Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Trainer

When working on getting fit and losing weight, a big decision to make is whether to get a personal trainer. With YouTube, Pinterest, and a million blog posts about workout ideas and training plans, it's super easy to get the information you might get from a trainer. So why fork out the money for one? The obvious reason is to be sure your form is correct so you don't hurt yourself, but for me it is worth so much more than that. 

I feel really fortunate to have the trainer I have. She teaches as a group, so the cost is much lower than a personal session would be. She sends a text an hour or so before every workout I've signed up for to remind me. She brings positive energy and motivation to every workout to encourage me to work harder. But the big value for me is having someone who's job it is to cheer me on every day. It's her job to not let me quit or get too busy. Having someone who literally will not let you give up is amazing!

I have worked hard and focused on getting healthy many times in the past, and I've succeeded in losing 10 pounds on my own. But then life happens. Depression happens. I get sick, my kids get sick, my husband gets sick. Holidays happen (as a friend told me the other day "I do really good except for the time from Halloween to Easter"). It's so hard to persist in living healthy when other stuff is going on. I've said on many occasions "that's just not something I can focus on right now in my life." Well, right now I am focused on it, and my trainer has helped keep me focused on it for almost a year now. The only way to make a lot of progress, in anything in life, is to work at it consistently and diligently for a very long time. 

Giving my daughter a piggy back ride is really easy because she is the same weight as the number of pounds I have lost this year!

Thursday, April 14, 2016


My daughter just turned 7.  She has been frustrating me by freaking out every time she is told she has done something wrong. I don't want her to become the type of person who thinks she is always right and everyone else is always wrong. So I've been trying to teach her to be more teachable. 

These talks have made me realize how much I tend to need to always be right. This need leads to a big fear of being wrong. Putting this blog "out there" triggered this fear for me big time. I'm not a person trainer or a nutritionist, so my advice isn't founded on anything other than my personal experience. The fear of saying something wrong paralyzed me from publishing more posts.  

Even worse, I started doubting my own exercise and diet plans. What if I'm overtraining and I'm going to get shin splints? What if I'm wasting time doing inefficient exercises? What if I'm eating tons of pesticides by not buying organic produce every time? What if I'm getting too much mercury from the fish? What if I'm destroying the environment by using disposable water bottles all the time? (I really do keep buying reusable ones, but they get ruined when I forget to wash them).  Losing confidence in my plan made it a lot harder to stick to. So I spent a month cheating every few days and didn't lose any weight. There were other causes for my lack of progress, like getting sick and having sick kids and stuff like that. 

So for the month of April, I decided to be completely confident in my diet plan and stick to it 100%, because even if it isn't perfect, it was working. I also revamped my exercise plans and goals. With that, the weight started melting off again, and I've made huge strides in my fitness level. 

Point of the story is that I remembered that pride and insecurity are the same thing. When you're trying to change your life, first gather as much information as you can but don't be afraid of not knowing everything. Next make a decision/plan and move forward with confidence, and stick to it. Then be willing, even eager, to accept correction, feedback, and new ideas. 

Monday, February 29, 2016


Working out every day can be a challenge because of muscle soreness. Some soreness is going to happen and you can keep going, but the sore quads (front of thigh) and calves that make it hard just to go up the stairs can keep you from working out the next day. Even worse for me are sore knees! I hurt one of my knees when I was 21 and the other one at 26, and when I work out a lot I feel like they are going to give out on me.

Well, I have a secret cure to share....
It's so simple it's crazy! All last fall my trainer said to roll my muscles when I complained that my knees hurt, and I did it every once in a while when it got really bad, but I didn't really believe it would help. Since the new year I have rolled 4 to 6 times a week and my knees haven't stopped me since! 

I really want to explain WHY and HOW this works, but...just google it: foam roller, or muscle rolling. You will also see lots of pictures of what to do and how to do it. Some of the exercise are really intimidating though, and might not be accessible for beginners, so I took pictures of how I do it.  

