Monday, June 28, 2010


I learned about Notes From The Universe from Medicinal Marzipan (whose blog should be bookmarked by all!) and have been delighted at the little messages I receive in my inbox, usually upon waking. They've been forcing me to be mindful right out the gate. I'm a fan of fortune cookies and the occasional horoscope, but something about these emails seems infinitely more useful and insightful into my every day life than the typical novelties.

Today's note:
Believe it or not, Jenelle, of all the types of happy, "yeehaa!" and "whoohooo!" that exist, the greatest are those derived from truly helping others.

Especially when you help yourself along the way by choosing approaches that tickle you. It most certainly won't hurt if you have fun, crank up the music, shake-shake-shake, and scarf a new healthy body while you're at it. In fact, maybe we could use your healthy body as we help others....

The Universe

Today's note reminded me stop taking myself so seriously all the time. I can be goofy, but in recent weeks and months have seen that part of myself being overshadowed by the Jenelle who talks ad nauseum about her problems and various discontent. It's to the point where I feel like I'm picking out the negative aspects of most situations and discarding the things that would make me laugh under usual circumstances. Life is funny and beautiful and full of things to smile about. I need remember it.

To keep this on topic with my blog, I want to make mention that I'd like to use this approach towards how I exercise. I was complaining to my boyfriend yesterday of the "Sunday Blues" as I call them because weekends are usually so unpredictable, active, and joyful. Often, I feel like Monday begins a sequence routines. Planned meals, planned exercise, full days in a cubicle, straight to bed by eleven. Rinse, repeat. I tend to feel trapped in the cycle and lacking amusement. I think that in the future, I'd like to try taking some classes that push the usual limits of my schedule as well as my concept of exercise. Does anyone have any suggestions to shake-shake-shake things up?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Salmon Cakes

twentyten // 171 // salmon cakes

I've had a can of salmon in my cabinet for about three months. I've been in a bit of a cooking slump lately and attribute it to the ridiculously hot temperatures we've been dealing with in Philadelphia. On Monday, however, I decided to finally put the can of salmon to better use than just haphazardly throwing it on top of a salad. I found a ridiculously simple recipe for Salmon Cakes on epicurious (love this site and iPhone app) and played with it just a little bit. Here's what I came up with.

1 can (14.5 ounces) wild Alaskan salmon
1 1/2 scallions, chopped (divided)
1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon olive oil
Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Drain salmon & put in bowl. I used the kind that contains some skin/bones, so I also made sure to pick out any visible/inedible bones. Stir in egg, 1 scallion, breadcrumbs, curry, and basil until thoroughly combined. Form 8 small patties. Heat oil in medium pan over medium heat. Cook patties until light brown (3-4 minutes), flip and cook about 2 minutes more. I served these over fresh spinach tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled the rest of the scallions on top.

south carolina // 2010 // aaahh
Summer Vacation: Mom & I excited about the shark in the water about ten feet from us. Really!

And just a little fitness update:
I've been pretty consistent on exercise this week, making it to the gym every day since Monday and adding in some additional at-home workouts. I NEEDED this after getting back from my little family vacation (see above). I tried Harley Pasternak's 5-Factor Fitness workout on ExerciseTV, and am intrigued. I've gotten a bit burnt out on the Shred and have shelved it for the time being. Lately, I've just been having fun trying new things and trying not to make working out feel like a job. Warm weather also tends to encourage me to hop on my bike more often, and I've been enjoying that as always. I got a new bike in May and LOVE riding it. It handles really well in the city and goes a little faster than my old Huffy (which I've lovingly passed down to my mother).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Real


Truth: I've been avoiding my blog. I've been putting my focus inward because I'm still trying to make peace with my body and these sorts of things are hard to talk about with loved ones let alone the whole internet. But I'm at a point where I feel like perhaps broadcasting my issues might help someone shed some light on issues of their own. My weight loss journey has bred some disordered eating habits in my life. As much as I'd like to tell you all that I reached my goal weight and life was perfect and yours can be too, it just didn't happen that way.

When I started eating less and moving more I was morbidly obese and I found calorie restriction to be something that could potentially save my life. Getting the weight off took little effort and went fast because I was determined not to trip up for fear of slipping back into old unhealthy patterns. That chapter ended two years ago. Since then I've been struggling with life after weight loss. Once I hit my first goal weight, it wasn't enough. Five more pounds. And once I lost that, ten more pounds. Reflecting on how I was treating my body at that time where my weight was plummeting below goal frightens me, to be honest. I was eating far too little and exercising far too often and hit a point where my body just stopped losing. I was hungry for praise and attention for my weight loss and once it stopped I didn't know who I was.

