Making 2014 Count

Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe that 2013 has come and gone. I have some great memories associated with the past year. Our road trip to Illinois, celebrating Bug turning one, running my first 10K, and many, many more!

It was this time last year that I introduced my 30 During Thirty list. I still have six and a half weeks to cross off a few more items, but in sticking with tradition, I thought now was a good time to announce that I will be continuing the challenge with a 31 During Thirty-One list. More information on both lists will be coming in February, but today I am sharing the first item on my new list thanks to the encouragement of one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica at Little Baby Garvin.

She, along with In Honor of Design, Kelli MurrayOh Dear Drea, Small Fry Blog, Summer Saldana, & The Wiegands, posed the following three questions to their readers and invited us share our answers to one (or all) of the prompts.

1. What is something you want to change, or a goal you want to set for the New Year & what is your plan for making it happen?

2. Many people choose a word to reflect on, live by or aspire to for the New Year. Let us know your word, how you decided upon it & how you plan to incorporate it into 2014.

3. I will make 2014 count by…

I decided to focus on the first question, so here it goes.

My goal for the New Year is to continue running. I really got back into it last year but I have a habit of losing momentum. I stay motivated by having races lined up, so this morning I registered for a half marathon.

Steel Rail Half Marathon

Running a half marathon is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I decided that this was the year to make it happen. I have had success following Hal Higdon’s training programs in the past, so I plan to use his Half Marathon Novice 2 Program starting at the end of February.

Now it’s your turn! How would you answer those questions? Did anyone else set a running related goal for the coming year? I will be linking this post to the above mentioned blogs on Friday, so be sure to check out their sites for even more inspiration.

Cheers to a fabulous 2014!

How I Lost the Baby Weight

It has been exactly one year since I wrote this post about losing the baby weight so I thought it was the perfect time to do an update.

I gained approximately 40 pounds while pregnant with Bug, which wasn’t bad but more than the 25-30 range recommended by my doctor. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I tried to remain active by running and doing light strength training a few days a week, but I stopped around month five because I found myself feeling so tired afterwards that I would come home and sleep for two hours. From that point on, my activity mainly consisted of walking, and while I tried to watch what I ate, I didn’t put too much effort into it.

5 Months Pregnant

After giving birth to Bug, I lost 20 pounds within the first few weeks, but that left me with another 20 pounds in order to get back to my pre-baby weight. At three weeks postpartum I started to increase my activity level, but I didn’t get serious about it until I got the okay from my doctor.

I mentioned in my previous post that I joined the website My Fitness Pal, which brings me to my first piece of advice.

1. Track what you eat.

For those who don’t know, My Fitness Pal is a free program that logs your calories, among other things. I can honestly say that this step was the greatest indicator to my success. Prior to using this program, I had no idea how many calories were in an item of food. The first couple of weeks I ate like usual just to see where I was at and I was blown away by how many calories were in things such as my morning bowl of cereal.

Not only that, but I quickly found that some of those higher calorie foods I was eating didn’t keep me full for very long, so I ended up eating more to make up for it. In fact, this was true for some of the “healthy” foods I was eating too. As a result, I adjusted my diet to include more protein in the form of meat, eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese,  nut butters, etc. and saw a huge difference in my numbers, as well as how I felt.

When tracking what you eat, I also recommend measuring your food. This will ensure that your numbers are as accurate as possible. We keep measuring cups and measuring spoons handy, and even bought this cheap food scale (with a 20% off coupon, of course) at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

Update: We recently upgraded to this digital food scale, thanks to a generous Christmas gift from my parents, and we love it.

Another feature My Fitness Pal has is the ability to record your exercise, which brings me to my next point.

2. Do some type of activity.

I did a few different things to stay active over the past year. I think the key is to find something you enjoy and make it attainable. For example, in January, I heard that an aerobics class was going to be taking place in the cafeteria at my school. It began right after I got out of work so I contacted the instructor and signed up. I like aerobics, so I thought it would be fun, and since I was already there, it made it less likely that I would come up with an excuse not to go. In addition to aerobics, I also enjoy running, but only as long as the weather cooperates.

