2018 Accomplishments & 2019 Goals

As I reflect on 2018, one word comes to mind. UNEXPECTED. Going into the year, I had goals I wanted to accomplish, but it’s those goals I never planned on that really make me proud.

I tried Barre and Yoga for the first time and was surprised at how they pushed my body in new and challenging ways. I liked it so much I attended additional classes!

Barre
Barre class

My main goal of 2018 was to run a 5k. I had walked a couple before, but I wanted to RUN this one. My roommate trained with me and on May 26, 2018, I crossed that one off my bucket list! I was a very happy girl that day. Accomplishing something that was a dream so long ago is an indescribable feeling.

5k May 2018
Running my first 5k!

I planned on running a 5k in October, but my roommate convinced me to sign up for the 10k. And on October 27, 2018, I checked an (unexpected) goal off my bucket list (one I hadn’t even put on there!). It was extremely challenging (especially after months of asthma symptom flare ups), but I never imagined I’d be at that point in my fitness journey.

10k October 2018
I ran a 10k!

In total, I ran 4 races and power walked 2, attended Barre, Yoga, and countless Zumba classes. I continued to push myself and set new goals.

For 2019, these are my goals:

  1. Run the Bix 7
  2. Attend 4 new fitness classes/activities.
  3. Work out 3 days a week.
  4. Run a half marathon?! [WOW! I cannot believe I just said that!!]

So here’s to crushing my fitness goals in 2019!!!

Jen

1 year Weight Watchers Lifetime Anniversary

I’ve had a hard time gathering all of my thoughts for this post, hence why it’s taken a few weeks to write. When I first started Weight Watchers in February 2016, I could only dream of hitting goal, Lifetime, and now maintaining for one year. I honestly can’t believe that a whole year has come and gone. A lot has happened in the past year and so much has changed. But one thing has remained the same: I am still committed to a healthy lifestyle because I am worth that – and so much more.

But I never imagined that the most difficult part of my healthy lifestyle journey would be maintenance. I thought losing the weight would be the hardest part of my journey. Weight Watchers provides you with incredible tools to lose weight, but once you reach your goal, I feel like you’re kind of on your own. In my opinion, Weight Watchers doesn’t do the best with providing you support to help you maintain your weight (which I hope they change in the future). The first six months of maintenance were a breeze, and I easily stayed within my weight loss range. But once the holidays came and went, things got tough. I lost the weight I gained over the holiday, but then March hit and my social life really picked up: Long weekends away, social gatherings with friends, and personal stress, to boot! I found it VERY difficult to manage. And I became very anxious over the scale. The most anxious I’ve ever been. It came to the point where I dreaded going to the Weight Watchers meetings to weigh in – and that was not what I should feel. I should have been happy to attend the meetings and not terrified. I know that this was also my doing, and if I would track consistently and exercise regularly, I likely wouldn’t have this “scale anxiety” problem (more to come on this topic in a future post). I can’t tell you the last day I honestly tracked. When I was losing weight, I could gain a few pounds and not stress about it because I knew it would come off in the next couple of weeks. Now, I stress when the scale fluctuates even a pound. I become even more nervous the closer to the end of the month it gets (as a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers, you are required to weigh-in once a month to continue your membership) because that means my weigh-in is imminent.

The biggest thing I struggle with is my “splurges” and “indulgences.” I find myself going a bit crazy those first few days after I weigh in for the month because I’ve got 4 weeks until I have to weigh in again. I realize this isn’t the healthiest thing, and I still need to figure out this whole “balance” thing. I can have treats, but I need to be better about working them into my daily points versus just having a free-for-all.

