Still Going Strong on My Weight Loss Journey

It’s been some time since I have posted on my blog. I’ve been so busy writing the news that I’ve had little time to engage in my own personal writing. Of course, the little time I do have I devote to my novel.

Anyways, I’m back, and the last time I posted, I had a good foothold into my weight loss journey. A journey I decided to share with you all. I’m happy to say that almost a year later, and two weeks before my 41st birthday, I’m in the best shape and health of my life. I’ve lost 60 pounds, and I’m 7 pounds away from my first initial goal. After I meet that first goal, I plan on going about an extra 10 pounds.

However, my journey is far from over.

When I decided to make this change in my life, I knew it had to be for good. Losing weight can’t be a temporary process. Eating healthy and exercise must be a life-long commitment. That’s not an easy choice to make, especially if you’re like me and love all the fattening things like french fries, Mexican food, and everything salty that tastes good.

Through my journey, I’ve learned food still tastes good without all the fat. I simply had to make up my mind and be accepting of that fact. It’s simple; if I were to go back to eating the way I did, all my hard work would be for nothing and I’d just gain everything back.

Since making my life change, I am running for the first time since my motorcycle accident at the age of 15. I’m getting ready to run my first 5k this weekend. I can’t say I’ll win, but just to be able to run again and participate is the most amazing feeling.

In addition to my target weight goal, I plan on focusing on losing body fat. I want to be lean, muscular, and strong for the remainder of my days.

This is a before picture.
This is a before picture.

I have to say, looking back at my pictures from when I was heavy, I’m amazed at how much I have changed. I look younger without the weight. I actually feel younger without the weight. I never realized how limited I was being heavy, and I know I never want to feel that way again.

So it’s time to push forward. Pretty soon, I will be wearing those size 5 pants, and I will be basking in the glory of my new wardrobe. My reward for all my hard work is not only a nice new wardrobe, but I’m also getting a Bowflex Max Trainer 7. Now that I’ve built up my stamina, it’s time to move on to more intense training. With the Max Trainer 7 and taking on some harder workouts like Insanity, I’ll be saying bye bye to all my body fat in no time.

Now that will be the ultimate birthday present to me.

To My Son on His 18th Birthday

Jacob Esau Ramirez was born on Oct. 10, 1997.
Jacob Esau Ramirez was born on Oct. 10, 1997.

Dear Jacob,

Today is the day you officially become a man, and as I sit here writing this, I’m trying my best to hold back the tears that have wanted to fall this entire week. Although I know how excited you are and have been the past week because this is the day you turn 18, I have dreaded this moment for all the selfish reasons mothers and fathers do; I’m not ready to let my baby go.

Granted, you have been a mature young man for some time, and I couldn’t be prouder of the kind-hearted, loving, silly, athletic, reliable, and responsible individual you’ve become. When I look at you, I see all the best parts of your dad and me. Granted, you have your dad’s stubbornness and impatience at times, but your logic and ability to think things through makes you dependable; not to mention, people have no problem turning to you when they have a problem, including me.

Ariana holds her little brother Jacob.
Ariana holds her little brother Jacob.

For so many years, you have been my rock while your dad worked out of town. If I need something, you don’t hesitate to do it. If something’s going on, you’re always there trying to solve the problem because you hate to see me stressed; and you have always been the voice of reason in this family full of alphas who fight like rabid animals at times because we like to be in control.

You bypassed that gene for some reason, and as a result, you’ve balanced this family out with your calm and loving demeanor. You’re also not afraid to tell us when we’re being ridiculous, which we need now and then. I remember I once thought you would become a priest because of this loving nature, your love of God, and that voice of reason you have carried with you from a young age.

Ariana and Jacob have lots of pictures together.
Ariana and Jacob have lots of pictures together.

Many people say that a mother’s son and the youngest child holds that special place in the heart, but for me it’s more than that. I’ve always wanted to hold and keep you close, especially after your tough beginning. Almost every month after your birth, I was at the doctor’s office because of your asthma, which thanks to Tiny, you no longer have. Then we almost lost you to that stomach affection on Halloween night; and to this day, your sister still has a hard time enjoying that holiday because of it. Sadly, I can still visualize your little face full of tubes.

If that wasn’t enough, you were diagnosed with a learning disability at the age four, and because you couldn’t verbalize things, we didn’t know you had been abused/bullied at the babysitter’s house. Luckily, we realized something was wrong beforehand, but we never learned the truth until you could finally tell us. That experience changed the way dad and I looked at people and caused us to never trust you in the hands of anyone, not even family.