For the knees, the important muscle to roll is your IT band. 
Go all the way from hips to just above the knee joint. It's just above the knee where I get knots I need to work on. The hand on my hip is often on the floor for balance. 

The other main muscle I roll is the quads, and I do right in front along with just off to each side. 
(Confidence level: butt pictures! All of the pictures I've seen online of this don't make it clear how you support yourself with the other leg)

I also always need to roll my calves. 
The way I see other people get their calves rolled with a purvottanasana pose (backwards plank) is impossibly hard! I use my hand to push down to get enough pressure. 

It takes a little bit of practice to roll the back, but it helps a lot too. Doing bridge pulses is a good way to build up strength to be able to do this. Reposition for low back to high back. 
Watch your hair!

I just barely realized how to get my glutes. 
Before I tried to get them by just sitting on it and rolling, but I never felt that do anything. 

Each muscle I roll up and down about 5 times, and when a spot hurts I hold it there longer. You know you're doing good when it hurts so bad you feel a litte nauseous, that's a knot that you need to roll extra!

I'm probably missing some important muscles...write in the comments your favorite roll! Or your favorite stretches to help with soreness!

These foam rollers are in the stretching area at the gym. You can also buy them for $20-$30 at Target. Now you CAN work out every day! You're welcome. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Oh Nuts!

I'm a big fan of nuts! Especially almonds. They are my favorite healthy snack, full of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins! In fact, I love them so much, it's a little bit of a problem...for years I have eaten them freely thinking it's healthy so eat all I want! Clearly that didn't work out for me, so today I decided to take a look at my portions of almonds. 

The package says the serving size is 1oz which on average is 22nuts= 160 calories =14g fat= 22%dv

People say "a handful" is the right amount. We all have different sizes of hands, but this is how many I grab in a handful:

Handful of almonds= 37 nuts=264 calories which is about 23g fat = 40% dv

But that's not the amount I would usually eat, I always dumped some in a bowl to eat, about like this:

Bowlful =106 nuts=757 calories 
which is 66g fat =100% dv 

At that rate, I often ate a whole bag in about a week and a half! A whole bag of almonds from Costco is about 7680 calories ...in10 days! No wonder I gained weight! 

Now that I'm paying attention and working on losing weight, I've had to decide how many nuts to eat. Nutrition labels give a daily value of fat of 65g. Using the myfitnesspal app, I've calculated my daily goal to be 57g which is 30% of my calories on a 1600 calorie diet. 

Most days, these are the healthy foods I eat that make up my main sources of fat:
3oz Salmon =11g fat
3eggs= 13.5g
Salad Dressing (olive oil)= 14g
String cheese= 6g
1/4 Avocado = 5g
1 T Chia seeds= 3g

All together that makes 52g fat...leaving not enough room for my almonds! On days I have chicken instead of fish for dinner, I can have my nuts. Otherwise I have to choose between the avacado or string cheese and the nuts. 

When I do get to eat them, even the 1oz serving is too much! I portion them out into 100 calorie packs in ziplock bags to keep it under control. 

14 nuts=100 calories = 9g fat=14%dv

(I really like cashews too, you get 10 for 100 calories)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Couch to 5K

I did it! I didn't think I could, and I was afraid to try, but I just pushed really hard and I did it! I felt like I would die halfway through, but the last 1/4 I got my second wind. 

That's probably what I will say when I finish a 5K, but today I said it after jogging for 3 minutes straight. When I started I could only jog for 15 seconds at a time. The couch to 5K program starts with intervals of jogging 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds, so I had to create 3 levels before that of 15, 30, and 45 seconds. 

I started working on it last fall, walking/jogging outside. But then it got cold and rainy, and it took me a while to figure out a schedule that I could get to the gym. On the treadmill I found that my natural jogging pace was 5 mph. After a couple of weeks my shins started hurting, a lot. The gradual progress and walking and jogging intervals were supposed to help me avoid shin splints, so I was frustrated.  I felt myself wincing every time I did a jumping jack, or any other jump. I didn't consult a doctor, because I hate figuring out how to do that, but the internet made me think maybe I was getting stress fractures. Whatever the cause, I needed to back off and come back at it differently. 

