It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

It actually is beautiful and sunny outside here in Astoria Oregon (Sorry, Midwest/East Coast for your Winter Woes)… but I also mean it’s been a beautiful day of exploring the blogosphere too.

Today’s assignment for Day 4 of the Zero to Hero Challenge States:

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader, and begin finding blogs (and bloggers) you love.

  • Because reading and thinking about what other bloggers say will sharpen your thoughts and inspire new ones.
  • Because reaching out to other bloggers is the best way to have them return the favor

So I dug into my reader, I updated my “Tags” list, I browsed and I browsed. I started with the “Zero to Hero” tag, and then added more that were specific to me.

tags

From there, I browsed many MANY blogs… some stood out enough that I followed, some just had bits and pieces that I enjoyed… like this wedding proposal…

But here are the blogs I added just today, because well, they caught my eye…

  1. Moving Non Sequitur – Her name’s Andrea, my name’s Andrea, she’s got a husband, I’ve got a husband… I see the makings of some good similarities here.
  2. Finding Forever  Homes: Tales of an Annex Cat Rescue Foster FamilyI love cats, I love every kind of cat, I just wanna hug them, but I can’t hug every cat.
  3. Rainbow Quilts – I’m just beginning to quilt… my hubby is better at it than I am, but I still love seeing them.
  4. *B*A*M! Crafts – More making stuff, but this time with yarn! I too enjoy knitting and crochet.
  5. Clicky Chick Creates – This is a mom, who takes pictures, and makes stuff… which is what I would do, if I was less lazy.

I added more than five, but these are the five that stood out to me as ones I would want to share with you. I hope you all enjoy them, and update your own tag list.

Until Next Time,

Andrea

Same Ol’ Me

Here it is, the first task from the Zero to Hero Challenge:

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

  • Why are you blogging, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout 2014, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Who am I? The short version is I’m Andrea. I’m 29, a mom, a wife, sister, daughter, et al. The longer version can be found on my about page. I’ve been blogging off and on for years now, and I’ve introduced myself at some point or another on each one. I believe the about page will cover the introduction portion of who I am.

Why are you blogging rather than keeping a personal journal?

I’ve written journals before, and they’re great, when I’m writing a true capture of my day, or maybe when I’m not willing to share an event with the world, but 90% of the time, I find myself wishing for a little feedback on my thoughts. I often wonder if I am the rare example of an opinion. No, I don’t want to get into cyber debates over politics and religion really, but when I do have an idea, or a goal, I like to know what other people thing about it, thus blogging in a public forum. There is a second reason, too… even though I don’t know most of you who will read this, I am holding myself accountable. By sharing my goals and resolutions, I feel responsible to keep those promises, even to perfect strangers. Especially so if someone decides to take up the cause with me.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Right now I’m focusing heavily on my resolutions which include weight loss, blogging, quitting smoking, and surviving. However, I will also likely post things in relation to my kids, my job, my husband’s political outbursts, games, crafts, and whatever fancies me that day. My thoughts are fairly random and so too will be my blog over time. I tend to stick with themes for a while before I move on to something else.

Who would I love to connect with via my blog?

Everyone! My real life friends, internet friends, strangers… people who think like me, and people who don’t. Any and all kinds. The idea was to expand my horizons and viewpoints, and to do that, I’ll need to meet various kinds of people.

If you blog successfully throughout 2014, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Well, I hope to have met my goals, first and foremost. Lost some weight, quit smoking, keep the promise to myself to have kept writing… additionally, though, I hope I developed my opinions some, shared more happiness than sadness, worked towards new and higher goals, and most of all, kept my sanity and maybe even made some friends.

So there you have it, the what’s and why’s of this blog… I look forward to reading other entries from this challenge. Feel free to share them with me in the comments!

Much Love!

Andrea

10 Tools For Successful Weight Loss

Or… “Here’s the Plan”. Also, I say “Successful” because I have been successful before… I’m just lazy sometimes and get distracted by major life events that subtract from my motivation to keep it up… but no more!

So yesterday, I announced my commitment to lose weight. Today, I plan on showing the tools and ideas behind that promise. Here’s a list of what I’ve got going on to hit that 20 lb goal in the next 3 months. You know, just in case you’re certified crazy like me and want to take on this part of the challenge with me. My hubby is tagging along for the ride, too.

  1. Meal Plan
  2. MyFitnessPal
  3. FitBit Force and a Heart Rate Monitor
  4. Water Bottle
  5. Soda Stream
  6. Vitamix
  7. Some Dancing Games (or Classes)
  8. Exercise Equipment
  9. Goals
  10. Friends

So now, lets break these down a bit eh?

