Sunday, July 28, 2013

They Are Losing It: Lacey Horner

Today I feature Lacey Horner, my former roommate, classmate, and very close friend. She's the sister of Megan Horner and great friend of Kat Bukowy (click on their names to read their stories). Lacey's living in Korea and has traveled to all sorts of countries. She shares how she's managed to lose weight and be healthy while traveling and living in very new situations. 

Let's make one thing clear...I have by no means reached my destination. I'm still on the journey, but I'm halfway there at this point. I'm struggling right now, just maintaining at this stage. I'm hoping to break this plateau soon! 
Weight loss and body image have been a problem for me since I was young. I was small as a toddler and young child, but by 2nd grade, I "exploded" while my dad was away on deployment.  I have a rough relationship with food...I'm an emotional eater. My mantra was, "If some is good, more must be better!" Being introduced to athletics by my family helped me a ton when I was teenager, but an early knee injury set the tone for things later on. I would go through cycles of activity and "better" eating, only to get sidelined by the knee throughout various points in my young life. That would just start the cycle over...being 13 years old and not being able to do anything was a blow to the already poor body image that I had. This went on from the time I was 13 until I was 22 years old.  So I would basically be able to participate and not have to worry as much about what I was eating, and then I'd fall off the wagon when I was injured. 

I've had many down moments, but I think one of the things that spurred my weight loss is the fact that I love to travel. However, it would take such a physical toll on me that it became harder to enjoy. Standing and walking for hours a day on student trips just beat me up to the point where I'd have to stay in the hotel at night to rest. I also hate the fact that I was just turning 30 (at the time) and felt like there was so much, physically speaking, that I didn't think I could do anymore. It made me sad and ashamed. 
I started out on the HCG program; it's hardcore, but I did it with my doctor's
Can you guess her costume?? (I love this pic)
supervision. I'm an all-or-nothing person. I've never moderated well before, so I knew it would take drastic action to truly make a difference. The first weekend was hell, as I was basically detoxing my body from all sugar, caffeine, carbohydrates, and even good fats. I felt horrible but knew if I stuck with the program, it would be worth it later. Besides, I was paying money to do the program!
My family has always been supportive, but at the beginning, my then-roommate was incredibly encouraging. Sue's actually in her 60's and I find her so inspiring. The way that she's so devoted to her health, activity, and zest for life keeps me accountable. I want to be as fit and active as she is when I'm her age, but that only happens with diligence and discipline. 

Since then, it's been my sister and one of my closest friends.
Lacey and Megan before they lost it (the weight, harhar)
My sister, Megan, had lapband surgery last year and has since lost around 75 lbs. She was a career athlete and is finding her way back to health. We're super competitive, so her success is a challenge to keep me on track. Kat has fought her way back through diet and exercise. If people think I'm disciplined, then they've never met Kat. Her consistency, willpower, and determination far surpass my own! She's visiting me in Korea right now!
Living in Korea has been quite the challenge, looking for the foods that first aided my weight loss. The language barrier makes it difficult for me to find my preferred foods, but I'm finally discovering ways of procuring things that I need. I love quinoa for the protein, Greek yogurt, and stevia. I'm not a big fruit person, so I can skip some of those sugars, but veggies are great and I love to make stir-fries at home. Low-fat/low-sodium broths help keep meats moist if you want to skip oil, and I even resort to just adding extra water as I cook while adding more spices. 

In the States, I used to love going to the gym for Zumba, cycling, or yoga classes. The Korean lifestyle helps immensely, as I walk almost everywhere I need to go save for trips downtown when I take a bus or taxi. This is what separates Americans from other people; the sheer size of our country makes it difficult. I'm getting back into yoga here with the help of some great local instructors. I can't play the sports that I used to play, so I've had to adjust my expectations for now. It's more important to find something, ANYTHING, that you enjoy and can sustain over time. Anything is better than nothing!

I love working out with music. I used to listen to anything that would keep me going on the elliptical, stationary bike, or treadmill: club music, Euro trash, hard rock, you name it! My old workout list named "Pump Up the Volume" if that tells you anything : D
Keeping track of your food consumption is important, because that's where so many of us falter. You can work out all day long, but it doesn't matter if you're not honest about what you're putting into your mouth every day. It's not working for me right now, but only because I don't always know what I'm getting in the restaurants. Yes, the language barrier excuse is a lame one, but it's legit! There are times when I only able to order by looking at pictures. 
My time is limited by my crazy work hours, but one of the things that I have realized in this country is that it's not always about what you eat, but rather HOW MUCH you eat. Koreans are so communal about food; it's almost always a shared experience for them. You won't find them eating alone, nor do you find them having separate meals. Koreans normally share meals since so many places serve food in a family-style setting. You can get away with not depriving yourself of your favorite things if you're splitting a single serving with others! That is one thing that helps me here because I don't always eat the best these days. They also recently started putting calories counts on the menus of bigger chain restaurant, arming you with knowledge before making choices. The US needs to get with the program.
I previously bought a one-month pass to a local yoga studio, and plan to do the same now that I'm recovered following a recent surgery. They have classes every day of the week, but my schedule only allows for certain days. It's really just about committing myself to those days and not planning anything else on those evenings. I do my best to get my bag ready the night before or get up early the morning to do so. If I have a bag packed, I'm more likely to go. When I cook at home, I try to make enough to take leftovers to work so I'm not tempted to go out to the local fast food places or convenience store. (That is one of the unfortunate effects of globalization; Koreans have their own versions too).
At home, was so helpful when I was tracking my food intake. You can find nearly everything you can imagine on there, and it also allows you to edit things so you can participate in the process. I also signed up for emails from "Eat this, not that!" It's a helpful guide, suggesting healthier alternatives. is another great website with tips, inspirational stories, etc. to keep you going. 

