Now that I’m finally coming up for air after a week of celebrating, I wanted to make sure to capture just how special my birthday was this year.  I’ve written before about how my parents always made my birthday like my own private holiday, and this year was no exception.

The birthday festivities started on Monday, with a dinner at my friend Tinkerbell’s house.  She made really delicious food and gave me a “fun in the sun” gift bag filled with lots of goodies that I’m going to enjoy using all summer long.

Next up was a birthday dinner with my parents and sister on Wednesday night.  We went to an Italian restaurant that we enjoy, and had great food.  Afterward we went back to my parents’ house where I opened presents.  They were all really generous, and bought me everything I’d wanted from my Amazon wishlist, including a new  blender, a beautiful ring, a pretty turquoise and silver necklace, and car wash certificates, to name a few. I know just how lucky I am to have this family.

Thursday, my actual birthday, was one of the best days of recent memory.  I woke up, enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee, perused social media and saw all of the fun birthday wishes, and took Sofi on a long walk.  All leading up to spending the day with RDC3.  That’s what I was most looking forward to because I knew we were going to have an amazing time, as we always do when he and I are together.  No matter what we do, I always have the best time with him because he makes everything so special.  And is there really anything better than spending time with someone you’re crazy about?

For so long, I wanted to share my life with someone, and now that I have this amazing man in my life, it makes all the years that I was alone worth it.  He is definitely worth the wait, and I’m so grateful that fate stepped in and put him in my life.  As independent as I am, I have to admit that I’m a person who enjoys being part of a couple.  But not just with anyone – it takes a very special someone to spark this in me and RDC3 definitely has.  I don’t want to gush, but the relationship we’re forging is really more than I could have ever dreamed of.


Our day started with him surprising me with a bag from Chanel.  I wasn’t expecting any sort of present from him because he’d just taken me to the opera (that post will be coming soon) the week before, and I’d told him that that was more than enough of a birthday present.  So when he presented me with a beautifully decorated gift bag from Chanel, which he’d gone up to SF to buy at their boutique so that they would wrap it with all the trimmings, I was floored.  He bought me a beautiful bottle of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, which has a light, fresh fragrance that is sure to become my new signature scent.  Every time I wear it, I’ll definitely think of him and how thoughtful he is to go out of his way to buy this for me.  Not just the expense of the present, which is significant, but the fact that he went all the way to SF to buy it at the boutique so that they’d wrap it up in such pretty packaging.  He definitely knows how to make me feel special.  The card that he wrote which accompanied the gift is something I’ll also treasure.  RDC3 always claims that he’s not great with words, but the things he wrote in that card definitely made my heart smile.

After the gift, we were on our way to Half Moon Bay, at my request.  There’s a beach right near El Grenada called Pillar Point that has to be my very favorite place on earth.  It has huge boulders that reach all the way out to the middle of the ocean, and lots of fishermen and surfers go there.  Not too many tourists, although it’s right by an RV park.  I discovered it by accident about 20 years ago, and ever since, it’s held a really special place in my heart.  Whenever I was having a bad day and just needed to clear my head, I’d drive there with my notebook and write about whatever was going on. I loved hearing the crash of the waves and seeing the inevitable fog roll in and realize how small my problems were in comparison to the immensity of the ocean.  The ocean is such a source of comfort and power for me, and I love spending time at this place, just thinking about life.  I hadn’t been since losing my weight, and I’d never taken someone special there before, so it meant a lot that we were going there together.


Climbing the rocks is always a bit daunting for me, but I found that it was quite a bit easier for me this time around than ever before.  Just another example of how much my weight loss has positively impacted my life.  RDC3 and I found  the perfect spot, and we each took to our own rocks to take in the scene.  I really liked that we were able to be there together, but each enjoy it in our own separate ways.

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After a time, I asked RDC3 to join me on my rock so that we could sit there quietly and take everything in together.  Sitting on the rock with him, sharing with him how special it was for me to have him there with me in that moment and in my life in general meant so much. He told me something incredibly touching (which I’m going to keep between the two of us), and again my heart swelled with happiness.  I got a bit teary eyed thinking about how lucky I am to have this amazing person in my life.


