Friday, September 28, 2012

Shame, self-criticism, and secrets: Not just an example of good alliteration

So you may have noticed (or probably I am thinking my blog is more important to people than it actually is) that it has been a little while since I have posted. That's because I have been struggling with whether to post about a particular topic that I knew would be hard for me to write about. I tried to get myself to write about other things, but it's like I just can't write anything else until I write this one particular post. It just demanded to be written.

I wanted to write about shame today. And with a post like this, it is necessary for me to reveal the thing that I have the most shame about: my starting weight. I have gone back and forth about revealing this. I didn't want to post my starting weight because of pressure from others, or because that is just what you are supposed to do when writing a weight loss blog. I wanted to post it because I wanted to, if and when it felt like the right thing to do. Of course, along with the shame, there is fear. Fear that others will judge me, fear that they will be disgusted over just how far I had let myself go. But you know what? I came to a conclusion last night. My conclusion is that if someone wants to judge me, fine by me. It's not like I have control over that anyway. Because the truth is, I don't need someone like that in my life. But what I do need to have is ownership over where I have been in my life. And part of where I have been is 328 lbs. That's right. I'm 5'1" and I let myself get all the way up to 328 lbs. I'm tired of being ashamed of this fact. It wears on me. I believe that if this shameful secret is no longer a secret, part of the shame will go away. After all, scary things are usually less scary in the light of day. So as of today, I am owning my starting weight. Am I going to go up to random people on the street and tell them what I used to weigh? No, because obviously that would be pretty creepy and weird. But if someone asks me my starting weight, I will just tell them, instead of freaking out internally. If I refuse to let it be scary, it won't be. It's just a fact now, like my age or height.

It bothers me that a lot of people who lose weight act disgusted by and ashamed of their former heavier selves. I feel a lot of things when I think of that person, but disgust is not one of them. Most of what I feel is sadness that I lived so long that way when I could have been living this way all along. But I refuse to cut down that person that I used to be. Because, after all, that person is still me. And I try to treat myself with kindness nowadays, instead of constant criticism. I may have been heavier and used food as an emotional crutch, but I still had worth as a person. I still got through many hard times in that heavy body. But I admit, while I don't feel disgust, I do feel ashamed sometimes when thinking of my heaviest self.

But like I said before, I am just plain tired of being ashamed. Ashamed of my starting weight. Ashamed that I am still on the larger side even after losing 77.8 lbs. Ashamed of how I look at the gym compared to all those skinny girls. But the truth is, I am probably more judgmental, critical, and mean to myself at times than other people could ever be. Because I know all the right buttons to push! As for the people who do judge me, let me state my new philosophy yet again: Go ahead. Go ahead and judge me. Judge me for getting healthier and taking on the immense challenge of losing so much weight. Judge me for changing for the better inside and out every day. That is their issue, not mine. But I really have faith that the vast majority of people will be encouraging and have only positive things to say. After all, I see evidence of this everyday in my day-to-day life, Facebook, and seeing just how many people continue to read this blog.

Whew, I already feel better having written this post. After all, I started this blog with the intention of being completely honest and open about my weight loss journey. And it bothered me that I had yet to address this topic that loomed so large (haha, literally!) for me. Am I still a little scared to let everyone know my secret? Duh. I mean, I might be changing, but mean inner voice Gertrude still has a bit of a hold on me, telling me everyone will be grossed out by how big I had gotten. But the bigger part of me feels a sense of freedom and pride that I have the strength to show everyone not only how far I have come, but also where I started.

So after this heavy, emotional baggage post, please look forward to a much lighter post next time!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Daily Dilemmas: The epic battle of multigrain bread versus the Baconator

Many people who have never had to lose weight before may think that this venture involves only one, or maybe just a few decisions. The main decision being, "Do I want to lose weight?" So obviously, I've answered that one. Another question could be, "Why did God make cheeseburgers taste so good, while simultaneously being so bad for you?" I mean, that was just kind of evil. Anyway, there are actually a million little decisions I have to make every single day in order to keep losing weight. Sometimes I make the wrong one. But I figure as long as I usually make the right one, I'm doing okay. So, for your entertainment, another foray into my mind:

0600: iPhone alarm goes off playing scarily upbeat motivational song while simultaneously reading "Get up you lazy bum!" on the screen. Seriously consider staying in bed and being a lazy bum. Get out of bed: WIN

0615: Weigh, even though I weighed 2 days ago, or resist urge to act like a crazy, scale-obsessed freak? Behave like a freak, rationalizing that the scale gets lonely in its exile under the bathroom sink and needs the company: FAIL

