Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Now a Newlywed, Still a Dieter.

2013 has been a year of incredible opportunities, career milestones and amazing adventures. Yet, just three weeks ago, I had the biggest milestone of not only the year, but of my life. I am now a married woman. On October 4th, I married my best friend in a beautiful wedding surrounded by my friends and family. It was the most special day of my life. But this post isn't about the intricate details of planning and enjoying a wedding, it's about providing tips to stick to a diet goal when you're out of your daily diet routine.

I'm a planner. I love details. So being in charge of planning every detail of my wedding day was really exciting for me. I took advantage of having a year to plan the wedding- and did not allow myself to become overly stressed...until the week before the big day, when the real fun began. I'm not going to lie, the final days leading up to the big day were crazy. I had most hours between 8AM and 8PM planned with things that needed to be picked up, dropped off, or arranged. Being so busy did not allow for much time to plan a healthy meal. My days consisted of mostly snacking whenever I had a free second to put food into my mouth. This kind of plan can spell catastrophe for a dieter. I knew I had to maintain the weight that I was in order for my dress to fit me perfectly- that thought weighed on my mind with every bite that I took. But because I've become so seasoned in dieting, I made healthier decisions with my food choices. Where before, the drive-thru would have been my best friend in days of constant commotion, I instead packed healthy snacks in my purse, so I knew I could eat something healthy whenever I needed to. This worked for me, I made sure to eat breakfast and dinner daily- and usually spent the afternoon hours snacking on the treats I had stashed in my purse. 

After the big day, my new husband and I went on an amazing two week honeymoon to Hawaii and California. I was completely out of my element. I had vowed to myself to enjoy the two weeks, to not make my food choices the focus of the trip. I knew I wouldn't be surrounded by my usual healthy foods, and I had to come to terms with knowing it would be okay to eat foods I usually stayed away from. It was a constant struggle for me. I enjoyed each meal- indulging in foods that I haven't had in years...pancakes, bacon (not turkey bacon), cheeseburgers (not made with ridiculously lean beef) and cheese. But I experienced regret after each meal knowing I was probably gaining weight that I had worked so hard to take off. In situations like this, no matter how many people tell you you're not going to gain as much weight as the worst case scenarios playing in your head, the only voice you will truly listen to is your own. 

My internal voice that holds me accountable for food that I eat would not be silenced, so I had to find ways to counteract it in order to enjoy our honeymoon. I found that the best thing I could do is try to do something active every single day. I spent the first week in Disneyland, walking over 20,000 steps a day racing from ride to ride and the second week in Hawaii, taking 3 mile hikes enjoying the beauty of the island. Because I knew I was moving around every day, I allowed myself to indulge in foods that I had given up. And when I got home, the scale was very forgiving of me...I had only gained one pound! 

As I begin this new chapter of my life as a newlywed, my weight loss goal has not wavered. The day we returned, I quickly went back onto MyFitnessPal, entering the my daily food intake. The truth is, I enjoyed having a two week break, where I didn't log my food and I attempted to not worry about what I was putting into my body, but it felt like something was missing. Living a healthy lifestyle has become such a vital part of my life, that when I steered off course for a short time, I felt off. I didn't have as much energy. My body felt heavy and sluggish. 

I know what I've accomplished over three years has completely changed my life. My honeymoon was a testament to the way I've trained my body to yearn for healthier food. I missed my daily diet habits of whole grains, lean meats, lots of fruit, and of course my ice cream. Dieting is not only about working towards a number on the scale, it's also about teaching yourself what should be put into your body and what shouldn't. I knew I had mastered the first goal- as I had been losing weight for almost three years, but I had never truly tested myself when it came to my body's reaction to wavering off my diet. After my honeymoon of cheeseburgers, fries, bacon, and delicious Hawaiian desserts, my body craved healthier food choices. And because of that, I know I'm doing something right. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Just call me the Ice Cream Dieter

So I have a nickname now. I received a call yesterday from a local news station, WFMZ, wanting to do a story on the ice cream dieter. Ooh, a nickname! I loved it!!! I couldn't believe they had read my story in the Morning Call the previous day and wanted to feature me on the news. From that phone call- everything moved so quickly. By 2:30 that afternoon, a reporter, camera woman, and intern were setting up my small two bedroom apartment for my story. As my fiance and sister looked on from the living room, my interview unfolded. They filmed me dishing out my ice cream, stepping on the scale, and logging my daily food.  The camera went inside my cabinets, my refrigerator and freezer. (Thank goodness, my fiance had frantically cleaned our apartment before they arrived!) When the interview was almost wrapped, after an hour and a half of shooting, I stood in my dining room, watching the scene in front of me. I couldn't believe that a reporter was standing in my kitchen, filming her introductory segment for my news feature. It seemed completely unreal! Here's the link to WFMZ's website where you can read the story and watch the segment from the news.

I never expected anything from my weight loss success- but all the experiences that I've been offered because of my journey have proved to be quite an adventure. I hope that through each outlet, my story can inspire others to begin their journey towards developing and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Because above all else, that is what is most important.

