Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Time to place an order . . .

Remember that beautiful Origami Owl locket that I bought for myself when I lost 50 pounds - well I'm wearing it today.  And I originally left room in it so that I could add 3 very special charms to.  Well today I ordered my new charms.  Here they are:

I can't wait to add them to my locket!  I remember a time when any celebration meant food.  Now I find other ways to reward myself or celebrate.  How do you like to reward yourself for reaching a goal?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Change in Attitude for 2015

In January of 2014 when I started this journey I wan't sure what the outcome would be. History would say that the outcome would be dismal. Same as the many times before - lose a little but in the end gain it back plus more. But I decided to do it anyway. I am so glad I did. My outlook for 2015 is a little different. 

If you have a goal for 2015, be it weight loss, decluttering your home, changing jobs, or anything really, I'd like to invite you to join my attitude for 2015. I've learned this year that a big part of this journey is mental. Let's start it off on the right foot.

Sunday, December 7, 2014



That was something I just wasn't sure I could do when I started in January.  Yes I could put on a happy face on fake it, but on the inside I didn't really believe in myself.  I didn't believe that I could live a different lifestyle.  I didn't believe I could lose the weight that I had carried with me for most of my life.  I didn't believe!  But that didn't stop me - I did it anyway.  Call me stubborn or strong willed.    As I walked the walk of healthy food, exercise and water, the weight started to come off and something else happened.  I started to believe in myself!

If you are wanting to make a change in your life and don't have anyone, including yourself, to believe in you I want to challenge you to do it anyway!  Start taking those steps, one at a time.  Take it moment by moment and day by day.  One step, one bite, one thought at a time and do it!  If you are in need of a cheerleader (we all need one to help though the hard times and cheer us on when we can't find the motivation) then I accept the job.  E-mail me (use the link on the top of the page) or Message me on Facebook.  I will be your cheerleader.  I will believe in you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Healthy Thanksgiving???

A healthy Thanksgiving?  Sounds like any oxymoron right?!?   I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't a little nervous about heading into Thanksgiving. I do really well with my choices when I am in a routine and following my schedule.  But leading up to the holiday season when food, and yummy food, is everywhere, I am a little nervous.  Yes, I am thinking like the old me.  But I am trusting that my 10 months of work have led to new habits and new thinking.  A new me!  Yes, it will be a treat day for me, and I will likely have dessert but not crazy! I'm working on a plan to keep myself moving in the right direction.  This video helped me put my plan together.   

Saturday, November 15, 2014

10 Months Later

Well I have been on this journey for 10 months and I can't really believe it.  It has been an amazing journey.  It hasn't all been roses though.  But through thick and thin I have stuck with it.  And here's the result - 92 pounds gone!  Yes, that is like a full teenage girl that I am no longer carrying around with me everywhere I go!  

I have a hard time seeing changes, I guess because I look at myself everyday.  When I was putting this photo comparison together I was not only struck by the difference in size, but also the difference in happiness.  When I take pictures I always tell myself "smile."  But I realized that standing in front of a camera at almost 300 pounds, that was the best smile I could muster.  In fact, it was one of the only pictures where I was looking at the camera.  The changes go far beyond 92 pounds lost on the outside.  What I've gained on the inside is immeasurable!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Time Change Plan

So this summer when I was off school I realized something - I truly love working out in the morning. I love feeling good all day long!  I can put more into the workout at the beginning of the day than I can after a long day of teaching kindergarten.  But it just wasn't happening once school started.  The best I could do was 5:00 a.m. and that just wasn't enough time to workout and get ready for school, get the kiddo ready, and get out of the house.  So workouts in the afternoon was the only option.

Then I got a bright idea.  The time change!  I can use the time change to trick my body into getting up an hour earlier to workout without realizing it was an hour earlier.  So after the time change I started setting my clock to 4:00 a.m.  Guess what - it worked!  I now how time to workout and get ready in the morning and still make it out of the house on time!  My body doesn't miss the hour - actually my brain is the only part of my body that knows any different!  I haven't been sleepy or anything like that thanks to those amazing effects of working out in the morning!  