But then I reflect back on all of the GOOD things that have happened this last year. I trained for and ran a 5k as well as a 4-mile race. I power walked two 5k races and medaled in both! I attended a couple of Barre classes and a Buti Yoga class. I continue to push myself physically and mentally. This year has been about setting new goals for myself so I don’t lose sight of the big picture and the reason I started this healthy lifestyle journey in the first place. I smile every time I reflect on the amazing things I’ve accomplished. Things I never imagined I’d do 70 pounds ago. I’m also thankful for friends who push me and family who constantly encourage me. This journey would be 100 times more difficult without the incredible support I received and continue to receive.

ww-lifetime-anniversary.jpg

And remember, you have to do this for yourself and not anyone else. You are in control of your happiness.

Keeping chasing your dreams!

Raspberry Cupcakes Featuring Southern Breeze Sweet Tea

The 4th of July is right around the corner which means parties, fireworks, and lots of food. If you are in need of a dessert to share with your family and friends, I’ve got you covered!

My friends at Southern Breeze Sweet Tea sent me a couple of their tea flavors (check last April’s blog post for a review), so I thought, why not incorporate it into a recipe?! Angel food cake is a very low-point Weight Watcher treat, so I decided to add a bit of flavor!

Ingredients

Ingredients:
1 box of angel food cake mix
Water
Southern Breeze Raspberry Sweet Tea packet
Cupcake liners
Large mixing bowl
Whisk
Spoon
Cupcake/muffin tin

Directions:
Pour cake mix into large bowl.
Add tea bag to water (my mix called for 1 ¼ cup, so I soaked the tea bag in the water for about 10 minutes before pouring into the bowl).
Pour water into bowl and beat the batter (by hand or with a mixer).
*Pour batter into cupcake liners.
Bake at 325 degrees (or according to box instructions) for approximately 20 minutes.

Ingredients 2
Sweet tea soaking in water
Finished cupcakes
Hot cupcakes out of the oven!

Cool and then top with Cool Whip or Reddi Whip! I used sprinkles, but fresh raspberries would be a nice addition!

Finished product 2

*I decided to make cupcakes, but you could use an angel food cake pan or loaf pan, too.

Servings: Yield 24; 1 Weight Watcher SmartPoints

These were so good, but I think the raspberry flavor baked off in the oven. Next time I would like to incorporate the sweet tea into the frosting.

Have a Happy (and delicious) 4th!

FREESHIPPING

Running My First 5k!

Guess what I did on May 26th?! I ran my first 5k! After losing 70+ pounds, I realized I needed a new goal to strive for to keep my momentum going and to keep the weight off. I walked a 5k in October and power walked a 5k in December. After the December race, I decided on a goal of running a 5k in the spring. My roommate, Erin, who is an avid runner, agreed to train with me. We used the Couch to 5k app which I highly recommend! It’s an 8 week program all on your phone. Each day increases the amount of time you walk and run, and after 8 weeks of training, you can run a 5k! We started Couch to 5k in December and finished two days before the race (the winter months really put a damper on our training).

The Night Before the Race

I loaded up on pasta and a salad for dinner and drank lots of Gatorade to make sure I was hydrated for race day! I laid out my clothes to wear for the race, took a shower, and went to bed at a decent hour but had trouble falling asleep (I wonder why?!).

Race Day

The morning of the race I woke up at 6:30 am. I was wide awake and ready for the race! Erin and I arrived at the course about 30 minutes before start time, so we took a 10-15 minute warm-up walk. Soon it was time to line up at the starting line! It was 8:00 am and already in the high 70s and VERY humid. The perfect conditions for a race, right? 😉

My heart was beating so fast! Right before the shotgun fired, I tapped Erin on the shoulder and said, “It’s time!!”

Then the shotgun rang out, echoing around me, signaling the start of the race.  We were off!

I left the starting line with a huge smile on my face. 🙂 I felt good the first .5 of a mile, but knew it was going to catch up to me…and it did. By the first water station, I was grateful for the 15 seconds or so to walk and gather my stamina. Then we continued on. I felt like the halfway point of the race had to be coming up fairly soon, but it felt like forever! Once we made the turnaround, I had renewed motivation. I had already made it halfway, so what was stopping me from making it all 3.1 miles?

It was definitely hot and muggy outside. The sun was beating down on me with no shade in sight.