I don't have any particular quotes that I come back to, but one that pops into my head right now is an old saying in Spanish, "Vale la pena." It translates to, "It's worth the pain." And I know it will be in the end!
Comparing old and recent pics to see where I've lost weight in my face helps me stay motivated. I'm not one of those lucky creatures who has a thin face. If I gain weight, you can see it there immediately, so I look like a vain little tart checking myself out in the mirror all the time. 
Kat and Lacey in the Pacific Northwest, Summer 2010

Lacey and Kat in Korea, July 2013
Mentally being able to say to myself that I can always eat certain foods later helps, if that makes sense. As a kid, it was always, "If I like it, I should eat more of it, and NOW," was my modus operandi. Knowing that I don't have to succumb to instant gratification is a big step for me! 
If you fail today, tomorrow is always your second chance. Beating yourself up constantly will get you nowhere. Intentions are not enough though; lack of action is what got most of us here in the first place.  

Would you like to be featured on my They Are Losing It series? Email me at for more information!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Full of Tastes No Tongue Can Know

My attempt at a green smoothie tonight was a concoction of spinach, banana, kale, baby carrots, coconut almond chia milk, and the mistake:  

Grateful Dead glass here is singing, "Full of tastes no tongue can know..." Right on, Robert Hunter.

Let's pretend that one never happened

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First and TEN!

I didn't think I could do it. I have never stuck with a weight loss goal other than that one time I was in Weight Watchers in college where I lost 11 pounds and of course gained it all back eventually.

But I did! I DID.

I went in today to my FNP for my official weight check and to get my plastic surgeon referral. I had a ballpark figure of what I had lost, but of course, the doctor's scale is always heavier than MY scale...

I lost 10 pounds from June 7-July 10! I reduced my BMI by 2! 

Yes, I have a lot more to go, but this is so exciting. It's more than just a poundage amount-this proves to myself that I can stick with something and see results. For me, dreaming up huge projects is more appealing than actually carrying out those projects, so losing weight was always one of those "giant projects" in my head that would never get carried out in real life.

My friend is coming over tomorrow to take official measurements since I don't have any from June 9 when I started this blog. She doesn't know it yet, but she's going to get to take progress pictures. Hooray for good friends, right? The last pictures I have are from February.

I cut out gluten, started exercising and drinking a ton of water, and eating "clean." I didn't count any calories. I focused on getting a lot of good fats like coconut oil, which I put in just about everything. I definitely had more than five fruits/veggies a day.

To be honest, I don't care if it might just be water weight. I don't care! 10 pounds is 10 pounds is 10 pounds. Envisioning 10-pound dumbbells or a bowling ball is encouraging-that is not on my body any longer. Documenting inches will now be my focus now that I've lost the first 10 pounds. I'm so glad this is becoming a lifestyle rather than just sucking down Diet Cokes and SlimFasts. I now want to hide the scale since I want to focus on getting fit and looking lean rather than just some number on a scale. Inches it is!

I celebrated right after the doctor's appointment by hitting up the Whole Foods hot bar, still avoiding gluten, and checking out the plastic surgeon referrals I got from the office while chewing my delicious bacon veeeeerrryyyy sloooowwwwllly. I read reviews online (one office had terrible reviews!) and chose an office. I dialed. Someone answered...

In less than a minute, I scheduled a consultation! This is really happening!!

What can I do next month?! We have a family beach trip scheduled at the beginning of August, so now I should figure out a goal.

Anyone know of a realistic goal for inches lost in a certain amount of time? Google, here I come!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lead Legs

"Queen of Excuses" should be my official title.

I was feeling sorry for myself today, wallowing in self-pity. After another trifecta of night terrors, a nasty cough in the toddler that won't seem to go away, and being so jacked up on coffee that I felt sick, I told myself I just could not go to the Y to work out at a class that is similar to CrossFit called Functional Fitness. I even had it on my calendar with a reminder set.

I reached out to some internet friends, and they gave me the What For.

Granted, the child care room wouldn't have taken toddler girl anyway. However, shile I was whining in my head about it, I got on my shoes and socks. Multitasking, right? I then added more to the ensemble until I was, um, contained and ready to do something, anything.

I pinned a CrossFit style video to my Get Fit board, and I have watched it twice. Time to try it out!!

I threw a lunch together for the kids, strapped them in their seats, turned on God awful Thomas and Friends sing along show, and got to movin.'

