Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Got 99 Problems but a Bench Ain't One

Ab-tastic October challenge!
Before today’s post, I want to announce that my new challenge of the month is an ab challenge. Photo included for schedule. Any of you interested, go get to work because today was day #1! Happy Ab-tastic October! If you need instructions on how to perform any of the moves or want to print out the calendar, go here. I successfully completed my Squat Away September challenge and ended up doing 291 squats in total for yesterday. The challenge called for 175, I did another 105 as part of my regular Tuesday leg day and my dad said I should add an additional 11 squats to bring life full circle to total 291 (my starting weight for those new to the blog). It was not an easy day because I did all my squats for the challenge after work because my new pants were too tight to squat in and I couldn’t afford to have my one pair of work pants split down the back. Fit girl problems.

Someone at work was surprised when they asked if I had a trainer to help me lose this weight and I said, “No. I do my own thing.” Quite honestly, I probably would have gotten a personal trainer but I, frankly, can’t afford it. The pricing sounded so ridiculous to me when I first heard it that it’s not something I ever considered because I haven’t had an issue training myself. Sure, I’d like to be more toned by this point but I quickly realized that you have to get rid of the fat first. At this point, I’m extremely comfortable at the gym. I used to be afraid of the machines and unsure of what to do with myself. I learned very quickly that going in with a plan is key. Otherwise, you get there and dance around while you decide what to do next. I solely rely on the Internet, Pinterest and people I follow on Instagram for workouts and ideas. I know what areas I want to work on most-- bat wings are seriously the worst—and I find exercises that target those. I track my workouts in my phone with what exercise, weights used and reps counted so I can be sure to progress each week. I know I sound like a parrot but weight training is where it’s at. I used to hate weights and would be that cliché girl doing all the cardio for an hour. Last year, I started weight training with a friend and would barely do any cardio at all. Neither of these were working for me and with research and testing I decided that mixing both is best for this bod. I’m now addicted to the shaky feeling of that last rep and feel the same when I am sprinting to finish the final cardio mile.

If you want to be successful, you have to find something that you look forward to going to. At around the 5 month mark of my new life, I was so over the gym. I hated getting up and going and when I was there I was doing the bare minimum. I quickly had a reality check with myself. Working out is not an option. I told myself, “Quit whining. Get up, work out and shut up.” So I did. Some days are easier than others, obviously, but I often jump out of bed to work out and by Monday mornings I’m itching to be in the gym. Crazy, right? No, it’s just one important lesson we learned from Elle Woods. “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” Finding exercises that will make you happy coupled with the endorphins make it like happiness squared.

This week, my Supa Proud award is going to all the moms out there, especially you with little kids. I live in single-girl paradise, which means I have the ability to wake up, workout and eat according to my needs. I can’t imagine being surrounded by gummy snacks, dino nuggets and other kid approved food all the time. I also can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to go to the gym whenever you want. Mornings are hard because your kids are sleeping and the gym doesn’t have kids club or you’re busy getting them ready for school. After work is even harder because once you pick them up from the sitter there’s homework time, dinner, bath time, story time, etc. I know I’m forgetting things to list because, again, no kids on the couch here with me. I look up to moms (and dads!) because I honestly don’t know how you fit it all in. Here’s to you out there who bust butt on the daily and are able to achieve your own nutritional and fitness goals with those little humans in your lives! I admire you and aspire to be you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I Think It Has Crack In It

I'm currently blogging poolside in sunny Miami! Life is hard. At approximately 5 p.m. Thursday, I was invited on a work retreat to Miami to depart 10 a.m. Friday. I was hesitant to come on the trip due to the food temptations I would face. Travel of any kind can severely throw me out of routine and I can't afford any unplanned setbacks. So here I am, walking among scantily clad girls in bikinis or less, and I decide it's a great time to write more about food. I've had some excellent food finds lately and I always feel the need to share with you, dear reader.

First, let's talk yogurt. I know that I've mentioned before of my hatred of yogurt but I have found a flavor I could, honestly, eat by the trough full.  It's a brand I found at Target called Simply Balanced and it's the Greek yogurt key lime and cream flavor. Good gracious it's delicious! It doesn't have that sour spoiled milk taste that yogurt often has, to me. It's thick and creamy and the container is small, which makes it perfect to me. The sugar count is a little high at 9g but carbs are moderate at 10g. I'm okay at forgiving the higher sugar because it's only 100 calories and I've been reading about how good yogurt is for your body and helping cut down belly fat.  If that is true, I need to eat a lot of yogurt, y'all! 

My second amazing find is Jif Whips with pumpkin pie spice. I know what you're thinking, "Pumpkin pie flavored peanut butter? Gross!" You would be oh so wrong. This peanut butter for real has crack in it. I'm convinced. I eat it by the spoonful. It's also delicious on apple slices. I bought a jar for my BFF and my mom and they're both in love. I am also loving this whipped pb texture. Nutrition facts on this gem is comparable to peanut butter so it has high fat but low carbs. I definitely plan on exploring other flavors (s'mores!).  I found the pumpkin pie flavor at Target and cannot ever find it in my normal grocery store.

My final great find of the week was Justin's vanilla almond butter. I've read a lot lately about different nut butters and two friends told me that they weren't fans of the almond butters.  After some research, I read from many that Justin's is the best. It also offers tiny packets that I found at Target that are less than $1. They were out of the regular but did have vanilla or maple flavors so I grabbed the vanilla. Holy moly it's good! For dessert one night, I sliced a peach, drizzled on 1/2 a packet of almond butter and topped with whipped cream. I die. It tastes a little like almond milk but is sweeter and spreadable. This flavor is a little high in sugar because of the vanilla but it is well worth it if you're having a sweet craving. Sugar count is 7g and carbs at 12g for the whole packet, which is 2 tbsp. I always used 1/2 the packet at a time. This would be delicious on most fruits! 