Pretty happy with my little plan!  Just wanted to share.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Basic Clean Eating Principles

I just love this picture I found because clean eating really can be this easy.  There are 10 principles listed here.  Take my approach and jump right in with all of them or pick 1 or 2 and work on those.  Then each month add another 1 or 2.  Diving in or taking baby steps - they both will lead to changes in your health.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Enough Said

I've had good intentions for many, many, many years.  But intentions alone don't yield results.  Choose Action.  Enough said.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tough Love

This post is for me and anyone else who needs a little tough love.  I am a master excuse maker and procrastinator.  Master I say - like I could totally be a Jedi Master if excuse making and procrastination were Jedi skills.  

I've learned along this journey the importance of being honest with myself.  And today that honesty says I am making too many excuses.  So I found this great picture and it is a little tough love for myself.  

Now time to get back to business!  And not the excuse making business!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 3 C's of Life

The truth in this is just so monumental.  There will never be changes if you don't make a choice or take a chance.  My first choice was to join the Biggest Loser challenge at school.  I had to take a chance by going to weigh-in and let the nurse record my starting weight.  And that simple choice led to major change!

Along this journey there have been lots of choices and I've had to take lots of chances.  But I would do it all again for the changes!

This doesn't just apply to weight loss or fitness.  Really any type of change you'd like to see must start with making a choice and taking a chance.  You'll never know unless you try!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What is Shakeology?

I've gotten lots of questions lately about Shakeology.  Is it just a protein shake?  Is it purely for weight loss?  Actually it is neither of these.  Shakeology is a meal or snack replacement shake that is filled with dense nutrients.  In fact many of these nutrients come from super foods that are found all around the world!  With the nutrient equivalent of 8 trips to the salad bar it is by far the healthiest meal of my day.  Better yet - it is delicious!  Check out this video all about Shakeology.

Interested in trying Shakeology, you've got nothing to lose!  Shakeology offers a 30 Day, Empty Bag, Guarantee.  

If you are not happy with Shakeology simply return it within 30 days, even if the bag is empty, for a refund.  Who offers such a crazy deal?  A company that believes in their product!  I love Shakeology and can't imagine starting my day off any other way!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Preparation Pays Off!

In the last couple weeks I learned how true this is.  I made it through a week of teacher inservice and the first week of school.  And by made it I mean that despite the crazy hectic schedule, I didn't toss out my nutrition for fast food or chocolate!  I was able to make great choices with my nutrition because I took the time to prepare.

My preparation consists of cooking chicken so it is ready use in salads, washing and cutting veggies, and making sure I've been to the grocery store so I have the items I need.  I pack it all up each morning but when the time consuming part is done it makes it so easy.  Each morning I try to think through my day and make choices that will help me.  For example, if I have an appointment or meeting that would keep me from doing a regular meal or snack I make sure and take something I can eat on the go.

Whatever you do, make sure that you don't neglect the preparation part!  Share your ideas for preparation in the comments.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mason Jar Salads

Tomorrow I start back to school (teachers only this week) so I knew that Prep Day would be a little more than what I had been doing during the summer.  I am excited to share with you today one of my all time favorite Pinterest finds - The Mason Jar Salad!

Why do I love this so much?  Well, its easy to prepare in assembly line format, its easy to transport and most importantly it keeps my salads crisp and fresh for a week!  Not to mention it's fun to eat too!

This week I decided to make ahead 4 salads that I could take up to school for what will prove to be a very busy week.  I started by getting all of my supplies and ingredients ready.

Oops - I forgot to pull out the lettuce blend for the picture!

My ingredients for the week include lettuce blend that I prepped last week and still had some left (green leaf lettuce and baby spinach), chopped bell peppers in lots of pretty colors, carrots, strawberries, avocado, feta cheese, grilled chicken and my dressing.  Oh yeah - and I need my jars.  I love this pint and a half size wide-mouth jar.  It holds enough to make a nice meal size salad and the wide mouth makes it easy to assemble and get everything out.

OK - so assembling the salad is really easy as long as you remember the order of ingredients.