View through the sun roof as we were driving on Hwy 1

View through the sun roof as we were driving on Hwy 1

Next up we were driving up Highway 1, on our way to SF to the Cliff House for dinner.  I’d never been, although I’d passed by it many times while I lived in San Fran.  RDC3’s father used to take him there to celebrate special occasions, so the restaurant had a lot of sentimental value for him, making it all the more meaningful that he wanted to bring me there for my birthday.  RDC3 had requested a window table, which is the only way to go at this restaurant.  The views are breathtaking!

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We decided on a great bottle of red, which I completely loved, as you can tell.

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This is a really expensive restaurant; definitely something for special occasions.  The menu is limited, but the food is truly delicious.  I ordered the lamb chops and RDC3 got the duck. We thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, the food, and the entire experience.

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After dinner, I wanted to walk along Ocean Beach.  It was so hauntingly beautiful that I just couldn’t resist going in.  Whenever I’m by the ocean, I always have to at least dip my feet into the water, but this night I was feeling so happy, that I waded out a bit further, even though I had my jeans on and it was freezing outside.  Oddly enough, the water was fairly warm (for an SF ocean), so I started getting a bit more daring. 


Even I didn’t expect a huge wave to crash up and hit my jeans all the way up to my thighs!  RDC3 looked like he wasn’t quite sure what to do with this crazy girl who was completely soaked, yet laughing at it all.  In that moment I was just so grateful and happy.


I can honestly say that this has been the best birthday I’ve had in the past 20 years, maybe ever.  It has everything to do with the people in my life making me feel so loved and cherished.  I am so blessed to have all of these people in my life, and I will never forget July 2, 2015.  It was a day to remember forever.

bilbl_superOn Sunday, June 14th my sister, 3 friends, and I got up super early and drove up to San Francisco’s Presidio area to participate in the inaugural Mermaid Series Tour de San Francisco bike ride.  I was so excited to take part in this ride because I’ve participated in Mermaid Series events a few times in the past, and appreciated how organized and fun they are. Plus, I love riding my bike, and who better to do it with than my sister and my 3 BFFs?  Not to mention, I’ve never ridden my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that would be exciting, too.

We’d signed up for the 7-mile ride, choosing the more conservative mileage since this was our first attempt.  I kept thinking we should’ve signed up for the 13-miler, but once I saw the hills involved in that leg of the ride, I’m so glad we stuck with the shorter distance.

Since it was 6:30am when we left my house, the ride up to the City was smooth and easy.  Hardly any other crazies on the road at that time of the morning on a Sunday.  We even found a primo parking area, which made the start of the race really nice.

Of course we had to stop and take some pre-race photos to capture the moment.

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Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

It was a foggy morning, which is usual at Crissy Field in the morning, but it was the perfect temperature for the bike ride.  As we made our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, we all took photos to capture the beauty all around us.


As we turned that corner, we realized what they meant by a “medium-sized hill.”  I guess the Mermaid Series is all about the art of understatement, because the hill was quite steep.  I rode it almost all the way to the top, but eventually had to get off my bike and walk.  One of my goals for next year’s ride (because my friends and I all plan on doing this ride again next year) is to make it up the hill all the way without getting off to walk.

Once we hit a really scenic area right before we’d get on the Bridge, we all stopped to take photos again.


I love this pic of my sister and me and our

I love this pic of my sister and me and our “dueling” bikes.

Now it was time to get on the Bridge and ride. The wind was blowing, the fog was rolling, the cars were speeding by, and other bikers kept saying, “on your left,” but despite these obstacles, I was truly awed at the fact that I was riding my bike on this magnificent bridge.  There really is nothing else like it anywhere.


The journey toward Sausalito was tough – my legs were pumping and we were fighting the elements, including that brutal wind, which offered a ton of resistance.  There was also a very steady incline the entire time.  All of this didn’t phase me, though, because if I have one thing going for me with these big thighs it’s that they’re strong and powerful.

We made it to the Sausalito side and found another opportunity to take a water break and snap a few more photos.

My sis and I, happy that we made it across.

My sis and I

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you're only 5'3

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you’re only 5’3″, taking a selfie is tough business.


Luckily, we found two nice sisters who were willing to take a proper group photo for us. I love this photo so much, and have made it my cover photo on FB.