Those of you who I am Facebook or IG friends with we're promised a full review of the Krush bars I posted a few weeks ago. I found these bars from a friend by someone who posted about them on Instagram because they just released a new mint chocolate chip flavor. I purchased a box of 12 bars with a mix of all their flavors for $30. You can buy them on Amazon or through the brand's Web site here.  Flavors are: birthday cake, mint chocolate chip, baked apple pie, peanut butter chocolate crunch, French toast and raw cookie dough. The best flavor was definitely the mint choco chip. I was really disappointed in the birthday cake because it didn't taste anything like vanilla or cake batter. All of the bars have peanut butter in them so to me they all taste like peanut butter. You get a hint of the other flavors but not enough.  The only exception was the mint chip bar. It tasted mostly like mint chocolate chip ice cream. I do really like the texture of these bars as they are softer and less chewy than Quest bars. I definitely prefer Quest bars over the Krush bars but Krush bars are locally made in Florida and I like to support local businesses. Don't get me wrong, the bars do taste good but they primarily taste like peanut butter protein bars.

Pumpkin pie spice Oreos are in at my Target and I checked the facts today.  Two cookies are 20g of carbs and I couldn't bear to look at the sugars after that shock.  I, proudly, didn't purchase them because I am feeling weak today.  I will diligently keep you updated on my awesome food finds!  Happy snacking! 

Light 'em Up and Let 'em Go

I’m behind on posts this week because I’ve been super swamped at work. I apologize to those of you who are disappointed (dad). I also wanted to wait until after Thursday because it’s my self-weigh-in day so I could announce that I officially hit the 75 lb. mark! That’s two weeks ahead of schedule and I hope I’m not jinxing it. Also, Thursday wrapped up week 36 of this journey and I have 10 weeks to lose 17 lbs. Oh, and in those 10 weeks I have a wedding, 2 big football tailgates, Florida-Georgia game weekend and THANKSGIVING. I’m stressin’, y’all.

On my path of choosing happiness, I slowly realize that I need to let go of a lot of negative things I’ve been holding onto from the past. I’m going to quote a very famous Carrie (Bradshaw) here, “Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.” While the primary route of my happy is through physical well-being, this journey has spurred me to seek emotional and spiritual well-being, too. I’m going for a balanced happiness, if you will. Recently, I’ve been finding myself extremely emotional at the slightest things. One morning, on the way home from the gym, I started crying. I was so tired and felt so accomplished. There were all these emotions stirring inside me that tears began to fall. I’ve undergone some major changes on this journey. If you’ve ever finally been successful at something you thought was impossible then you can relate. Have you ever hit rock bottom with fear of not being able to get back up? Have you ever buried yourself so deep into something that you couldn’t see the light anymore? I reached the point where I gave up. I gave up thinking that I would ever change because it was just going to be too hard and too much work. I rationalized that I was going to be fat forever and believed that being obese was how I was supposed to live life. Finally, with a little push from Fireball shots and a friend, came my ah-ha moment. To turn it around and realize I was wrong for so long is emotional. To sacrifice what I have and to devote my entire life to this journey is emotional. To finally stand up and say aloud that I deserve better is emotional. To find the strength to climb out of that deep hole, fill it back with dirt and start at ground level is emotional. Therefore, I am emotional.

Bye bye negative!
I made a post-it pile of all the emotions, people, negative statements, hurtful names and symbols of before Sarah that need to be rid of. Next, I torched those suckers. I am letting go of what was and moving forward into what will be. I am no longer hanging on to people who bring me down or put me in a negative head space. I’m no longer allowing myself to assume failure will follow me wherever I go. I burned lazy, fat, jiggly, weak, big, slow (and many more) statements and the voices who past spoke them turned to ash. I have enough physical weight to lose without the added emotional weight of these post-its. I’m full-speed ahead at these next 10 weeks and ready to smash my goals. It’s been a few days since the ceremonial burning and I, weirdly, do feel emotionally lighter. There’s no use in keeping hate, anger, worry or stress inside. I made a conscious decision to choose happy and must live up to that through and through.

Anyone else need a match?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Grow Your Bamboo, Girl

The past week completely sucked and was probably one of the hardest weeks I’ve had in a long time. I wouldn’t say I completely lost myself and went rogue but I definitely haven’t been limiting the way I should be. Every day, I wake up and tell myself that today is the day I start over and get back to basics, yet every night I go to sleep regretting at least one choice I made that day. My work-life balance has been completely thrown off this week by a huge project I’m involved in ramping up. Cue the stress and pressure. This, coupled with some emotional personal stuff, makes me feel like a hot mess. I often feel like I’m untouchable and sprinting through life. I feel so good about myself and everything is going great and then BAM, everything has changed. I’m 2 pounds above where I need to be to be on track to meeting my goal. This basically equates to a 1-2 week setback. I know it sounds like I’m over dramatizing, which wouldn’t be out of character for me, but this goal is so important. I can’t imagine what it will do to me emotionally if I don’t make it. I’m extremely mad at myself for putting so much pressure on me but I can’t help it. My life has been consumed by food and exercise. I’m obsessed. Today, I was reminded by my momma of a very important lesson. I was griping and she looked at me and said, “Grow your bamboo, girl.”

