Summer Lovin' Challenge: Week 2

Good morning readers!  I hope you all have been having a great week, and for those of you doing the Challenge I hope you've had a successful week.  I know I have.

Last week I was upset with myself because even though I had lost 3.5 pounds, I hadn't put much effort into actually changing my habits.  But this week I turned it around (like I said I would!).  Instead of tracking food, I put my track book away.  I didn't use it at all.  I decided that I would eat only when I was hungry, not when I was bored or stressed or because the food was just there.  I've been doing great with it.  Several times this week I've been reaching for a snack or candy and thought "Do I need this?  Am I hungry?" and was able to pull my hand back and walk away if the answer was no.  And when I was hungry, I tried to make the healthiest choices possible.  For instance, I made a little pizza for lunch the other day with a FlatOut Italian wrap (don't buy these, they seriously taste like cardboard - they're only good for pizzas) and opted to put red and green peppers on it instead of pepperoni.  My photo class got pizza the other day, and I chose the smallest slice of tomato-topped pizza (not pepperoni), and didn't even eat a breadstick.  AND I was sitting right next to the pizza boxes.  I've been snacking on veggies instead of cheese, eating fruit instead of sugar...the list of healthy changes goes on!  Last night I made myself a baked potato after work.  Normally I slather my baked potatoes in cheese so thick it usually won't even melt.  But last night I found myself automatically limiting the cheese to about a 1/4 cup and I didn't even have to fight myself about it.  I thought, "I should put less cheese on, I don't need all that".  And I did it, without a second thought.  I'm so proud of myself!

And the scale reflected it this week, too.

I lost another 3 pounds and currently weigh 201.5! 

I'm finally feeling better and am able to breathe without too much coughing, so I'm hoping to get back into the gym sometime this week.  Probably not this weekend because it's my boyfriend's birthday and my family is coming into town for the official opening of my exhibit at the museum, but I'm hopeful for Monday. 

Well I've made myself late for class again.  I'll take and post new measurements tomorrow, I promise!  Have a great Hump Day!


Easter, Illness, and NSV

So, it's Easter.  I'm certainly not a religious person, but I can say that this Easter I am not spending my time stuffing my face with Cadbury Eggs.  You have no idea how much I love Cadbury Eggs.  Cadbury chocolate in general is amazing, but those damn eggs have had such a hold on me for most of my life.  I remember being genuinely depressed in my younger years when stores would stop selling them after the holiday, and being absolutely elated when I saw them again the next year.  I used to joke about buying boxes of them to get me through to the next Easter.  Pretty messed up, but that's where I was. 

However, where I am now is much better.  After the end of TOM, my chocolate cravings have subsided entirely.  I'm losing weight with the Summer Lovin' Challenge.  Although I'm sick and stressed about school, I haven't yet turned to food to make me feel better.  And even though I weigh myself pretty much daily out of curiosity, it's just curiosity.  If the number is higher than I expect, I look for an explanation and then work out a solution to the problem.  I don't fret or complain about like I used to.  It's just a number, one way to measure my progress. 

Another way to measure my progress is by clothes.  I'm sure most of you guys out there have clothes stashed somewhere that you'll "get into someday".  For me, that thing is jeans.  I have about three pairs of size 14 jeans hanging in my closet that I kept because I knew that someday I would be able to wear them again.  I don't know if it was wishful thinking at the time I put them away or if I really did believe in myself that much, but there they are.  And today, I tried on a pair of those size 14 jeans, and they fit!  I didn't even have to struggle to button or zip them.  They were even comfortable.  I still wore my size 16s to the doctor because as the 14s slid around and I was muffin topping a bit and just didn't want to deal with that, but I can proudly say that I am currently able to wear size 14 jeans!  Yaaaay!  This is the size I wore all throughout high school, the size I wore when my boyfriend and I met.  And although I'm not quite ready to go replace all my size 16 jeans (mostly because I don't have the money), it feels great to know that I could.  Once I do buy all new jeans, I never want to wear size 16s again.  I'm not going back.  I am a new woman.  Yay for Easterly rebirths.  : )

Now, for the illness.  Yes, I am sick again.  It sucks. The next paragraph may be a bit TMI, so if you don't want to read it,  close my blog now.

Last chance.

