Weight Loss Journey 2

Weight Loss Journey 2

*The opinions contained here are 100% my own and I have not been compensated in any way to provide them.*

In just over 20 days, I’ve lost about 10 pounds using the REV plan through Personal Trainer Food.  This is a different program that I have used in the past but so far its been easy, effective, and satisfying.

What I like about Personal Trainer Food is that they actually send you pre-packaged, pre-cooked food that you can heat up easily and quickly in the microwave for a tasty and satisfying meal that falls within the guidelines of the program.  Also, you’re not limited to what they send you—there are other foods you can have unlimited amounts of, so you don’t have to go around feeling hungry and irritable.  The recommended exercise component is minimal, and the focus is on the nutritional component of losing weight.  There are also weight loss coaches available and a daily email offering support and education about why the program is effective.

All that being said, everyone’s body works in a different way.  What works for me may not work for you.  In general, I have found that reducing carbohydrate intake (especially complex carbs) makes me feel lighter, more energetic, less puffy, and like I’m able to function better overall.  I find that I am less sluggish and slowed, and can think more clearly.  The biggest change is in my energy level, though. It’s strange not to be so tired all the time!

So far the program has been a success and I plan to continue.

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Are you confused?

Here is the deal:

Yes, I lost weight before (Weight Loss Journey 1) but gained it back over the course of a few years. Weight Loss Journey 2 is my current journey of re-committing to my health. Of course, I have weight loss goals as well, but mainly I want to get back to feeling in control of my health and my body. I will continue to share my story from Weight Loss Journey 1 in hopes that I will be an inspiration to myself and to others! I’m sure Weight Loss Journey 2, my current path, will have some challenges of its own, but fortunately I bring with me the tools and confidence that I gained from the first go-round.

I hope that you benefit from hearing my story and sharing my challenges, and I hope to be able to applaud you on whatever journey you are on!

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.  For more info, see above.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

Saving Money While Living Life

Saving Money While Living Life

dollars-426026_1280Saturday was a great day, financially speaking.   I did my usual errands:  went to the gym, the grocery store, a consignment store, and a department store.   Between all my errands, I spent about $100, but saved $105!

How?  Well let me tell you so you can do the same!

1.  I bought $100 worth of food and drinks for $58 at the grocery store.

First of all, I used NO coupons in this transaction.  I just planned ahead. In the past I have dabbled in couponing, but that requires more time and effort than I wanted to spend on a Saturday afternoon, so I’m not going to get into that just now.  I stocked up on things that were on sale, mostly buy 1 get 1 free items.  You should also know I’m not a crazy stock-piler and I don’t have a room in my home devoted to food storage.  A lot of the things I bought (like beverages) are shelf-stable and will last awhile, although I try to get shorter-lasting items like produce on sale too.

This trip included a small bag of dog food in the clearance section for $3.65.  I have gotten to know the clearance areas well, and you’d be surprised at the stores that have them.  Harris Teeter was where I shopped, and I have found that in the HT stores near me there is a small area (usually a free-standing cart of some kind, sometimes a shopping cart) where there is discounted and discontinued merchandise.   Other stores with a little discount corner:  Big Lots, Food Lion, and the Christmas Tree Shops.  Occasionally there are discontinued items throughout the store as well that are marked down about 50%; I have seen these in Food Lion, Harris Teeter, and CVS.  Those are sneaky ones, but you wouldn’t find them if you weren’t looking at something similar so they end up being useful deals.  I can usually save about 50% per item in the little clearance area (usually I don’t bother for less than that).

Of course, I don’t buy items I won’t use.  I have been tempted by the clearance bug in the past, but have learned my lesson:  It’s not really “saving” money if you wouldn’t buy the product anyway.

Money saved: $42, or 42% off full price!

2.   I bought $50 worth of gasoline for $40.

Harris Teeter is running a promotion in which if you spend $50 or more in one transaction, you can buy a $50 gas card for $40.  Since gas is one of those items you always need and can’t really get “on sale”, this is a good deal.  The cards are only for Shell and BP, so this deal wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t have one (or both) of those stations near where I live, work, or play.  For me, a single $50 gas card covers two weeks’ worth of gasoline for my little Toyota Corolla!

Money saved: $10, or 20% off full price!

