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Archive for August, 2013

Throughout the month of August, I participated in a 30-Day Squat Challenge, and now that it’s completed, I have to say how great it was.

I’ve never done any sort of 30-Day Challenge, but as soon as I started the Squat Challenge, I was hooked.  I especially enjoyed it because so many of my pals on MFP were also participating.  It was fun to read everyone’s quick status posts as we struggled through the day’s numbers.

On Day 1 I thought 50 squats was a lot, but when we really started to get to the big numbers, over 200 squats in a day, that’s when the real challenge began.  Once I was in the middle of doing the squats, I really enjoyed it, but some days I definitely had to do a lot of self talk to get myself going.  But it was so worth it in the end – I definitely think it helped with my changing shape.

One thing that really helped keep me in the challenge was looking up the different ways that squats can be done.  Each day I completed several reps of each of the following:

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The Basic Squat

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The Sumo Squat – this was great for the inner thighs!

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The Narrow Squat – I could really feel this in my butt.

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The Superman Squat – this was just fun and helped with balance.

The bottom line?  I loved this challenge.  It built up steadily and was challenging the entire time.  I’ll do this squat challenge again for sure.  Next time I think I’ll try adding in a rep of weighted squats to up the ante even more.

Now it’s onto the next challenge – September’s #plankaday Challenge. You should definitely join in!

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On Wednesday I had my 3-month post op appointment, which was informative, but because it was done in a group setting, it was sort of boring. The group was comprised of WLS patients who all had surgery around the same time I did. A few of them had already hit the 4-month mark, but most of us were around 3 months.

Food
It began with a talk with the nutritionist who gave the standard information about food: amount, portion size, balance, etc. I’ve always eaten really well, and understand how to keep my menu balanced, so I didn’t learn anything new. She did say that she doesn’t recommend using protein shakes as meal replacements, but because I’m not a huge fan of breakfast foods, I’m going to continue having my shakes in the morning. Once in a while I’ll replace the shakes with overnight oats or crock pot oatmeal (to which I’ll add a couple of scoops of protein powder). My lunches and dinners are going well, and I’m figuring out ways to keep the variety high. At this point, they recommend that I eat between 800-1000 calories per day, which I am most of the time. Most days are somewhere between 800-900 calories. They also recommend getting around 80g of protein per day, which I’m definitely fitting in, most days I try to get closer to 90g.

Vitamins
Next the bariatric department doctor came in and answered a bunch of questions, which was great. She even gave some helpful tips about cutting down on the number of vitamins we need to take each day. She suggested Wellesse liquid Calcium, and the reason I like it is because I only have to take two 2-TBSP servings to get in the required 2000mg per day. Little things like that are going to make it a lot easier for me to remember to take my vitamins, which I’ve been really failing at lately. She also said that she thinks it’s “rubbish” that we can’t use straws, which made me happy because I’ve been drinking with straws from the 3rd week post op. I was surprised when the doctor said that she “shrugged her shoulders” at carbonation. She said that immediately post-op carbonation was too harsh for our stomachs, but at this point if we want to have some carbonation from time to time, we can. I’m not a soda drinker, but I do enjoy having sparkling water now and then. The doctor said as long as the carbonation didn’t cause us any discomfort or excessive belching, it should be fine in moderation. I’m not going to go out and buy a bunch of sparkling water, but it is nice to have the option.

Hair Loss
One thing that’s been really disturbing is the amount of hair I’m losing every time I wash it. I’m not talking the normal 100 strands of shedding, I’m talking whole handfuls of hair. Mounds of hair. Yes, I have a lot of hair, and it’s very thick, so I’m lucky. But with the amount that I’m losing every time I wash it, I’m getting worried about what I’m going to be left with when this period of hair loss is over. The doctor said hair loss begins around month 3 and lasts through month 6, and that it gets worse before it gets better. She said that Biotin and other supplements don’t have any affect on the hair loss or on the regrowth, which is just as well, because when I did take Biotin, I broke out terribly. The only thing that helps is to keep up with my Iron intake. My family and friends tell me that I’m the only one that’s noticing how much smaller my ponytail is getting, but it doesn’t stop me from being concerned. Although, I still wouldn’t change a thing, I’m so glad I had this surgery and only wish I’d had it sooner.

