Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

If you are stopping by from the A-Z challenge, please note that I have decided to quit the challenge. I know, I didn't make it very far! But with a vacation coming up in two days, I was strapped for time. I will be back next year!

So, good news: I have lost 54 lbs! I had a little scare this weekend because I ate a few things I normally don't: beer, bread, and fries. And, when I stepped on the scale Monday, it was higher than I'd like. But it was obviously water weight/sodium, because after a day of drinking a ton of water and eating normally, I am back where I was.

So, as most of you are aware, I leave Thursday for my big vacation. It's my first big trip in two years and the first time my whole family has been together on a trip in 12 years. There's a lot to celebrate. And there will be a lot of food.

So, how am I going to keep on track?

  • I packed workout clothes, which I never do on a vacation. I mean, it's vacation. But the condo complex has a workout room, PLUS we will be right on the beach so I can go for long walks. I plan on working out/walking throughout the trip. Sidenote, found out there is a YMCA not too far form our condo, and I can use it for free with my Michigan membership, so I MAY even be able to sneak Zumba in on the trip!
  • Limit my snacking. Everyone loves to snack on vacation. Chips and drinks on the beach? Yes please! I will just have to be careful. We usually go to the grocery store once we arrive to buy some items for breakfast and lunch, so I will pick up healthy snacks for me that I know I can eat. Skinny pop popcorn is number one on that list. 
  • Limit my drinking. I rarely drink alcohol anymore anyways, but it's always fun to have a margarita or a beer on vacation. I will limit it. Who wants to drink their calories away?
  • Order grilled fish instead of fried. When one is in Florida, one must eat seafood. It's just a general rule of thumb. I checked the menus of some of our favorite places, and while a grilled fish dinner is delicious, it's also expensive. My workaround? Order a grilled fish sandwich, no bun. Boom.
Since I also want to watch my spending, I think it will be relatively easy to be good on the diet. I don't want to blow all my money, nor do I want to blow all my calories. I think I can figure out a good balance for me. On the long drive there and back, I pretty much know what I can eat at which fast food places, so I am not too worried about that.

There is only one cheat meal I will allow myself to have, and that is a fried shrimp sandwich. Because it is THE BOMB and I cannot go to Florida without having one. I just have to figure out which restaurant has the best one so that I can choose wisely.

Wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Under His Wings

Have you ever had someone take you under their wing? I'm sure you have. I'm sure you all have. Maybe you were the "new kid" at school or work and someone went out of their way to help you get on your way. Or maybe you did something scary, like try out a new church or a new class and someone assisted you while you got settled. They introduced you to people, demonstrated how certain things work, invited you to lunch so that you wouldn't feel alone. They gave you tips and advice and did everything they could to help you feel comfortable.

Isn't it a great feeling to have someone guiding you, leading you, and protecting you?

Guess what?

God has us under His wings, too.

Every single step of the way, God is guiding us, leading us, and protecting us. He is sending us the people we need, He is laying down the foundation for us to live the best life we can live. There is a certain trust that comes with this. Just as it does with those who mentor us in our daily lives, we must trust that God will continue to carry us, that He will not drop us, and if we start to fall we just need to hold on closer.

Isn't it beautiful to know that God love us so much that He carries us under his wings, right next to His heart? I know it brings me an immense amount of comfort and peace.

I think that when we begin to trust God's strength and guidance, and truly live under His wings, we begin to make new discoveries. That life is beautiful, that we are precious, that each moment we live is important.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Okay, so I've never actually been to Ireland, but it still makes me pretty happy. Maybe it's part of my imagination or maybe it is as wonderful as I assume it is. Hopefully one day I will find out. It is my dream vacation spot. Everyone says to travel young, before it gets "too late", but those people haven't seen my student loan statements. I can't travel now. I hope that one day I can. Ireland will be the first place that I will go.

I am about 90% Irish, which is obviously a large part of the appeal to Ireland. I want to see my heritage, I want to LIVE and breathe my heritage. Another reason is the connection to the Sisters of Mercy, who founded my high school. I am still involved with the Sisters as an Associate. The Sisters began in Ireland when their founder, and one of my biggest role models, Catherine McAuley, opened a house on Baggot Street.

I want to visit that house. I want to hug the Sisters over there and thank them. I want to share my story with them and hear their stories.

When I think about one day stepping foot in Ireland, I feel a sense of peace. I want to see the gorgeous green and the historic churches. I want to hear the thick accents and the chit chat of the Irish people. I want to hold a Celtic cross in one hand and a shamrock in the other. I want to taste a Guinness and Fish and Chips in a local Irish pub.

I love to hear others tell me their tales of traveling to Ireland. My sister studied abroad there for a semester in college. I wish I had done that. I got all the information, was ready to get the ball rolling, and then just...didn't. It was at a weird time in my life, and I really regret not going. My parents went a few years ago and had the best time. Their dream came true, they got to watch Notre Dame play a football game in Ireland. I am so happy for them that they took the opportunity to go on that trip.

