Monday, August 24, 2015

My Babysteps to Losing 30 Pounds in 8 Months

I don't know what was different about this January.  For the past two years I'd wanted to get healthier to work off the 20 pounds I'd unknowingly gained.

It felt slightly New-Year's-resolution-ish, but I think that just seeing more and more pictures of myself and realizing how much I'd gained, I knew I wanted to do SOMETHING.  Either way, I just decided to START.

For me it was all about the babysteps.  If I was going to create a more healthy and lasting lifestyle, I knew it wouldn't happen overnight.
P.S. I pretty much went through my Instagram to remember what my journey was like--if you want to see more food pics, etc. my Insta is @bethanyjanae, and I'm going to go through and add the hashtag #bethanyshealthyliving

I'd somehow come across Blogilates on Instagram, and decided to join in on a simple "30 Day Flat Abs Challenge" (a quick daily workout calendar that I often did just before jumping into bed).  I started doing some other workouts on the Blogilates YouTube channel, and didn't want to ruin that with eating crummy food.

I also read this: "Weight loss is.... 80% what you eat, 10% training, 10% genetics."

I'd never heard that before, and was shocked at how much food had to do with weight loss!!

So I started buying more fruits and veggies at the grocery store and looking up snack and recipe ideas on the Blogilates website and on Pinterest.  I also reached out to friends for their fav healthy snacks, and made another attempt to shop at places like Trader Joe's and Sprouts (fortunately we moved down the street from both of these, which made that much easier to do!!)

I started being more intentional about food in general and making healthier choices, like these -

-Instead of endless potato chips... A few veggie or sweet potato chips.
-Instead of syrup with high fructose corn syrup... 100% Maple syrup.
-Instead of white rice... Quinoa.
-Instead of Goldfish... Snapea Crisps.
-Instead of white bread... Whole wheat (or Ezekiel) bread.
-Instead of white pasta... Quinoa or whole wheat pasta.
-Instead of cereal and milk... Oatmeal.
-Instead of sugar... Stevia in the Raw, Agave, or Raw honey.
-Instead of margarine... Kerrygold butter.
-Instead of sour cream... Plain Greek yogurt.
-Instead of ground beef... Ground turkey.
-Instead of Ranch dressing... Olive oil and vinaigrette.

I also started looking more at ingredients before putting things in my shopping cart.  I especially looked for things without added sugar--like in peanut butter or spaghetti sauce.

It might sound silly too, but it was also super helpful for me to stop following my favorite baking blogs on Instagram (I love making cupcakes and cakes), or other food bloggers with tantalizing things that are only good for the taste buds!  Instead I started following accounts that would inspire me health-wise and keep me on track!

Here are some of my fav Instagram accounts to follow that keep me motivated and give me great ideas for food (first 6 are pictured above and are tagged on my Instagram):
@toneitup (and @karenakatrina), @blogilates, @livylovestorun, @cleaneats_cleantreats, @yogalynzi, @hellodayblog, @simplysadiejane, @caliabycarrie

I came across those first two accounts mentioned when I kept coming across the hashtag #tiuteam or #tiugirl.  So when I looked that up, I found Tone It Up (another fitness and health brand).  I started adding in some of their workouts, would snag more recipes from their website, and would watch their YouTube videos with their nutrition tips and snack ideas.

The other thing that made a huge difference for me was when I joined Tone It Up in April, right when they were kicking off their 8 week Bikini Series (it was a one-time purchase of $150 for the membership and has been completely worth it!!).  Tone It Up was started by two besties, Karena and Katrina, who both have backgrounds in health and fitness.  I learned sooo much from their nutrition plan.  I loved how they "combine exercise with the right nutrients at the right time of the day, to boost energy levels and your metabolism."  (They also have an awesome and informative book out called 28 Days to Fierce, Fit, and Fabulous that you can snag at Target for $17.)

They recommend 5 meals a day (breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, and dinner), and had awesome recipes for each of those meals that helped so much.  Being a member in time for the Bikini Series, I got 8 full weeks of grocery lists, meal plans, recipes, and workout schedules all laid out for me.  It was glorious.  A guy at Trader Joe's asked me where I got my awesome book (I'd printed out all the pages and had hubby bind it for me), and my response was, "Wellllllllll, first you have to become a Tone It Up girl." He said he'd have his wife look into it... ;)

I've also loved the mantra sprinkled all throughout Tone It Up that has guided my grocery shopping and eating for these past 8 months... "Lean, Clean, and Green."  Lean proteins, clean foods and ingredients, and lots of veggies and nutrient-dense foods.  It's made all the difference!!