Eventually I decided to learn to love food again. That's about the time I started this blog. I was relatively comfortable around food. I put some of the weight back on and have hovered around goal for some time now, however on bad days, weeks, months, I'd revert back to bouts restricted calories/over-exercise. These bouts were always met by a subsequent binge. The kind of eating where you feel like you can never get enough or there will never be enough. The kind of eating you save for times when you're alone and no one can see you because you've believed that eating was "bad" for so long.

With the binge eating and slight re-gain has come a slew of other issues, body image being one. Despite losing all of that weight, I learned that happiness could not be found in size 8 jeans and I would not learn to love myself just because I didn't have to shop in the plus-size section. I still look in the mirror and pinpoint my flaws rather than my successes.

It's a lot to share, but I guess I just want to stress to others on their weight loss journey to be gentle with themselves, for the consequences of setting your expectations too high or resorting to extremes can lead to a lot of troubles way worse than a few extra pounds. Learn to love your body as it is NOW and health should be easy to achieve. So many shame themselves thin instead of focusing on nourishing and strengthening their bodies. Every day I am working towards fixing my relationship with my body, mind, and (of course) food.

On a lighter note, I feel like this past weekend I've made some significant progress. I took my first dance class yesterday. On a whim, I signed up for a crash course in Argentine Tango. It consists of two 4-hour sessions in which you learn the basic moves of the social dance. Because I still struggle with said body issues and leftover shyness from my obese days, the idea of dancing with strangers had my stomach in knots. This first class took me way out of my comfort zone. Around the second hour I was about ready to give up, but I pushed through my discomfort and at one point a switch went off in my head. I can't explain how connected I felt to my body. There was a new awareness of my arms, my chest and my legs as the music echoed through the studio room. When following, we were encouraged to close our eyes as our partners led us around the dance floor. Once I let go, it felt kind of like I was gliding around. Weightless, even.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts on Living Large & Feeling Small

Ganoga Falls @ Ricketts Glen State Park:
ricketts glen // at the edge

These past few weeks have been confusing for me, however as I stood next to a 94 foot waterfall near my hometown last Saturday I had a moment of clarity. I felt small for the first time in weeks. Maybe months. I felt small in size. I felt small in ratio to the nature surrounding me. My problems felt small, too. I just breathed the misty air, listened to the water rushing over the edge, and let everything go.

Last time I checked in here, I was busy. I was eating more, but over-analyzing how much I ate and how much I exercised. All the math and charts on calories in, calories out, grams of this, percents of that were starting to drive my productivity throughout the day down and my stress level up. It all felt very unnatural to me so I decided it's time to just stop for a while. I don't want to plan every morsel and fret over every bite any more. I started reading Geneen Roth's When Food Is Love, which has inspired me to give intuitive eating a try. Eat when you're hungry, don't eat when you're not. I'm trying to pay more attention to what my body is telling me than to what the food scale is telling me and so far it's helped me really appreciate the food I'm eating.

I'm doing a little spring cleaning from the inside out. Intuitive eating is one part of it. The other part is self-love, which I've discussed a bit here. Body image is something that most women struggle with, and I am no exception. I've made a promise to myself not to pick on my reflection from here on out and have been practicing positive affirmations. It's freeing to feel like I'm starting to accept and love the body that I have rather than pine for the body that I want.

Healthy Happy Hiking.

I want to stop trying to perfect my life and start living it as is. All the kinks and wrinkles will smooth themselves out in time - there's no sense in letting the moment pass while worrying about what's to come. Challenging myself physically, nurturing my body, kindling my creativity, connecting with nature and sharing the love that I have to offer are my priorities.

Our hike through Ricketts Glen reminded me of all the places I'd like to travel to and terrains I'd like to conquer. At 24 years old, I can't help but think about all the adventures ahead of me. I find nature so humbling. For example, the waterfall is magnificent, beautiful, and strong and it doesn't even have to try. It just is. I guess in many ways I'd like to be just like that 94 foot waterfall.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Balancing Act

Please hire me!

Business is picking up for me. For those of you unaware of my occupation, I am a graphic designer. I have a full time design job in New Jersey by day and by night I try to do as much freelance as possible. When the latter business is slow, I find it relatively easy to make time for exercise and cooking. When it's not slow (which is ideal), fitting it all in without going mad is a struggle.