Along with the two water stations, I stopped only a couple of other times, for only about 10-20 seconds.

Erin & Jen-5k May 2018 002
My awesome runny buddy, Erin!

Erin was great about pushing me along and not letting me walk for long. The longer you walk, the harder it is to get running again. The race route weaved along a quiet neighborhood, and there were quite a few people out on the course cheering us on. Just when I thought I couldn’t run anymore, someone would shout, “You’re doing great!” and Erin would chime in, “Come on, Jen, keep going!”

Finally, I could see the finish line in sight (and a giant hill). I told myself to keep pushing forward and that I did! When we only had about 20 feet to go, Erin yelled, “Run as fast as you can!!” I thought my legs were going to fly off of my body, but I ran with all of my might to the finish line!

I HAD DONE IT!

5k May 2018
Post-race!

Results

I finished in 38:01 with a 12:15 mile. For someone who has never run a 5k before, I was pleased with that time! This time now gives me a baseline for future races – which I most definitely plan on doing! I already have my eye on a race in July (Moonlight Chase, anyone?) 🙂

Erin & Jen-5k May 2018
We did it!!

All in all, this race was everything I hoped it would be, and I’m so glad I pushed myself to set this goal for myself. It definitely wasn’t easy, and I had quite a few moments during my training (and the actual race) where I didn’t think my body would allow me to continue. But I can’t wait to do more races and continue to push myself! 😀 

Product Review – Southern Breeze Sweet Tea

I’m not sure about you, but I am always looking for ways to enjoy my favorite things, but with fewer calories and sugar. One of these favorite things is flavored water. I love finding new ways to sweeten up my water (plain water can get a bit boring at times, am I right?). I was so excited when I was contacted by Southern Breeze Sweet Tea to try their sweet tea! I’ve never been a fan of sweet tea, mainly because I know all of the calories and sugar that can be found in a glass of that stuff. So being able to finally enjoy sweet tea without the calories and sugar sounded like a win-win to me!

I received four flavors – Original, Half & Half (half tea, half lemonade), Peach, & Raspberry.

southern-sweet-tea.jpg

Before I give you my review, let me tell you something. I have always vowed to give my honest review. So what you read is 100% my true opinion. 🙂

For best results, the instructions tell you to pour 8 oz. of cold water over 1 tea bag, steep for 5 minutes and then toss the bag out. I was a little hesitant that there wouldn’t be much “sweet” flavor from the tea bag, but I was wrong! The tea is sweet, but not overpowering. The peach, raspberry, half & half and original flavors are subtle, which I like, but you can definitely taste them! Too much sweet in my opinion is a total turn off. My favorite flavor was the Half & Half, which surprised me because I really thought the Peach flavor would be my favorite. But I enjoyed all of them so much and can’t wait to continue using them! One issue I found is that you only get one use out of each tea bag. I tried reusing the bag for another glass and found it to be extremely weak. But other than that, I don’t have any complaints!

Southern Sweet Tea Free Shipping

If you want to get your hands on some guilt-free southern sweet tea, go to www.southernbreezesweettea.com and enter “APRILSHIPFREE” valid 4/1 – 4/30 for free shipping on your 1st order!

Thanks again, Southern Sweet Tea! You guys are the sweetest (hehe). ❤

How to Combat Sugar Cravings

We’ve all had those moments where we’re craving a candy bar or cookies or a pan of brownies. And once in a while, it’s completely fine to give into those cravings. But how else can you satisfy your sweet tooth without costing yourself hundreds of calories (and a few extra workouts at the gym)? Here are some items to grab – or activities to do – when the sugar fairy is knocking at your door (SmartPoints included):