All in all, the main things I've tried to put into practice since January include...
*Drinking lots of water. (Take your body weight, divide in half, then drink that many ounces per day.)
*Making sleep a priority.
*Writing things down like workouts, water intake, hours of sleep, mealtimes, that day's weight, etc. (I didn't keep this up, but it helped me with getting on track.)
*Taking pictures of my plates (it made me think about what I was putting on it, and gave me ideas of what to eat later).  I even made albums in my phone for Plate Pics and Progress Pics!
*Getting accountability.
*Being intentional about what I was eating, and when--like not eating fruit or starches after 3pm, and trying not to eat past 8pm.

There's also nothing more motivating than getting new workout clothes, a Fitbit, a new kettlebell, or even a fun new water bottle. :)

I've loved my Fitbit Charge HR (it even vibrates when I'm getting a phone call and shows the person's name and number on the tiny screen!), and the Fitbit app that it sincs with is awesome, too.

The other app I highly recommend is My Fitness Pal.  Plugging in the food I ate for a few days helped me realize how many calories I was taking in, and helped me with portion control.  It also shows my weight loss progress, and it has a circle graph that shows my daily breakdown of consumed protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, fat, etc.  So helpful to know what I'm putting in my body so I can be more intentional about it!

In my first two months of making changes, I lost 10 pounds.  It was really encouraging seeing a before and after in pictures, wearing the same clothes.  (I wouldn't have seen the difference as much otherwise!)  I had fun doing daily weigh-ins cause it kept me more accountable and motivated me to keep going as I saw the numbers go down.
Right pic was after I'd lost 20 lbs (After 4 1/2 mos)
Whenever I had a special occasion or went on vacation, I made sure to enjoy food without feeling guilty.  I was still intentional, and still ate healthy in general, but I let myself have treats.

It might sound cliche, but I really feel like I've striven to keep it all about balance, being intentional, and practicing moderation.  I still love my chocolate, and enjoy at least a square of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) each day. I don't feel bad eating half a slice of cake at a birthday party--and I don't feel bad throwing away the other half either.  I might skip out on the side of potatoes at a restaurant, but have 3 slices of French bread. :)  And if I'm having wine I just have one glass.

My goal was to make sure what I was doing was manageable, and that it wasn't so much a diet as it was a lifestyle.  And though I've exercised more often than I ever have before, I'm still not that consistent.  It's mostly been about the food, and I can't believe that in the process I've lost 30 pounds!!  It just keeps coming off, and I'm still not sure when it'll plateau.  (Right now my goal is just maintaining this current weight.)  I hit my pre-Ellie weight and then some (the last time I was this weight was 5 years ago!), and it feels great.  I even fit into my wedding dress again!!
I really didn't know I had it in me, and it's felt really good to see my progress and to see how much I've accomplished.  I feel healthy, I actually like getting dressed now (and shopping for clothes!), and most of all I feel great knowing I'm setting a positive and healthy example for my little Peanut.

Now if only I could get pregnant so I could gain all that weight back... ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Youngest Number One Fan


I still can't believe this happened, and I don't want to forget any of it (especially so we can help Ellie remember it), so I'm writing it all down!  (As in novel status... you've been warned!)

Remember last year when David and I got to go to the huge CMA Fest in Nashville?? (By the way, the 2015 CMA Fest is airing on ABC tonight, Aug. 4 at 8pm.)  Well we had pulled together a playlist of our favorite songs from each of the nights, and Ellie (3 years old at the time) immediately latched on to the song, "Chainsaw," by The Band Perry.  Being at the LP Field in Nashville was the first time David and I had seen them perform, and let me tell you, they killed it!!  Such an energetic, powerful, and fun show--those second row seats were somethin' else...

So anyway, we would always laugh because 9 out of 10 times that we'd get in the car, Ellie would inevitably ask, "Mommy, can you put on 'Chainsaw?'"  Yeah, the girl was obsessed...  And she loves when I sign (yep sign, not sing--lol) along to songs cause it helps her know what words they're saying.  So she started knowing all the words and it was just too darn cute watching her sing and sign along in the rearview mirror.  We'd also turn up "Better Dig Two," (yup, that has led to some interesting conversations, hehe!!), and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely,"

This past Fall, David and I went on a double date to see Blake Shelton and The Band Perry, and Ellie asked us to video, "Chainsaw" for her.  I can't even count how many times she watched that video...  After this show we also added songs like "Gentle on My Mind," "Done," and "All Your Life," to our playlist, cause Ellie couldn't get enough of The Band Perry, and mama needed some new tunes so I didn't go crazy. :)

Needless to say, she has become quite the number 1 fan, and this mama couldn't be prouder. :)  We joke that liking country music is a deal breaker in this family, but let's be real--it ain't no joke.  So it looks like we'll keep her...