Somehow, exercise so far this month has included:

Tuesday, March 2: Arc Trainer (30 min) + No More Trouble Zones (30 min)
Wednesday, March 3: Arc Trainer (30 min) + Yoga Meltdown (35 min) + Back 2 Bollywood (30 min)
Thursday, March 4: Arc Trainer (30 min) + The Shred (25 min)
Friday, March 5: The Shred (25 min) + Brisk Walk (45 min)
Saturday: REST
Sunday, March 7: Bicycling as transportation (15 minutes) + The Shred (25 min)
Monday, March 8 : Arc Trainer (30 min) + No More Trouble Zones (55 min)
Tuesday, March 9: Banish Fat Boost Metabolism (55 min)
Wednesday, March 10: Arc Trainer (30 min)
Thursday, March 11: The Shred (25 min) + Stationary Bike (30 min)
Friday, March 12: Arc Trainer (30 min) + Hip Hop Cardio (20 min)
Saturday, March 13: REST
Sunday, March 14: REST
Monday, March 15: Arc Trainer (30 min) + The Shred (25 min)
Tuesday, March 16: The Shred (25 min) + Brisk Walk (40 min)

Looking at that recap, I feel pretty good. It looks like most days I get almost an hour of activity in. I'm not sure HOW, since I feel as though I've constantly been behind a computer screen lately.

However, this past week I've had some pain in my right knee as well as my left ankle. It's quite discouraging and I don't want to stop being active. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do that won't put further stress on these areas? I'm feeling like The Shred might be the culprit, though I'm going to switch from the Arc Trainer to the elliptical for a week and see if less impact helps.

Evidence of upping my calories. Meal courtesy of the gentleman.
Disclaimer: This is not my typical breakfast!

I've upped my calories substantially to balance with the exercise and feel like my energy level has improved, so all is well on that front. I'm not weighing myself at the moment to prevent discouragement. I'm eating healthy and feeling good and realize that this is all that matters. Since I started eating more substantial, well-balanced and satisfying meals I've noticed my post-work kitchen raid for snacks has subsided. I'm also a lot nicer to everyone. That's a perk, right?

Reflecting, I feel like I'm doing an OK job at balancing everything out between work and wellness. I need to work on fitting my social life in there, as I've been pretty impossible to hang out with lately. How do you find a balance between everything?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recipe: Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins

whole wheat blueberry banana muffins

I bake a lot for others but for the first time in a very long while I baked something for me to keep in my apartment. I didn't want to go grocery shopping for more food (it's a Sunday ritual of mine - why rock the boat?), and since I have upped my calories a bit I needed some more portable snacks for work. I decided to journey onto dangerous territory and try my hand at self-control. Like Diane at Fit to the Finish recently posted, I too have had struggles with having "just one" of something I bake. Does anyone else have problems with this?

I successfully kept myself in check, only eating one right after they cooled a bit. I attribute this to the fact that I'm eating more throughout the day. I don't think I have felt the need to stuff myself these past few days because I'm not constantly hungry.

But less about me and more about these muffins! Mark Bittman did a write up a while back on how to make whole wheat muffins more palatable without adding a ton of white sugar. His secrets are a.) use whole wheat pastry flour because it yields lighter results, b.) use a cup of pureed or mashed fruit/vegetable (I opted for banana as I always have some extra ripe ones in my freezer) and c.) don't over mix!

I decided to take his tips and work with them to make the following:

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup frozen blueberries tossed in a few pinches of flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and place 12 paper baking cups in muffin pan. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.

  2. Mix beaten egg, brown sugar, greek yogurt, oil, banana and vanilla in a separate bowl. I used a hand-mixer here to make sure it was really well combined. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. It is important not to over-stir. Lightly fold in blueberries and divide batter among muffin cups.

  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Benefits of Chopsticks and Other Realizations

I'm still waiting for life to settle down. I thought last week would be calm, but I thought wrong. Threats of snow storms and traveling from here to there have kept me busy. Because of this, my dinners have not been glamorous. I am the type of person who will throw random things in pots and pans and eat whatever comes out of it as long as it's warm and satisfying.

My go-to this week has been veggie stir fry.

diet tip #302859879
I tend to eat dinner with chopsticks because it forces me to eat slower and, therefore, more mindfully. I almost never finish everything in the bowl when eating with them mostly because I can't get at all the little bits in the bottom!

All I do is fire up my non-stick skillet, heat up some oil, throw in some chopped veggies (carrots, broccoli, green beans, edamame and mushrooms in this case) and vegetable stock and let it all cook. I then add a few drizzles of soy sauce and sesame oil, serve it over some brown rice and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. This particular night I also added in a scrambled egg for protein. I rely a lot on those, but have decided to start cooking more meat at home. I'm taking baby steps back into this and bought a fillet of salmon that I'll experiment with this week. I was eying up the organic chicken last night at the grocery store but I'm going to see how the salmon goes first.