Several months ago, I called my mom to tell her an inspirational story about growing bamboo that I heard from an extremely successful real estate mogul. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with Keep Watering Your Bamboo Tree by Eric Aronson but you can read it here. When one attempts to grow Chinese bamboo, it takes 4 years of cultivation before you can see any results. At year 5, the bamboo grows at an astonishing rate, working its way to upwards of 90 feet in just weeks. Can you imagine working on something for 4 years with no visible progression? You can’t miss a season and you can’t give up because you’ll undo everything. While this is usually a story told to groups of entrepreneurs, I can’t help but equate it to weight loss. Just because I don’t see results RIGHT THIS SECOND, which is what I expect, doesn’t mean that changes under the surface aren’t happening. Sure, you can’t see my biceps unless I’m flexing and some weeks the scale won’t budge, but giving up because of those will undo all of it. Giving up would negate 73 lbs, 5 dress sizes, huge fitness gains and a whole lot of happiness. When I first started this journey, I told myself that I would give it a year. “I can do anything for a year,” said idiot Sarah. Reality check, this is life now and forever. All the hard work, sacrifices, tears and sweat are me cultivating my bamboo. Reverting back to the old life after a year won’t get my bamboo to 90 feet tall but it will get me back to 291 lbs. I have to remember that daily choices will lead to healthy and hearty bamboo. Luckily, my body isn’t as finicky as the mighty bamboo tree and little missteps are forgiven. However, the big picture is and always will be never giving up. Never succumb to the voice in your head that says it’s too much work. Never allow one bad day to erase all the good days. Finally, never give up on reaching for what you really want. Put in the time to cultivate your dreams and one day, when the dreams and you are ready, you’ll have something so amazing and significant. So go get growing.

Thank you, mom, for reminding me about the bamboo story. You’re the one who helped me plant the seed, you encourage me through the seasons and I know you’ll be there when I need help harvesting my 90 foot tree. I’ll even give you 5 percent of the profits. Also, thank you, dear reader, for enduring all the metaphors of this post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All About That Bass

I joined a few friends in a squat challenge this month, which I have deemed Squat Away September, because, well, no one likes a flat ass. It hasn’t been as bad as it sounds. Last Thursday was the most we’ve had to do in 1 day at 120. I try to complete them in increments of 15 or 20 to make life easier. On the 120 day, I got home from work and hadn’t done any yet so I busted out 40 while dinner was in the oven. After that, I completely got wrapped up in Teen Mom 2 and playing Sudoku. At 9 p.m. I realized I still had 80 squats left. Nightmare. I cranked out 20 then brushed my teeth. I did another 20 and washed my face. At this point, I’m sweating (shocker!). I did another 20 and laid out my gym clothes for the next morning then I completed my last set of 20 before putting in my retainers. You’re welcome, mom. Completing 80 squats in about a 10 minute time frame was ROUGH but I DID IT!!

I’m a huge proponent of squats and lunges as I can attest to the results they have on your lower body. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my booty and my legs because of my diligence to these two exercise moves. We’ll see what tune I’m singing at the end of the month as the last day has me scheduled to complete 175 squats. I’ve also noticed a huge gain in my leg strength this month. Comparing my leg workouts to last month, I’ve increased weights, reps and quantity of exercises. Another applause worthy moment for me, and to anyone who has ever been fat, is that I can stand up from sitting on the floor without using my hands. Crazy, I know. Something that seems so simple to you skinny people is really hard for a fatty. I no longer have to push off the ground or off my knee with my hand. I can also stand up out of chairs without having to push back off the couch or pull up on my desk. And I can walk up a flight of stairs without pulling myself up on the handrail. It’s the little things. I also made the conscious decision that any squat done as part of the challenge is above and beyond my regular squats on leg day. This won’t be a problem until the last day, 175!!, as it lands on a Tuesday, which is my leg day. My hammies are tight at the thought. Looking ahead, I plan to do an ab challenge in October and a lunge challenge in November. I’ll be sure to post about it before the month starts so you, my lovely readers, can join in, too!

My Supa Proud award this week is going to anyone who has ever used a Smith machine. For those of you who don’t know what this is or do know but don’t know its name, it’s the machine that has the barbell attached to the uprights to help you squat lower. You can also use it for chest presses, shoulder presses, dead lifts, etc. I used to loathe the Smith because it hurt so badly but that’s because I was lifting too heavy for what my body could handle. I stopped using the Smith all together and focused on my squat form with body weight only. Then, I made it back to the Smith and started out with low weights and have gradually worked my way up to heavier. Maybe I’m a baby, but I think the Smith is a difficult piece of machinery so I am supa proud of anyone who has attempted it and used it successfully!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Iota Eta Pi

I wrote the following entry a couple of weeks ago and have been extremely hesitant to posting it.  It's a bit emotional and heavy compared to my normal posts.  I decided to put it out there because that's what this blog is for.  You choose to be here and read along with me and I appreciate that so much.  Sit back and relax and get ready for a little history lesson on Sarah.

University classes started Monday here at UF and that means rush week is upon us.  I was reminded of this when I drove past Sorority Row yesterday to go pick up a friend on the other side of campus.  Most people in my life do not know that I rushed before beginning my sophomore year at UF.  Most people in my life also do not know that I love writing as much as I do.  Whenever I’m emotional, I write.  Needless to say, I never entered a sorority and it was a pretty traumatic experience for me at the time.  Looking back, though, it hasn’t defined me in any way.  I had friendships with many girls in sororities and don’t harbor any ill feelings toward them or their institutions.  It honestly worked out for the best because I had such an amazing college experience.  My friends and I had a blast and they are some of my best memories and best friends to date.  Obviously, I wrote about my experience of being dismissed from rush a few months after it happened.  It’s included below (sorry for the length, I’m never short on words).  I don’t share this with you, dear reader, to change any opinion you had or make you feel sorry for me.  I just wanted to share one of the countless experiences I’ve had where my weight made people judge me.  Luckily, the sad girl who wrote that eventually figured out that she’s pretty awesome.  And finally, years later, she realized that she’s stronger than the opinions of strangers.

