Excuses, Excuses

Everybody’s got them.

I’ve been making a lot of excuses lately. Mostly for me being lazy, not going running or working out. I keep telling myself I will when the weather gets better, but last weekend it was 68 and sunny and I did nothing. Well, I did celebrate Texas Independence Day with some good beer and chili. Yum.

texas beer texas chili

 

I have not been running in a few weeks, and with the beginning of Lent, I’m going to at least try and dedicate myself to keeping up with what I’ve started. Running, working out and eating healthy. No excuses.

What excuses have been holding you back?

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Cheating is Good for You

So I have some good news for you today. It turns out, when it comes to healthy eating, cheating is good for you.

Wow, y’all. I can feel your skeptical looks from here.

Do I still have your attention?

Okay. First of all, the entire premise of this argument is that the cheat day is good for you as long as you don’t abuse it. This means cheating by ways of a cheeseburger and fries, not an entire pizza, breadsticks and a case of beer (guilty).cheat day!

A cheat day or meal is a planned splurge, a reward even. But the important part is that you do plan it. Don’t slip up and say to yourself, oh well, I guess that was my cheat meal because then you do not get the full benefit of it. If you slip up, recognize that and move on.

There a couple areas of healthy eating that the cheat day targets, and as long as you are eating clean through the week, having a cheat day or meal once in seven days will not derail you. I’ve been eating clean since April, doing one cheat meal a week, and it hasn’t stopped me. If anything, it’s helped me keep going.

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to be a dietitian or expert on nutrition. These are just my thoughts and what I have found to be true for me. I have, however, had my good friend (and former college roommate) Liz Kowalsky, who is a dietitian, read over this blog post and make sure that my logic is sound.

The way I see it, cheat meals serve one goal, but accomplish this goal in two different ways. The goal is simple: to indulge. Give yourself a break. Relieve some stress. Let loose. Have fun. These things are important.

  1. First, let’s talk about the physical benefits. Studies have shown that temporarily upping your calorie intake can increase your leptin production, boosting your metabolism for a short period of time. Leptin is the hormone responsible for maintaining energy levels, controlling hunger and may contribute to increased levels of dopamine production as well, which we all know puts us in a good mood. It also helps prevent stagnation. It’s the same reason you don’t do the exact same workout every time you go to the gym. By switching things up, you throw your body for a loop, thus making it work harder to do the same job it was doing before.
  2. There are also obvious psychological benefits. Getting one meal a week to indulge allows you to satisfy any cravings you may be having, as well as helping you develop a healthy relationship with food. Instead of assigning food into categories (as we are all so used to doing) like “good” and “bad”, it helps you relearn food’s role in your life. Instead of not allowing yourself to have a certain food because it’s “bad” for you, you can reassign it as a treat, or a once in a while food. Over time, this will help you keep those little slip-ups (we all have them) into a major derailing.

The purpose of cheating is not to have a free for all with your food. That’s not healthy. The idea is to treat yourself for your hard work all week. By satisfying a craving, indulging and not over-doing it, you can actually maintain a diet plan for a longer period of time if you schedule these cheat meals.

The important thing to remember is this: when I say that cheat meals work for me and might work for you, that is not me saying that they definitely will. Everyone is different, and having a cheat meal once a week might not work for you. If not, that’s fine. If it does work, that’s fine too.

What do you think? Do you use a cheat meal? Does it work?

One Year Ago

It’s the new year, and with recent events I’ve been prone to a little reflection.

time lapse

Everyone say hi to my mom!

2013 was an incredible, amazing year. I didn’t lose any poundage, but I did gain so much knowledge about myself. How to eat food as fuel, what my body is capable of, the importance of paying attention to my activity levels.

Talk about one heck of a year. I mean last night alone, I ran 4.5 miles. Four and a half miles. I’ve gone from a size fourteen to a ten and gained so much confidence and comfort in my own skin. If I look happier  in the most recent picture, it’s because I am so much happier now that I’m healthy. I’ve refocused my life on what is important. Spending time with my family, friends and on myself have helped me adjust to a new city and a new life and allowed me to focus on my career without getting lost in it.

Okay enough reflection. 2013 was awesome, and here is how I am going to make 2014 even better.

  • Run in 2 half marathons. I’m already signed up for one (duh, it’s all I talk about), but I want to schedule another one for the fall. I’m thinking either the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton in September, or the Columbus Half Marathon in October. My co-conspirator Allison has already approved this idea.
  • Run in a total of 6 races 10K or longer. Right now my running comfort zone sits between 3 and 5 miles, so I want to push myself this year and run in four 10Ks in addition to the two halfs. I’m already signed up for the DFW Polar Dash at the end of this month, and I’m going to register for the Austin Statesman Capitol 10,000 in April. Anyone know any other good 10Ks in the area, let me know!!
  • Try something new. I’m thinking Krav Maga. Maybe Bar Method. Who knows? It could be anything, and that’s the beauty of  it.