In other news, its the 4th of July- a day full of picnics, fireworks, and endless unhealthy temptations. If I've learned one thing throughout my diet process it's been that it is very hard to be on a diet during parties or gatherings when most other guests aren't eating the same way you are and the food choices are anything but healthy. It can be very difficult to stay on the right path when surrounded by so many delicious temptations. But my motto at parties, as it is every other day of the year, is simple. If something looks too good to pass up, then don't! I don't believe a diet should ever deprive you. If you feel like you are missing out on something- you'll find ways to talk yourself out of dieting and into binge eating. To avoid that, pick out the one dish at a party that looks irresistible and have a very small taste. One or two bites will be enough to satisfy your craving but not enough to throw you completely off course for the entire day. Also, if the party asks for guests to bring a dish- make sure your dish is something healthy! That way, you are guaranteed to have something that you can be enjoy on your diet while socializing with friends and family. And most parties always have a vegetable or fruit tray- so load up on that! But above all else, don't allow yourself to focus on the food at the party that you are missing out on because of your diet. Enjoy spending time with family and friends and be proud of yourself and all your newfound willpower!!

Happy 4th! Enjoy the day celebrating our country's independence and your personal independence from food!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Celebrating my Journey on a Small and National Scale

A lot has happened since September. Since my last post, I have not only reached but far surpassed my 100 pound milestone. The emotions that I felt when I looked at the scale when I finally was down 100 pounds was a feeling I will never forget. As I finally saw the scale read 196, my eyes filled with tears. It felt like I had climbed the highest mountain after a nineteen month trek and I was almost able to see the finish line. Reaching 100 pounds was a huge accomplishment for a number of reasons- I was into triple digits (Ahhh!), finally only 49 pounds away from my final goal and let's face it 100 pounds is such a nicer number to say than 99 when someone inquires about your total weight loss.

After losing such a significant amount of weight I started to feel incredibly confident in myself and got the desire to share my story. In May, I found an inquiry on The View's website asking for viewers who lost weight naturally using no diet pills or surgery. I knew this segment was made for me. So I submitted a before and after picture of myself and within two days, I had been contacted by the producer. She couldn't believe my weight loss success and wanted to feature me on the show. She told me I had more than doubled other viewer's weight loss and that the executive producer wanted my story to be the final ta-da of the week. I was ecstatic, slightly freaked out- as the View is nationally syndicated, and incredibly honored. 

My weight loss story was one I had only shared with my family and friends. Being able to share my story with millions of viewers in America was a little intimidating. But I knew I had a great story- as I'm proud of my success and I understand and could sympathize with so many people who have struggled with weight. I'd been there. I'd been fighting that exact same struggle my entire life. But I overcame my addiction to food and fear of dieting in a way that people could relate to. I knew I could inspire other people to start making healthier decisions. 

The taping itself was a whirlwind. It all seemed so surreal. My family and I were put up in a beautiful hotel in the middle of Times Square the night before my show. There was a car being sent to take me to the studio. I had my own dressing room, a hair stylist and makeup artist. It was complete VIP treatment. As they escorted us to the front row in the audience, I couldn't believe this was actually happening. I was asked about the foods I ate leading up to my heaviest point and what I changed about my diet that has allowed me to have such success. They even showed a video clip of me doing Zumba! It was an experience I will never forget. And I know how lucky and fortunate I am that I could celebrate my weight loss success with such a large audience.

After my View experience, I was contacted by a local newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, the Morning Call. They had heard about my weight loss journey and The View appearance and wanted to share my story by featuring me in the newspaper--how flattering! I appreciated the newspaper story because it allowed me to share more intricate details of my weight loss and share tips of my diet that I wasn't able to discuss on "The View"- specifically my affinity for nightly ice cream. It also allowed me to use another outlet of the media in which to tell people about myself and my continuous weight loss journey. (,0,7630885.story)

At the end of the day, I'm not updating this blog to brag. And I hope it doesn't come off that way. I am humbled by the recognition that I have received. I never expected people to care about my story. I am just a twenty-something year old woman living in a small town in Pennsylvania, who like millions of Americans, has struggled with weight issues my entire life. I know the pain and internal battle that being overweight can cause. I remember thinking to myself that I would always be overweight.

 If this blog helps just one person overcome the same struggles that I faced day in and day out- then I've accomplished something. Because I know even though losing weight may seem like a hopeless battle- it's not. It can be the most rewarding journey of your life if you keep at it and don't get discouraged by obstacles that will indefinitely present themselves along the way. Personally, each pound I've lost taught me a great deal about myself. I know now that I can accomplish anything because I've discovered a sense of determination in myself that I never knew existed. When I started dieting, I felt like I was running into a brick wall. I wanted to lose half of myself- a goal that was intimidating to say the least. But I am within 22 pounds of my end goal- and that is an AMAZING feeling. You just need to start somewhere. Start small. Celebrate each milestone, and keep plugging away. Because when you reach huge milestones- like 5 pounds, 25 pounds, or 100 pounds- I promise that you will never feel so strong. 