My sweet smiling Jacob posing for school pictures.
My sweet smiling Jacob posing for school pictures.

Because of the things that happened to you, Dad and I wanted to keep you so close, sometimes too close. Through it all, however, you never let those things affect you, even at a tender age. That hasn’t changed. Proud doesn’t even describe how I feel knowing you never used your learning disability as an excuse. You always worked hard and did good in school. Although dad and I explained the importance of never letting that get the best of you, ultimately, you made that final choice and followed through. When the teachers and counselors told me you no longer needed modifications, I wasn’t surprised. To me, that was just one more thing you proved you’re capable of.

One of my favorite memories I have of you was when I put on a concert to raise money for my trip to New York for the International Model and Talent Association. When I worked with the dancers who helped me put on the show, you too wanted to dance and get out there. You were only two years old, but that didn’t stop you from getting out on that floor and doing the moves just as I taught the girls. I think everyone fell in love with you that night. Dad and I also kick ourselves because we didn’t have a video recorder to prove to you that at one time you did love Tejano music, and you loved to sing and mimic Michael Salgado.

Jacob started playing basketball at the age of 7.
Jacob started playing basketball at the age of 7.

Your love for music and dancing, along with athletics never quit. The international students I taught for many years loved being around you even though you were young because of how good you danced and entertained them. I also got a bit excited when you learned to read music and started playing the drums. Admittedly, I’m still a bit bummed that you never did anything with that talent, but I will never force you to do something just because I love it.

Also, you brought me into a world I never knew. As you, dad, and your sister like to remind me, I’m “a nerd,” but because of your love of sports at an early age, I learned many new things. From karate to baseball, flag football, and basketball, you did it all, and I was right there with you for the entire ride. What will I do now after you graduate in May? I’m not sure how I’ll act knowing I don’t have to volunteer for some fundraiser or drive around the state of Texas to attend tournaments. Granted, Ayden is now following your footsteps, but as his grandmother, I don’t have the same role as a mother does.

Jacob had quite the arm when he played baseball.
Jacob had quite the arm when he played baseball.

Speaking of Ayden, I can’t even begin to say how amazed I was when you stepped up to the plate to be the male figure your nephew and nieces needed in their lives because of how things turned out with their dad. You stood by your sister’s side and never hesitated to be there for her when she needed you. I know today she is having a very hard time knowing you are no longer the sweet little brother who has always been there for his older sister no matter what. She tells me all the time that when that day comes for you to leave and move on with your life, she’ll cry for days.

I know I’ll do the same. I think that’s why this is hard for me. One thing that makes you so much like your father and I is your sense of adventure. You’re not afraid to try new things, and like us, you want to go out into the world and see what’s out there. I was the first in my family to ever leave, and I’m trying to accept that you might be the next. Although I want to cry and keep you close to me forever, I know that would be hypocritical, so all I can do is prepare myself for that time.

Since the age 12, Jacob has been a responsible uncle.
Since the age 12, Jacob has been a responsible uncle.

I think that’s why today is especially tough for me. I’m so pleased of the man you’ve become, and today marks the moment you’re officially declared an adult. However, you’ve been like an adult for so long with your attitude, height, and all that hair, so I don’t feel you’ve changed much. However, today gets us one step closer to that moment when you’ll leave me, and it’s hard to accept knowing that I’ll have to let you go soon.

For so many years, Dad and I have worked our hardest to give you and your sister the lives we never had, and I know how much you appreciate that because you always tell us so. All we wanted then and now is for you to be the best person you can, and to alway fight for what’s right and work hard for what you want out of life. Now that you’re 18, your fight is just beginning. You fought and overcame many things as a kid, including those I stated here, but there are a new set of trials that will come your way. Dad and I will always be here for you when you need us, but there will come a day when we won’t be. I can say though that when that happens, I know you’ll always be fine.

Jacob and his dad, Esau, are very similar.
Jacob and his dad, Esau, are very similar.

My mom once told me that out of all her kids, I was the one she never had to worry about because she knew I’d make it no matter what. I now know what she means because I feel the same about you. I know that no matter where life takes you, or what tragedies come your way, you’ll make it just fine. A mother couldn’t ask for more.

Happy 18th Birthday Jacob, and may God bless your new journey in life.