This past weekend was pretty interesting. I was able to work out with my mom for the first time maybe ever. We did Jillian Michaels' Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism workout in its entirety and we were laughing almost the entire time. The next morning we were also able to do Level 1 of The Shred. It's really amazing to see my mom, at 51-years-old, so fit and able to keep up with these DVDs. I can only hope to be as in shape as she is at her age. She was giving me a run for my money during some of the exercises.

twentyten // 057 // not your mother's workout
Mom During Cool Down

There was also a downside to my weekend and the past week in general. Though I've been successfully strict with my activity levels, I have been lax on eating again. For a while I was eating around 1200 calories/day, but I don't think it is sustainable and began going overboard on anything I could get my hands on at home (especially carbohydrates). I'd come home from work and lose control before I even ate dinner. To prevent this from continuing to happen, I've decided to cut myself some slack and be more realistic with my diet, bumping my calorie-intake up to about 1400/day.

At the end of the day, I need to remember that I'm not trying to lose weight - I'm trying to get fit. And if I'm not fueling my body correctly, there's no way it's going to be able to keep up.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Watch: Sharing my Story with WBRE-TV News

My Dad on TV! Click the photo to see the video.

A few days ago my dad got word from a Wilkes-Barre news station that they wanted to do a piece on my weight loss success and involvement in the Oz 100. He called to ask if I thought it would be OK and enthusiastically told him to go for it. I wouldn't be able to make it in to be interviewed because of my work schedule, however the reporter decided to interview my parents about my weight loss journey.

I find this so very fitting, especially since their names pop up so often in this blog. Watching my dad talk about his diabetes on TV got me all choked up, but it wasn't because I worry about his health. It was from pride. I know he can and has taken control of it and I am so happy to have been able to show him little things along the way that might have helped him.

The segment was very well put together. I'm so glad that they were able to show both the Dr. Oz book and PeerTrainer. I'm also glad that they were able to gather from my blogs that this weight loss venture of mine is not fueled by vanity but by the desire for health, inside and out.

After watching the segment online I talked to my mom and dad about it and, of course, thanked them for the kind words. A few weeks ago my dad forwarded a message from a woman he knows named Pat who's got some weight-related health problems. She heard my story and saw me on The Dr. Oz show and vowed to my dad that she'd lose weight too. Tonight my father happily informed me that she had lost 4 lbs this week and wanted me to know. I just want to say way to go Pat and keep it up!

I am amazed every single day by these sorts of reactions and responses. I'd like to continue on this journey and celebrate my successes with everyone in hopes it gives them the courage to find their own success as well.

Please note that I've added a new formspring widget to the right of my blog entries inviting anyone to anonymously ask me whatever question they'd like. I'll try my best to answer them all!

PS: Tomorrow I'll have a food post, I swear ;-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Give Me a Break

This past Friday I took my first scheduled "rest day" since the beginning of January. Somehow I managed to fit in some sort of physical activity for 47 days straight. My minimum daily exercise has been the 25 minutes it takes to do a level of the Shred, but for many (especially weekdays) I've been incorporating an additional 30 minutes of intense cardio at the gym. I hesitated a little when declaring this day of rest. Part of it, I'm sure, was fear of breaking a good habit. I don't want this rest day to lead to inconsistency. I'm learning, however, that rest is important both physically and mentally. On Thursday, after 15 or so miles on the stationery bike my body was telling me "ENOUGH". Earlier that morning I had a headache, a stomachache, a small cough and a general feeling of fatigue. I could barely make it through my 6 am Level 1 Shredding. I've read enough articles and blog posts on overtraining to know it was time to stop before I hurt myself.

The day off felt good, but it was great to get back into it last night after returning from a short trip to Central PA. I did Level 2 of the Shred, ate lots of veggies for dinner, and went to bed super early. Today I managed to fit in Jillian Michaels' Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism in it's entirety (55 minutes including warm up and cool down!). Had I not had a day off, I'm sure my body would not have been happy with that work out. I think what it boils down to is that we can take care of ourselves in many ways. I can push myself to become stronger, but I also need to be sure I'm rewarding my body with proper rest. I don't think I'm going to let myself go another 47 days without it and hope to be able to incorporate one day of relaxation in every 7-14 days. Has anyone learned the importance of rest the hard way? How many rest days do you give yourselves?

I also want to add a quick thanks to everyone who's been sending such kind words of support my way after my involvement in the "Oz 100". It's really amazing to me to see people responding to that particular episode so positively. I finally got a chance to watch the whole thing and couldn't help but get choked up during a few of the segments. It reminded me again of who I once was versus who I am now. The new me was always inside, but losing weight really helped me bring that part of me out. Visiting York this past weekend—the town where I hit rock bottom and reached my heaviest weight—I passed countless fast food restaurants, convenience stores, diners, and donut shops where I so often fed my emotions. I felt such an enormous disconnect from that life I used to lead. That girl would never dream she would one day be sitting in the studio audience representing weight loss success. But there I was, and here I am and I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Dr. Oz Experience

we're on tv today!

