About my blog

In the past year, I have lost over 55 lbs while working full time and being a full time mom to Maddie, 5 and Carter, 2. I want to encourage other moms who are pulled in a million different directions every day - if I can do it, you can too. I promise it IS possible.

On this blog, you will find information about how I lost the weight (this is an ongoing endeavor!), recipes enjoyed by me and my family, couponing and saving money, thoughts on parenting, yoga, people in general, or whatever else I feel like blogging about that day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Bob is no longer my friend

I love watching the Biggest Loser. I love any show about transformations - people, houses, rooms - especially ones where they clean up and organize a room. I used to be one of the people who would sit on the couch and eat ice cream while watching the poor people on the Biggest Loser sweat and cry. I would think, "I can do that. And I will start tomorrow, or next week, or sometime in the future, but right now I am going to enjoy this bowl of ice cream." It was nice this past season to watch the Biggest Loser and think, "I am finally doing it too! Not as fast as they are, but I am seeing results." The future had finally arrived.
One of my favorite reasons to watch the Biggest Loser was Bob Harper. I love the way he pushes people really hard but also seems to be understanding about whatever they are going through and provides a shoulder to cry on. Plus, he's nice to look at. He recently released a book called, "The Skinny Rules," which I was excited to read and see what wisdom he had to share after so many seasons on the show. As I read the book, I grew increasingly more angry and disappointed. There are 20 "Skinny Rules" in the book, and some of them are great advice:
Don't drink your calories.
Drink a glass of water before every meal.
Get rid of fast foods and fried foods.
Eat a real breakfast.
Plan one splurge meal a week.
Make your own food and eat at least 10 meals a week at home.

But some of them are ridiculous:
No more added sweeteners, including artificial ones.
Go to bed hungry.
No carbs after lunch.
Eat apples and berries every single day.
Get rid of white potatoes. (!)

AND THERE ARE 20 OF THEM. 20 rules to follow and remember to become skinny. So here's why I'm mad: Lots of people love Bob Harper. I'm sure lots of people ran out and bought his book. And lots of people probably tried to follow "the skinny rules." And I'm positive most of those people were not able to do so. All these people who love him, all his fans who want to lose weight - he is setting them up to fail. His rules are not realistic for people living a real life!! Who the hell can not eat any carbs after breakfast, not eat anything sweetened, go to bed hungry, etc, etc. When you have small children, work full time, have to grab food on the go sometimes, and have a real life I just don't think it's possible to follow all these rules.

When you are trying to lose weight, you have to have a plan that is reasonable and create habits that become the way you eat every day. You have to be able to accomodate real life situations. You can't expect to be able to follow a set of 20 rules like these and keep it up for a lifetime. Way to fail, Bob. You are no longer my friend. And I wonder - how many of those Biggest Loser contestants keep the weight off? I bet not many.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Big 4-0

Today was an important day for me in my weight loss journey. Today my weight loss total was over 40 lbs.

This is important because:
1. This is the lowest weight I have ever been in my adult life. Including high school and college.
2. I lost 40 lbs, people!! That's the same weight as a Maddie!

Taken tonight by my personal photographer, Maddie. I think I closed my eyes...
It's kind of surreal. 40 pounds seems like a LOT of weight. But in a lot of ways I was still seeing myself in the same way - I was still seeing all my problem areas. Today I looked in the mirror and for the first time I really saw my new, skinnier self instead of the person I have always seen. It's like I passed a magic number (for me, anyway) and the blinders came off.

