  Let me just say this, I am not at the gym to pick up a man.  If it happens to happen well then that’s great but I am not the girl who dresses for guys when she works out.  I NEVER wear makeup because it ends up all over my shirt or running down my face.  I also do not do cute workout clothes because I go for comfort and functionality.  I wear mostly spandex capris with various T-shirts I’ve gotten from my job.  Yep, free T-shirts are my go to.  T-shirts are absorbent and offer full coverage so they are the best option for me.  I have enough anxiety about the amount of sweat pouring down my body in a T-shirt and I know those flimsy tank tops will not contain all of it.  It really is a courtesy to those around me.  Another item I inherited from my dad is that I’m a head sweater.  I’m not sure why but I primarily sweat from my head.  It’s like I’m raining.  Gross, I know, but these are the details that I feel my readers need to know about me.  Sweaters unite!  I really think if you don’t sweat that you’re an alien being.  I’m automatically suspicious of you and hate you immediately. 

Anyway, I have deduced that it is impossible to pick up anyone at the gym because a lot of attendees forego wedding rings.  I wear a ring on my right hand all the time but I do take it off at the gym.  It’s incredibly uncomfortable to lift weights in a ring and this girl doesn’t have time for callouses.  Well, the absence of wedding bands has gotten me a little frustrated.  There was a cute boy at the gym who never had a ring on.  He and his friend, who always wore a wedding band, were there every morning when my gym partner, Alexa, and I were there, too.  Alexa is married and she, too, sometimes doesn’t wear a ring.  I thought it was so cute that there was a married guy with his single friend and Alexa is married and I’m her single friend.  It was basically fate.  One day, we were lifting next to them and I heard Boy say something about in-laws.  Rut roh.  Maybe I misheard him?  It is loud in here with the music and the grunting from the gang of older men in the corner.  No such luck.  Later that week he was there with wedding ring.  False advertisement at its finest.  Well this morning I was bit again by absence of ring.  There is a new boy at the gym that is so cute.  We will call him Ryan.  FYI, I do know his real name because someone called to him across the gym one day but he shall remain anonymous as Gainesville only has a few gyms and I am known at mine.  Ryan NEVER has a ring on.  He’s been attending the gym during my early morning time for about 3 months now and I’ve never seen a ring or a ring tan line.  I really thought we had a moment yesterday morning when I got off the treadmill to stretch and he was in the stretch section.  We caught eyes and I got really uncomfortable as I was, as usual, raining sweat.  This morning, I log on to Facebook and in the People You May Know (and are probably purposefully not friending) was Ryan!  I have 2 friends in common with him and I squinted at the picture and recognized his familiar face.  The people I didn’t recognize in his profile pic were his wife and child.  Whomp whomp. 

Moral of the story, kids, is that people at the gym you don’t interact with really are strangers.  I feel like I know some of them because I see them every morning and smile at them when we recognize each other in Target but they are strangers.  They can be single, married, gay, straight, serial killers or brain surgeons.  You just never know.  Avoid any embarrassment and just focus on yourself when you’re there.  Bust it out in the gym to look better in your everyday surroundings and that’s where you can pick up a date.  I’m still waiting to meet Mr. Right at the grocery store as we both reach for the same apple.  I did warn you that I thought my life was like a movie! 

If you’re reading and you happen to be a single, straight, brain surgeon feel free to say hi at the gym.  I’m the girl who’s melting.  I promise I’m cute in real life.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dating & Dieting

I haven’t said much yet about my dating life besides the fact that I am single and currently on (non-paying membership, btw).  The reason for the silence is that there really isn’t much to say.  When I started this in January I made the conscious decision to make 2014 the Year of Sarah and to focus on myself.  I cancelled all my online dating subscriptions and deleted my Tinder app.  I need to avoid distractions and reach my goals.  I’ve known for quite some time now that I am really attracted to guys out of my league.  As a heavy person myself it feels super superficial to state that I don’t find overweight guys attractive.  I know, I know, I’m a terrible person.  I honestly can’t help it.  This is partly why I needed to change myself.  I didn’t accept me for me so why would I expect someone else to accept me?  I would never settle for someone I wasn’t physically attracted to and I know why guys didn’t find me attractive yet still I didn’t change.  Now, I don’t want someone without any meat on their bones but I wouldn’t be in to anyone who had a BMI near what mine was.   I’m attracted to males who at least moderately exercise with a little definition.  I don’t mind that you work out every day but I definitely need you to be able to have a fat-kid day with me. 

