Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stronger

Hey friends!

It's been a great week.  Many interesting challenges have crept up and whacked me in the face.  I, however, persevered.  Let me share my successes with you.

1) I lost 10.5 pounds in the 3 days with the cleanse.  Typically you regain a few after a loss like that.  I did and then lost again.  I'm 10.5 pounds down and its staying down.  Only 49.5 left!!!

2) I ate out 3 times in the last week!!!  Made great choices.  Friday night found a local restaurant has grilled chicken breast and sweet potato!  Next day ate before leaving the house and only ordered grilled chicken strips at Chik-fil-a.  Then Sunday ordered fried chicken and removed the skin/crust and ate that and veggies.  Proving once again that I can be on the run and still lose.  Good thing as I am traveling next week!

3) I've been a cleaning and organizing machine! My house has begun transforming into a home.  We moved in 6 weeks ago, and for 3 of those weeks I had travel while my hubby's job has kept him crazy busy.  Finally starting to put the "me" stamp on my place.  Love my wall colors and excited to see it all come together. We may even get a Christmas tree this weekend!!!

4) I have followed my workout plan to a T.  Let me tell you...this Turbo Fire is NO JOKE.  It has been really tough but fun at the same time.  One day I was scheduled to do a stretching workout for 40 mins.  I was like, stretching for 40 mins?  It ended up being like a pilates/yoga and my body really needed it.  I loooooved it and felt 100% better after it!

5) A very sweet friend delivered fresh chocolate pie after the Christmas parade we missed last week due to my little one being sick (again!).  I didn't eat any!

I'm trying to get enough rest which is easy since we bought an awesome new bed (seriously the BEST thing I ever bought!) and overall feeling much much better than I was just two weeks ago.

Doesn't hurt that my jeans aren't cutting off circulation either...lol

I'm getting stronger - and think that I haven't only gotten back up, I'll be staying up, thank you very much. Feels too good and the accountability of my 90 day challenge team is keeping that thought in the back of my mind...hmmm...do I want to confess this on our Facebook page?

Also, let me give a HUGE shout out to Nathan Trenteseaux, the owner of Underground Fitness Resolution and an awesome fitness and nutrition coach/consultant.  You can visit his website here and check him out.  He's an awesome, helpful, knowledgeable trainer.  If you live in the Gainesville/Alachua area you should totally check out his place and get in his training.  I would if I lived closer! For now I'm pummeling him with questions and information and I am learning a ton.  He also says "yo" alot which you  know I'm all about.  What!!!???!!! Holla!

Hope you all are having a GREAT and SUCCESSFUL week! 

Clara

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We Lose Our Way...We Get Back Up Again!

Welcome back to my Blog. Well, welcome ME back to my blog.  I haven't been here in awhile.  If you've been looking for me and wondered if I was still alive, I am.

Not in the best health of my life, but alive.  Really, my own fault.  I lost my way! 

I have spent some serious time over the last month or two looking over the past year and analyzing what went wrong, and why I lost my way and gained weight back. For reference sake, I must admit I gained 40 pounds back of the 100 I had lost.  Oh how I have dreaded putting that information out there.  But it is my reality and I'm facing it head on.

I really think when I hit the 100 pound down mark, I no longer felt "fat" and I eased up on things.  At first just on my eating...slowly I began easing up on my activity and exercise too.  I was still doing stuff, but not doing it as well or as diligently as I was doing before.

My *biggest* realization has been this:

No matter how "fit" I get, I will HAVE to CONTINUE my healthy lifestyle in order to maintain that fitness.

Can we just take a moment and let that sink in?

It seems logical.  I've posted many times about Mud Mountain...and how I slide a little bit and somehow end up in a pile at the bottom of it.

I also talk about falling off the wagon.  The wagon dragged me along for awhile.  That was me trying to keep a grasp but not living how I needed to live.

Eventually, with the stress of the move, etc., I just simply let go.  And the waggon became a memory.  And my clothes stopped fitting me.  And I cursed myself for giving away all of my bigger clothes as soon as I grew out of a size.

Though that might have been a blessing in disguise as the reality of not being able to wear anything cute hit me square in the face recently.  I was forced to buy a pair of size 14 jeans.  Remember...in March I was sporting size 10s.  Sigh.

I also realized I spent alot of time trying to encourage others.  Which I definitely want to do and plan to, in a more limited way.  I need to spend my time focused completely on my own journey.  And make it all about me again.  So my blog will take on that kind of slant, when I do make time to blog again. Not sure how that will fit into my new schedule.

I began looking for a plan to get me back to where I needed to be.  I've always wanted to try the Turbo Fire workout videos (from beachbody) but never wanted to pay over $100 for them...then they went half off a few weeks ago.  I jumped on it and ordered it.  A beachbody coach I've followed for awhile on Facebook was also starting a little facebook group for a 90 day challenge starting 12/2.  I signed up.  One other facet of the whole thing is drinking a Shakeology shake per day.  Shakeology is pretty expensive but no more than other shake programs out there.  I love that its all natural and decided, what the heck, I'll give it a month.  It won't be a meal replacement for me, but a good healthy snack. This girl likes her real food.

I'm also planning on easing my running back up again.  Two shorter runs during the week (one speedwork, the other just 3-4 miles).  Then one longer run on the weekend. I'd like to get back into half training. But one thing at a time here.  I'm not going to overwhelm myself.

I started the program this week with a 3 day cleanse.  It was very calorie restrictive so I didn't exercise.  I drank 3 shakes a day, a few pieces of fruit and had a salad with chicken or steak for dinner.  I lost 10 pounds.

Of course most of that 10 pounds is water weight. BUT.  It does mean at this point now I've only gained 30 back. That makes me happy.

Now I'm back to eating real food again.  The goal?  Mainly the way I ate before, but I'm tweaking a little bit.  Mostly veggies and some fruit, lean protein like chicken, steak or fish and lots of water.  I'm not giving up carbs completely but I am seeking out alternatives.

Clean eating folks.  That's whats up.

Will keep you all posted on how I'm doing! I truly hope to drop around 30 pounds in this challenge, then continue kicking the gears up until I reach my goal weight of 165.

Thanks for reading and for hanging in there with me.  Please forgive me if you feel I have failed you.  I truly feel I've mainly failed myself. 

But when we lose our way, we get back up again!

Enjoy this song from Toby Mac.  Get Back Up AGAIN!

Hugs,
Clara

You turned away when I looked you in the eye,

And hesitated when I asked if you were alright,
Seems like you're fighting for you life,
But why? oh why?
Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare,
You saw it comin' but it hit you outta no where,
And theres always scars
When you fall back far

We lose our way,
We get back up again
It's never too late to get back up again,
One day you will shine again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,

Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up, get up,
You gonna shine again,
Never too late to get back up again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever

[May be knocked down but not out forever]
You're rolled out at the dawning of the day
Heart racin' as you made you little get away,
It feels like you've been runnin' all your life
But, why? Oh why?

So you've pulled away from the love that wou'd've been there,
You start believin' that your situation's unfair
But there's always scars,
When you fall back far
We lose our way,
We get back up again
Never too late to get back up again,
One day, you gonna shine again,
You may be knocked down but not out forever,

Lose our way, we get back up again,
So get up, get up
You gonna shine again
It's never too late, to get back up again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever,
May be knocked down, but not out forever!

This is love callin', love callin', out to the broken,
This is love callin'.
This is love callin', love callin', out to the broken
This is love callin'.
This is love callin', love callin',
I am so broken
This is love callin' love callin

Lose our way, [way way way ay ay ay]
We get back up, [get back up again]
It's never too late [late late late ate ate ate]
You may be knocked down but not out forever!

Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up get up
You gonna shine again
Never too late to get back up again
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,
This is love [lose our way] callin' love callin' [get back up again]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Battle #245,633 Coming to a Close

Hey friends!

A quick post to give you a few updates on my life...where I've been.  Why I've been quiet.  What's next.

We can finally make it public that we are moving 5 hours away!  My husband has been offered a full time pastor position at a church in Georgia and we make the move THIS THURSDAY!

AH - that seems soon, I know.  But really this has been in the works for about a month.  Final for sure YES was last Sunday.

We are SO excited!

In the mayhem of first, the interview process, being a person short in the department I run at work, then the unknown, then the traveling to and fro and being entertained and in a rush, I really lost my good habits.  I was already weakening.  Slowly getting weaker and weaker...losing most of my good habits.  Now I don't feel they are completely gone forever.  I can see light at the end of my tunnel.  Like once all the boxes are unpacked, and I feel somewhat organized I can once again fill my fridge with things that are going to HELP not HINDER me and plan my meals again, doing the workload of one person at work again (woohoo!) sticking to the plan and just really finding my way back to the driver seat.

It's really no fun being dragged behind the wagon.

I'm very glad I got rid of my clothes every time I grew out of them.  I'm back in a 12 but busting out of it.  I won't let this go on...and really I can't as I have no more "fat" clothes anymore!  HA!

I haven't been quiet on here fully due to shame, though I am not proud of myself and how I have allowed reasons to become excuses, not feeling 100% to staying in bed, and multiple rest days in a row to the tune of several weeks.

