Friday, February 25, 2011

Change your body by changing your mind.

To lose weight, the most important thing you have to change is not your:

eating habits

exercise patterns

social relationships

alcohol intake.

To lose weight, the most important thing you have to change is your:


I don't know if I have ever come right out and said this, but I know it has been implied and demonstrated in all of my posts.  The most important thing I did when I decided I wanted to lose weight and keep it off was CHANGING MY MIND.  The thoughts I had surrounding food were unhealthy and I needed to change those thoughts.  The thoughts I had surrounding exercise's relationship to health were uninformed and I had to change those thoughts.

It was not simply about exercising and going on a diet! OMGosh, if it were that simple, I would have been successful in the past. 

I know this seems so obvious but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated.  I feel I need to write and disseminate this because several people have been asking me, as of late, for advice and to share with them how I have been able to accomplish what I have regarding weight loss.  Of course I provide practical tips and suggestions, but if you are not willing to change your mind, NONE of what I have to say will work for you--in fact, you will only stare at me blankly and decide in your mind, before I finish, that you can't do what I have done (when really, ANYBODY can do what I have done).  If you are not willing to trade unhealthy thoughts (which lead to unhealthy actions), for healthy ones, then you will not achieve long lasting weight loss, or health for that matter.  Yes, you may lose weight, but because you haven't changed your mind and your thought patterns, when the weight is gone, you will revert back to what you used to think (and do) and gain the weight right back.  You want to change your body permanently? Then change your thoughts permanently.

Prior to my weight loss, I ate out a lot and rarely went to the gym (except when I had an unexpected bout of motivation or energy).  But, what thinking led me to do this? I thought I didn't have time to cook or eat healthy, that picking up something on the go was alright, and that "healthier" choices like Subway or Panera Bread were ok.  I knew breakfast was the most important meal of the day but because my sleep patterns were so off and fixing breakfast was so time consuming, I rarely prepared anything. Coupled with these eating habits, I thought going to gym "made up" for my nutritional mistakes and that  If I worked out hard and long, I'd be alright.  My eating and exercise habits were completely out of whack.

I had to change my THOUGHTS!

Food became FUEL.  Just like your car needs gas, your body needs fuel. Your car can be "tricked" out to the fullest, but if you don't give it fuel, you aren't going ANYWHERE. And, some fuel leaves deposits or residue in your engine, making your car less efficient.  Therefore, the quality of fuel matters as well! If you are driving a Mercedes, you can only use the highest grade gasoline. Well, the human body is better than a BENTLEY and it DESERVES the highest quality fuel you can afford.

Exercise became an ADDED BONUS.  Don't get me wrong! Exercise, to me, is important and I will continue to be engaged in some form of exercise the rest of my life, but I realized exercise, alone, will not transform my health.  No, proper nutrition does that.  Exercise has many added benefits: it improves the health of all of your body systems, it makes you feel good, and it can even help you sculpt and tone muscles.  However, exercise IMPROVES upon, it does not CREATE health. If your health is poor, vigorous exercise, alone, will not change that.

I could go on and on about this subject, but one thing is for sure: if you want to lose weight, start by changing your mind! Here's a little task (see mine below to get an idea) to get you going.
  • List three areas of unhealthiness in your life.  
  • Think about what health would look like in each area.  
  • Brainstorm ways to move toward healthiness in each area.  
  • Pick two or three to implement and GET TO IT!  

You change your mind, by acting.  Act healthy and you will BE HEALTHY!

