Guest Post: Weight Loss in College

I usually don’t have guest posts on my blog, but my little sister has inspired the something out of me. My youngest sister, Rachel, is a freshman at LSU. You know how the freshman 15 is usually a given? Well, she hasn’t gained a pound. In fact, she’s LOST nearly 30 pounds. She’s made a complete lifestyle change, and I asked her if she’d mind taking some time out of her busy college schedule to write a guest post on here. She has a ton of great tips for college students, as well as pretty much any person.

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Hello Everyone! I am Amy’s sister, Rachel, and she has asked me to do a guest post for her blog! I couldn’t be more excited to share some weight loss tips with you all! But first, I thought I’d share some of my background story.

I was always a chubby kid. I got bullied and made fun of a lot because of it. I remember one time in particular when we had to share our weight to the entire class for some math activity, and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life seeing the other kids just stare at me. I also remember not being able to fit into the cute clothes at Limited Too (now called Justice). I was also a shy kid. It was a bad combination in school because I couldn’t stand up to the bullies until I was older. But, thanks to getting into musical theatre (as well as my loving family), I got a lot more confidence. I felt better about myself, but my weight was always a nagging thing in my life.

Once I got to high school, the bullying pretty much stopped, but I was gradually gaining more and more weight. At my highest weight (which you’ll see a picture of below), I weighed about 220 lbs., maybe a little higher. This was around the time I was auditioning for college musical theatre programs. One audition in particular was a huge wake up call for me. I was auditioning for Penn State’s program, and after I sang and did my monologue, they sat me down. They basically told me that I couldn’t succeed in musical theatre being so overweight. Not only were they extremely rude about it, they also proceeded to tell me that it would be different had I been black (um, excuse me, but did they look at my resume? I have done a lot of lead roles before, so obviously my weight hasn’t gotten in my way so far!). So, in the end I didn’t get into any of the musical theatre programs I applied to mainly because of my weight. I decided to go to LSU for vocal performance and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have no regrets.

Fast forward to January of this year. I had already done little things to lose a little bit of weight the previous semester, but I’m pretty sure I gained all that weight back during the holidays. So once I got back to school, I decided to make a lifestyle change, not go on a diet, and lost 25 lbs.!! I dropped a full dress size (maybe a little more) and lost almost 15% of my body weight! This was also very gradual (took about 2 months) so no one really noticed until I either told them or showed them the two pictures below.

The first is of me at my first LSU football game last semester and the second is of me right before doing a 5k a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t the difference crazy? It’s made such a huge difference in how I dance and exercise (it’s so much easier!) and I just feel ten times better about myself. Now who said you can’t LOSE weight while in college?

So here are some amazing tips that helped me lose the weight and can help you too!