So there it is! My list for 2014. Here’s to another great year full of new adventures and learning experiences along the way.

Today’s Personal Victory

I know I’ve been quiet lately, but I just wanted to share a personal victory I had today.

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I was seriously craving Chipotle for lunch but instead had this delicious greek salad that I brought from home.

Trying to be healthy is hard and it’s certainly a large and daunting task. Focus on the little victories during your journey and hopefully the process won’t seem so unattainable.

Hello There!

Wow, hi strangers. Sorry about the radio silence. I would say that life has been crazy busy, but I’m trying to stop using that as an excuse so I’ll be honest – I just haven’t had the motivation to write.

Quick Recap:

This summer was fun. I went to the lake with my family, got a nice sunburn (and subsequent tan), ate and had way too much fun in the process and then took up running.

Like how I stuck that in there? Yep, you heard me right. I have started running.

Well. I’ve started pretending to run. I signed up for a 5K in November. I’m hoping the fact that it’s the Shiner Beer Run will help motivate me to get ready for it. I have been really trying to get out to a nearby park to run in the evenings when it’s not too hot, but I never realized how many factors during your day could affect a run. It’s definitely a lot harder than I thought, but I feel really good afterwards.

Right now my PR for distance is 2.39 and my best average pace has been a 13:38/miles. Oddly enough, those occurred on the same run early in July.

julia prior will run for beer

Pretty much, yeah.

Let’s see, what else has been going on. 

I joined back up with my boot camp this week. My second class is tonight and I am -still- sore from Tuesday. Guess I needed to get back to it more than I thought. Woops.

And for posterity, here are a couple “before” pictures and my starting measurements.

Arms: 13.5 inches
Chest: 42.5 inches
Waist: 39 inches
Hips/Butt: 45 inches
Thighs: 23.25 inches

Raise your hand if you were surprised my chest wasn’t the largest. –raises hand–

before texas fit chicks

My session will last through February, so for once I’m actually not really concerned about gaining weight during the holidays.

In the meantime, I am hoping to start posting on a more regular basis. More of the same things as before. Personal stories, recipes, random motivational pictures. You know, the usual, with my own spin on it.

I hope you enjoy!

Ending a Year-Long Relationship

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel the need to be honest with y’all.

On Friday afternoon, I canceled my WeightWatchers account.

Between boot camp, the new exercises I’m doing, and the meal plans, I just wasn’t using the tools anymore and I finally decided it was time to stop paying for them.

I did not stop using WeightWatchers because it didn’t work. WeightWatchers taught me about portion control, and gave me a huge step in the right direction when I was ready for a change in my life but didn’t know where to start. Now that I have the ball rolling, I don’t feel the need for the monthly service anymore.

So there’s that. WeightWatchers got me to start cooking my own food, and to start caring what was in the food I put in my body, and how it effected my body.

For that, I’ll always recommend WeightWatchers to people who are looking for a place to start their weight loss journey.

How Did I Get Here?

It’s National Women’s Health Week, so I’ll be posting a couple of articles about my views on health, weight loss and fitness.

First off, I want to give you a brief history of myself and what I’ve been through with my body, because that colors how we view these issues so dramatically. So here it is, the scary truth.

(Yes, this post will contain a lot of photos. Deal with it.)

Disclaimer: I was really lucky to grow up with a group of friends where our weight and body type was not a giant concern for us. At least we didn’t think it was. Looking back, however, it was always there. At least it was for me.

Here I am in my senior year of high school, weighing in at 150 pounds and standing 5 feet, 4 inches tall.

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Not too bad, right? Most people always guessed my weight at around 135 or 140, but that’s because I was strong. I played basketball, ran, went to the gym, all of that. I had broad shoulders (still do) that held a ton of muscle. I could squat around 90 pounds and lift two cases of raw chicken at once. (I used to work at a Boston Market, okay? A case of raw chicken weighed about 10-15 pounds on average.)

Here’s a front shot, taken on the same day, wearing the same clothes. (disregard the ridiculous sunglasses, they were  a gag gift because I was moving to Ohio).

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I was strong. And I hated it. It came from years of playing soccer, basketball, horseback riding, and pretty much any other organized sport you can think of. I was always told that I was built like my father, which in my head translated to: You are built like a boy.

So that is what I looked like when I left for college in the fall of 2006. Desperate for a new physical activity, I joined rowing. And gained 8 pounds of pure muscle.

Honestly? I was horrified. In my mind, I was already a hulking beast of a girl, who could squat more than most of the guys I hung out with. (Church boys and nerd boys, amiright?) And don’t get me started on the girls. I was surrounded by what seemed to me to be the smallest girls who looked just like what the world wanted out of a woman’s body.

This was taken during Thanksgiving break, 2006, after 4 months of being a NCAA Division 1 athlete.

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I was 160 pounds of muscle and 20-30 hours/week of work outs. That’s the life of a D1 athlete, if you didn’t know. Rowing is one of those sports where a 3 hour training session will burn between 1500-3000 calories. So basically I ate whatever, whenever and how ever much I wanted. I didn’t hate my build as much then, mostly because it helped me win races. But I still wasn’t 100% accepting of it.