Fast forward to this summer, and with the OC Fair coming to town we thought we'd check out which country artists were going to be playing at the Pacific Amphitheater.  As soon as we saw that The Band Perry was coming, we knew that A) we had to go, and B) we had to bring Ellie.

So the week of the concert, we made Ellie a card to surprise her with the tickets, and I posted a 15 second clip from this video of her finding out on my Instagram (around the 45 second mark)...

I had tagged @thebandperry and Kimberly, Neil, and Reid's personal accounts, too...

The next night I'm at my hair salon and all of a sudden I see a notification pop up on my phone that said, "@thekimberlyperry commented on your video."  My jaw just dropped...  I immediately raced to the post and read Ellie's FAVORITE singer's words: "Well this is just the sweetest thing I've ever seen!  Made me all like <3 <3 <3. We'd love to meet you guys!  Do you already have meet and greets??"

Noooooo waaaay..... I couldn't believe it!!!!  I showed my hair dresser and she excitedly helped me write back.

Me: "Oh my goodness @thekimberlyperry!!!!!!!!!  You are AMAZING!!!!!!!  We don't have meet and greets but would LOVE meeting you!!!  Our little Ellie would just be in absolute heaven.  We dance and sing to your songs on repeat all the time ("Chainsaw" is her fav!!)  Eek!!!!

KP: Ellie!  What a cutie!  Ok shoot me a contact email address for you guys and I'll have someone get in touch.  3 meet and greet passes?

I couldn't believe this was happening...  And as if that weren't enough, Neil Perry also commented, "This is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen!" AND THEN THEY REPOSTED THE VIDEO TO THEIR OWN ACCOUNT.  Whaaat?!?!!  Lol... With the caption, "Hip hip hurray," it quickly had 5,000 likes, and over 100 comments (including Reid Perry saying, "This hits me right in the feels."). :)  I just kept laughing and thinking, "Is this for real??"  I mean, things like this just don't happen.  I've pretty much decided that between this and the CMT awards, I can no longer say I never win anything.

The next few days were spent buying poster board, coloring pictures for Kimberly, Neil, and Reid, shopping for a new dress for Ellie, and trying on her pink cowgirl boots we'd bought in Nashville to make sure they still fit.  I asked if she wanted her hair in braids or down underneath her cowgirl hat, and she went with "braids--so I can look like a real cowgirl."  Be still my country heart...

I had found two sweet dresses and let her pick which one she wanted to wear, and she went with the more "twirly" one.  (Can you say all girl?)  So we laid them out, David put the tickets on the fridge (in case we wanted to go ahead of him to hit some rides, and he'd join after work), and we excitedly went to bed.

The morning of the concert, I knew I needed to tire Ellie out--that way she'd take a nap in the afternoon and have an easier time staying up for the show.  I was watching our friend's lil guy, so I strapped him into our stroller, Ellie hopped on her scooter, and we were off to the park.  It was an awesome day, and the park did the trick.  She had a great nap, and was even still asleep when David got home from work.  Not a bad way to wake up to hearing, "You ready to go meet The Band Perry??" :)

"Where are the tickets?" David asked when he checked the fridge. "Oh, I put them straight in my wallet!" I answered.  Didn't want to lose those bad boys.

David started loading up the car with snacks, sunscreen, jackets just in case, water, the poster, Ellie's pictures for the band, etc. while I finished braiding our cowgirl's hair.  Grabbing my makeup bag to finish on the drive, we hopped in the car with plenty of time to get there, park, walk to the amphitheater, get the meet and greet tickets from will call, and find where to go for it all.  Ellie put the finishing touches on her cards (heart-shaped gem stickers that she stuck in each "hand" in her pictures), and we were all beyond excited for the night ahead.

Pulling in to our parking spot, I ask David for my wallet so I could slip on some lipgloss.

"Huh?  I don't have it." he says.

My heart stops.

"Wait, but it wasn't on the counter by the door, so I thought that meant you'd packed it!"

"No, when I asked you where the tickets were, I figured you had your wallet."