Okay.  I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and there was blood in my urine.  That's never happened to me before, so I kind of freaked out a little bit, but I went back to bed.  I went to the doctor today and explained everything that was wrong with me.  Not only the blood thing, but the cough, the cold, the mysterious rash on my shoulder, the fact that I've been sick pretty much all semester long.  And the doctor diagnosed me with a UTI, an upper respiratory infection, and ringworm.  Ugh.  I just want to be healthy!  I can't work out when I'm sick and can hardly breathe, dammit. 

Oh well.  I'm looking forward to my weigh-in on Wednesday.  I can feel some interesting changes going on and can't wait to see what my final weight for this week will be!

Happy Easter!


Tiny Moment of Victory

This is just a little blurb to let you know I made a smart choice this morning.  I'm proud of myself for it, and I think if I post more of these little moments where I make a difficult, but healthy, decision I can be more focused and make more good decisions as time goes on.

So, today.  I am sick.  Again.  Some terrible cold/cough thing, and I feel like a pile of dung run over by a smelly dung truck.  Breakfast is something I know I need, even if I don't feel like eating.  We have very limited options in the kitchen right now as we're out of most everything and won't have money for groceries for at least another week.  My options were going to be:
  1. Cheesy scrambled eggs, perhaps with some veggies.  But I didn't feel like making it.
  2. A bowl of Cap'n Crunch.  Mmmm.
  3. Spend money I don't have for a bagel and cream cheese near the museum that my waistline doesn't need.
And then, I thought of a fourth option! I remembered I had a bag of apples, bread, peanut butter, and honey.  So I sliced up an apple and had a piece of toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of honey (I'm rapidly discovering that honey makes everything better).

I'm proud that even when sick and presented with terrible choices, I found a way to eat something healthier.  Go me! 

Here's hoping I feel better tomorrow.  Hope you're having a healthy Friday!


Summer Lovin' Challenge: Week 1

I think it's safe to say I've had a pretty bad week.  I did well the first couple of days, had a mixed day or two, and then completely fell off the wagon at the beginning of this week.  But, these are the things I've learned:

  • My TOM really messes me up food-wise.  It was particularly bad emotionally this month (that usually doesn't happen), but oh jeez was I just wanting to eat EVERYTHING.  I have to be prepared for that.
  • I need to do more meal planning.  There were several times where I almost opted for something cheesy, greasy, and bad because I had no idea what kind of healthy thing I could throw together with what's in my cabinets/fridge/freezer.  
  • I must commit to exercise.  I worked out twice this past week (three times if you count that crazy shift at work), and that's simply not good enough.  I must make the time for it.  It must be a top priority.  
  • On the subject of meal planning, I need to find easy, quick, convenient, yet healthy things to eat or make when I'm pinched for time.  Do you guys have any suggestions for healthy snacks or meals that can be made quickly/prepared ahead of time?  
  • I need to get more fruit in this house.  I need more money!  Argh!

Anyway, let's talk about progress.  I think I'll take new measurements every two weeks instead of every week.  Alexia wants to keep track of how many pounds everybody's losing, so I have decided to do the weigh-ins every week.  I just need to remind myself that this is not about the number on the scale - it's about making healthy habits that will last the rest of my life.  So, I will tell you that I lost 3.5 pounds last week and currently weigh 204.5 (so I guess I should quit bitching).   But I'm not super thrilled about it because I really didn't make much of an effort to change my habits last week.  But this week will be different.

This morning, as I was coming back to bed from the bathroom, I got a glance of myself in my dresser mirror.  It was one of those corner-of-your-eye kind of deals where you don't see things clearly, but you get the idea.  And I saw myself, for just an instant, much thinner than I am right now.  Must have been the angle my body was at, but it has stuck in my head.  And really, that's all I want.  To be thin, healthy, strong.  To stand up straighter, to have more confidence, to not let anything - not even myself - stand in my way.  This is what I want.  To have that image of myself become reality through dedication and perseverance.  I know that I can do this, no matter how many kit kat bars I try not to eat or the 50 eight week challenges it might take me to get there. 

So this week will be better.  For my own sake.  To prove to myself that I can do it. 

