How to Lose A Size In A Month

This post could have many titles.

  • How to lose weight while on vacation.
  • How to lose 5 pounds in a month.
  • How to lose a size in a month.
  • How to kick start your metabolism.
  • How to not gain weight while you can’t workout.

While I think any of these would work, I want to go ahead and share a spoiler with you. This post will not share a magical secret with you that will leave you five pounds lighter by the time you finish reading.

After years of yo-yo dieting and wishing I was the size of those around me, I finally pulled up my big girl pants and joined Weight Watchers the summer of 2005, while I was interning up in Philadelphia. As some of you may recall from previous posts, over the course of the next 11 months I went from 192 pounds, which was my highest weight in June 2005, to 150 pounds, my Weight Watchers goal weight. My tactics for losing weight while enjoying my senior year of college were pretty simple and were in line with many of the Weight Watcher principles back then.

  • I started a walk to run program which allowed me to go from running 30 seconds on the treadmill to running my first 5k.
  • Back in Athens, Georgia during my senior year I worked out six days a week, religiously, and walked to as many of my classes as possible.
  • I tracked points Sunday night through Friday lunch, allowing myself to enjoy Friday night through Sunday brunch enjoying tailgate food, drinks downtown, and brunch with friends.

Fast forward through my first five five years out of college and my weight has been a bit more of a roller coaster. While I don’t have time to go through everything right now, I know I owe you all a few more in depth posts regarding this roller coaster at some point. To make a long story short I’ll give you the bulleted version for now.  Enjoy the photos as well which are in chronological order.

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  • May 2006: Graduate from University of Georgia (weigh ~ 150)
  • June 2006-June 2007: A year of long distance relationship, few to little friends in my new town of Philadelphia, and loneliness lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, fat, and working out. (weight dropped to an all time low of ~ 125)
  • June 2007-Sept 2007: Bo moves to Philadelphia and with his help and my parents intervention, I start developing a healthier relationship with working out, appreciating food for its nourishment and flavor, and start training for distance running. Run my first half marathon at the amazing time of 2:02. (Slowly gain weight, reaching 132)
  • Sept 2007-March 2009: Go the doctor due to losing my period. She explains that I urgently need to gain weight as my estrogen and hormone levels are dangerously low. We do this through a mix of estrogen pills, protein supplements, and allowed “unhealthy eating”. (Plateau at 138)
  • March 2009: Doctor recommends we try a few more things including eating foods that I would never imagine as our current routine isn’t working and i’ve reached a plateu at 138 which still isn’t a high enough weight for my build, metabolism, hormone levels, etc.
  • April 2009-September 2009: Enjoy crazy amounts of alcohol, donuts, bagels, New York cuisine, bbq,  and more while trying to gain weight and finally moving in with Bo in our first NYC apartment. Workouts and running continue but maintaining my previous pace becomes far harder as I am carrying more weight.  (Weight finally reaches 155, my doctors goal weight for my body)
  • September 2, 2009: My period finally comes back. Much celebration, happy tears.
  • November 2009: Bo and I get engaged!
  • November 2009-November 2010: New job, new city and wedding planning stress along with unhealthy eating habits I developed while trying to gain weight mean that I gain weight instead of lose weight for my wedding. (Weight reaches 168 on wedding day.)
  • November 2010-April 2012: New York life, married life, marathon training, work travel and more mean that my weight fluctuates between 173 to 164 for over a year and a half. I develop a healthy relationship with food and embrace weight training through the help of my personal trainer, Lauren. I run 7 half marathons, 2 marathons and multiple other races while sharing my adventures with my blog readers.
  • April 2, 2012: Finally decide I really want to reach 160 again so my shorts, dresses, skirts, and suits from the past three years all fit. Realize this will take more than just working out to happen as my body seems to plateau every time I reach 162.

Finally, now we’re at the point where I explain exactly what I did over the past month to go from 165 pounds to 159 pounds and lose a full dress and pant size.  Don’t worry, I have more bullets for you!