Inspired that we’d made it halfway across the Bridge, we knew heading back to the end would be much easier. Not only was the wind on our side this way, but we also had a steady decline on the way back, too.  I had my bike on the highest gear and my had on the break almost the entire way back.  The only harrowing part was the cross traffic of bikers, and the “expert” riders who were also trying to pass in a very narrow space.  Since this wasn’t a race, but just a ride, I’m not sure what the need was to pass with so little room.  Not to mention that most of these people weren’t even taking part in the ride.  I guess people like speed.  I’m not one to talk – I’m highly competitive and prefer going as fast as possible, most of the time.

I got away from most of the “traffic” so that I could take a few more action shots and a quick video.

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The entire time I was riding to the finish line, I just kept thinking about how happy I was to share this experience with these awesome ladies.  And about how far I’d come – at my heaviest weight I might have been able to make the 7-miles, but I know I would’ve been so much slower and very sore for days afterward.  And I would have been ultra concerned with how my big butt looked on that cruiser.  I can honestly say this thought didn’t even cross my mind once during the ride.  I know I still have a big booty, but I’m proud of it, and all of my curves.  Doing these kinds of events always solidifies for me how much I’ve accomplished in my weight loss and fitness goals.

Once we hit the finish line, which we crossed as a 5-pack, we triumphed over our achievement.  You can’t miss those huge smiles on our faces at a job well done.

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I cannot say enough about what a great time we had on this ride.  It was scenic, challenging, and so much fun.  If you have the chance to do a Mermaid Series race, ride, or swim, I highly recommend it.  My sister, friends, and I all said we’re looking forward to making this an annual adventure. Can’t wait!

Summer Shopping NSVs

I always love going shopping, but I especially love it when I find great deals and hit new NSVs in the process.

Today I was shopping at Target, and some maxi skirts caught my eye.  The $15 price tag was too good to pass up. Normally maxi anything doesn’t fit me because they’re always really long on my 5″3′ frame.  But because there’s nothing as easy-breezy as throwing on a maxi skirt and a tank on a warm summer day, I figured I’d give them a go.  Here’s where the NSV comes in – I picked out a couple of Larges in patterns I liked, held the hanger up to my waist, saw that it wasn’t dragging on the ground, and bought them – without trying them on!  I was that confident that they’d fit.

When I got home, I immediately tried the skirts on, and was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t the least bit snug.  They hugged my curves well, but were very flowy and not even a little bit tight.  In the pictures I took, I don’t even have a shaper on, which is a bit of an NSV in itself.  (Although I might wear a shaper under the skirt when I really wear it out, just to avoid any jiggling when I walk).


(Forgive the hair in these pics – it’s raining here today, and I’d been running around).


Even though these both have horizontal stripes, I think they’re pretty flattering on.  And I love that they’re short enough for me to wear flip flops if I want to.  Although I could see dressing the outfit up with some strappy wedges that I have, too.  The tank is also new and has a really pretty weave to it (which I know you can’t see in these pics).

The best NSV was when RC3 and I were walking around Union Square in SF on Saturday and decided to go inside Banana Republic’s flagship store.  I love the classic, sophisticated style of the clothes at Banana Republic, but for years only window shopped because I could never fit into them.  And I guess I sort of forgot about the store in this past year, even though I’m down to a size that they actually carry.  So when RC3 suggested that we go inside and look around a bit, I was excited to see what they had.

We happened upon the sale section, and one dress immediately caught my eye – it was a black and white abstract floral pattern and cut in my favorite 50s style.  I loved the shape of it, and the fact that when I held the hanger up to myself, it wasn’t too short.  (I’m still really self-conscious about the flub on my knees and thighs). The dress hits just a “tidge” below my knees, which is my favorite length.  It was originally $119, but on sale half off, so I got it for $65, tax and all.  Don’t you just love a great deal wrapped in a Banana Republic bag?  I know I do!


I went to the dressing room to try on the 12, and I was thrilled when I zipped it up and it fit.  Not only did it fit, but it looked really good.  It flatters my small waist, and allows enough room for my ample hips.  It looks so cute on, and I cannot wait to wear it.

Speaking of which, RC3 said that he’d seen that The Marriage of Figaro is coming to SF Opera, and asked if I’d want to go.  Would I?!  Of course!!  Neither of us has ever been to the opera before, and the SF Opera house is truly spectacular.  Plus, this opera has such a light, fun storyline. My sister took a music appreciate class in college, and studied many of Mozart’s operas, and she said it is by far, her favorite.  How romantic will it be to go to the opera for the first time with RC3, getting all dolled up?  I’m definitely wearing this dress!