Translation “Fat-Kid Day:” a day where one partakes in cheese fries, pretzel bites, pizza, sandwiches, Rice Krispy treats, cheeseburgers, etc. without feeling guilt or laying guilt on their partner.  The last thing I need is to make a choice to have a cheeseburger one day and for Boyfriend to ask, “Should you be eating that?”  Utter that sentence to a girl and you’ll see what wrath is.  If that doesn’t offend you as a female, call me as we need to have a chat. 

By now you’re probably wondering, “Sarah, if this is the year of you then why are you still active on”  To which I would reply, “Good question, reader, and thanks for paying attention!  That was a quick-decision attempt to get over someone.  Also, I have all these cute photos of the new me and wanted to see what the response was.”  In short, I needed an ego boost.  I was very honest on my new online dating profile and listed that I was looking for someone who was dedicated to health and fitness as I have a new lease on life.  I can’t have someone in my life who wants to eat Mexican every night and only wants to watch TV on the couch on weekends.  Don’t get me wrong, this girl loves chips and salsa and can binge watch Netflix with the best of them but these days are about moderation.  I need someone who will go kayaking down the Santa Fe River, wants to go bike riding on Gainesville’s various trails or will do experimental low-carb cooking nights with me.  Apparently, that’s too much to ask for because I can’t find anyone to fit the bill yet.  It’s really too soon anyway.  I still have a long way to go and the Year of Sarah is going strong.  I’m focused, determined and really busy right now.  I’m going to let go and just see what happens per Carrie Bradshaw. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Buddy System

As mentioned earlier, this past weekend I had a girl’s getaway with my mom and some friends.  Coincidentally, we are all dieting.  I know not everyone likes that word but it’s the best to describe what it is.  Okay, okay, we’re all focused on eating right and exercising, happy?  It’s so funny that at this juncture I know so many people who are focusing on this right now.  It was extremely encouraging to be around them and have their support the last 3 days.  I am so incredibly proud of these women and blessed to call them my friends.  They get me.  We’ve all had different journeys but at the root of it is a struggle with food addiction.  It’s so important to have people around you that are supportive and understanding of your new lifestyle.  You can’t have that friend who tells you that you can eat one donut and it won’t kill you.  While she’s right, you probably won’t die today, she’s also a bitch.  She’s a detriment to you and isn’t a good friend.  She should be saying, “Screw that donut.  It probably tastes like shit anyway.”  A good friend wouldn’t let you sabotage any hard work you’ve put in.  I also want all you friends out there to know that my choices are not a reflection of you.  This past Friday I had lunch with Aly and I wanted a cookie, bad.  I had decided a few days earlier that I needed to just eat a treat and get it out of the way so it was off my brain.  After lunch, we headed to Mrs. Fields and I had 2 cookies.  These were pre-meditated cookies.  While walking to the car Aly said, “I feel bad like I’m helping you cheat.”  My response, “Aly, this cookie was thought about for the last 48 hours.  I made the conscious decision to eat these cookies and enjoy them for their buttery goodness.  My CHOICE today is not a reflection of or an influence by you.  I ate the cookies and it’s over.”  For the record, I busted my ass the last week to earn those cookies.  It’s okay to have a treat every now and again.  It’s not okay to get 6 cookies (plus the 2 free on special) and eat them all in your car on the way home.  But if you didn’t read this in time and are wiping crumbs from your face, just make an effort to do better tomorrow.  This really is one day at a time and sometimes we fall short.  We can’t be perfect all the time but we can be better than we were yesterday.

I encourage all of you to have at least one motivational buddy who can help you along the way.  I have MANY motivational buddies.  They are the ones I call on when I fall off the wagon and they are the ones who high five me when I meet a goal.  I could not do this without them as sometimes you just need someone to talk to.  I wholeheartedly believe, however, that you MUST be your own cheerleader before anyone else.  You can’t begin a life change without believing in yourself first.  Once you have yourself convinced you can do it, the rest of the world will be easy.  If you find yourself without anyone to lean on, e-mail me.  I will pay forward the multitude of support I have received from my friends to you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dressing The Part