AND I DID IT! I made it all the way through this workout. I did modify mountain climbers and the lunges, but I hung in there and did it!!

My girls laughed and laughed, especially when I would grunt. The toddler yelled out, "I'm so pwoud of you, Mommy!" I would have cried if I could have feel any sentimental emotion. Each noise brought another round of uncontrollable laughter. "Look at Mommy! She's soooo siwwy!!"

The sweet things insisted I let them down to stretch with me. See? A good time was had by all, except I can't walk now with my lead legs.

No excuses!!

The video workout that will whoop your butt:

What are your go-to excuses? Who or what motivates you to suck it up, Buttercup?

Monday, July 8, 2013

How Are You Hungry Yet Again?

What to eat, what to eat?

Lots of people love to cook for their family. They see it as a way to be creative, try new ingredients, perfect certain dishes, experiment with new techniques, and nourish their families with nutrition and love.

To be honest, I dread it.

Sure, there are some great meals where I present a beautiful, rustic meal that nourishes both bodies and souls.

I know my husband is guffawing right now.

For some reason, I am totally baffled that four people need to eat at least three times every day. My two little girls can put away what seems like more food than a high school football team, and that's just for snack. You mean you people need to eat again already?? Can't you just graze off the floor with the smorgasbord of tasty morsels that rival a Las Vegas Buffet?

I can get adventurous in the kitchen, and I would say I do know cooking basics. Mind you, I'm not applying for Master Chef and definitely have less than edible outcomes, but I can keep my family fed. My husband is not picky at all and kindly suggests changes and tweaks to recipes. God love him; he's a great sport to put up with me when it comes to meal planning and cooking. The girls aren't even that picky. The problem I have is twofold: 1. I see it as just another task I have to do where I don't feel I can devote concentrated time to it, where dinner prep always seems like a circus to me, and 2. I never know WHAT to cook despite all these Pinterest boards I have, menus I've found or have access to of healthy foods, cookbooks, etc. I am always cooking something totally different and rarely repeat recipes. If I'm trying to keep everyone fed on time, lose weight, and stick to a budget, those things seem to totally overwhelm me. I just want someone to swoop in and feed my family healthy food without me having to do anything except eat the leftovers.

I've already thought of strategies, some I've implemented and others not yet, to eliminate the fear and anxiety of cooking food. My husband and I would like to take cooking lessons together. I could get the kids involved in food prep, even if it takes 1209320 hours longer. Setting aside some time over the weekend to prepare ingredients would save tons of time. Rock out with the crock pot. Husband grills and I cook quick sides. Extreme coupon for staples like beans, brown rice, etc. Only shop specials each week. I can even just pick a 2-week meal plan from countless of resources I have, like the 2-week gluten-free menu, complete with a shopping list, from this book I perpetually have checked out from the library called Once A Month Cooking: Family Favorites, anything from 100 Days of Real Food, anything from back issues of my Clean Eating magazines, and of course, my ridiculous Mostly Healthy Food Pinterest Board.

But I always freak out! Someone throw me a packet of ketchup for the waaaaaaaaaaamburger!!

Knowing that I'm trying to lose weight and that I can't just feed my family on horseradish mustard and dry barley, I decided to see what exactly was left in the cabinets, freezer, and fridge. I built meals around that and went through some recipes to get a game plan for this week.

I spent $85 this week on food items, but I had those pantry/fridge ingredients. Here's what is on the menu for this week (and beyond, honestly) with mostly vegetarian recipes to try to fit in the budget. I linked recipes for what I could find online, and the rest are scribbled on pieces of paper I found while cleaning out an end table this weekend.

Main Meals:

Food I have available to me not already designated for a recipe: Greek yogurt, blueberries, celery, hummus, cucumber, tuna, string cheese, baby carrots, green peppers, almonds, tuna, green grapes, spinach, bananas, kale, walnuts, cashews, raisins, Applegate Farms organic turkey, half a bag of frozen cauliflower, almond/chia/coconut milk. 

Instead of counting calories, right now I'm just doing a clean eating, gluten-free thing. I feel like I'm just getting used to no gluten; I still have temptations and cravings, but the effects most likely would be disastrous! 

NO excuses for take out, last-minute questions of what to eat and is it healthy and affordable, freaking out about having to cook it, and hopefully not feeling overwhelmed. 

What are your go-to meals that do not involve processed foods? No condensed soups, anything with high fructose corn syrups, artificial flavors, etc. please :-) How do you view cooking foods for yourself or your family-do you like it or loathe it? Do you have a meal plan down pat, or do you just go willy nilly down the aisles like Supermarket Sweep? I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

They Are Losing It: Megan Horner

Megan is the sister of my former roommate, classmate, and Maid of Honor in my wedding, Lacey Horner. Megan has a super cute daughter named EB and lives at the beach. I'd like to share Megan's story of weight loss through lap band surgery and dedication to healthy eating and exercise. Enjoy! 
Megan Horner, Summer 2013

I’ve been considered obese practically my whole life, even though I was extremely athletic from 7-18 years old.  I was put on my first “diet” in middle school, 6th grade I think.  I don’t recall much of a weight loss, but then again, I was a kid and wasn’t concerned with it.  My doc requested that I be able to snack during certain times of the day along with eating my 3 main meals. 