See you tomorrow. : )


Ravenous Beast

I have been such an emotional wreck today.  Nothing bad happened, I'm just having a really terrible time of the month, apparently.  I'm already mad at myself for not sticking to my plan all week, and then TOM pretty much doubled the strength of my negativity, so I've been feeling like shit and eating everything in sight all day.  I'm also afraid that I'm either A) getting sick again or B) have developed allergies.  Neither of those things is better than the other.  All of this combined has made it a terrible day.  Week 1 review comes tomorrow, and I can tell that the nice loss I felt earlier this week has certainly swung in the opposite direction. 

I'm not happy.  I think I'll take a nap.


Checkin In (Ugh)

I'm so annoyed with myself.

On Friday I was eating great.  Oatmeal with blueberries and honey for breakfast, a wannabe burrito bowl with brown rice, shredded chicken, black beans, and hot sauce with an apple.  And then I had my first shift at my new job (which I love!) as a host/server at one of my favorite restaurants in town.  It's a really laid back kind of place and the people that work there are great.  The customers even aren't that annoying.  So I worked for a couple hours and by the time I got off I was really hungry.  I was determined to be healthy, even turning down some free food (this is the place with those delicious falafels - yeah, I got a job there.  Let's talk about how great a decision that might turn out to be).  And then I walk in the door to find my boyfriend had ordered pepperoni pizza, breadsticks, and cookies from my favorite pizza place!  Ugh.

At first I decided to just have one slice of pizza.  I even let my boyfriend eat my cookie.  I was okay, until the leftover pizza continued to sit on the coffee table.  Then I started to eat it just because it was there.  That's one of my worst habits - eating food just because it happens to be in front of me.  So I had two more slices and two breadsticks with cheese sauce.  Ugh. 

I went to bed without having exercised.  Sigh.  So Friday was a bust.

Yesterday I wanted to do better.  My boyfriend made farina for breakfast (cream of wheat, I think), which I love, so I had some.  He made it with skim milk though, that was nice of him.  : )  Later I was kind of panicking about what I was going to eat.  We're low on fresh veggies and the only fruit we had was a little cubed pineapple and some apples.  I realized I definitely need to do more meal planning so I have enough stuff around to make meals with. 

So then I remembered that we had a ton of frozen vegetables, leftover queso fresco from burrito bowls a couple days ago and some leftover tortillas.  I made a veggie quesadilla and did half an hour of yoga (burned 125 calories).  I had to go to CVS to get something, and ended up getting a candy bar, one of those king size Twix with the four little bars inside.  I ate it almost without even tasting it.  I had such a bad chocolate craving, and when I left for work and parked downtown, I looked through my purse and found a kit kat bar!  I have no idea where it came from.  But I ate it, too.  (I was wondering why, then remembered it's TOM time)  Then I went to work.  I think my shift last night could definitely have qualified as a workout.  Half the restaurant is upstairs, so of course I was running around all night seating people and cleaning tables.  My heart rate was definitely elevated, haha.

After work I went home.  I was in a good mood.  I had put a lot of cheese on my quesadilla earlier (definitely a little too much) and wanted something else cheesy.  I really just love cheese.  But, I remembered I hadn't had any fruit yet and that there was pineapple in the fridge.  So I ate that, and then a friend called and invited me to a shindig at their place.  I was super excited to go, because I pretty much never go out and I haven't gotten to see those particular friends in a while.  Of course I had a few drinks, stayed the night, and came home this morning to farina, bacon, and eggs.  Can you tell my boyfriend likes to cook breakfast?  :D

So Saturday was still pretty bad, what with the chocolate and booze calories and obvious lack of nutrients.  I've already had a full, fatty breakfast today but I am planning a healthy dinner of salmon, roasted broccoli, and baked french fries.

Aside from the drinks last night, I've been doing good about drinking just water.  And just in case you're interested, Thursday night I did jogging intervals around the track by my house for 40 minutes (including a warm up and cool down) and burned 472 calories according to my heart rate monitor.  So I've burned about 600 calories in the last four days.  Definitely need to be moving more.  And need to be doing more meal planning, too.

The end of the semester is so close.  Just a few short weeks away, and I'll be a graduate.  It's kind of weird to think about.  I'm almost sad - I really love learning and there are so many interesting new classes being offered next semester.  I have to start making some serious decision about my career path, and I'm feeling extremely uncertain about everything.  I'm glad I have this challenge to keep me focused on something.