Love,

Your Mom

Five Tips To Healthy Eating

When I attempted to lose weight in the past, I would eat very little, and the food and drinks I did partake of were not always healthy. Sometimes, I would eat scrambled eggs in the morning, a salad for dinner, and something simple for dinner. I also refused to give up Coke for years. Coke and Pepsi, in fact, were my weakness, and up until almost 14 weeks ago, I drank about two to three sodas a day. Even when I adopted the Body For Life program during my third attempt at weight loss, I kept with soda. Granted, I drank diet soda, but that’s just as bad.

In addition to engaging in poor eating and dieting habits, I used to believe, as many people do, that there’s a special secret to losing weight, and I either had to eat less meat, eat nothing but salads and fruits, or have no sweets; and pretty much I had to avoid all the foods I love. Any time I looked at diet books or plans, the foods in there looked beyond enticing. There were things in these plans I had never even heard of, nor would I eat them. I mean come on; I’m Mexican and Native American, and we don’t eat things like Brussel Bean Sprout Pie. Heck, I’ve never even tried a sweet potato.

Overall, my ideas of eating healthy didn’t coincide with the health experts, so I figured why not minimize my intake and enjoy the things I love? Although I had the minimize part right, I had everything else wrong, including what I thought I needed to adopt as a “diet.”

However, the Body of Life program changed all that, and I learned the secret to eating; the same secret companies like Nutri System and Jenny Craig make millions of dollars off of. I also learned that this secret is no secret at all, and with a little digging and a little effort, people can avoid paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year to adopt a healthy eating menu, and they can still enjoy many of the foods they love, including dessert (within reason). Today, I’m going to share that with you for free and provide you with the steps to changing over to a healthier menu. The same menu that has me losing 1-2 pounds every week. I’ll also throw in a recipe at the bottom, and share more with each post.

Healthy Eating Tip Number One: Balance Your Portions

When you eat your meals, you want to portion your food. Using these tools can help.

Okay, the days of thinking that you can’t eat protein or carbs are over. You need both to maintain a healthy body. Where people go wrong is they eat too much of one or the other, or in some cases, too much of both. A healthy meal should consist of a protein, a carbohydrate, and a vegetable. However, adding a fruit in place of a veggie works best for your morning meal.

For instance, for breakfast, I will eat a blueberry whole wheat waffle (carb) with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter (protein), a banana, and a cup of cappuccino or coffee. This is one of my favorite meals of the day because I love the taste, and peanut butter is rich in monounsaturated fats, can prevent heart disease, and is less likely to be stored as fat. Also, make sure to replace regular peanut butter with natural peanut butter. It’s healthier and tastes as good as Jiff, at least in my opinion.

As for lunch, I might eat a turkey sandwich with a small salad or with an orange. Occasionally, if I have salt craving, I’ll eat baked chips. I will look at the labeling and make sure to stay at the serving per calorie level, or reduce that number. Usually though, I go with an orange because I like to eat 3-5 fruits a day. I also purchase the 99 percent fat-free deli meat and I use 2 percent cheese or fat-free cheese. I’m not a sauce person, so I use no sauces, and I top my sandwich with lettuce and two pickles. I also use wheat bread, whole wheat rounds, or multi-grain bread. If you want to use sauce, you can do so, but make sure to go light and stick with reduced sodium, low-fat, or fat-free whenever possible. 

Also, I will occasionally allow myself a 7-Up or a Sprite. Although that’s not the best, these drinks have no caffeine and I avoid craving Coke and Pepsi. If you can keep soda out all together, I say do it; however, if you’re like me and soda was the main staple in your meal for most of your life, these two drinks, or reduced sugar pink lemonade (another favorite), helps with that.

When it comes to dinner, I like to have my meat, so I’ll eat a pork chop grilled (all fat removed) in the oven and have a nice baked potato sprinkled with fat-free or 2 percent cheese and one or two sprays of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. I will also have one cup of salad topped with broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Instead of croutons, I use slivered almonds, and I top it with a tablespoon of fat-free Italian. To drink, I’ll have water or Gatorade.

Now some of you may be thinking, how are you drinking things that are sweet like coffee, Gatorade, 7-Up, and tea? It’s simple. I drink between 8-10 glasses of water a day, so I need a little break from all that water. I also don’t drink all of these in one day. I will alternate days and drink a Gatorade one day, or tea the next. 

Healthy Eating Tip Number Two: Eat Five or Six Balanced Meals a Day

Shakeology pic
Shakeology is an ingredient that provides tons of vitamins and nutrients and can act as a snack or replace a meal.