It wasn’t until after I had my daughter EB in 2007 that I was considered morbidly obese.  I was working at a miserable job, weighing my heaviest at 232, stressed all the time, had no energy, among other things.  I quit my job and started working at my current job and joined the gym at the urging of my sister because it was just across the street from my work.  I lost 10 lbs. within a few months, but gained 5 back. 

July 4, 2009

Oct. ’11 I was put on blood pressure medication after getting into a car accident and injuring my back.  I had never had issues with my blood pressure before that time.  If anything, people would comment on how “normal” it was.

When EB said that I looked like I had a baby in my belly, but I “wasn’t” fat was one of my first revelations. At 5’2 and 232, I was still wearing my maternity clothes; mind you I had my daughter mid-2007!  I hated to shop for myself had the worst time finding items that fit me.  So I resorted to wearing a lot of dresses and “stretchy” bottoms.

June 2010
So after speaking with co-workers who had Lap-Band surgery, I decided to go to the seminar and see exactly what it was about.  In April or May ’12, during my “pre-surgery” requirements, my regular doctor diagnosed me with insulin resistance and was concerned with my triglycerides level.  The day I scheduled my surgery, I weighed in at 227.7 and started my 2-week low carb diet to prep my body for the big day.  End result, May 23, 2012 was my day!!! 

Easter 2012 about 7 weeks before surgery
The first few weeks after surgery were eventful!! I was on a strict diet for at least 5 weeks post-surgery, then gradually progressed from all liquid back to solid food.  About 6-7 weeks later, I went in for my first “fill” and weighed 10.5 lbs lighter!!!

My daughter EB motivates me the most because I need to be there for her as she gets older.  I want to be able to run around with her and play, carry her when she’s tired/sleepy without breathing heavily…My family and friends for all the support thus far because this is a hard journey that I need to succeed at. is a motivational website for me.

I was all about "bad for your arteries, comfort food" and probably ate fast food multiple times a week. Now I don't drink any soda or high calorie drinks, very rarely eat fried foods, breads, and red meat, and limit my intake of rice and pasta. I eat a lot of fish, seafood, and chicken, and eat fruits and veggies when I can handle it. Chocolate peanut butter protein shakes, Bolthouse Farms green goodness fruit smoothie, snacks of Simply JIF peanut butter & honey are some of my favorite snacks.  I’ll treat myself to a hot chocolate (where I add a scoop of protein powder when I can) or a milkshake. I’ve noticed that I crave chocolate more than I ever have in my life, even more than being pregnant, so I keep some sort of it on hand to tide me over.

Ready for New Year's Eve 2012 in my goal dress
I have neglected the gym since my surgery but am pushing myself to get back in there. With back issues, I mainly walk on the treadmill.  I just got a new beach cruiser too, so I intend on using that as a source of exercise.

Right now, my stomach is the “flattest” it’s ever been in my life!  My thighs don’t rub together nearly as bad as they used too!!! On May 1st 2013, I was released from doctor’s care for my blood pressure and am completely off meds! Insulin resistance is not an issue anymore.

Some advice I have is don’t rush yourself and expect a change quickly.  Slow and steady wins the race!!!
My most recent picture, June 26, 2013 at 154! I haven't weighed this much since probably 10th grade!

Would you like to be featured on my They Are Losing It series? Email me at for more information!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Enthusiastic Smoothie

In a moment of total weakness, I found myself in the drive through (I refuse to say drive thru) of Biscuitville ordering a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. 

It was delicious. 

What brought this on? Did I not learn my lesson last time when I felt like junky doodoo after my cheat?

Night #3 of a bad toddler cold on top of terrifying night terrors so bad that we almost took her to the ER because we didn't know what was wrong until we figured out it was a string of night terrors, plus a pile of peed clothes and sheets from both, plus dog puke I found on the carpet brought this on. Stress eating. As if all of this would just slide away like the greasy egg off the fluffy biscuit into my lap...

No sense in beating up myself. Learn from it and move on. There is always lunch for a new opportunity. 90/10 or 80/20 with most choices being healthy is about what I can realistically do right now. 

Secret Weapon of Guilt-my enthusiastic smoothie. Why enthusiastic? Because I've put everything I've got left into it. That's a saying from my grandmother when she made her enthusiastic soup with leftovers.

Greek yogurt, apple, kale, avocado, banana, and chia/almond/coconut milk smoothie. 

It is actually quite delicious. Take THAT, fluffy biscuit.

If only I could get the smoothie to clean up! 

How do you tend to react to your cheats or disappointing food choices? Comment below to keep the conversation going!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Watching and Waiting

I have never been good at being patient.

This saying is going around Pinterest and the internet in general. I don't know the validity of it, but it gets me thinking every time.