Now I just have to find some awesome heels to go with it… which will be another NSV.  ;)

Let me start by saying that I’m not sure if I’ve ever been more excited to write a post since I started this blog 7 1/2 years ago.  Longtime readers know that this blog has mainly focused on my weight loss and healthy living journey.  You’ve been with me through the struggles, the striving, and the successes.  But one of the underlying dreams I’ve had for years, one that I wrote a lot about on my original blog, was to have a romantic relationship.

When I was at my heaviest weight, feeling insecure about how I looked and feeling like my outside didn’t match the inside, I just gave up on dating.  I wasn’t meeting quality people; actually they were just the opposite of that. I decided that if this guy wasn’t someone I’d date when I was at my goal weight, why would I settle and date him now?  On the one hand, it was empowering to know that I was worth more than hanging out with some random guy.  On the other hand, my lack of a dating life was an area that left me with such longing.  Not one to dwell on the negative, I pushed past any thoughts of “I wish I had a boyfriend…” and just focused all of my energy on myself and losing weight.  That tactic paid off, and I couldn’t be happier with the results of all of my hard work.

In the back of my head I thought that once I lost all the weight, I’d be able to meet a really great guy and finally start that part of my life again.  Little did I know how difficult it would be to find someone even at a normal weight.  Lots of bad dates with odd ducks, dates with guys who weren’t into me, good dates with people I thought had potential, but didn’t end up working out.  I’ve written quite a bit about how frustrating the whole thing was, and I took another break at the end of the summer last year.

At the beginning of May, my friend encouraged me to join Zoosk, which is an online dating site that I hadn’t heard of before.  After kissing a lot of frogs, she had found a great guy and she wanted me to give it a shot, too.  So I went on the site, uploaded my photos, wrote a bit about myself and crossed my fingers.  I got a lot of attention from all sorts of men, and sifting through everyone was a bit overwhelming. Lots of chatting, texting, talking on the phone, and even one date that was pretty humbling.  (I thought we’d had a pretty decent date, albeit not a lot of chemistry, but when I texted to thank him for the dinner, he just disappeared).  Online dating makes people think it’s ok to be rude – ugh.

Through all of this, there was one guy that had completely intrigued me.  RC3 had such a sincere profile, was a complete doll, was my same age, had a passion for photography and art, and didn’t have kids.  He was like an online dating unicorn!!  We texted back and forth for a few days, and then started talking on the phone.  As soon as we were on that first phone call, I knew that we had chemistry and wanted to get to know him even better.  The one downside was that we lived about 30 miles from each other and had completely opposite work schedules.  When I mentioned that this might pose a problem, his reply was, “these are easy obstacles to overcome.”  That positive attitude put a smile on my face, and made me take even more notice of him.

He asked me out for that Saturday, May 16th.  We were meeting at Santana Row, a great spot near my house with lots of stores, restaurants, and bars. It was ideal because we could walk around and see where we felt like going.  Plus, it’s really beautiful.  I’d decided to go to Dry Bar to get a blowout so that I was looking my best, but of course the stylist was 30 minutes late. Not the best way to start out a date – worried and running behind.  RC3 was super cool about it when I texted him, telling me to take my time and not worry about it.  That put me at ease, and showed me that he was a really flexible, patient person.

Our meeting spot allowed me to scope him out a bit as I walked up to him, before he saw me.  I knew he was tall (6’3″) and good looking, but when I walked up and saw him, the word that popped in my head was “whoa!”  He was even better in person than in his profile.  (A rarity that only those who have been on a date with someone whose profile picture is 10+ years old can understand).  He has the warmest eyes and the sweetest smile, and he seemed really happy to see me, too.  He complimented my hair, and I said, “well, you have to say that after making you wait!” It broke the ice, although I had a nervous excitement that I couldn’t shake. But I knew he liked what he saw, and that gave me the best confidence boost.

Our first date was really awesome – we had a great dinner, walked around looking at all the shops, talked easily, had drinks at a pretty outside bar, and just clicked.  The chemistry was so strong that when we were sitting outside at the bar I did something that I never do – I leaned over and kissed him! Such a huge risk (especially for a girl who doesn’t like to make the first move with guys) but it paid off, because he kissed me right back, and we shared an amazing first kiss.  He confessed that he’d been wanting to kiss me for awhile, but wanted to be a gentleman.  So sweet!  As he walked me back to my car later in the evening, we even took a selfie to commemorate the date.  I can’t tell you how cool it was that he didn’t mind taking photos like that, since I drive my family and friends crazy with how often my camera is out to capture memories.  (Although that makes sense, since he is a photographer).

