Understanding Research

I read a great blog tonight from The Iron You that discussed how you need to take all the “research” on the web with a grain of salt.

It’s no surprise that many people are confused and well… gullible when it comes to research studies surrounding nutrition. You can look up just about any food known to man and find a reason why you should or should not eat it. What most people forget to realize – and thanks to The Iron You I was reminded – that nutrition science isn’t really that old. In fact, in the world of research … it’s probably closer to a teenager that thinks it’s a know-it-all.

I encourage each and every person that wants to lose weight and get healthy to be diligent in their own research. To effectively understand how to eat healthy, you need to be out on the internet researching facts and statistics.  Just like your high school teachers taught you, when you read articles – come to your conclusions about the information.

There is a lot of information out on the web, but only you can figure out what you want to believe and what you feel may be exaggerated. It takes a little detective work, but you’ll get the hang of it. You don’t have to read it all in the course of a day, week or month but overtime – you will get the hang of it.



Soapbox: Emotional Eating

Hey, I’m digging this idea for my own little soapbox!

Anyways, let’s chat about emotional eating since it paid me a little visit. Let’s start with the back story (because there’s no emotional eating without a reason … right!)

The (very short) version of the story is my husband and I are putting in an offer on a house. Unfortunately, so are a whole bunch of other people. It’s a bidding war and it sucks. We were given a memo yesterday to put in our highest and best so for the past 24 hours my husband and I have been going in circles as to whether we should change the offer or leave it alone.

Now… onto the real reason for this post… emotional eating. To say that stress got the best of me today would be an understatement. This evening (on the brink of tears), I couldn’t take it anymore and had a decent portion of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It wasn’t a half gallon (though I have no doubt I could consume it tonight), but it was a nice bowl of ice cream.

Yes I was emotional. No it wasn’t the best thing I could grab but yes… I did feel slightly better after I had it.

Emotional eating is nothing new to anyone… we’ve all done it at some point in life. Sure those empty calories are worthless, but damn it sometimes they just make you feel better. I do believe in the 80/20 rule of life – 80% of the time I eat great …. and 20% … well yeah I want my ice cream, Oreos or chocolate cake damn it!

As several followers pointed out, there are billions of recipes online that can be easily made that were probably a much better option. However, when you’re on the brink of tears because you’re so overly stressed out… pulling out the baking pans or blender just wasn’t happening tonight.

I do NOT support emotional eating… but I also understand that ice cream (or whatever) happens. That one bowl isn’t going to ruin me forever. I’m not gaining all my weight back and I”m not reverting back to my old ways… but I do feel a little better… and it was certainly tasty ice cream.

The point is… when you make a lifestyle change, you have to understand that 100% of the time life isn’t going to be grand. You’re going to have a bowl of ice cream, gain a pound, lose nothing and be stressed. It’s all in what you do with these situations that make the difference.

Eight months ago, that half-gallon would have been toast during this situation but today it’s not. I had my fix and feel (somewhat) better, though I’m still extremely stressed over this situation. My motivation, drive and determination aren’t thwarted by this little bump in the road and more importantly – knowing how to handle this situation has made me a stronger person.

To all the people out there who struggle with emotional eating, you can get it under control with a little determination. For me, it’s finding another outlet to hopefully curb the behavior. It’s funny, as I was writing this post I received an email from Jackson checking on when we’re going to start training again.

I fully hoped to be back training with him by now. It’s been almost a month from the end of the Biggest Winner. Unfortunately, due to cost and time … it simply hasn’t happened. Though I really miss seeing him all the time, I feel confident on my own and my knowledge to get me through until we meet again.

In my recent email to him, I actually told him about how much I’ve changed through the process. Today, I use the gym to really help control my emotional eating and for the most part it really has worked! Every night I hit the gym allows me to clear my head and really focus on me for an hour. I take my frustration out on the weight machine. … I run … whatever it takes to clear my head and stop thinking of all the crap going on in my life.

I hope this post inspires at least one person to put down the carton of ice cream and do some push ups. You can beat emotional eating! If I can do it … you can do it and I’m happy to help anyone who needs help.

Soapbox: Meatless Mondays

I think I’m going to start a series of posts on my blog that allow me to get on my own soapbox so to speak. Today I think I’ll start with an article I posted on my Facebook page which prompted a bit of heated discussion surrounding diets, which took away from the point of me posting the article in the first place.

First, let me say that I do believe there are a number of diets out there that work for people – because it has to work for you. With that being said, I do not discriminate between any of the diet lifestyles – including Atkins, Weight Watchers, Paleo, Clean Eating, Vegan, vegetarian, etc. NONE OF THEM!

The debate between the meat eaters and the non-meat eaters has spanned many years. I don’t care whether you’re for / against or what your reasons are – that’s not the point of this soapbox post today.

Now let’s get to the real thoughts of the day – Meatless Mondays!