1. Meal Plan

There are countless meal plans you can look into online. Weight Watchers, Curves, etc. Those tend to require a subscription, however there are free ones out there on the internet too. Meal plans for “Real Food“, “Clean Eating“, even “Stress Free“. Personally, I make my own once a month. They’re simple, my kids will eat them, and they’re planned. Although I have chosen to restrict myself to 1500 calories a day… Our dinner plan isn’t really about the calories (though I consider them), it’s about having a plan so I don’t fall back on fast food like I do when I have no idea what I want for dinner… It’s an incredibly simple meal plan, and it’s open for changes, but the most important thing is that my super skinny super picky son Hayden approves. Here’s the Google Calendar my hubby put together of our simple dinner plan. It’s easier to view in “agenda” mode.

For breakfast and lunch I keep it light. A fruit smoothie for breakfast, and either a turkey and swiss sandwich with mustard and grapes or a salad for lunch. This leaves me free for whatever for dinner, and a couple 100 calorie snacks in the middle such as either more fruit/veggies or Jello or something.

2. MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a website that allows me to set my weight loss goals, track my weight, inches, and food. I love this site. If you have no clue where to start, the site will help you figure that out. It’s completely free and has free mobile apps as well. Additionally the site works with many others as well as fitness tracking devices such as the FitBit. If you try nothing else for weight loss, at least try this site. The “diet” portion of weight loss is the most important factor. It’s simple, more calories burned vs. calories taken in. You’ll burn calories just by breathing.

3. FitBit Force and a Heart Rate Monitor

I personally love FitBit. I had a Flex first, and now the Force. No matter what tracker you choose, having one has been indispensable to my weight loss. FitBit tracks my steps taken (I am for 10,000 a day), calories burned, stairs climbed, distance walked, calories eaten (works with MyFitnessPal to track this!) and my sleep habits. FitBit also has a silent alarm built-in, so you can use it as an alarm clock, or like my hubby does, set a couple to remind yourself to update MyFitnessPal. While I love my FitBit and would recommend it to anyone, there are other trackers out there, too. Nike, Jawbone, and BodyMedia have trackers that people like, and there are generic ones out there, too. I researched for a long while before I bought mine, and you should as well. One of the things I enjoy about the FitBit is the dashboard displayed for your stats. Here’s mine for today so far, and try not to snicker, I’ve only been up about an hour and haven’t done anything yet today:

The FitBit Dashboard

The FitBit Dashboard

On the right hand side, you may notice a friend’s list with ranking. I’ve been getting my ass kicked for a few weeks now, but this is another feature of FitBit I enjoy… the ability to compete with friends.

I also added a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) to this list, and while my FitBit is awesome, when I’m using my arms and legs together I want to make sure I’m getting an accurate depiction of my workout, so I also wear a HRM for calories burned and input that information into MyFitnessPal manually, which then overrides FitBit’s reading of calories burned for that time period. Heart Rate is the most accurate measure of calories burned during a workout.

4. Water Bottle

Addmittingly, I don’t love water. Up until I decided I needed to take better care of myself, I rarely drank water. I even went so far as to decide I didn’t like water; I didn’t like it’s taste, it hurt my stomach. This is nonsense. I NEED water. I invested in a Brita water bottle with a filter, but not because it filters really. It has to do with the straw like feature that you drink from. I don’t know why, but for me, straws are a win. At first I started with killing the 24oz bottle once a day, and then twice. This became easy once I started working out, however, before that I drew lines on the bottle of what I needed to complete by what time of day to get through the bottle. If you are like I was and despise the idea of drinking water, invest in a water bottle you really like for how it looks and how it works. Commit to just one bottle a day… go from there. I’m not telling you to give up soda per say, (though that’ll help), but I am asking that you give water a try. Speaking of soda though…

5. Soda Stream

I invested in one of these last November. This was around the time I was dying for some soda, but hated the taste of diet sodas. I decided to give Pepsi Max and Coke Zero a try. Both are awesomely passable. However, cans of soda can get pricey, and I find where they’re just sitting there in the fridge I drink more of them then I should. Soda Stream makes a zero calorie syrup that is also passable (or maybe the lack of soda for a few weeks altered my opinion of passable). Either way, I invested in the Source. I got it at Costco. This thing allows me to make a bottle of soda that tastes the same as the can, on demand. If I want a soda, I have to make one (It only takes a minute). However, because it needs to be made, I can’t just lazily grab one as I walk by. This machine has been far more cost-effective than buying premade soda, and keeps me from binge drinking the stuff. It’s certainly not required to be successful, but soda is my guilty pleasure, and it allows me to indulge now and again without overdoing it. If you’ve got the money to do so, I recommend this device.