  1. Drink water. This is pretty basic, but this also means to completely cut sodas out of your life. It was actually a lot easier than I thought. I used to hate drinking plain old water, but now I crave it. I try to drink about 4-6 glasses a day, and it has helped so much! If you get tired of water, I suggest drinking crystal light or some tea! I also drink a glass of milk every once in a while for some much needed calcium.
  2. Simple carbs are the enemy. Basically, I just try my best to avoid simple carbs, such as white bread, rice, pasta, corn, and potatoes (sweet potatoes are great though!). Sometimes it’s unavoidable in the dining hall at school, but otherwise it’s very do-able. Simple carbs basically turn into sugar once inside of the body, and you want to avoid sugar as much as possible if you want to effectively lose weight. I learned all about this in the book The Dorm Room Diet by Daphne Oz, a wonderful source for those of us in college. It’s also very do-able to avoid these when going out to eat. Just substitute the potatoes or rice in a dish for more veggies!
  3. Veggies and fruits, please! These will be your best friends when trying to lose weight. They are very nutritious and can surprisingly fill you up when paired with a source of protein, such as chicken or steak. I used to only like certain veggies, like broccoli, but you will eventually get used to eating veggies for every meal, so I promise you’ll love them as much as I do. I’ve always loved fruits, so this was never a challenge for me. What was a challenge was substituting delicious ice cream and cakes for dessert in the dining halls for fruit. But now that I’ve pretty much overcome that, it’s really easy.
  4. Have a Support System. I started going to LSU’s gym more and more since I got back to school from winter break. What really helped me out was that I had a couple of close friends who loved exercising and would be willing to go to the workout classes with me, and it made it ten times more fun to go to the gym every day! Also, one of my friends eats really healthy like I try to do, so when in doubt, I always copy what she’s eating. Having the support system will really motivate you to keep going.
  5. Get moving, and make sure it’s FUN! I can’t say enough how important it is to work out at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Thanks to the LSU UREC, I work out 5 times a week taking many different classes including Zumba, yoga, and cycling. These classes are an hour and I’m always sweating so much by the end of them, so I know I’m really doing something good for my body every time I leave the gym. I know this isn’t everyone’s situation, but this is where your support system can come in. Try to get a small group of friends together to go running or even join a gym, and your body will love you for it. Make sure it’s fun, so you’ll want to keep doing it. That’s why I love Zumba so much, it just feels like a dance party! Even if you don’t have much time to get moving, remember that diet alone is 80% of losing weight, so no worries!
  6. It’s OK to splurge sometimes! Always remember that if you do go off of your “diet” one day, it’s really no big deal. Maybe one day you decide to get a frappuccino or a small scoop of ice cream. It’s OK. We would all go crazy if we didn’t splurge sometimes. Just remember to splurge in moderation, and you’re good. Just don’t make splurging a habit!
  7. Rewarding yourself is essential. I love that my sister has goals and once she meets those goals, she will reward herself in some way. This is yet another way to keep yourself motivated. My reward was usually a frappuccino one week or some ice cream another week. But a really satisfying reward is clothes shopping once you’ve lost a good amount of weight. I can’t tell you how good I felt about myself when I went shopping this past weekend. Before I lost the weight, I was a size 16, sometimes 18 or 16W. Now I’m a solid 14 and it feels great. I no longer fit into Lane Bryant clothes, which is wonderful! I know I still have some weight to lose, but fitting into everything I tried on was just great motivation to keep going. I ended up getting a lot of cute things, and I couldn’t be more excited!!

Sorry for making this post so long, but I had so much to say! Some people may think these guidelines are a little strict, but they really do help. I hope at least some of you got something from this. Thank you Amy for letting me write this post! If you want to read more from me, feel free to follow my Happiness Project blog as well as my life blog!

http://rachelshappinessproject.blogspot.com/

http://rachelslifeasofnow.blogspot.com/

XOXO
Rachel :)

Motivating me to do better: BodyMedia Fit Review

Last month, I reached out to the folks at BodyMedia, and asked them if I could review one of their armbands. I have to admit, I was pretty ecstatic that someone in their PR got back to me and told me they would send me one for review!

The product I’ve been using is the BodyMedia Link armband. ($199) I chose to review this one, because it’s bluetooth enabled to give you real time results on your phone through their BodyMedia app. It’s perfect for me since I’m all about using my smart phone!

They also offer the Core armband ($179), which is 1/3 smaller, but is not bluetooth enabled so you can either see your results on your computer or through their optional display.

I’ve been using this armband for about 3 weeks now, and I can tell y’all that this little armband is definitely helping me stay motivated to do better on this diet. I’m down 24 lbs. as of this morning, which is 6 measly pounds away from 10%. 10%…that’s another reward, y’all!

As far as wearability, I have no problems wearing this to work or out at night. You really can’t tell that I’m wearing it when I’m wearing a cardigan or a shirt with longer sleeves.

I also have no issues wearing this in my sleep. It’s not bulky at all, so I can sleep right on the armband without any discomfort.

The app displays the following on a daily basis:

  • calories burned
  • calories consumed
  • the total calorie deficit (calories burned – calories consumed = ….)
  • minutes of moderate activity (which for me has been like taking a walk or fairly heavy cleaning)
  • minutes of vigorous activity (which for me has been jogging/workout videos)
  • amount of steps taken
  • duration of sleep


(This is an example of a typical rest day for me. Crazy how much your body burns on its own!)

When you plug the armband into your computer, though, you get more details like when you were active/how long and when/how much you slept vs. lying down. I found this to be pretty neat to look over.

After using this product for a couple of weeks, I figured the best way to review this is to write about the pros and cons of the product.