Fruit – This is a great 0 SmartPoint food to grab! My favorites are bananas, grapes, oranges, strawberries, and apples.
Halo Top Ice Cream – If you haven’t tried Halo Top ice cream, you are seriously missing out. A ½ cup ranges anywhere from 3-6 SmartPoints. My favorite is Red Velvet. Also, I have a secret…last year I won a Halo Top Giveaway and was mailed all 17 flavors! 🙂
Enlightened Ice Cream – Also very good and similar to Halo Top! I love the Oatmeal Cookie flavor!
Fiber One Brownies – These are 4 or 5 SmartPoints and definitely satisfy my chocolate craving. The Cookie Dough Supreme ones are excellent!
Weight Watcher Mini Bars – I wouldn’t have been able to control my sweet tooth and lose 70 pounds without the incredible Weight Watcher Mini Bars. My all-time favorite are the Chocolate Pretzel Blast Mini Bars. They are only 2 SmartPoints, which is such a steal! And they taste like you’re eating a high calorie candy bar (such as a Take 5).
Elevation Caramel Nut Bars (found at Aldi) – These are 5 SmartPoints and are very similar to a Twix! They are also very generous in size.
Sparkling Ice (or any flavored carbonated water) – I was never a huge pop drinker even before joining Weight Watchers, but sometimes regular old H2O can be a bit boring. They have SO many flavors to choose from that you never run out of options! And they’re 0 SmartPoints!

Sugar cravings snacks

You also have to understand that it is completely fine to have that decadent brownie if that is what you are really craving. You’re not going to help yourself by eating 3 Fiber One Brownies and not even being satisfied when you could have just had the real thing. It’s all about moderation. It’s a tough thing to learn, but saving those special treats for when you REALLY want them makes them all that more special.

Nobody’s perfect and we all have slip ups. But being prepared is half the battle. 🙂

Pita Pizzas

I know when I started this blog last year, I promised to share recipes. So here I go! I’ll try to share them more frequently.

One of my favorite things in the whole entire world is pizza! It can be a little steep in points, so I love making these pita pizzas when I’m having that pizza craving. There are two variations, so make sure to scroll all the way through!

Pita Pizza

Ingredients:

Pita pizza ingredients

1 pita bread (I buy the Joseph’s Pita Bread at Walmart)
¼ cup of marinara sauce (I use Barilla)
¼ cup of shredded cheese (My favorite is Velveeta Shreds)
Turkey Pepperoni (any brand) or 93% lean ground beef

Directions:
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Brown your ground beef (if you are using it).
3.) Place pita bread on a foil lined cookie sheet.
4.) Spread ¼ cup of marinara sauce on pita bread.
5.) Sprinkle ¼ cup of shredded cheese on top.
6.) Place the turkey pepperoni (12) or ground beef on top.
7.) Bake for 10 minutes. When the edges have started to brown, it is time to take it out.
8.) Cut and serve.
9.) Enjoy!

Pita pizza after

Around 7sp Weight Watchers freestyle points (depends on brand of ingredients).

 

Breakfast Pita Pizza

Ingredients:

Breakfast pita pizza ingredients

1 pita bread (Joseph’s Pita Bread)
2 cheese slices or ¼ cup of shredded cheese (Velveeta)
2 eggs
Turkey Sausage (Jimmy Dean is my go-to)

Directions:
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Cook two eggs.
3.) Place pita bread on a foil lined cookie sheet.
4.) Put 2 cheese slices (or ¼ cup of shredded cheese) on pita bread.
5.) Sprinkle the eggs on top.
6.) Cook the turkey sausage and cut into small pieces.
7.) Place turkey sausage on top of eggs.
8.) Bake for 10 minutes. When the edges have started to brown, it is time to take it out.
9.) Cut and serve
10.) Enjoy!

Breakfast pita pizza-turkey sausage

Around 5sp Weight Watchers freestyle points (depends on brand of ingredients).

I hope you try out these recipes, and you love them as much as I do!

2017—A Year in Review

As 2017 comes to an end, I thought it would be appropriate to look back on this last year—the highs, the lows, and the accomplishments.