If any of you are reading this and looking for some tips on how I did it, here are a few (but they probably aren't anything new):
1. Drink lots of water. It seems stupid but it really does help you feel more full.
2. Eat whatever you want for one day a week. Losing weight is hard work and sometimes you need a break. I need a break once a week. One day a week where I don't have to measure, count, and record. One day a week where I can have a hamburger and ice cream. I don't go overboard - mostly because overdoing it or eating a lot of greasy food doesn't sound that good to me anymore. But I eat whatever I'm craving.
3. Try to pay attention to whether you are really hungry - if you are wandering around in the kitchen at 10 pm opening and shutting the fridge and pantry doors, you probably aren't. Go paint your toenails or give yourself a facial instead.
4. Find something, anything, you like to do that keeps you active at least a little bit. Don't force yourself to do something you hate. Even if its gardening, or playing in the yard with your kids, or taking a 15 minute walk at lunchtime to get away from work - anything active. And keep doing it.
5. DON'T GIVE UP. I have bad days. I have bad weeks. But you get new days and new weeks. Keep trying and the weight will come off. Even if it's half a pound a week - in a year that's 26 pounds.
6. Find someone to do it with you. I wouldn't have done this without my mom and my friend Karen's support. I wouldn't have done it at all if mom hadn't asked me to go with her. Thanks, mom!
7. Don't look at what you can't have. Don't even think of it that way. You can have it - in moderation. Split a dessert with someone, or several someones. Order the appetizer or kids size hamburger. If you say "I can't" all the time you will convince yourself you are deprived of what you really want and you won't stick with it. Also, people won't want to hang out with you if all you do is bitch about what you can't have.
8. Try new things. I have discovered that I LOVE greek yogurt and corn tortillas (not necessarily together). Both of them are very low in points. I have also discovered I'm not a fan of anything with the word "fiber" in the title. You don't want to know why. But it's good to go outside the box sometimes and find new stuff to eat.
9. Try to plan ahead. Still working on this one myself. I wouldn't have lost 40 pounds without the help of Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice. Try to keep a few things around in case of emergency - no time to make something to eat. I keep hummus, greek yogurt, eggs, cut up veggies, etc available - high protein and I can grab it fast if I need to.
10. Use the high point stuff sparingly, but use it. Bulk up on the 0 point (veggies and fruits) foods. For example, you can make a huge omelet with an egg, some extra egg whites, lots of veggies and a little ham and cheese. I also like the bacon bits in a jar - they add a lot of flavor for little points. I also like using cheese with lots of flavor - like blue cheese or feta cheese on my salad. I would rather eat a little of the full fat stuff than a lot of the fat free stuff.

So that's a little of what I have learned and what has worked for me. Only 25 pounds to go until I make my goal weight!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grandparental love

Not sure if grandparental is a word, but if not it won't be the first word I made up. I am not in a happy place today. Scott's grandpa, Gigi, died yesterday. Scott was very close to him and everyone in the family loved him so much - he was funny, talented, loving, entertaining, and just a good man. I think part of the reason Scott and I have a lot of the same values and probably part of the reason we got together and stayed together has to do with the part our grandparents played in our lives. So today I've been thinking a lot about grandparents, and how important their role is in the lives of their grandchildren.

I don't know if I can explain this without offending anyone who may read it - but a disclaimer: I do not wish to offend or bring up anything painful. It's the truth for me, but it may not be for you, and that's ok. For me personally, my grandparents played a huge role in my life. Here's the truth: I have daddy issues. I have never been a daddy's girl, I don't know what that's like, and I am jealous of people who do. I didn't begin a relationship with my biological dad until I was 16. I grew up with a stepdad who adopted me when I was 3. I have no doubt he loved me, and still loves me. But I also have no doubt he felt a different kind of love for his own children, my little sisters. Whether he meant to or not, I was treated differently. The same thing happens on the other side, with my biological dad. I didn't really know him until I was 16. I never had a chance to go through all the things daughters go through with their dads when they are little. I never developed that special father daughter bond with him, and for that I am sad, but I know it is what it is - you can't go back and change the past. I don't know if my sisters know how lucky they are to have that bond, something they have always known and never doubted. There's lots more to this story but it's in the past and I don't blame anyone for how it all worked out. We are human and shit happens and doesn't always work out the way we want it to. And if I didn't have my life and experiences, I wouldn't be the person I am today. And I like the person I am today. Despite lots of growing pains in our relationships, I am lucky enough to have all my dads involved in my life and my children's lives. It does make for an interesting trip to CVS every year to pick out cards on father's day...most of them don't really fit.

However, my stepdad's parents - my grandparents - never treated me any differently. They accepted me when I was 3 as their own and loved me unconditionally from day 1. Children can feel the difference when they are loved in such an unconditional way. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was growing up and to this day have a fierce and protective love for them - because of the way they loved me, because they gave me stability I needed growing up, because they are amazing people.  Especially my Grandpa - so I guess you could say I'm a Grandpa's girl instead of a daddy's girl.

Scott also spent a lot of time with his grandparents. He talks a lot about spending time at their general store, about funny stuff Gigi said or did, about Christmases filled with music and laughter. His grandparents, like mine, were married for over 60 years. Though they are very different in where they came from and how they lived their lives, the basic values were the same. The memories they created for us were invaluable.