Life has been hectic, to say the least. This past week has been AMAZING. On Tuesday, my mom and I took the train to NYC for the taping of Dr. Oz's 100th episode. By the time we got to the hotel, unpacked, and grabbed dinner we were too tired to do anything else and simply watched LOST and got some well-deserved rest. We woke up bright and early at 5:30 am to start getting ready for the taping. I ran over to Starbucks for a coffee and some food for us and, by chance, ran into Sarah from The Weight It Is. It was so wonderful to meet her in person. Her story is so inspiring, as she's lost and kept off 185 lbs.

Everyone met in the lobby of the hotel to wait for our shuttle bus to Rockefeller Plaza. I met a man named Ray who had lost over 100 lbs and his daughter who was his +1 and had also lost a substantial amount of weight. This was only the beginning, as in the hours leading up to the taping we had more than enough time to mingle with the other "Oz 100." I met a runner, a woman who had been on Oprah, a personal trainer, a woman who blogs for Dr. Oz, and countless other people with unique stories to go along with their successes. All of us had taken control of and actively changed our lives, regardless of how different the methods and roads we took to get there were. I felt this energy that I can't really describe.
Looking interested on National Television!

They piled us into the studio for the taping. It was a lot smaller than I had expected, and certainly much brighter. The lights were blinding! They seated me and three other young brunettes in the front row (including Sarah, pictured above), which we decided was not by coincidence. I kept looking for my mom and at one point looked over and realized they had given her an Oz 100 shirt and put her in the back of the group of "losers" as filler. She looked slightly uncomfortable, but I couldn't stop looking over at the huge smile on her face. You see, Dr. Oz's books helped her find the strength to finally quit smoking after 30 years right around the time I started tackling my weight loss. This was a big day for her, too.

The show itself was a blur. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much, but it was genuine. I was so happy. So in my element. The featured guests (including the gorgeous Diane from Fit to the Finish) had such inspiring stories and I found so much I could relate to in them. Merrill talked about how the weight loss changed her life and I was right there with her. There's not way to fully describe how a physical transformation like 100 lb weight loss truly affects you. You're really reborn and renewed.

Did I also mention that THE Richard Simmons was there? OH MY GOD. He is amazing. This man has more energy than I've ever seen a human possess. He's so positive and full of life and trust me, it's not just for the cameras. He was even MORE energetic off camera (if you think it's even possible). When he came out and we gave him a standing ovation he started getting teary-eyed. I think it was then that it really clicked what we had all done and how getting us all together could inspire hundreds more to do it too. After all the segments, we piled onstage and danced with Richard. It was admittedly silly, but it brought back memories of Sweating to the Oldies with my sister-in-law Sue as I desperately tried (and failed and tried and failed) to lose weight as a teenager. I wished she could be there with me, because she's doing it too. She keeps me going. So Sue, if you're reading this, know you were right there with me on that stage with Richard while we danced to "Hit the Road, Jack"!

Beaming after the show with my new Richard Simmons DVD and mystery smoothie.

After the show, we were shuttled to a new hotel due to the blizzard that was brewing up here in the Northeast. Mom and I took advantage of the city for the rest of the day and attended a taping of the David Letterman Show (!!) followed up by our first Broadway show, Wicked. Does it get much better than that? We had an amazing trip and I feel like I really shared something special with my mom. It was nice to have a few girls' days.

Mom in front of the David Letterman Show

Overall, this experience will be something I remember for my entire life. The people I met, the stories I heard, and the way that I felt.. these are things I will remember when I feel like I'm slipping. Each day is a new day and why NOT make the best of it?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Off to See Dr. Oz!

On Friday morning I caught up on blog posts I had missed over the weekend. One in particular caught my attention at Fit to the Finish. I love Diane's blog and was so excited about the news she shared about appearing on the Dr. Oz show next week. Part of me, however, was slightly jealous. I had been talking to Jackie at PeerTrainer after she had posted a blog entry seeking out PT members who had lost over 100 lbs. I of course responded to her call for losers and she sent my information in. I hadn't heard anything up until Friday and, after reading Diane's post at Fit to the Finish, I had decided it wasn't going to happen.

A few hours later after I had hit the gym I got a phone call from a Manhattan phone number. I was at my cubicle, so I didn't answer right away but instead let it go to my voicemail and listened to the message. It was someone from the Dr. Oz show! I nearly jumped out of my desk chair and ran out to my car to call them back only to get their voicemail. Eventually I got a call back from someone at the show who informed me she was calling to make travel and hotel arrangements. I couldn't believe it and was so overwhelmed that I could barely think of what train station I'd need to leave from.