This new year, I knew I still wanted to train to run a 5K, but I needed to keep it low impact until I get under a certain weight. I don't think my shins are made to handle the force of this much weight jumping. I decided to go with a "jogging" pace of 4 mph. True, many people can walk this pace. It's a really awkward pace for me, but it's the fastest I can go without leaving the ground. My heartrate goes all the way up and I have to push myself to do the intervals, so I guess it's enough. 

At my new pace, I've been able to keep going 3 days a week for 6 weeks now. My progress feels slow sometimes, but I felt a huge high today from the progress I did make!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cafe Rio for 312 calories

Cafe Rio, Chipotle, Qdoba, Costa Vida, they are all the same idea: assembly line Mexican food. When the new Cafe Rio opened near my house I couldn't wait to eat there! Then I remembered that their meals average 1000 calories. I decided to look up their website just in case.  As I suspected, a salad with all the fixings is 1200 calories!  Years ago, trying to be more healthy, I would always ask for a wheat tortilla instead of white. Guess what?! A wheat tortilla has less fiber than white! That is 1 gram compared to 2 grams, and it has 4 grams of sugar compared to 1 gram of sugar in a white tortilla. Crazy right?

Well, I figured out how to order a great salad without going over my usual lunch "calorie budget". I know it's hard to say no to the yummy tortilla, but when you realize it's like eating 4 slices of white bread (420 calories), it gets easier. Next you ask for half portions of the rice and beans, or just pick one if you don't really like the other. For meat I picked the Fire Grilled Chicken because it has twice as much protein as the shredded chicken that I used to always get. I still get the guacamole because healthy fat is an important part of my lunch. I ask for extra pico de gallo and use that as the dressing.  I say no to the cheese, but it only adds 30 calories if you really like it. Yes to the calorie free lime and cilantro! Lastly I say NO to tortilla strips which would add 150 calories. 

Sometimes I feel crazy for paying full price for half of the food. But then I remind myself of the healthy yummy lunch that I can get when I didn't have time to run home and make it. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Clothing Thrift Shopping

(Feel free to scroll past my thoughts straight to the tutorial)

This may seem a little off topic from weight loss, but actually it can be a huge part! Feeling comfortable and confident in your clothes really affects how you feel about your body. Many people's weight loss goals are simply "have my clothes fit better" or "fit into my goal jeans". But, what do you wear in the mean time? Do you live awkwardly in clothes that don't fit and feel worse about yourself every single time you get dressed? How many years do you spend thinking you need/want new clothes but decide to wait because "I want to lose 10 lbs first"?  I jealously see people talk about cutting down their wardrobe to high quality staples, but I don't want to invest in clothes that are a size I don't want to be!

For me, I spent about 4 years wearing clothes that were too tight. Then I gave in and bought a bunch of new clothes that fit. Then, giving myself permission to be the size I was, contributed to gaining 30 more pounds over the next 4 months, and 20 more over the year after that. This is when I started thrift shopping.  

I think that thrift shopping is very healthy psychologically. You get a sense of accomplishment for finding great clothes at such a great discount. You don't have to deal with the guilt for overspending.  Even if you really overdo it, it's hard to break the bank with such low prices. For me a shopping "binge" gets out the feelings that make me want to binge on food. Then, when it comes to losing weight, you can have plenty of clothes that fit you in the size you are now, but you won't feel bad for the money you've spent on the clothes when you lose weight and they don't fit anymore! (Truth be told, this does lead to having a lot of clothes in your closet and you risk becoming a hoarder, but I have no good advice for helping with that situation)

By the way, it's also great for kids clothes! They grow out of clothes so fast!