Step 1 - Add your dressing.  The dressing on the bottom keeps your lettuce from getting soggy!  Put it in first or don't add any at all and keep it on the side in a separate container.  I figured out how much dressing to use by measuring what I put on a regular salad that I made at home.

Step 2 - Add your veggies - but NOT your lettuce.  I like to start with my sturdiest/ densest veggie right next to the dressing.  Today I am doing 2 different salads so my bottom layer was carrots in 2 jars and bell peppers in 2 jars.  Then layer in all the veggies that you want in your salad.  Here's mine:

Step 3 - Add any fruit that you would like in your salad.  Two of my salads will have strawberries and avocado so I added that next.

Step 4 - Time to add your protein.  I included a sprinkle of feta cheese and then added my grilled chicken breast.  You can add any protein that you would normally eat on a salad.

Step 5 - Fill to the rim with lettuce!  I put in a handful and push it down a little then add some more!

Step 6 - Screw on the lid.  I generally push the lettuce down a little as I start putting the lid on just to make sure no lettuce is stick and that the lid get s a good seal.  I think this is the important part because it really locks in the humidity that keeps the lettuce crisp and fresh.  I was skeptical at first, thinking there's no way lettuce would last a week - but they really do!

That's it - you're done!  Keep in the refrigerator and grab and go.  This makes a quick and easy lunch on a busy day.  I actually took all of mine and some snacks I prepped up to school and stocked my little refrigerator for the week.

Here's what I have prepped for my week of lunches and snacks.

4 Mason Jar Salads, Bag of veggies (peppers, snap peas and carrots) ready for
munching on, hummus (already in the refrigerator at school), my hubby's
fabulous homemade beef jerky, and some fruit.
I am starting the week confident that Back to School won't derail my good food choices.  When it is there and ready, it makes it so easy!

So what would you put in your mason jar?  Share your ideas and let's inspire each other to make easy, healthy meals.  When you make yours, hop over the Facebook page and post a picture of you and your Mason Jar Salad!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School Shopping and Help Please!

So when I started this weight loss journey I told myself that I wasn't going to buy new clothes along the way - that is until the start of the new school year.  By the time school ended I was very tired of pulling my pants all day long.  I actually resorted to using safety pins to pin them in the back so they would fit a little better.  A good problem to have - but annoying none the less.  When school got out I cleaned out my closet.  I donated or took to consignment stores anything that was too big.  I found some clothes in the deep dark crevices of my closet that hadn't been work in years that were in a size I could wear and if nothing else - yoga pants would be just fine for summer vacation.  Let's just say I wore a lot of yoga pants this summer!

So fast forward to August and I realize school starts in just a couple weeks.  I guess it is time to go clothes shopping.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous.  You see, when I look in the mirror I still the weight I need to lose - not the progress I've made.  And since I look at myself everyday I have a hard time seeing the changes.  So there was definitely the thought that I'd go to try things on and I'd still be in a size 22 or 24.  When I started this journey I was wearing a 24 - a tight 24 but I refused to buy anything bigger.

I wasn't really sure where to even start.  Friday night I went to the outlet mall with my family to get my son some new tennis shoes for school.  As we drove through the mall I drove past this store called Torrid (I had never heard of it) and noticed the sign that said sizes 12 - 28.  Well hey - that would be me.  I knew I wasn't lower than a size 12 - yet.  So we parked the car and I went in to check it out.  Although most of the things in the store are not really my style, I did find a few things that I liked.

First stop, denim capri pants - an absolute must have in my wardrobe.  If you know me then you know how much I love my blue jeans!  I went into the dressing room with 4 different sizes because I really had no idea where to start.  When I put on the size 18 and they fit I had a moment.  Quite an emotional moment.  Me, teary eyed in the dressing room - let's just stop with that.  I truly couldn't believe it.  I was hoping for a 20 - so an 18 was just amazing!  And the 18's fit great - maybe even a little big in the waist.  I didn't opt to try on a 16 because I need to look presentable for school and not like a stuffed sausage.  But now I know Torrid is just 15 minutes away and I can go get a smaller size when I need it!  But I did end up with a shirt and dress that were both a 14/16.  I left that store feeling so great, but still not believing it was real.  Here's an outfit I got from Torrid.