Until we meet again, here's a link to an article about how a nutrition professor lost weight eating little more than Little Debbie cakes.  Very interesting.

The "Twinkie Diet"


Days 1 and 2 of Summer Lovin' Goodness

Good evening, sexy ladies!  I have TEN followers now.  Oh my god, wow.  You guys are so awesome!  Thank you so much for reading my blog!  I hope you go and join the Summer Lovin' Challenge.  Better late than never, right?  Time to start loving yourself and getting ready to love summertime this year.

Cause that's what I'm looking forward to.  Loving summer.  Going out in shorts and not hating myself.  Not feeling embarrassed about the way my stomach and backfat look in tank tops.  Refusing to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather because being overweight makes me sweat so bad and it's just too damn hot to move a body with this much extra fat on it.  I'm tired of that.  I want this summer to be different.

Also, I'm looking forward to a SUPER HOT SWIMSUIT.

Granted, it may take me until next summer to get into that thing.  But I do not care.  It will happen.

Also, I'm moving to Texas in a couple of months, so maybe by Christmas!  Ooh, what an awesome gift to myself that would be, huh?

Well I'm sure you're all dyyyying to know how I've been doing with the challenge.  And I'm happy to report that I've been doing not so badly!

Yesterday, day 1, was a total bust on the nutrition front.  I ate my breakfast smoothie (had to use sugary fruit juice in it...grrr) and was satisfied.  But in my photo class we had decided to do a picnic-themed group photo for a poster contest.  As with any picnic, there was food everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  We were literally throwing it at each other.  And I was doing okay resisting until I was offered a cookie.  It was a chocolate chip cookie made with whole wheat flour, nutella, and the minimum butter and sugar needed to have it come out as a cookie.  And it was amazingly good (I gotta get the recipe) but I ate it because I thought to myself "Huh.  Whole wheat flour?  Minimum sugar?  Sounds fairly healthy!"  And then I proceeded to eat three more, a few bites of cake, a brownie, and about five handfuls of those gross cheesy puffs with the neon orange cheese powder that looks like clown cocaine.

But, I did not give up!  If it hadn't been for the fat-fest I just described, I would have had a perfect day.  I snacked on fruit, meeting my 3 fruit servings.  I made burrito bowls with shredded chicken, sauteed peppers and onions, black beans, brown rice, cabbage, and Mexican queso fresco (which I think is similar to string cheese nutrition-wise).  It was a veggie fest, at least 3 of my 4 servings.  Of course the carbs, fat, and sweets were all out the window.  Had too much dairy/protein, too.  Lumping them in together, as my Mayo Clinic food pyramid does, is really hard for me to deal with because I'm such a cheese addict.  It is was my favorite snack. 

However, I am perfectly on track today!  Had oatmeal made with milk and topped with honey and blueberries.  (1 fruit, sweet allowance, 1 carb, 1 dairy/protein).  For lunch, I had a nice big salad with balsamic vinaigrette and eggs, plus two triangles of pita bread with red pepper hummus (2 fats, 2 dairy/protein, 2 veggie).  I had an apple for a snack (1 fruit) and a burrito bowl with extra brown rice and sauteed veggies for dinner(2 carb, 1 fat - cooked with olive oil, 2 veggie).  So, what do I have left?  A fruit and a carb!  So I'll be snacking on pita chips and pineapple later tonight.  :D

Okay, so when I got my Mayo Clinic food pyramid thingy, it came with this great list of foods that go into each category and what the servings size is for a certain amount of calories (for instance, a list of servings sizes of sweet things that are 75 calories).  I just noticed that corn is on the carbohydrates list.  Have any of you ever considered corn a carb and not a veggie?  In my mind, carbs are just bready things.  Hmm. 

Anywho, I'm excited to get some exercise tonight because I found my heart rate monitor!  A few months ago I bought one of these bad boys on amazon for 80 bucks:

Except mine is silver and not red.  Sad day.  BUT, I'm excited because I thought I had lost the little bean-shaped computer thing on the bottom that connects to the strap, but this morning I found it hiding under the runner on top of my dresser!  Yaaaay!  I'm not crazy about counting calories in, but I do like to see what workouts get me the best bang for my buck, so to speak.  I'm excited to use this to compare jogging, jogging intervals, and cardio/strength circuits to see what the differences are (and of course to share them with you!)