How I Overcame My Weight Plateau

  • Portion control!  I returned to weighing, measuring and thinking about everything that went into my mouth, even on vacation. I made sure my plate always included more vegetables and protein than starches. On each trip I carried or purchased healthy snacks so I would be less apt to reach for chocolate, candy, or empty carbs. During work dinners I’ve gone back to ordering half portions or making special requests because it’s so easy and can lead to healthier and more delicious meals which I can enjoy versus dreading.

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  • I cut back on the alcohol. I went back to only having alcohol 1-2 nights during the week, other than my vacation week. But, while we were on vacation I only had 1 glass of beer, wine or cocktail 4 of the nights.
  • I fell in love with fruits and vegetables again. Thanks in part to the Green Giant Vegetable Challenge and our trip to Hawaii, I realized that most of the time I prefer fruit over another dessert option and both fruit and vegetables are the best office snack, second go my beloved Greek yogurt. In line with this, I also went back to having the large size salads during lunch from Pax or Toasties instead of a bag of baked chips or a roll. The less processed food that goes in my system during the week, the better!

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  • I cleaned up my lunches.  Sure, salad is healthy, but common sense tells you that even a rabbit’s favorite food can haul in more calories than a sandwich lunch if you load it with too many nuts, cheeses, dressing, and toppings. Therefore, during April I stuck with lots of vegetables and fruit on my salads, went back to having dressing on the side, and topped it with only lean protein (egg whites, eggs, grilled chicken, shrimp, or tuna) and allowed myself cheese or nuts in place of the lean protein, not in addition. While I was traveling, Subway became my best friend again as it’s always a healthy and reliable option who shares the calorie counts with patrons everywhere!

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  • Hello Mr Penguin Bo and I took our Penguin Soda Stream out of the pantry so we could use it more often. This alone has cut my soda, wine, beer, and Crystal Light consumption down and renewed my love of water. I’m now drinking at least a gallon of water a day, including what I drink during workouts.
  • Sleep Every article I read about weight loss or running seems to mention the benefits of sleep. During vacation I enjoyed eight hours of sleep every night and since then I’ve slept at least 7 hours every single night.

Move I think it’s funny that I lost this weight and inches while NOT running since I always thought running was the key to losing weight.  While on vacation my mom and I walked every day up a 1.5 mile hill at least two times. When I returned to NYC, even while battling bronchitis, I did planks and pushups every day. I think it’s important to realize that you don’t need to run a marathon each day, but you need to stick to a routine which you can do anywhere and everywhere. This morning, while I’m still in my hooded sweatshirt and boxer shorts, I’ve already done 2 minutes of planks, 20 pushups, and 5 minutes of sun salutations. I also got better about sharing the news that I was working out with co-workers while I traveled to Houston this week. In turn, I had a workout partner each morning!

 

None of this is ground breaking stuff and I’m sure you’ve all done at least one of the above at one point. But, even for a Lifetime Weight Watcher member, I forgot the importance of portion and counting. My salads became a means to enjoy cheese, my evening time with Bo or work travel and happy hours were a means to enjoy wine and beer, and work dinners had become an excuse to eat just like the people around me. If I could suggest just one of the above, it would be either cleaning up lunch salads or portion control as I think these are the 2 biggest changes I made.

There you have it. Happy Friday.

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A Quarter of the Way There

Happy Thursday! Are you guys ready for the weekend?

Bo and I feel like we’ve been going non-stop since December 10th when we hosted our first of two holiday parties. Since then we’ve flown over 4,000 miles, spent time with our families in Savannah, celebrated New Years in Cozumel, and started 2012 with a busy work week. This has left no time for relaxation, breathing, or even collecting our thoughts. This weekend’s agenda is short and sweet, leaving plenty of time for relaxing.

  • Take down Christmas decorations and put them down in storage unit
  • Unpack
  • Run the Joe Kleinerman 10k

Like I said, short and sweet!