I discovered the concept back in the early days of my lifestyle changes. The concept seemed strange at first, but today I can honestly say I love it. I realized very early on in the process that our family was simply not eating enough vegetables. Without vegetables, people are severely lacking important nutrients important vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they can suffer from constipation and weigh gain!

When it comes to kids, getting an adequate amount of vegetables in them can be difficult – especially if you have a picky eater! While you can somewhat control what they eat at home, when you send them off to school you’re simply hoping for the best choices they can make at lunch.

With the growing trend of obesity, some schools have taken to including “Meatless Mondays” as a hope that children will become more adventurous in their food choices and rekindle a love of vegetables for many picky eaters. The LA Times reports that Los Angeles public schools have officially adopted meatless Mondays for the school cafeteria lunches. Citing  reasons of hope to introduce kids of all ages to a variety of vegetarian meals in hopes of expanding their choices, while still getting their needed protein and heightening their awareness of animals.

Now, before I wage a second war between the vegetarians and meat eaters … I truly only care about their first hope … expanding their choices.

Have you looked at school lunches lately? In my research of school districts in the area in preparation for our move, one of the main items I looked at was their lunch menus. Sure, I can pack my daughter a lunch and I truly will try like hell for as long as possible, but inevitably she has to face the lunch line at some point in her life and I can only HOPE that she has enough brains to make good choices like I’ve taught her … but more importantly those GOOD choices are going to actually be there for her to make.

The point is… “Meatless Mondays” does not need to be focused on pushing “animal rights” on kids… but looked at in terms of healthy options because there is nothing wrong with trying to get a kid to eat a few more vegetables!





Shamrock Shuffle

Well the first race of the year is in the books and it was quite an experience. The Jameson’s Army Shamrock Shuffle marked the first race on a trail for me (the Tanger Outlets Breast Cancer Walk was on pavement). I knew it would be different, but I wasn’t ready for just how much.

So, let’s go back to Saturday and the promise of a 50 degree day. Yeah… not at 9 a.m. It was seriously cold this morning! Armed with two of the greatest ladies on earth – my sorta-cousin-by-marriage-amazing friend, Megan – and my sister-in-law, Sunni – we headed to the park for an eventful day!

After checking in and getting our bibs, we wandered around a bit warming up. Of course, when it’s cold there’s really no “warming” about it. At 9 a.m. we headed up to the trail at Cecil Park only to discover the majority of it was still covered in snow and ice. EEK!

So … snow and ice. I can honestly say I was not prepared to do a 5K on snow and ice. Oh well.. no backing out now!

So I started down the path. Once we got off the starting line the trail cleared up and I was hopeful (but not for long). There were small parts where I felt confident enough to job the 5K but I will say I walked the majority of it – mostly out of fear of falling on my ass!

Megan warned me the trail was going to make my feet hurt. She wasn’t joking. My feet still (on Monday night) ache from the trail, but it hasn’t stopped me!

Despite the ice, this 5K went along much better than the last one! My time was 46:47:50 (or 15:05/Mile). When I did my first race in October, my time was 53:49:60 (or 17:22/Mile). I consider that a great improvement in about six months.


Vast improvement over October

I can’t wait until my next race. I just know now that I need more time on the trails!

Feature story, tips for success

So today I met with an amazing lady for the Canon-McMillian Patch for an interview. I’m going to be a feature story sometime next week and that’s FLIPPIN AWESOME!

I’m really excited. I think it’ll be a nice break into my next step in the journey. I’m dabbling in some fitness-related writing. I’m really excited to continue expanding my talents to help other people. I’ve also been considering putting myself out there to possibly come to speak or hold workshops.

I want to be clear – I am by no means calling myself an expert; however, I do believe that I have the power to help people because I’m a real person that has lost a significant amount of weight so far. I’ve done so with the help of professionals while also maintaining a full-time job, a freelance job and a family. It’s not easy, but it CAN be done.

But back to the original point of this post – tips for success. One of the questions the amazing Amanda asked me was what would I tell people to succeed. I gave her a laundry list of things, but I thought it would be great to put them onto paper (well the web). So without further adieu … here are my tips for success.

  • Eat Clean – I don’t care if you’re following clean eating, whole food, paleo or something you’ve made up. Just make sure what you’re eating is nutritious, natural and free of chemicals. That’s the real point! 
  • Portion Control – Make sure you’re weighing and measuring your food – especially in the beginning. It’s very easy to over eat. Once you get the hang of it though, it gets so much easier.
  • Plan to succeed – Make a plan and stick to it. This goes for FOOD and EXERCISE. Write the plan down. In regards to meal planning, it will take some time in the beginning but once you get the hang of it, you can bang out a weeks worth of meal planning in about 20 minutes. Planning ahead also helps cut down on the amount of money you spend on groceries and will help keep you making meals at home instead of going out.
  • Find support – If you can get a nutritionist – DO! If you can afford a trainer – DO! If you can’t, make some friends and workout together. You’ll need a support system of people encouraging you to succeed – not discouraging you.
  • Believe – Stop thinking that you can do this and believe that you WILL do this!
  • Committment – If you want to be healthy, it’s not just something to “do,” it’s something to COMMIT to. It’s a lifestyle that you will change and live on for the rest of your life. Trust me, once you start feeling better you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this YEARS ago!

