Sunday Morning Sunrise

This morning I was up early – at 5am – despite going to bed at midnight Hawaii time (3am SJ time!). Since I was up, I wanted to be sure to enjoy the amazing sunrise from the back porch.







I took these shots while sipping coffee.  Does it really get any better?
Happy Sunday!

Hawaiian Vacay – Day 1

After more than two months of planning, anticipating, and preparing, yesterday was finally the day I left for Hawaii.  All week I had the same feeling I had when I was 6 years old and my family was about to go to Disneyland for the first time. I had a lot of last minute errands, meeting, and grading to do to keep me occupied, but if I’m honest, my mind was really concentrating on the beaches of Oahu, and rightly so, I haven’t been on a true vacation since 2008, and I haven’t been anywhere tropical since my trip to Jamaica in 2001.

Back to Saturday morning. My flight was leaving at 8:55am, so my dad was set to pick me up at 7am to get there with time to spare. I woke up around 5am to make sure I had everything ready and I’m glad that it gave me time for a snuggle session with Sofi. Leaving her behind is the only downside to this trip. But she’s going to have a ton of fun with my sister, my nieces, and their dog, Minnie.


Getting through the airport security was a breeze, even though that imaging machine is so strange. I even met a guy who was flirting relentlessly with me. Granted, he was 7 years old, but still. Lol. He was the cutest thing ever! He noticed that I had on an SF Giants tee and asked me to high five because he had on a 49ers sweatshirt. He said, “I’m going to Hawaii, where are you going?” And when I told him I was going there too, his face lit up. He asked me my name, and said, “bye, Bella” as I headed to get my Starbucks fix. We were seated a row apart on the plane, and every now and then he’s smile and wave. When the flight landed, he was right next to me at baggage claim, asking which bag was mine and then whether or not I was married. The scamp! His parents just smiled at me when I looked over at them. Finally, while I was waiting to be picked up outside the airport, he and his family passed me, and he said, “bye, Bella!!! I hope we see you in Hawaii!” Too cute! Now if only he was about 30 years older.

I had a major NSV as I took my window seat on the plane. Not only was I not spilling over into my neighbor’s seat, but I had lots of room with the seatbelt! On my last flight in 2008, when I was nowhere near my heaviest weight (in fact I’d just lost about 50 pounds because of that medically supervised fasting diet), I needed an extender. And when I went to put the tray table down, I was so scrunched that it wouldn’t sit flat. Not this time!!! This time, I had tons of room, and was like any other normal person. I could even move up & down the aisle of the plane, passing other people, with ease. Only someone who has been obese can understand the silent triumph I felt as each of these realizations hit me.


The flight itself was amazing! I’d never flown Alaskan Airlines before, but definitely will again. The staff was friendly, the service was quick, and we we’re ahead of schedule the entire time. Not to mention the complimentary Mai Tai! I was seated next to a really friendly woman who was just chatty enough, but also respected my desire to read. At baggage claim my bag was among the first ten off the conveyer. And from there, I walked outside and within 15 minutes, my friend was picking me up to take me back to the house.

The house itself is awesome! It’s a little, hidden bungalow with this amazing view backyard view. First, let’s take a look at the inside: the living room, the kitchen, and the wall of windows…

10154982_10151946585990426_397420148_n 1977270_10151946586100426_880847677_n 1011581_10151946585880426_1358662287_n 10003478_10151946585930426_546819239_n

As nice and comfortable as the house is, the backyard and dock is by far the best feature of this place. Every time I see that dock, I’m reminded of the dock that Gatsby looks at in the distance, towards the green light at Daisy’s house.


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The view of the house from the private dock

The view of the house from the private dock

It rained a bit in the afternoon, but even that was so refreshing.  Hawaii is so humid, and the rain brings relief from that.  Plus, I love hearing the way it sounds against the dock.  I sat on the back porch and read as it rained, and it was so soothing, especially after a long flight.

One other “feature” of this place is ALL the stairs that lead to the street level.  There are three full sets of stairs that are fairly steep.  Yesterday I used them to get a workout in. No matter how much I may indulge on this vacation, I think I’m going to leave with my booty in better shape than it was when I got here.




I went to Safeway to get some food for the week, and I can definitely see what they mean about how expensive things are.  I bought yogurt, salads, Flat Out wraps, salami, deli turkey, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, cottage cheese, strawberries, granola, coffee creamer, and some Boom Chicka Pop popcorn and the bill totaled $101! Needless to say, I’m going to eat as many meals at home/pack my lunch as often as I can.  I do plan to go out for sushi and maybe one other meal.

Once I got back from grocery shopping, I spent the afternoon lazing around – napping, reading, and feeling amazingly lucky that I’m able to spend this week here in what is truly paradise.  I stayed home last night, took a shower that let me wash off the day and made me feel like a new person, and just enjoyed a quiet night.