Really, it is more that I haven't had anything positive and uplifting to share except this.

I AM NOT DONE FIGHTING.

Phew.  I can let out the breath I've been holding.  This isn't over.  This is the most I've slid back yet in 3 years.  But I have not lost the war, only this particular battle.

And I, only me, I get to decide when its over or when its time to keep fighting.

And while this moment, this next meal, these next few weeks of continued craziness aren't looking good on the healthy eating and exercise front, I know I will resurface out of this and find my determination once again.

As soon as the dust settles even just a little bit.

I'm setting a goal to run this coming Saturday, October 27, for the first time in a few weeks.  It will be my first run in my new neighborhood.  I plan to wait until its around 9am since I don't know my way around too well and want to maybe walk the route with my family first. 

From there I will make a plan. There is Zumba in my new town.  I may visit it next week before leaving town again.  There are a few new friends who want to train to run a 5k.

I know what to do. I've written about it over and over again.  If you think me weak, you are absolutely right.  I am human, fallible, imperfect and a food addict.  But in my weakness I will find strength to overcome this tussle with life.

Stick with me and we'll do it together, k?

Clara

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Stupid Cycle

Had a great catharsis this weekend about the whole healthy living journey and the struggle it can be.  It's called "The Stupid Cycle."  Ready to hear about it?

Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out --->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out---> Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out --->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out--->Eat bad --->Feel sick --->Not working out because you feel sick --->Feel intense guilt for poor food choices and not working out

And this sums up August 2011 - September 2012.  13 months of stupid cycle.

Some good stuff in there, I've achieved a few things for sure.  But man.  I could already be at my goal weight!

Now I don't want 384 comments here about how great I am, try to focus on what I have accomplished, etc. etc.

I know I have done awesome.  I know I have saved my life.  

But I also KNOW I can finish this journey.

If I can break the Stupid Cycle.

Who's with me?

Clara 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Accountability Update Week 2 Day 1

Hey all!

Wow, I've been so busy I can't see straight.  Work is crazy, after hours work dinners, and trying to squeeze in workouts, I really have been wondering if I'm going to make myself sick.  Trying to make sure even if my house is a wreck, I get enough sleep right now. 

I've had two work dinners the last two nights.  Interesting results, one was at an executive's home and had mostly fried options, the other was a restaurant where I had too many options.  Here's how I fared:

Monday:

Food (calories in):

Breakfast: Cereal, dark chocolate chips mixed in
Lunch: wheat wrap with pepperjack cheese, all natural turkey, bbq ranch and tons of greens
PM Snack: banana
Dinner: Fried catfish, 2 fried hushpuppies, 5 (literally) fried french fries

Exercise (calories out):

Nothing, didn't feel well when I woke up (likely from the crap I ate Sunday - ugh!)

Tuesday:

Food (calories in):

Breakfast: Uncle Sams Cereal with dark chocolate chips
Lunch: Thin crust pizza, side salad
PM Snack: 3 andes mints, 2 small york peppermint patties
Dinner: ceasar salad, 3 oz steak, 3 oz tuna, 1/2 cup mashed potatoes, some bread and crab dip and waaaaay too many bites of a dessert... UGH oh - had TONS of diet coke today to stay away....yep.  bad.

Exercise (calories out):

Nothing again.  Exhausted from the long days.

Assessment:  Not having a fantastic week and I'm sure exhaustion is partly to blame.  I did skip dessert on Monday night and was pretty proud of that.  But then Tuesday night I just caved.  Tonight I have yet another dinner out but plan to be reasonable.  I did get up and run 2 "fast" miles this morning so that is a plus, especially given all I wanted to do was sleep more!

Not my proudest week...I continue to struggle with self-control and making the best choices.  Being honest on here is painful, but necessary. 

I'll probably do two days at a time as I'm literally squeezing this blog in during my 15 min eat at my desk break before jumping back into the craziness of my work world.

Thanks for keeping up with me and for being supportive! 

hugs,
Clara

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Accountability is BACK! The last few days...

OK folks, I'm back in town.  It was a whirlwind weekend.  A memorial service for a dear friend's husband, time with people I have not seen in YEARS and lots of unscheduled meals. 

While you already read about Friday, oh, Friday, it was terrible. I had been so amazingly good all week I don't know if I just lost my ability to think clearly or what, but I really really did a face plant.  And paid for it physically.  Amazing how terrible food can make you feel literally sick.

Here is a quick summary:  chicken biscuit, half a sausage biscuit, 2 chocolate chip cookies, SW chicken salad (probably the best choice I made all day) cranberry muffin with buttercream frosting, McDonalds for dinner (if you can even call that food) and random candy throughout the day.  UGH.  I felt horrible. 

Saturday was all about cleaning that out:

Food (calories in):
Breakfast: small slice healthy homemade banana bread, 1 scrambled egg, 1 piece of bacon
Lunch: mediterranean wrap, steamed veggies (Jason's deli)
PM Snack: half a larabar, banana
Dinner: 6 oz steak, steamed broccoli and salad with no cheese and 1 tbsp dressing, 1 yeast roll
Dessert:  small slice healthy homemade banana bread

Exercise (calories out):
Nothing...we got into town at 1am and were exhausted.  I overslept and had to rush to get to the memorial service, etc.

Assessment:  WAY better than Friday but still not perfect.  Some of the banana bread was likely unnecessary.

Sunday was about continuing to teeter on the travel wagon but trying to be careful:

Food (calories in):
Breakfast: banana, banana bread
Lunch: family chose mexican - I ordered chicken fajitas with a side of sliced avocado.  Ate 2 fajitas (no cheese) then the rest of the chicken/avocado by itself.  NO CHIPS!
PM Snack: We split trail mix and dark chocolate mint M&Ms in the car.
Dinner: Thin crust pizza, 3 grilled hot wings

Exercise (calories out):
5k run

Assessment:  still not stellar on the food choices, but again, could be WAY worse as indicated by past behavior.

The next few days are going to be completely crazy.  I will need prayer to get through it!  Will do my best to blog and keep up.

Clara

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Accountability Post Week 2 Day 1

Week 2 off to a GREAT start!

Let me start with how I did!

Food (calories in):

Breakfast: honey nut cheerios with raspberries and almond milk
AM Snack: Greek Yogurt
Lunch: Cup of roasted red pepper soup, chicken salad, fruit & crackers
PM Snack: Larabar (and 2 mini
Dinner: Homemade thin crust whole wheat pizza with spinach, feta and red peppers

Exercise (calories out):
None...unless you count walking a bunch in 4 inch heels!  Really, didn't meet my burn goal.

ASSESSMENT: 
Well...it was a very insane day at work.  My brain is still reeling.  Let me start by telling you what I avoided:

1) M&Ms...they were used in a training activity and I got 1 then threw it away when we were done.

2) Fresh made donuts from a local shop...we had a BUNCH of these around, including the ones that are cream filled, and BUTTERCREAM filled and chocolate glazed.  I walked by those ALL day.

3) Muffins...calling my name.

4)  Brownie Bites...random box sitting on our counter.  Next to said muffins and doughnuts.

All in all today was a SUCCESS!  I even had a MAJOR diet coke craving and avoided it!  SUPER happy, especially as days like today and weeks like this week usually cause me to drink...diet coke that is...and break my no caffeine rule.

Now if I can just wake up at 4:40 tomorrow morning and NOT feel nauseated...

G'night!
Clara

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Accountability Post Days 6 & 7

Hey friends!

Here we are almost a week into this accountability thing.  Going well so far I think!  I definitely think twice before indulging...

Here are my stats for the last 2 days.

Monday:
Food (calories in):
Early Breakfast: Larabar
Breakfast: Apple Pie Oatmeal
AM Snack: 1 oz almonds
Lunch: Thin crust veggie pizza, salad, 2 prosciutto wrapped shrimp
PM Snack: Yogurt
Dinner: Sweet potato chips, 6 oz of steak, 2 cheese balls and 2 shrimp
Late Snack (yes I was still hungry!): Whole wheat english muffin, with peanut butter & jam

Exercise (calories out):
I RAN 8 MILES!!! WITHOUT STOPPING!  WOOHOO! I even fell about 1.5 miles in and scraped up my leg - it was bleeding some but all my joints felt fine so I kept going!!!

ASSESSMENT TIME (I'm changing Confession time to be Assessment time):
Probably could have avoided the sweet potato chips and the cheese balls...but overall I did burn 3,750 calories given my long run...and only ate 2,600 so I still did pretty good I think.  Most of my calories were "good" calories.  OH - and I avoided DESSERT!!!  AND DIET COKE!  I am a beast.


Tuesday:
Food (calories in):
Breakfast: Banana, Honey Nut Cheerios
AM Snack: Larabar
Lunch: Panera Black Bean Soup & BBQ Chopped chicken salad (You pick two deal), wheat roll
PM Snack: Apple, orange
Dinner: Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup


Exercise (calories out):
Impromptu rest day...and not because my muscles needed it, my body did. Woke up nauseated and felt overall blah.  Slept in a little bit and then went to work, but fought this nausea bug all day.  Was planning to go to the gym after work but did not feel up to it. 