0630: 30 or 45 minutes on the elliptical? Spend first 5 minutes fulfilling my iPhone's prophecy of being a lazy bum, and resolving to definitely only do 30 minutes. Get motivated and push through 45 minutes, going manically at the end in order to beat the previous day's time: WIN

0715: Walk at leisurely pace on treadmill while enjoying TV and simultaneously guiltily watching the evil mutant seniors sprinting beside me, or exert myself and be distracted from TV because of my imminent death from exertion? Exert myself (and manage not to die): WIN

0800: Strength training and torture protesting limbs more while feeling virtuous, or get the heck out of this torture chamber? Book it out of gym pronto, while guiltily glancing at weights: FAIL

0805: Stop at one of the SEVEN fast food restaurants (America's obesity epidemic: not such a mystery) in the 2 miles between my apartment and the gym for a greasy heart attack on a biscuit breakfast, or go home and eat nutritionally sensible, though slightly boring, oatmeal? Eat oatmeal, and get a little crazy adding some strawberries in to jazz it up: WIN

0830: Throw ingredients in the Crockpot for dinner or wing it when I come home? Burn bonus calories by having to forcefully wrestle apart the frozen chicken breasts I forgot to thaw the night before: WIN (and fail on the chicken breast part)

0905: Drive by Krispy Kreme on the way to work. Succumb to hypnotic smell of glazed goodness or pass right on by? Inhale delicious scent and drive right past: WIN

0925: Get excitedly told by manager that there are Krispy Kreme donuts in the breakroom. Try to resist urge to a) severely hurt her, b) run screaming away from donuts, or c) shove donuts directly in my piehole. Resist all 3 counterproductive urges and calmly tell her I already ate breakfast: WIN

1200: Those damn fast food restaurants are still taunting me! Meet my downfall in the form of the disturbingly named "Baconator" or eat previously packed ham on wheat, string cheese, and apple? The Baconator does not destroy me today: WIN

1530: Hungry! Eat leftover pizza my sister put in the fridge to torment me, or have Greek yogurt? Fight to resist urge to a) severely hurt sister, b) run screaming from pizza, or c) cram pizza in aforementioned piehole. Heroically resist all 3 urges, eat Greek yogurt, and make mental note to self that people offering you junk food are not out to get you. Also make mental note to stop fantasizing about maiming fellow human beings: WIN

1600: Take nap or gym again? Seriously consider each, and tempt myself with nap by thinking of the many proven benefits of power naps. Resist my pillow and hit the gym: WIN

1600-1800: No need to rehash gym dilemmas. They never change! Manage to do strength training and cardio this time: WIN

1830: Yum, healthy version of sesame chicken in the Crockpot! Eat 2 chicken breasts or eat brown rice? Eat 2 chicken breasts because, though I used to eat carbs like nobody's business, I now crave protein like I'm some grossly overdeveloped bodybuilder: WIN

2000:  TV time: sit on the couch in a reality show-induced stupor, or jump up during commercials and do sit-ups like the Energizer bunny on steroids? The stupor sounds better tonight: FAIL

2015: Succumb to the allure of sugar-free Fudgecicles, or abide by my no-eating-at-night rule? Alas, I have an addiction to these 80 calorie bites of deliciousness on a wooden stick (although weirdly enough, I can't stand having my tongue actually touch the wooden stick): FAIL

2300: Bedtime. Set alarm for soul-crushingly early time time, or sleep later like the lazy bum I masochistically set my iPhone to tell me that I am? Set alarm and consider making a kinder wake-up message on phone: WIN

So, in hindsight, hopefully everyone can read military time. I'm not changing the times now! Sorry, guess it's the nurse in me. If you can't decipher it, google it. It's not hard. Hope everyone enjoyed this venture into my thoughts.

Also, as promised last week, an update on the results of  increasing my calories. I lost 5.2 lbs! So weird to think eating more calories did that.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shrinks in the dressing room: Something Target should have added along with all the mirrors

I think one area a lot of people don't think about before they lose weight is how much it costs to get new clothes. It's like you just focus on all the fabulous clothes you'll have once you hit your goal weight, and conveniently forget that there has to be a lot of clothes in between your fat clothes and thin clothes. Sadly, you do not just suddenly transform from one to the other, despite what those before and after pics may look like. I try to wear my in-between clothes as long as possible to save money, but when you pretty much lose the use of one hand to due to having to hold up your pants even though you are already wearing a belt, there is not really another option other than buying new pants. Except adopting a gangsta look. I mean, I love shopping as much as the next girl, but it is kind of sad to only get a month or so use out of clothes. Luckily, I do have some clothes saved from when I lost weight before, so that saves money, but I seem to have a bad habit of not pulling them out before they get too big. There have been several shirts I loved that I had from before that had gotten too small, and I pulled them out the other day only to discover they were now too big.