This was not happening... Such a classic, right??!  The whole, we-forgot-the-tickets-at-home thing...  But it was totally happening.  So we quickly try to figure out what to do, and the only thing was to turn around and get them.  Ellie starts crying big crocodile tears as we leave the fair as I'm trying to explain we're coming right back and mommy just left something at home, but the tears keep falling.  David is silent.  I feel sick to my stomach.  And I realize where my wallet is--I had tossed it in the basket of the stroller to go to the park earlier, and just hadn't put it back by the door when we got back.  I couldn't believe it...

David--convinced that with traffic we were going to miss the entire meet and greet--suggested shooting an email to the lady we'd been coordinating with who worked with The Band Perry.  Good idea...  She wrote me back immediately, saying they usually started about 15 min late anyway, and that if we weren't back by 7:40 to let her know and we'd "figure something out."  Oh my goodness, how amazing are they.  We wrote saying we hoped to be there by 7:10...

And guys--can you believe that we made it back even 10 minutes sooner than that?  By the time we got to the meet and greet, though we were last in line, we had even made it in time to see Kimberly come out!  (The boys were already ready.) ;)  Whew, we could breathe!  David gave me a kiss (yay, I was out of the dog house, lol), and I didn't win biggest mommy fail of the year (can you imagine if I'd had to tell Ellie I made us miss the meet and greet all together?!  Oh, I'd just feel so awful...)

Once they started, the line went FAST.  A girl had let us go in front of her, and it turned out she had seen Ellie's video on their Instagram.  Ellie had fun talking to everyone in line and waited really patiently for our turn.  She was the only little one there, and when we got up to the front, the woman we'd been coordinating with recognized her.  We thanked her profusely for everything, and she told us about Kimberly calling her from their tour bus and saying, "Oh my gosh you have to see this video, it's the cutest thing." :)

And then suddenly it was our turn!  Kimberly recognized her youngest number one fan as well, and held out her arms for a big hug, saying "Ellie!!" :)  She got hugs from everyone as she handed out her heart-shaped pictures to them all, and Kimberly told her again how much she loved her video.  "You know what we decided??" Kimberly said.  "We decided that whenever we have a bad day, we're just going to watch your video."  (So sweet!!)

They signed a CD for her, and then we took pictures together with our signs that said "Hip" "Hip" "Hurray!" (since that was what Ellie had said when she found out about the concert.) :)

And after more hugs, (and high fives from Neil--who she made sure to wish a Happy Birthday to), Kimberly bent down to Ellie's level and said (with her cute southern accent), "Now I heard your favorite song is Chainsaw.  Well you be sure to sing it real loud with us tonight, okay??"  (My heart was in a puddle watching Ellie holding hands with her and talking together.)

We turned to go after lots of thank yous, and then Ellie realized she was still holding the "Hurray" sign that she'd meant to give them.  One of the staff heard her, so he brought her back over and helped her wait till the last group was done, and helped her go back up to the band one more time. :)  She was a little shy, wondering if what she was doing was okay, so I went with her and we ended up getting another picture--this time of just Ellie and Kimberly together.

The meet and greet wrapped up just as the opener, Annie McQueen, was coming out on stage, and we found our seats.  We took a family selfie, and then the group behind us kindly offered to take a picture as well.

David went to get us some food, and Ellie loved taking everything in and dancing to the music.  "Look, I see the moon!" she exclaimed at one point. So sweet seeing things through your little one's eyes...

David came back and Ellie watched as the stage crew set up for The Band Perry to come out, wondering at each thing they were doing.  Then before we knew it, everyone was up on their feet, and the countdown was starting for the band to come out!  Ellie's eyes glittered with excitement as she counted down, and I just love that she burst into song with them immediately.  That wave, too!

It was an amazing concert, and Ellie stayed locked in to it the entire time.  She sang along with all the songs she knew (they played every one of her favorites), and even enjoyed the ones she was hearing for the first time.  "I'm a Keeper" and "Night Gone Wasted" were some of her new faves from the night--which are now on repeat in our car of course. ;)  We're also loving "Hip to My Heart," "Postcard From Paris," "Pioneer," and of course the classic, "If I Die Young."

One other highlight from the night happened when Neil got a turn with the camera that streamed to the big screen.  He said something about fans making some noise so they could see them, so I held up Ellie's poster. :)  Well what to do you know, he zoomed right in on us first thing, and we just laughed and cheered!  It was so fun seeing Ellie up on the big screen... What a night. :)

I tried to write a thank you on each of their Instagrams as I was winding down before bed, but I have no idea if they got them.  My mama's heart was just bursting that they'd been able to give such an amazing night to our little Ellie Joy, and I knew that no other concert would be able to top it. :)  I told them at the meet and greet that they had a fan for life in our little Ellie (and in us), and man if that ain't the truth...