I have heard so many people say "you must have good luck, because I never find anything good", or "you'll have to take me because I don't have a good eye for it". Well, I admit, it is a bit of an art, and it takes practice, and I'm happy to take you, it's really fun for me! But that is why I decided to make this tutorial about it!


1. Plan enough time, it takes longer than running into Target! But it may be faster than going to the mall...with driving time, parking, crowds, and going to 3 different stores. 

2. Note your options, if it doesn't go well at one store don't give up, try a different one or location next time. There is Goodwill, Value Village (Savers in some states), DI, St. Vincent, anyone know of any I'm missing? My favorite is the Value Village in Kent. 

3. Guess what? On Wednesdays-Sunday, certain items are 50% off! And then the following Monday they go down to $1! The tags are color coded, so the discount is on a certain color each week. So for me, Mondays are Value-Village-Day!  

Guess what else?! Most Monday holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Presidents' Day (maybe other holidays too, I haven't noticed) EVERYTHING is 50% off! Sometimes the store gets picked clean on these days so go early!

4. I think this is true for all shopping, have an idea of what you want, you won't have time or energy to go through every section. You won't be happy when you get home if you needed new pants and got new sweaters 😜.

5. Ready to start? Go to your size and flip through Every Single Item. It's not like other stores where a color or print pops out and you look at it, or you see it on the mannequin and find it in your size. Grab anything that looks ok, or fun, or interesting. 
      5a. You aren't deciding at this point whether it might fit (every line of clothing has different sizing) if it looks in the ballpark give it a try!
     5b. You aren't deciding at this point if it's worth the price. Everything is under $10, if it's more than that it's because it's a high quality brand and/or brand new with original tags, so trust me, you want it. 
     5c. You aren't deciding if it's really "you". This is why it's fun! Try something different, go outside of your box. Today is the day you get to try being bohemian or sporty, or retro, or girly, or whatever you think you're not! True, most of them will be duds, but one or two will surprise you how amazing you look, and they will become your favorite clothes. 
     5d. You are noticing quality of fabric, brands, and wear/stains. Obviously don't grab things with holes or pills, now is not the time for careful inspection, but a quick check is important. If the brand is a Walmart or Target or other inexpensive brand only pick it if you really like it. If you're on the fence about something and don't recognize the brand, you probably have a smartphone that you can quickly google it with. Of course it's totally okay if you ignore brands, it's just a tool to help you estimate the quality. 
    5e. Trust your instinct! I touch every single hanger and flip through them at about 2 or 3 per second. I put about one in 10 in my cart and only stop to consider every once in a while. I fill my cart with almost 10 times as many clothes as I might actually buy. 

6. Time to try them on! You still aren't making decisions, you are checking for fit. Make 3 piles, no, maybe, and yes. When I'm on the fence I take pictures in the mirror and text them to my sister.

 If you have shear shirts that need an undershirt then grab something similar to what you have at home to try on under them. If you have a kid with you, be sure to grab a toy or two for them to play with while you spend forever trying things on. By the time you're done, you'll know which of your maybe's you actually like and switch them to yes. 

7. Deciding. It kind of depends on how many clothes you found, how many you need, and your budget. If you barely found enough, then you just carefully check each one for stains and snags. I tend to wear clothes out between my thighs so I always check for wear there. Also check the care label, if it's dry clean only and you don't do dry cleaning, then it would be a problem. As with all shopping, you consider the price vs. how much you want it, and you estimate your total to know if it's in your budget. If I have a good day and have way more clothes than I can buy, I sort them by type and price and then pick my favorites from each stack. Then I do my careful check of my favorites and if any fail then I pick a replacement. 

There you go! It's everything I know, and it's how I feel like I robbed a bank every time I buy clothes. It takes some practice and some luck. I know people who get whole shopping lists including great Christmas gifts from thrift stores (not just clothes) so if you want tips on that, I'll send you to them to ask 😜. 
My haul this week from a 40% off activewear sale: $50 for 5 shirts, 2 warm workout pants, 2 capri workout pants, and a light jacket.