We hung out the next evening, where I drove up to his area and he showed me all around.  More selfies, more kisses, more laughs, more butterflies, and more getting to know each other.  We have so many things in common – love the same kind of music, enjoy the same types of tv shows and movies, have cultures that value family and food, and are both honest, sincere people. I can trust him and he knows he can trust me, too.  He likes that I’m a strong woman, thinks my “spiciness” is sexy, and just gets me. I can’t tell you how exceptional that is, because my personality is definitely not for everyone. I like that he’s such a gentleman who opens doors for me (every single time we get in the car, he opens the door for me, which I love), has such a giving heart, and has an artsy side that completely captivates me.

Every time we see each other, we get closer and closer. We have the best time when we’re together, whether we’re eating a great restaurant or strolling the aisles at Target.  It’s so fun showing each other around our cities and making new discoveries together.  Things are so easy between us – we just have an ebb and flow that works perfectly together – he’s the calm to my excited, he’s patient when I’m impatient. We are both passionate people, although we display it in different ways.  We just fit.  And I feel absolutely lucky and so grateful that he found me on Zoosk.

If you can’t tell by now, sparks are flying!

Things are moving quickly, and while we’re being realistic, we both agreed to just go with the flow and not worry about timelines.  We’re at the age where we’ve been hurt, know what we want, what we don’t want, and what we need from another person.  So to me, if things move at a faster pace, it makes sense, because we’ve already done the hard work of wading through a lot of the B.S. that comes with dating.  We’ve had lots of serious conversations about our pasts, shared things that we haven’t told very many people, and understand how where we’ve come from makes us the people we are today. We’ve allowed each other to be vulnerable with the other, taking the risk that comes with opening up. Those late night chats have allowed us to take the leap of faith that comes with commitment.  With that said, I’m happy to announce that RC3 is my boyfriend!!!

My boyfriend?!  I haven’t used those two words together in longer than I’d like to admit.  Which makes it all the more special.

And remember all of those fears I had about getting intimate with someone?  The worry that once the person saw me without my clothes on, things would be awkward, weird, or otherwise terrible?  Not at all the case with RC3. Quite the opposite, actually. He makes me feel absolutely beautiful, flaws and all, because he doesn’t just see the outside, but connects with me on a much deeper level.  It’s awesome when he compliments me on how pretty he thinks my eyes are, or how he likes my curves, or how cool my hair is, but it’s even more amazing when he looks at me and I know he’s seeing my soul.

I am beyond thrilled that summer is literally two days away and we have so many fun adventures ahead of us.  We’ve already made so many plans about places we want to go and things we want to see.  We’ve already spent many fantastic days together – walking along Jack London Square, popping into old bookstores, discovering a bike shop with the coolest cruisers, getting together with Tinkerbell and her hubby to watch the Warriors win, riding the roller coasters in Santa Cruz, hearing a great singer (Eilen Jewell) at a local jazz spot, and just looking at the moon while we’re on the phone together.

I can honestly say that I haven’t felt like this in years.  When we’re together, I feel like I’m in my 20s, and not just because we both look young for our ages.  But because I haven’t experienced something like this since that time.  Actually, I haven’t really ever experienced something like this. I wasn’t ready for it then, but I am now. The connection I thought I’d made with people in the recent past pale in comparison to the connection that RC3 and I are forging.  I love how attentive he is – texting and calling me even when he’s on a weekend boys’ trip and his friends give him a bad time for contacting me so much.  Bringing me coffee from a great coffeehouse in Portland because he knows how much I like a good, dark roast. Sending me photos of his day. Letting me borrow his favorite art books. Listening to the songs that he knows I love. Just checking in to see how my day is going. We click on so many levels – artistically, emotionally, physically, and mentally.  It’s exciting and never fails to take my breath away.  You can see it in the Instagram photos I’ve posted. I’m completely smitten, and RC3 shows me in lots of little ways that the same is true for him.

I’m definitely falling…

…and it was completely worth the wait.