Above all, the simplest activity you can do is walking. It can be a planned workout or even just built into your day. If you have a choice between the stairs and the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of parking in the space closest to the door, go a little further back. In our case, we live 4/5 of a mile from the center of town, which puts us in walking distance to the library, coffee shop, post office, etc. We take advantage of this as much as possible, and not only is it good exercise, it saves us money on gas. Win, win!

As you watch what you eat and exercise, it is important to measure your progress, which brings me to my third piece of advice.

3. Get a scale.

Prior to embarking on my weight loss journey I never owned a scale in my life. However, I knew if I was going to take it seriously I needed to hold myself accountable, so I bought this one (with another 20% off coupon) also at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

I would recommend choosing one day a week to weigh in. My Fitness Pal has another feature where you can log your weight, which I found helpful. In addition to stepping on the scale, I also recommend taking the measurements of your neck, waist, and hips because you may actually be losing inches even though your weight is the same.

I will admit, it can be discouraging when the number stalls, or even worse, goes back up, but it would just motivate me to work harder the following week. But on the flip side, when the number goes down, it feels so good to see all of that hard work pay off.

Unfortunately, throughout this process I did encounter some people who were less than supportive, which brings me to my fourth point.

4. Find a support system.

My support system primarily consisted of my husband Jared. He was trying to lose weight along with me, so we checked in with each other often. In addition, he also has an interest in nutrition and fitness, so he assisted me in figuring out my diet and workouts.

As for the rest of my support system, yet another feature of My Fitness Pal is the ability to follow friends. Your food diaries, exercise, and weigh-ins are posted in a news feed similar to Facebook and knowing that it was out there for all to see helped hold me accountable. You can also comment on each other’s updates, and give/receive encouragement. I am always looking for new friends so if you would like to follow me, you can do so by clicking here.

And last but not least, my final piece of advice is.

5. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I know this may sound weird, but it’s true. When you exercise, you’re going to be breathing hard and feel sore. When you cut back your calories, you may be a little hungry. You know the saying “No pain, no gain.” Well, there is some truth to that. If you want results, it’s not always going to be pretty, but it will be worth it.

Overall, I lost 37 pounds in 11 months, which is 12 pounds less than my pre-baby weight.

Before & After
September 2012/September 2013

I’m happy with the number on the scale, and therefore have lightened up on the intensity a bit, but the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle are permanent. I would also like to tone up more and just started Jillian Michael’s 6 Week Six-Pack, so we’ll see how that goes.

In closing, I do want to add that I don’t consider myself a weight loss expert in the least and firmly believe that what is successful for one person may not be for someone else. I just wanted to share what worked for me and hopefully it will help someone else who is looking to lose those extra pounds.

This post contains affiliate links.

Angie, Angie, Quite Contrary

This post is part of my 30 During Thirty list. Read more about it here.

8. Start a garden.

Now that I’m all caught up on my posts from the Whole Living Challenge, and you’re caught up on what has been going on with me, we can get back to my 30 During Thirty list. I’ve slowly but surely been working towards the first seven items, and have even completed some I haven’t announced yet. This is one of them.

In the five years we’ve lived at our house I’ve always considered starting a garden but just never got around to it. When I was trying to come up with items for my 30 During Thirty list it seemed like the perfect opportunity and once I quit my job I was really motivated. Not only did I now have time to do it, I figured it would help us save some money in the long run.

Seeing that it was the middle of the summer, and I’ve never planted a garden before, I decided to start small and go with an herb garden. Here it is in all its glory. The six plants on the right are basil and the one on the left is cilantro.

I’ve actually been surprised by how much I enjoy working on it. My favorite time is first thing in the morning. There is just something about digging in the dirt as the sun is rising and the birds are singing that makes me happy.

It has also brought out my culinary side and I’ve been busy looking for recipes on Pinterest that use basil and cilantro. So far, we’ve made apple salsa, ratatouille, and my current favorite, caprese sandwiches, but there are many more I can’t wait to try.