So, this Wednesday I am going to be in New York City and, from what I gather, will be 1 of 100 people in the audience on the Dr. Oz show who has lost 100+ lbs. This is all the info I could find about the episode, which will air on February 16th as far as I understand:

On Tuesday, February 16th, "The Dr. Oz Show" celebrates a milestone 100th episode with fitness guru Richard Simmons! Dr. Oz provides 100 tips to 100 audience members who have lost 100 pounds or more. While Simmons, who shed over 100-pounds himself, will share his own story. (source)

I asked my mom to come with me, as I know what a huge part of her success with quitting smoking Dr. Oz was. She did this right around the time I decided to lose weight and it was right after we had both read YOU on a Diet. On Tuesday afternoon we're leaving Philly for NYC and I am so excited to see what this will all be about. I'm enthusiastic about the idea of being in a room with 99 other people who have been through something similar. I'm also excited that I'll be one of one hundred people who can help prove to America that there is no magic solution or expensive operation for weight loss. It's about diet. It's about exercise. It's about caring about ourselves. No amount of weight is ever too much to lose, be it 50, 100, or 200 lbs. It's possible and I'm so honored to be part of a group that stands as proof of that.

See you on TV everyone!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 30: Completion

It's hard to believe it's been thirty whole days since I decided to take on this challenge. Not only did I focus on shredding daily, but I've successfully gotten my eating under control and am enthusiastically hitting the gym most weekdays. I've been pushing myself hard and seeing results. Speaking of which, here's a final glimpse at the changes I've made physically.

The following is a photo of Day 1 vs. Day 30 to get a complete look at where I started and where I am today.


My midsection is a lot more defined and I'm also seeing more definition around the muscles in my arms. You can't tell in this photo, but I've also noticed some muscle toning in my thighs/legs. All in all, an amazing success. I kind of wish I had been circuit training throughout my entire weight loss process. I'm sure my body would look completely different.

The following is a photo of all my "check in" days.

There's not a huge visual difference in the Day 20 and Day 30 photo, though I'm wearing the same shirt and it's visibly baggier on me. While doing double jump ropes the other morning I realized that I needed new workout pants as mine were nearly falling off.

My final measurements were pretty nuts. I measured about four times to make sure they were correct:

I didn't lose any weight in the past ten days, but I'm OK with that. The scale's not moving for a reason I'm sure. But my clothes fit WAY differently.

Today was technically Day 31 for me. Despite being "finished" I woke myself at 6am and tried Level 1 with heavier weights as well as some weighted cardio. I plan on doing the same tomorrow. What can I say, Shredding seems to be my new habit. And it's a good one at that.

In thirty days I re-learned how to respect myself and my body. I made the most of my time and I am confident that it shows. But what's next? I'm so excited to see what's lies beyond Day 30. I'm waiting for a few more Jillian DVDs as well as Biggest Loser's Last Chance Workout and Weight Loss Yoga. I also want to start running again in the spring.

It's only the beginning!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 25: Ups/Downs

twentyten // 027 // unassuming

I'm going to go out on a limb and post from my heart here. I woke up this morning thinking today would be a relatively calm day compared to the sorts of days I've had thus far this week. I've got a lot on my plate in a lot of different areas of my life right now. Photography, design work, fitness, my 9-5 job, along with the miscellany of day-to-day life such as keeping up with relationships, cooking, commuting, etc got me all wrapped into a big bundle of nerves.

My big struggle lately has been one with the idea of perfection. I am slowly learning that if I am doing a lot of different things, it is most important to do these things consistently well and perhaps not as important to ensure I'm doing them all perfectly. I don't think it's possible and I need to stop feeling guilty for not reaching perfection on a daily basis. Being the best that I can be at something is all that should matter. Right after returning home from a long day and night, however, I was completely lacking the sense to put a thought like this together. Nothing was going right.

My reaction to this a few months ago would be to bake some cookies or muffins to give away, sneakily downing one or two or three before doing so. I'm a notorious stress-baker. Today, however, I popped in the Shred and sweated all my issues out. Shadowboxing never felt so good. Exercise is the perfect "me" time. You are focused and in tune with your body. It is one of the most selfish things you can do. An act of self-love more powerful than any bubble bath or piece of chocolate.

Feeling better after this, I called my parents (whom I talk about a lot on here) to chat about some good news I had received this evening right after my work out. My dad had good news, too. He went ahead and informed me of a discussion he had with a nutritionist he's been talking to on the phone. My father is diabetic and has to closely monitor his blood sugar, etc. The nutritionist grilled him on his activity level and diet. My father told him about how he and my mom started the Shred, so they are effectively working out twenty minutes every day. Cardio, strength, abs. He also told him about what sorts of food he's been eating. Lean proteins, whole grains, veggies. The nutritionist was impressed and my dad went ahead and told him what I had done and how I had sort of passed on what knowledge I picked up along the way onto him and my mom. The nutritionist told Dad that these changes he's made in regards to his health could very well have saved his life and told him to pass the message on to me.