One day I will be there I don't care if I have to pay  my way with pennies, I will be there. I will take it all in, and I know I will be smiling the whole time. Until then, I will keep dreaming.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday: How To's

If you are stumbling on my blog from the A-Z Challenge, Welcome! Today I am sharing some weight loss "How To's". I have lost 53 lbs since July and still have a ways to go. I have learned a lot along the way and hope to help someone who is struggling or stuck.

Left: May 2013. Right: April 2014

How To: Get Started
When I talk about my weight loss journey. A lot of people say to me "I really need to get going, but I don't know where to start". Here is what I suggest:

  • I strongly suggest meeting with a personal trainer, even for just one session. I know cost is an issue for most of us, but I think just one session is worth it. You will tell the trainer what you are looking to do and they will show you some exercises to do. 
  • Get on My Fitness Pal or Lose It or another app where you can track your calories and your workouts. This will help you to stay on track and also help you figure out how many calories you should be consuming each day.
  • Begin to meal plan. Think about your week, and write down all the meals you will be eating, including snacks. Use that list and take it to the grocery store. Don't buy anything else except the things on your list.
  • Know and understand that "getting started" is one of the biggest steps you can take, and also should be one of the proudest moments of your life. Getting started to making a healthy lifestyle will be the best decision you've made! 
How To:  Learn to eat healthy
In all honesty, most of us know what's healthy and what's not. We know we probably shouldn't grab McDonald's breakfast or eat chips instead of fruits and veggies. But it's HARD to stay healthy when there's so much yummy food out there! The thing is, though, once you start and commit to healthy eating, it gets easier. Eventually you won't really crave the "bad things" anymore, and if you do it's rare. 

However, there are things hidden in foods that we don't really think about. Like sodium. Sodium is a nasty little booger. You don't want to overdo it on sodium, it's not good for your heart and causes bloating. So watch your sodium intake as much as possible. Example? Most people think a healthy option at Subway is the oven roasted chicken sub. And yes, it's delicious, and somewhat low in calories, but has over 1,000 mg in sodium! 

Try, as much as possible, to avoid processed foods in general. Always go for fresh. Try to cook your dinners as much as possible and eat the leftovers for lunch. If that's not easy, pack a healthy lunch. Tuna, grilled chicken and veggies, quinoia are all good options. I used to just buy lunch on the days I didn't have leftovers, but recently have forced myself to try to pack a lunch as much as possible. Today? I've got tuna with just a tiny mayo, with chopped cucumbers, onions, and spinach leaves. I'll probably throw in some skinny pop popcorn and an apple. 

When that 2-3 pm snack time craving hits, be prepared. This has been one of my biggest downfalls. I always forget about snacks! Some good options are celery with peanut butter, carrots, low salt pretzels, a protein bar, or a banana. 

My biggest piece of advice? Don't buy it. If you know you will eat an entire package of Oreos if they are in your house, DON'T BUY THEM. If you will regret that burrito later, don't eat it. I don't believe in full on restriction. Let yourself have treats once in a while, but also don't sabotage yourself by filling your home with foods that will tempt you. Have lots of healthy options on hand.

How to: Drink Water
Water should be your best friend. There are so many positive health benefits of drinking water- and you need to be drinking enough! Do the whole "8 glasses" thing, but try to do even more than that. I aim for 10-12 glasses a day. Don't like water? Add lemon or cucumber and mint to it. Keep track of how much you are drinking during the day. 

How to: Lift Weights
A lot of us, especially females, seem to be scared of weight lifting. Be not afraid, ladies! Lifting weights is key in your weight loss journey. I do it twice a week. I'm no expert so I am not sure if that is 100% correct, but it seems to work for me. 

Lifting weights can seem intimidating, especially if you've never done it. You should consult a trainer or a friend who knows what they are doing to teach you the moves. You don't want to hurt yourself by doing it wrong. 

I mix up my weight training, too. I use dumbbells, resistance bands, and the weight machines. I also add in my squats/lunges and my ab work on my weight days. 

How to: Mix up your workouts
I can't think of anyone I know that actually enjoys walking on the treadmill. That's why you need to change it up! Do intervals, then do longer intervals. Shock your body! One of my favorite things to do is 10-15 minutes on each cardio machine (treadmill, stair climber, row, elliptical) at very high, intense intervals. It is hard, but so worth it. AND keeps things exciting!

Also, try different classes. Zumba is my favorite, and it's a good workout when you REALLY push yourself to keep up with the instructor. My endurance has built, so I don't get as tired anymore. Each week I try harder to push myself and go faster. There are lots of other classes to try. Yoga and Pilates are low impact, but great for overall body toning. Kickboxing is high impact and burns a ton of calories. I like classes like Bootcamp and Cardio Sculpt because they work everything. Just try some- you may be surprised what you like!

How to: Stay motivated
In the moments you feel most proud, most energized and most motivated, pause. Capture that moment. Put it in your back pocket. And when you are feeling down and discouraged, take it out and remember. Remember how great it felt, and try to emulate that feeling. Make a list of all the things you have accomplished so far, and then a list of all the things you WANT to accomplish. Know that you can do this and that your life is a precious gift in which you need to take care of.  Remember WHY you are doing this. Then get up and keep going.