The last line is where my focus needs to be. I've had my gym membership for less than a month. My starting weight was measured on June 7, and it's now just June 24. I still struggle with anxiety of just getting everyone ready and out the door to get to the gym, but it is getting better. The girls love the child care, and I have yet to regret a visit. I also have (for the most part) cut out all wheat and have absolutely increased the amount of vegetables I eat. However, I told myself it was okay to majorly cheat on my daughter's 4th birthday party, where I had a piece of cheese pizza blotted with a paper towel, a chocolate chocolate chip cupcake, and some Dr. Pepper.

I paid for that dearly. My body, after days without wheat, colas, junk, etc. got so angry with me. NOT worth it. I had another chance to cheat at a birthday party this Sunday, but that previous experience was enough to squelch any temptation I had. It didn't hurt that it smelled like monkey butt up in that Monkey Joe's bouncy place, either.

That's one change I've seen so far in myself. It's taken me less than that 4-week mark in the saying to now internally realize that cheats, if they are going to happen, need to be carefully considered. CAREFULLY considered.  Another place where I feel is slowly shrinking is right near my rib cage and in my waist. I just feel thinner and stronger there. I'm impatient to wait for the overall change though. It will not happen overnight.

It's hard not to get obsessed with hopping on the scale every day. Logic tells me that it's totally futile to weigh myself every day, since I know weight wildly fluctuates even within one day. It's hard not to get hung up on numbers though. It's hard to have two measuring tapes I keep around for sewing easily accessible. I don't want to get numberized in that way.

My focus needs to shift if I'm going to keep up the journey. I need to figure out some measurable goals and make a plan for how to get to those goals. Choosing goals that don't involve inches or pounds are most likely the best ones for me, at least for now. I was revisiting my first post on this blog, and I need something more specific than "not wear the same bathing suit at the beach I've worn for the last few vacations." That particular annual beach vacation is at the end of July and early August-a reasonable amount of time to reach that goal. I just want to feel stronger and more confident in the new suit. I can't get hung up on a particular size because the fashion industry 1. sucks, and 2. never has worked out for my body type since I have to fit the bazoombas into something that is often not the same size as the rest of my body.

This week's goal is to, well, set a measurable goal. I'm going to talk to a few people about a Crossfit style workout plan, since that seems REALLY appealing to me at the moment and seems to have definite measurable goals where I'm only in competition with myself.

I'd love to hear in the comments what was the first goal you reached and how it made you feel!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

They Are Losing It: Lauren Goeringer

I met Lauren through a mutual love of the band Umphrey's McGee. She recently got married, so say congratulations to Lauren as you read her story!
I was an athlete most of my life, volleyball, softball, and basketball (that one didn’t go so well)!  I never had a weight problem during that time, but then I turned down a volleyball scholarship and went to college….dun, dun, dunnnnn.  You know the drill, started eating what I wanted, wasn’t playing sports anymore, and my extracurricular activities took a turn for the worst.

In 2009, a relationship I was in ended and during that whole self-discovery stage that follows that, I looked in the mirror and HATED what I saw.  I was wearing a size 14 and I was humiliated.  There was not a time that I ever felt good about my body and I tried to cover up with sweatshirts and baggy clothes whenever possible. 
Before pic! I met Page McConnell (keyboardist for Phish) and was embarrassed to show anyone the proof!  And no pics exist of this time with anything below the waist because I always cropped them.
I was single again, so cooking for one…I had nobody to complain about the new low-fat options, except for myself!  I started going to the gym at school and some workout videos at home….I’m a huge sucker for Jillian Michaels, that relationship started then.

I got an app called “My Fitness Pal.”  It allows you to track not only your calories, but also your workouts and the calories burned there.  That really helped me, once you REALLY see what you’re eating, it makes you feel like a hog.  At least that’s what it did for me.  Plus, there is a forum with other people doing the same thing, so it’s a nice sounding board and place to go for advice.  It held me accountable…I found myself not wanting to let myself down, but mostly not wanting to have to put a cheeseburger on there and having people know that I didn’t eat healthy that day. 

I also got a Polar heart-rate monitor that straps around my chest and transmits to a wristwatch.  That has helped tremendously because now I know exactly how many calories I burn during each workout. I LOVE JUICING!  I got a juicer a few months ago and am hooked!  It definitely took me a while to find yummy combinations, but it is a fabulous way to get a massive amount of fruits and veggies in. 

I am also a Jillian Michaels junkie, and anything made by Beachbody, (Turbofire, Insanity, etc)…If I have a mapped out schedule that tells me what to do every day, I’m really good at sticking to it, more so than if I go to the gym and try to do it on my own.  They all do such a good job of combining strength and cardio.  I did insanity leading up to my wedding and loved it!

I’m not a runner.  I want to be, I even like it, but the impact is too much for my knees.  I’ve ended up with an injury every time I’ve decided to start running.  Learning what works for you is important.  A spin class is my favorite big cardio burn, and I usually burn over 1000 calories. 

I have to work out first thing in the morning.  I work long hours and get home around 8pm, and I don’t have it in me then.  But if I roll out of bed and put on workout clothes and go push play, I’m ALWAYS happy I did.  If feels so good to start your day off that way. 