ASSESSMENT TIME:
Overall I think I did pretty well today.  Could have done more veggies, especially at dinner, but for not feeling well I did a great job staying on track.

I tend to not eat well for many reasons, but one of them is when I'm sick.  All I want is cheeseburgers when I'm sick.  And milkshakes.  Crazy.

I'm feeling great and strong.  I actually haven't thought much about dessert in the last few days.  Progress!

Clara

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Accountability Post Day 5

Much better day today!

We visited a church with a friend today and heard a great message.  We don't have a church home right now, given we are waiting on what is next from God, and I'm enjoying seeing how other congregations do their thing. 

Heading to bed in about 5 minutes, all packed and ready to run 8 miles with my running buddy tomorrow.  EEK!  8 miles!  Ok - not going to think about it or I may not fall asleep....

Here's how my food choices ended up today:

Food (calories in):

Breakfast: Apple Pie Oatmeal (another pinterest recipe - get it here!
Lunch: Grilled chicken breast, lima beans, steamed cabbage, 2 small biscuits (and 1/2 a chicken finger)
PM Snack: 19 Fresh Cherries (yes, I counted them, after the fact - lol)
Dinner: Uncle Sams Cereal baked chicken fingers, mashed cauliflower, steamed broccoli
Dessert: leftover Zucchini Brownie!

Exercise (calories out):

5k run this morning

CONFESSION TIME:

This will include anything I ate that day that did not promote fat loss, but fat storage:

2 small biscuits at lunch - they are really mini biscuits.  unnecessary but I had a very low carb lunch otherwise for the most part and I was legitimately hungry.

Otherwise I did great today.  And feeling MUCH more like my old self again.  YAY for that!

Now off to sleep.  If I get a chance to post tomorrow night, it will be late and very very brief...I leave my house at 4:45am and likely won't be home until 9pm!

Have a Happy Monday and make GOOD choices!
Clara

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Accountability Post Day 4 (just ONE of those days!)

Ever had just "one of those days?"  ugh did mine ever start off that way!

First, I decided to sleep in.  This should be a good thing.  It felt wonderful.  Sleeping until 8am is sleeping in for me.  I worked until a little after 10pm last night.  So sleeping in was wonderful.

That meant I didn't get up early enough to run.  My solution?  We would go to Dothan and I could run at the gym, then shower and get our day started in Dothan.  In the meantime, I worked on the budget (ugh), made the grocery list, and created the menu plan for the week.

Feeling good, I wondered, should I see what time the gym closes just in case?

Glad I called. They closed at noon.  I called at 11:30.  Oops.

So I got dressed in my workout clothes deciding I would do a punishing mid-day run in the direct sun.  It was 89 degrees out and very sunny.  I sprayed on my sunscreen, being sure not to miss any spots.

Then I walked outside.  And it started pouring.

REALLY????

I came in the house absolutely fuming.  I showered and resigned myself to the fact that I would not get to work out today for one reason or another.  This will be my second rest day in a row.  I NEVER do that.  And I don't "need" it so it feels like a waste.

I got out of the shower and looked outside to see the sun shining brilliantly again.

REALLY????

We headed to Dothan and had a nice lunch together, then did some shopping and came home.  Normally the above frustration would have been finely finished off with something unhealthy as I would be NOT in the mood to eat healthy. 

Here is how I ended up faring with my food choices today:

Food (calories in):

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled, whole wheat english muffin and 1 oz pepperjack cheese
AM Snack: Greek yogurt
Lunch: 6oz sirloin steak, steamed broccoli, grilled vegetable skewer, 1 yeast roll
PM Snack: 1/2 oz cheese
Dinner: last of the Zucchini Lasagna
Dessert: Zucchini Brownies

Exercise (calories OUT):

Does donning and doffing my workout clothes multiple times count?  Fortunately I reached my burn goal for the day (2450) just by shopping, etc. but STILL.

So ready to run in the morning.

CONFESSION TIME:

This will include anything I ate that day that did not promote fat loss, but fat storage:
1 yeast roll at lunch - pretty proud it was only one, actually was more like 3/4 of one.
Zucchini brownies - these are very healthy (no flour, no added sugar) but still probably didn't need two. :)

Here's a link to the recipe for the brownies:

Awesome Paleo approved Zucchini Brownies!

Pretty proud of myself overall. While I'm not 100% in line, I'm once again resembling my old self.  I'm planning a 4 mile run in the morning, then an 8 mile run Monday morning. 

8 miles - EEK!

Holla!
Clara

Friday, September 7, 2012

Accountability Posts (day 2 and 3)

Hey!

I probably should have evaluated my schedule this month before launching into this challenge.  It's been absolutely crazy in my world BUT given the stress I'm pretty proud of how I fared in the food and activity department!

Thursday 9/6

Food: (calories in)


Early Breakfast: Banana
Breakfast: Greek yogurt & Fit Brownie bar
Lunch: Turkey/apple/brie panini, hummus and pita
Dinner: Homemade Zucchini Lasagna (YUM!)

Exercise: (calories OUT!)

45 min Cardio Class (with a million burpees I think)
25 min on Elliptical
Weight circuit

CONFESSION TIME:

This will include anything I ate that day that did not promote fat loss, but fat storage:
4 mini-york peppermint patties
2 small godiva chocolates



Friday 9/7

Food: (calories in)
Breakfast: Uncle Sam's cereal mixed with Cheerios and a tbsp of dark chocolate chips
AM Snack: Greek Yogurt
Lunch: Mexican Salad (with black beans, 3 oz pork, and cilantro lime dressing, no rice, no cheese!), some tortilla chips with guacamole and cheese dip
PM Snack: Wheat thin crisps (hospital vending machine - limited choices!)
Dinner: Homemade Zucchini Lasagna (YUM!)

Exercise: (calories OUT!)
REST Day
MRI of Brain day...wonder if that burns any calories?

CONFESSION TIME:

This will include anything I ate that day that did not promote fat loss, but fat storage:

Chips & Guacamole/cheese dip.  Didn't go crazy but a bit unnecessary...
Wheat thin crisps - weren't the worst choice in the vending machine, but probably should have gotten the almonds and just eaten half the bag instead. 

Overall the last 2 days haven't been horrible.  I was exhausted and felt a cold coming on which is why today ended up being a rest day.  Doesn't hurt I can barely move from yesterday's workouts. It's also that time of the moon for me hence the chocolate slips here and there.

I'm happy.  Planning for a healthy, active weekend and an 8 mile run on Monday!

Clara

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Accountability Post Day 1

Greetings friends!

I'm excited to begin my public accountability posts today!  My plan is to post my eating log as well as activity info here on my blog each day for the month of September in order to keep myself on track. I'm way less likely to eat the doughnut if I know I will have all of you to face!


Food: (calories in)

Early Breakfast: 2 Mini Clif bars
Breakfast: Wheat English Muffin with Peanut Butter & Jam
AM Snack: Greek Yogurt
Lunch: Thin crust veggie pizza, side salad
PM Snack: Powerbar
Dinner: Venison cube steak, broccoli, sweet potato "fries" (baked)

Exercise: (calories OUT!)

4 mile run in the evening

CONFESSION TIME:

This will include anything I ate that day that did not promote fat loss, but fat storage:

NADA!

Off to a great start!
Clara











Monday, September 3, 2012

Season of Accountability

Hey all!

I've had good days and bad days in August.  Successes and failures.  Hard times and wonderful times.

To every season there is a purpose!

I'd love to completely understand my own brain enough to know why I don't have my "crap" completely together at this point.  But my unfailing humanity is what keeps failing me.

I am ok with being imperfect.  I am thankfully forgiven, and continue to be when I fail and sin on a daily basis.  But that doesn't mean I should stop striving to be better in all areas and aspects of my life.

Friday night I hit and killed a family's beloved dog on my drive home from work.  It was horrible - did not see her until I hit her and I was going 60 mph as it was a long stretch of highway.  I turned around immediately and tried to help her owners with her but she was gone.  It was horrible.  Talk about ugly cry all the way home and for hours after that.  I felt horrible for her, for the family, and couldn't help but wish it was different and that I had seen her and been able to stop (though at that speed it is unlikely - by the way, the posted speed limit is 55 so I wasn't really speeding).

I had a feeling that hitting her at that speed would kill her instantly, but I was still accountable for having hit her, so I turned around to see what I could do to help.  There was no question in my mind that I had to stop and I ran barefoot across the highway (my 4 inch heels didn't make it far past lunch) and grieved with the owners.  They asked if I was ok, if my car was ok, honestly I didn't care, I was just horrified that I had taken a life.  And the grown man struggling not to cry in front of me made it that much harder.

What does this have to do with my healthy lifestyle?  Accountability.  I recently had to take driving school due to a speeding ticket and not being able to carry more points on my license (ahem).  One of the sections said if you hit an animal you must stop - to see if it has passed, call the authorities if it has not and no one is around because you can't leave the animal there suffering.  I probably would have stopped anyway but that is what immediately came to my mind.

So when it comes to accountability, I realize in my life, I need that in order to be successful.  My blog has been a huge source of that for me.  The virtual friends I've made online following my journey and cheering me on have all become an integral part of my success.  I've always been honest and up front with my failures and faceplants.  And you all have always told me to keep on keeping on.