Anyway, shopping now is much more enjoyable. When you wear bigger sizes, it's really not much fun to shop. You kind of have to take whatever is available, not what you like or what looks good. Because really, nothing looked good when I was that heavy. It was more like, what makes me look the least bad. I remember one specific trip to Target that I took around a year ago. I got in the dressing room and tried on shirt after shirt. Not one of them fit and that was the biggest size they had in the regular department. Plus, Target had made the somewhat dubious decision to add A LOT of mirrors to their dressing rooms. I could then see my rolls not just once, but over and over again front and back. I felt so disgusted that I almost cried. I refused to shop in plus-size, so I just left with no clothes.

I went to Target again the other day. I grabbed shirt after shirt that I thought was cute. When I went in the dressing room, not one of them fit. But this time, it was because all of them were too big! I grabbed smaller sizes and went back. Now my problem was that it was hard to choose which shirt I liked best! I looked at myself in all those mirrors, and I felt pretty. I'm not saying I suddenly became a perfect physical specimen and was completely enamored with my astounding beauty and perfect body. There are still definitely trouble spots. It's not like I was blinded to them. But I am learning to give myself a break and really believe that even though I still have a ways to go, I can look good RIGHT NOW. Why should I wait until I am 132 lbs to feel like I am worth feeling pretty? So again in a Target dressing room (seriously, they may need to hire some psychologists to hang out in the dressing rooms in case of emotional breakdowns), I almost cried. But this time, it was because of realizing just how far I have come in a year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Experiment? Do I look like a guinea pig to you?!?

Hopefully the answer is no, I do not look like a guinea pig, although they are very cute. My late guinea pig, Captain Jack, also struggled with his weight. I think he was wider than he was long.

Yes, my pig did enjoy his food and sedentary lifestyle. But they say parents are role models for their children, and as Jack's adoptive mother, I set a very poor example ;)

So this week, I am having a little experiment that I have kind of been putting off for a while because of fear. For a few weeks now, I have been having a discrepancy between what my Bodybugg tells me about how much weight I should lose and how much weight I actually lose. For those that don't know what the heck a Bodybugg is, it is a stylish (not!) armband I wear 24/7 that measures how many calories I burn a day. Then at night I upload the data to my computer and input the food I eat. See, with my Bodybugg it's cool because I can measure my calorie deficit (calories burned-calories consumed) every day, then add up the calorie deficit from each day at the end of the week and divide by 3500 (calorie burn needed to lose 1 lb) to get how much weight I should lose. Hope I didn't lose anyone doing all that math hahaha. So for the past few weeks my Bodybugg has been saying I should have lost about 2 lbs more than I actually lose. It's been quite frustrating because I can't figure out where those 2 lbs are! I know my calories burned are accurate because they are measured with my Bodybugg, and I have also been very careful with portion sizes and measuring food, so I think my calorie intake is accurate. So I did some research, and have come to believe that my daily calorie intake of 1200 calories may be too low for my activity level and current weight, which may be the reason behind my missing 2 lbs. Weirdly enough, I may actually lose more weight eating 1500 calories a day if I am correct. Unfortunately, the only way to test this theory is just to add calories and see what happens. Or clone myself and see what happens to the clone when I add calories. Or discover my previously unknown identical twin and test her. That's a little too much work though. So this week, I am trying to eat 1500 calories a day instead of 1200. Okay, I think everyone (including me) has had enough science and math for the day!

I know the science behind this theory, but I am still scared that I will gain weight, not lose! But now is the perfect time because it's the week before I start phase 2, so I don't have to worry about getting behind on that goal yet. Plus it's my birthday this week, so I will probably be eating more calories anyway. Don't worry, I'm not going crazy or anything and shoving massive pieces of birthday cake in my mouth. I'm trying to just accept what happens with this experiment. If I lose more weight, fantastic! If I gain, well, I'll know my theory was wrong and I'll just go back to what I was doing before. Contrary to what Gertrude sometimes tries to tell me, the world will not end if I gain weight or even stay the same weight. Nor will that mean that I will gain back the 67 lbs I have lost. Seriously, Gertrude is so mean sometimes. At times, I think she needs to be slapped in the face, but that would be painful for me since Gertrude shares my face. I guess I will just have to mentally face slap her!

