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!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 1 Update! And, On Coming "Home" & the final results!

The PHOTO SHOOT IS TOMORROW! WooHoo! I made it! :) 

Madison Fit Fun Boot Camp DOUBLER! (50 min x 2)

5:00am Strawberry Protein Smoothie (with 1/2 cup OJ and h2o)
9:00am Egg White Omelet w/Spinach
11:30am Greek Yogurt w/ Blueberries
4:00pm  4oz turkey breast, grapes, apples, 2oz cheddar cheese (OMG, I haven't had cheese in months.  My stomach is far!)
6:30pm 1 cup red lentil soup, 1 piece of pita bread, Mixed Green Salad w/chicken and Balsamic Vinaigrette

128 oz h20
1/2 cup OJ

I've never considered "Madison" my home, even though I lived here for nearly 7 years!  However, today, walking into Supreme Health and Fitness for Boot Camp felt like coming home.  All the feelings you associate with being home [love, nurturing, family, brutal honesty (lol)] came rushing to me when I walked through the doors of Supreme.  I realized I missed my BC family.  As I walked through the door, I was immediately embraced by my friends--friends who still encourage me and keep me going even though I no longer live in Madison.  Friends who challenge me to work harder and stay committed to my goals.  Friends who met me at my heaviest and worst--and loved me then as they do now.  Friends for whom I am eternally grateful.  This program changed my life and I am blessed, daily,  by the FAMILY I have in them. 

Today, three of us did a doubler--we attended 2 boot camps, back to back.  It was intense, but we got through it.  One year and exactly one month ago today, I walked into Fit Fun Boot Camp and couldn't do a burpee, a push up, or a russian twist.  But, what I could do was wake up and keep showing up.  This is what I have done ever since and it has made all the difference.  Now, I can do burpees (although I absolutely abhor them), push ups and russian twists.  These are all within my means.  I look back and am amazed and thankful for that fateful cold winter day in January, 2010.

Ok, so down to really what you came to read about!  So, one month, 4 weeks, and 30 days ago, I started this challenge.  I challenged myself to work out 6 days a week, eat clean (not go out to eat) and eat 5-6 meals a day as well as drink 128oz of h2o.  During this month, I learned so much more about  nutrition, about needing to do your own research, and really, about what my body needs to be at peak performance.  This alone translates into success for me.  This past month, I have decided, is only the beginning for me.  I love the routine I have created and I am excited to continue everything I have started--that, to me equals SUCCESS!

As a result of the rigor of the last month, there have been physical changes.  Although this was not my sole intention, I knew that my body would change.  It did.

Today, I want to share my measurements.  Tomorrow, I will share with you some pictures.  They may or may not be from the photo shoot as I am unsure of when I will have access to those photographs.  But, believe me, since you have been with me EVERY step of the way, I want you to share in the physical manifestation of my success (although my real reward has manifested in incalculable spiritual, emotional, and mental benefits.)

My stats as of January 12, 2011:
Height—5’2.5” (that ain’t changing! LOL)

My stats as of February 11, 2011:
Height—5'2.5" (jeez, I was hoping for a least 1/2 inch growth! LOL)

So, there you have it:  In four weeks, I lost 10lbs and 5 inches.  I consider this the STEVIA on the mound of sweet potatoes! Just makes things a bit sweeter.

I'll talk more about my future goals as it relates to my nutrition, weight loss, and the blog a little later.  In case you were wondering though, for me, the journey is not over.  I am so happy with where I am and I look forward to working hard to get where I want to be.  Day by day I am moving forward, savoring the process AND ENJOYING the ride!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 2 Update! And, the transformative power of "living in the Yellow"

Summer 2010, California.

Boot Camp (50 minutes)
Leg and Glutes (25 minutes)

5:30am Strawberry Protein Smoothie
8:00am Shrimp and Veggies
10:30am Chicken Breast w/ Spring Mix, grape tomatoes and 1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
1:00pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie
4:00pm Greek Yogurt and Strawberries
6:00pm Shrimp and Veggies

96oz h2o
2 cups almond milk

For the past almost 30 days, many of you have been "meeting me in the yellow."  You've been visiting my blog and reading what I have to say as I been on my current journey, which happens to be centered on my health. However, some of you have no idea about the origin of my yellow space

Well, I started this blog nearly two years ago, after my 27th birthday.  The summer prior to my birthday, I had decided "yellow" was going to be my color for the summer.  As as a result, I proceeded to wear yellow or accessorize with yellow for the entire summer.  Something about the brightness and beauty of the color yellow was appealing to me and I thought if I wore the color, I would somehow internalize and reflect this brightness and beauty.  Wearing the color yellow was a means by which I challenged myself to "live in the yellow."  Check out one of my first blog posts on what I mean about "living in the yellow."