Losing weight gives you a sense of confidence in yourself both mentally and physically that was never there before. You dress differently, you carry yourself differently. You radiate with a new-found sense of confidence that didn't have the courage to present itself when you were overweight. And maybe, just maybe, if you're lucky enough- you get the confidence to share your story with the world. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

99 Pounds and Counting

Something clicked in me a year and a half ago.  If you were to ask me what exactly about my mindset changed, I wouldn't be able to tell you.  I wish I could share my "ah-ha" moment, where suddenly I knew I couldn't continue on the same path I had followed most of my life. But my realization of needing to lose weight was so anticlimactic, so not-dramatic in any sense of the word.  I set a New Year's resolution to lose weight in January of 2011. I didn't think much of it at the time, because it seemed every year came and went with the same resolution, and yet nothing to show for it every December.

I decided to begin my diet on January 10th, 2011- the Monday after returning home from a trip to Florida (and let's face it- diets really can only start on Mondays).  When I began my diet, my road to my goal weight was incredibly long.  I had 146 pounds to lose to hit the weight that I ultimately wanted to be.  146 is a big number to swallow.  It was overwhelming for me to look at.   Having that much weight to lose has made me a believer in baby steps.  The only way to reach that goal was to focus on one pound a time, and celebrate every small milestone on the way to reaching it.

 I didn't have a plan of action when I set my resolution- I just knew I wanted to lose weight the old fashioned way (slowly, and sometimes tortuously, but effectively). I wouldn't look for a quick fix by trying a fad diet where you live on cabbage and water.  I wanted to be able to eat real food, not restrict myself completely from the foods that I loved (mainly, ice cream- which I have had every single night since my diet started).

I searched through my phone's app store and downloaded the first calorie tracker that popped up-Myfitnesspal.  To this day, over a year and a half later, I still devotedly use Myfitnesspal to keep track of my daily caloric intake.  For me, losing weight began as simply as entering my foods into a calorie tracker and not going over my daily limit.  It's a program that has been so unbelievably effective for me, as it lowers my calorie intake as I continue to lose weight.  For anyone who doesn't know exactly where to start, no matter how large or how small the weight loss journey that you have ahead of you- writing down your food intake daily is a simple and effective way to start.

The last year and a half of my life have been devoted to bringing about a healthier me.  Writing down my food and calories daily is a large part of that journey- but there have been many other changes that I've instilled along the way as well.  In the beginning, the pounds were coming off quickly.  As my body began to adjust to the calories that I was putting in everyday- I had to find ways to mix it up and never let it settle at the weight it currently was.  In January 2012, I started Jillian Michael's "The 30 Day Shred".  Sadly, I only lasted 28 days.  And where I didn't lose much weight on the program, I did notice a drastic change in my strength and endurance (But I better have after abiding by her twenty minutes of the most intense workout I've ever put my body through).  After the shred I began Zumba- a cardio intensive, dance exercise program.  I believe that the only reason why doing an hour of Zumba didn't completely kick my butt every workout was because of the endurance that my body built up doing the Shred.  I have always hated exercising- that's been the main downfall to most of my diets.  However, Zumba is different. Zumba doesn't feel like a workout- which is probably why I still take two classes a week.  It is fun, energetic, keeps you moving nonstop for an hour.  I enjoy it- and it's helped me lose a lot of weight since the beginning of the year.  On Saturday, I decided to also begin the couch to 5K program.  I'm not a runner- I walked the mile every year in gym class.  But I see many of my friends and family who have started running and gotten completely addicted to it.  That's the kind of exercise program that I need- one that addicts me.  If I'm addicted, I'm guaranteed to keep going at it. I only have two days of it under my belt, so it's a complete work in progress- but I'm excited to see how running changes me- not only physically but mentally as well.

I guess by now, the big question is how much weight have I lost...As I'm sure it's obvious (as the title of this post gives it away), I am currently at 99 pounds. 99 is a big accomplishment, but it is also such a frustrating number.  It's like turning 15, you want to simply fast forward that year and skip right to 16.  I have been wanting to reach 100 pounds for over a week now.  But as with everything else in my diet, baby steps.  I know that pound will come off, and I will have hit a tremendous milestone in my weight loss journey.  Where it's no where near over, I'm closer to my goal.

Losing such a drastic amount of weight has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.  Weight has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember, so to finally feel like I am in control of what I put into my body is an amazing feeling.  I'm not tempted by food that doesn't fit into my daily plan anymore- that's not to say that I don't have cheat days.  I am a big believer in cheat days- a day to indulge in whatever it is you have craved for the entire week.  For me, my cheat days mostly involve pizza.  This time, dieting has been different for me.  I have stuck with my diet because I haven't completely cut out all foods that are deemed to be unhealthy.  I incorporate ice cream every night and pizza once a week- I'm sure those are two things nutritionists wouldn't recommend- but for me, it works.

This blog will continue to document my weight loss journey- every battle with every pound and every bowl of ice cream along the way.  And if I hit the big 100 pound milestone by my next blog post, I can guarantee that bowl will be a little bigger that night.