Monday, July 23, 2012

Shutterfly 2012 Summer Sweepstakes

Who wouldn't want to win a trip to the Bahamas?  It's THAT simple!  Check it out:

Right now, Shutterfly is running its

The conteset runs from :7/9 – 8/12, and is a Multi-week summer themed photo sweepstakes with instant win prizes and a grand prize of:
a trip for four to The Bahamas and a professional photo shoot so you’ll remember your vacation forever

Who wouldn't want to win THAT? 

All you need to do is upload your favorite photo and caption based on the theme of the week.  Get a gift from Shutterfly just for entering! You can enter at any point during the 5-week sweepstakes period.

To enter, click HERE

•       Week 1(7/9): Americana
•       Week 2 (7/16): Great Outdoors
•       Week 3 (7/23): Water Fun
•       Week 4 (7/30): Sports & Activities
•       Week 5 (8/6): Parties & Celebrations

•      Instant win prizes just for submitting a photo!
•      Weekly prizes (contestants can enter one time/week)
•      Weekly featured photos: up to 5 weekly entries will be selected from the gallery and featured on the Facebook fan page and awarded a $500 gift card on Shutterfly and a copy of the new Lonely Planet travel photography book.
•      Grand prize: trip for 4 to Bahamas, 4 nights, family photo shoot

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hard work DOES pay off!

Now, I don't usually make posts like this, but I am pretty proud of the progress I have made physically over the last 10 months and I wanted to share it with you here.  This post is not intended to be a means of showing off or bragging in the least; I just wanted to share HOW I was so successful in the event that it can be an inspiration or help for others who are trying to get started on a weight loss journey.

Since Aug 2011, I have lost 12.5 lbs!  That number still amazes me considering my original goal in 2011  was to lose 10 lbs and I was already partially there in August -- so that would make my total weight loss over 15 lbs!  No, it wasn't easy -- but was it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY.  Did I need to be motivated and have some self-control?  YES.  Did I have a come to truth moment and need to be honest with myself?  COMPLETELY.  You can't expect to make progress unless you do these things.  PERIOD.

It also helps to have someone along 'for the ride' with you -- and I think that this aspect alone helped me be so successful.  I have a REALLY AWESOME group of online women friends who are committed to making their lives healthier.  We motivate each other, toss questions, recipes, fitness advice, jokes, etc. around and I truly believe that being a part of this group contributes greatly to my success story.

So, how did I start?

Let me tell you -- I don't make it a habit of taking photos of myself half-naked or in my workout gear.  I don't particularly care to ask my husband to take these awkward photos of myself.  But, in August 2011, a small group of my friends posed a challenge to each other that we would pay each other a dollar for every pound we lost.  So, I took my first 'before' photo as part of this challenge.  At that time, I started to get back into running and I started to be more aware of what I was eating....  But I wasn't doing any of it wholeheartedly and I definitely wasn't totally committed at that point. 

It wasn't until Feb/March -- right around the same time my online women friends decided to start our "Healthy World" forum that I realized that all of this was completely up to me -- I could choose to stay the way I was, or I could choose to do something about meeting the goals I set.  It was at that point I made the conscious choice and effort to do something.

I remember reaching a plateau and getting frustrated in April -- sure, I had gotten my weight down to 138 (starting weight of 145.5) -- so I had lost 8 lbs...I had made progress...I had MET my goal.  But I was stuck. I wanted to lose more flab and tone up more.  What was wrong?  Why wasn't the scale moving or my measurements getting smaller?  I appealed to my friend Heather -- a personal trainer and nutritionist by trade who has taken this online group of women under her wing and really inspired us all to take this weight loss/fitness journey together (THANK YOU, Heather....I really owe you).  I remember her response to me at the time -- I remember it because I was kind of pissed about it at the time (I guess the truth hurts).  She said "are you really tracking your calories?"  What?  Of course I am!  What are you talking about? 

So, for the next week, I diligently tracked my calories again (I use Livestrong and I highly recommend using it or another calorie tracking website/app).  And, sure enough -- I hadn't been accurately or honestly tracking EVERY.SINGLE.THING that went into my mouth.  Those empty calories really DO add up.  And in that one week, my weight went down to 137.  After WEEKS of being stuck at 138.  I shouted for joy!!

And, that, my friends is the secret! 

Weight loss is 90% diet and only 10% exercise. 