When I first learned I had to eat six meals a day with the Body For Life program, I had to double blink. Who in the heck can eat six meals a day? I thought. Well, I learned it wasn’t difficult. What I explained above includes my three main meals, and the portions I eat aren’t big. Plus, I make sure to eat lean meats, fish, shrimp, and boneless and skinless chicken. I eat a cup or less than that for a carb, and usually my vegetable amounts to a cup or less as well. I also never eat seconds. That’s always a no-no in healthy eating. To avoid seconds, that’s where the five or six healthy meals come in.

Therefore, in addition to my three main meals, I will eat a Special K or Nature Valley Protein bar with up to 10 grams of protein. These bars can be found in the cereal section or in the health section of any grocery store, and you can’t miss the word “Protein” on the front of the boxes. My second snack is either a Dannon Light and Fit Greek Yogurt, or a protein shake. Although I prefer Shakeology through Team Beachbody, you can use any protein powder. I also like to use EAS Protein Powder, and that’s what my son uses. At the same time I started my healthy regime, he started his own and has packed on over 20 pounds of muscle. The first week of our program, I went on the internet and found the shakes we would both like, and have stuck with them since. If you want to learn more about Shakeology, click here.

For my final meal of the day, I’ll either have a peeled and chopped apple mixed in fat-free vanilla or plain yogurt topped with a small amount of walnuts and cinnamon. This acts as a great dessert and my grandkids love it too. However, since it’s been really hot, I enjoy yogurt bars. They’re not ice cream, but they feel like it because they’re frozen on a stick, and the ones I eat consist of 80 to 90 calories depending on the bar and brand. The two brands that I love, and my grandkids love, are Yasso Mint Chocolate Chip Yogurt Bars or Outshine Blueberry and Strawberry Yogurt Bars.

As you can see, this gives me six meals a day. However, each week my calorie intake number decreases with the more weight I drop. This week, that number is 1,543 calories plus the number of calories I burn from exercise. I use the BMR App on MyFitnessPal.com to calculate my intake. Additionally, that’s another thing I like about my Fitbit Charge. It automatically links to MyFitnessPal.com and calculates my intake number with my calories burned. Prime example, for today, I had an additional 458 burned calories from my daily activities added. The system will take my current goal and add the additional workout calories (See the image below). Therefore, I was able to eat a calorie intake of 2001. 

MyFitnessPal.com works with Fitbit Charge to tally target calorie intake.
MyFitnessPal.com works with Fitbit Charge to tally target calorie intake.

Also, when my calorie intake number lowers, I have to adjust my meal intake, which means eventually l’ll go down to five small meals a day rather than six. I have actually started doing that now on certain days if I know I’m going to eat something higher in calories. 

Healthy Eating Tip Number Three: Stop Frying

Avoid fried foods and bake, grill, and broil instead.
Avoid fried foods and bake, grill, and broil instead.

Another important step in eating healthy is to stop frying. I don’t need to spend too much time on this because it’s not rocket science. Fried food may taste better, but it’s not better for your body. I know that may be hard, especially if you’re used to eating fried chicken, french fries, fried chicken tenders, and well, you get the point. Instead of frying all the time, season your protein and those potatoes that you want to make fries out of and put them in the oven instead. I love oven-baked fries. They may not taste as good as fried, but the make a healthy carb when all the grease and sodium aren’t part of the equation. Also, when you do need to cook something in the pan, use Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of vegetable or canola oil.

You can even enjoy things like popcorn as long as you avoid dousing it in butter and tons of sodium. In this case, it’s all about mindset. If you think you’ll hate it because it’s not fried and it’s not the same, you will.

Healthy Eating Tip Number Four: Drink Suggestions

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day does the body good.
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day does the body good.

I don’t have to reiterate that soda and drinks that contain tons of sugar and those empty calories do the body bad. As I stated previously, if you were a Coke addict (soda that is), and you feel the shakes coming on, drink a Sprite or a 7-Up. I’m not talking about a Thirstbuster either. I’m talking about portions, as with everything. Additionally, if you’re a coffee and tea drinker like I am, you can enjoy those drinks as well, as long as you don’t use fattening creamer and tons of sugar. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to drink your coffee black with no sugar and your tea unsweetened. Some people will, but I wouldn’t drink those things that way, so I won’t lie and say I do. I will usually choose one of those in the day. If I drink a 7-Up at lunch, I won’t drink tea at dinner. I always drink coffee in the morning, so that’s a definite. If I use anything to sweeten it, I use low-fat or fat-free milk (a small amount) and Splenda.