             I searched for the perfect outfit for these cute, pink buckle flats I had for weeks.  I decided on a matching pink polo and charcoal-colored shorts.  So what was this occasion that I had prepared the entire summer for? PANHELLENIC RECRUITMENT 2006 a.k.a. sorority rush week.  I’d decided to join a sorority during my freshman year at the University of Florida.  The whole year I’d felt like something was missing in my life.  Sure, I had a great circle of friends and a pretty moderate social life, but I wanted more, I needed more.  I wanted a place to call my home away from home, and I wanted to meet more friends to make the most of my college experience.  The sorority girls I had met around campus were always very nice to me and I even befriended a few through my classes and living in the dorms.  I was so excited for recruitment that I actually wanted to go back to school.  My feelings would be totally different if I had known then what I know now.
            I had shopped for the perfect outfits and matching accessories for weeks, and I had perfectly planned out my “best week ever” or so they called it.  The first official recruitment meeting was an introduction on the eve of day one.  This is where I met my rush group and my pi chis (group leaders and counselors).  Here, we learned about the week ahead and the dos and don’ts of the recruitment experience.  Reflecting back, I don’t remember much of this night except for the phone call I made afterward.  It was to my mother, my best friend and the number one on my call-history list during this upcoming week.  I remember not being able to contain my excitement.  I told her that this was going to change my life, and I felt like I had finally belonged.  I was going to be a SORORITY WOMAN.
            Day 1.  I decided to wear the pink polo with those pink buckle flats.  I had my over sized Vera Bradley bag packed with snacks, gum, bottled water, sunglasses, make-up, a change of shoes (which I obviously neglected as I had horrible blisters from these cute shoes) and a hand-held fan (my new best friend).  I was confident, ready and scared out of my mind!  There are 16 Panhellenic houses at UF, so today we were visiting eight of them.  Standing outside the first house I couldn’t stop smiling and in the blink of an eye it was over.  It was this big long blur of conversation, smiling and high-pitched girls.  I couldn’t wait to be one of them!  I was paired with a really nice girl and we had lots of things to talk about.  I tried to be myself and to keep the conversation flowing, but I was just so nervous.  I thought it had gone well, and I was at ease in the remaining houses because I know that I’m a great person. I felt something in my gut that this was meant to be.  Seven houses and a number of rainstorms later, I was exhausted physically and mentally.
            Day 2.  Basically a repeat of the day before at the remaining eight houses but at the end of the day I had to rank my top houses.  I weirdly wasn’t nervous.  I had no trouble sleeping that night.  I felt that I had good “parties” at every house and only a few were unpleasant.  The next morning I would find out who had invited me back for round two.
            Day 3.  Hair issues had me running a few minutes late so I called my favorite pi chi just to give her the heads up.  I rushed into the room with fan in hand and was just in time for them to pass out our schedules.   I knew she’d kept mine for last because she had skipped me in the alphabetical order we were always in.  My heart began to race.  She handed me my schedule and it only had three houses on it.  Out of 16 only three had asked me to return.  As I was staring at this almost blank sheet of paper I was confused as to why my pi chi was asking me if I was alright.  I didn’t understand.  What had I done wrong?  I was myself, I was friendly, polite and outgoing…all I wanted was for someone to explain.  The only thing I had on my mind was getting out of that room.  The walls were closing in on me.  I was suffocating.  I found a doorway in the building to cry against while my friend tried to console me.  I was devastated.  All I wanted was to understand.  After a bit of crying slash hyperventilating I got myself together and returned to the auditorium to find my favorite pi chi in tears.  That day I’d attended my three scheduled parties and had a great time, or once again, so I thought.  I was relieved to see my pi chis at the end of the day because they were the only thing keeping me in this.  We weren’t allowed to use our phones so the minute we were done, I whipped mine out.  On my phone was an awaiting text message from my crying pi chi, she too didn’t understand why I wasn’t invited back.  I think the reason for her tears is because she did understand but admitting it aloud would speak against sororities as a whole.
            I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember.  Weight has always been an issue for me.  Diets, exercise and self-esteem have been the biggest obstacles in my life thus far.  Until a trip to a weight-loss geared camp in the 10th grade, I had no self-esteem whatsoever.  I was unhappy and just plain mean to people.  I was so angry at myself and the way I was that I took it out on others.  I thought this might all disappear with college.  I wouldn’t have to “fit in” like in high school. I wouldn’t have to impress people in my classes because I most likely wouldn’t know their names.  The only reason I hadn’t rushed the year before was because of my weight.  I was told by someone in a sorority that it wouldn’t be an issue.  As much as I want to believe that’s not why I wasn’t invited back I just can’t rack my brain any further for another answer.  If asked to describe me I’m pretty sure the first word to come to mind would be funny.  I love to joke around, and I absolutely love laughing.  I get this from my naturally sarcastic father who is one of the funniest people I know.  The one thing I’ll always remember from growing up is that we laughed…a lot.  I’m not going to apologize for the way I am and I shouldn’t have to.  I’m fat.  GET OVER IT!!!!!!!  It’s my issue, not yours.  You don’t have to deal with it every day.  You don’t have the constant reminder from the mirror every morning.  You haven’t had to deal with it for the past 15 years.  It has been an uphill battle that most people can’t even fathom.  The things I’ve experienced and the taunting I’ve endured don’t even measure up to how hurt I was by receiving a call from my pi chi telling me that I was released from recruitment.
            I got the call while checking the mail, I had actually missed her first call.  I knew exactly why she was calling and I was scared out of my mind to call her back.  I’ll never forget her words.  “I have a bit of bad news, you’ve been released from recruitment.  Do you understand what that means?”  I felt like saying no duh I know what it means, but I understand why she asked.  The tears were welling up and I thought I was going to pass out.  I ran to my room, slammed the door and called my mommy.  The whole conversation was just a haze, I still didn’t understand.  When we hung up the phone, I crawled under my desk, laid in the fetal position and bawled.  I got the nerve to call up my friends who also were going through recruitment.  They rushed over and helped me feel better for a little while.  That night, I cried myself to sleep thinking of all the things that I had looked forward to that I would never do now.  I wanted the socials, dinners at the house, football games, date-functions, etc.  Now, I’ll never know what it’s like to do any of that.
            The next morning was my first day of classes.  The sorority girls were everywhere, recognizable by their buttons that they had to wear to signify that contact between them and the girls rushing was forbidden.  The rush girls had to wear buttons too, but I of course didn’t have mine on.  Girls from my group questioned me not donning my pin and while I didn't want to lie, I was too embarrassed to tell them the truth.  I simply answered, “it’s just not for me.”  The following days were even harder.  In my closet hang the dresses that were meant to be worn for rush, still with the tags on.  Seeing the girls get bids to their favorite houses, seeing all the new Greek letter bags on campus, seeing them with their recruitment T-shirts.  I had the jealousy bug and I had it bad.  These girls had everything I wanted and didn’t get because of what?  If someone has a straight answer for me please speak up because I cannot waste anymore tears or time on figuring out why I wasn’t sorority girl material.  I feel like I had what it takes to be one of them.  I’m a human being.  That should be enough.  The only thing that put a smile on my face that day was a text message from my father.  He told me that I am a wonderful person who is funny, smart and beautiful.  He said that he was sad that they couldn’t see that and they were the fools for missing out.  I cry now at the thought of that text message and how it severely changed my feelings on the whole experience.  Hearing those things from him meant and still mean so much to me.
            So the scars on my toes from those pink flats were still noticeable for weeks after recruitment.  I wanted to believe that when they healed so would I.  It’s been four months now and the scars are almost gone, but my bruised self-esteem is far from recovery.  Anytime my memory is triggered to something dealing with recruitment or sororities I get upset.  I try to put up this front like it doesn’t bother me but deep down it always will.  I thought about starting my own chapter and inviting every girl back, no matter how they looked.  I was thoroughly depressed and had no motivation to come out of it.  I was at my lowest and I realized that I shouldn’t give them that satisfaction.  Letting them win this battle will only make the judging that they do okay.  I’m sorry that I wasn’t what you were looking for.  I’m sorry that I wasn’t cute enough to be a member.  Most of all I’m sorry that you missed out on meeting one of the greatest people I know…me.  Because even through all of this, and through all the pain and tears, I know that I’m a great person and that I will survive.  If this is the worst thing that happens to me in life then I’m one lucky lady.   To this day, I can’t help but feel sorry for the girls who were also dropped and that might never realize that about themselves.  To make someone feel like they don’t matter is the worst crime in the world.  In all honesty the saddest part of this story is that I still want to be a sorority girl.  Looking back I wonder if I’m right about my reasoning.  I wonder if it was something I did to make me not worthy enough.  Then I realize that everything happens for a reason.  Without having experienced recruitment I never would have realized that I’m fine just being me.  I’ve come to look past each moment and see that even in dark times, it is possible to survive.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ore-Oh No You Didn't!