Reward
After the appointment I decided I was going to treat myself to a little shopping. I’ve been trying my best not to buy anything, because I know that it’s only going to hang in my closet for a short time, but things are getting a bit desperate. I have no work pants whatsoever, and while I can wear jeans any day I like, I really like to try to wear them only on Thursdays (when we wear college gear to promote that college-bound culture) and Fridays (when we wear blue to show school spirit). Once winter hits I wear jeans more often, because I think sweaters help dress them up, but for now, I wanted some work pants. I went to Kohls, where I have never really shopped for clothes in the past because I was too big to fit into most of the Womens (Plus) sizes. I got some really great pieces:

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This one looks great on because of the black color blocking on the sides. It’s really flattering. Plus, I can wear this on school color Fridays.

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Another one to wear on school color Fridays. It may not look like it on the hanger, but this one shows off my waist really well.

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This one was too cute to pass up. I can wear it on blue Fridays, and I like the whole Superman thing. I did customize it by cutting out the crew neck and cutting more of a v-neck. This is a men’s large, and a year ago (or even 6 months ago) I would’ve been too big for a men’s 2XL.

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I really like these pants because they look like dressy grey pants, but they’re actually denim. They’re a wide-leg cropped pant, and I love them.

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These pants were the ones that blew my mind. They’re just regular, black work pants that I can wear with anything, but there’s something special about these…

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THEY’RE A SIZE 18!!!!! They’re a bit snug in the hips/thighs, but they zip up and button without a problem. This is incredibly exciting!

I started out in a tight size 28 pants, so the fact that these pants are a size 18 is amazing to me.  I am over the moon that I’m able to fit into these.  I seriously can’t believe it.  This is ridiculously fabulous!!!

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bilbl_superSince the Squat Challenge in August went so well, I thought that for September I’d start my own 30-Day challenge. Since we worked on legs last month, I thought it might be time to focus on core, which means PLANKS. I find planks uber-challenging, which is all the more reason to participate in this 30-Day Challenge.

To get all the details, view the full 30-Day Plank Challenge. This page has great tips on technique, including the 3 different types of planks you can choose from. It even has a great video! I also really like this FitSugar Plank Variation page because  the photos and descriptions make it easy to understand.

basic plank

basic plank

plank jumping jacks

plank jumping jacks

Reverse Plank w Leg Lift

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reverse plank w/ leg lift

side plank with leg lifts

side plank w/ leg lifts

circlingplank

circling plank
5 done clockwise, 5 done counterclockwise as one set

Photo Credit

As always, I enjoy variety, so as the month continues, I think I’ll attempt each type of plank. Looking at some of them, I know I’m crazy for typing that.  Which kind of plank do you usually do?

Planks are really important because they work the core muscles, and help with overall stability and support of the body. Planks force muscles to work together, rather than in isolation, which means you get more “bang for your buck.” Let’s use the hashtag #plankaday. From 30 seconds on Day 1 to 300 seconds on Day 30 – we can do it!!

Wanna get organized (some might say anal) like me? I’ve already entered the entire challenge into my iCal. Taking the time to do that insures that I won’t make any excuses. It’s scheduled, and I’m going to complete it each day. You should, too!

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So….who’s in?!

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Autumn has arrived! Which means that life is back to normal – school’s in, my schedule is busy, and obligations abound. But I won’t use those as excuses to slack on my goals. The great thing about fall is that the weather is cooler, which means that those wonderful fall fashions will keep me motivated. Plus, crisp temperatures mean that it’s never “too hot” to workout.  I’m going to relish my nightly cup of steaming hot tea as another way to keep my water intake up. I look forward to all those hearty, satisfying and wls-friendly soups, stews, and crockpot meals that I’ll create for myself. This year, the changing season will mark new milestones that I haven’t seen in 5, 7, 10+ years!  Bring on fall 2013 – it’s time to reach new heights! Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. Throughout the fall, I’ll be giving Sunday progress updates called Fabulous Fall Weigh-Ins.