It is plain and simple -- you need to track your calories and you need to stay within your caloric range for what your weight loss goals are (how much weight you are aiming to lose per week). Most sites don't recommend losing more than 2 lbs a week.  I set my goals on Livestrong to lose 1 lb per week -- I didn't want to drastically reduce my caloric intake (what can I say, I like to eat).  My recommended caloric intake was ~1400 calories/day.  But, what is also important is balancing your macro nutrients.  Heather recommended trying to balance your carb/protien/fat intake around 60/20/20 or 50/25/25.  Now, if I just went by the recommended values that the Livestrong website gives me -- my protein and fat are always 'in the red' or over.  But, Heather assured me to just ignore this -- and that she recommends this type of macronutrient balance to her clients who want to see the fastest results.  The higher levels of protein also mean that you won't be as hungry as quickly as you would if you were ingesting more carbs -- so that is a plus!

If you've tried balancing your macronutrients already you probably already know that upping your protein intake is HARD.  I'm always searching for ways to increase the protein content of a meal.  Greek yogurt, chia seeds, hard-boiled eggs, and protein powder are now staples in our house.

Now, all this is not to say that exercise isn't important!!

Of course it is!!  Working out builds muscle -- which burns more calories than fat.  Working out helps you lose inches!  And who doesn't want that???  As a general rule, I try to work out 5-6 days a week.  I try to listen to my body and alternate what type of workout I do on a daily basis.  Yes, there are some days I will run 2 days in a row -- but then I will alternate what type of running I am doing -- am I running for distance or running for speed?  I also like to use workouts like Ripped in 30 (Insanity is next on my list) or a HIIT workout plan for the treadmill that Heather shared with me (basically you walk at the fastest pace you are comfortable with -- warm up for 5 mins and then increase your incline.  My treadmill runs 1-10, so I start at 4:  1 minute at 4, 1 minute at 5, 1 minute at 6, 1 minute at 7, and 1 minute at 8 --- repeat.  I try to do at least 3 miles or 45 mins the nights I do HIIT).  But don't forget your stretching!  Yoga is great for that and helps you unwind after a stressful day.  I also like to include at least 1-2 days of just strength -- where I work through a weight lifting circuit (this takes me about 45 mins because I go through it at least 3 times...with 5-8lb weights).

That sounds like a lot, but it really isn't!  It's only about 1 hour of my day.  Because of my schedule, I usually fit in my workouts after dinner and after the kids are in bed.  That just works best for me.  It is my unwinding at the end of the day. 

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Sure, there are times I want to quit -- there are times that I want to give up....but running or exercising is really a mind game....and if you can conquer those demons in your will be thankful for it afterwards when you are done...  I like to have a mantra that I chant over and over in my head while I run....sometimes I do this one:

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That's pretty good motivation if you ask me!!

If you made it this far...I think you should count this as a workout, LOL.  But really, sorry you had to read all this...I am long-winded what can I say?  Looking for a nitty gritty list that cuts to the point?  I love lists (and spreadsheets for that matter....):

My Plan
  • ~1400 calories a day
  • 60/20/20 or 50/25/25 balance of carbs/protien/fat
  • workout 5-6 days a week; running at least 4 days and doing strength at least 3.
  • cook with 'raw' foods as much as possible (some like to say, if it didn't walk on the ground or come from the ground don't eat it....)
  • try to achieve at LEAST 10,000 steps a day (we had to wear pedometers for my husband's 'employee wellness program' at his work and shooting for this number of steps really helps motivate you to stay active
  • Pinterest provides me with A LOT of can check out my Pinterest inspiration page HERE
It's not that much when you look at it all bulleted like that, is it?  And the best part?



Before (August 31, 2011):
  • weight = 145.5 lbs
  • height = 5'4"-5'5"
  • waist = 29 inches (32 right at BB)
  • thigh = 23 inches
  • hips = 38 inches
  • biceps = 10 inches
  • pants size = 8, shirt size = S (or M)
Now (June 2012):
  • weight = 133 lbs (-12.5)
  • height = same
  • waist = 27 (28 at BB) (-2 inches (-4 at BB))
  • thigh = 21 (-2 inches)
  • hips = 36 (-2 inches)
  • biceps = 9.5 (-0.5 inch)
  • pants size = 4 to 6, shirt size = small  (down 1-2 pants sizes) -- bra size down from 36C to 34 B...much to the disappointment of the hubby, LOL)
And now, all my personal information is out there on the interwebs (insert blushing smiley).  But, if it helps inspire just one person, then I accomplished my goal....weight loss is definitely not easy but it DOES pays off in the end!