3.  I bought a $30 shirt for $4.00

I dropped off some of next season’s clothing at the consignment store in hopes that I will make a little money from some items I no longer need.  If I can, I prefer taking clothes to a consignment store over the Goodwill if they’re in good condition because I can get cash or store credit instead of a tax deduction.   But I do enjoy tax deductions, so I also take clothes that are a little more worn out or dated to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

As I was at the consignment store I perused the sale rack; 75% off their ticketed prices!  A summer top with the original tag on (which read $30) was marked down to $15 at the store price.  Seventy-five percent off meant a price tag of 3.75 and a 0.25 tax, equaling $4.  I wore the top the very next day and I am thrilled with the look and the cost!

Money saved: $26, or 86% off full price!

*Bonus:  I may actually get paid for that trip to the consignment store, depending on how much money I earn from the items I dropped off!

4.  I got a $25 necklace for less than $3.

My last stop before I headed home was to JCPenney.  This time I did have a coupon, for $10 off a minimum purchase of $10, which I had gotten in the mail. Free money!  I have gotten these kinds of coupons from JCPenney, Lane Bryant, and Kohls, and I think a few other department stores have similar programs if you shop there often.  In my experience, Kohls and JCPenney usually have pretty good clearance deals regardless of whether you have a coupon, but obviously it’s best if you can pair both together, which I did.

My first stop at JCPenney is almost always the jewelry section. (The costume jewelry, not the really fancy stuff.  My dog has a habit of eating shiny things if left within reach of his mouth, so I try not to spend too much money on jewelry–and shoes–for this reason. Also, I’m thrifty, but I’m guessing you’ve figured that out.)  It was tough to narrow down my choices, but eventually I left with a necklace marked down from $25 to $11.99 in (again) the clearance section.  The total with tax came to $2.12 after the $10 coupon, but I rounded up to a full $3.00 to donate 0.88 to a local after school program.

Money saved: $22, or 88% off full price!

5.  *Oh yeah, one other bonus:  I got paid to go to the gym.  I’m a fitness instructor!

As my boyfriend would say, not too shabby!

Saving money is not rocket science, but it does require that you pay attention to sales and deals, and are aware of what an item should typically cost.   I’m a pretty low maintenance girl, so I only get girly things like new clothes and jewelry if I can pay rock-bottom prices.  This amount of savings is pretty typical for me, but I don’t shop for these items often and this amount of savings doesn’t always happen all in one day like this.

In general, I never pay full price for anything if I can help it. I have all I really need of clothing, shoes, jewelry, and that kind of thing. And of course I need to eat everyday, but we live in a country that offers an abundance of food choices. Usually, you can wait to get something until it goes on sale if you plan ahead.

That all being said, there are a lot of programs and blogs that help with finding sales, coupons, and gift card and point programs. That is all great information that I may get into at another time. For today, I just wanted to share how, armed with a single coupon and a calculator on my smart phone, I was able to save nearly as much money as I spent in a single day.

I’d love to hear simple ways YOU save money!

Sharing My Voice

Sharing My Voice

microphone-626032_1920Hi, there!
I began blogging in 2009 at SparkPeople, as a pet project as I began a weight-loss journey.  It was helpful to talk myself through the process and find some internal inspiration/motivation to continue the habits that would keep me healthy.
Fast forward six years later…here we are.  I have wanted to commit to working on a blog for a long time now.  In fact, I’ve been writing articles for it for years.  However, I never took the time to play with the technology, and to keep a consistent habit.  My desire was ultimately to monetize a blog so that I could stay home with my children when I have them one day.  I have a URL, I don’t have a blog.  Writing on Sparkpeople was easy, I just had to type in their platform and post.  I’ve made it far more difficult than it needs to be.
Today I was reading a blog post by Henri Juntilla (from Wake Up Cloud, one of the original blogs that inspired me years ago), who said that I must tell my story.  It’s scary of course.  But I have a lot to say and I wouldn’t have continued writing all this time if I didn’t have something important to share.   My (writing) voice is small, weak even, but I want it to become strong so that I feel confident in what I have to say. 
Picture by Bridget

Photo by Bridget

On my best days, I think that I might just have something special to offer.  But of course, not all of my days are my best days.  On my worst days, I just want to crawl in bed and tell the world to leave me alone.   On both kinds of days, and every day in between, I still feel a longing in my heart to share my story with the world.  It’s not a perfect story.  It’s not a tragedy, a comedy, and certainly not a drama or an action story.  It’s not a fairy tale, it’s not science fiction, I wouldn’t even call it a biography. 