The ever-growing doesn't fit pile!
Quite honestly, the best part about weight loss is losing inches.  I’ve had so much fun over the last few months completely cleaning out my closet of items that don’t fit anymore.  I made a rule for myself: when it doesn’t fit, it goes in my spare room and will be sold at a garage sale or donated.  It’s important that you don’t play the, “Well this might fit again someday” game.  I’m never going to be the size I was again.  Period.  End of discussion.  It’s not an option.  I refuse to be that girl again.  Some of you might think that’s unrealistic but I think you’re failing yourself before having a chance.  I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl and you cannot think negatively about your FUTURE self.  You won’t fit in those clothes again, as long as you don’t allow yourself to.  If you wear a pair of pants and can take them off without unbuttoning or unzipping them, they go in the pile.  I think the most honest way to see a difference in yourself is to watch the sizes on your tags decrease.  When I started, I wore a size 24W pants, 22/24W dress and 2X-3X shirt.  Now, I’m down to a size 16 (regular, not women’s!) or 14W pants, 16 dress (again, regular) and a L or XL shirt.  With a 65 lb. weight loss, I’m down about 5 sizes. 
It’s worth noting here that you cannot be defined by the size on the tag.  Every brand has a different sizing structure and every material has a different fit.  You have to try everything on and if it looks good and feels good then buy it, regardless of the little number on the back.  If that number is higher than you’d like then cut that tag off and throw it away!  I try everything on these days because fit is so important.  Sometimes, I over estimate and get something too small but I don’t let it get me down.  It will fit eventually but today is not the day.  Just stay focused on you and how far you’ve come and do not let a skirt discourage you.

This past weekend I took a girl’s weekend to the beach with my mom and her 2 friends.  We did what every other group of women would do within a 15 mile radius of an outlet mall, shopped!  I ended up in Ann Taylor LOFT and picked out 2 size 16 dresses to try on.  I was optimistic but wasn’t going to be heartbroken if they didn’t fit.  Well, dear reader, those suckers fit!  I have now marked August 2nd on my calendar as the day I was able to shop in a REGULAR store!  A few months ago I purchased some shorts in a size 18 regular from Belk but that didn’t count because they have a plus size section.  While this may be the largest size at LOFT, this lil’ lady was still excited!  All I’ve wanted my entire adult life was to be able to shop in normal stores.  I’ve played the friend who stands outside the dressing room pretending to look at accessories more times than I can even count.  It was really cute when at Buckle earlier this year and the girl asked if I wanted to try anything on.  I politely told her, “No,” to which she responded, “We have jeans for all sizes.”  I wanted to say, “Not for ALLLLLLL of this.”  She was cute and nice, though, so I just kept browsing shoes.

Side note, I will be back at Buckle and treating myself to a ridiculously expensive pair of jeans when I’m ready.  I will also go across the mall aisle to Victoria Secret and purchase a sexy, flirty bra.  Then get ready because I’m wearing ONLY those jeans and bra for at least a week straight.  I’m going to flaunt what I’ve busted ass for!
I don’t splurge on clothes these days, as much fun as it is to buy a smaller size, because I know that I still have more I want to lose.  I only buy what’s necessary and it has to be on sale.  I’ve been a regular at Target, Ross, TJ Maxx, etc.  I stick to dresses because they’re easier to wear when a bit baggy as you can add a belt or a buttoned sweater.  Also, it’s best to stick with versatile pieces like black or grey work pants vs. white or khaki as the black and grey can be worn with more top options and people are less likely to notice a repeat in a week’s time.  Use your closet as a resource, too.  Everyone at work these days has been complimenting me on all my new clothes.  Little do they know these clothes just haven’t fit in 5 years and aren’t new at all.  One of the best feelings in the world is fitting into something you haven’t worn in ages and it’s an EVEN better feeling when that stuff is too big!

You know that saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?”  A few months ago I would have scoffed that the speaker has obviously never had a red velvet cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake.  I’ve recently had one of these cupcakes and it was damn good (FYI these are my favorite cupcake flavor and baker) but fitting into that dress in the LOFT dressing room felt so much better.  The thing is, food isn’t going anywhere.  With the exception of the recent Twinkie scare, food will always be there for you to eat again.  French fries aren’t going to stop being made, ingredients for a cake will always be available for baking and no one will lose the recipe for chicken parmigiana.  You can and will eat your favorite foods again, just in a different capacity.  However, the high and elation that comes from looking good and FEELING good is unparalleled.  You may think I’m crazy but I dare you to find out.