Getting Real

Before I get into my joining in on the ToneItUp Bikini Series again this year, I thought I should take a moment to get real.  It’s been quite some time since I updated my weight on this blog (or even on MFP, for that matter).  I’ve mentioned in a previous post that throughout the fall and winter, my workouts and eating had been a bit sporadic.  I did workouts some days, but nothing extremely consistent, as I had been.  I ate pretty well, but did let more carbs and “snacks” creep into my diet, especially as the holidays approached.  And I gained about 13 pounds from my lowest weight of 170, meaning that on Sunday, April 12th I weighed in at 183.0.  I wasn’t overly surprised by this gain; my clothes had started to fit a bit snugger and my face didn’t look as thin as it had in late summer.  At the same time, I know that in my pre-WLS days not eating great and not working out for 6 months would have netted a gain of much more than 13 pounds.  Which is why I’m so grateful for this VSG tool.  It helps to keep me in line with my portion sizes and helps me make sure that things don’t ever get totally out of control.  13 pounds I can deal with.

TIU Bikini Series


Thanks to @toningupcoco for creating this awesome image!

ToneItUp is at it again – helping people get “bikini ready” in the 8 weeks before summer.  Since this is their 5th year of the Bikini Series, they decided to kick things off a bit earlier, so this year’s Bikini Series will end on June 6th.  Just like last year, I decided to join in on the fun, and immediately signed up for the Bikini Series.  Unlike last year, I’ve become a full-fledged member of the TIUTeam this year.  I bought the TIU Nutrition Program, which includes 1000s of recipes and meal ideas.  Once you buy the Nutrition Program, you’re a member for life; you’re never charged more and you get seasonal additions to the plan. This year for the 5th Bikini Series, they came out with an 8-week meal plan, making it that much easier to follow the TIU suggested meals.  They even included a grocery list and meal prep guide.  With all this built in organization and healthy eating, I just couldn’t wait to start on April 12th.

To prepare, I hit Sprouts and Trader Joe’s on Saturday, and spent some time meal prepping so that I’d be ready to start my day on Sunday with all the foods I needed for the early part of the day.


Then I spent a few hours on Sunday prepping food for the rest of the week.  I’m really enjoying the recipes they suggested, and have been liking trying some new ingredients like shredded coconut and almond flour, trying new meals like chia pudding, and eating a bit more calories than I’m used to.  Since their meals are all based around clean, whole foods, upping the calories hasn’t been departmental to my weight loss.  I have had to cut the portion sizes to fit my post-WLS tummy, but that’s been pretty simple.  At this point, almost 2 years post-op, I know how much I can eat in one sitting.  (So, instead of eating 6oz of mahi mahi, I eat 4oz). I love how colorful and full of flavor the meals are, and I’m eating a ton of fruits and veggies.  The recipes themselves are all pretty easy to make, which is a plus.

Here’s an example of a typical day of food on the Bikini Series 8-Week Meal Plan:

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Breakfast: Blueberry Zest muffins, strawberries, and 1/2 protein shake (I added this in lieu of almond milk because it has more protein)
Snack: apple and hard-boiled egg
Lunch: Spinach, tuna w/ wasabi mayo (this is another one of my own meals, not strictly on the plan, but within most of their guidelines)
Snack: Berry Bright Chia Pudding
Dinner: Chili in a Bowl w/1/4 avocado

Bikini Series Goals

Another thing I really like about the Tone It Up approach is that it’s not just about food and working out (although those are super-important!), it’s also about the mindset you have.  They suggested setting goals to accomplish throughout the Bikini Series:



I’m really proud of the fact that this week, I woke up and did my “bootycalls” (morning workouts) all 5 days before work!  It wasn’t always easy, but I made it happen, and I really do think my day went better because I got the workout in early and felt so energized.  I also love creating the photo collages I put up on IG every morning, like this one I did today:

IMG_3687 As you can see, I’m already well on my goal of hitting 100 miles  by summer! I’m doing so well on this goal that I may increase it to 150 miles by summer – I want to wait another week and see how many I log after two weeks before I make the switch.