Even though it’s been a busy week, I’m proud to say that thus far I’ve stuck to my plan 100% so far! While I know we’re only five days into 2012, rumor has it that it takes 21 days to start a habit. Therefore, I’m quarter of the way there! 

Today was a great test in my recommitment to Weight Watchers and tracking everything I eat.

Instead of enjoying my planned soup and salad for lunch this afternoon, five of us went out for a girl’s lunch to wish one of our co-workers farewell as she begins a new chapter in her career. I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity but going to a Rain Thai restaurant for lunch didn’t allow for many healthy options. Their menu was limited to 12 or so different lunch options, of which more than 8 were deemed spicy.  (source)

In the end, I ordered pad thai chicken.  An old favorite of mine, I haven’t had it in ages and forgot how much I love it and how difficult it is to stop at just a few bites. (source)

Thirty minutes and lots of laughter later, I realized my bowl sat before me, empty. At the same moment, I realized my stomach hurt terribly. Instead of getting frustrated for over eating and indulging, I went back to the office, opened my Weight Watchers tracker, and tracked restaurant pad thai into my tracker.

imageWhile I didn’t eat lunch at Noodles & Company, this option seemed to be the most similar and realistic to what I ate.  The points were a bit shocking but instead of getting frustrated or discouraged, I decided to use this as a test and practice listening to my body. Since I had used up all my points for the day, and would have to use Weekly Allowance points, I vowed not to eat again until I was truly hungry.

Tonight at 8pm, my stomach finally growled. If I wasn’t focused on listening to my body I would have eaten around 6:30 or 7 tonight since I was out of work early. Since I had such a heavy lunch I was craving a big salad. I’m rocking the homemade dinner resolution this week!

Remember Tuesday night’s pork chops? They were the perfect salad topping tonight!

001I topped the last bit of my bagged lettuce with cherry tomatoes, onions, leftover green beans, cherry tomatoes, and sliced pork chop with Annie’s Naturals dressing for a delicious dinner!

As promised, below is today’s Weight Watcher food journal for your reference.

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Gym Free Workout Options

It’s that time of the year when every gym is packed to the brim with new members, part of the “resolution club” hoping to uncover a new them through hours of dedication at the gym.

For some, they are in it to win it and ready to commit. For others, it is a short lived relationship that will end far before their annual membership ends.

But, what if you can’t fit a gym into your lifestyle right now? For some this may be due to a new child, an ailing parent, a demanding job, frequent business travel, or simply budget. Across the nation the cost of a gym membership continues to increase each year as gyms offer more perks for their members such as child care, thorough class schedules, scented towels, and improved service.

Just today, my friend Lindsey lamented on Facebook about the fact that her reliable fitness partner, Exercise TV, no longer existed. Before last week many people relied on this as an at home fitness solution.

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Luckily, for both Exercise TV addicts and people who can’t fit gyms into their life right now, there are two great new options available for far less than the average gym membership: Daily Burn and Gaiam TV. I’ve tried both of these over the past few weeks and have really enjoyed each of them!

 

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When Gaiam TV reached out to me about reviewing their new site, I expected to find a website with streaming yoga videos and workouts. While this excited me, I can’t live on yoga alone and therefore doubted how often I would use the site if I purchased as subscription. However, a few weeks ago, when my trainer cancelled last minute I turned to Gaiam TV for a workout substitution and was very pleasantly surprised.  Within seconds I was logged into the website and browsing their library of Jillian Michaels workouts, organized by categories, which included far more than yoga alone. The site is very easy to navigate for even first time visitors, even featuring a what’s trending section to direct visitors to their top videos and features.

imageI also love that Gaiam TV makes working out while I travel an easy option. Since you can access it via computer, iPad, television (using HDMI adapter) and iPhone I can break a sweat in the comfort of my hotel room when doing a yoga, fitness, or strength video. Gaiam also features films and documentaries which can be enjoyed during a plane trip, commute, or lazy evening at home.  Unlike other websites, which only deliver yoga workouts, I love that this site incorporates over 2,000 workout videos in one place which are accessible, on an unlimited basis, for only $9.99 per month. In addition, they offer a free 10 day trial so you can try it risk free.

