Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fitness, Food and Weight Loss

My reason for posting this today is to (hopefully) motivate and inspire, just as I have been motivated and inspired by the real-life success stories of others. Losing weight, for me, has always been hard work and until my adult years, I didn't know how to do it right. In high school I tried metabolism boosting drops in drinks and other such 'quick-weight-loss' schemes which did not work; I was actually my heaviest in high school. Once I got married and started having children, I learned a lot more about fitness and health and I made some lifestyle changes concerning food and exercise which made a huge difference. Now, that being said, I have been wanting to lose 10 or so pounds for quite a few months now; birthing five kids and getting older does take a toll on your body :). The problem is I wasn't changing anything, and if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting. I already ate healthy and exercised so I figured there really wasn't anything else to do. Then, a couple of months ago, my kids(they range in age from 2-9) started asking if I was pregnant because my tummy had gotten softer and stuck out a little more. That was the last straw. I started to observe my life and eating habits while listening to advice from personal trainers on blogs and interviews etc. and I realized that I was eating too much and too often even though those food choices were mostly healthy, whole foods.  I heard a personal trainer say that we should be eating 4 small meals a day: Breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. I realized that not only did I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with two snacks in between but I also took bites of food off my kids plates if they didn't finish(don't want anything to go to waste, right? Not a good idea if you're wanting to stay trim), many times I'd have a little after dinner snack or treat (air popped popcorn or Aussie licorice are favorites), and I would many times enjoy second helpings at dinner, maybe not a full second helping but that didn't matter because I was eating more calories than my body was able to burn at one time and over the day. It's all the little things in life that add up and really matter, and make you what you are, and it's the same with food. The little bites here and there add up and so, over several months, I had gained about 7 lbs. I know that may not sound like a ton, but when you're already a few pounds more than your ideal and then you gain a few more and you're not changing anything then you begin to worry that you'll continue to gain over months and years to come.


After calorie counting and weight training for 2 months


just before I started counting calories and doing more weight training

Another 'before' picture


Here was my exercise and eating routine a couple of months ago: 5-6 days a week do some sort of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes to an hour each day, eat mostly whole foods and since I'm eating clean, just eat whenever I want and however much I want. Most of the exercise videos I do at home have a personal trainer that's leading the program and part way through they almost always mention food. Here's a quote from Jillian Michaels, a trainer from the Biggest Loser:
"Weight loss tip - So many people come up to me and tell me they can’t lose weight and yet, I haven’t ever met a person I can’t take weight off. You're not counting calories. Forget all the fad diets for a moment and just focus on the basics. Weight loss will always require burning more calories than you take in. Calories in versus calories out."

In other words, your body will only burn a certain amount of calories in a day (numbers based on height/age/gender) and if you eat more than that you will gain weight. And if you eat less than that, you will lose weight.

I also remember Jillian Michaels saying in a video that building muscle, exercising, weight lifting etc. is great and important but if you want to see that muscle you're building, you need to cut down on calories and watch what you eat. Otherwise, you'll get a strong stomach by exercising the core(or wherever, usually all over because you can't really target one specific area and only lose there), but you won't be able to see the effects of it, they'll be hidden under the soft stuff if you don't combine exercise and weight lifting with calorie reduction and eating mostly good foods.

At this same decision-making/food and exercise-changing time, I read a blog about a girl who, over time, got into good shape by doing lots of weights and interval training combined with a little aerobic, while counting calories using an app called myfitnesspal.  Well, there it was again. Calorie counting. Something I had never done before and an idea I kind of almost scoffed at prior to this time. I used to think, "counting calories sounds like so much work; I don't need to do that to stay in shape." Well, that week I made some changes and counting calories was one of them. I started doing more weights, more pushups, more interval training; Scott has been a big help with this. We are exercising together, though he's trying to gain a few muscle pounds so we're hoping to tip the scale opposite ways :). I downloaded the myfitnesspal app at that time, entered in my weight, height, age and gender with the amount of weight I wanted to lose (10 lbs) and then began tracking calories. This, I believe, was what really tipped the scale because it made me aware of all my little snacks, all the little bites off my kids plate here and there. It made me realize that I was eating more than my body needed. I didn't need to snack throughout the day and my portions could and should be smaller, especially at dinner.

Before: it does kinda look like a pregnant belly

After: no more pregnant belly!