30 pounds lighter!
I am down to a size 8 again.  It feels SO good! I don’t feel like I’m hiding all the time or trying to fade into the background, I’m happy and more confident. It helps me a lot also to have such a supportive and motivational husband.  He keeps me going and helps me stay focused on my goals.  I still want 20 more pounds, that would be my “healthy weight”….I’ll get there!

Would you like to be featured on my They Are Losing It series? Email me at for more information!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

They Are Losing It: Kat Bukowy

I met Kat Bukowy at a 6-week summer program called the North Carolina Governor's School, a magical, fabulous experience that truly changed the way I viewed academia and the world around me. We also happen to go to the same gym. Kat offers raw honesty, practical tips, and thoughtful encouragement. I teared up reading it! Without further ado, I'd love to share Kat's story with you.

Kat in mid-April 2013

So the honest truth is…I cheated.  Ok, not really, but kind of – it’s as confusing as it sounds. 

I started working on “getting healthy” two years ago.  When I was young my mother did Weight Watchers (still does I believe); so Daddy and I did WW.  For a whole lot of years, I did not realize that corn and peas and potatoes are vegetables.  To me they were starches and you shouldn’t eat two in a meal.  “Family style” is a recent fad in my world.  We always ate our meals pre-portioned at the stove.  I have been well-indoctrinated into the teachings of WW.  I’m not saying it’s a bad program; it works well for many people.  I even did it once in my twenties and lost about 20 lbs (I also gained it all back).

Despite all of Mom’s efforts, I have weight and body image issues.  I finally had enough when I hit around 230 lbs.  It was time to get serious and find a “healthy lifestyle” that I could actually maintain.  Essentially, 230 lbs + genes that tend toward heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes + own personal issues (depression, asthma, and premature arthritis) = impending DISASTER! 

Kat (right) with our friend Lacey (left) near the 230's around her 30th birthday
(stay tuned for Lacey's story)
I found a gym and joined with a friend to help hold each other accountable.  I probably lost about 20 lbs.  I was honestly not paying a whole lot of attention to the weight loss between 230ish and 203 lbs.  I just know it went away.  At 203 lbs I was frustrated that I was still not really losing weight (apparently the whole 27 lbs or so loss kind of got missed in my brain to the point that I don’t even acknowledge it now).  A friend suggested I try using a free online program (I use My Fitness Pal) to actually track what I eat, that perhaps I was eating more than I thought I was. 

On top of that I had discovered triathlons, something I had always wanted to do, but thought I couldn’t.  The reason I thought I couldn’t?  I did not believe I was physically capable of running.  I discovered that doing a run/walk is a legitimate thing, not something just for fat people like myself, and that I could do a triathlon with a run/walk for the “run” part of the event.  I started training for and doing sprint triathlons.  If the high I get from triathlon is the high that crack addicts get, I understand why they go back for more.  However, the scale only dropped a little for all of the effort I was putting in.

And this is where I cheated.  Sort of.  When you train for a triathlon and you’re swimming, riding or running twice a week and the “long” ride is 30 miles, you expect after awhile to see a DROP in weight, especially if you’re eating within the calorie range that you are now diligently tracking.  

Kat's first team triathlon
 To make a very long story much, much shorter, I saw an endocrinologist throughout the whole train for triathlons, count calories process.  She trusted the lab results and the average limits for those results.  It turns out that I am sub-clinical, which means that my results fall within range, but are actually too low for me.  When she told me that my thyroid was not my problem, I got another opinion (Ok, she told me my problem was not something she could deal with because my lab results were fine; so I fired her and got another opinion).  I happened to find an endocrinologist whose philosophy happens to be "treat for the simplest solution first."  The odds that I had some remote form of cancer are pretty slim, so he decided to dramatically increase the synthetic thyroid hormone that I was on.  No surprise to me, it did the trick.  The moral of “the cheating” is that if something doesn’t feel or seem right – my hair was falling out, I was tired all the time, I had weird hot/cold flashes and I’m 32 – get an answer.  Get one that makes sense and don’t stop asking the question(s) until you do. 

So from May 2012 to May 2013, I lost 35 lbs.  How much of that was me working and how much was “cheating” I don’t know.  I can say that I don’t think I’d have lost that much weight that fast if I had not been working so hard.  I love having lost 35 lbs.  I am 15 lbs away from my goal of 50 lbs down.  Even with the 35 lb loss, my brain sees the physical changes and accepts the complements with pleasure, but something in me still sees a fat person.  I am deathly afraid that the fat person will come back one day.  I’m not going to let it, and I won’t let the fear drive what I do.  I keep pushing my “limits” because I know I can be stronger, faster, harder, better and happiest because I did it.