So for the next month (at least) I'm going to post on my blog daily.  I may post a scripture, or quote that has inspired me, along with what I ate that day and what activity I did.  I know myself well and if I have to post a picture of every crappy choice I make, I will much less likely eat it!  I won't post pictures of every food I eat, just the amazing healthy choices here and there along with my slip ups.  It will make me think twice, that's for sure.

I'll also likely have a note here or there about my running training as right now I'm training for a half marathon.  I just finished week 4 of that training this morning and the race I've tentatively chosen is set for November 10th.

Follow me along this next month or so.  I'm percolating a new goal for the end of the year.  I've decided I totally have maintenance figured out.  But I need to get to where I need to be before I can even think about maintenance dad-gumit!

Thanks all for holding me accountable.  A comment on my blog posts, or note on my facebook page go a long way with encouraging me.  I'll take all the help I can get; and I'll do the same for you!

We got this friends.

Holla!
Clara

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Can Do = Will Do

Greetings!

I'm in the middle of a work trip - this one included bringing my family which is a blessing!  They play in the pool during the day while I work and we're all together at night. 

I'm also staying at a Homewood Suites so I have a kitchen to cook in.  Last night, I cooked salmon, shrimp and broccoli.  The shrimp and broccoli came out great.  Salmon I'm still not that good at cooking on my own, without having Publix already marinate it for me (and didn't have olive oil to cook with - oops!).  You live and learn!  Tonight I think I will eat the dinner buffet downstairs; I am beginning to trust myself more with my choices and still have some leftover broccoli I can add to the mix if I'm still hungry.

Yesterday in the meeting I was in all day, I was stuck eating whatever was on the buffet at the lunch meeting...I was apprehensive about what it would be...until I got there and saw:

*Grilled Chicken breast
*Sauteed Green Beans
*Dark Green salad

YAY!  There were also potatoes and bread, but those are easy for me to avoid altogether. 

Guess what else?  I also avoided COOKIES THE SIZE OF MY HEAD.  Again.  Man, I'm getting good at this.

I've been really drilling a thought into my head recently.  I've heard other trainers say it, read articles about it, etc., but I think it is the ROOT of the reason I haven't lost (but have gained) in the past year. 

80% of your body composition results (weight loss, etc.) are a result of WHAT YOU EAT.
20% of the changes are made in the GYM with exercise/activity.

Whoa.

Staggering.

Makes a TON of sense here.  I haven't been as good with my food, as you well know, this past year.  I've slipped here, made excuses there, allowed myself "treats" etc. etc.  Now don't think I'm going to say that I will never eat cheesecake or cookies again.  Hello.  BUT do I need them every time they are available?

NO.

Also, my wise virtual friend Clare, keeps this amazing blog Peak 313 (check it out!) and she posted something awesome to her facebook page last week that confirmed the 80/20 dealio. 

'People ask me often if they *can* eat ___(fill in blank). Sure. You can eat anything. But will it get you toward your goal? That's the question. JillFit Physiques sums it up nicely....


"Let's stop asking permission to eat things. We *can* eat anything we want. Just that some foods push toward fat loss, others toward storage."'

Every choice I make about food, I want to ask myself.  Will this result in fat loss or fat storage? 

Holla!

You may be reading this saying, "but Clara, you've done so well!  You can outrun most of your friends {except those who run - lol} and your heart is in great condition!"  This is TRUE!  BUT...even though I am an athlete, and have made incredible gains in the distances I run, and have amazing calves, guess what?  I have also gotten slower...extra weight will do that to ya! My 5k time has added about 3 minutes to it (when I would really love to delete 3 minutes from it - now I have to reduce it by 6 minutes to reach my goal!).  {And amazing calves do not make up for fat thighs and tummies.  Just saying.}

I know I have done well.  I know I have accomplished a great thing, having lost 100 pounds.  I've kept 85 of it off.  That is amazing.

BUT.  I can do better and I can finish this journey and get this weight off for GOOD!  Hit the 100 pounds lost number again.  And hit the other goals I haven't been able to attain yet.  Like 180 pounds, my wedding weight.  170, my high school weight.

I started training for a half marathon last week after being ueber inspired by Oscar Pistorious in the Olympics.  What an amazing guy!  If you missed that post, read it here

Having a training plan, I have realized, is absolutely vital for me.  Because what I write down that I need to do, I'm doing!


That is when CAN DO = WILL DO. 

I can do this training =  I will do this training.

I can make good choices that result in fat loss =  I will make good choices that result in fat loss.

I can lose the rest of this weight =  I will lose the rest of this weight.

What stands between CAN DO and WILL DO?
Decisions.  The right decisions.  The best decisions.

I'm going back to my favorite blog about decidions.  You can join me by reading this post.

What CAN you do that you WILL do?  I'd love to hear about it.

Clara

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Running with BOTH Legs Forward

I wish I had been able to really watch all of the Olympics, especially the runners.  But when you work during the day and don't have cable, you rarely catch any of it live.

Yesterday I was at the gym running on the treadmill.  The big screen TV had a race about to begin, the 400m race to qualify for the Olympic race.

Oscar Pistorious immediately caught my eye - not in a weird way, though he is kinda cute - but because he has no legs past his knees.  He lost his legs when he was just 11 months old, having been born with no fibulae in his lower legs, and he runs with "Cheetahs," prosthesis blades made from carbon fiber.

This kid blows me away.  He is just 26 years old, and only began running after a rugby injury at the age of 16.

And in 10 years he's become crazy fast.  Some people are born to do things like this!

I heard one reporter saying he told them his mother would call him and his brother and tell his brother "get your shoes on" and tell Oscar "get your legs on."  I love it when people make the abnormal completely normal in their lives.  I think that in itself breeds confidence and future success.

Sheila, Oscar's mother, died when he was 15.  I read this quote she told him that he holds fast to:
"A loser isn’t the person that gets involved and comes last, but it’s the person that doesn’t get involved in the first place. It’s a mentality we’ve always had. When you start something, you do it properly. The passion you start something with, you finish it off with.”

Anyone else feel like they just got slapped upside the head?

I can't tell you what it felt like for me yesterday, watching him run with no legs, and me running on the treadmill not sure I could make 2 miles.

I have not been where I need to be.  Traveling and succumbing to poor food influences and other people's poor choices has taken a toll on me.  I feel for the first time in a few years like I have lost my inner athlete.

And when I watched this guy race with his entire heart and soul, and QUALIFY FOR THE OLYMPICS I thought, what the HECK is wrong with me?

I have everything I could need to be successful.
Intelligence to make good healthy choices.

A supportive family.

A great foundation of weight loss and athletic success.
7/5k races and 2/10k races under my belt.

2 pairs of running shoes.

A TON of running and workout outfits and bondi bands.
A Gym membership.
Tons of supportive friends.

And BOTH LEGS.

What I lack, right now, is the drive that Oscar has and has had for his entire 26 years.



I'm working on channeling that.  I almost cried while I ran with him yesterday.  And I'm in tears just thinking of how it must feel to be him today.

I want that feeling.  I want to cross the finish line of this journey, and know that all of my effort, training and sheer will is what got me there. 

It's already 85 degrees here...but I am lacing up my shoes and heading out for a run.  I haven't run outside in weeks (been running on the treadmill at the gym mostly in the a/c).  It's gonna HURT and be HOT but a little over sweating never killed me...just made me stronger.

And in my mind and heart, sorry USA, I'm cheering for South Africa in the 400m race tomorrow...

Be inspired!

Clara

Saturday, July 14, 2012

One Smart Cookie

Greetings my friends!  I sincerely apologize for my absence, but when you hear what I have to say, I think you will understand why I've been MIA.

This past year, yes, year, has been really challenging for me on the healthy lifestyle front.  I've worked really hard to lose weight, and successfully lost 100 pounds.  This entire past year I've struggled to continue to lose the remainder of the weight, and instead, end this year (not calendar year, my journey began in August 2009, so my years run August - July) up almost 20 pounds from last year.

I began slipping as soon as I hit that 100 pounds lost but didn't realize it at the time.  I felt kind of powerful, invincible.  Maybe I could eat this or that now that I was not a "fat girl" anymore.

Oops.  Wrong.

Yes, that all seems logical, but sometimes when it is you, your life, your choices, logic isn't even close to reality.

A few weeks ago I was at a conference and one night we were entertained by Jerry Seinfeld.  I'm a huge Seinfeld fan, (the show about "nothing") and love silly humor.  Couldn't wait to see him.

Of all things, one of Jerry's "rants" was about cookies.

He spoke of cookies, and how innocent they are, I mean, Elves make them!  But in reality they are just little "chocolate S.O.B's".  I don't mean to be crude, and I apologize if anyone was offended.  But it was hysterical to me.  And I haven't stopped thinking about it.

Cookies and other treats masqerade as yummy, innocent treats meant to spread happiness and joy into the room they occupy.  When in reality, they are killing us all by the plateful.  And rarely do I feel joyful after a binge of any type, especially cookies.

Recently, I started really thinking about food differently.  Food should have no power over me.  Why have I let it control and consume me for so long?