TIU Team

Another huge part of the Tone It Up philosophy is women supporting and encouraging each other.  Last year I started following tons of other TIU girls on IG, liking and commenting on their photos.  This year I decided to amp it up a bit by joining two new groups on FB dedicated to TIU.  One is a general TIU Bikini Series group that has people from all over the world in it.  It’s been a fun place to share ideas, ask questions, and get encouragement.  I also joined a more local TIU group on FB for other TIU girls who live in the South SF Bay Area.  This is the group I’m most excited about because it’s full of other women who live in my area.  We’ve already scheduled a few meetups, one of which is happening next Thursday at a spinning studio that I’ve never been to.  I can’t wait to meet some new friends who share my interest in maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

Progress Photos – “Before”


Lots of the TIU ladies were nervous about posting their “before” photos online, but I wasn’t.  These aren’t my before photos – you guys know that I started this weight loss journey at my all-time heaviest weight of 315.  I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished since then, so these photos are a badge of honor to me.  And I just can’t wait to see how much slimmer I look in my “after” photos at the end of the 8 weeks.

Oh, and another point of inspiration – this morning when I weighed myself I was already down 1.4 lbs since Sunday, weighing in at 181.6.  Not bad for 5 days.  Especially considering that I increased my calories from an average of 900/day to about 1200/day.

Wrapping It Up

I’m thrilled with the choice I made to join the Bikini Series again this year, and I’m really looking forward to all of the positive things that will come of it.

That’s what one of my closest friends told me a few weeks ago, when she and I were having a heart-to-heart about life.  She’s so right.  Things have been “off” since August.

Before you get too concerned, it’s nothing super serious, but I have had a mild sense of not feeling like myself.  Not depressed exactly, but a mild sense of the blahs that have spilled over into most areas of my life – working out, eating right, blogging, etc.  You guys know I’ve been really absent on this blog, only writing very sporadically – I just haven’t felt inspired to write, which is so unlike me. Not that I’ve been going completely off the rails – I get workouts in here and there.  I eat healthy most of the time and log most of my meals into MFP.  I see friends and family, regularly.  But I’ve felt like I’m just going through the motions a lot of the time.  Kind of a “fake it ’till you make it” existence, which is so NOT me. I’m a live-life-outloud kinda girl, so “just getting through it” is not a comfortable place for me.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I still had all the same goals for my life – keeping up a healthy lifestyle, getting to my goal weight, spending time with friends and family, generally keeping a positive outlook on life. So why was I just going through the motions?  I finally took a long, hard look at my life, and realized that it was the new position I’d taken as a new teacher mentor.

I loved some aspects of the job. Working with the new teachers and helping them navigate all of the aspects of being a 1st or 2nd year teacher.  Seeing how instruction is implemented at the 5 different high schools where my 18 new teacher work.  Getting to know the principals, vice-principals, and deans at the 5 schools.  Working closely with my mentoring partner, whom I worked with at my high school, and whom I respect tremendously.  Meeting lots of other mentors who work throughout my county.  Learning more about Common Core, ELD standards, equity in education, and great teaching practices.  I enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of the new teachers, as well as their willingness to receive feedback about how they could improve their teaching. Even planning, writing, and hosting the professional development for the new teachers on topics like supporting ELL students, implementing academic vocabulary, new apps and technology for the classroom, etc.

But there were lots of things that the new position entailed that weren’t so great. Like all the driving – in my head I knew I’d be traveling from school to school throughout the day, but until I was actually in the car driving so many miles every single day, I didn’t realize how much of a toll it would take on me.  I missed having a home – being at a school where they knew and loved me.  I only have two new teachers at my old high school, and I relish every time I’m on that campus because students run up to me saying hello, colleagues offer hugs, and I just breathe a sigh of relief because it’s my familiar.  I missed the school spirit – dressing up for spirit week, wearing goofy costumes, donning blue and gold on Fridays for our school pride day.     I missed being part of a faculty and having that sense of community on a daily basis.  I knew I was a social person, but I didn’t realize just how much I needed that interaction. The unpredictability of my daily schedule was also something that drained me.  I love variety and keeping things fresh, but waking up and not knowing where I’m going and who I’m going to see until I check my iCal appointments was off-putting in a way I never anticipated.  And the work day was much longer – I usually wake up at 5:30, read and respond to work emails while I have coffee, get ready for the day and leave the house by 8 or 8:30 and drive all around until at least 4:30 or 5pm, then take phone calls and answer emails or do paperwork when I got home.  Now I know that might not sound like a long day to most people, and when I was teaching I’d spend the normal school day working and then have to plan lessons and grade in the evenings and weekends, but this new schedule just felt a lot longer to me. Probably because I wasn’t doing what I loved like I did when I was teaching.  One the nights we held professional development, which was once a month, we’d work until 7pm. I felt like the hours of this position were all-consuming.