Beyond these drinks, the most important drink is H2O. Since my health change, I drink between 9 to 10 glasses a day, and the water has done amazing things for my complexion and body. I no longer go without having a water bottle in my hand. Granted, I will drink my coffee, and have another non-water drink during the day, but overall, water takes precedence. That’s my primary love, and every health expert will tell you drinking lots of H2O is the way to go all day every day. Health professionals prefer that to be the only drink you take in, but again, I’m talking to you from a reality standpoint. I’d rather you do what I do and not cave to Coke and Pepsi because you can get burned out drinking nothing but water. Sadly, Coke products cause a lot of people to falter in their healthy eating and drinking lifestyles.

Healthy Eating Tip Number Five: Enjoy a Free Day or a Free Meal

Enjoying a free meal or a free day once a week is okay when adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Enjoying a free meal or a free day once a week is okay when adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Many people think that once they begin eating healthy, they never get to enjoy the meals they love. Well, that’s also a myth. Because you work so hard during the week, you get a free day. Now, that doesn’t mean you go to McDonald’s and order three Quarter Pounders topped with tons of mayo and mustard, or drink five sodas. Instead, you eat something you enjoy, and with all things, portion yourself.

In my case, because of my slow metabolism, I don’t do a whole free day as some people do. I do one free meal a week. This works for me because I cure my craves for the fattening food I miss, and I don’t feel bad afterward because I know I will resume my normal routine immediately after. I also adjust my meal intake on that day. Instead of eating five or six small meals, I’ll eat three or four, or I’ll replace one of my main meals with Shakeology. That way, I don’t mess up all the hard work I achieved during the week. That approach has worked well.

It’s All In The Mind

Choosing to eat healthy is a mindset.
Choosing to eat healthy is a mindset.

Ever since I started eating and cooking healthy, my kids, grandkids, and husband have also started eating healthy. Of course, I cook, so they really have no say so unless they cook their own food, which they will do sometimes; but like me, my kids feel healthier for eating the food I cook, and they enjoy it. Granted, they do miss the fattening foods I normally made, but with the free meal a week, they don’t complain too much. Additionally, my mom cooks the meals they love, so if they’re not in the mood for my healthy meals, they can always go to Grandma. Overall though, since the meals I make all contain protein, a carb, and a veggie or fruit, they have no problem with it. I still flavor my meats, and the many recipes I have work well.

One thing I can say, healthy eating costs a little more money, and it takes more time to prepare. You can’t laze your way out of cooking by buying pre-packaged food. Everything you eat is fresh. Also, buying organic foods, which I suggest because of the chemicals on many foods, costs a bit more.

However, if you’re willing to spend money on diet pills, a gym contract, or invest in a diet plan like Nutri System, why not spend that money instead on healthy food and save yourself the added expense? Your life is an investment, and investments take money and time to improve, and if you’re determined and serious about this investment, you’ll succeed.

Since I began my investment, I have lost 27 pounds. If I stay true to the two-pound loss by Monday’s weigh in, that number will be 28 pounds in 13 weeks. Even though I still have a ways to go, I feel the best I’ve felt since my early 20s. I think that says a lot for a 40-year-old mother and grandmother. 

With that being said, I will let you ponder these tips. I have a lovely eye of round roast in the oven surrounded by carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, and corn. It’s perfect for this rainy Saturday. If you think you’re in the mood for a roast, here’s the recipe:

Eye of Round Roast

Items you’ll need

Eye of round roast (choose the size that will feed your family)

5 stalks of celery 

Carrots (I usually buy the peeled baby carrots ready to go)

5 red potatoes

1/2 of a white onion sliced

optional: corn on the cob (I add both for my family, but I choose either a corn or a potato since they are both carbs)

Prepare: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season your roast with tenderizer and whatever you like to use to flavor your meet. Keep in mind though of your sodium intake, so DO NOT over salt. The vegetables will give your roast more flavor. Peel the celery and chop into pieces; cut the red potatoes into halves; add in the carrots, onion, and corn on the cob cut into halves. Add water to cover the bottom of roast and veggies. I usually add extra water because my family loves the extra juice. Cover the roast with aluminum foil and place in the oven to cook. Expected cooking time is roughly two to two and a half hours. Serve and enjoy.