Think about this.

**Food has no brain.  It is not going to speak to you.  Call you, tempt you, whatever.   Food cannot make you do anything.  It has absolutely no physical power to make you pick it up and eat it. 

**We have brains!  It's not just about willpower.  Making good choices takes conscious decisions.  Moving our fork or not.  Putting down the cookie or not even picking it up in the first place.

will power

noun
control of one's impulses and actions; self-control.


I don't like the word "willpower" very much because it makes it seem like it is something that belongs to someone else.  Maybe someone named Will.

But self-control?  Yep.  I identify with that.  And my brain can control my impulses and actions.

In addition to that, I want to instead rely on my sheer intelligence to beat this food addiction.

It won't be easy.

But don't "they" say that nothing worth doing is easy?

It also isn't impossible.

I've been back on track for about 2 weeks now.  I feel awesome.  I always say that.  I've had alot of "do-overs" in the last year especially.  But like any addict, giving up is not an option.

Because I am WAY smarter than the cookie!

Last week I read Bob Harper's new book, the Skinny Rules.  I plan on doing a blog post just to debrief his book; it was awesome!  Nothing earth shattering, or completely ground breaking.  But there are many things I did because I thought they were healthy but didn't necessarily understand the why or have the science to back my theories up.

I did my 5 day food cleanse last week, stumbled a little when we were out of town Friday and Saturday, then dove back on track Sunday.

I've added weight training to my regimen, having joined a gym just a mile from my work.  They have awesome cardio classes as well as all the other equipment you can imagine or want.  The staff is welcoming and helpful and I feel completely comfortable there.  This past 3 years I've sort of neglected weight training.  I used hand weights here and there, but no machines and no regular routine.  I feel myself getting strong again.  In just two weeks I can see a physical change in my body.  That is motivation.

Honestly, since I said "Hi, my name is Clara, and I am a food addict."  I feel so much more at ease about it.  I know it will always be a struggle, and a battle for me.  And I know I will not always have the strongest days.

But I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I possess the intelligence and self-control necessary to win the food war.

The cookies have nothing.

Who's with me?

Clara





Saturday, June 2, 2012

It Ain't Easy, But it's WORTH IT!

So many things I've been pondering lately.  This, as usual, will lead to a series of ideas, proclamations and determined statements.  Take them for what they are worth to you. :)  Maybe you will find a nugget of truth below to inspire you to start, stop or continue something.

I recently found my eating habits unrecognizable, in the form of sugar, diet coke, chocolate, you name it, I ate it.  Starting with "just a bite" here and there, and it turned into a full, backward slide down mud mountain, really ending up in a tumble and face plant.  (you can read more about my Mud Mountain theory here.)

As I'm picking myself up and dusting off my cheeks (I said face plant folks), I'm realizing and reiterating some things to myself that I "should" know. 

No matter what I have learned or already know, I am an addict.  Not just to food, I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying food, or even being a "foodie" which I would consider myself as well.  But certain foods I am addicted to are toxic to me.  They cause me to feel bad, literally and figuratively, and like a drug, call me to eat more to fill the painful spots I've caused by my own poor choices.  It's a cycle of self-defeat that creates nothing prosperous for me, only misery.

People who say losing weight is easy are just insane or have never truly struggled with their weight...while it might be logically "easy," if you suffer from the addiction piece it makes it a constant struggle and is anything but easy to work through. 

Since smokers don't "need" cigarettes to live, alcoholics don't "need" to drink alcohol, but food addicts NEED food to survive, I truly think its the most difficult of all addictions to conquer.

Deep, huh?

To start my battle with this addiction (again), I've decided to fast from sugar, diet coke, etc. for a period of time.  I'm not going to decide how long, I'm just going to see how I feel long term and not go "there" until I'm strong again.  I need my will of steel back.  If you know me, you know this doesn't mean that I will be eating sugar free crap or fake food to fill the void.  I'll be eating mostly clean, healthy foods.  If it doesn't have a mama and God didn't make it, I won't eat it.

Just a few days off of sugar again and fruit tastes almost too sweet.  I love how quickly our bodies adjust again.

My weight has crept up over the last few months, and as of one day this week I was back up to 198. I know, gasp with me, trust me, I was FREAKING out (my low was 182 so far so this was up 16 pounds!!!).  I do think I was a bit bloated due to antibiotics and steroids given to me to shake a nasty cold/sinus infection as I was already down to 192 this morning after my run.  I'm ready to meet the 180s again and hope to sweep through them into the 170s before the end of the summer.

I'm trying now to focus mainly on being healthy again.  Treating my body well again.  Not eating crap.  Realizing I am worth waaaay more than all the sugary treats in the world.

We leave for vacation in a few days, and fortunately we will be staying with family who eat very healthy.  I am so thankful for that.  I'm praying I can keep my water intake and activity way up while we're traveling. 

I'm going to dig more into this addiction stuff too while I'm away.  I want to really understand how I can prevent myself from continually stepping into the same sugar white quick sand.

In the meantime, thanks for standing with me, friends.  I could not do this without your prayers and support!  I will tackle this addiction once and for all.  But I am realizing that no matter how strong I become, how many battles I win, I will always be at war with the toxic enemy (i.e. sugar).  I am working on becoming OK with that.

Clara

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kicking Booty & Taking Names

Hey all...

Right now, I feel absolutely amazing.  I'm not losing weight crazy fast, I'm not on some new kick, I am just BACK.ON.TRACK.  And it couldn't feel more wonderful.

I almost feel like I've come home.  Like for the past 6 months I've been outside myself.  And now I'm back to my old self.  My disciplined, dedicated self.  I love that part of me.

I've had to rearrange my fitness routine as last week my favorite studio to Zumba and Boot Camp at closed suddenly.  I used to attend Zumba for an hour, then an hour of Boot Camp right after it.  I did that twice a week, then ran on other days, though honestly my legs were pretty worn out the day after doing the double workout.  That's 4 hard workouts a week, gone.  Yikes!

Instead of getting really worked up about it, I decided to rework my workout schedule.  As you can imagine, I have had to do this MANY times in the last almost 3 years.  Armed with my refreshed sense of commitment, I began working out my plan.

I was going to start half-marathon training.  I've been pretty excited about it.  Then I started shopping for my first race and realized, um, I missed racing season.  LOL! I figured in Florida there was no such thing!  jokes on me!

So instead, I've set a summer goal of working my distance up to 8-10 miles.  Then I can start my half training in late summer and be ready for a fall race.

That means for now I'm going to focus on working my distance up gradually over the next 12 weeks.

I am also meeting some friends for our own Bootleg Boot Camp a few days a week.  This afternoon, I arrived early, so I just ran some laps until they got there.  Yesterday I ran 2 miles, then did Boot Camp last night though I think boot camp will switch to Tues/Thurs.  Tomorrow I'm going to run 5k in the morning, then attend an Ultimate Cardio class in the evening.  This class is like the zumba I was attending but under a different name and more intense than typical zumba - all the same people I used to work out with, just a new instructor!  I'll probably make that my Wednesday thing.

So here is what a new workout week will look like:

Sunday: Zumba in the afternoon with my wee one (I have the old playlist so I can do it myself!)
Monday: Run 3-4 miles in the morning, lift weights in the afternoon.
Tuesday: Run laps (1-2 miles), then 1 hour of boot camp in the afternoon.
Wednesday: Run 3-4 miles, then 1 hour Zumba in the afternoon.
Thursday: Run intervals in the morning, lift weights in the afternoon.
Friday:  REST!
Saturday: Long Run day 5-6 miles (this number will increase slightly over the next few months)

Will probably pick up walks with friends on top of it all as well.

Yep, its tiring when I look at it.  But I really have to step up my game to attack this fat and finish this race.  I'm feeling strong right now.  My body is sore, but in a good way.  I slept 9.5 hours last night.  I have eaten nothing but pure, good fuel for food.  Fruit tastes amazing again.  Water is a requirement and I am dying of thirst without it.  My body feels like it is working like it should be.  Honestly, this is the best I have felt in a REALLY long time.

Make time, not excuses

That's what I plan to do.  Make time.  No excuses.  I know how to do this. 

And so, I will do it.

Who's with me?

Clara

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Finding My Happy Place

Greetings friends!  It has been way too long since you have had an actual post.  Well, here it is.  I won't give you the typical excuses that I've been too busy, too tired or whatnot.

I have literally had nothing to say.

OK, pick your jaw up off the table, I am definitely a talker.  I'm an encourager, I can talk to anyone about anything for any amount of time.  This is true. 

But this one thing that I have been so "sure" of, so "on target" with, my weight loss journey, has taken a serious and tough turn over the last six months.  In looking back over 2012, I realized I have had less "good" weeks than "bad" weeks.  I define good and bad as follows:

Good week: eating well and clean 90% of the time, exercising 5-6 days/week.
Bad week: eating poorly most of the time, drinking diet coke again, losing control, not planning and taking more rest days than necessary.

I can complain until kingdom come about the LONG plateau I have been stuck in.  I'm smaller in size than I have ever been (a size 10 mostly with some 12s) but I am weighing around 190 these days.  And not because I have been doing everything right.