Pros:

  • The armband isn’t really a bother. After a couple of days, it feels weird when I’m NOT wearing it.
  • I found this armband is very simple to use and set-up. You just set-up your account (which it will guide you through doing that online), install the software for syncing the band to your computer, and enable the bluetooth on your phone to connect the armband. Then, let the system charge fully, put it on, and you’re good to go!
  • I love that I can see the calories my body is burning in real time on my phone. It really motivates me to push for a certain calorie deficit in a day.
  • I really like the goal-making feature for workouts on the app. I especially love the calories burned goal. Regret eating that chocolate bar? Well, this will show you just how much work it takes to burn that chocolate off!
  • The sleep feature. I really like seeing how much I’m sleeping through the night, and it’s cool to see my sleep efficiency too (you can see that via the website). I kind of had a hunch that once I’m out, I’m out, and I’m right…my sleep efficiency is almost always over 90%!

Cons:

  • Logging my food. When I started this diet, I was logging my food on the MyFitnessPal app. I love that app, because the food diary is very extensive. However, I’ve noticed quite a few times where BodyMedia’s app (and website) don’t have some of the foods I’m looking to log on there. However, you can manually enter your nutritional information on the app when you find that out.
  • The BodyMedia Fit armbands do have a membership fee after the first 3 months of membership ($6.95/month), which kind of stinks. However, if you think about it, it’s the cost of a coffee and pastry at a coffee shop. I’d rather spend $6.95 on my health, personally.
  • It can take some time to charge the armband on my computer, so I just try to charge it while I know I’ll be on the computer for a while.

Even though I didn’t pay for this product, I have to admit that this thing is completely worth the $199. I know that’s easy to say, but I can’t really put a price on how motivating this product is for me. I’ve lost a steady amount of weight, and I honestly think that the weight loss has a lot to do with using this tool.

Do any of y’all own/use the BodyMedia Fit armbands? What do you think of yours?

Disclosure: I was sent this product at no cost to me, as well as three months of free membership for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed about this product are my own.

A slight obstacle

I feel like the past couple of months have been just flying by. It’s cool to watch the scale numbers constantly drop, but last week reminded me more than anything that life can throw some unexpected obstacles your way.

I caught a cold.

Now, I know that sounds like barely a big deal, but y’all, I assure you, this cold knocked me off of my feet. I haven’t had a really good night’s sleep since almost two weeks ago, and I could barely do 15 minutes of housework at a time until this past weekend. I haven’t done a C25K workout (or really any workout, except for moderate paced walking) since Week 2 Day 1’s workout either, so I just feel like a weight loss bum.

Just to note, I haven’t even gotten my 5% pedicure yet. It was that miserable to leave the house!

Now, weight-loss wise at first, the scale was dropping like crazy. When your throat is so sore, you can barely sip down a bowl of soup, of course the weight was going to drop. Even MyFitnessPal warned me that I was putting my body in starvation mode when counting calories. (about 700 cals/day at my worst!) So, once I introduced real food back into my diet, of course the weight jumped up again (sigh). However, I’m happy to say as of this morning, I’m back to my lowest weight on the diet so far. I’m barely in the 270s, but that’s a new weight decade for me! Whee!

I had huge plans to hit 10% by my birthday, but at this point, I’m sure that won’t happen. I’m 16 lbs. away from that and I only have 16 days until my birthday. Ha! I’ll try, but I know it’s just not going to happen. :-P

I’m so motivated at this point, though. I need to find my belt for my pants, because I’m constantly pulling them up, which makes me SO happy! I never thought my work pants would be loose! I keep staring at my size 20 shorts from the honeymoon, hoping that sometime this Summer, I might be able to wear them again. That would be way awesome, because I loved those dang shorts!

 

5%

Before: 298.5
This morning: 283.6 (close enough, darnit)

Y’all. 15 lbs. is the most weight I’ve lost since trying to lose weight for the wedding. I know 15 lbs. isn’t a lot when you have 105 more to lose, but to me, I no longer have 120 lbs. to lose. I have 105 lbs. to lose, and that’s exciting stuff to me!

Back at my highest weight, my husband took “before” pics of me. I wanted to curiously take a picture of myself today to compare, and whoa…there’s results y’all.