There you have it! I hope this helps! Stay tuned for my feature. I can’t wait to see what Amanda cooks up!

Asthma, Cancer and Emotional Eating

Yeah the headline says it all – those are three things I’m dealing with right now and suffice it to say – it’s hard!

Let’s start at the beginning, without spilling all the personal family details last night we received a phone call that a family member was in the hospital for what was originally thought to be a stroke, but turns out it was really cancer…. and it’s not looking good. I think that covers what emotions are going through our household right now.

Now moving onto the next blow of the day (though nowhere near as hard). I took my daughter to the doctor for what we thought was a chest cold. I left with a nebulizer and an asthma diagnosis. Honestly, I’m not that surprised – but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Bella has dealt with chest colds we can’t shake year after year. We thought it was just a daycare thing since that’s pretty much the breeding ground for an entire germ civilization, but given her history, Daddy having asthma and the wheezing the doctor heard – well it was pretty obvious.

So we’ve been set up with a nebulizer and some medicine and a full mask breathing treatment. UGH … with a four year old … oh so fun! On the plus side, of all the things in the world that Bella could be diagnosed with … this is at least very common with a lot of options, medication and treatment. I’m hopeful … timing just really sucks.

So this brings me to the third topic of tonight’s post – emotional eating. Given the kind of day I’ve had… I’m not surprised I’ve been jumping onto chocolate land. It’s been a bad day for me nutritionally, but it’s ok. One bad day isn’t going to send me back to a lifetime of pounds. Yes, it was a bad day. Yes, I wanted nothing but chocolate and YES I hate to admit it but eating chocolate did make me feel better!

At this point, I take every crossroads as a learning experience because every day of my life is truly a learning experience. Yes, I battle with emotional eating – like so many other people have before me. Today, I let it get the best of me a little bit but I don’t care. I felt better and I moved on! Tomorrow is a new day and life will go on. We’ll take Bella’s asthma … we’ll deal with whatever other lemons life wants to deal but I’m not going to gain weight.

I just thought I’d share that!



Believe in yourself

I’d like to tell you all a story – it started last summer. I went to Lane Bryant hunting for some new clothes. I was still in size 24/26 at this point and tipping the scale at 316 pounds. While hunting through the store, a purple and pink shirt caught my eye – two of my favorite colors. It was a loose style with an under shirt and a layer over top. I tried it on… sadly the biggest size (26) didn’t fit me. It looked horrible. I was a mess.

It wasn’t long after this day that I went to my brother in laws wedding in July and the rest of the events that transpired changed my life. Honestly, until this weekend I had completely forgotten about the shirt and how much I wished it fit. It was truly beautiful.

Fast forward to this weekend. My husband and I were shopping at Tanger Outlets when I popped into Lane Bryant. They had a great sale with an extra 70% off the lowest ticketed price on all Clearance items. Guess what was on the rack…. that same purple and pink shirt.

I stared at it for a while before pulling it down. It was the only one in the store. Alone on the top rack of a row of sweaters. I didn’t know what size it was, but I desperately wanted to try it on. I grabbed a bunch of items, shirt included and put it in the dressing room. At this point, I still haven’t even looked at the size. I didn’t want to know.

I’ve been shirking over the last few weeks down to a size 16 jeans and the smallest size they had in Lane Bryant was a 14 so odds are it was somewhere in my size range. I actually thought it was a 22 when I pulled it down.

I slipped the shirt on first. I couldn’t wait any longer and I literally cried out with glee when I looked in the mirror. Here was the shirt I wanted so desperately last summer… fitting nearly perfectly on my body. In about 5-10 more pounds, it’s going to be perfect.

After walking up and down admiring myself in the mirror, I slipped off the shirt to discover a real awakening….

IT WAS A SIZE 14!!!!!!!

Yes, 1-4. I just stared in disbelief. Could it be? I’m almost to a size 14. I called my husband to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I tried the shirt on for him and he said the same thing I did – about 5-10 more pounds and it’s going to be golden. It’s a summer shirt so I have no doubt I’ll fit great in it over the next few months. Then I showed him the tag.

Clearly this shirt must be a fluke. Maybe it’s the cut and style. I went back out to the store and found something else in a size 14. A pretty red and black dress that only had two sizes – 26 and 14. I put the dress on and jumped with joy. It was the same – It fit, it looked ok and in a few more pounds it’s going to look FAB!

If you asked me last summer when I’d ever see a size 14 and I would have told you never. Now, here I sit staring at the size with the joy that I’ll be out of it before I know it!

This is one of those moments that I’ll cherish forever – along with my beautiful purple and pink shirt. I promise to post a photo as soon as it fits perfectly which by my calculation should be late march / early april. Just in time for summer!