I kept having these mini-epiphanies, like maybe if I try this or do that differently, I will get it together.  I definitely realized that I wasn't eating enough for awhile there and while going back to eating more helped, I once again slipped out of control with the "what" I was eating...and once again found myself feeling like crap, angry at myself and gaining/losing the same 5 freaking pounds I've toyed with for awhile.  The mini-epiphanies were NOT working.  What the heck?

Again, my body is smaller and more compact...but how great would I look and feel if I was completely back on track?  Something has been way off in my head and my heart.

My great friend Jessica posted a very thought provoking blog last week that really began me thinking seriously about needing a recalibration.  You can read it here.  She referenced a scripture from the book of Revelation, Chapter 2 v 5: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first..."  

I really needed that.

This has been swirling around in my head ever since. I have really needed to go back to where I was.  Because at some point I was in a really good place.  I was really strong.  I had resolve of absolute STEEL!  What has happened to me?

So I've gone back to the beginning.  In the last 24 hours I've read most of my blog over again.  Went WAY back to the beginning.  Laughed at myself...cried with myself...reminding me of where I have been and how far I have come.  I really think if my "then" self were speaking to my "now" self I would be YELLING!  WHAT THE HECK?  WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?  YOU WERE DOING SO GOOD!  I HAVE NOT WORKED THIS HARD AND COME THIS FAR TO GIVE UP!  GET UP YOU MORON!

Ok, well maybe not yelling.  But I would be encouraging me.  To keep on going. 

I've re-read my blog posts every now and then just to take a trip down memory lane.  Today, I read my blog as if I were just a visitor or friend of mine, not actually me.

I felt an old familiar stirring in my heart a few minutes ago when I finished reading about my 2011 journey and all I had accomplished.  A glimmer of excitement.  A feeling that reminded me of what kept me fueled on before.  I began to have hope again.  My eyes are filling up just considering it.

In reviewing my previous "works I did at first" I think I may have cracked this shell of confusion I've been curled up in.  This pit of regression has been confusing and frankly, ridiculous.  The people who know me and see me all the time seem puzzled by it.  One co-worker today told me today to stop drinking diet coke.  Another one asked me what was going on...I'm supposed to be the good example for everyone! 

Right now I'm sitting here dying of thirst as I've only had about 40 ounces of water (I usually drink 120!). You know why I didn't get up early this morning to run?  Because my stomach was queasy from eating crappy food for the last week.

Stick a fork in me.

This chick is DONE.

There is absolutely no good excuse for me to be so off track and so far away from where I've been.  Sure, I've traveled alot, but the first 2 years of my journey had me on the road a great deal and I still managed to make healthy food choices, exercise regularly, and lose weight.

It can be done.  So now that I have no major travel coming up until mid-May, I have a few weeks to set things straight in my mind, then really plan how I will be behaving on that trip.

The things I did before looked a little like this, and now I'm turning it into an acronym to take with me:

Plan - plan my meals, my activity, etc.
Rest - get at least 8 good hours of sleep per night.
Enjoy - I love running.  I love working out and feeling strong.  I enjoy making good choices in light of some not so good ones.  I'm going to bask in the things I found joy in before once again.
Pray - I cannot do this in my own strength (obviously!).

PREP.  That's right.  That's my new motto.  I have to PREP if I am going to make it to my ultimate goal.

I'm going to reset my goals soon.  One baby step back into it at a time here. We have alot of uncertainty going on in our personal lives right now, and I'm going to take the advice of a very wise friend of mine and focus on the things I know I have a say in, or control over.

Huge thanks to my friend Jess who picked me up off the proverbial floor with her encouraging message to me today.  We met through my blog and you have encouraged me more than you know with your own blog, journey and friendship.  I am so thankful God has put you in my life!

Thank all of you for not chewing me out when I've failed you.  I have come to realize a leader cannot truly lead and inspire people and not also be true to themselves and honest about their failings.  If I have learned nothing else from this experience it is that I have to continue to be real, no matter how hard or disappointing that can be at times.

But I have this sneaking suspicion by that old familiar feeling in my heart right now that we won't be seeing as many disappointing posts for awhile.

Hugs,
Clara

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Quick Pic

This morning my husband took this picture of me before I headed off to work.  He said if he were still single and so was I, he would be chasing me around!  What a cutie.  Anyway, I put it in a side by side comparison photo as I hadn't done that in awhile.  What do ya think?  Worth the effort or what?  :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Losing Again!

Not even sure where to start today.  There is so much to tell you!

I went through the 5 day cleanse and did very well; lost six of the pounds I had gained with my travel and non-activity, getting back down to 189.2.  I eased back into my normal eating and activity again.  The scale was up and down and up and down again.  I sought out the Body Bugg Facebook page to see what others were saying on the topic and read some interesting ideas but was not convinced.  In a moment of frustration, I placed this post on the Facebook wall for Body Bugg users hoping for some sage advice. 

"...been working on closing the gap on my too high deficit days - on Mon/Weds I end up burning over 3000 cals with my workouts plus BMR, so my typical 1500 cals leaves me with too large a deficit based on all I'm reading here. Have been closing that gap to be 1000 and hoping for the best; it just feels weird to eat more when I don't really feel like I need more...thoughts? oh - I'm going for 1000 deficit/day as doing 1500 one day and 500 next day are not getting me results."

Almost immediately I had several messages from more experienced Body Buggers telling me my deficit was too high and I needed to lower it to 750/day.  {The deficit is the difference between calories burned and calories eaten - you are shooting to burn more than you eat.} 

That means on my heavy exercise days, like Monday/Wednesday/Saturday, I would need to eat 2300-2600 calories that day.


I needed to take a moment. I took a few moments when I read those suggestions.  I questioned them...wow, I'm trying to lose weight here, and you're telling me to eat more food?  

I was incredibly skeptical, but what did I have to lose?


This 7 month plateau wasn't going anywhere. I'm SO SO SO sick of weighing in the 180s.


So this week I gave it a try.  I watched my calorie burn closely each day and kept my deficit to 800 or a little under.  This means I was constantly eating.  I really wondered what would happen.  I ate as much as 2695 calories one day!  I was sure I was not going to lose.


The 2nd day I was down a pound.  

As of today I'm down a total of 4 pounds, and 1% body fat.


Whoa.


By eating more food.


In researching this a little bit, I found that if you eat less than your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) then your body may go into starvation mode.  Add one of my crazy workouts to it (to the tune of 1200 calories burned) and I'm seriously holding on to fat.  My BMR is around 1850 according to my body bugg measurements.  So if I lay around all day, I will burn 1850 calories.


I was eating 1500/calories day.  I didn't necessarily feel hungry, or bad, so I don't know if I would have figured it out had I not asked the question.  PLEASE realize I have not done this on purpose!  If you've followed my blog at all, you know that I'm all about a healthy lifestyle, NOT starvation, NOT dieting, etc.  I truly thought 1500 calories/day was healthy for me.  And it would be.  If I laid around all day. :)

I was literally, inadvertently starving myself.  I just cannot get over this.  Doesn't it go against everything in the world to be "dieting" but eating plenty?  The difference between before and now is that I'm an athlete now.  I need to feed the athlete!



Part of me is ecstatic.  The other part really frustrated that it took me this long to figure it out!  I'm going to focus on the ecstatic for now.

Honestly, not losing consistently was getting frustrating.  I was sure I was doing something not perfectly, but would never have guessed it was that I wasn't eating enough.


Now, I can actually see how this healthy eating lifestyle is going to work - forever.  I can see this last 20 pounds coming off and reaching my goal in the next 6 months or so.  I can see myself no longer stressing trying to fit only 1500 calories into my day - do you know how hard that is?  I can finally see myself being, well, normal.


Though I must admit its also been difficult to find 2000 calories of healthy food to eat.  I find myself eating 300 calorie snacks now - so my Larabar with an apple.  Or a cheese stick and a protein bar before a workout.


Yes, I'm elated.  And hoping to continue to report on this awesome downward trend here.  Maybe I will ditch the 180s soon! 


When I first got the Body Bugg I was interested in how it would work.  A few people asked me what I thought and while I liked the program, the device, etc., it has taken me 7 months to figure out how to REALLY use it.  My fault for not asking my question sooner!  Really, for me, I would have had to play with my calories to figure out how to find the perfect balance.  I absolutely know now that the Body Bugg is going to do its thing for me and take me on to my goal weight and athletic/strength goals.


Please keep in mind that not everyone should eat 2000-2500 calories a day.  I don't want a bunch of emails and comments from the peanut gallery that they listened to Clara, upped their calorie intake and gained 10 pounds, ok?  You have to match your activity to your eating and not overdo it.  If you seem to hit a plateau, try to eat a little bit more and see what happens!  Everyone is different. 

A few random things:


If you are interested in a Body Bugg, I wanted to share that they are on sale right now.  (I don't use my blog to make money so don't worry, I'm not making anything off of sharing this with you).  Typically it is $298.95 for the whole system, but its on sale right now for $188 which is less than I paid last year!  This set includes the Body Bugg, digital display watch (very handy for tracking your burn throughout the day) and 6 months online subscription to their program.  The program is where you log everything in and sync up your bugg.  Once the subscription runs out, its still affordable, I just paid $50 for a year renewal (there are coupon codes out there constantly on the facebook page).  Click here for more info!