 

It’s All in the Mind: Choosing to Make the Change

MyFitness1
MyFitnessPal is a great tool to use for tracking calorie intake and exercise.

When my husband Esau, who works away from home 15 days at a time in the oil field, came home this past Wednesday morning, he took one look at me and said, “Wow, Love! You look…wow! I can see the difference!”

Suffice it to say, I felt the heat creep into my cheeks; I stood a little taller, and I tried not to puff my chest out with pride. My husband is 48 years old and has a fit and toned build because of his years playing sports and his job. He also takes care of himself, so his compliment left me feeling positive and happy the rest of the day.

The compliments continued to my surprise.

Yesterday, Esau paid me another complement and said, “You know Brandy–I have never seen you this serious or determined with your weight loss, and I have to say I’m proud at how you’re going about things. Whatever you’re doing is working well, so I hope you keep it up.”

“Of course, I’ll keep it up,” I responded, but the comments didn’t stop there.

Again, this morning, as I dressed for work and put on my smaller-sized jeans that I haven’t fit in for about nine years, Esau stared up at me from the bed and said, “I can’t get over how amazing you look, Babe. I have to ask, when you get to your target weight, are you going to stop doing what you’re doing, or will you continue?”

At first, I almost felt offended with his question, but after thinking about it a few moments, I realized why he asked. It wasn’t that he doubted me; however, in the past, I would lose weight and then I would return to my poor eating and drinking habits that would erase all the work I put into my weight loss. So instead of getting angry, I told him what I had told myself the day I decided to make this change.

“Originally, when I decided to do this, I looked at all the things I did wrong in the past,” I told him. “First, I lost weight back then because of looks rather than health. I also didn’t lose weight correctly, nor did I ever feel that my weight loss had to do with a life change. This time I know will be different because my mindset is different. In fact, when I started, I told you I wanted to go down to 150, but why stop there? Why not go down to 130 or 135? From there, I also want to continue to tone and become the fittest I have been in my entire life, so in answer to your question, I definitely will continue with this life change.”

After Esau heard me out, asked a few more questions, and verified the determination in my tone and in my eyes, he knew I meant what I said, so he had to end with, “Oh hell! Now I’m going to have to worry about all the guys hitting on you.” His comment, although silly, let me know he believed in me.

A few moments later, I continued to think about our discussion as I drove to work. I recalled all the times I said I was okay with who I was and if I wanted to lose weight I could. However, that was the problem: I used the word “if” and I never considered life after the weight loss. Not to mention, I would say, “Oh, I’ll drink this Coke today, and make up for it tomorrow; or, I would wait last minute to exercise and make an excuse for why I would wait until the next day.

Those words and excuses are elements of failure in weight loss.

More Than The Words

Fitbit image
The Fitbit comes with an app that tracks all the important health information needed to track health and fitness daily.

The day I decided to make my health change, I thought of an article I read years ago. A woman, who lost over 100 pounds, shared her weight-loss story, and she said what prompted her success, along with keeping the weight off, was mindset. I remember her saying, “When you think about your future, think of yourself the way you will be, not the way you want to be. Don’t make excuses, and don’t use words like, ‘Well I think I can,’ or ‘I maybe can work out tomorrow.’ If you’re going to do this, you have to know it and just do it.”

So that’s what I did. I just did it. I said to myself, “Brandy, you will change your lifestyle; you will lose weight; and you will keep it off this time.”

Since I said the words, I have lived by them, and I have yet to falter in 13 weeks. If I even feel close to second guessing myself, I do as this woman said and imagine myself as I will be when I am done with this hard work. 

Beyond the words though, I also made a specific plan for myself, which I continue to do weekly; plus, I keep track of everything related to my exercise program, and I hold myself accountable.

Making The Plan

IMG_0438
The Fitbit Journal helps keep track of daily routine and eating habits.

Along with the sayings, I had to put my words into action. Before I started, I looked into Garcinia Gambogia, which I spoke about in my previous post. I also went to Target and invested in a Fitbit Journal. I also purchased a new weight scale because the one I had was old and didn’t give the same reading twice. I also got online at Teambeachbody.com, a website I have been a part of for many years, but hadn’t utilized, and signed up for its Beachbody on Demand program.

Luckily for me, since I have worked out for many years, I own a nice regime of workout videos and an older model Bowflex. However, I invested in more. Because I know I tend to get bored easy sticking to one workout, I made sure I had enough to choose from so I can’t use that as an excuse. I also went and bought heavier free weights, hand gloves, weighted hand gloves, a workout mat, and protein powder.