I think I'll get changed for that exercise right now.  I shall report tomorrow with another perfect day (hopefully)!


And so it begins...the Summer Lovin' Challenge

Gooooood morning, lovely ladies!  Since I last checked, I have a new follower for a total of 8!  Hello hello, I hope like my little blog.  : )

Today marks the beginning of Alexia's Summer Lovin' Challenge, a two-part, eight-week, healthy-habit-establishing endeavour sure to rock my socks off!  Er, well it would...if I ever wore socks...  Anyway, there's two parts to this post, so read it when you're home from work/class and have all the time in the world to listen to me!  Teehee.

Part One: The Plan

So here's my plan for this thing.  I'm not using a caloric cap (how will she ever lose weight?! you may be asking).  Instead, I'm focusing on eating the right amount of properly portioned servings of healthy foods.  Fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and a little dairy thrown in for kicks.

Sidenote: If you have no idea what a proper portion size is, like me a few months ago, check out Mayo Clinic's website. They have a literal asston of information on healthy living and active lifestyles.  

The Food: A while back, I did one of their free assessments that tells you what you should be eating to lose weight and gives you a personalized food pyramid.  Swanky!  My food pyramid says that I should be eating 3 servings of fruit, 4 servings of veggies, 4 servings of carbs, 3 servings of protein/dairy, 3 servings healthy fats, and up to 75 calories in sweets.

The Treat: I know that it's pretty much impossible to do anything 100%, 100% of the time.  I also know that I need a treat every once in a while to keep myself from going off track (aka, running away from it as fast as I can).  I just got a job, HALLELUJAH, at one of my favorite restaurants in town.  They serve Greek and American food, and have the best.damn.falafels I have ever had.  So, once a week, I'm going to treat myself to a falafel sandwich.  If I've been really, really good that week I might even have some fries.  If that doesn't sound like much of a treat to you, you have no idea how good these things are.  I would much rather have one of these falafels than ice cream, or even chocolate!  I'll be looking forward to it every week, that's for sure. 

The Beverage:  Only water or tea.  No soda, sugary iced tea, or sugary fruit juices.  I may have a glass of skim milk every once in a while or some Crystal Lighty kind of thing, but mostly it's gonna be water.  Water, agua, H20.

The Exercise: My goal is to do something that makes me sweat for thirty minutes each day.  That's a great healthy habit to establish.  This exercise could be running, biking, yoga, walking at a fast pace, practicing bellydance, or doing a strength/cardio circuit.  Just gotta get my sweat on.

The Evaluation:  I'm going to record each day how I've progressed toward my goals in my handy daily planner.  Every Wednesday, I'm going to recap the week and determine whether or not I get fries with my falafel.  Let's say if I have 6-7 perfect days out of 7, I get fries.  If I have 3-6 perfect days, I just get the falafel.  If I have less than 3 perfect days, I don't even get the falafel.   That would be a sad week indeed.  Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Also, I'm not going to be doing weigh-ins every week.  I find that if I do stuff like that, I get way too focused on the scale.  I want to establish healthy habits that will lead to a healthy weight, not the other way around.  I will post my starting weight and will weigh at the end of each phase to see how I did.  However, I will take and post body measurements each week.  Then I can see where the weight is coming off. 

Part Two:  The Starting Stats

We're all starting somewhere, right?  This morning I weighed myself (after waking and peeing, before eating), took my starting measurements, and "before" pictures.

Starting Weight: 208.  This is actually what I weighed when I started my first blog in January of last year.  I'd be sad, but I weighed 216 last summer.  At least I'm not there anymore. 

I know what 208 feels like.  But to be honest, I never thought it looked like this... 

Starting Pictures:


 So I'll take new pictures at the end of the Challenge.  Hopefully ones I'm not shocked to look at.  : /

Starting Measurements: Taken in inches, by myself.  I'm not worrying about accuracy, I took a Bioanthropology class last semester that taught me how to take proper anthropometric measurements.  