Well, its been nearly two years and the concept of "living in the yellow" still resonates with me.  When I live fully in the yellow, I am open, bright, giving, loving, accepting and completely full.  I am not without problems or worries or stresses, but living in this open, bright space allows me the clarity to develop solutions to my problems as well as the courage to ask for help/advice when I need to do so.  Also, "living in the yellow" gives me courage to put myself out there when I would normally and naturally prefer not to do so. 

Anyway, for the most part, the process and decision to "live in the yellow" has mostly been an internal one.  Until now.  Today, I experienced what "living in the yellow" is really all about.

Earlier, I received a call from my trainer, who also happens to be the owner of the fitness facility where I work out.  She called to let me know that on Wednesday, she had arrived to the gym, not really feeling enthused about what she had to do--everyone has one of those days, even when you absolutely love what you do.  However, my face was the first face she saw.  And, when she saw the bright happy smile on my face, it gave her what she needed to face her day.  It turned her entire perspective around.  If anyone knows me, you know I am always smiling.  In fact, the doormen in my building constantly ask me, "why are you always smiling?"  I always say something to the effect of "because I have no reason not to and every reason to."  Anyway,  my trainer also mentioned that what she in my face wasn't just a smile and happiness to be up at 5:55am to workout (or weight loss), she saw something else there.  Something, she couldn't describe, but that just emanated from me.   What she saw was powerful enough to transform her entire outlook that day.

This blew me away.  Over these past few days, weeks, and months, I have felt like I have been in my own little world.  I have been careful to treat people with kindness, to engage people, make eye contact with people, and generally just be positive.  I was doing these things, not on purpose, but because the joy I have inside is uncontainable (and because I lack human interaction most days beside going to the  I wasn't really thinking about the impact of my actions.  However, it seems that my conscious and consistent decision to approach life in this way has a substantial impact on people. 

While my weight loss journey has been life-changing for me, what my trainer saw and felt emanating from me was not a result of weight loss.  It was a result of my "living in the yellow."  I feel now, more than ever, that my decision to embrace this "yellow space" has transformed my life.  Little by little, "the yellow" has permeated my life and, it seems, exposed my entire being to the brightness and beauty of this state of being.  Now, I have to be honest, being exposed is not all fun and games.  However, in the periods when I have exposed myself, I have been accepted, loved, and become a better person for it.

So, today, I was blessed.  I realized that though I embarked on this journey to "live in the yellow" out of selfishness, (I wanted to improve my own state of being), living in the yellow requires selflessness.

And, this selflessness is not an exhausting, depleting type of selflessness, its one where you realize that being your best and natural self just might transform someone else's life, outlook, perspective as well as move them from despair to hope, from dark to light, and from lacking color to possessing and experiencing the transformative power of the yellow!  Knowing this, you don't withhold your self, you give completely, realizing that you will be refreshed and rejuvenated by living life in the yellow.

Today, I experienced a renewing of my spirit, simply because some of the yellow was reflected back on me.  How wonderful that was!  There are only a couple of days until the photo shoot and until I see friends and loved ones whom I have not seen in a long time.  This has made me a tad nervous and unsettled.  However, keeping myself in the yellow is calming me and will help me to face the nervousness I feel.

Thanks for joining me here. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 3 Update! And, I am NO DIFFERENT than you.


Kettlebell Muscle Power (50 minutes)

5:30am Strawberry Protein Smoothie
8:30am Egg White Omelet w/Tri-Color Peppers
11:00am Greek Yogurt w/Strawberries
1:30pm Turkey Meatloaf w/ Spring Mix and Cherry Tomatoes
4:00pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie
6:30pm Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry

128 oz h20
2 cups almond milk

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how I have gotten to the place I am today. I think about where I was over a year ago and wonder what happened to the people who started this journey with me, people who were given the same tools and information that I was given. I begin to wonder, am I different? If so, how?