Quick stop at the Lane Bryant outlet store because it was time for smaller under garments too.  The bonus of that stop was that they had the sports bra that I LOVE and I was in need of a smaller one of those too!

Saturday I was ready for more shopping.  I really wanted to go by a local boutique store that I have been admiring for a long time.  I LOVE those cute clothes in the boutiques but never go in them because they never had clothes that would fit me.  Well, it was time to see if I had changed enough to fit into boutique clothes.   I did, I did!  More emotional moments in the dressing room as I tried on shirts and dresses that looked amazing!  The ladies in the store were so nice (and honest too) and helped me narrow down my assortment of clothes.  Let me just say I bought things that were size XL and L (not plus size - just regular) for the first time in I don't know how long!  If you are local and looking for cute clothes - check out A Shop Around the Corner.  So cute and the ladies in there are fabulous!

I think I am just a big baby.  I have had more emotional moments during this journey.  I think it comes down to this - I want this more than anything, I am persistent, but somewhere in the back of my head I'm afraid its not real or won't stick.  So when I see big changes I just get a little emotional.  I'm working on that self-talk and with God's help will kick that voice in my head.  Until then I just keep taking it one day at a time, one choice at a time.

So now for the fun part.  I need your help deciding what I should wear on the first day of school?  I guess after looking at the pictures I should say which of these chevron prints should I wear!  I never even noticed that until just now.  I do love me some chevron!  Leave your vote in the comments and pick my First Day of School Outfit!  I'll reveal the winner on the first day of school!

Choice 1

Choice 2

Choice 3
For the first time in a long time, shopping was fun - REALLY FUN!  I left encouraged and very motivated to keep going!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Prep Day

It's Sunday and that means it was prep day for me.  I've found that preparation is a key to my success.  Although I don't start back to school this week, I wanted to really get back in the mode and do some serious prepping since I haven't done as much over the summer.  Here's what prep day looks like for me:

1.  Grocery store - stocking up on fresh produce; filling the freezer with healthy proteins for dinners (extra lean white turkey and bison were today's choices); grabbing a few clean energy bars to keep in my classroom for those times I forget to pack a snack.  These are a couple of my favorite Go-To snacks.

I love the peanut buttery taste of this bar!  It definitely fills my need for PB!
These KIND bars are so great.  Lots of protein to keep you going.
We took these with us when we went to Disney World and they
were just perfect!  One of my favorites is
Dark Chocolate and Chili - yum with a little after kick!

2.  Cleaning out the refrigerator and putting away groceries.  With all this fresh food and food with no preservatives I clean out more often than before.  But I love that I always know what is in my refrigerator.  No more science projects "cooking" in the back corners of the refrigerator.  PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one with science projects!

3.  Prepping veggies and fruit is an important step for me on prep day because it saves me time during the week.  I start by washing all fruit and veggies so they are ready to grab and go.  I go through the produce drawer and grab any veggies on their last leg and get them chopped up.  I put these veggies in the freezer for cooking with at a later time.  Here's what I chopped up today.

A rainbow of bell peppers.  I wonder what I should make with these?
After I'm done with the "last leg" veggies then I work on the salad greens.  I like to have it already cut and mixed up so I can just grab some.  My lettuce mix of choice is green leaf lettuce and baby spinach.  Once I get it cut up and mixed then I store it in the plastic containers from the store.  For some reason these containers keep the lettuce fresh longer.  I also cut up any veggies that I want for snacking on so they are ready to grab and go too!  Here's today's prep.

Two containers of salad greens and red and orange peppers
ready to go.  I also have already prepped
baby carrots and snap peas too.
4.  Although I didn't do it today - next on the list would be making Mason Jar Salads.  I don't have plans to be working up at school in the next few days so I'm not making any yet.  But when I do I will show you the step by step!  These are my go to lunch during the school year.