Mid-Upper Arm:  13.75
Bust: 43.5
Chest (like bra band): 37.5
Waist: 39.5
Hips: 46
Butt: 44.5
Thigh: 24.5

Annnd now I've made myself late for class, so I gotta cut this short.  But I am having a fruit smoothie for breakfast - two servings of fruit down!  See you tomorrow!


The Summer Lovin' Challenge / The Puppet Master

So, my dear and lovely readers, hello!  There are seven of you now!  When I saw it the other day I nearly fainted.  SEVEN people in the world want to hear what I have to say.  I love it.  A big hello to the newbies, and I hope I don't let you down. 

That being said, let's talk about the Summer Lovin' Challenge, the brainchild of the beautiful and engaging Alexia over at Dimple Snatcher.  Alexia blogs about healthy, balanced living (no wonder I like her so much...) and has been a great inspiration to me in my times of difficulty.  I believe we started blogging around the same time, and have both come to the conclusion that the numbers game just doesn't work - that weight loss is, as she puts it, a "byproduct of healthy living".  You can read about her philosophy here

So the Summer Lovin' Challenge is an eight-week beast in which we are all vowing to establish healthy habits.  We are starting on Wednesday (yes, in two days) and will update about our challenge progress every Wednesday for four weeks, evaluate our progress and make the necessary changes, and then continue for another four weeks.  Click the Summer Lovin' Challenge link to read the details (and follow Dimple Snatcher!) and then get on board! 

I'm thrilled about this, kids.  It could not have come at a more perfect time.  This past week has been rough for me.  I don't know if my boyfriend reads this or not...but I'm going to go ahead and explain things anyway.  A few months ago, we decided we would break up at the end of summer.  I was okay with it as we were both on the same page.  I thought I knew what I wanted, and a long distance relationship certainly wasn't a part of it.  But then after all that shit with my mom went down, I realized how important our relationship has been to me.  How important he has been to my happiness.  But, I can't stay in Indiana.  I have the opportunity to get out, and for my own sake I have to take it.  Even so, I decided I wanted to do the long distance thing.  We've done it before and always made it through okay.  I suggested it, and he said no.  I completely understand and respect the reasons why he doesn't want to, but still...now that all I want is to stay together and he wants to call it quits, I've been experiencing some emotional backlash.  It has, of course, been making me eat terribly. 

And you know, it's funny.  I always think I have things settled in what I like to believe is my reasonable and sane mind, so I never connect emotional pain with overeating while I'm overeating.  It's only after I feel tired and sick after days of eating the worst food that I finally see why it started:  because I'm hurting.  And sometimes, when you just have to tough it out and feel the hurt until it just stops hurting, those are the times I really struggle with making healthy changes.  The pain is there, just out of sight, controlling me - a puppet master manipulating the self-unaware marionette of bad decisions that I become.

So my most important personal goal for the Summer Lovin' Challenge is awareness, current and preemptive.  Current awareness in that I want to be aware of each piece of food I put in my mouth, how it will make me feel physically, how it will make me feel emotionally.  Preemptive awareness in being mindful of the things I've learned this year:  that I will eat, no matter what, when inside I feel like crying; that doubting my power over my choices only empowers my self-doubt; that I deserve my love and attention just as much as anyone else.  To let those unhealthy habits be present in my mind when my hand brings food to my mouth so that current awareness can kick in and do the rest.

That's all for me today- I've got lots of homework to get to - but I hope you guys will all get over to Dimple Snatcher and join the Summer Lovin' Challenge!  Do it now!


I can't move...

...because I RAN A MILE yesterday!  In parts, admittedly, BUT HOLY CRAP A WHOLE MILE.  I did the first half a mile straight through before I had to stop and walk (remember that bra/breathing/knee problem thing?  yeah).  And then I would walk at a fast pace for a song or so then run two tenths of a mile, walk again, run again, walk again, run again.  I was on the treadmill for a total of 35 minutes.  I have no idea how many calories I burned, but to be honest I really don't care.  I'm just so damn proud of myself.  I can't wait until I'm able to do a mile straight through.  And then two miles!  And then maybe a 5K, *squee*!  I have never, ever been able to run a mile.  I remember being humiliated in middle school because they made us do it and I was the last kid off the track and walked most of it.  It took me over fifteen minutes or something ridiculous like that.  Now I obviously am much slower than that now (I was running at just under 5mph last night) but I can't wait to get stronger and faster and be able to run longer distances.  I'd say "HA, I TOLD you I'd be a runner", but you guys never doubted me.  I only ever doubted myself.  Well I am no longer giving power to my doubt, as Honore de Balzac would be thrilled to know.