I can't let myself wonder on difference for long because I am always brought back to the fact that I AM NO DIFFERENT than you or anyone else. I am a human being. Deep down I long for acceptance, not rejection. I long to be loved, not treated indifferently. I long to make an impact on this world, not leave it worse than I found it. I long to be good and do good, not contribute to evil. I long to lose myself in helping others and not in living selfishly or self-destructively. I long for the day when all will see the beauty and good in themselves--and dwell in possibility and not defeat.

I recognize, however, that in order to fulfill all of my longings I have to accept myself, love myself, make myself better, do good to myself, help myself, and see the beauty and good in myself FIRST. Seeing myself as beautiful, bright, valued, worthy, awesome, magnificent, good, wonderful, blessed, overflowing with abundance, open, loved, and acceptable can only be a good thing--for me AND everybody.

So, if I am no different than you and you are no different than me, doesn't that mean that you can achieve all I have achieved? Doesn't that mean that if you want to change your lifestyle, you can? Isn't that a possibility for you? If you feel this isn't possible for you, why is this so? Don't let self-imposed limitations stifle your dreams. I am telling you, and I am NO DIFFERENT than you, that when I began to dream, think, act, and work toward the impossible, the extraordinary became POSSIBLE.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 4 Update! And, What's your inspiration?

Only 4 days until the photo shoot!

Sweatbox w/ Jump Rope Circuit (50 minutes)
Pilates (25 minutes)
Zumba! Express (25 minutes)

5:30am Strawberry Protein Smoothie
8:00am Egg White Omelet w/Tri-Color Peppers
10:30am Greek Yogurt and Strawberries
2:00om Turkey Meatloaf with 50/50 Spring Mix and Grape Tomatoes
4:30pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie
7:00pm Egg White Omelet w/Tri-Color Peppers

128 oz h20
2 cups almond milk

Usually, people ask, "what's your motivation?" or "what motivates you?" Today, I want to pose the question, "what's your inspiration?" What inspires you to keep going?

When I look back over the last almost 30 days, I ask myself what inspired me to do this challenge?

So many have told me, "you're an inspiration," or even more personal, "you're my inspiration." Sometimes when people tell me this, my heart skips a beat. I am fearful because I know I am just a human being. Being someone's inspiration is a tall task and I don't want to fail. However, when I think about "inspiration" and where my inspiration lies, my fear dissipates.

A year and a half ago, I came across this poem. It so perfectly captures my sentiments about "motivation" vs. "inspiration."

I love the entire poem, but the lines that speaks to me most now are:

Motivation creates the discipline and interest to change temporarily;
Inspiration creates the obedience to change permanently.

Motivation is driven by a love of self;
Inspiration is driven by a love of God.

For so long I prayed to God to give me discipline to start a lifestyle change. I prayed for discipline but I lacked the ability to listen to and actually follow the nutritional advice that I knew would lead to a transformation of my body. I was being disobedient. At my lowest moment, I could hear God and God distinctly told me, "you know what to do. I will make the way and you just follow my lead." I have been following God's lead ever since--OBEDIENCE.

Also, my desire to continue to transform my body is not a result of me wanting the ultimate beach body or wanting to be skinny. What I desire is for my body and my health to be in a place of life and vitality. I want to be able to do EVERYTHING God designed my body to do. All of the physical limitations that I have placed on my body because of the toxins I have knowingly ingested, I want gone.

So, when I am asked, "what is your inspiration?" I simply say, "To be all that God destined me to be." This journey that I am currently on is simply a part of my destiny. Thank you for joining me.

Enjoy the poem. :-)

Motivation Vs. Inspiration

Motivation is driven by earthly desire and a need to gain self-satisfaction;
Inspiration is driven by heavenly success and a desire to please God.

Motivation is like showering or brushing your teeth--you need to do it every day;
Inspiration happens once and is there forever.

Motivation can be broken;
Inspiration can be blocked but never truly goes away.

Motivation ends during tough or inconvenient times;
Inspiration endures hardship and failure.

Motivation yields to excuses;
Inspiration will not stop until it see results.

Motivation is like tiptoeing into a cold pool;
Inspiration gives you the courage to dive right in, take the leap, and go for it.

Motivation changes with changing emotions;
Inspiration is stronger than a particular feeling at a particular moment.