10154938_10151946586235426_644419868_n If yesterday is any indication, this is going to be an amazing vacation!


Spring has (almost) sprung! Which means that the weather is turning warmer, the days are getting longer, and fitting in outdoor activities is a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of renewal, and in the spring of 2014  I’m living my life in full bloom! Now that I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, all the pounds I lose this spring are just like extra petals on a flower, making my life just a bit more beautiful. I want to enjoy each day of this season, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and happiness. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. My Sunday progress updates will be called Super Spring Weigh-Ins.

Week 44 started off great because I spent hours on Sunday going through both closets in my house and going through every single item of clothing, deciding whether to donate or keep it.  My wardrobe is is organized and streamlined, which makes me feel so much better.  At work, I was able to complete all the grading that had piled up, which feels like a huge relief.  I ate well and logged everything. The one area that slipped a bit was in my workouts: I got some in, but didn’t do the Tone It Up strength sessions as often as I would’ve liked.  Now that everything is in order in the various areas of my life, the main thing I want to do is maintain it all.  Which means grading a bit at a time, keeping up with the housework/laundry, and setting aside the 1-1.5 hours a day to get my workouts in.  I know I can do it, I just need to set my mind to it.

bilbl_scale.jpg So, what did the scale show?!

When I weighed in this morning, I was 183.0, which is a loss of 1.6 pounds this week,and a loss of 94 lbs since surgery! I’ve lost a total of 132 pounds from my highest weight!! I have 33 pounds to go to my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds. I’m really happy with this week’s loss, especially because of the fact that I completed fewer workouts than I would’ve liked.  It really does go to show that weight loss is 70-80% food.  One thing that went really well for me this week was my water intake – I’ve found that making sure I have a water bottle or tumbler with me at all times makes all the difference.

One week from today I’ll have been in Hawaii for a day already!  I’m so excited about this trip, and I’m really looking at it as a reward for my hard work and determination.  It’s been over six years since I went on any sort of vacation.  Six years since I’ve been on a plane.  The last time I had to use a seatbelt extender, and that was when I was nowhere near my heaviest weight, in fact, I’d lost 50 pounds on that medically supervised fasting diet.  If I’m honest, I avoided any sort of vacation where I might need to fly because I didn’t want to have to deal with that scrunched-in feeling of spilling over into my neighbor’s seat. No to mention the look of dread on the seatmates’ faces when they saw me coming down the aisle.  I can’t wait to see how different it all is this time.

This week it’s all about making sure I have everything ready for Hawaii.  Yesterday I had a major shopping trip at Target, picking up travel sizes and a few more swim essentials.  Remember those Victoria Secrets bikini tops I’d bought?  They fit, and looked pretty good, but they were cut fairly small and showed more cleavage than I was comfortable with.  Especially for water sports like snorkeling or taking surf lessons.  I didn’t want to accidentally “pop out.”

2014-03-30 09.55.37See what I mean? I’ll definitely still wear it at the beach or walking around, but not when I’m doing something more physical.

So yesterday while I was at Target, I saw that they had swimwear on sale, and I found two other swim tops:

2014-03-30 10.31.512014-03-30 10.32.53

This black bikini top has a lot more coverage, even though you may not be able to tell it in the photo, and that makes me feel more comfortable.  The tankini also offers good coverage, although I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to tuck it in.  What do you guys think?

The plan for this week is to make sure I fit in 5 Tone It Up workouts, along with cardio:
Sunday: Arc Trainer + run/walk intervals
Monday: run/walk intervals
Tuesday: hybrid elliptical
Wednesday: Arc Trainer
Thursday: hybrid recumbent bike
Friday: run/walk intervals

{I’ll update the toning routines as soon as the new weekly workout is posted on Toneitup.com}

As I mentioned, next week I’ll be in Hawaii, so I won’t be posting a weigh-in update.  It’s going to be really weird not having a scale there and not weighing myself everyday.  But I know I’m going to make great choices (more on that in another post), and get in plenty of activity, so I’m not worried about my weight.  Plus, taking a break from the scale while I’m on vacay seems right.  I will write a Sunday Smiles post, though, because I’m sure I’ll already have lots to share.

2014-03-30 11.07.19

Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!

Thinking Out Loud #2


I first saw the Thinking Out Loud posts on A Merry Life, and I liked the concept so much that I decided I’m going to join in on the fun. Be sure to check out Amanda’s blog, Running with Spoons, to hear all the thoughts.