Grandparents provide us with such an incredible relationship. They may be unconventional, or they may be straight out of a storybook, but (for the most part; I know everyone has different experiences) they are there for their grandchildren. They provide that soft place to land, they cheer us on in life, they are available to encourage us or help us out. I could always go to my grandparents house and find a connection with myself as a little girl through them. It's a different relationship than the one we often have with our parents - not so difficult to navigate, especially during those teen years when you are temporarily insane from hormones. Today, I watch my mom with my children and my heart melts to see her creating that special relationship with them.

So, if you still have your grandparents in your life, give them a call this week and tell them you love them. Tell them how much they mean to you and how much they have done for you in your life. If you don't have them with you anymore, stop and reflect on a memory or two in appreciation. In honor of Gigi.

Gigi - I hope there is REALLY good wine in heaven. They are lucky to have you - and your fiddle - to entertain them up there.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This is why it's addictive...

Not food. Couponing. On Sunday I saved 90%. This is rare, but it happens! Total retail was $121.73 and my total (with tax!!) was 12.81. Here's a picture of what I bought:

If you want to know exactly how I did it (Shelly and Karen), I will break it down for you here. If you don't care, you can just marvel at my amazing coupon abilities and skip the rest of this post.

I get almost all my coupon matchups from The Krazy Coupon Lady (not me).

Keep in mind, my total savings reflects the CVS Extra Bucks (EB) and Walgreens Register Rewards (RR) for each item.


Transaction #1
Spend $30.00, Receive $10.00 Extra Bucks (Tide, Gillette, and Aussie, etc.)
Tide or Gain Liquid Detergent, 48-64 loads $11.94
Spend $30.00, Receive $10.00 Extra Bucks

Use $.75/1 Tide Detergents manufacturer's coupon
And use $3 off $10 Tide CVS Coupon from the Magic Coupon Machine at CVS
Gillette ProSeries Shave Gel  $4.89
Spend $30.00, Receive $10.00 Extra Bucks

Use $1.00/1 Gillette Fusion ProSeries Skin Care Item or Gillette Fusion ProGlide Shave Prep, excludes trial/travel size, limit of 4 like coupons in same shopping trip from PG 7/29 (exp 8/31)
Puffs Plus Tissues $1.50
Use $1 off $5 Gillette, Puffs, etc. CVS Coupon from the Magic Coupon Machine at CVS
Aussie or Herbal Essences Shampoo or Conditioner, 10.1-13.5 oz, or Styler, 6-14 oz $2.99 (buy 4)
Use 2 $3.00/2 Herbal Essences or Aussie products, excluding trial/travel size, limit of 4 like coupons in same shopping trip from RP 8/5 (exp 9/30)
And use 2 $1 off 2 Aussie CVS Coupon from the Magic Coupon Machine at CVS
AND use $3 off $15 CVS Coupon from the Magic Coupon Machine at CVS
AND use $3 EB from transaction #1

AND Use $5 Extra Bucks (EB) I got for filling prescriptions at CVS
Total: Spent $5.54, got $10 back in EBs 

Transaction #2
Buy 3 Nature Valley Protein Bars $2.00
Buy 2 General Mills Milk ‘n Cereal Bars $2.00
Spend $10.00, Receive $3.00 Extra Bucks, Limit 1

Use 3 $1/1 Nature Valley Protein bars (I got these from the desk at the YMCA)

Buy 2 Maybelline Volume Express Mascara $5.00
Spend $10.00, Receive $3.00 Extra Bucks, Limit 1

Use 2 $1.00/1 Maybelline New York Mascara from RP 8/5 (exp 10/5)
And use $2.00/$10 Cosmetic Purchase, CVS Coupon Machine
Bic Sensitive Skin Disposable Razors, 12 ct. $3.99 or Silky Touch Disposable Shavers, 10 ct
Buy One Get One 50% Off
Use 2 $3.00/1 Bic Disposable Razor, Limit 4 per shopping trip from SS 8/5 (exp 9/2)
AND Use $10 Extra Bucks (EB) from transaction #1
Final Price: Spent $1.99, got back $6 EBs
Transaction #3
Leggs tights on clearance 75% off: $1.62
Hanes underwear on clearance 75% off: $1.99
Use $3 Extra Bucks (EB) from transaction #2
    Final Price: Spent $.61

TOTAL AT CVS: $8.14 with $3 EB left for next week :-)

Transaction #1
Carmex Healing Cream or Ointment, 4 oz or Lotion, 5.5 oz $4.99
Buy 1, Receive $4.00 Register Reward
And use $1 on one Carmex cream printed coupon
Lipton Tea, 20 oz $0.99
Buy 1, Receive $0.99 Register Reward
Pay $0.99, Receive $0.99 Register Reward
W Perfection Tampons, 8 ct $1.50
Buy 1, Receive $1.50 Register Reward
Pay $1.50, Receive $1.50 Register Reward
Final Price: Spent $6.48, got $6.49 RR