Motivation takes no effort of focus;
Inspiration takes the effort of focusing on God and the responsibilities we all have.

Motivation creates the discipline and interest to change temporarily;
Inspiration creates the obedience to change permanently.

Motivation is driven by a love of self;
Inspiration is driven by a love of God.

By Ben Lerner

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 5 Update! And, Did you run track in high school? Who? Me?

Just five short days until the photo shoot!


Just Lift (50 minutes)
Glutes and Leg Burn (25 minutes)
Cardio Boot Camp (50 minutes)

7:20am Greek Yogurt w/ Strawberries
10:30am Egg white omelet w/tri color peppers
1:20pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie
3:45pm Turkey Meatloaf and Mixed Greens
6:20pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie
8:20pm Turkey Meatloaf w/ Spring Mix and Grape Tomatoes (no dressing)

140 oz h20
1.75 cups almond milk

There are only FIVE days left until the photo shoot and I must admit, today I KILLED IT in my workouts--all three of them, but especially cardio boot camp. Maybe it was the protein smoothie boost I had after my Just Lift class that kicked in by the time my cardio boot camp class started. Whatever the case, my suicides and sprints were out of this world--so much so that one of my classmates asked me, "Did you run track in high school?" I responded, "Who? Me? Yeah, maybe in a past life!" LOL Honestly though, when I was doing my sprints, I felt so POWERFUL and STRONG. I felt FAST and I was FAST. I reminded myself of a mere ten or eleven months ago when I hated running. My knees ached and no matter how hard I tried, it seemed I couldn't go fast enough. My lungs and heart just wouldn't support that type of exertion. Well, today my lungs cooperated, my heart was strong and my mind said, "GO FASTER" and guess what, I DID!

Now, when someone asks me were you a sprinter in the past, I will say, no, but I am now! LOL I'm working on it. We'll see where I am by this summer! :)

My mantra for the rest of this week: GO HARD OR GO HOME! :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 6 Update! And, re-trained taste buds!

Just six days until the photo shoot!


None, Sunday's my day of rest!

6:15am Strawberry Protein Smoothie
11:15am Greek Yogurt and Strawberries
1:20pm Egg white omelet and onions/tri color peppers
4:00pm Turkey meatloaf and mixed greens
6:30pm 3 carrots, spoonful of crab seafood dip, 2 string beans, 1 bite of chicken
9:30pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie

128 oz h20
2 cups almond milk

It seems like the universe is conspiring against me not to finish out my challenge strong! Over the last few days it has been difficult to get my six meals in AND temptations surround me at EVERY turn! But, I will prevail!

Today, as the entire nation knows, was Super Bowl Sunday. It was my intention to go to church and afterward spend a quiet, restful evening at home. My plans were thwarted because one of my very good friends came to town for a Super Bowl Party and invited me to come with. At first, I was going to back out, but then decided to go because I really wanted to spend time with my friend, and I recently chided myself for being a bit anti-social as of late.

So, in preparation for the party, I decided to eat my planned 4:o0pm meal of turkey meatloaf and mixed greens as well as drink some water. I didn't want to have to eat at the party, but I knew I would have to since I still had two more meals left for the day.

We arrived to the party and immediately, offers of beer, sangria, and wine were thrust upon me. As I have never been a drinker, it was pretty easy to say no to these. Besides, I bought my 32oz nalgene bottle and was content to sip from that all night. Pretty soon, the hostess announced that the food was ready. I let my friend fix her plate first so that I could survey what was available and have a plan BEFORE I got to the buffet line. Fried chicken, baked chicken, mac and cheese, string beans, crab seafood salad, dinner rolls, carrots, and a cheesy meat dip with tortillas were the available options. From that selection, it was pretty clear what my options were: baked chicken, string beans, and carrots. When I got to the buffet, I selected one wing drummie, 2 tablespoons of string beans, 3 carrots, and I also decided to get a spoonful of the crab seafood salad. I returned to my seat and began to eat. Unfortunately, I could only stomach the carrots and the tablespoon of crab seafood salad. What they say about your taste buds changing in as little as three weeks is definitely true! Well, the chicken was seasoned well, but unfortunately the skin wasn't removed first and there was no tackful way for me to remove I just didn't eat it. Also, with one bite I could tell that SUGAR had been added to the string beans. I couldn't believe it! Who adds SUGAR to string beans???? Those beans were so sweet I couldn't eat them. I haven't had sugar in so long--probably about two months (since I was in Mexico for Christmas). And, though I eat veggies every day, the only seasonings I usually add are garlic, onion, herbs, cumin, etc. So, I couldn't stomach the beans.