I'm also proud of myself because of why I went running.  For some reason in the middle of the afternoon yesterday I just got really depressed.  I had accidentally eaten a lot of chocolate and candy yesterday without realizing it.  I was angry with myself, and then the weird sudden depression on top of it was really making me feel like crap.  I was tired, had to do laundry, and just wanted to crawl into bed and hide from knowing I'd have to post about it here.  But instead, I changed my attitude.  Remember how I said attitude is everything?  I thought to myself "You feel like crap. You want to go to bed.  Instead, go run a mile.  Don't let your mistaken preconceptions stop you.  The only thing stopping you is you.  Go run a mile. You can do it!"

And I did it.  And I feel great.  Today, I've been so pumped up by my success last night that I have eaten healthy all day because I wanted to, not because I thought I needed to.  I had a small bowl of cereal for breakfast, carrots with dressing and grapes as lunch, turkey and cheese roll-up as a snack, steamed salmon and broccoli with a cheesy baked potato for dinner, and two cookies for dessert.  I'll probably have a banana as a snack later.  By my count that's a serving of whole grains, three servings of dairy, two servings of protein, three servings of veggies, and three servings of fruit (I had two cups of grapes). 

I did yoga when I woke up this morning and if I wasn't so sore from running I'd go for a walk.  But today I'm going to take a short break from the exercise, plan out my day tomorrow, and relax knowing that I am awesome and capable of doing anything, making whatever changes I want to.

I feel so damn good.

PS:  Can anybody give me good suggestions for running socks?  Mine gave me blisters last night.  :(



Ahh, finally...the post where I get to rave about how much I love to do yoga! 

I had my first experience with yoga the summer after I graduated high school, when I worked outdoors at a public gardens and arboretum.  During the second part of the summer, the staff all paid a certain amount to have a yoga teacher come out to the arboretum and do classes outside near one of the ponds (so beautiful!).  It was won.der.ful.  I quickly noticed that my back didn't hurt nearly as bad from being stooped over pulling weeds on the days that I had yoga class in the morning.  It made me feel happier, less stressed, and left me open to face the challenges of the day with a positive attitude. 

I've really come to believe that attitude is everything in life, from getting through a stressful week of schoolwork to finding the motivation to keep working out and eating right.  If I wake up in the morning and think, "I feel fat, it's gonna be hard to get my fruit and veggies in today, my back hurts, I have no time to workout" then I'm going to start the day with good intentions, perhaps eating a healthy breakfast, but eventually I'll end up giving in to the negativity and eating bagels, cookies, and go out to eat for dinner at place with no healthy options.  At the end of the day, I'll feel even worse than when I woke up, and the same thing will probably happen the next day.  But if I get up in the morning and think "I may have gained weight but I can work on that, I'll do my best to eat well, my back hurts but a little yoga would help, I don't have much time but could go for a walk between classes", then I guarantee you I'm going to have a successful, healthy day and the next day I will be proud of my choices and attitude and have a second healthy day to boot. 

By making my body feel good and helping my mind to be calm, yoga improves my attitude.  Plus, all I need to do it is my yoga mat!  I just got a new one for Christmas from Gaiam.  If you're new to yoga, I highly recommend you pay the money to attend a beginner's yoga class.  I've taken two now, and having a live instructor is invaluable when it comes to learning the correct alignment for the poses.  If you don't, you could really hurt yourself.  If you really can't afford it, then go to my favorite website, Yogatic.  Esther, a Dutch woman living in Ireland, posts free, excellent yoga videos there.  She recently released a beginner DVD, but it's priced in Euros and I have no idea what shipping to the States would cost.  In any case, just use her search bar to find some videos labeled "beginner" or something like that.  She also has great and thorough written explanations of individual poses with pictures.  Look through her site, I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do.  In fact, I did 40 minutes of yoga this morning (10 more than my goal of 30 minutes of movement per day!).  These are the videos I did in the order I did them:

First, the Warm Up for Yoga
Then, this Flow with Jessica Hatchett which is centered around Downward Facing Dog pose
After that, this Yoga for Opening the Hips

To finish, I did some of my favorite poses to relieve lower back pain, which I experience a lot.  I also did some calming, restorative poses just to relax at the end.  