Tune in for the results of "Experiment Eat More to Lose" next week!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Honest Abe ain't got nothing on me!

I've been thinking a lot about honesty lately. Well, honesty and accountability--they kind of go hand in hand. For weight loss, it's been really important for me to be honest with myself. In the past, I've told myself that I needed other people to be accountable to and honest with in order to lose weight. That didn't work out so much for me. A prime example: Weight Watchers. I'm not dissing Weight Watchers; it's a great program and works well for many people. It didn't work for me; not because of any problem with the program, but because of a problem with me. What I failed to realize about myself was that if I wasn't losing weight, I just wouldn't go to meetings. I mean, no one was holding me at gunpoint, forcing me to weigh in every week. Although, in hindsight, maybe that's a good idea? Hahaha. I let my fear of failure in the short term losing weight practically guarantee my failure long term losing weight. And that, my friends, is what we call irony.

Boiled down, my main problem with Weight Watchers was that I wanted other people to take responsibility for my weight loss. I wanted to be forced to be honest and accountable. But if I were being real, I would have seen that the truth is that no one can force me to do that. Yes, I have many people this time that I feel accountable to (shout-out to my Destination Skinny peeps!). And when I screw up, I'll be honest and admit it to people. But when you get right down to it, the one who matters the most concerning my weight loss is me. In order to succeed, I have to be honest and accountable to myself. Other people aren't around to see the minute decisions I have to make every single day that add up to a big weight loss. I'm the only one around to make those decisions, and I'm the only one who will know if I am lying to myself. And lying to myself is something I have done extremely well over the years.

Okay, time to keep it real here, embarrassing though it may be. Back in my unenlightened days, through a combination of continually lying to myself and skillfully employing plain old denial, I somehow convinced myself that it wasn't really that bad to be at my heaviest weight. That it was okay to have my joints ache at the ripe old age of 27. That it was no big deal what an ordeal it was to zip up some of my pants. That it was normal to get winded climbing stairs. That it was no tragedy to be treating my body like it was worthless. In the back of my mind, I knew the truth (I mean, duh, I am a nurse), but I just wasn't ready to hear it. The truth was that all of the above was SOOOOOO NOT OKAY.

I count it among my greatest achievements that I am able to be readily honest and accountable to myself now. I may try to tell myself I don't have time to go to the gym on a busy morning, but that little voice in my head (the good one, not Gertrude! Perhaps we should call my good voice Gabrielle? My head is starting to get a little crowded lol) knows when I actually do have time. I follow that voice. I may try to tell myself that it's okay to take a day, or 2 days, or 3 days off my healthy eating plan, but Gabrielle tells me that that is not freaking okay, young lady! Gabrielle is kind of a downer sometimes, but I'm a fan of hers for the most part. . Bottom line though: I would much rather be happy, accountable, and honest to myself than miserable, in denial, and lying to myself.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook

Haha, stole a Julia Child quote for the title. I mean, who else would I quote for a post about food? But I have a feeling when she said steak, she didn't mean the leanest steak available like she should have been. However, she had the right idea about diet food. Just say no! I've had quite a few people ask what I've been eating to help me lose weight, so I decided to share here. The answer is...10 Whoppers and large fries everyday! It's a very complicated system involving flushing out my fat with the fat from the burgers and fries. Hahaha...yeah right. I mean, I saw that Super Size Me documentary, so that is one diet I will not be trying. Although disturbingly enough, after seeing that movie my best friend and I did go out to Outback to eat. Guess the movie wasn't disturbing enough. I also used to eat ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. Ah, memories, memories.

Moving on, here is my rationale concerning food. When I have dieted before, I focused on eating low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb everything. Basically, diet food. Most diet food is not so good. It was hard to stick to that, and I constantly felt deprived. Obviously, eventually I just fell off the wagon. This time, my focus is on eating real food. With few exceptions, by eating fresh produce, lean meats, whole grains, and low fat dairy in reasonable portions, it is hard to go wrong. I mean, obviously some foods are better than others, but I think it would be pretty hard not to lose weight on that diet. Plus, it's so tasty that I don't usually feel deprived. Sorry to disappoint those who just thought I was a weight loss prodigy (lol), but I don't have some crazy secret to losing weight. Here are some of my staples:


Chicken: Let me tell you, I would honestly be screwed if I didn't like chicken. I eat it all the time, mainly boneless skinless breasts. On a side note, I had an embarrassing experience when cooking chicken breasts for my family a few weeks ago. My dad said he wasn't hungry then because he just had surgery. Without thinking, I asked if he would like me to save him a breast. That earned me a weird look. But yeah, I would say chicken is my main meat (is it just me, or does that sound vaguely dirty?). I've found quite a few different recipes I love using chicken as the main ingredient. Last night, I made sesame chicken and it was great, if I do say so myself. Luckily, my family agreed.