Pretty soon, cake and pie were offered but I wasn't even tempted by those. I just said "no thanks" and that was that. By the time the Super Bowl was over, I felt ok. Besides, just in case something like this might happen, I prepared in advance by making a protein smoothie and leaving it in my car (it was cold enough) for the ride home.

So, today, I learned a few things: 1) I still need to learn how to navigate meshing my lifestyle change with social situations. My first thought was to just not go but I don't want to become an isolated hermit. I also don't want to compromise my choices. I think I did ok tonight. I was not even tempted to eat fried chicken, and the mac and cheese just wasn't all that appetizing to me. 2) Even if I did decide to try the food, like the fried chicken and the mac and cheese, I don't think my taste buds or my digestive system would allow it. So, my taste buds have totally adapted to natural foods. In essence, they have been re-trained.

In sum, there are only six days of the challenge left and I am determined to stick to my plan! No matter what the universe throws my way, I am ready! Oh, also, I am strong enough to say no. It seems things that used to tempt me don't any longer. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

SEVEN DAYS AWAY! And, Living La Vida Loca!

Seven Days until the Photo Shoot!

Zumba! (50 minutes)

8:00am Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry
11:30am Strawberry Protein Smoothie
2:25pm Greek Yogurt and Strawberries/Blueberries
6:15pm Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry (4.5 oz of chicken instead of 3)
8:15pm Strawberry Protein Smoothie (with 1.5 servings of protein)

128oz h20
2 cups almond milk

Today, I took a long nap and threw my eating pattern off a little bit. When I woke up, I was really hungry. Because of this wrench in my plans, I added extra protein to two of my later meals instead. I'm not going to even TRY to get six meals in today. As a result, I am a little under my caloric goal for today, but not by much because the extra protein boost did help.

On the subject of DANCE, I have another Zumba! video to share with you. The title of this dance is Living La Vida Loca--it was so much fun!

I still haven't figured out how I am going to reward myself, but I think it will be along the lines of a ticket to a concert or performance of one of my favorites artists!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 8 Update! And, to eat or not eat?

Only eight days until the photo shoot!

Sweatbox w/Jump Rope Circuit (50 minutes)

8:45am Egg White Omelet w/Tri-Color Peppers
11:25am Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie
2:15pm Greek Yogurt and Strawberries
5:15pm Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry
7:40pm Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie
10:20pm Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry

128oz h2o
2 cups almond milk

I found myself in a quandary today because I failed to implement my mantra of "prior prudent planning." The question I asked myself when I arrived home at 10:10pm was "should or shouldn't I eat"? While I had successfully went through most of my day and consumed most of my meals on time, I did not sufficiently plan my last meal--partially because I consumed my first meal too late. So, as I arrived home, I had a decision to make: go to bed not having consumed enough calories for the day because I only ate 5 meals or eat a small meal and go to bed after about an hour to an hour an half (to allow the meal to begin digesting).

In the end, I decided to have the meal because I was actually quite hungry. As you see above, at 5:15pm I had Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry and at 7:40, I had a smoothie. This smoothie was after an evening workout. After the workout, I was unable to go home immediately because I had plans to go to church for a special service. Because I knew I was going to church after working out, I prepared the smoothie in advance and left it in my car! The service lasted until about 9:30pm, after which I came straight home. I knew I needed one more meal because I was not within my calorie range for the day and I was still hungry from working out (I guess the smoothie wasn't enough)--we did high interval cardio and weight lifting.

So, in my indecision I decided to just have the meal so I would stay within my desired range for daily calories. The meal was actually quite light, with about 250 calories, so I think I will be ok.

If not, oh well!!! I still have eight days, right? Right!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 9 Update! And, how do you reward yourself after achieving a major goal???