But then I quit rowing. But I kept eating. And I quickly ballooned (yes, that is the proper term) to around 170 pounds.

By the summer of 2007, I was like this.

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I started hiding behind my clothes. Layers, long shorts and wide straps.

Then I looked back at my pictures from the previous semester. I was appalled. I had gone from a normal sized girl who was strong and happy, to someone who hid under layers, avoided cameras, and untagged any photos that weren’t from exactly the right angle, or showed anything below the waist. Seriously, try and find pictures on my Facebook of the spring of 2007. They’re gone.

I had been 160 pounds of muscle, but in the span of 5 months, my lack of exercise and my horrible diet had turned the majority of that muscle into fat, and landed me in the doctor’s office for high cholesterol. 

I began running, and became frustrated when I wasn’t seeing any difference on the scale. I know now that it was because I kept eating like crap, and would continue to do so through college.

So once I got my cholesterol under control, I became complacent. I figured this was my body and I’ll just have to deal with it.

It got to the point that I didn’t even notice the weight come back until 2012, when I went to the doctors office and weighed in at 185, with high cholesterol and a vitamin D deficiency.

2010, college graduation. I really like that this angle doesn't show my multiple chins.

2010, college graduation. I really like that this angle doesn’t show my multiple chins.

2011, the year I realized I was letting myself go.

2011, the year I realized I was letting myself go.

At first I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to bulk up, but I was so unhappy with my body that it started affecting other parts of my life as well. I was working 2 jobs and freelancing as well as doing some volunteer work at my Church. I stopped working out because I didn’t have the time anymore.

Things didn’t get better. When 2012 came around and it began to sink in that this wouldn’t change unless I did, that’s when I took action and joined WeightWatchers.

The rest is chronicled on this blog for your reading pleasure, but I’ll sum up the changes I’ve made that have taken me from the cusp of wearing a size 16 jean to swimming in my size 10 jeans in just a year.

  • You are what you eat. Seriously, about 80% of your body is what you put in it. The rest is your activity level. You can run all day long, but if you’re fueling your body with crap, you won’t see results.
  • Diet can only take you so far. I lost 10 pounds using just diet in the past year. Unfortunately, since I wasn’t pairing it with adequate exercise, I gained most of it back.
  • Honestly? Throw out the scale. I am convinced it is a deranged torture device used to keep women from focusing on the issues that really matter. Use your measurements as a guide. Use your energy level. Use the number of squats you can do in a row. Anything else, really.
  • You don’t have to eat food you hate to be healthy. Seriously. My meal plan calls for tofu, and mushrooms and other things I will not touch. (ahem, tofu). Talk to your doctor, your trainer, the internet and find an alternative. If not, throw it in the blender with some fruit and milk and drink up. Eating healthy is delicious.
  • Most importantly: you do not need to look like the girls on TV or in magazines to be beautiful. Be strong, be healthy, be who you are. If your body naturally leads you to be small and petite, that’s awesome. If you are naturally muscular and curvy, that’s awesome too. Love your body, love yourself, love your passions.

A big milestone for me was in the past few weeks when I learned that it is good to be strong. It is awesome to be able to squat 90 pounds at the age of 16. I have a new found sense of awe at the power of my body, and I can’t wait to see what else it can do.

I’m not ashamed of being strong anymore.

And that’s the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God.

(and just in case you were curious, the biggest change I have seen has been in the past few weeks during boot camp. See below.)

April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013

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May 10, 2013

Weekly Weigh In: Biggest Loser Family Style

Only one week left in the Biggest Loser competition! (I’m in 3rd place.)

So after completely, totally, unequivocally recommitting myself to Weight Watchers, I was actually really excited to weigh myself this weekend.

I lost 3.1 pounds!

Hooray for me! But I can’t let myself get too complacent, because Easter is this weekend and we all know I love my holidays. I’ll be contributing a tasty vegetable side dish to my family’s dinner, and will be sure to post the recipe when I decide what I am going to make.

I feel great though, and I’m excited to keep going. I really needed a fresh start and I’m glad I got that this week. I’m going to spend this week keeping focused on tracking, and hopefully I’ll get back out for a run at least once before my family comes into town on Saturday.

(I’ll also be attending the Sweet Sixteen games at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night, so I’m really excited about that too.)

My big challenge will be the Gaylord Texan Easter Brunch Buffet that waits for me on Sunday.  Because I’m still working on that little thing called self control.

Update:

So I’ve been officially committed back to the Weight Watchers program for five days now, and I already feel so much better.

I haven’t even incorporated any exercise in. It’s really amazing the difference that just tracking what you eat can make. I even splurged this week during my dear friend Pamela’s birthday dinner. (Potato skins, chicken curry, alcoholic drinks and cake!)

I was just really excited about this and I thought everyone should know.

Happy Friday!

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