And then there was the conversation with the district administrators whom my mentoring partner and I report to who let us know that next year they expect us to add more “districtwide” professional development to our plans. Which means they expected us to provide professional development to all teachers, not just new teachers on “district initiatives” that they decided for us.  When I expressed that we might not be experts in these areas, my boss said, “well then, we’ll send you to a workshop so that you can become an expert.”  How would we possibly fit in more than we were doing now?  We were both running around like chickens with our heads cut off as it was just keeping up with all we were required to do for the new teachers.  When would we find the time to plan, write, and teach these new professional developments?  And what if these “district initiatives” weren’t on topics that we believed in?  It’s very difficult to teach something that I don’t fully support, yet these new topics would be chosen by the district administrators, not by my mentoring partner and me.  I abhor being dictated to and feeling like my opinion doesn’t matter, yet that was the message I was getting.  Not being someone to quietly deal with a situation that I hate, I decided to take a stand.

In February I told the deputy superintendent in charge of human resources that I would like to return to the classroom next year.  In essence, I was resigning from this position.  I didn’t mention the things that made me unhappy about the job; I just told her that I really missed teaching.  Which is completely true.  Teaching is my passion, and seeing all of those new teachers in their own classrooms made me long for my own room full of students. I am still considered a teacher even as a mentor, I’m still fully fledged in the teachers’ union, retain my tenure and seniority, and I am guaranteed a teaching position somewhere in the district.  The unknown was whether or not I’d be able to return to my old school.  I had high hopes because there were two open positions in the English department, my former principal wanted me back, and I wanted to return.  But HR had to keep me guessing, hoping, praying, and wishing for awhile.  Finally, on April 1, I found out that I will be able to return to my old school!! I’m so excited and I know I’m going to go back with a renewed sense of purpose.

I’ll be teaching most of the same classes I have in the past, although I will have two classes that I haven’t taught in about 10 years.  I will also be in a new classroom, at my request.  The teacher who moved into my old classroom is staying on next year, and I just didn’t want to make him have to move everything. Plus, there were so many things about my old classroom that I didn’t really like – it was a huge room, but it was weirdly shaped, making it difficult to keep organized.  The new room has great counters and cabinets, so keeping everything tidy will be much easier.  Plus, in the new room I’ll be right next door to one of my favorite teaching buddies, whom I’ll be collaborating with on 4 of the classes.  And I love the idea of a fresh start in a new room.  I can’t wait to “move in” and decorate it this summer!

It’s hard for me to express the combination of excitement yet calm I feel knowing that I’ll be back to my high school.  I feel like I can breathe easier knowing that I’ll be back to doing what I love, working with the people I enjoy, interacting with 120+ students who will be “mine” for the year.  Back to having a predictable schedule – knowing what time I begin and end my day and where I’ll be every single weekday.  Yet there’s a huge amount of excitement, too – back to discussing texts, helping students improve their writing, planning curriculum with colleagues, and of course, wearing all the goofy, spirited outfits. I’m going to enjoy the remainder of this mentoring position for these last couple of months (I’m done June 5th), and I’ll really relish all the fun that comes with summer vacation, but I am also feeling so inspired for the 2015-16 school year.  I have a feeling of peace that I haven’t felt in so long.  And I think that’s going to spill over into all other areas of my life.

I’ll write more about my plans for working out and eating right in an upcoming post.  If you haven’t noticed, I was inspired yesterday and finally wrote out my 2015 goals and my mantra for the year.  I’m not going to promise how often I’ll write, but I will say that I’m planning to write more often than I have been.  Until then, I hope you have a happy Friday!

Every year I find a mantra that I try to live by for the year. I’d seen this quote a few times, and it just spoke to me.


Now that I’m on the last leg of my weight loss journey, I’ve found that it’s all about doing the small things every day that make a big difference in the long run. It’s not about major lifestyle changes because I’ve already set a healthy life in place.

This year it’s about reminding myself that every single day…

  • each step I take is a choice
  • each step I take shows my true intentions
  • each step I take becomes incorporated into the person I am
  • each step I take moves me through the world in a positive direction
  • each step I take matters
  • each step I take brings me closer to my goals

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