I also signed up for a new coach on Teambeachbody.com who happened to be very interactive with her people. Before, I used to think I didn’t need to answer to anyone or hold myself accountable because I wasn’t like those people who give up after a day or two and need others to stay on track. Instead of looking at things like that this time, however, I decided to join this coach, Johanna, and her Facebook groups and challenges to hold myself accountable, which has worked out great.

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It takes time, but entering food items helps keep track of daily calorie intake.

Next, I learned about MyFitnessPal.com, which helps me keep track of my exercise, the calories I burn, and the calories I take in. Before, I used to think keeping track of my calories too much work, and I still do now; however, I now know it’s worth it, and by keeping track, I keep myself accountable. In addition to tracking my exercise and calories, I can keep track of my progress on both Myfitness.com and Teambeachbody.com. I update my weight and measurements every Monday.

The only thing I didn’t have when I started my new program was a reliable tracker, and Lord knows, there are many apps and trinkets out there. It took me about three weeks before I finally chose to go with the Fitbit Charger, which I find completely worth the cost. It tracks my steps, heart rate, distance, total calories burned, stairs climbed, active minutes, workout minutes and calories burned from that workout, current stats and goals, and sleep patterns. It then calculates all that information and syncs it into a nice application I can access on my computer, iPad, and iPhone. It also links to Myfitnesspal.com account, so I don’t have to input my workouts anymore. It also tracks the calories burned and all that good stuff for me. 

Finally, I invested in a few workout outfits, a comfortable pair of Asics and Asics socks, and I hit the ground running, literally. Well, I did have to open up my Fitbit Journal, take my initial measurements, take my before photos, plan my small six meals a day for the week, go shopping, and then I was ready to go.

Yes, It’s A Lot of Work

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The Fitbit Charger tracks heart rate and important information during exercize routines.

Okay, so after reading all this, I imagine my readers going, “That’s just too much for me. I don’t need to do all that.” Here’s the thing; I used to say the same thing, and that’s why I failed. In order to lose weight and to keep the weight off, we have to put in the work, stick with it, and continue to maintain the changes we make with no questions asked. 

Every day, I write down the workouts I do, what I ate, how I felt about my workout, how many cups of water I drank, and my sleep hours in my Fitbit Journal; and I spend about 15 minutes in the evenings, prior to going to sleep, transferring this information into Myfitnesspal.com to make sure the six meals I ate for the day, along with my drink intake, does exceed my daily goal. That goal goes down weekly with each pound I lose, and at the end of the week, I have to document my accountability. I have to explain what I did well, and what I didn’t do so well. I also have to document if I met my goals and what award I get for doing so; I also get to write a few lines and journal about my week’s fitness overall and how I need to improve the following week. 

Overall, as I continue to lose my 1-2 pounds per week and spend the extra time holding myself accountable, I keep the mental vision of the person I will be in my near future. In that future, I will be a 130 to 135 pounds. I will look and feel good. I will not make any excuses to keep from eating healthy or exercising. Instead, I will be healthy, and I will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that I am here and healthy for my husband, my kids, and my grandkids. That alone is my ultimate reward.

 

Fighting a Slow Metabolism with Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia Cambogia is a supplement used to assist with weight loss.

As of today, I’m about to end the 12th week of my health transformation program, and thus far I’ve lost 24 pounds and two pant sizes. I can’t deny that I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment, but I’m also feeling the challenge more than before. Losing weight and changing my lifestyle isn’t easy, and it’s a lot of work because I’m doing things right this time. Originally when I started, I made a pact with myself that I would work hard to take off two to three pounds a week, which is a good number. Health experts suggest one to two pounds, so I figured one or two extra would be a plus. The only problem: I’m fighting a slow metabolism.

As I mentioned in my last post, a hysterectomy caused me to gain weight, and I developed a thyroid problem after. As a result, I have to take 100 micrograms of Levothyroxine. Thyroid problems are common in my family, and although I had hoped to avoid it, genes won.

With the being said, as I began planning and organizing my transformation (that is necessary when taking the plunge), I heard about a natural supplement called Garcinia Cambogia. I heard Dr. Oz endorsed it and gave a rave review, so I decided to do some research. That actually took more time than I thought it would. There were a lot of articles, both positive and negative, so I had to determine accuracy. Because I found a lot of positive reviews and articles, I decided to give it a try myself to see if the product works. Granted, even after making this choice, I had a few reservations.