Week 13 was busy, but really good.  It was my first week of school, and I am so excited by all of my classes.  I have amazing students, and I just know this year is going to be the best one yet.  I’m really proud that even with busy, busy days I was able to stick to my healthy eating and exercise routine.

All good news, so how’s the scale looking?

I weighed in this morning at 234.6, which is a loss of 1.8 pounds this week, and a loss of 42.4 lbs since surgery!!! I’ve lost a total of 80.4 pounds from my highest weight. I’m really happy with this week’s loss, especially since I had such a huge loss last week.  I also had my period for the 3rd time this month (crazy hormones), so that makes this loss even sweeter.  I am so excited that I’m now down 80 pounds!!

Getting up so that I can get ready, make my breakfast, gather my stuff, and hit the road by 7am actually wasn’t as difficult this past week as it has been in the past.  I can definitely see the difference in my energy levels.  As one of my colleagues put it, “you were a spitfire before, but now, you’re on a whole nother level.” I’m having fun picking out my clothes in the morning, and of course I love the compliments that I’ve been getting.  Even fitting in workouts wasn’t too tough – I’ve made sure to workout on the weekends when I have more time so that I can take my two rest days during the week, which has been working perfectly.  The one area that was kind of boring for me was in my food, especially my lunches.  I’ve been buying TJ’s salads and eating them over a couple of days, but I needed to shake things up a bit, so look for a “What’s in my Lunchbag?” post later this week.  (I picked up some fun foods today).

Since I’m now down 80 pounds, I thought I’d share my latest progress photos:

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The “before” was taken in September 2012, and I remember thinking that my face looked thin in the photo.
The “now” was taken on Tuesday (August 19, 2013).

Now for the rare, full-body shots.  The “befores” were taken in February 2013, the “nows” were taken 6 months later (yesterday, August 24, 2013). The top is the same in both, but the pants are much different.  The befores were 26/28 and the nows are 22/24. I’m down about 60 lbs between the two sets of photos.

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I’m not sure if you can see that much difference in the shots, but I can tell you that I FEEL the difference.  Both sets of photos were taken by my sister, after yoga class.  Yesterday’s class was tough, but much easier for me to complete than it would’ve been back in February.  I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished so far on and off the scale! It hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s been worth every single step I’ve taken.

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

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Happy Monday!  This week’s topic is really apropos because today was my first day of school.  I had a fantastic day, met some really great students, and even had a whole classroom full of kids applaud me when I shared how much weight I’ve lost. (95% of the students in my Journalism class were in my honors class last year, so they already knew I’d lost weight, but when I shared the actual number, they were really impressed).  My dress looked adorable, and I just felt on top of the world.  I really can’t ask more from a first day of school, well, except that I hope the AC works tomorrow, since it was out today, and it was a scorcher.

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: www.alltheweigh.com 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: School Days

1.  What was your favorite subject in school?  English, which is why I now teach high school English.

2. Did you attend elementary school and high school in the same town? Yes, in fact in the same neighborhood.  Both were Catholic schools that my sister and I could walk to from our house.  The elementary school was less than 10 minutes away and the high school was less than 5 minutes.

3.  Are you still friends with anyone that you met during school?  Most of my best friends are girls I was friends with in high school.  I have many FB friends who went to elementary school with, but we don’t often see each other in real life.

4. What activities were you involved in as a student? I was in the pep club, student leadership, and journalism.  None of which should be surprising to anyone who knows me.

5. Did you bring your lunch, or did you get it at school? Elementary school only offered hot lunch on Wednesdays, so I brought my lunch everyday.  In high school, they offered lunch, but I brought it – my mom is a much better cook than anything we could’ve bought.

6. Did you enjoy shopping for clothing and school supplies?  I wore a uniform, a blue, plaid skirt, for 12 years, so clothes weren’t really fun for me.  But I did love going shoe shopping, and I’m still a sucker for school supplies.