Tuna: Sadly, I am not much of a seafood fan, which is a shame because of all the omega-3 fatty acids in them. But tuna is one exception to that. Yes, it's canned, but I still get my omega-3's! I usually eat it on my awesome double fiber multigrain bread (using very, very little mayo mixed in), or in a salad. 

Extra-lean ground beef: This is probably just a once a week food. I like to keep my red meat to a minimum. I usually use the 93% lean kind for hamburgers or use it in spaghetti sauce.

Canadian bacon: Great option for breakfast sandwiches.


Spinach: I eat spinach like it's going out of style. I eat it in salads, as a topping on sandwiches, even sometimes as part of my breakfast. What can I say? I've weirdly liked spinach since I was a toddler.

Sweet potatoes: I eat this as a side dish a lot. Awesome nutritional value, much better than white potatoes. I put a little all spice in, and it is delicious!

Squash and zucchini: Great taste, both stewed or baked. Actually, sometimes I just eat them raw too.

Mushrooms: Not even fancy mushrooms, just regular ones. I tend to put mushrooms in most of my crock pot dishes. Also, sometimes I make "pizzas" using portabello mushroom caps as the crust.

Peppers: All the colors! Is it just me, or does putting lots of pepper colors in a dish make it automatically seem healthier? I just hear so much about eating all the colors of the rainbow, and peppers make it so easy to do.

Cauliflower: Another veggie I eat both in crock pot recipes, and just raw as a snack.

Baby carrots:  Duh. Doesn't every diet have this one? But seriously, they are good. I tend to pair them with cottage cheese.

Avocados:  This is a relatively new veggie for me, but I have been eating it a lot because of those good fats it has. I even made chicken salad with it using it as a replacement for mayo.

Tomatoes, sadly a veggie (wait, actually a fruit) that is absent from this list: I HATE TOMATOES! I wish I liked them. I know how good they are good for you. And actually I enjoy pretty much everything derived from tomatoes. But as far as tomatoes themselves, I've hated them for as long as I can remember. Actually, when I was very little I picked all the green tomatoes from my mom's garden. 


Strawberries: My fave fruit! I love them as much as I hate tomatoes.

Blueberries: These are okay, just not my favorite. But I eat them because they are a superfood!  I like to mix them with greek yogurt.

Plums: Portable and only 30 calories apiece...what's not to like?

Nectarines: I started eating these as a replacement for peaches. They have a similar taste, but have fewer calories and lower sugar.

Pineapple: I love pineapple in just about everything. I pair it with chicken a lot.

Apples: They don't say it keeps the doctor away for nothing...

Oranges: I like the clementine ones because they are portable and less messy than regular oranges.

The fruits not included: There are some fruits that I like, but have stopped eating because they are higher in calories and sugar. These include bananas, peaches, and grapes.


Greek yogurt: This would have to be my number one dairy source. I used to eat Chobani, but that brand has pretty high calories and sugar. So I've switched to Dannon. Way less sugar and only 80 calories.

Cottage cheese: Another diet cliche unfortunately. But seriously, I love the 2% as an afternoon snack, mixed with fruit. It is a good savory snack, and has protein so it fills you up.

String cheese: Great emergency snack.

Milk, not so much: I'm not really a milk drinker. I've tried to buy it after being blasted with the milk mustache campaigns, but it usually just went bad. Now I just try to get my milk vitamins and minerals from the sources I listed above.

Grains, Carbs, whatever you want to call them:

Nature's Own Double Fiber Bread: This is what I make my sandwiches with, and then I feel virtuous.

Flat Out wraps: I use them when I make wraps (obviously). It took me a while to find a wrap I liked with good nutritional value, but these do the job.

Quinoa: Now my family likes most of the dishes I've made, but I have not sold them on quinoa. They actually compared it to kitty litter. Is it my favorite thing? No, but it is so much better for you than rice as a side dish that I use it. And I don't agree with the kitty litter assertion.

Lite multi-grain English muffins: I use these for my breakfast sandwiches. 