Transaction #2
Lanacane with Aloe Spray, 3.5 oz $6.00
Buy 1, Receive $6.00 Register Reward
Pay $6.00, Receive $6.00 Register Reward
Final Price: Free
Buy 2 memo pads $.49 each filler items (and made Maddie and Carter happy)
Use $6.49 Extra Bucks (EB) from transaction #1
Final Price: Spent $.49 got $6 RR

Transaction #3 (repeat of #1)
Carmex Healing Cream or Ointment, 4 oz or Lotion, 5.5 oz $4.99
Buy 1, Receive $4.00 Register Reward
And use $1 on one Carmex cream printed coupon
Lipton Tea, 20 oz $0.99
Buy 1, Receive $0.99 Register Reward
W Perfection Tampons, 8 ct $1.50
Buy 1, Receive $1.50 Register Reward
Pay $1.50, Receive $1.50 Register Reward
Use $6 Extra Bucks (EB) from transaction #2
 Final Price: Spent $.48, got $6.49 RR
TOTAL AT Walgreens: $7.45 with $6.49 RR left for next week :-)
Whew! My head is spinning! But my wallet is full.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shameless Parenting

I read an article today that really made me stop and think:
Raising Successful Children

I know none of us are perfect parents. I try to be an excellent parent. I (most of the time) am honest with my children, consistent with rules and consequences, loving and encouraging, feed them nutritious food, teach them important things like their phone number and address (you would not believe how many children don't know their phone number and address!) and read to them every day. I truly try not to helicopter and let them make their own mistakes. But I also have my faults and I am acutely aware of them even when I am actively screwing up, and it doesn't seem to stop me. I yell at them when I am frustrated. I spend way too much time in front of screens, either phone, computer, or TV. I put them in front of the TV too much. I don't play with them enough - just get down on the floor and play. I spend way too much time wrapped up in my "to-do" list. I tell them "in a minute" ALL the time. There's more, but you get the picture.

I was thinking while I was reading this article...people can change. I have changed. I look at my body differently. I eat and exercise differently, and I cannot imagine ever going back to being over 200 lbs. So it IS possible to change if you really want to make the effort.

I noticed the other day that Maddie has become very full of herself. She's smart, sarcastic, easily frustrated, and she's bossy. This combination may not be such a great one if she wants to make friends when school starts. And according to the article, this is partly (mostly) our fault for telling her how fabulous she is all the time (because, of course, she is amazing and fabulous). I tried explaining to her last night how important it is to be kind to others rather than trying to seem like the smartest one in the room all the time. So maybe I should start praising her for being kind instead of being smart.

From the article, "A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety." I have a lot of anxiety and feel that I was raised to feel a lot of shame and guilt (sorry mom, but really, most people are). This quote really struck me. I definitely use shame when parenting ("Maddie, how could you color on the wall, you know better!" or even worse "Maddie how could you let your brother color on the wall, you know better!). I don't like the way shaming my children into good behavior makes me feel. And now I think I understand why: I am forcing my own anxiety onto them. And that really, for lack of a better word at the moment, sucks.

"The happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child."

So much easier said than done. But recognizing where the behavior is coming from (and I mean my behavior) is a beginning. And as I have learned from my weight loss journey, it all starts with a few small steps and a committment to making a change.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I think I saw an ab!

I am so excited. I love the way my body is changing through yoga. When I started doing yoga, I couldn't do most of the poses at all. I couldn't hold plank or do an up dog or balance for very long on one leg. When I did the breathing, I couldn't seem to breathe deep enough to get my stomach to fill up. On Wednesday night, the yoga instructor said to put our hands on our stomachs to feel our breathing (we were laying on the floor) - and I put my hand where I thought my stomach should be and was surprised to find it much lower. It was kind of like when you don't see a curb or step coming and your foot steps down and it makes you freak out a little because you weren't expecting it and think you might fall down. I put my hands in the right spot and - whoa! - they moved down lower than I was expecting.

Then today I was changing in the locker room at the Y after yoga and I was sucking in my stomach so other people wouldn't see the roll and when I looked in the mirror I was like..."what's that line on my stomach...OMG! I think it's the beginning of some abs!! Whoo-hoo! I have an ab line!" It's a very flabby looking ab line...BUT IT'S THERE. Whose body is this? Oh yeah, it's mine!