I had someone ask me once how to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant.  Well I'm lucky enough to have one that serves this:


That is a grilled chicken breast, steamed broccoli and a side of guacamole and jalapenos.  Yeah, I ate a few chips too, and put a few tablespoons of cheese sauce on my chicken.  I don't recommend the chips on a regular basis because they are fried, but a few won't usually put you over the edge.  This was SO good!


And I'll leave you with a recipe here.  It's super simple and forgive me for not measuring, but its just how I roll when it comes to these types of things.


Skillet Zucchini
3 small to medium zucchini squashes
2 tsp olive oil
smoked paprika
sea salt
curry
white pepper
chili powder


Heat olive oil in a non stick pan.  Slice the zucchini into rounds, halve them if it is a fatter squash.  Sprinkle all spices and mix.


Sautee on medium high heat just until they are lightly browned.  If you overcook them, they will get mushy!  You want them slightly crispy still.


SO yummy!  And very good for you.  1 cup equals 43 calories, 1.8 g fat (1.3 of that being the good, monounsaturated fat), 455 g potassium, 7.1 g carbs, 2.5 g dietary fiber and 3.0 g sugar, with 1.2 g protein.  You also get almost half of your Vitamin A need for the day met with just 1 serving!


Hope you enjoy - I do a very similar sautee with asparagus and it is ALWAYS a hit!  My husband prefers my sauteed asparagus to french fries.  That says alot.


Have a great week everyone! Thanks for all of your support. It means a ton.


~Clara

Friday, March 9, 2012

Update on the Blueprint

Hello World!

Here is an update on everything blueprint related.

I have had a CRAZY few weeks of travel and work, this week being my first week back in the office for the entire week.

The first week away, I did GREAT when it came to my eating...for the first day or so.  A biscuit here, chocolate frosting (from the cake) there, bread pudding...yeah, a few indulgences.  I did exceed my calorie burn every day, in fact, I burned 4,078 calories total one day when I ran 3 miles that morning, worked the conference and then danced for hours that night.  It was fantastic.  {I have never actually danced in front of people like I did at this conference - I am giving full credit to Zumba for giving me the confidence to cut a rug...though I have to say, I didn't learn the Sprinkler or the Shopping Cart at Zumba - lol!  Since I don't drink alcohol it isn't even like that would loosen me up...I was just my own crazy self and it was a BLAST.}

I was exhausted coming home from the conference, and had 2 days to pack then turn around and fly to San Francisco for another conference - this one I did not have to work or help plan, I was just an attendee.  My healthy eating lasted until lunchtime on Monday.  Oops.  Yep, I had a brownie after lunch, and a bunch of pieces of dove chocolate later (literally I lost count) it was bad...lets just say the rest of the week included many indulgences, white bread and not so healthy breakfast choices (I say choices because most of the time, healthy options were available to me...and I just chose the not so healthy options).

I also did not exercise on purpose.  I say on purpose because I did go hiking around with my brother and his girlfriend when we saw some of the sights of SF (he lives there and that was a huge bonus for my trip).  I had planned a run or two along the Pacific Ocean, but it turned out to be way cold that week, so I did not want to go out.  The hotel had a fantastic gym.  I did not get out of bed to try it out.

Pretty disappointing.

Needless to say, I returned home and eyed my scale with disdain.  It was my birthday when I came home and I didn't want to burst my bday bubble so I put off weighing.  I celebrated my birthday for a few days (with chocolate cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, muffins with cream, a yoyo from Publix, fried green tomatoes...) really I shouldn't go on.  I decided I was going to repeat my cleanse this past week so I could get myself back into gear and rid my body of all the toxins I filled it with.

I felt SO sick on Saturday night I was miserable.  Sunday I felt like I had a food hangover.

Did I mention I picked up my caffeine addiction again?  In just 2 weeks?

My weight was back up to 195.  Holy smokes.

This week I've been back into my routine.  Running, Zumba, Boot Camp and the 5 day cleanse.  My body began ridding itself of all the icky fat laden food, sodium and caffeine addiction.  I had some amazing headaches, but my body felt better than it had in WEEKS so I kept with it.  Five days later I'm down 9 pounds, so at 186.  I'm pretty pleased with that for now.

It has me pretty off track for my goals, but I will go in again and readjust them this weekend.  Sigh.  It happens.

Am I mad at myself?  Not really.  Partially because most of the damage has already melted off.

But mostly because being mad at myself accomplishes NOTHING.

You gain NOTHING by wasting time on the what ifs, or wish I hads (or hadn'ts!).

You can gain momentum, however, by moving forward and learning from your mistakes.  You may be reading this thinking I'm a loser because I keep making similar mistakes, in different situations and time frames and more than once.

Well, then stop reading my blog because you won't ever see me as a winner and I'm really happy I'm not participating in your competition.  I'm never going to sugar coat this journey and tell you or anyone else that it is easy and you are 100% completely fixed when you lose a substantial amount of weight.  It doesn't happen that way.

I have lost 100 pounds and kept it off (mostly - one pesky pound left from last week's craziness) for 7 months.  Even though my weight hasn't changed since August, I have dropped another 2 pants sizes due to replacing fat with muscle. 

I'm good with that.  In my eyes, I'm winning.

While I am not, nor will I ever be perfect, I'm real. And I'm ok with me.  And in this case, my opinion counts most. 

Since, ya know, I'm the one working towards these goals.

I'll readjust my goals and post them sometime later this weekend.  In the meantime, I'm going to sync up my body bugg, finish logging today's food and go to bed early so I am up and ready for my 7am run.

Have a great week!

Clara

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Food Blog Series, Part 2: Snacks!

Hey friends!

I hope you were able to enjoy the first of my Food Blog Series, focusing on choices for breakfast.  If you missed it, catch up here.

This week's food blog is focusing on another VITAL piece of the healthy eating puzzle - snacks!

I really think snacks are underrated.  In fact, in previous attempts to lose weight, many times I would cut out snacks as I didn't want to use up my calories for the day.

The benefits of snacking are:

1) Snacking keeps your metabolism going throughout the day - if you eat a snack in between meals (just don't get crazy of course) you will keep your body burning all the time. 
**By the way, the same article said that eating breakfast is the first step in boosting up your metabolism; in fact, studies indicate that people who eat breakfast may increase resting metabolism by 10 percent.  That's alot! See the entire article, about 7 ways to boost your metabolism here.

2) Healthy snacks keep you from overeating at mealtime.  I know I eat less when I'm not ravenous.  I eat when I'm hungry and try to stop when I am full.  I am also a fast eater, so its even more important that I snack and don't get over hungry...or I eat way too much too quickly.  Damage done.

Some challenges to snacking are:

1) What do I choose?  There are TONS of options for snacks out there.  How do you know what is best?

2) It takes time to plan and portion snacks out.

3) You have to constantly keep variety going, or boredom will set in and you'll find yourself looking for something else to snack on vs. what you brought for yourself.

Obviously, I'm a believer in snacking, so let me share some of my absolute favorite snacks with you and why they are my faves.

I'm a HUGE fan of greek yogurt.  Yogurt period is a good choice most times, but greek yogurt has almost twice the protein of regular yogurt.  It definitely takes a bit of time to get used to the texture of greek yogurt, it is thicker and feels more substantial going down - because it is!  Twice the protein means you will stay fuller, longer.

This yogurt is 5.3 oz, and has 120 calories, 0 fat grams, 45 mg sodium, 17g of carbs (16 g of that is sugar)  and 13 grams of protein.  It also has 15% of your daily calcium requirement.

This brand and flavor is my new SUPER favorite greek yogurt (the blueberry and the peach are also VERY yummy).  The little pocket to the bottom right of the photo is full of strawberry jam to  mix in with the plain yogurt in the larger section.  It is just the right amount of sweetness.




This was my original favorite brand and flavor - now don't mistake the caramel flavor for the honey flavor.  MAJOR difference in taste.  I love the caramel flavor.  This one is 4 ounces and has 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 60mg sodium, 140mg potassium, 17g carbs (16 g sugar) and 10 grams of protein.  It also has 15% of your daily calcium allowance.

The plain greek yogurt can be fairly bitter, so you need something to mix in it. If you prefer to buy plain, you can mix in some honey and/or granola to flavor it up. Greek yogurt is a GREAT choice for snacking, and I typically choose it for my mid-morning snack between breakfast and lunch.