Based on my personal information I entered into the app, I am allowed to eat 1430 calories in a day. If I stay in between 1400-1500 I think it's pretty good, though I really try to stay closer to 1430.  I knew if I wanted to be successful I really needed to count everything. Main dishes, desserts, snacks, sides, fruits, veggies, any bites off my kids plates, any free samples from Costco, everything. Those little things can be a pain to enter so I mostly just leave them alone now, you know like the samples and the bites off kids plates etc. Now my typical eating schedule goes something like this: breakfast, lunch, a snack and then dinner, just like the personal trainer recommended! My breakfast is mostly the same every day, and for lunch and snack I generally only have a few things that I rotate so that makes my life easier because the app saves all your recent foods and recipes you've entered, so basically, every day counting calories gets easier because you have more foods and recipes saved in your app. It also has a database that contains any recipes others have created from restaurants and from others using this app. Sometimes if I'm too lazy to put in all the caloric info for a recipe, I'll browse the database, find several of the same type of recipe and if the calories vary a lot from recipe to recipe, I use the one that looks like an average of them all, but for the most part, I scan barcodes and enter in new recipes so I know I'm keeping an accurate count.

I allow myself one cheat meal a week. Not a cheat day. A cheat meal, which I generally save for our weekly date nights since they very often involve food. Even then, I try to maintain some self control and if we go to a restaurant I won't eat lots of chips and salsa or breadsticks if they start you with that, but just a little, and I generally only get through half of my meal because they are so big. If we order dessert, we share it and sometimes we even have some left to bring home and share with the kids.




Almost six weeks have passed since I began and I've lost 10 lbs, and hit my target weight. In order to maintain, I am going to continue counting calories and mixing up weight lifting, interval training and cardio 5-6 days a week. 


Monday, April 28, 2014

April 27: Nora turns 2 and Elisabeth plays/sings at church



Nora turned two Sunday. Here she is in the new dress and shoes we got her to wear at church. I was talking to Desi the other day about our gifts to Nora (this outfit and a camelback waterbottle so she can be like her siblings), and I realized that for the past year, all the kids got new outfits to wear on their birthdays, including myself. This may become a new tradition.
 
Here is Nora opening her gifts Sunday morning before church.


I took the kids to the dollar store the day before because they each wanted to buy her a birthday gift with their own money. As we were about to get out of the car to go inside the store I advised them to steer clear of the toys because they always break, and maybe pick out some favorite snack items instead. Elisabeth and Jane got her different boxes of crackers, Charles got her two 3 packs of bubbles and Annabelle got her a stuffed doll. She loved having some new snacks at church, slept with the doll and won't stop talking about the bubbles.
 Nora also got an Elsa and Anna (Frozen) shirt from Granny. As soon as she saw the tag with their picture on it and the picture on the shirt she yelled out, "Anna!" She knows Frozen a little too well.


We went to church and Elisabeth had prepared a special musical number which she performed during sacrament meeting in front of the congregation (about 200?). She played on the piano and sang the beloved primary song, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me". It was beautiful and it brought in such a beautiful, and sweet spirit. Below is a copy of the program.

 I made sure we sat on the side of the chapel where she was playing so that we would be able to see her, or at least the top of her head. She is so small that that's really the only place you could see her. Elisabeth(she often reads this blog so I know she'll see this), you are amazing and have been blessed with many gifts and talents. Thank you for sharing them!



After church we did videocam with our Smith family grandparents and aunts/uncles during dinner. Nora blew out a candle on her piece of pizza since we were going to a friends for cake that evening.

Once we got home I turned the remains (which was half of the cake)of this Mad Hatter cake that I had made the day before for a baby shower....

into this cake for Nora:


What is it, you might be asking yourself? Well, I guess it's a rock with flowers and greenery :). I pulled off the fondant because honestly, butter cream is just so much yummier and my kids love it and it's for Nora's birthday so it's got to be yummy, and what I had left was some gray frosting and a little bit of white frosting along with some fondant flowers. So I covered the cake in gray since there wasn't enough white, and once I did that Scott said, "kinda looks like a rock" and that's when inspiration came :). So I colored the white frosting green, and 5 minutes later we had a prettied up rock :). Happy Birthday Nora! This is what happens when you're child #5 in the family and you're still a baby who can't quite voice her opinions. Someday you'll probably get a cool cake like your siblings, too :), but for now you get the doctored up, leftover remains of another cake because I didn't want to go to the trouble to make more. Even though we didn't make you a new cake, we sure love you dear! :)
 She LOVED the cake. As I was quickly decorating and adding little details she came over to watch and would exclaim, "Ooooh!" and  "Wow!" and  "Nummy!"