Crystal's example [BE SPECIFIC! No one has to see this but you]

Three areas of unhealthiness in my life (prior to 90lb weight loss):
  1. Eating out 2-3 times a day
  2. Working out to "fix" poor eating habits--bouts of working out here and there
  3. Varied sleep pattern--sometimes too little sleep, sometimes too much sleep, never regular
What health would like in this area:
  1. Eat out minimally and make better choices when eating out
  2. Exercise 3-4 times a week for 30-45 minutes
  3. Get eight hours of sleep
Brainstorm steps toward healthiness:
  1. Commit to eating breakfast
  2. Pack a lunch
  3. Cook dinner meals on weekend and eat leftovers for lunch and dinner
  4. Pack healthy snacks
  5. Join a group exercise program with accountability
  6. Prioritize daily activities to get in bed at decent hour
  7. Be intentional about bed time
Two or three to implement (what I implemented when I first started):
  • Commit to eating breakfast
  • Pack a lunch
  • Join a group exercise program with accountability
I also challenged myself to QUIT eating out altogether. That worked for me, might not for everybody. I also shared what I was doing with two good friends.

So one more time:

You change your mind, by acting.  Act healthy and you will BE HEALTHY!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

30 Day Photo Shoot Challenge Index!

Photo shoot hair and make-up! :-)
How I got photo shoot ready! To make finding these posts easier, I thought I would put together an index of all of the blog posts I wrote during my 30 Day Photo Shoot Challenge.  I'll also include a link to this post in all future blog posts so that's they are easily findable.

Remember, these posts include daily food journals as well as the exercise I did for that day! 

January 12, 2011: Photo Shoot Challenge Introduction "Help Me Get Photo Shoot Ready"

Day 30: January 13, 2011 Why so much exercising?
Day 29: January 14, 2011 Re-thinking my relationship with food!
Day 28: January 15, 2011 The Importance of H 2 da Izzo (H2O)
Day 27: January 16, 2011 Potluck vs. Me! Who won?
Day 26: January 17, 2011 Social Justice Activism REQUIRES spiritual, mental, and PHYSICAL efficiency
Day 25: January 18, 2011 Organic Raw Protein??
Day 24: January 19, 2011 On Getting Stronger and Zumba Mami!
Day 23: January 20, 2011 On Choosing Not to "Bolt"!
Day 22: January 21, 2011 It's Not About Me!
Day 21: January 22, 2011 Famished at the Grocery Store! Uh-oh!
Day 20: January 23, 2011 Change, what are you waiting for?
Day 19: January 24, 2011 Health Benefits of Sweet Potato!
Day 18: January 25, 2011 Sore Muscles? Try a warm soak instead of a hot soak!
Day 17: January 26, 2011 You Possess the Key! Unlock the Door and Move Forward!
Day 16: January 27, 2011 The 6Ps! (Prior Prudent PLANNING Prevents Poor Performance!)
Day 15: January 28, 2011 No Longer in "The Zone"!
Day 14: January 29, 2011 A Nutritional Resource You Can Use!
Day 13: January 30, 2011 I'm Sleeping in Tomorrow!
Day 12: January 31, 2011 Down to Wire!
Day 11: February 1, 2011 Blizzard, You're Going DOWN!
Day 10: February 2, 2011 Phil DIDN'T see his shadow!
Day 9: February 3, 2011 How do you reward yourself after achieving a major goal?
Day 8: February 4, 2011 To Eat or Not Eat?
Day 7: February 5, 2011 Living La Vida Loca!
Day 6: February 6, 2011 Re-Trained Taste Buds!
Day 5: February 7, 2011 Did You Run Track in High School? Who? Me?
Day 4: February 8, 2011 What's Your Inspiration?
Day 3: February 9, 2011 I Am NO DIFFERENT Than You.
Day 2: February 10, 2011 The Transformative Power of Living in the Yellow
Day 1: February 11, 2011 On Coming Home! And, the Final Results

About the Photo Shoot! (Includes Before and After Photos)
My Mind Wouldn't Let Me Self-Sabotage or Why I Abhor Grocery Stores!
Who Needs Pasta? A GREAT pasta alternative!
15 Weight Loss Tips from Me and My Friends (we've lost over 300lbs collectively!)