6. Vitamix

Ok… yes, this blender is super expensive. I bought a refurbished one from a discount kitchen store and still paid $400 dollars for it. However, breakfast is an extremely hard meal for me. A few months ago I rarely ate it and that was a problem… so I started partaking in breakfast, and it turns out, most the things we think of for breakfast are loaded with calories. I started eating cantaloupe for breakfast everyday, and that worked until melons went out of season. I was left trying to find something to replace the cantaloupe, but I wasn’t as satisfied. Smoothies were not my preference because I would gag over texture differences and seed/fruit bits. I bought a Vitamix (and a nice one, too) because it destroys anything you put in it… completely…. even the seeds. The smoothies it pops out are rediculously smooth! Additionally I can use frozen fruit to create them, thus I can have any fruit I want, any time of year. Double bonus. So if you’re like me, and don’t like bits of stuff in your smoothie, then a Vitamix is awesome! However, if you don’t care, any blender will do it… and of course, no blender is required for weight loss, I just find mine to be essential.

7. Some Dancing Games (or Classes)

I have Just Dance 3, 4, and 2014 as well as Zumba for the WiiU. There aren’t any classes offered near us, otherwise I would have enrolled in Zumba instead despite my size. Why dancing? Well everyone loves dancing… and it’s actually an intense and full body workout. Most of the time I can do these games for an hour or more and don’t even realize how much time has passed. A workout you enjoy is invaluable. Maybe dancing isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s running… this category would then just be “Bitchin’ Music”… but dancing has been mine and music comes with it by default. Invest in a workout that is more fun and less work. Mix it in with the less fun workouts, and you’ll look forward to them. Dancing has become part of my routine and I enjoy the crap out of it.

8. Exercise Equipment

I’ll be honest, I hate going to the gym. Why? It’s expensive, I feel too fat to be there, and I’m terrified of making a fool of myself. Obviously, these are irrational fears. I know I’m just another person at the gym… but I’m also lazy. I won’t go, even if I’m paying to go, so I invested in some equipment for home. Not a lot, honestly, just a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a jump rope, and a couple small hand-held walking weights. I don’t run yet. I still walk on my treadmill, but I walk at 3 mph, at a 3% grade, with the hand weights. I prop my tablet up there and pick a show or movie and go, for an hour or more. On the bike, I play my DS for an hour or watch a show. Distract myself from the work so I can go longer. Slow and steady wins the race for me. I’m not looking to break any records, though later on I hope to start doing Couch25k. Pick a piece of equipment you enjoy, save up for it. Having it in your own home will keep you on track, if for no other reason than feeling guilty that it’s just sitting there, unused. Do what you gotta do but get moving!

9. Goals

Realistic goals, preferably. My overall long-term HOPE (notice I didn’t say goal?) is to be 130 lbs. My realistic goal for now? 20 lbs in 3 months. How am I gonna get there? 1 Hour workout 3 times a week… if not more, and a 1500 calorie a day lifestyle (Yup, I’m avoiding the word “diet”). If I lose 20 lbs every 3 months, I’ll hit my hope in 15 months, a little over a year. Pick a short-term goal, a long-term goal and an overall goal. My short-term you know, my long-term is to get under 200 lbs (I’m 240 right now), and my overall is actually to improve my health (which also includes the quitting smoking and other aspects of my life). Set realistic goals so you don’t get frustrated.

10. Friends

Also known as support. This doesn’t have to be your best friend since high school… it can be me! It can be the forums at MyFitnessPal, it can be someone new you met at the gym, or your spouse… Your friends in this are the people who help you get there. There’s a community at Reddit I enjoy, over at /r/loseit. There’s Spark People. There are people out there just like me, or like you, who just want to get a good start on a good goal. Reach out, be a part of the community. Motivating and helping others has really helped and motivated me.

Overall, weight loss is personal. Your goals are yours. be it 5 lbs or 200 lbs, your goals can be achieved, and no matter what you prefer, and how you choose to get there, it’s all you. I’m proud of myself for even just deciding to do this. If I fail at it I’ll try again, and every attempt gets me closer to my goal… Don’t get discouraged, develop your own style and preferences, and please, share them with me! I really do want to know! Good luck, internet, may this new year be the year of your dreams.