It’s just my story, the story of a 30-something gal trying to make her way in this crazy world.  Like everyone, I have family, friends, dreams, goals, priorities, causes I care about, and responsibilities.  I have questions, hesitations, doubts, fears, things I don’t think I will ever understand, and things I don’t care about at all (even if I wish I did).  I have areas in which I can improve, books I want to read, places I want to visit, and people I’d love to meet.
As a Social Worker by day, I believe that everyone has something important and valuable to share.  I believe that everyone’s experiences and perceptions are different and that we all have something special and unique to offer the world.  It’s time I lived up to my own expectation and start believing that my story is valuable too.
So here I am, stuck in the middle of all that, and finally—finally—I am ready to share my story.
Weight Loss Journey 1

Weight Loss Journey 1

From 2009-2010, I spent a lot of time focused on my weight and my health.  I was seriously overweight, and made some significant changes to lose weight, to the tune of 75 pounds!

Years later, I am focusing on that area of my life again.  I kept most of the weight off for a few years, but put a significant amount back on from 2014-2015.  There are many reasons for this, but I’m not here to make excuses; suffice it to say that I didn’t keep up the healthy habits that allowed me to lose that weight in the first place.

I’ve gotten back on track, however, and have lost about 10 pounds over the past month.  The weight loss journey that allowed me to lose 75 pounds before has changed my life for the better; even with some of the weight back on, I’m a much more confident and successful person.  The website Sparkpeople was instrumental in allowing me to be accountable to myself, and record and report changes.  It was at that time that I first discovered blogging, as I chronicled my journey on their member blogging platform.

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Since re-committing myself to my health over the past several weeks, I have fondly recalled those early days of blogging.  I read through several of those posts today and was surprised to find myself inspired by my own words.

For that reason, I have decided to re-publish those blog posts on this blog.  Even though the original words were from 2009-2010, I hope that my story will resonate with what others are going through when they make that kind of commitment.  This is also a selfish endeavor; re-visiting those blog posts myself will help me to continue focusing on my health in the present, and to re-evaluate and update goals that I set for myself in the past.  I’m convinced that health (especially related to maintaining weight) is something I will continue to need to prioritize as my life circumstances, responsibilities, and priorities change.

There are some similarities between then and now, as well as some changes.  As before, I am a single (as in, unmarried) woman.  My job is in the same field, but is more emotionally demanding and requires a much longer commute than the one I had years ago.  I have a dog (this may seem like a small thing but he requires a lot of attention!), and the care he requires falls exclusively on my shoulders.  As before, I live alone, except now I own a townhome instead of renting an apartment.   Fortunately I continue to have wonderful family and friends (although the friends I am closest to have changed) and I have a wonderful boyfriend who is supportive and values his health as well.  I’m in my early 30’s now, as opposed to my late 20’s as before, and I live in a different city, although I remain in North Carolina.  The focus for me now is more about long-term health than appearance, although I still want to look hot in a two-piece bathing suit!

As I post the old blogs, I will also post the original date they were appeared on SparkPeople.  The old blog posts will begin with the title:  Weight Loss Journey 1.  Any new blog posts from my current weight loss journey will begin with the title:  Weight Loss Journey 2, and I will try to make it clear which posts are older and which are more recent.

Regardless of your weight, join me on this journey to better health!  I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes along the way!!!

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Inquiring minds want to know: What is all this business about Weight Loss Journey 1 and Weight Loss Journey 2?

Weight Loss Journey 1: I lost 75 pounds from 2009-2011; I’m reposting the blog posts I wrote on Sparkpeople during that time.  For more info, see above.

Weight Loss Journey 2: I have gained back the majority of the weight I lost and have been on a quest since July 2015 to lose the weight again.

Sorry about the timing of the posts, I know that’s probably confusing. But they are only appearing at the same time because I didn’t start my blog earlier. It may be helpful to read the posts by category if you want to catch up. Enjoy!

 

 

Making Goals for the New Year

Making Goals for the New Year

 

Think about what your life was like a year ago.  Five years ago.  If you’re anything like me it is drastically different.  Where you live, the people you spend the most time with, the community organizations you’re involved in, the hobbies you participate in, have likely all changed.  If not, ask yourself why.  On a daily basis you make decisions in each of these areas that affect where you are at the present moment. 

Look at your life in the four main areas:  social, physical, financial, and spiritual.   Even better, write these categories down and think about them for a minute.  Do you have anything you’d like to achieve in any of these areas?  Create a goal for each area.  Be specific, and don’t be afraid to think big.  You’ve got your whole life to improve yourself; don’t expect everything to fall into place in a week.  ?  You can use any time frame you’d like—a year, five years, 10 years, or even six weeks.  Just make sure your goal is realistic for the time frame you have set it for. 