15 Weight Loss Tips from me and my friends...

The video below is posted on Dustin Maher's web site! He interviewed a few of us after Boot Camp on Friday, February 11, 2011.  Combined, we have lost a total of over 300lbs.

In the video we each share our top 3 tips that have led to our wonderful transformations.   If you don't want to watch the video, read the blog post over on Dustin's web site, which lists the 15 tips and includes before photos from the women. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone! Feeling Good!

Happy birthday to one of my favorite singers, Nina Simone!  Though Nina Simone departed this physical world in 2003, her passion, spicy boldness and musical genius still inspires many, including me, today!

Everyone is probably aware of Jennifer Hudson's deal with Weight Watchers. If you have been watching tv, you may have seen the commercials where Hudson is singing "Feeling Good." A few of my friends did not know that Nina Simone (and others) also sang this song. They thought this was a J-Hud original! Sorry, J-Hud is channeling the energy, I think, of our beloved Nina Simone. In honor of Nina Simone's birthday today, February 21, I want to post her version of the song as well as J-Hud's.

Check them out! To me, there is no comparison.  They both bring their own sense of self to the song and I like them both.

Nina Simone

Jennifer Hudson

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who needs pasta....

...when you have SPAGHETTI SQUASH?!?!?!

So, I have been wanting to try spaghetti squash for a long time but hadn't gotten around to it because I wasn't quite ready for a culinary adventure. And besides, isn't spaghetti squash something that those "super healthy, always talking about nutrition, gluten-free, clean-eating" people eat? Wait, that's me.  LOL After getting over my fear of taking on a culinary adventure AND realizing I have become one of "those" people, I make my way to the grocery store and select the smallest spaghetti squash I can find.  In case my culinary adventure fails miserably, I don't want a lot of waste on my hands. 

I also purchase items to make a quick and easy spaghetti sauce.

I get my spaghetti squash home and immediately do what any good cook would--GOOGLE how to cook spaghetti squash! LOL 774,000 results come up and after perusing the first three, I realize it should be relatively easy to cook the squash.

Basically, all I have to do is preheat the oven to 375, pierce the squash to allow steam to escape (wouldn't want any explosions), stick it in the oven, and let it bake for an hour.  Ok, I think I am up for the challenge.  I get my squash in the oven and begin making my easy sauce.

At the grocery store, I purchased a jar of OrganicVille Portabella Mushroom Pasta Sauce (sugar and gluten free).  I also purchased a 10oz bag of sliced baby portabellas and some 93% lean ground turkey.  First, I saute my portabellas with some non-stick spray.  In a separate pan, I brown my ground turkey and drain it once its brown all over.  Afterwards, I throw everything into a big pot and let it simmer. 

After my sauce is done, I just have to wait for my squash to finish, so I do what any good grad student would do to pass time--get on FB! LOL Pretty soon, time has elasped and I think I might have BURNT my squash.  I run to kitchen and remove it from the oven as quick as I can! Whew! I didn't burn it! :-)

Because I am in a hurry, I cut it open and scoop the seeds/inside out.  Looking at my little squash, I start to think, maybe I should have gotten a bigger one.  My sauce recipe yielded 6 servings.  This little squashy-poo looks like maybe one serving will come from it.  I was WRONG!  I get my fork and start scraping, and scraping, and scraping. One cup, two cups, three cups, FOUR CUPS of glorious squash!  Wow.  I didn't realize that I would be able to scrape all the way to the skin of the squash.  There was very little waste.

So, the moment you've been waiting for! How did it taste?!?! I sampled just a little of the squash and some of the sauce and it was SOOOOO GOOOD!  I couldn't believe it. I thought the squash would be mushy and that the taste would be overpowering.  It wasn't at all. 

This was one culinary adventure I am pleased to have taken.  I'll eat my pasta sauce with spaghetti squash this week for dinner!

For those who want the recipe and full nutritional info, keep reading!