 I made this cake from scratch which I don't normally do but am going to start doing from now on(or at least try).  It was a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting...a recipe I got that Rachel Ray posted on her site when she had The Cake Boss guy on her show, so this is his recipe (Buddy Valastro, I believe), and it's really good!

 We celebrated with some friends at the Gomez home; they had invited us over for their daughters birthday celebration so we just added our cake to theirs and sang to both the girls.

Happy Birthday Nora Dear!

Nora's 2 year stats:
Weight: 23.6 lbs (27%)
Height: 32 1/2 inches (12%)
BMI: 25%

Jane's 4 year stats:
Weight: 31.6 lbs (20%)
Height: 38 inches (13%)
BMI: 53%

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Baking Buddies, board shorts, firepit, painting and more



 Baking Buddies was at our house this month. We made chocolate chip muffins that were whole wheat and honey sweetened. So yummy!
 I love cooking with the girls. Jane snapped this picture of me in my new apron from Becca. Jane is quite the little photographer.
 I've been meaning to get new board shorts for years because my old ones are just too big; big enough that they slip on and off while fully fastened and when you're climbing out of a pool that's just not cool, I of course where swim bottoms underneath but still, who wants their pants coming down :). But two things were holding me back from buying a new pair. 1.) Time/inconvenient: Shopping is something I don't do very often because I don't like to drag the kids along since it's boring and I like to spend as little time away as possible when Scott is home and 2.) Buying new board shorts when I have two pair sitting in my drawer, in perfectly good condition, is hard for me to do.

I decided to use my sewing machine again and pinterest, and try and take them in. Here they are before. Really baggie waist even when I pull the string to it's tightest, and really baggie all over.
 After unstitching the seams at the waist, turning them inside out, putting them on, pinning them and then sewing, I had two pairs of board shorts that fit, and they still look good!
 
And I only got an "after" of these board shorts. Thank you pinterest for all your picture tutorials for DIY projects!
 
 I know all these pictures and events are unrelated but uh, well, they all happened this past week so that makes them related somehow, right? One night this weekend we had our neighbors the Rogers over for smores. It has been beautiful outside so it was perfect. It was so fun breaking out the firepit again. We LOVE our nights sitting around the fire, visiting. Then, two days later the Rogers had us over for Easter dinner which was also wonderful. We like them :).
 
Charles had a pinewood derby for cubscouts this week so here he is with Elisabeth, paining his car.
And a random shot of Nora. I put her hair in two side topsy tails with a ponytail in the back and it looked so cute!  This girl loves to be outside. But I guess we all do.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

 Easter morning the kids came into our room around 630am so excited to go find their Easter baskets. 630 is actually not an unusual time for the children to get up, we're all early risers, Scott and I are usually up by 5 on weekdays, but we like to hope that one day they'll sleep in a little on the weekends :). We had them hop in bed with us (which made for a crowded Queen bed with 7 people!) until 7am and then we told them where to find their first clue for their traditional scavenger hunt to find where their baskets were hidden.
 Actually being the one to pick up the clue and read it could be a source of contention and sibling rivalry but we've made a rule over the years that they are to go in age order from youngest to oldest (we didn't really include Nora because she could care less at this age); here is Jane finding a clue on a construction paper piece of paper cut in the shape of an egg; she had one her older siblings read the clue aloud. I laminated these paper eggs years ago so that I can reuse them each year and we write clues on them with dry erase markers.


 The baskets were hidden in the top of their closets.
 Stinkin' picture won't rotate...sorry. The 'bedtime pass' is something the older kids request at Christmas and Easter. It is a favorite. We give it to the three oldest who are all school-aged. It says, "you may stay up past bedtime one night to watch a movie or play a game with mom and dad. May not be redeemed on a school night." They LOVE any time they get mom and dad to themselves, and staying up late is pretty sweet too (and I love that it's free and it's not sugar! :)) BTW, usually I print these on the computer so they look a little more official, but this Easter I forgot until Easter morning when my 9-year-old said, "Mom, you remembered to do the bedtime pass, right?" Right! So I quickly wrote them out on a piece of computer paper. More often than not, Mom forgets things and so that's just how things roll around here :).
 The kids got a few favorite treats (Cadbury eggs, peanut butter eggs), a couple of snacks (pretzels and teddy grahams..and I meant to put the 100% juice capri suns in there too but forgot...again. I'll give them to them this week :)), bedtime passes, new Spring/Summer pjs (they get new ones at Christmas too but they are too warm for summer), and each got a small gift like bubbles, plant seeds, lotion, etc.
 Nora is so stinkin' cute! And she's a spitfire! This girl can scream louder than you'd ever imagine possible on a girl that is her petite size. But we love her anyway. And, she has gotten a lot better this past month; not nearly where I want her to be but it'll come in time. Until then we'll continue dreaming of the day when she is content and peaceful like the rest of us :).
Charles primary (sunday school) teachers gave him jelly beans with this sweet and fitting Easter poem:


After church we went to our friends/neighbors the Rogers for dinner. Des made ham, salad, deviled eggs and cheesecake, and I made rolls, funeral potatoes, and poundcake. The food was yummy and the company was great! We've always been blessed with such good friends and family in our lives.