5.  Cooking chicken breast is the last task for prep day.  Sometimes I do it on Sunday and sometimes on Monday, depending on time and the type of chicken.  If I am cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts then I usually cook them on Sunday.  I love using my George Foreman grill for this.  If I am cooking chicken breast with skin and bones then I opt to do it rotisserie style in my crock pot.  It's super easy, and I can put the chicken in frozen!

So that is prep day in a nutshell for me.  It really helps during the school year for me to take a couple hours on Sunday to get this all done.  I've found that having it ready to go makes it super easy to make healthy food choices!

Do you have a prep routine? I'd love to know what you do too.  Please share your ideas in the comments!

Monday, July 28, 2014

No More Cheating

So this week I watched a video from one of my favorite trainers - Shaun T. I really loved what he said because I have always disliked the term "cheating" or "cheat meal." Why? Because I feel that cheating happens with diets and I am not on a diet. I have a new lifestyle. Instead, he used the term "treating." This gives me the power and control to decide when and how often I want to treat myself. And just like anything else - treats are all in moderation! So I might choose to treat myself on my birthday, but I can also choose not to treat myself on everyone else's birthday.  I will likely treat myself when the holidays roll around, but once or twice, not everyday!

I just love this idea of treating myself.  It's a way to take the deprived feelings out and make this new eating a daily reality.  No more cheating for me.  Now I stay in control and choose when to treat!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

6 Months Later . . .

I can't believe that it has been 6 months since I started this journey.  I know that I was committed and dedicated when I started, but I also know that there was some doubt in the back of my mind.  Actually lots of doubt - doubt that I would stick to it, doubt that I could actually do it, and even doubt about whether these new products I was trying would work if I did my best.  I mean, they do make infomercials about Focus T25 (my first program to do on this journey) and the 21 Day Fix (what I am currently doing). Those infomercials are just a bunch of actors or people who have never struggled with their weight - right???

Well during the last 6 months I have stuck with it.  I have changed my eating habits and really enjoy clean eating.  I can honestly say I don't miss fast food or diet coke!  I have added exercise to my routine and really, yes I said REALLY, enjoy it!  I have noticed lots of changes like clothes getting too big, rolls of fat disappearing, a missing chin (the double one that is), lots of energy, loss of heartburn and increased self-confidence.

Has it been easy?  Not always.  Has it been hard?  Not as hard as I thought it would be.  What it has been is consistent.  I do my best not to get caught up in next week or next month, not even tomorrow. I do my best today - one meal at a time and one workout at a time.  Has it worked?  Absolutely - it has!

6 months ago I started this journey at 293.2 pounds.  Yikes - I'm still not sure I am ready to publish that - but I said I was going to be honest and real.  Today I am at 226.7 and weighing 66.5 pounds lighter!  That's a little human people!  A little human that I am no longer carrying around on my back (and my stomach and thighs and arms and chin)!

When I started I took some basic measurements - and I mean basic.  I actually only measured 5 placed on my body (and on the arm and leg only one side???).  In just those 5 areas I have lost 32.5 inches.  I've had a hard time seeing the magnitude of the change because, quite frankly, I look at myself everyday.  So I figured this was the perfect time to pull out those before pictures and do a little comparison.

All of the pictures on the left were taken on January 25, 2014, 19 days into my journey.  So add on to that about 20 more pounds!  All of the pictures on the right were taken today,  July 6, 2014 - exactly 6 months after I officially started chaining my life.

On this new journey, I am just beginning.  I still have quite a bit of weight I'd like to lose.  So I keep plugging away one day at a time.  This has become my motto lately:

In addition to changing me from the inside out, I am truly loving the doors this is opening for me to change my family's habits, and to help others who have struggled too.  I Can AM and So Can You!  If you are not sure where to start I'd love to help you too.  You can find me on Facebook at I Can and So Can You.  Send me a message or leave a comment below with your e-mail and I will contact you.  Trust me when I say You CAN do this too!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Southwest Chicken Dip