Oatmeal: I usually eat the low sugar kind, or plain and add fruit.

Random stuff: 

Soup: Pretty much any low cal, low sodium brand. I like Campbell's vegetable soup a lot.

Low sugar fudgecicles: Do these have any nutritional value? Not really, but they are only 80 calories for 2 and they satisfy my sweet tooth. So I think they're worth it.

Edy's Fruit Bars: As the box boldly proclaims, they are "made with real fruit!" 80 calories for a large fruit bar sounds good to me. Unlike a lot of fruit bars I've tried, they taste like fruit and not just ice.

Lean Cuisine meals: I'm trying to cut down my intake on these because many of them have a lot of sugar and sodium. However, some of them aren't too bad and can be a good option if you are short on time.

Eggs: I love me some eggs. I eat egg whites as part of my breakfast sandwich and hard boiled eggs as a snack. They are really filling!

Almonds: I let the amount of fat freak me out and keep me from buying them for a long time. But like avocados, almonds have mainly good fats.

I've left some stuff out, but this is a good general idea of what I usually have on hand. Most of these, people already know about, but maybe this list includes a few foods you haven't thought of. My main change with food has been thinking of it in terms of how much total nutritional value it has, not just if it is low fat and low calorie. Food is fuel, and I have so much more energy eating like this. I'm off to make lunch because writing this has made me hungry!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Diet soda, breakfast, and a scale obsession: Not your average Mount Everest

People always seem to call their big obstacles "their Mount Everest," but since I never intend to climb Mount Everest, I feel like I need another name. Well, actually I would like to call my big obstacles "my Lake Titicaca," not because I ever intend to swim in that lake, but because it sounds dirty, is fun to say, and it is also the only lake I ever know when playing along on Jeopardy. Since I hit my first goal this past week, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on things I could do better. No, this is not Gertrude talking. I'm not saying I need to do everything perfectly, just that there are some things I feel like I could do better on and would make my weight loss even greater. This is especially important in phase 2 of my mission (haha, sounds official. I just mean I am breaking up my weight loss into 3 month increments, and this is the second one.) since people generally do not lose as fast then as the first 3 months. Man, it would awesome to lose 12 lbs in a week like at the beginning every week! Oh well, one can dream. Also, just FYI, my phase 2 goal is 36 lbs (3.0 lbs per week). Phase 2 does not start until Sept 19 though, since that is 3 months from my start date.

Whew, got a bit off track. Anyway, here are some areas that need improvement:

Breakfast: Yes, be shocked. Kristen Kinney does not partake of the most important meal of the day everyday! I know how important it is, and I have even seen proof in my weight loss that eating breakfast does speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. I really have no good excuse. I have several breakfast foods I like that are awesome for you. I've even started being hungry in the morning, which was my problem before. I just didn't used to be hungry in the morning. Just some mornings, it doesn't happen for me. I probably manage to eat breakfast 4-5 times a week. That needs to be 7 days a week. It just does. No excuses, no wiggle room.

Strength training: I think this is one many people trying to lose weight fall victim to. It's easy to get into a "cardio, cardio, cardio!" mindset because that burns the most calories. But strength training makes you burn calories faster. I aim to set aside 30 minutes for strength training every day I'm at the gym. Sad to say, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes my legs do not seem to be working properly after my freakish amount of cardio, and it is all I can do to make it to my car, much less decide to torture my legs for 30 minutes longer. Sometimes I see intimidating muscle men in their mesh shirts gazing adoringly in the mirror at their freakishly developed arms, and I decide I just can't deal with that scene right then. Sometimes I am just lazy. But really, I need to adopt the same attitude for strength training as I do for cardio. Cardio is non-negotiable. I just do it without question. Strength training needs to be the same.

Weighing too much: Oh yeah, you all know about this one already. I'm happy to say, I've already made progress on this. It is now Saturday night and I haven't weighed since my official weigh-in last Wednesday, despite much pleading and crying on my scale's part from its new home under my bathroom sink.

Diet soda: Ah yes, my old friend diet soda. We've been a couple for a long time, but it is time for us to break up. I've just seen too much legitimate research about the dangers of aspartame, particularly it's association with metabolic syndrome. It may have no calories, but that doesn't mean it's a health angel! I've already reduced how much I drink, but honestly I feel like I need to just cut it out altogether except for maybe once in a blue moon (hey, we had one of those yesterday! I should have had a diet Pepsi then!). I really don't miss it if I'm not around it.

I'll let you know if I've made improvements soon! If I haven't, feel free to scold me ;)