Turkey Mushroom Sauce w/ Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 20oz package of 93% Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1 Jar of OrganicVille Portabella Mushroom Pasta Sauce
  • 1 10oz Bag of Sliced Baby Bellas
  • Non-stick spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pierce squash all over. Place on baking sheet or in pan.  Place in oven and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Saute portabellas in non stick spray.
  4. Brown and drain ground turkey.
  5. In large pot, add sauteed portabellas, ground turkey, and pasta sauce.  Simmer until flavors integrate. 
  6. After an hour, remove squash from oven. LET COOL! Cut in half with a serrated knife.  Spoon out the seeds and pulp (like you would any other squash or melon).  With fork, scrape out the spaghettis (LOL!)
Again, my pasta sauce yielded about 6 3/4 cup servings.  And, I can have up to 1.5 cups of the squash when I eat it as a meal. So, based on that, here is the nutritional info. The carbs, protein, and fat fall within my required range and the calories are just around 250, which is what I try to consume at each meal.  All in all, I am quite pleased to be able to add this meal to my repertoire!

Turkey Mushroom Sauce Info (I used my handy-dandy Recipe Nutrition Calculator for this info!):
Protein: 21 grams
Carbs: 10 grams
Fat: 8
Calories: 190

Spaghetti Squash Info (1.5 cup serving size):
Protein: 0 grams
Carbs: 15 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Calories: 63 

Turkey Mushroom Sauce with Spaghetti Squash (one serving):
Protein: 21 grams
Carbs: 25 grams
Fat: 8 grams
Calories: 253

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Mind Wouldn't Let Me Self-Sabotage OR WHY I ABHOR GROCERY STORES!

I will admit, today I was on a self-sabotage mission.  I finished a paper that was intellectually challenging, hadn't been out of the house for over 24 hours (working on the paper), and just wanted to test my limits, I guess.  Or maybe Aunt Ruby's coming to visit soon. Who knows?!  What I do know is that today I went to TWO grocery stores with the intention of hunting down disaster.  Well, it seems disaster was avoiding me today.

I know exactly what drove me to this state.  I ALWAYS get nervous after I finish a big project, performance, submission, etc.  I am supremely fearful of being criticized, even when I know I have done a good job.  Part of is that people have such high expectations of me that I get nervous when I feel I might not achieve those expectations.  I typically take criticism really well, but sometimes I dwell too long on the negative.  Sigh...I'm working on it.

Anyway, because I was in this state, I decided to go to the grocery store for a "treat." Yeah, that didn't work so well because I am a COMPULSIVE LABEL CHECKER.  OMG, the first store I walked in, I know the associates probably thought I was crazy.  I picked up "veggie chips," put them down.  Picked up "dark chocolate truffles," put them down.  Picked up popcorn, put it down.  In my mind, I just COULD NOT justify ingesting this horrible food.  Even worse, when the list of ingredients was 30 items long, I threw up a little in my mouth.  Needless to say, I left this store just the way I came--with nothing.

The next grocery store, again I tried to find a "treat."  Because I now refuse to go down the inner aisles of grocery stores (only for Almond Milk when I buy the shelf stable version), I decided I would try to find a "treat" from the perimeter of the store.  Yeah right.  The first item I picked up was a meatless (was a meat substitute), so-called "green meal" for one.  I forget the brand or even what it was really.  What I remember is that one serving of this meatless, green meal for one had 50 FIFTY 5-0 grams of carbohydrates!!!! OMG And these carbohydrates weren't because this meal for one was packed with leafy greens.  No, this thing was no bigger than an 8oz bottle of h2o, yet it contained all of those carbs.  NEXT! Ok, so I wander over to the pre-made salad section.  You would think these would be an ok choice. WRONG!  These salads were loaded with FAT.  Even if you chose to skip the dressing (which, I give them credit, was in a separate container), upwards of 15-20 grams of fat in each salad.  Too much for me. 

So, I end up in the bakery section--maybe I'll have a cookie or a donut.  NOT. They just weren't appetizing.