That was a few hours ago.  Now, I feel calm and uplifted.  My limbs feel long and well-stretched, and there's no tension in my hips.  I don't feel stiff or sore.  I am definitely going to make an effort to do at least a few minutes of yoga every day.  It's better to do a little every day than a full sequence only a few days a week.  At least, that's what I've noticed is better for me. 

By the way, if anybody tells you that yoga won't help you lose weight, they are absolutely wrong.  It's not a cure-all, but I think we're all smart enough to realize that exercise of any kind has to be in addition to healthy eating and overall mindfulness of our state of mind.  But yoga can definitely help you reach your goals.  A couple years ago I managed to lose about twelve pounds (the most I've ever lost to date), and I did it mostly through eating well and doing yoga.  You just have to look for sequences that have you constantly moving or really testing your muscles, like the sequence with Jessica Hatchett above.  That video had me dripping so much sweat onto my mat I had to get a towel, no joke.  But maybe I'm just sweaty, haha.  :P

Anyway, check out that site!  Try some yoga!  If you do it right, meaning that you feel your body's limitations and only go so far into the poses as you can handle, you'll love it.  The best thing about yoga is that you can always improve.  You can always stretch a little deeper or hold a pose a little longer, and everything can be modified if the flexibility for the standard pose just isn't there for you (for example, in the warm up video when Esther has you extend your leg straight up in the air, stretching it with a belt or scarf, I always have to do the modification where I bend the other knee to help my leg straighten out - my hamstrings are ungodly tight right now). 

I hope you liked this post.  Let me know if you're a yoga lover like me!  Namaste!


from Honore de Balzac

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac
I'm on twitter, and I follow this page called Tiny Buddha.  Almost everyday, my own personal little Buddha sends inspirational quotes and ways to make life better to my phone.  I love it!  I thought this quote was particularly timely today.  A few posts ago I discussed how we all have the power to change our lives for the better.  On this healthy journey, we should never doubt that we are always in control of what goes in our mouths and our hearts.  I definitely struggle with this.  Maybe I should get this quote tatttooed backward on my forehead so I can read it in the mirror every morning.  :P
By the way, if you want to follow me on Twitter my username is MissRaqsSharqi (raqs sharqi is more or less the Arabic term for bellydance, which I hope to get back to this summer!). 


Oh. My. God.  What an insane week this has been.  While I was working on my exhibit at the museum on Tuesday, I got a text from my little sister saying my mom had lost all feeling and movement in her left limbs.  Later, I got a call from my grandma saying my mom had a stroke, but was doing okay.  The next day I went to the class I had to go to, emailed another professor to request an extension on a paper due yesterday, and then threw all my shit in my car and hauled my ass home to take care of my little brother while my mom was in the hospital.  So that's what I've been doing - looking after a six year-old boy for three days.  I have to say, it's way more fun than I thought it would be.  Exhausting, yes, but so much fun!  I love my little brother, and I'm so glad I got the chance to spend this time with him.  I never get to see him.

So, my mom is doing really well!  After years of medical problems, she's so in tune with her body that she recognized right away the severity of the paralyzation and got to the hospital.  She got there just in the window of time the doctors needed to give her the medicine she needed, and the clot in her brain disappeared (they couldn't even find it on the MRI, it dissolved so quickly).  So now my mom is resting and doing some occupational therapy to regain muscle loss.  I'm going back home (to my apartment) tomorrow morning, but I'm gonna miss my brother so much. :(

Of course, the stress of the past few days has driven me to eat, eat, eat, eat, and eat some more.  I kind of feel like crap, haha, and I'm looking forward to getting back to my fruit and whole grains at home.  But, in the interest of making the improvements I can in life, I've been making sure to at least take a few minutes every day for myself.  I haven't had the chance to exercise, but I've been doing some light yoga and stretching when I can.  Even that little bit has helped immensely.  And making healthy changes when you can, where is can is what this journey is all about, right?  I'm learning.

Have a beautiful day!  : )