I think my biggest problem, like a lot of people, is diligently recording what I eat.  Fortunately, I am a creature of habit and like my routines.  I eat the same thing (nearly) for breakfast every day: oatmeal (Quaker Rolled Oats), vanilla protein powder, flax seed, and cinnamon with either fruit (blueberries, peaches) or apple/peach butter or jam thrown in for interest.  Lunch is typically a Lean Cuisine or similar at the office.  Days I’m in the field are nearly a free-for-all, although I try to eat a chicken sandwich or I bring peanut butter and jam/honey sandwiches and carrots or something "healthy."  When I’m in the field, I can burn up to about 700-900 calories depending on the weather and type of work.  I almost always carry apples and Lance peanut butter & honey crackers with me.  A hungry Kat is NOT a happy Kat.  Because I’m at the gym until 7 p.m. and my boyfriend is usually home before me, I try to make something on the weekend to have as leftovers during the week.  I need to get better at the food planning thing. I keep trying, but haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.  I also have a mid-morning and an afternoon snack that is usually protein-based.

I have had recent digestive issues so I have discovered that I need to avoid most dairy, beans, and corn.  I am also severely allergic to cashews and pistachios.  These are the only real “limits” on my diet.  I LOVE to bake and do so frequently.  I put the recipes into the online recipe calorie calculator so I can know what the calorie content of a serving is.

Some advice…

Exercise is key.  If you’re not doing anything, I wouldn’t expect you to go do a marathon.  I started with walking and going to the gym; it worked for me.  Whatever you do, do it with your best effort and start today. Then go back tomorrow. 

It took a variety of gyms (from the super-cheap, to the posh, and the exclusive with a personal trainer) for me to find my Y.  Don’t be afraid to shop around.  It’s really about what works best for you.  The Y is on my path home.  I figured out that it takes the same amount of time for me to go to a 5:30 class at the Y and get home as it does to go directly home fighting 5 o’clock traffic.  It also happens that all varieties and types of people are welcome at the Y.  I don’t get on the cardio machines and see tight bodies that I want to beat to a bloody pulp everywhere – there’s one or two, but I can usually ignore them. 

If you’re exercising be as comfortable as you can.  For some ungodly reason, everyone is telling us to be (or get) fit and healthy, but the stupid clothing industry is NOT helping the large trying to become small(er).  The best investment you’ll ever make is in a solid pair of athletic shoes.  Go to a local running shop – if whoever comes to help you isn’t helpful and friendly get someone else – and be properly fitted for shoes.  Yes, they are expensive, but your budget will thank me when you’re not spending money on doctor’s bills or you’ve quit because your feet/legs/hips/back are killing you.  If you’re female, the second best investment is a GOOD sports bra.  I’m partial to the Moving Comfort brand discovery I made last year (I started out as a 40 DDD and they make a very supportive larger bra), but I had Luminere and Champion (when I wasn’t so well-endowed) before that.  Be warned that you should try them on first if possible.  Sports bras do NOT fit like regular bras.  I wore a 40 DD sports bra, but my regular bras were DDD.  Try them on, jump/bounce up and down, run in place, whatever.  Make sure nothing pokes or pinches.  If you fear chafing get an anti-chafe stick.  I think I got an Arm & Hammer at Walmart, but I also use Body Glide.  I sweat like a cold glass on a hot day, so for me, moisture-wicking material is the best invention ever. Just remember, getting your exercise on is not about what you look like while you sweat; the reward comes in the afterglow of what you’ve accomplished.

Because I run and ride outside I don’t listen to music very often, and I recommend that for safety reasons you learn to live without the tunes (or at least not via headphones/earbuds that cut out all other surrounding sound).  I like to think that my theme song is "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson.  I know it’s cheesy, but I first heard it about the same time I started down this path and it’s gotten me through some rough times.  The quote that I mostly live by is “The voice inside your head that says you can’t do this IS A LIAR.”  I think I saw that on a Nike advert circulated on Facebook at the beginning of this trip last year.

P.S.  I can now run a full 4 miles without stopping.  It’s not fast, but it’s still running.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Green Machine

Spinach, kale, banana, pineapple, and unsweetened coconut almond chia drink.

It definitely has, um, texture, but it's pretty tasty.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

They Are Losing It: Amber Meyer

Welcome to the first installment in my "They are Losing It" series! This series features answers to interview questions regarding personal history and struggle with weight loss, the breaking point, starting out making changes, finding time and motivation, tips, changes, and anything else readers should hear.

I "met" Amber Meyer on a facebook group for moms who wanted to get fit after having March 2011 babies. The group's been a wonderful source of encouragement, education, and solidarity as we celebrate accomplishments and understand common struggles. Without further ado, I'd love to share Amber's story with you: 

I have had issues with my weight since I was in elementary school, to be honest.  I have always had very low self esteem.  When I graduated high-school I was about 170, when I got married at 20 I was 180, and it has only gone up from there.  

Since getting married in ’07, I have tried many ways to lose weight.  I’ve only tried healthy ways, through diet and exercise, but in 5.5 years of marriage, we have had three children via cesarean, 9 military moves in two countries and three states and eleven 30-90 day military separations for training and brief deployments.   Not making excuses, but it does take an emotional toll.  In December of 2011, I began to get completely fed up.  I had a 2 year-old, 10 month old, had just gone through a miscarriage and just found out I was about 6 weeks pregnant again...I couldn’t play with my kids the way I wanted and couldn’t go out with my husband feeling confident in myself or in the fact that he could possibly be attracted to me or love me, yet alone be proud to be out with me even though he has never given me a reason to doubt it.  