People in this second store must have thought, "she has a huge chip on her shoulder" because after a while I had a scowl on my face.  What grocery stores sell these days is so horrible and to think, not too long ago, I would buy this stuff and EAT IT.  I am not trying to be a food snob or judge anyone for food choices they make, but I do know this, most people are not scrutinizing labels and are ingesting horrible, processed, manufactured, genetically engineered CRAP!

From that store I ended up buying one red pepper, an avocado, some low sodium deli sliced turkey breast, and three packs of trident sugar free gum [I do have a fruity gum addiction :-( and it was on sale].

Ok, so after I left the grocery store my desire to meet up with disaster still wasn't quenched.    I thought, hmmm, I haven't had Harold's Fried Chicken in a long time...LOL Well, good thing a woman and her daugther approached me asking me for spare change! I gave her all of the cash I had in my wallet. (Don't think I'm a saint, it wasn't that much and I apologized because I felt it was so little.)  Anyway, Harold's only accepts cash and I was too lazy to go to an ATM. (Even though, in hindsight, my bank was only two doors down from where the lady stopped me...Go figure. Disaster wasn't just two steps ahead, it was in an entirely different zip code.)  So, my last attempt to court disaster was a disaster!

Point of the story, really, is that I really wish our grocery stores had better options.  I wish everything wasn't processed beyond recognition. I wish people weren't forced to buy this crap because its cheap.  I wish chicken was truly chicken and that there were no hidden surprises.  I wish....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

About the Photo Shoot and Future Plans (Blog and otherwise)!

At my heaviest in 2007
This past weekend was AMAZING!  After 6 hard weeks, 4 of which I blogged about, the PHOTO SHOOT finally arrived.  I must say, I was really nervous for several reasons.

First, just the thought of being photographed was a little scary to me.  Though I had taken professional photos a few years ago, I was still a little unnerved about taking photos in athletic wear, with my body on full view--especially since I still have some more weight to lose.  My nerves were calmed however, when I arrived to the photo shoot and many of the ladies who were also being photographed greeted me warmly!

Second, I was nervous to see friends I had not seen in nearly seven months.  Though social media allowed me to remain connected with my friends, I wasn't prepared, really, for the reactions I received.  Because I see myself daily, it's still hard for me to wrap my mind around the transformation.  I've taken to looking at old pictures to remind myself...LOL  Every old friend I saw was excited and happy about my transformation.  In the midst of it all, I became excited too, because I know I represent what is possible and obtainable. 

So, back to the photo shoot!  Though I was nervous, the photographer was so sweet and professional.  He took about 20 or so photos.  Afterward, he showed me the photos on the computer and I must say, they came out really nice.  When he finishes processing them, he will send some to me and then I can share them.

In the meantime, I have decided a few things:
1) I will continue my eating, drinking, and exercising regime, but with a few changes. [Click the words "eating," "drinking," and "exercising" to be taken to the blog post where I describe my routine for each of the three categories.] I have decided to add dairy back.  This will mostly be in the form of yogurt and cheese, here and there.
2) I will continue to blog but I can not promise it will be every day.  I love sharing my food journal and that keeps me accountable, but I can not keep up with blogging everyday.  So, I will do what I can in regards to sharing my food journal.

Left, Heart and Soul 2010; Right, Heart and Soul 2011, 90lbs later
My journey is far from complete.  As of now, I have lost 90lbs and I have 40 more to lose.  I hope to be finished with the weight loss by the end of this summer.  I also hope to be wearing my good friend's size 8 jeans by then, too. :-)  She was cleaning out her closet this weekend and gave a pair to me. 

I am excited about continuing on as well as sharing my progress/process with you.

For now, in the next few days, be on the lookout for two new blog posts! In one I will share a recipe for HOMEMADE PROTEIN BARS (sugar-free) and the other will be FOR LADIES ONLY! :-)

Thanks for journeying with me!