7. Name a song or a band that reminds you of high school.  The Cure.

8. Did you like school?  I loved it.  When we were young my sister and I would “play school” in my bedroom.  I even had a chalkboard.  We’d make a class out of all of our stuffed animals, and I’d teach.  My sister hated it when I called on the stuffed animals before I called on her to answer the questions.  LOL.

9. How long have you been out of school?  It’s been 24 years since I graduated from high school, and I finished up my masters degree in 2008 (5 years).

10.  What did you like most about school?  What did you dislike most about school?  I loved learning, being social, seeing my friends, getting to know my teachers.  I disliked any of the mean girl bullshit that went along with school; luckily I dealt with it very little compared to most.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions! And also be sure to go back to Kenlie’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.

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Autumn has arrived! Which means that life is back to normal – school’s in, my schedule is busy, and obligations abound. But I won’t use those as excuses to slack on my goals. The great thing about fall is that the weather is cooler, which means that those wonderful fall fashions will keep me motivated. Plus, crisp temperatures mean that it’s never “too hot” to workout.  I’m going to relish my nightly cup of steaming hot tea as another way to keep my water intake up. I look forward to all those hearty, satisfying and wls-friendly soups, stews, and crockpot meals that I’ll create for myself. This year, the changing season will mark new milestones that I haven’t seen in 5, 7, 10+ years!  Bring on fall 2013 – it’s time to reach new heights! Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. Throughout the fall, I’ll be giving Sunday progress updates called Fabulous Fall Weigh-Ins.

(I realize that “officially” it’s still summer, but for my intents and purposes, the beginning of the new school year (which starts tomorrow!) marks a change of season, so I’m taking over the calendar and designating this week the beginning of fall).

Week 12 was wonderful!  I  have to admit, I was a bit worried about how this week would go, considering that I was back to school in teacher meetings, which meant my schedule was greatly impacted.  It also meant that I had to be really organized with food prep, planned workouts, and all the rest of my work and life responsibilities.  I’m proud to say that I handled it all well, and things really couldn’t have gone better!

Fantastic, so how’s the scale looking?

I weighed in this morning at 236.4, which is a loss of 4.6 pounds this week, and a loss of 40.6 lbs since surgery!!! I’ve lost a total of 78.6 pounds from my highest weight. Can you tell how thrilled I am with this week’s results?!  Not only is this the biggest weight loss in a single week since my first week post op, but it also means that I’ve now lost more weight post-op than I did pre-op.  I hit my -75 pound milestone midweek, which was exciting.

That “stall” last week (which Aimee pointed out was not a stall, but a loss, because I did see the numbers  go down on the scale, even if they were only decimals) gave way to a HUGE loss this week, and I think I know why.  I’ve been following Less_of_Sarah on YouTube, MFP, and FB for a long while now.  Her story is incredibly inspiring: She had VSG in November 2012, and since has lost 197 pounds.  The thing that’s so striking about Sarah’s weight loss to me is that although she’s lost this tremendous amount of weight, she still drops 3 or 4 pounds (or more) each week.  So I started really looking at what she was eating (the beauty of MFP), and noticed that her calories are just like mine: 800-900/day, but her protein was through the roof at 90g+ per day.

So I figured I could try to replicate that in my own food diary, and this week my daily totals were all around 80-90g+ of protein.  While I did watch my carbs, I didn’t go completely carb-free, either.  I had overnight oats for breakfasts a few times, I had quinoa for dinner several evenings, and I had Quest bars for snacks. I still ate veggies and fruit, and had a great variety of delicious proteins for lunches and dinners.  The key seems to be in a delicious, little smoothie that Less_of_Sarah clued me in on.  I mix 1 scoop of Mocha Fit Frappe with 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, add in 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze (Sarah uses a lowcal coconut milk) and the result is a thick, delicious smoothie that has 200 calories, 35g protein, and is a fabulous breakfast/snack. It keeps me satisfied in the morning or fills in that afternoon “gap” well between lunch and dinner.  I love the coffee flavor, and can add plenty of variety using sugar free Torani syrups and/or spices like cinnamon (can you say Mexican mocha?!).