In 12 short days, many lives will be changed. On September 24, 2014, Nabisco will be launching PUMPKIN SPICE OREOS. Yes, you read that right. Two of my, and all other sane people’s, favorite things are coming together. This marriage will signify the official commencement of all things sweaters, changing leaves, boots and crisp air. A cookie of this magnitude also presents itself as a challenge. I believe my exact words to my mother were, “My life is over.” As if denying myself Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin donuts, seasonal pumpkin ales, and my momma’s pumpkin trifle AND her pumpkin cheesecake weren’t enough. I now have the jerks at Nabisco throwing themselves into the ring. Fall is continuously slapping me in the face with challenges; football, pumpkin everything, Halloween candy and, ya’ know, a huge eating holiday—Thanksgiving! I know what you’re thinking, “Sarah, you can eat a few Oreos and still stay on track.” You’d be right but one (me) doesn’t just eat a serving of Oreos. The whole bag will peril.

Not to date myself, but back when I was a kid Oreo came in one flavor…Oreo. Chocolate cookies with vanilla crème. We also had to walk 5 miles to school in the scorching heat and didn’t have cell phones. It was a bleak time, young readers. I remember getting excited when they had the white chocolate dipped Oreos at Christmas. Or when they released the springtime ones with blue or yellow colored crème. Golden Oreos weren’t even a thing in the dark ages. With a Google search and a little grocery store knowledge, I have compiled a list of flavors that Nabisco has since released:

Birthday cake
Cookie dough
Ice cream flavors; featuring rainbow sherbet, berry burst, banana split and creamsicle
Peanut butter
Triple double (3 cookies layered with vanilla crème and chocolate crème)
Triple double Neapolitan (3 golden cookies layered with strawberry crème and chocolate crème)
Dulce de leche
Crema de fresca
Strawberry milkshake
Root beer float
Marshmallow crispy (WHAT?!! New 2014 flavor)
Caramel apple
Fruit punch

There are probably others but I, honestly, ran out of notebook paper. This is absolutely amazing and ridiculous at the same time. I was unaware that most of these even existed! I’ve been living an unprivileged Oreo life. This brings me back to The Great Birthday Cake Oreo Quest of 2012. I read about these elusive Oreos for quite some time and couldn’t stop talking about them. I visited every store in Gainesville that sold food and couldn’t find them anywhere. It was exhausting. My friend, Tracey, finally couldn’t take it anymore and bought me a box on Amazon for a ridiculous price. I love her. The very day they arrived by mail, I went on vacation to North Carolina where I was able to find millions of packages of these Oreos. Double Oreo win. Anyone who knows me isn’t surprised by my quest because they know I love ANYTHING birthday cake flavored. I even have a birthday cake flavor Chapstick. Yep, that happened. You’re also not surprised because you know my obsession with Chapstick.