I had no words. Regardless of how fantastic the news I had received earlier was, nothing could possibly be better and more humbling than this. My only reaction was tears (which has been my reaction to most things this evening, both good and bad.) My dad boasted about his blood sugar reading after dinner tonight. He is in control of his disease. I am ecstatic.

Life is short and we should really live it out to the best of our abilities. We should be good to ourselves first. Everything else good seems to follow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 20: Level 2 Results

thirty day shred // day twenty progress

I did it! I finished Level 2. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty, but I did it. I woke up at 6am to finish it so I could carry on with my Friday night without rushing around after work. I have to say that the plank exercises got easier but were by no means easy at the end. My favorite part of the level was the Military Press. Watching Natalie lose her balance while I solidly stood with burning arms on one foot made me feel good about myself. I see a bit more definition in my waist and tush. I also have muscles in my arms that I didn't know I had.

My measurements shifted down quite a bit, too:

Additionally, I seemed to have lost another 2lbs, bringing my total Shred weight loss to 4lbs.

I'm so excited about the results I've had with this and I'm pretty sure this excitement has spread a bit amongst people I know. My mom and dad are starting the Shred tomorrow. That to me, is better than any pound or inch that this takes off my body. Since they're loyal readers, I just want to tell them good luck and FOLLOW ANITA.. PLEASE!

My next results post will be for Day 30. I'm terrified of Level 3, but I know I can handle it. Bring it, Jillian!

Does anyone have any tips on Level 3?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 16: Progress

twentyten // 014 // tally

I've finally made it to the latter half of The 30 Day Shred, however it is by no means the home stretch. The past 16 days have helped me find some of the confidence I thought I had lost over the past months while dealing with stress eating, etc. The sense of accomplishment I feel every day for fitting in some sort of exercise has been bleeding into other areas of my life. I've been approaching things differently and thinking more positively. I think it's because I've a newfound respect for myself.

This daily exercise, I should mention, has been anything but easy. On day 11, when I popped in my DVD and started on Level 2 I was convinced I'd have to go back and just continue with Level 1. But I kept on trucking. Though the Level 2 workouts still have me on the floor in a ball of panting, sweaty exhaustion at the end, I'm finding getting through them less of a challenge here on Day 16 as opposed to Day 11. I don't think planks will ever be easy, but they don't hurt anymore. I've been focusing most of my attention on form. Thankfully it's improved, which I can only assume makes the workout that much more effective.

I've been eating well, to boot. Meal planning has been my greatest tool. I pretty much know what I'm going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner throughout the week. I've also been plotting out snacks to prevent vending machine regrets and baking on impulse. Is anyone else a stickler for planning? Has it worked for you, too?

cumin-scented wheat berry-lentil soup

Tonight I made some wheat berry and lentil soup that should last me through the rest of the week and thensome. It's a satisfying meal and it tastes good, too. I found the recipe here.

I feel ready to reach my health goals in 2010. How is everyone out there feeling about theirs?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recipe: Easy Vegan Chocolate Pudding

This chocolate pudding is delicious and dairy-free (and low-calorie!).

vegan chocolate pudding

2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
2 tbsp cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serves Four.
Place the almond milk, sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking often, for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Pour into 4 small cups or serving bowls & cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill for at least 1 hour in fridge before serving. Will keep 3-5 days.

Nutrition Info (per serving):
Calories: 74, Fat: 1.5g, Sodium: 90mg, Carbohydrates: 15g, Fiber: 1.2g, Sugars: 8.8g, Protein: 1g

Day 10: Level 1 Results

thirty day shred // day ten progress

I've finally completed Level 1 of The 30 Day Shred and I can see some differences in my body. The first level was difficult, but the soreness went away completely by about Day 4. I'm anxious to see what Level 2 has in store. Please note that, in addition to daily shred-sessions I have been working out at the gym. Last week I worked out every week day for 30 minutes on the elliptical at high resistance. I have also been logging and watching my calories. My rule of thumb is simple. Eat when you're hungry. Don't eat when you're not.

I lost two pounds thus far. I also took my measurements on Day 1 and Day 10. Here are the results:

I've been following shredheads on twitter for motivation. If you're interested in keeping up with me on twitter, you can find me here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 6: Breaking the Cycle

twentyten // 005 // trusty kicks

At 6 am my alarm went off. I swiftly ceased the obnoxiously loud old-timey ringing my iPhone was emitting and popped out of my warm and comfy bed onto the cold hardwood floors. As I walked down the hallway, the little devil on my shoulder said "Go back to sleep. You can work out later", and for about two seconds that was the plan. Then realized that if I didn't do it, I'd feel guilty. And guilt tends to be the first step in the wrong direction. Guilt leads to eating which leads to overeating which leads to excuses which leads to more guilt. So I slipped on my leggings and sneakers and set up shop to tackle Day 6 of the Shred before the sun even came up.