To note: both of these are XL shirts and 18/20 workout pants at Lane Bryant. I’m not sucking in for either one, I swear.

5% down

In the before, my XL shirt was super tight. I would be embarrassed to wear an XL unless I or my H pulled my shirt to stretch it out. Now, it’s getting loose, and no longer riding up because it is too tight to wear. (Sorry XL shirts for the months of torture.)

You guys, I know this isn’t much weight, but look at the difference. I didn’t take my before measurements until last week (stupid, I know), so right now, this is what is driving me to that 10% of your weight lost. The benefits of losing just 10% of your weight is completely worth it. Google what losing 10% does, y’all. You’ll see.

So, since I reached my first goal, it’s time for a pedicure. YAY! I can’t wait to make that appointment. :-)

 

Couch to 5K Week One

Since I started counting calories almost two weeks ago, I decided to add physical activity to this whole lifestyle change. The simple concept of “Eat Less, Move More” has been on my mind, and I figured heck, if I can lose almost 10 lbs. just changing my eating habits, just IMAGINE what adding exercise in will do.

Back in the ol’ wedding planning days, my workouts were a mix of kickboxing, strength training and couch to 5k workouts. I was dropping weight so fast, the seamstress told me I needed to drink milkshakes or my weight loss would lead to her having to mess with the beadwork on my dress to take it all in.

So, I drank milkshakes. And…gained a lot of weight back when I couldn’t get back on track. (womp wah)

Anywho, I decided since we no longer have a YMCA near us, I’d take advantage of our quiet neighborhood and start Couch to 5K again.

Back when I did Couch to 5K, iPhones weren’t all the rage. I think the 1st generation was out, but I was still using an iPod Nano for my workouts. There used to be a podcast of the C25K program, where it played annoying techno music, but heck, there was someone telling me when to run, walk, etc. so I used it.

Now, there are apps for the C25K program. The app I use was $2.99, but well worth it. I can run/walk to whatever music I want, and the app just fades in every minute or so to remind me what’s coming up, when to start running/walking/etc. I love it. It also tweets for me when I’m done with my workout, so I can be an attention w***e about this stuff. Y’all, it takes a lot of energy to move this 300 pound body, (well currently 289, but close enough) so I want to brag! :-)

This is my favorite part of the whole workout…COOL DOWN. AKA done! Finished. Go home.  

Now, here’s how my three runs went for week one.

First run – I took Millie with me. Hello stupid. Don’t take your dog with you unless they know how to run at a decent pace. My dog’s speeds are walk and sniff or RUN RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. It wore me out and wore her out 2/3rds of the way into the workout. At one point, she stopped in front of the house and wouldn’t move (she knows where home is…smart dog). She was done. So, I brought her inside and finished the last two runs on my own. At that point, I was just dragging my feet and just struggling to get through to the end. The next day I was super sore in my left arm (where I had her leash) and my legs. I learned an important lesson that stretching needs to happen. Has to…or my thighs will feel terrible the next day.

Second run – Millie did the warm-up with me (I extended it to 10 minutes so she can get a good pulling/walking workout in), then I brought her inside. These runs seemed to drag, but I tried to challenge myself to run a little faster and walk with a little more pep in my step. My neighbors saw me mid-run #7, and I’m sure I looked like death. I stretched more that evening, and discovered that Millie likes to lick sweaty arms and legs (ugh). The next day, the soreness I had from run 1 was gone. :-)

Third run – Millie did the warm-up with me again for 10 minutes, and back inside she went to lay that belly on the cold floor. :-) This time, the runs weren’t so bad, but I had to slow down my between-run walks because I was just gasping for air for some reason. I was a little embarrassed that people in my neighborhood who were outside could probably hear me trying to catch my breath. Oh well. At the end of the third run, I had this pretty scenery to stare at.

Gorgeous sunset, no?

So, my thoughts. I knew this week would be hard, and whoa….it was. I also know that I’m running very slow at the moment, but I know I’m taking baby steps in the right direction. I’m a little unsure if I should move on to week 2, or do week 1 again, but I’m so excited that this is the beginning of something great. I know I can do this!