Here’s what I have milling around my mind this afternoon…


I have 7 1/2 days until I leave for Hawaii, and I cannot wait!  I haven’t taken a real vacation in over 6 years, and after all the hard work I’ve put in over the past year in transforming my body and my lifestyle, this trip is my reward.  I’m really looking forward to all of the activities: swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, hiking Diamond Head, and even taking surf lessons.  Not to mention the seafood and sushi!  I have almost everything I need for the trip; I do want to get a couple of pairs of sunnies and some flip flops.

Speaking of which, I’m all about buying quality items that last, so I do plan on purchasing some higher end sunglasses.  But I also know that things can happen, so I’m also planning on buying some cheapies, too.   Here’s what I’m thinking:

I found these great Coach semi-cat's eye sunnies on eBay, and I can get them before I leave for the trip!

I found these great Coach semi-cat’s eye sunnies on eBay, and I can get them before I leave for the trip!

And then for the cheapie, fun sunnies, where better than Target?

14075579 14729194_Alt01_201309131511

I love the polka dots and the pink, RayBan-esque styles for a couple of fun pair.

book-clubI just got an email from Amazon about a credit toward Kindle books because of some settlement.  So, my question is, what books should I buy?  I have enough for two new books.  What have you been reading and loving lately?

Since today is Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d share a photo from my sophomore year of high school:



What are your thoughts this Thursday?  If you have a few to share, you should write up a quick post and link it up on Running with Spoons.

FMM: Would You Rather…

Happy Monday! I had a great weekend! It kicked off Friday night with a girls’ night at a favorite wine bar with two of my BFFs and my sister, continued with 3 hours of volunteering and a great walk with Sofi on Saturday, and ended with Sunday spent organizing my both my closets.  That last one is the one that took the biggest load off of my mind.  I went through every single piece of clothing I own – things I had packed away in storage containers under the bed, things in the closet of my second bedroom, things I hadn’t worn in months – and decided if I was donating or keeping it.  I separated the items I was donating by category: workout/casual, business/dressy, and pjs/lingerie – having been at a charity on Saturday, I see how much time they spend sorting through clothing donations, so I figured I’d save them some time.  Then I hung/folded/organized each item I was keeping.  I feel SO good when I look at my closet.  

For the months of March and April, FMM is moving locations.  Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Would you rather…

1. Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

I haven’t really been eating a lot of ice cream lately, but I guess I’d choose chocolate.

2. Coke or pepsi?

Neither.  I don’t drink soda (diet or otherwise) at all anymore.  Not only is it bad for you, but because of my VSG, I’m not supposed to have any carbonation.

3. Cats or dogs?

Dogs all the way.  I grew up with an adorable Maltese/poodle mix named Sweetie.  And you guys know now I have my adorable Sofi, who turns 3 this Wednesday:

-3  1653627_10151865117395426_910662781_n 2014-02-04 17.03.30

4. Summer or Winter?

Summer.  Not only do I get 8 weeks off from work because I’m a teacher, but I really do love being outside and active.  Spending my days swimming, biking, and taking long walks with Sofi are the best.  Not to mention the plethora of fresh fruits and veggies available. I think this is going to be one of my best summers yet, because I’ll be able to wear lots of clothing styles that I haven’t felt comfortable wearing before.  Plus, I have some fun local outings planned.

5. Early bird or night owl?

I’m a night owl at heart, but because of my job I also wake up early.  So I just don’t get much sleep.  ;)

6. Baseball or football?

I love them both.  I’m a huge San Francisco fan – 49ers and Giants – and I watch as many games as I can.  Since the SF Giants have a minor league team here in San Jose, I love going to see those games, too. Not only are they less expensive than the major league games, but it’s fun to see the  up-and-coming  players.  Plus, the games are very family friendly.

7. Glasses or contact lenses?

I had LASIK surgery in 2000, so I don’t have to wear either.

8. Coffee or tea?

I’m a huge coffee drinker, but I have started to drink a lot more tea lately.  It’s become a nightly ritual for me to have a cup of tea or two after dinner.  I absolutely LOVE David’s Tea – I’m obsessed!

9. Mac or PC?

Mac, no question.

10. Roller coasters or not?

I was talking to my sister about this a couple of weeks ago.  For so many years, I haven’t been able to ride roller coasters because I was so heavy at 315 pounds that the safety harness wouldn’t be able to “click” down.  Now that I’ve lost all this weight, I am so excited to ride roller coasters this summer at Santa Cruz Boardwalk and at Great America.  I cannot wait!!

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.


Spring has (almost) sprung! Which means that the weather is turning warmer, the days are getting longer, and fitting in outdoor activities is a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of renewal, and in the spring of 2014  I’m living my life in full bloom! Now that I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, all the pounds I lose this spring are just like extra petals on a flower, making my life just a bit more beautiful. I want to enjoy each day of this season, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and happiness. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. My Sunday progress updates will be called Super Spring Weigh-Ins.