As a teacher, I am definitely enjoying the extra time I have in the summer.  I really enjoy playing in the kitchen when I have time, but during the school year that seems like so little.  So I was excited today when I got the inkling to try something new.  Of course, I went to my favorite place for inspiration - Pinterest!  What I found made my Texas taste buds cry out "try me, try me!"  It was this recipe for homemade baked tortilla chips from Bless this Mess!  Well, since I knew tortilla chips alone would not be a healthy meal, my creative juices started kicking in and decided to make a Southwest Chicken Dip that would be the perfect compliment to the chips.  So here's what I did:

1.  I started with the chips because they had to go into the oven.  First I preheated my oven to 400 degrees.

Then I got my cookie sheet ready with parchment paper.  Can you say EASY clean-up!

Then I gathered all my ingredients.  Corn tortillas, extra virgin olive oil, salt and spices.

Side note:  If you are looking for a clean tortilla, these corn tortillas from Sprouts are my absolute favorite!  They are so soft and fresh.  I try to stock up any time I am by a Sprouts.

I started by spreading a little olive oil on both tortillas.  I used a total of 1 tsp. of extra-virgin olive oil for both tortillas.  And since I couldn't find my pastry brush I opted for the old fingers!

Once I spread the olive oil (I used about half for this side) over the entire front surface I lightly sprinkled with salt and garlic powder.  Then I cut each tortilla into 8 triangles.

Then, again for the sake of easy clean-up, I turned the tortillas over right onto the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  This time the oil side was down.  I then used the remaining oil to spread over the back side of the tortillas.  Then I lightly salted and dusted with a chili power seasoning for some kick!

I spread the chips out and then put them in the over for about 10 minutes.

I actually checked at 10 minutes and opted for a couple more.   I pulled them out when the edges were light brown.  They looked like this and it took all my will-power not to dive right in!

While the chips were baking I started the Dip!

2.  Southwest Chicken Dip

So I found that this was a great dip for using up some leftovers!  I generally always have grilled chicken cooked and ready to go in my refrigerator - it just makes life easier for me, especially during the school year.  So I grabbed some chicken and my other ingredients before I got started.

I used grilled chicken, black beans, corn, green chilies and avocado.  You could also add any other southwest flavors you like, including onion, tomato, or red peppers.  Since I just threw this together from my head I used what I had and what I like.

I started by dicing the chicken into small pieces (small enough that they could easily be scooped by a chip) and added them to my bowl.  Then I washed and drained my black beans and added about 1/2 the can.  Next came the corn.   Now before you think that I always cook corn on the cob and cut it off - I don't.  But I had it left over from the other night so I decided to use it instead of opening a can.  Next up is one of my favorites - hatch green chilies!  I added about 1/4 cup of green chilies with the liquid (or one small can).  I stirred everything together.  I really wanted to avoid adding greek yogurt or something to "hold" it all together, so I was glad when it really didn't need it.  Last thing I added was about 1/2 of a diced avocado.  A little black pepper to taste (I opted not to salt since the chicken had already been seasoned) and Voila!  I tasted it and thought "it's still missing something.  So a quick look in the refrigerator and I grabbed one of these:

I rolled the lime on the counter using firm pressure to loosen up the juices.  Then I cut in half and squeezed the juice right into the dip.  One last stir and it was ready to go!

Time to get it on the plate with my warm tortilla chips and a side salad.  This recipe made 2-3 meal size servings of the Southwest Chicken Dip.  You could easily make more to serve to guests.  I am an "eyeball it" kind of cook.  So I started with my chicken and "eyeballed" the rest of the ingredients.  If the thought of this makes your head spin - leave me a comment and I will make it again and this time measure out everything so I can give a real recipe!

All I can say "I can't believe this is healthy!"  It was so good and each bite left my taste buds dancing with flavor.  The chili powder and garlic on the chips was just the perfect touch to step it up.  I don't think I will ever buy tortilla chips again.  These were delicious and so easy!  Who doesn't love warm tortilla chips!  I can't tell you whether they were good once they cooled down because they didn't last that long!

Yep - this was the last yummy bite! 

If you decide to try it, I'd love to know what you think!