 

While Daily Burn isn’t a new kid on the block, they have recently launched new features on their site that have made it a comprehensive fitness and nutrition power house. Daily Burn provides workouts and nutrition advice customized to help you meet the goals you share with them during the questionnaire portion. For example, I said that I had an average of 45 minutes to work out each day and wanted them to provide me with very specific nutritional guidelines which would make it easy to follow.

Within minutes, I was provided a full menu along with suggested recipes.

image My favorite part isn’t the menu but instead the grocery list it creates so I can ensure I have all the ingredients accessible when it comes time to prepare and cook each meal or snack.

In addition to the nutritional information Daily Burn suggested, it also provided me with a first workout based on the feedback I provided.

image If only I could figure out how to let them know that I need a workout that can be done in my small, New York City apartment. Oh well. After you complete the workout suggested, or any of the other workouts, you provide feedback which allows them to alter the workouts moving forward.

Daily Burn is a great option for people who are looking for a holistic nutrition and fitness program, not just a live streaming workout video. In addition, subscription is only $9.99 per month which is far less than a gym membership alone.  While I think some of their nutritional suggestions needs to be taken with a grain of salt, this is a great starting point and provides inspiration and ideas!

Similar to Gaiam TV, you can access Daily Burn from your computer, iPad, iPhone, television (using an HDMI connector) or Droid.

Question: Have you tried either of these workout options yet? What are your thoughts? If not, what is keeping you from trying them?

Today’s Food:

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My First Homemade Weeknight Meal of 2012

 

Tonight, I was determined and inspired to bring one of my 2012 resolutions to life: cook a homemade meal for Bo and I at least once a week.

This sounds like a simple task since there are five week nights in a week and that means I only have to cook 20% of the time, but it’s a very common week when we order in or pick up takeout every night due to our busy schedules, empty fridge, or lack of motivation. Even though we didn’t land back in NYC last night until past 9pm, I made a shopping list for the week last night and printed it out so I could reference it at the grocery store today. In addition, being able to leave work at 5:30 on a Tuesday made going to the grocery store and cooking much less daunting on a week night.

001By 6:30 I was home and unloading four bags of groceries; enough ingredients for four weeknight meals as well as the components for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.

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Bo and I are lucky to have a kitchen which includes a microwave, dishwasher, and oven as many New Yorkers do not have these simple kitchen items which many Americans take for granted each day.  The time I spent in the kitchen tonight was more relaxing than I remembered and was a wonderful way to relieve a Monday’s worth of stress.

Tonight’s menu was very simple and a perfect way to ease into week night cooking.

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Simple salad (lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, shallots, salt, pepper, and Annie’s low fat dressing)

Steamed green beans dressed in Garlic Gold and olive oil

Grilled pork chops rubbed in Rub with Love 

002 004 I referenced an old favorite cookbook of ours, Weber’s Real Grilling, for the pork temperatures and cooking times. If you find yourself grilling often, indoors or out, I highly recommend this beautiful cookbook. It is a dummies guide to cooking delicious meats and vegetables and after five years of use we’ve yet to find a recipe we don’t like.

010 008 Ten minutes later, from start to finish, dinner was plated. The pork chops only took 7 minutes to cook and I steamed the green beans at the same time. While the pork chop rested, I made my simple salad and set a place at the table.

Also, as part of the Food Journal 30 Day Challenge, I will be logging all my bites, nibbles, and meals on Weight Watchers. During my original weight loss journey, during which I lost more than forty pounds on Weight Watchers I tracked my food at least five days each week. I think this will be a great way to keep myself accountable as I begin training for my upcoming half marathon and focus on returning to my Lifetime Weight Watchers goal weight (150 pounds). I’m trying to figure out an easy way to share this with you each day so please let me know if you have any suggestions. For now, all I know is to snap a picture of my journal.

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Question: Are you interested in seeing my food journal on my blog daily?

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