Week 43 was a bit overwhelming, if I’m honest.  Things are really busy at work, and I felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day.  I still managed to eat well and to get my cardio workouts in, but I did let a few toning workouts slip by.  This next week is going to be just as busy, so I’m going to do my best to set things up today so that I don’t feel like I have no time for everything I have to do. Feeling organized is huge for me – it make all the difference in the world.

bilbl_scale.jpg So, what did the scale show?!

When I weighed in this morning, I was 184.6, which is a loss of 1.4 pounds this week, and a loss of 92.4 lbs since surgery! I’ve lost a total of 130.4 pounds from my highest weight!! I have 34.6 pounds to go to my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds. I’m pleased with this week’s loss, especially considering I didn’t do many of the toning exercises that I’ve been doing 5 times a week for the past couple of months.  My eating has been great, though, and I did pretty well with my water intake, too.

More of the clothes I ordered for my Hawaiian vacation came in this week, and every single item looks as good or better than I’d hoped.  I don’t mean to sound conceited when I write that, but this is a whole new thing for me.  In the past when I ordered clothes online, it was always hit and miss as far as how the clothes would look.  Now it’s a whole different story because I have a whole different body.  It really is an amazing feeling.

Yesterday the high school I attended had an Alumnae Day of Service at a local charity, which fit in well with my volunteering for Lent.  One of my good friends attended, and I had a blast meeting a bunch of new friends.  There’s something about being an alumna from my school – we have an instant bond because of the shared experience of going to an all-girls Catholic school.  And not just because of wearing that plaid skirt; because of the values we were taught, the education we received, and the spirit of friendship that we formed.  It truly was an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful to my parents for sacrificing so much so that my sister and I could attend the school.


A shot of a new friend and me sorting apples.

A great group shot of all of the alums who volunteered.

A great group shot of all of the alums who volunteered. The lady in the sun hat is in charge of food sorting at the center, and was our supervisor for the day.

This week the enormous changes I’ve undergone have become more evident to me.  In looking at photos I’ve been in with groups of friends lately (last weekend, this Friday night, and again yesterday) I can see that I’m a completely different person.  I’m not worried about how my body is going to look in pictures, because I know how hard I’ve worked.  It’s so freeing to just smile and capture the moment, rather than worry so much about what angle the camera is being held at. I see myself and I am proud of the lady being reflected back at me. A new confidence is emerging, and I am loving it!


Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!


Today marks ten months since my VSG surgery, and it’s also the first day of spring.  It’s been sunshine and smiles all day today, especially when a colleague of mine, whom I don’t see too often on campus, stopped me in the teachers’ lounge and said, “you’re almost unrecognizable! You’re looking fantastic!”  He’s the track coach, and he knows I’ve been working on my run/walks and doing 5Ks, and I thought it was so nice of him to tell me that he’s noticing the changes. I’ve had several other people tell me how “skinny” I’m looking lately, and it never gets old.  I think part of it is that I was more bundled up in the winter, wearing heavier sweaters and jeans.  Now I’ve been wearing thinner tops and skirts, which show my shape more.  But I’m also proud to say that I’ve been really putting in the work to make these changes evident – eating great and getting in my workouts 5 or 6 days a week.












-1 inch








-0.5 inch




-1 inch




-4.5 inches




-2.25 inches




-0.25 inch




+0.25 inch

I’m floored that I lost 4 1/2 inches in my hips and 2 1/4 inches from my thighs in one month!  I triple checked the measurements, and sure enough, I’ve made big strides.  Just this morning as I was getting out of the shower, I did notice that my thighs are looking much smaller lately, which is so encouraging.  I think it’s funny that I gained 1/4 inch in my ankles; I wonder if I’m retaining water?  Either way, I’m really pleased with this progress.  I’ve been working hard at toning up, and it’s paying off.


I’ve lost 6 pounds in the month between these photos. I’ve also been working on my base tan for Hawaii, as you’ll see from the difference in my skin tone.  In the photos on the right (taken today) I’m wearing different pants that are slightly looser than the running pants I wore last month.

Left: 2/16/14  Right 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right 3/20/14

I notice a few things between these two photos – I can see more definition in my stomach, my waist looks more “whittled,” and the skin on my stomach is getting looser.

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14

Left: 2/16/14; Right: 3/20/14


  • Tops = size M or L, depending on the manufacturer
  • Jeans = size 14, and they’re getting a bit loose
  • Workout capris (worn in these photos) = size L
  • Boy short bikini bottoms from Victoria’s Secret = size L
  • Bras = 34D (on the tightest setting)
  • Workout Bras = 32/34 D/DD (on the middle setting) The workout bras I bought have a range, which I love because they fit well and have lasted a long time.



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