The second time I lost weight, I made the mistake of taking Metabolife, a diet supplement that was all the rave in the mid and late 1990s. I have to admit the pill did work, but when I stopped taking it and began my little drinking binge (see my last post), the weight came back really quick. At that point, I swore never to use a diet pill again.

Based on what I learned, Garcinia Cambogia is not a diet pill, but rather a natural supplement. In his article “Fat-Loss Hope Or Hype: The Truth About Garcinia Cambogia,” Dr. Johnny Bowden, CNS, said Garcinia Cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a small, sweet tropical tree fruit shaped like a pumpkin, and scientists, in the 1960s, discovered an acid in the fruit similar to the citric acid found in oranges and lemons.

This acid, also referred to as hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, has been popular for over the last 20 years as a miracle weight loss supplement. After delving further, I also found that many manufacturers have altered or added additional fillers and binders to their Garcinia product, which can affect the necessary levels of HCA people need to get results.

Therefore, I set out to find the pill that had no fillers or binders and had over 60 percent HCA, which is necessary to help with weight loss. The first manufacturer I went with was Research Verified. The reviews on Amazon and online impressed me, and the product labeling proved the brand held no other additives. The only problem was the price. It cost more than many of the other brands I noticed online and it had similar reviews.

Regardless, I went with the brand, and after receiving it, I began my study. The first week into my program, I lost five pounds. I was ecstatic and thought my results correlated with my hard work and the Garcinia. However, after two weeks, I noticed the amount of weight I was losing stayed within the one-to-two-pound guideline, so I decided to give another brand a try after I ran out of my first bottle. 

The second product, Purity Health Garcinia Cambogia, also had good reviews on Amazon, and it had a higher rate of HCA. Research Verified contains 60 percent while this brand has 85 percent.

Overall, I expected to see at least an increase of one or two extra pounds a week with the increased HCA, but nothing happened. I continued to lose one to two pounds. Of course, I can’t complain about that because I was losing rather than gaining weight, but I had hoped the Garcinia would help add a little more to the equation. In many of the reviews, some people claimed to experience amazing weekly results.

Since that wasn’t the case for me, I decided to go a few days without taking any Garcinia to determine if the product played a role in my one-to-two-pound weight loss a week. The end result: that was the only week I didn’t lose any weight, and I didn’t do anything different; I didn’t lapse in my nutrition, and I made my workout goal of six days. When I resumed the following week, I lost two pounds.

Once more, however, I decided to try another brand of Garcinia Cambogia by Purely Inspired, which has three times more HC. I did so because a friend I know lost a ton of weight with that brand, and never mentioned what additional things she’s been doing for weight loss. Therefore, since I dedicated myself to both a healthy diet and a workout-intensive regime, I decided to see how this brand worked with me. 

Instead of taking two pills twice a day, I went to taking three twice a day. Additionally, the Purely Inspired brand has calcium and green coffee bean added to it. Green coffee bean is also a weight-loss supplement, and I found many people use it on its own for weight loss; so, I went with it. During the first week with that brand, I lost three pounds, but by the following week, I went back to one to two pounds per week. That number has remained constant for the past 12. 

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What I have learned through this experience is, one, I definitely have a slow metabolism, and two, although Garcinia Cambogia has not helped me lose the extra one or two pounds on top of the average, it is helping.

I have learned though that this supplement is a tool only, and people cannot expect miracles. The supplement helps people in various ways depending on their body type. I’ve read people’s testimonies, and some claim they lost a ton of weight weekly using it without having to do too much exercise or by majorly changing their diet; some were like me and used it in addition to their healthy eating and workout regime; others stated, however, the supplement did nothing for them out all. 

Therefore, if you’re considering using Garcinia, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t replace healthy meals and fitness with this supplement.
  2. Instead, use it as a tool as Dr. Bowden states. For more information, click here.
  3. Do your homework. Make sure to check the type of fillers and binders the supplement has. The manufacturers that say they have three times more the Garcinia may have other things in it that may overpower the natural aspect of the supplement, so check those ingredients and their effects.
  4. You do not have to spend tons of money on the supplement. The first brand I bought cost over $40. There’s no need to spend that much.
  5. Know that the supplement may or may not work for you, and if it does work, don’t expect miracle losses.

Finally, there are some medical websites that claim the supplement may cause some health concerns. Therefore, as with any health supplement, health, or fitness routine, check with your doctor to ensure you are making the right choice using Garcinia Cambogia.