My tired body cracked in all sorts of places, but by the end of it I was wide awake and sweaty (and more than half way done with Level 1!). I don't know if it's just my mind or what, but I really feel like my body is responding to all of this working out. I've managed to make it to the gym every day this week, and even bumped up my cardio time from 25 minutes to 30. My clothes fit a tad better, I'm walking stronger, I'm eating well. I haven't slipped up yet, but understand it could happen (and that's OK!).

I took some advice from MizFit and started filling in my calendar with what exercises I did and a drew a little smiley face on good days (I'm six for six right now!). I think tracking this sort of progress in plain view is encouraging. I've also been really meticulous about updating my food and activity log at PeerTrainer. I've also been checking in with my mom and dad to see how they're doing with their fitness goals. My mom informed me that she's been pushing herself on the treadmill and elliptical every evening and my dad's been walking more, too. Knowing I'm helping to keep them going keeps me going.

I feel really positive about this first week of 2010. It's been an experiment in breaking the cycle and pushing my limits. I hope to continue this throughout the rest of the year. I'm determined and I know I can do it.

Monday, January 4, 2010


As mentioned in my last post, I started Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred on Sunday. I plan on weighing in and checking my measurements after completing the first ten days of Level 1. I'll do the same for Levels 2 (Day 20) and 3 (Day 30). But what after Day 30? Being against the idea of dieting and quick fixes, I've already decided that after this I'm going to continue incorporating workout DVDs into my schedule in addition to gym visits. I purchased Jillian's Banish Fat, Boost Your Metabolism DVD the same day I picked up 30 Day Shred. That's a 40 minute video, so I'm thinking it'll be a little more challenging. Hopefully after these 30 Days, I'll also still feel compelled to incorporate Levels 1, 2, and 3 into my daily routine moving into the future.

I'm feeling really optimistic about this and hope that I get the results I'm looking for. Having some sort of goal in mind has seemed to help me stay on track with my eating habits. Today I confronted platters of cookies, crackers, chocolate and other nasties in the office kitchen on my first day back to work but successfully avoided them. I think that the lingering muscle soreness from Day 1 reminded me of how hard I am and will be working to reach my goals. Today marks two days of clean, mindful eating.

red lentil and vegetable soup

Speaking of which, tonight I prepared some vegetable soup for dinner to offset the bitterly cold weather we've been having. I found the recipe on Dr. Oz's Real Age site, which has oodles and oodles of great, easy, healthy recipes. Because I dine alone, the recipe yielded enough for me to eat this all week. I might even need to freeze some. Red lentils are fantastic because they cook up so easily and pack such a mean nutritional punch. You can find the recipe for this soup by following this link, which also displays nutritional information.

I look forward to making this week a success. One step at a time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hello 2010

I woke up this morning with big ideas in my head. After two weeks of using the holidays as an excuse for poor eating habits and sporadic exercising I had the same feeling of renewal that many people get at this time of the year. January is the perfect time for new beginnings and I'm ready to start fresh with the rest of the world. I am not as fit as I can be and I'm determined to make it happen through. The following things are what I want to REALLY focus on not just this month or this year, but forever.

1. Exercise. I plan to continue hitting the gym at least 3-4 times per week, getting in some good solid cardio. In addition, this morning I purchased Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred DVD and am vowing to make time for it every day for the next 29 days so-help-me-god. It's an intense 25-minute workout, but I can make time for it. The week of Christmas was so busy that I could barely get any workouts in and I saw an extreme change in my overall mood. Not only is exercise good for my body, but it's good for my psyche. This is something I need to remember on lazy days. There is always time, you just have to make it.

2. Eating. I love food. Food food food. I think about it all day. I like cooking and baking and dining out. Lately, however, my relationship with food has taken a nosedive. I've found myself mindlessly munching on whatever I can get my hands on in the kitchen cabinets. I've been baking when I'm lonely or stressed and have had one too many test cookies. I haven't been nourishing myself the way that I know that I should. Too much sugar has made its way into my diet again due to the onslaught of Christmas cookies and pies in conjunction with the stress that comes along with this time of year. My body deserves better. More vegetables. More lean proteins. More fiber. Less fat. Less empty carbohydrates. Less sugar. I'm going to pledge to myself not to let cravings win this year, especially not while I'm working so hard at the gym.

3. Loving myself. Acceptance is hard enough, but learning to really love myself is the goal here. Stress-eating and laziness are part of a vicious cycle whose root is self-esteem (or lack thereof). I've worked so hard to be where I am today and I need to stop stressing so much about who I want to be/who I used to be and focus on who I am. There are no excuses. Today is all that matters.

So here's to the beginning of a new decade—one in which I hope to find true inner and outer strength.