That December, I decided that I was going to try to lose the weight regardless of my pregnancy. Even though I was high risk, I did doctor-approved light exercise and ate clean.  From the day I found out I was pregnant until 3 days postpartum, I had lost 42lbs! During Fall of 2012, I dropped an additional 24lbs.  For Christmas of 2012, we went home to visit my family and in 2.5wks, I gained 18lbs!  My family has terrible habits and I have a terrible time resisting between all the visits and parties.  I spent the first 4 months of 2013 getting that back off to gain 24lbs in the month of May when staying with family during a move and then again for a funeral.  That brings me here.  My 22 year-old college grad sister just moved in with me and we start our first day at the gym together today.  

When I started my first few weeks, I was very determined.  I wanted to be able to tell people I had done it even with all the excuses I could’ve used at the time… like a high risk pregnancy… haha. A facebook fit-moms group that I am part of with you, Lucy, has been a huge inspiration.  Although all of the women on the page are greatly inspiring, amongst that group, I’d say you, Puanani and Rebekah are at the core of my inspiration just because I connect to you all the most on a personal level.   Advice?  BABY STEPS!  No matter how small the change, it is better than nothing and you have to start somewhere.  I see this on pinterest a lot and it couldn’t be more true: “strive for progress, not perfection.”

Please, if you struggle with weight or other self esteem issues, do not let that become who you are.  You are a person; aside from the things that are “wrong” with you, there are a million things right.

I sit down and meal plan once every two weeks.  Depending on the month and our commitments, I will make food ahead of time.  If it is going to be a busy month, I will take the last weekend of the month prior to make enough freezer meals that I can put one in the crock pot every day so we have lunch and dinner without thinking. If the week is going to be super busy, I will even make homemade waffles, burritos and breakfast cookies to freeze.  Most busy mornings, though, we resort to oatmeal with fruit… quick, easy and delicious. We sweeten it with either honey or banana.  If it's not a busy month, I will just make meals as I go, and when I have a busy week, I’ll make meals the prior Sunday.  We’ve even begun to keep a small cooler in the van to pack a meal/snack and avoid eating out.  My son says we’re having a picnic! I actually prefer real clean healthy foods, and it's normally only time constraints that I’ve not planned ahead for or travel that get me.  I’d say raw vegan desserts and banana ice-cream are two favorite tricks.  They are delicious and allow me to indulge a little without falling off the wagon. 

I love working out, period… anything really.  It's just a matter of making the time. Just like anything I love, I never make time for me.   As far as working out, the gym works best for me because of childcare.  The YMCA has excellent rates, but right now, we are using our community on-post gym because it has a play room and is all free.  I try to go in the mornings because if I do, it sets my mood for the day.  It's not too hard for me because I am a stay at home mom… at least once I get into the habit.

3 months pre-baby (left) VS.
5 weeks post-partum (right)

happy to say goodbye to:

9% body fat
4.25in off of my shoulders
1.5in off my chest
2.5in off my thigh
3in off my waist
4.5in off my stomach
1.5in off my hips

...never thought i'd see the day... especially since there was a pregnancy in the mix.

I’ve struggled to notice the changes with my weight loss.  I know this sounds strange but I always notice my hands and feet… haha. I won’t say I am happy with my appearance yet, because I am not… but, I am finally at a place where I am only concerned with how I feel about myself.  I truly never worry what anyone else thinks about it.  The only people that matter to me (opinion wise) are my husband and children.

I think clean eating will work for anyone.  Clean eating is the very best way to start at least.  Just get rid of your sugar, processed foods, eating out etc. and go clean.  I feel it works best for most people to start off with this because it doesn’t ban certain food groups which, for people who are used to eating anything, can result in binge eating.  As you go along and become more aware of your body and its reactions, you can ban/limit things if needed.  For example, I’ve been eliminating gluten, dairy and soy because they are not my friend.  As I go, I may eliminate more.  I have tried Vegan and Paleo… I’d say I felt best vegan but I have had a hard time sticking with it as my husband enjoys meat and poultry, and let's just say gluten and soy free vegans can get pretty bored.  I will say, I was shocked that eating clean has not increased the amount of money we spend on food monthly, but decreased it.  Yes, good meats and produce etc. are expensive, but the increase on your grocery bill falls in line with the decrease in boxed groceries and eating out. 

Please, if you struggle with weight or other self esteem issues, do not let that become who you are.  You are a person; aside from the things that are “wrong” with you, there are a million things right.  I bet those around you could easily name ten things they love about you… or even envy about you.  For most of my life, I have let what is “wrong” with me overpower all the things that are right.  My husband, friends and family have consistently pointed out things I am talented with, things they wished they could do that I can, but the image I had of myself was keeping me from being able to pursue anything I was good at.  I love to draw, to paint, to sew… just create… but I question everything I do like just because I have extra weight voids out all talent, potential, personality and value I have.  It’s not true.  Everyone is worth so much more than that.  I hate that I am just now seeing it.

Want to be featured on the "They Are Losing It" series? Send an email to I'd love to hear from you.