The year started with a big life change in March. I moved out of my parents’ house and into a house with a good high school friend. It was definitely a big shift, as I was used to preparing my meals with my mom and dad but now had to cook for one. This is also the time I began attending my roommate’s Zumba class on a regular basis. I had attended a couple of Zumba classes before, but I am now very dedicated and rarely miss a week! I love all of the different moves and the fact that your whole body gets a superb workout.

Zumba Toys for Tots
Having fun with my friends after a 2 hour Zumba class to raise money for Toys for Tots.

This year was also the first time during my weight loss journey that I had to navigate through grief while trying to stay in control of my eating habits. In April, I lost my beloved grandmother which was a very challenging time. I was surrounded by delicious, unhealthy food, and a majority of the time I just didn’t feel like cooking due to not having the energy/being sad. But I used this sadness and frustration to propel me into reaching my weight loss goal. I knew that my grandma wouldn’t want me to be sad and most definitely wouldn’t want me to use her death as an excuse for not reaching my goal.

Grandma's 98th
❤ ❤ ❤

And in June, I did! Hitting GOAL was the most surreal feeling and achieving LIFETIME six weeks later was even sweeter. This summer was definitely one for the record books. 😀

WW 70 pounds lost
The day I hit GOAL at Weight Watchers! A happy day indeed!

The biggest personal accomplishment of this year was starting this blog! I had always wanted to have a blog of my own but never had a platform. After losing weight, I got so many questions about my journey that I knew I had to start this blog. I love to write, so this is a dream for me to be able to write about something that has changed my entire outlook on life. Simultaneously, I also created my starve_me_not Instagram account (which is linked down below)! My Instagram account has been a great way to share my meals, recipes, and the occasional frustrations with other Weight Watchers and weight loss users.

This fall I traveled with my parents to visit my brother on the East Coast. I didn’t track for a week and indulged in everything. I learned that I can have days off track and still be perfectly fine. I think a lot of us who have lost weight worry we’ll wake up one day and all of that weight we worked so hard to lose will magically appear back on our bodies. It doesn’t work like that!

In October, I participated in my first 5K! It was a chilly and windy day, and the course was full of hills. I walked the race but was so proud of myself for accomplishing this task! I would never have walked a 5K before losing 70 pounds. In December, I participated in my second 5K (totally a last-second decision). My roommate and I decided to power walk the race and came in 2nd and 1st place respectively in our age division!! It was a cold morning and my legs definitely felt like jello at the end. My goal for 2018 is to run a 5K!

Rotary Ramble
After the race with my 1st place plaque! 🙂

The biggest thing I took away from this whole year was: YOU HAVE TO ENJOY YOUR LIFE. Time and time again when I get down on myself for an unhealthy meal I ate or not getting my steps in for the day, my family and friends remind me that I have to enjoy my life and not be constantly stressed out about tracking points and checking my steps. So if you are wanting to start living a healthier life, there is no time like the present. I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2018 and thank you for your continued support!

Ways to Stay Active

It’s starting to get colder (at least here in the Midwest) and sometimes staying active is hard now that it’s not as nice outside (and the fact that it will soon be getting dark at 5PM). Here are a few tips to help you stay active when it’s cold and blustery outside.

Get an exercise/accountability buddy

Mom & Jen September 2017-2

My mom and I are constantly pushing each other. She’s been with me on my weight loss journey from day one (and has lost 100+ pounds!!). At night, we’ll text each other with the amount of steps we have and if I’m behind, I’ll keep pushing so I can beat her! 😉 She has helped me countless times to get my butt into gear!

Jen & Erin Fitness BP Party

My roommate is also super active. She teaches Zumba once a week, and unless I’m out of town, I always attend her class. In addition to Zumba, we go on walks and do workouts at home (yoga, cardio). We’ll text each other in the morning and ask the other one if she wants to work out that night. Then when we both get home from work, we get our hearts pumping instead of sitting on the couch!