To add even more pumpkin treat pressure, Dairy Queen has launched a pumpkin pie blizzard and Pop Tarts has also released a frosted pumpkin pie limited edition tart. Luckily, I did see that Jif Whips came out with a peanut butter and pumpkin pie spice flavored spread that I can actually eat! I will be picking up a tub this weekend and reporting back. I wonder, what does one eat this with besides spoons? On September 24, I will search high and low for the Pumpkin Spice Oreos (it’s a vanilla cookie, btw). I will set a 2 serving limit and need friends and family to help me finish off the package. Now accepting volunteers. After my 2 servings, I will continue to clear the many hurdles that the fall season has laid before me. All things punkin’ included.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fat Funeral

Apparently, I have sweaty knees.
I would like to point out that today at the gym my ex-gym-boyfriend was wearing his wedding ring. This excites me because I’m pretty sure that means he saw my post and therefore people outside of my friends and family are reading my blog! Or it’s because all of you wives out there got together and told your hubs to start wearing their rings. I digress.

I have made the bold decision to start wearing all black to the gym. After major anxiety over my sweating, I realized that black is the only color I can wear that is less obvious about the amount of sweat pouring out of my body. Seriously, I’m thinking about consulting a doctor. It’s actually ridiculous. I left the gym the past two mornings and my shirt was soaked down to my belly button. Don’t even get me started on the grey legging capris I decided to wear on Monday that were embarrassingly marked when I exited the gym. I can no longer wear grey. Ever. Today, I opted for a neon-ish orange and that didn’t work either. Sweat is your body’s response to regulating your temperature. My hard workout coupled with the fact that I am still overweight equals one sweaty Sarah. It’s quite embarrassing but, obviously, something I cannot control so I will continue to work up a sweat. If you see me in the gym, with my handy dandy towel in tow, just think how hard my bod is working to regulate all of what I’ve got going on.

I’m actually okay with the all black because it works into my theme. That’s right, dear friends, we are gathered here today to mourn a loss. Every gym session, I will dress in all black to attend the funeral of my fat. With every rep I take, every mile I make, every limit I break, every step I take, I’ll be losing weight (please re-read this sentence and sing to the tune of Every Breath You Take by Sting). Feel free to say a prayer or a Hail Mary as I pass by you on my way to a bench out of respect for my loss. No need to send flowers or donations as this is not a sad goodbye. Please do not shed a tear or two over my fat loss but instead celebrate its passing as it lived a long life. A little too long. For 27 years my weight fought a good fight. It was always bouncing back after taking a hit and usually coming back even stronger. In the end, though, it finally had to succumb to pressure from its killer as she was more determined this time around. Little by little, week by week, I will continue to lose until one day we will say our final goodbyes. This time, fat will not recover. It will not be awarded the miracle of a second life. It will go to that big pie in the sky and look fondly down on me as it knows I’m in a better place. Please bow your head for a moment of silence as I lost another pound this past week. It was time for it to join the other 72 lbs. gone home. Go toward the light, little buddy. Amen.

It’s hump day and that means it’s time for my Supa Proud award. This week, I’m awarding my amazing friend Tracey as who I am supa proud of this week (and at all times, honestly). Tracey has had a grueling few months professionally and has persevered quite gracefully. Tracey not only puts up with my endless shenanigans but she loves me regardless. I cannot pay her for the million therapy hours she has unconsciously treated me and the only thing I can offer is my public decree of thank you! With everything going on in life, Tracey has accomplished so much and I’m so proud of her! Keep strong and keep going, my friend! I love you more than curly fries.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Whatcha' Eatin'?

I was asked recently to talk about what gram limits I’ve set as far as carbs and sugars are concerned. There were never any limits outlined by my doctor, they just recommend no added sugar and eat the best options for carb count and sugar count. I stay away from anything fat-free as they jack up the sugars and the carbs in order to counter balance the lack of fat. I brand compare whenever I’m buying anything new. I read every nutritional label of anything I put into my grocery cart. I always choose the option with the lowest sugar and carb count as long as the fat and calories aren’t exponentially higher. For example, cheese has 0g carbs per serving so I always choose the 2% milk option because it offers less fat and calories. The tough decisions are when it’s a 2g carb with 10g fat vs. 3g carb with 2g fat (this is a completely made up food). I would sacrifice the additional gram of carb to save 8g in fat. I asked my doctor what I should do in that situation and she said to pick the one that tastes better, however, I usually opt for the lower fat. I’m a rebel.

As far as other limits, it really depends on what type of food it is. If I’m looking for something sweet, I obviously know it’s going to have a higher carb and sugar count. I would never even entertain eating a single serving of something that is over 8g sugars and 20g carbs on a regular basis. I especially wouldn’t eat a food higher than that if it wasn’t worth it. For example, the Good Humor bars from my Sugar, Sugar post are higher than this but I wouldn’t eat them a day I decided to eat a piece of bread at lunch. MODERATION, peeps! I switched to all natural peanut butter purely out of curiosity and I love it. I was a die-hard Skippy purchaser but I switched to the Smucker’s Natural. Coincidently, I’m only saving 2g in sugars and the carb count and fat count are the same. So, if you can’t stand the stirring involved in all-natural peanut butter then you would probably be okay sticking with the Skippy. Another example would be a variety of popcorns that I have been able to find. My favorites are Skinny Pop (skinnypop.com), which is 15g carbs and 0g sugars for a serving of 3 ¾ cup or Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop (angiespopcorn.com), which is 19g carbs and 0g sugars for a serving of 4 cups. Both brands offer a variety of flavors that vary in nutritional facts but I quoted their basic flavor. I found both of these at Fresh Market and Target carries Angie’s. While 19g carbs is on the higher end, I wouldn’t eat 4 cups in one sitting. Side note, these popcorns are AMAZING! Trust me, as a former fatty, I know good food and wouldn’t tell you something was good if it wasn’t.