Pistachios!  I love love love these nuts.  I portion them out into baggies - because like ANY snack that isn't already portioned out, they can be dangerous if not eaten properly!  This baggie (1/2 ounce) has around 80-100 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 4g carbs (3g dietary fiber).  You have to crack them open, which keeps your hands busy (or your stapler on your desk at work, for that one or two in the bag that aren't easy to crack open - lol!).  These are a great mid-afternoon snack for me.  Now, the side of the bag of pistachios will tell you that one ounce is a serving (around 49 nuts) whereas I have quoted you half an ounce above.  Cut that in half, and you have a good healthy snack without overdoing it. I also really like roasted almonds, we're just on a pistachio kick at our house right now. :)


Trail mix!  This is a newer favorite of mine.  Now, that is 1/4 cup of tropical trail mix which equates to 142 calories, 6 grams of fat, 22 carbs and 2.2 g of protein. You must be careful with trail mix, just like you are with nuts as it is easy to grab a bag and then wonder where the heck it went!  Recently, I was lucky enough to get to tour a plant that bags up nuts and trail mixes - and saw how they portion things out to go into the baggies - its all very scientific and the machines drop the different components onto a conveyor belt at certain speeds to control how much of each thing goes in each bag.  This is why you never run into trail mix that is mostly chocolate (darn!).  Thought I'd share that tidbit with you.
 Wait, didn't I share Larabars as breakfast items?  Well, folks, they can also be a snack!  I don't recommend eating more than one a day as they are higher in calories, though they are nutrient dense - meaning they pack a good punch of health and no preservatives (huge to me!).  These are great on the days I eat oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, just before one of my 2 hour workouts in the evening.

Yeah, that's an apple.  A gala apple at that.  Does that seem boring?  It shouldn't.  Once you rid your taste buds of all the sugary processed crap you've been eating, this apple will taste like candy.  I promise.  Apples range from 70-100 calories per apple depending on the size.  Try some different brands and types until you find your favorite!  They are also a great source of fiber.

Bananas are a great choice as well.  They also range around 80-110 calories depending on their size.  I love a banana as a morning snack, or sometimes just before my workout in order to prevent cramping and get my blood sugar to a good place just before I sweat like crazy. I don't eat a banana as a snack on the days I chop one into my oatmeal or cereal.

Not pictured are my little grapes and baby bell cheese snack baggies (I'm out right now).  Basically I put about 15 grapes in a baggie with a little round baby bell light cheese round.  The cheese is around 50 cals as are the grapes.  It is SUCH a yummy snack and very satisfying with the protein and fat from the cheese and the sweetness of the grapes.  Those seem to stave off my search for sweets in the afternoon.

So there you have it, my most frequent snacks!  Sometimes I pair the apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter if its post long run or something like that.  I also like my almond milk mixed with a serving of ovaltine for a "chocolate milk" type of snack.  Filling and yummy.

Do you notice anything common about my snacking?  Most of it is real food with minimal processing.  Look, I am not a perfectly "clean" eater, but the cleaner I do eat, the better I feel, and my tummy thanks me...along with my scale being a good friend to me.

This next week I'm traveling for work and there will be an ABUNDANCE of food around. My biggest goal? Stick to my healthier options (which may mean stealing a banana off the breakfast buffet for later) and not to eat just because food is available.  Food will be available to me forever, God willing.  I don't have to sample everything, all the time.

But I also will NOT allow myself to get so hungry that I eat things I don't really like (because I'm staaarving) or clean my plate and feel miserable the rest of the day.

My other plan of action?  Go to the hotel gym EVERY morning AND dance at every opportunity (there will be several).  This will be funny because I've never been much of a dancer in public, and since I haven't had alcohol at all in around 7 years, I'm wondering, who do I think I am planning to dance? 

Well, ya know what?  If I can do Zumba, and I'm half Colombian, darn it, I should be able to cut a rug.  And cutting a rug or two will help me out if I decide I *have* to have that chocolate torte at dinner.

Pray for me?

Have a great week.

~Clara

PS - next Food Blog adventure will take us into the land of LUNCHES!  Hoping to get some good pics for you this week or next while traveling of some of my favorite lunch options.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Food Blog Series, Part 1: Breakfast!

Hey friends!

So as you know I have LOTS of opinions on food  and what is healthy.  Ha!  I get questions all the time about what I eat exactly and its kind of tough to describe exactly how I eat without going into the "why."  I don't believe in "dieting" and yet, what you eat does constitute your "diet."  When asked, I usually don't recommend anyone dive into eating like I do today cold turkey as my eating has morphed over the last 2.5 years slowly and hugely.  It morphed slowly so my new healthy lifestyle could be "doable" to create a permanent change, rather than having an end date for my eating plan and ultimately, my health.

Over the course of a few blog posts, I'd like to share my favorite food items with you along with why I like them and how they fit into my healthy lifestyle.

Why don't we start with the most important meal of the day?  I get asked about what I eat for breakfast all the time.  If you are like me, alot of times your mornings are a scramble to get out the door with everything you will need to have with you for the next 15 hours...for me that would include snacks, lunch, my water bottle filled with green tea and more snacks if its a workout night.  Many times my breakfast ends up going with me as well by the time the rest of that is all packed up!

BREAKFAST is VITAL to starting your day off well. It's really not just something "people" say.  If I eat a good breakfast in the morning, I tend to eat better the rest of the day.  If you don't eat, thinking you are saving a few hundred calories, you will certainly make up for them in your starvation snacking later on during the day.  Don't like breakfast?  Learn to like it - or don't blame me when you find yourself waking up from an I-ate-everything-I-brought-for-the-day-by-10am coma.

Here are some of my faves:


Sometimes I start off with a smoothie with Almond Milk as the base (I like Silk's brand, or Blue Diamond; whichever is on sale at the time - Vanilla and unsweetened is good to have some flavor without too much unnecessary sugar.  Stephen also likes to use this as his coffee creamer). I am not a coffee drinker; I simply don't have a taste for it.


One scoop of this Vanilla Whey Protein packs a big punch of protein (15 grams) and only 100 calories.  So far our smoothie is only up to 140 calories.  Add in a handful of fresh spinach (it only changes the color NOT the taste! Also add in a handful of your favorite frozen fruit - I love frozen blueberries, or you can freeze a banana and add that in.  The frozen element is essential to your smoothie being cold.  Smoothies don't have to have a milk type base; yesterday I made one with a half cup of OJ, handful of spinach and 5 strawberries blended up (I did NOT add the protein powder - only when I make them with almond milk).  It was delicious and about 150 calories, went nicely with my sandwich for lunch and added a bunch of veggies/fruit to my day.  Bottom line; smoothies are a great start and if you make the protein shake version it is great for post-workout recovery as well.



When I don't have time to fool with the blender, I grab a Larabar and a Banana.  I love Larabars as they are all natural (they are also gluten free - but for the record I will say I'm not an advocate of going gluten free UNLESS you have an allergy).  The ingredients label reads: dates, cashews, semi-sweet chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla.  The chocolate chip cookie doug is my absolute favorite flavor, its like eating cookie dough without the sin and guilt.  Now Larabars seem small for the calorie punch which is why they should be limited to one per day - but realize they really do fill you up!  220 Calories, 11 grams of fat (6 grams of which are monounsaturated = good fat!) 320 mg of Potassium, 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  These are also a GREAT pre-workout snack and I'll do that often in the evenings before my 2 hour workouts (as long as I didn't have one for breakfast!).

When I have a few minutes in the morning (not a run day usually) I will mix up a batch of oatmeal in the microwave.  I put a 1/2 cup of oats in a bowl with enough water to cover it and microwave for a minute on high. When it comes out, I mix in a splash of the vanilla almond milk, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and....

Two tablespoons of Golden Raisins.  You could also mix in Craisins, a chopped apple, banana, etc.  It is totally up to you what you want to use to flavor your oatmeal.  This is healthier than buying the pre-sweetened oatmeal as they typically have many more additives and preservatives and even more sugar.  Check out the label next time you are shopping and compare the plain oats with my additions to the boxed sweetened kind.

Uncle Sam's cereal was a part of my life once.  It isn't just good for breakfast, it serves a purpose.  Not to get too graphic, but sometimes we aren't as "regular" as we'd like to be and that can, well, be a PAIN!  With 8 grams of Insoluble fiber per serving, this cereal will DEFINITELY help in that department.  That said it is super bland in taste on its own...it is best eaten with 1 teaspoon of sugar (15 calories) and either raisins, craisins, bananas, strawberries etc.  I try to eat this most days if I am not too rushed.  You can also mix 1/4 cup of this into your favorite greek yogurt to add some crunch to your snack.

So there you have it - my breakfast "regulars."  I also LOVE eggs and on the weekends I like to sautee one over easy on the stove and put it on top of a toasted piece of wheat bread and let the yolk run all over the bread. Yum!  I really don't believe that real eggs are "bad."  It's what we do to food like eggs that makes them bad!  I don't add cheese, and truly do not miss butter on my bread either.  Those little tweaks have really made a difference over time.  Now the egg beaters...hmmm...what does the label say?  Just saying.  Oh - and I DO love the occasional chocolate chip pancake with pure maple syrup (I use the whole wheat blend pancake mix or I mix up my own with whole wheat flour).

Overall, if it has 3 or more ingredients that I can't pronounce without assistance, or are not actual FOOD, I won't eat it (for the most part).  Period.  That makes it easy!

That's all for now...I will do a series of posts about food over the next few weeks including snacks, lunches, etc.  I plan to try to share some of my dinner recipes as well as time permits.

Hope you enjoyed...now get to planning your breakfast for tomorrow!

~Clara

PS - coming soon on the blog will be a review of a BUNCH of workout videos! I have tons of them and tons of opinions to share about them!