Join a Stepbet or contest

Back in September, I joined my first StepBet. If you don’t know what StepBet is, it’s an app on your phone that syncs with your activity tracker (FitBit, Garmin, etc.). You put (pay) $40 in the pot to say you’ll meet your active goal four days a week, have two stretch days (significantly over your daily step goal), and one rest day. StepBet will determine your active/stretch days based on your past steps in your activity tracker. The reason I joined a StepBet game a couple of months ago was because I was lacking motivation to be active. StepBet games are six weeks in duration, and I knew I would be on vacation during one of those weeks. I’m SO glad I joined because I indulged during my week-long vacation, but I’m happy to say I got my steps in! At the end of the six weeks, if you’re still in the game, you split the pot with the other winners! You don’t win a ton, but I got my $40 back plus some. 🙂

Set a goal

Hot Cider Hustle

This could be in the form of walking/running a certain distance or trying a new exercise. I made a goal of walking in my first 5K. I always thought they sounded like fun but never would have done one before losing weight. I signed up during the summer and the race was last month. It was super cold and windy the morning of the race, but I did it with a couple of friends and we had a blast! My next goal is to run a 5K! 🙂 I know a lot of people (myself included) have a hard time following through with our goals. In order to follow through with my goal, I signed up and paid my race fee MONTHS in advance. By signing up and paying the fee, I couldn’t back out! I know it isn’t possible to sign up/pay for every goal you make, but it’s a great way to keep yourself accountable.

If you have any great tips for finding that extra motivation, share them with me in the comments!

Until next time, happy stepping!

Achieving Weight Watchers Lifetime Status

Lifetime transformation 2This post has been a long time coming, and I’m finally sitting down to type out all of the exciting details. On July 26th, I hit a huge milestone in Weight Watchers….I achieved Lifetime status!! When you first join Weight Watchers, this is the goal you work towards and dream of making, so when the day finally comes, it’s hard to grasp your head around it. But the feeling I had when the WW person weighing me said, “You hit Lifetime!” was indescribable. It was almost like one of those “out of body” experiences. I couldn’t believe I was actually the person who had achieved Lifetime and not another member. Not a lot can top the elation I had at that very moment. 🙂

I thought once I hit lifetime everything would be easy–but let me tell you, it’s definitely not. Maintaining your weight is just as difficult as losing weight. I thought, “Oh, I’ll have more leniency with what I eat and I won’t need to track points anymore.” Boy, was I wrong.

Tracking points is still necessary if you want to keep your Lifetime membership and not gain your weight back. In order to stay a Lifetime member, you have to stay within 2 pounds of your goal weight and weigh in once a month. Weighing in just once a month is the dangerous part to me because I get in the mindset that I can be carefree for a couple of weeks since I have extra time to work off anything I gain. But those pounds come on quicker than you would think, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let 19 months of hard work just slip out of my fingers. I’ve come too far and accomplished too much to end up where I started–an overweight, unhappy person. What works best for me is to find the motivation and push to keep moving forward. When I first started WW, it was all about fitting into clothes that I hadn’t worn in years and looking healthier. Now that I’ve checked those goals off my list, I have to find ways of pushing myself to maintain my healthy lifestyle. I recently joined StepBet, an app where you pay a certain amount of money to join and bet that you make your step goals for a certain number of days per week for six weeks. After the 6 weeks, if you’re still in the running, you and the rest of the winners split the pot of money! This is pretty motivating to me since I am not one to just throw away the $40 I paid!

Spiraling back to a 70 pound heavier me scares me. I know it can happen. I also know I have the best support system a person could ask for. I have family, friends, and co-workers who truly care and help me every day. They remind me that when I stress about food that one cupcake or cookie or piece of pizza isn’t going to derail me. The most important piece of information I’ve learned along the way, though, is to enjoy yourself. I can’t deprive myself of all of the delicious (and calorie-packed) food for the rest of my life. I have to allow myself to splurge once in a while, which I definitely do, trust me. 🙂

The journey is hard. The journey is challenging. And sometimes you just want to throw in the towel. But remind yourself of that end goal. It’s not some dream. It’s a reality. And YOU can make it happen.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.