Here are the kids in their new PJ's.
We read the Easter story today with pictures. Earlier this week we did our Spiritual Easter Eggs which is a beloved tradition. We are so grateful to our Savior Jesus Christ for his life, his love and his atoning sacrifice. Because of him we can live together with him again and with our families forever! Love him!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Park, Nora and Jane's selfies

 These first two pictures are from a couple of weeks ago, whoops! While the kids were still on Spring Break Annabelle had piano lessons one day. So we walked over to the park and brought our piano teachers kids too while Annabelle practiced. After her lesson Elisabeth and Hayden ran back and got Annabelle so she could play for awhile too. The kids started out on the playground playing freeze tag and then they moved to the grass area where there was a hill and did wheelbarrows, cartwheels, rolled down the hill etc.

Our baby is getting so big! And using a stool allows her to do a lot of things on her own.

Love these selfie's I found on my camera of Jane.





Monday, April 14, 2014

My 31st Birthday!

 I turned 31 this weekend and we celebrated all weekend long!

Friday night Scott set up a babysitter (thanks Brown Family!!! And thank you Scott!) and we went to Cinebarre, for dinner and a movie (Captain America 2). The food wasn't great, and the theater was a bit run down, but I loved being with Scott, sitting close, holding his hand for two hours :). Afterwards when we went to pick up the kids, our friends, the Brown's, were out in the back with their firepit along with our friends the Norman's so we joined them for an hour and visited which was really nice.


Saturday morning we went to Charles' soccer game and then afterward we went to Cracker Barrel for a family birthday breakfast. I LOVE their pancakes! They are cooked to perfection, every time. I LOVE the crispy edges. The kids love to play checkers on their giant checker boards, and we all like to sit and rock in their rockers.
 Except maybe for Nora :).
 Saturday afternoon I went shopping, by myself, for some new clothes. I almost never do this so it was a very special treat. I was gone for several hours and while I was gone Scott took the kids out shopping, by himself...brave man :). I scored some really cute things at Nordstrom Rack and Kohls....mostly pants and shorts at Kohls, and then a cardigan and skirt at Nordstrom Rack. I fell in love with the skirt as soon as I put it on. It's from a store/brand I had never heard of before called 'Free People'(but Becca, my sis later told me that's her favorite brand so it makes sense since I wear all her clothes :)), and actually, that's where my cardigan came from too. Here is the skirt(which looks like a Prom picture pose; but I had to include it because it's a better shot of the skirt :)):
 Sunday was my actual birthday. Scott made me a green smoothie for breakfast and then I opened some gifts.
 Love this guy!

 I LOVED all the cards and letters.



My mom made me this lovely 'tree of life' type necklace. She made it with 7 branches to represent each member of my family.

Here is a close up of the necklace. She used a bunch of cool little rocks. My mom knows a lot about rocks and so each one was handpicked and has special qualities about them. LOVE, LOVE it mom! Thank you!

Scott and Charles got me a new stereo for my van that they are going to install this week! Total surprise! Now I'll be able to plug in my smartphone and ipod and talk on the phone hands free through my speakers! Thanks to my favorite men/boys!!!

The girls each picked an article of exercise clothing for me which was perfect because I use them 6 days a week and was just thinking I'd love to have some new ones for the Spring/Summer. Thanks girls!
For dinner I requested Mexican and Scott tried out a new recipe that was awesome! It's kinda like a Mexican lasagna with layers of tortilla, black beans, cheese, corn and tomatoes. So, so yummy! Thank you dear!



We had a nice dinner together and everyone said something they love about mom which was sweet to hear :).

For dessert we had carrot cake. Scott offered to make the treat but I wanted this particular cake done a particular way and since I was hosting book club at our house a couple of weeks ago I decided to make this cake and then freeze the leftovers to have for my birthday, so that's what we did. And it was amazing! I also got some ice cream for the kids since they're not big fans of carrot cake.



And here I am, sporting my new apron from my sister Bec. Thanks Becca, I love it! Happy Birthday to me!