If you have not made any changes in the past year, why is that?  Are you afraid of change?  Are you content with the life you have?  Most of us want more out of life.  However, not all of us are willing to take the steps (or risks) that come with moving forward in life.  What are the things holding you back?  How much influence do you have in removing these obstacles?   Much of the time, we are the biggest things standing in the way of our own success.

Sure, sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.  Family members fall ill, the economy affects our financial stability, people around us make decisions that impact our lives.  These things, unfortunately, are all part of daily living, and are things we have to learn to deal with in order to move forward.time-273857_1280

However, even if a circumstance is out of your control, you can still decide how you’re going to deal with it.  There are two things that a person has control over—their attitude and their actions.  If you are facing a situation that is not ideal, confront it with confidence that you can overcome it.  Think about which parts of the situation you can affect, even if it just how you view it, and go from there.

The hardest part for some people is letting go of what they are familiar with.  It has been said, “the only constant in life is change”.  In other words, your life will change whether you want it to or not.  You need to decide for yourself whether you guide that change yourself or allow things to happen to you.  Don’t be a victim of circumstance.  Create your own future.  Make your own plan for your life and follow through with that plan.  You choose the direction you’re life can take!

Consider the next year and think about where you want to be a year from now.  Write it down, be specific, and put your goals somewhere you can see them on a regular basis.  Happy New Year!

 

Let’s Get to Know Each Other

Here’s a brief synopsis of the past few years of my life, which has led me to where I am now.  I am a Master’s level trained Social Worker and I’ve worked in the field of dialysis for 4 years before moving on to Hospice, where I am now.  Prior to that I was going to school for Physical Therapy, so I have a strong background in the health care field.  My interest has always been to help others, but it has only been recently that I have discovered how to do that in a way that’s best suited to my training, my desires, and my natural abilities.  If all that education means nothing to you, that’s fine.  Just know that I’ve had a lot of education but I haven’t been able to use that in the way I’d really like to.

In the fall of 2008 I moved from upstate New York to North Carolina (where I currently live), where I knew only 4 people at the time.  That move was very scary, but it has definitely shaped who I am and given me the confidence to make great decisions for my life.  During this time I’ve also been involved with great people that were passionate about self-improvement and education, and I have soaked up every bit of education I have been able to get my eager little hands on.

In 2009 I made the decision to create a healthier life for myself.  I was very overweight but I wanted more out of life and I hated how my body, and the thought processes that had caused me to be fat, were holding me back.  I’m proud to say that I lost 75 pounds just over a year (the healthy way) and have kept a good portion of it off for years.  I can tell you, this journey was not an easy one, but it has made more of an impact on my life than anything I’ve ever done.  I can truly say that I’m a different person, physically, emotionally, and mentally, than I was before I did that for myself. 

It was during this process that I discovered the wonder that is blogging.  I found that there were so many changes going on in my head and heart that I just needed to express myself, and I started journaling on an incredible web community I was a part of that kept me accountable to my weight loss goals.  I never knew I liked writing, to be honest.  With all the education I had been through, I had done countless papers and projects, but I had never really considered writing in my spare time for fun or recreation.  Also, I had kept diaries as a teenager (oh, the horrific problems of adolescence) but never really as an adult until I started to write as a way to cope with the changes brought about by my weight loss.  Suddenly I realized that I’m decent at writing, and I really enjoy it.  Twice I even considered writing a book about specific experiences I had gone through, but at those times of my life writing wasn’t a priority.  My passion for writing didn’t go away, but I did kind of push it aside for awhile, while I focused on other things.  However, I continued to journal as an effective means of self-expression and problem solving.

I love learning on any kind of level.  Even when things fail in my life I try to turn it into a learning opportunity.  I will say that I’m a relentless optimist and I’m always giving people the benefit of the doubt (to my detriment, at times), but that mindset is a big part of who I am and how I view the world, and I’m happy with that. 

At this point I am ready to take on another big challenge, so I’ve entered into the world of blogging.  I know very little about setting up a website, but fortunately I have found that there are a lot of resources (and a community of incredibly friendly, successful, and helpful bloggers) available to assist me.  My hope for this blog is to reach out to others who are ready and willing to move forward in their lives by sharing the life lessons I have learned over the past few years.  One of my life’s passions is to help others achieve their potential, and I hope to use this website as a means to do that by reaching out to others interested in improving their lives.  

I’d love to hear from you and what you would like to get from this site.  Enjoy!