Weight Loss…rewarding myself

I feel like I write about weight loss a lot. It’s a big goal of mine to live a healthier lifestyle, since I’ve been a larger gal most of my life. I’m at that age where it’s time to start thinking about starting a family, and it sort of hit me.

I can’t keep living like this.

This time, I can’t keep living like this, because one day, I might get blessed with a kid. And that kid doesn’t need to learn from Mom’s unhealthy habits. That kid needs to learn healthy habits, and the best way to do that? You learn from your parents.

Now, this isn’t a jab at my parents. In fact, I was eating fairly healthy under their watch. I love almost every fruit and vegetable, because of them. I CAN eat healthy, y’all! (They totally did things right!)

So what happened? Well, independence happened. Once I got the freedom to eat on my own, I made mistakes. Mistake after mistake formed unhealthy habits, and those habits led me to my current overweight/unhealthy status. Some of those mistakes included eating unhealthy every day, eating WAY too much food, and no longer exercising as much as I used to.

So, now that I’m at the stage where my husband and I have a TTC date in our heads, it’s gotten more real. I have to change for our kids. I must. I’m really good at deadlines, because if you remember, I lost a good chunk of weight before the wedding. That dress HAD to fit, and I made darn sure it fit comfortably.

Then, the bad habits reared their ugly head, and I gained back a lot of that weight plus some! So, I’m back. I’m calorie counting. I will be exercising soon, and I will make a healthy lifestyle my new habit.

Since the New Year, I’ve lost 9.5 lbs. (what??!) Yup. 9.5 lbs. So, I’m doing this. I really am.

Of course, I can’t do this without some motivation. I offered myself rewards last time I lost weight, and this time will be no different.

Once I lose:

    • 5% of my weight (or 15 lbs.), I’ll treat myself to a pedicure.
    • 10% of my weight (or 30 lbs.), I’ll treat myself to a mini $50 fabric buying spree.
    • 50 lbs., I’ll treat myself to a pair of fun, fancy shoes.
    • 20% (60 lbs.), I’ll treat myself to a mini-makeover at Sephora or MAC. Once I lose 60 lbs., I’ll be back to my wedding weight. :-)
    •  75 lbs., I’ll treat myself to some new workout clothes. I figure at this point, I SHOULD fit in XL/XXL in regular sized workout clothes, so BYE BYE plus sized workout clothes!
    • 30% (or 90 lbs.), I’ll treat myself to a fun Victoria’s Secret trip. I’ve never fit in VS before, but hopefully once I”m 90 lbs. down, I can get a few fun things there.
    • ONEDERLAND (or 99 lbs.), I’ll treat myself to my first designer handbag.
    • 110 lbs., I’ll treat myself to my first pair of fancy designer jeans.
    • GOAL, which is 40% (or 120 lbs.), WE’RE (my husband and I, obviously) GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!! 

Lots of fun things to work for, right? I’m a measly 5.5 lbs. away from my first reward, and my toes CANNOT wait! :-)

Why I’m losing weight…

This is a hard post to write. Really hard. Not to mention, embarrassing too.

A couple of weeks ago, I told myself that this was it. No looking back. I need to get healthy. I know I’ve said this multiple times, but now that I’m dangerously teetering towards 300 lbs., I feel that this needs to happen soon.

At my weight, life is different. Much much different.

  • I get stared at. At first I thought that my zipper was down or something, but I realized people are probably staring at me. And people stare HARD. I’m not a looker, so I can only assume they’re looking at me because of my weight.

 

  • I used to be able to walk briskly and talk at the same time. I can still do this, but I’m starting to notice that I feel winded when I try. Seriously…

 

  • I wake up with back pain. I’ve never had this happen before. I’m 27…I shouldn’t be dealing with back pain every morning when I never had this problem before.

 

  • I’m always tired. ALWAYS. I could take a nap at the drop of a hat. My energy is absolutely drained.

 

  • My belly sticks out more than my boobs. And I’m not pregnant.

 

  • Constant acid reflux. Again, this is something I’ve never had before, but now I experience it nearly every day. It sucks.

 

I know some of these are ridiculous, but to me, I feel like my health is at its worst. I’m only 27 years old. I can do this. I can change. I’m ready for everything on that list to change for the better.

The non-scale differences (and a challenge!)