I also want to be clear that when I speak of carbs, I mean net carbs, which is after you subtract the dietary fiber and sugar alcohol content. This really only applies when I’m eating some protein bars as they tend to be high in carbs but high in fiber. I’m a huge fan of Quest Bars, (questnutrition.com) my favorite flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough but I also enjoy cookies and cream, double chocolate chunk and cinnamon roll. My grocery store, Publix, recently started carrying them but you can also buy online or at nutritional stores. There are also a ton of recipes on their Web site from the Quest Kitchen that helps turn their products into other desserts. I also just saw that they’re now offering a chips line. I’ll have look into those and report back! When you first glance at the nutritional facts of one of these bars they have upwards of 25g of carbs but 17g fiber, which makes this particular bar (cinnamon roll that I have on hand) 8 net carbs as this bar has no sugar alcohol, which is different than sugars! While on the subject of protein bars, I’m also a huge fan of Power Crunch bars (powercrunch.com), which my grocery store carries. I have a triple chocolate on hand and it is 10g carbs, 5g sugars and 13g fat (Quests are around 6g fat). These are less dense than Quest bars and are more like cookies. They are made with what resembles sugar wafers, delicious! Quest bars are definitely more filling and less like dessert.

I should mention that after week 6 on my diet I was offered the option to incorporate 3 servings of whole grains into my eating per week. I chose not to. I would be allowed to eat a serving size, 3 times a week, of whole wheat pasta, brown rice or whole wheat bread. These are not what I miss so I opted to not add these back into my life. I would much rather eat a cookie and run a bit faster than eat a serving of whole wheat pasta. Sweets, potatoes and GOOD bread were my issues. I haven’t had rice in probably over a year and I could honestly make it through life without it or pasta again. Cupcakes, cookies, chips, pizza, fast food and anything fried all add up to fat Sarah.

While I probably didn’t answer the question posed very well, it’s because there is no answer. I’m at the point in my journey where if I want something, I have it but I know that I’ll have to work a little harder in the gym and get right back to being strict on my food the next meal. In the beginning, I was extremely strict with my eating and didn’t pick at carbs like I do now. I would stick to foods under 15g net carbs and 4g sugars per serving back then. Again, I’m not an expert or medical doctor so this “advice” is just simply what I did and worked for me. I tried low-carb diets in the past and couldn’t figure out why they didn’t work long term for me and I think part of the problem is that I never looked at sugar contents and I ate really high fat. I would eat bacon, sausage, eggs and cheese for breakfast on the regular. Life now is about choosing tasty, wholesome foods that are the best options. Reading nutritional labels and looking up nutritional facts before getting to the restaurant can be EXTREMELY eye opening. Research, research, research!

Happy snacking!

Friday, September 5, 2014

What Not to Say

This week I accomplished 3 pretty amazing things: I ran a 9:40 mile (yes, without stopping), I held a plank for 1 minute and I worked out on a holiday. As I challenge myself to something new every week, I’m growing increasingly intolerant of people telling me they can’t do things. Listen, I used to be the poster child for statements like, “I can’t,” “I could never,” or “I would die before doing ____.” Thinking you can’t do something is 99% of your problem. I used to tell people I would die without a diet coke every day. Well look at me all living and shit. I never thought I would be able to change my eating the way I have or wake up early nearly every day to work out. In the beginning of this journey, life was hard. On day 23 of my diet came a huge road block, my first wedding of the year. This wasn’t just any wedding. There were several home-brewed beer stations courtesy of bride and groom, soft-baked pretzel appetizers, and a mac ‘n’ cheese bar! I stood firm and didn’t eat or drink any of it. I also didn’t have any cake. Who goes to a wedding and doesn’t eat cake? Crazy people. Twenty four days prior to this wedding I probably would have told you something along the lines of, “I could never attend a wedding and not have cake.” I really get a thrill when I prove Old Sarah wrong.

When people ask me what I’ve been doing to lose my weight and I explain, they usually follow it up with something about them not being able to give up their favorite thing or eat a low-carb life. I know that this isn’t for everyone and I would never push any of my methods onto anyone. This life is what works for me and it’s not permanent. But please do not follow up your “I can’t” with complaining to me about how you can’t lose weight. If something means a lot to you then you’ll find a way to make it work. Losing weight means A LOT to me and I have sacrificed plenty to get what I want. You will not get any sympathy from this girl if you’re not willing to overcome yourself.

My second favorite statement of the year is, “Well just don’t gain it back.” Thank you, asshole, I had every intention of busting tail for a year to just gorge on pizza and cupcakes to gain it back next year. I am not the person who walks up to everyone I meet and tell them my story. I am prompted, at least weekly, about my weight loss and how I’ve been able to do it. It’s flattering and I sincerely am thankful for people congratulating me or noticing my shrinking frame. But to follow that up with your own weight loss story and tell me that you gained it all back plus more is not what I need to hear. I’m very aware that this is a possibility for me because I can’t predict the future but I refuse to assume that this Sarah will fail. I’ve already played the part of the girl who loses weight and gains it back. I’m tired and it’s boring. I want to be the girl who finally overcame herself and her habits and maintained all the promises she made. I give you all full permission to tell me if my jeans look like they’re getting a little snug. I will not get offended and will thank you for snapping me back to reality.