Sweat Box (50 minutes)
Arms and Abs (25 minutes)

Strawberry Protein Smoothie
8:45am Egg White Omelet w/onions and peppers
11:25am 1 cup Greek Yogurt and Strawberries
2:00pm Shrimp, Chicken and veggie stir-fry
4:30pm Shrimp, Chicken and veggie stir-fry
8:00pm Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

128 oz h2o
1.75 cups almond milk

I am SOOOOO HAPPY my gym opened back up this evening. I am even happier that it was relatively easy getting myself out of my parking spot! Because my gym opened, I decided to go to the evening classes and as a result, ended up having my last meal later. It's ok since it was a protein smoothie and my muscles need the protein to recover! :)

I can hardly believe there are only 9 days until the photo-shoot! I have been thinking that I have been working hard to achieve my goals of discipline and sticking to my plan. I feel like I need a reward, an exhalation, a pause to thank and recognize myself and my body for going on this wild ride with me. I am having a hard time thinking of rewards for myself on this one. When you achieve major goals, what do you do to reward yourself? Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 10 Update! And, Phil DIDN'T see his shadow!

10 days until the photo shoot!

Cardio P90X (43 min)
Stretching P90X (30 min)

8:00am Strawberry banana Protein Smoothie
10:30am Egg White Omelet w/Onions and Tri Color Peppers
12:30pm Greek Yogurt (1 cup) and strawberries (about ½ cup)
2:30pm Shrimp stir-fry w/ 1 cup mixed greens
5:30pm Shrimp stir-fry
7:45pm Protein Smoothie

128 h2o
1.75 cups almond milk

So, the blizzard went DOWN, but without my help! It went DOWN as the worst storm in recent history, maybe??? Supposedly, 25 inches fell in some places in the city. This breaks the record for the day and establishes a new record for the month of February!

Today’s picture is of my parking lot. My car is the 4th car on the left. Not so bad, huh? LOL I feel bad for the owner of the 1st car on the right.

Today, I found out that, once again, my exercise classes are canceled for Thursday. I would have done a boot camp class and a legs and glutes class. So, tomorrow I will probably do Cardio P90X again as well as the Leg and Back P90X.

I’m going to have to venture out tomorrow, because today I realized I am low on egg whites and yogurt. If my parking lot isn’t plowed, I might walk to the store—its only about 8 blocks away. It all depends on how cold it is outside—I hear the temperature is supposed to be below zero with a windchill.

Good thing the groundhog, Phil, didn't see his shadow today! Early spring!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 11 Update! And, Blizzard, you're going down!

Only 11 days until the photo shoot!

Sweatbox w/Jump Rope Circuit (50 minutes)
Pilates (25 minutes)
Cardio Hip Hop (30 minutes)

5:15am Strawberry Protein Smoothie
8:15am Egg White and Onions/Tri-Color Peppers Omelet
10:40am 1 cup Greek Yogurt and strawberries
1:45pm Shrimp and Veggies w Salad (1 1/2 cup spring mix and balsamic vinaigrette)
4:15pm Scallops and Veggies w 1 cup mixed greens (collard, mustard, turnip)
6:45pm Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

128 oz h20
1.75 cups of almond milk

Because of the BLIZZARD in Chicago, one my favorite classes was canceled: Zumba! Also, my Wednesday morning class (Kettlebell Muscle Power) was canceled as well. Though I'm a little sad, I'm not worried because I have P90X and a few other DVDs to keep me going. To make up for not having Zumba! tonight, I did a Cardio Hip Hop DVD--it had 3 ten minute workouts. To make up for missing Kettlebell Muscle Power, I will probably do a Reebok Boot Camp DVD as well as a Dynamic Toning DVD (which includes yoga, dance, weight training, and pilates techniques.) In sum, I'm going to get it in! Unless the power goes out, this blizzard can't stop me! LOL :) If the blizzard does take the power out, I'll just do old fashioned jumping jacks, squats, lunges, run up the stairs, and my FAVORITE: BURPEES! HA

I got my six meals in today! YAY!!!! :)

I went to the grocery story today to stock up on some perishables like veggies as well as more lean meat. The line at the grocery, at 1:00 in the afternoon was SUPER LONG! I guess everybody else had the same idea as I did! LOL

If you have to go out, be careful! Otherwise, don't try to fight the weather--you probably will just end up face-down in the snow! :)

The picture in this post is after a 12/2009 snowstorm in Madison, WI. It snowed so much that tree branches snapped--pretty dangerous. I snapped this picture on my cell phone after the snowstorm--I was walking to the hardware store to buy a shovel to dig my car out of its space. Ended up not needing the shovel because I had a great landlord who dug me out!