I’ve been actively working out for the past 3 weeks. I know I haven’t lost much weight, but I know things are changing in my body with each week that I work out. :-)

Kickboxing. Oh man, I remember the first class. (If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you might remember that I went to kickboxing a bunch before the wedding, so I’m familiar to how the classes work, and oh boy, do they work!!) Our Y hired a new instructor, who I just really didn’t like. Her teaching style was much different, and I’m just not a person for change. There were some moves I couldn’t do (due to terrible balance) and some moves I couldn’t do with the pace of the music (kicking way too fast). It was way more advanced than I was used to, and I wanted to quit. I remember walking out of the first class feeling that I didn’t get a good workout in, because I couldn’t do some of the moves, so I’d march in place or do knee lifts. However, in my class this week, I noticed that I was able to do a couple of sets of the moves that required better balance, and my kicks are getting faster and more intense. WIN! I walked out of class feeling sweaty, which is SUPER awesome!

I’ve also started taking Millie on her long walks again (which, for now, is only 0.6 miles) since it’s warming up outside. The first walk, my thighs were absolutely sore (since Millie pulls like crazy…this is why she’s in training), and I was way out of breath! A couple of days ago, though, the hubs offered to come with me, and I noticed I was able to talk the whole time with him and came home feeling refreshed, rather than tired. Another WIN!

I’m also noticing some changes in my legs. I don’t notice their size going down or anything, but a few months ago, I started getting this weird pain in my legs when I’d try to fall asleep, which would only feel better if I moved my legs around or something. I was pretty worried that I was getting restless leg syndrome or something, thanks to Dr. Google. I have no idea if working out contributes to this, but the pain doesn’t really happen anymore. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I really think something with the work-out routine did wonders to nipping this pain in the bud!

I’m just so glad that I’m already feeling some changes! It definitely encourages me to keep going with the work-outs, and even find time to work-out more frequently. :-) This is good stuff, y’all. Good stuff.

I’m going to spice things up for next week. I’m getting my cardio in pretty well, but I really need to get back to weights. Weights + cardio literally melted weight off of me in the wedding planning days, so this week’s challenge is about focusing on weights!

For every comment you guys leave until Monday night, I will lift 40 lbs. of weights in some form next week. Whether it’s a leg machine, arm machine or chest machine, I’m going to lift it.

I appreciate y’all’s support in advance! You guys are awesome at pushing me further in this weight loss journey of mine!

Challenge Me! (Week 2)

Challenge Week 1

Last week, y’all challenged me to over 100 minutes of working out!! I am so excited to say that I’m only a few short minutes away from meeting y’all’s challenge!!

Here’s how I split it up so far:

60 minutes – Kickboxing
30 minutes – Brisk walking (in a pretty hill-y area)

All I have left to do is 18 minutes, which I plan on doing either on the Wii Just Dance game or the 30 day Shred! Thanks everyone for helping to challenge me to actually get moving!

Do y’all want to challenge me again? I think I’m going to up it this time.

I will work out FOUR minutes for every comment on this blog post. Four minutes. :-)

All you need to do is leave a comment. :-) I really dig comments, obviously! I’ll close the comments on Monday evening, and get to working out right away! Thanks for your support everyone! :-)

Challenge Me!

You guys are so awesome! Thank you for your support, and for being so nice when I posted my “before” pictures yesterday. I didn’t really expect so many wonderful, encouraging comments and tweets about my weight loss plan, but I appreciate each one. EACH ONE!

So, I want to ask you guys to challenge me this week. I’m doing fairly well with staying within my Weight Watchers Points(Plus..whatever), but as far as exercise goes, I need some motivation!

So, I’m stealing an old idea from Tyler of 344Pounds. I remember him blogging asking his readers to help him with his workout pledges. For every comment on his blog, he’d workout 1 minute.

My idea is, for every comment from you, I’ll work out 3 minutes this week. (Limit one comment per person, because I want this to be a realistic goal.)

So, comment away!! Please! :-)

If I get 15 comments, my goal is to work out 45 minutes this week!! (although I’ll break that in one day, since I usually put in a good hour at the gym!) I’d love for you to share this with friends to comment…I need a goal and I know y’all can help motivate me with a wonderful exercise goal!