I apologize that today’s post was rant filled but I just had to get if off my chest. I am always supportive of people and willing to listen if they need. I will match anyone’s “I cants” with “You cans” but they must understand that they have to be willing to try. I will never tolerate anyone sabotaging themselves or filling their head with negative talk. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Battle of the Sexes

I want to take today’s post to reflect on the many reasons why life is hard for a girl who lifts. Guys, please take note and think about the following the next time you’re exponentially sore from training.

1. You don’t know hard until you have to blow dry your hair after an arm day. Today, I focused on biceps, chest and back and I had to rest my arm on my vanity to apply mascara. My arms were shaking so bad I could only muster the strength to lather and rinse! Does anyone really repeat anyway? The absolute worst is blow drying your hair. You have to hold an object that is approximately 2-3 lbs. above your head, moving it up and down all while using your other arm to coordinate the brush. Everyone is lucky I was able to put clothes on by the end of the getting ready routine despite my limp arms.

2. Squats mimic sitting and we have to sit to pee. You try going to the bathroom 100 times a day from all the water you’re supposed to consume and have to do a squat not only to sit down but then you have to get back up. Sometimes it feels like my quad muscles are ripping open and I find myself just sitting there praying that I’ll be able to stand back up.

3. Don’t even get me started on high heels. As a professional, I wear heels to work on a near-daily basis. Climbing up the stairs to my 2nd floor office in heels after a leg or glute day is torture. I often picture myself conducting business on my laptop from the bottom step as people scurry past me. I’ll send an e-mail to the entire building with the following subject line, “Sarah? Working from the stairwell because it was leg day at the gym today.”

4. I have really long hair so I have to wear a bun to the gym every day because a ponytail always gets in the way. It gets stuck under the barbell when I’m trying to do squats, it sways into my face when I’m in spin class and it gets a frizzy mess when my body temperature rises. A bun has its cons, too. Today, I was running on the treadmill after arms and all of a sudden it started raining bobby pins out of my head. My bun was coming undone and that’s never a good look.

In all seriousness though, while these things are true and cross my mind daily, I love becoming stronger every day. I also love that my gym has the same amount of women in the weights area as it does men. Lifting weights doesn’t mean that you’ll become bulky, which is a common fear of women. It’s super empowering to be strong and my goal has never been to be skinny. I want to be fit. Because being fit will help me to not die first in the Hunger Games.

Since today is Wednesday, it’s time for my Supa Proud award of the week, which I am giving to my quads. I’ve worked hard to gain the definition I have in these babies. I would like to thank my parents, my gene pool, for giving me lean legs. I’m working toward developing my quad and hamstring muscles further so I can eventually gain quad separation. Break out the Daisy Dukes!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tailgate Dips go Straight to my Hips

1st game Aug. 31, 2013           1st game Aug. 30, 2014
Happy Labor Day!  Fall is on its way and that means football and pumpkin everything are back!  Football is in full swing in Gainesville with our first game, which was cancelled due to weather, on Saturday.  Weekends take on a whole new meaning for me in fall because you basically lose an entire day to college football.  I’m not huge on pro football and I can’t afford to lose my Sundays as well.  Nearly every Saturday from here through Thanksgiving, I’ll be up early putting on my orange and blue and flipping on College Game Day.  Luckily, our first three games are in the evenings.  An answered prayer and proof that God is a Gator because this pale girl can’t take noon games in September.  Tailgating this year will be an inevitable challenge and one that I cannot ignore.  I’ve worked too damn hard this year to throw it all away for some 7-layer dip and beer.  That’s right, this Gator girl is trading in her 6 pack of Bud Light for a 6 pack of abs.  To do this will take a small miracle as I’m about 5.5 abs away from a 6 pack.  Mental note to step up ab day.  I just hope my Gators have a better season than last because drowning your sorrows in Crystal Light isn’t the same.  We were able to have 10 seconds of game time on Saturday and it was a good play at that!

August 30, 2013                       August 29, 2014
Just like my beloved Gators and our fearless leader Will, surviving football season will take hard work and dedication, early morning workouts, unstoppable offense, and quick defense.  I’ve already got the hard work, dedication and early morning workouts covered.  I’m determined and well into this with no turning back now.  I rest on weekends so football will not be interfering with any of my workouts or 4:30 a.m. alarm rings. 

For my offensive plays, I’ve developed an arsenal of recipes and positive mantras to get me in the end zone.  “Football season will not define me.”  “Tailgating is not a foreign word meaning eat whatever you want.”  “Flip cup is just as fun when you play with water.”  Okay, that last one was a lie but it may be time to hang up my flip cup champ crown and idly stand by while my friends play beer pong because I’m HORRENDOUS at it anyway.  As for food, I can still enjoy many of my favorite foods and substitute celery sticks for chips with dips.  Or, I can make cheese crisps (seriously, parchment paper line a baking sheet and make 1 tbsp. piles of shredded cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes) as they taste JUST like Cheez-Its.  I can still have fruit salad, deviled eggs, burger hold the bun and veggie trays for days.  Also, if it’s an early-morning tailgate, sausage balls are surprisingly low carb.  Now for the game winner, defense.  It will be crucial to have a developed plan going into any game day with making sure there’s something available for me to eat and LOTS of water in the cooler.  I will practice saying, “No thank you,” when passed cookies or potato salad and will not feel guilty turning down a celebratory shot of Fireball.  On Saturday, I made sure to eat a lunch with plenty of protein to keep me full.  I did have one Captain and diet but balanced it with 4 bottles of water.  I was able to get a pulled pork sammie in the stadium and immediately threw out the bun.  I was also able to get in a good sweat while tailgating in the million degree weather!  All in all, I stayed on track!

Last year, I found myself constantly muttering, “There’s always next year.”  This season, I will say the same.  There’s always next year to moderately indulge in my favorite football fare but this year I have to keep straight.  Armed with this playbook, I am confident that football season will not derail me from reaching my goals.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even snag a quarterback!  Hike!