This week my workouts went well, even with my busier schedule, which I’m really proud of.  I did take 2 rest days on weekdays, which I plan to continue throughout the fall.  As Carina pointed out some time ago, it makes much more sense to workout on the weekends when I have a lot more time, and take my rest days during the week when I’m exhausted from the work schedule.  I’m also looking forward to adding in some workouts with my colleagues.  My principal and I were discussing the fact that it would be great to create some fun events where the staff and faculty could get together to go on small hikes in the hills that are right near our school.  Or to a bocci ball  or bowling outing.  Or just walking/running around the track after school.  Another teacher really wants to create a 5K fundraiser, which I think would be fabulous.  The point is that working out has become something I look forward to and find ways to fit into a more social setting.

The other really cool thing I want to share about this week is that it was the first time in three months since I’d seen most of my colleagues, and their reactions to my weight loss were amazing.  So many of them told me how great I looked, even the men, who are often the last to notice things like that.  Our bookroom clerk got tears in her eyes as she said how proud she was of all I’d accomplished, which of course made me get teary-eyed, too.  Lots of people have commented about how truly happy I seem.  I’ve always considered myself a happy person, but I think they’re seeing that inner person that I’ve always known I was on the inside.  As Ani told me yesterday, now they can see past my weight and see the real me.  I also think this happiness stems from FINALLY achieving the success I knew I was capable of, but had previously not been able to accomplish.

Tomorrow is the first day of my 10th year teaching at my current school, and my 14th year of teaching overall.  I have a fun, challenging, exciting schedule of classes, and I’m really looking forward to all that will come with this school year.  My district is in much better shape financially, thanks to the passage of Prop 30 and increased property values (property taxes), which translates into a 7% raise for me this year. (Quite a turnaround from the furloughs and budget cuts of last year). I’ve challenged myself to get my students’ essays graded faster so that they can get the feedback sooner, making it more meaningful.  I’m also determined to be more social with my colleagues during lunch, and not hole up in my classroom.  Lots of goals and plans, which is where I thrive.

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

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Yesterday was a really fantastic day, even though it marked the official end of my summer vacation.  I was back at school helping with registration, which isn’t something I love doing, but yesterday it was actually a really pleasant experience.

You see, I saw tons of my students who were in my honors English 3 class last year, and when they saw me, the ran up to me, hugged me, told me how much they’d missed me, and told me how great I was looking.  Talk about an ego boost!  These are seniors in high school, mind you.  If you’ve spent any time around 17-18-year-olds, you know that compliments aren’t easily given, which makes them all the more valued.  I just can’t explain the feeling I had knowing that these kids were so happy to see me, and to see me doing so well.  I was on cloud nine.

Then this morning I weighed myself (as I do most mornings), and I saw that four things had happened:

  1. I’ve broken my mini stall.
  2. I’ve officially lost 75 pounds from my highest weight!
  3. I’ve lost as much post-op as I had pre-op.
  4. I’m now in the 230s, which is down to a level that I briefly saw on the scale back in 2008, but my time there was so fleeting that it lasted less than 3 months.

The best thing about this number is that I know I will never see it again.  Like, no doubt about it, know it in my heart for sure.  That certainty is something I have never experienced before.  Hoped, yes, but known with certitude, never.  And this new fact of my life is fantastic.

All of these positives overflow into all other areas of my life.  After I’d posted on FB that I’d had a great day with the students yesterday, someone commented that I have this glow about me now.  And I think she’s right, I do.  I’ve always tried to be a positive person, but I’m exuding it now.  Because finally, after so many years of perseverance and strength of conviction, I am seeing the results I always knew I had in me.  I am reaching the goals I was striving for.  I’m surpassing abilities I even knew I had.  My outside is starting to match the me I always had inside.

As this new version of me emerges, I know my life is only going to become better, richer, more fulfilling, and happier.  I’m excited to start this part of the journey, because this is where the magic happens!!!

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