Shop Smart: Meal Prepping & Grocery Shopping for Success!

“So many aisles! So many signs! Where do I begin?!! Ohhh…samples? Yes, please!” Hold on, girl!! Pause. Before you get too excited, let’s rewind! Read this post first, because I’m going to be giving you my TOP tips to help you meal prep for success and shop smart!

First things first, go with plan. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. It’s cliché, but very true. If you walk into the store aimlessly, you may waste your hard-earned coins buying food you don’t need. So make a list first by deciding what you plan to eat the following week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. When I am using a recipe, I make sure it serves between 4-6 people; that way I know I have dinner covered for the whole week. I typically eat the same foods for all my meals throughout the week. This may be boring for some, but this works for me. An alternative could be to prepare two different dinners so you have a couple of options during the week. Or you could prepare a few different veggies, lean proteins, and healthy complex carbs. From there you could “mix n match” your meals throughout the week. For instance, lunch on day 1 could be brown rice, baked salmon, and asparagus. Dinner on day 1 could be turkey meatloaf, mashed sweet potato, and broccoli. Day 2 lunch could be turkey meatloaf, brown rice, and asparagus. Followed by dinner that’s baked salmon, mashed sweet potato, and broccoli. Whichever method you choose, make sure it’s the right one for you. Consider which option will be sustainable for YOU over time.

Typically on Thursday evenings, I plan my meals for the coming week in a chart that has a space for me to write out what I plan to have for each of those meals. I then use that chart as my guide to help me create my grocery list. If I am following a recipe, I check my pantry and fridge first to see if I already have the ingredients. If not, I add them to my list. I usually go to the store Friday after work or on Saturday morning. I then set aside 2-3 hours Sunday afternoon to actually prepare my meals. That amount of time also includes me cleaning up the kitchen – washing dishes, taking out the garbage and sweeping the kitchen floor.

Before you even head to the store, ask yourself, “am I hungry”? If so, have a healthy snack BEFORE you go, such as a piece of fruit, protein bar, veggies dipped in hummus, a handful of almonds, or string cheese so you can stay focused on your list and you’re not tempted to buy un-healthy foods. Trust me! When you’re hungry, things you wouldn’t normally consider will start looking good. Like that cheap, greasy pizza. Fix it, Jesus!!

When I get to the store, I start with the perimeter and then work my way down the aisles. The perimeter is where I get a majority of my food, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, almond milk, gluten free bread, gallon of water jug, cheese, and eggs. Down the aisles is where you will find many of the processed foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta, cookies, and chips.

When I plan my fruits and veggies, I consider what’s in season. Purchasing seasonal fruit is more cost effective and it also means the fruit will be at its peak freshness. Depending on the store layout, the bulk food section may also be located along the perimeter. Since I am cooking for one person, buying in bulk is cheaper and allows me to get just the amount I need. In this section I get my quick oats, seasonings, gluten free flours, quinoa, brown rice, nuts and seeds.

My last stop around the perimeter is the frozen food section. I always grab some frozen fruit and vegetables for breakfast or my green smoothies. Frozen fruit is packaged at its peak freshness, so you can be sure the food will still have its flavor and nutritional benefits. You can also get a better deal buying frozen when you’re purchasing fruits that can still be pricy even in season such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries, mangos, and blackberries.

Down the aisles, I like to purchase condiments, such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, salsa, stevia, maple syrup, and reduced sugar ketchup. The aisles can also be a way to get low priced fruits and vegetables, such as canned pineapples, green beans or corn. If purchasing fresh produce is not in your budget, then canned is also a great option. When it comes to canned fruit, I typically stick with pineapple since that’s the one fruit I found where there is no syrup added. I would definitely try to avoid fruit that’s canned in syrup, even if the can says light syrup. Fruit is nature’s candy. It’s sweet enough on its own!

Even though most of the snacks down the aisles aren’t the healthiest options, there are still some good choices. Some of my favorites are rice cakes or popcorn. The Smart Food brand is my go-to, because it just contains corn, salt, and oil. Tortilla chips, portioned out, are a good option as well as protein/snack bars like Quest Nutrition Bars, Kind Bars, Think Thin, or Lara Bars, unsweetened applesauce, peanut butter with no added sugar or oil, and even crackers. The Mary’s Gone Crackers are the ones I really like!

When I can, I purchase the store brand since the quality is still there, but you’re not paying the extra markup for the fancy brand name. If there is no store brand option, I look at all the options and go with the cheapest one. I always make sure I keep freezer bags on hand. If I buy a package of meat and I don’t plan to use it all for the coming week, I will separate out what I need for my recipe, portion out the rest and stick that in the freezer. I also use freezer bags for my green smoothie ingredients. When I meal prep, I grab a handful of collards (or whatever green veggie I am using for the week, usually 1 cup), chop up a banana, and then whatever other fruit I am adding, and then freeze the bag. The evening before, I dump the smoothie ingredients in the blender along with my unsweetened vanilla almond milk, vanilla vegan protein powder, Greens, ground flax seeds and blend away!! Oh, and don’t worry. I plan to discuss green smoothies in more detail in a future post. So stay tuned!!

During the hectic work week is really when you will see the benefits of meal prepping! The small sacrifice you make to take a few hours one day a week is definitely well worth it. Having healthy meals prepared means I can avoid the vending machine and office treats. I don’t need to waste money buying lunch every day. Plus when I get home, all I have to do is pop dinner in the microwave, relax, and enjoy! Since my meals are prepared, I can’t justify picking up fast food on the way home just because I don’t have anything to eat at home and I don’t feel like cooking. When we’re tired, the last thing we want to do is think about what to eat and then stand over a hot stove to prepare it; especially during these warm summer months. If you decided not to cook and instead opted for your favorite fast food restaurant, you may tell yourself on the way there that you’ll get a salad. You start off with the right intentions. But…..once you get there, that one meal you told yourself you would stay away from, your trigger meal, is now staring you right in your face. Yep! That double bacon cheese burger, deluxe curly fries with some ranch on the side for dipping, and the soda to wash it all down! You devour it and then reality sets in that you’ve just pushed yourself further away from your goal for the week. You vow to get back on the wagon tomorrow. But the same thing happens the next day. You’re too exhausted to cook so you go for comfort. You go for what you know; what you’re familiar with and what will satisfy you in that moment. See where I’m going with this? Meal prepping leaves you with ZERO excuses to make food choices that are not in line with your goals. Meal prepping also means you’re consuming enough calories and nutrients throughout the day to sustain yourself. Some people still think eating 1-2 times a day will help them lose weight. The truth is that over time, your metabolism will slow down and your body will go into starvation mode and store fat because it doesn’t know when it will get more food. So it’s not about eating less; it’s about eating better quality food.

Weight loss and weight maintenance are 80% diet and 20% exercise. Your food choices play a huge role in either helping you reach your goals or pushing you further away from those goals. Don’t allow all of your hard work in the gym to be in vain due to consuming too many calories and by making poor food choices. Working out for an hour a day is the easy part. It’s what we do the other 23 hours of the day that can either really help us or hinder us. I hope these tips were helpful to you for the next time you make a trip to the store! I really hope you see the benefits of meal prepping and will give it a try!

Now, I want to hear from you! What are some of your top tips for shopping smart?

IBS: Diagnosis to Victory, Part III

If you’ve been following my journey, then you know from my March update that I started working with a Nutritionist. Even though I purchased The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book, and it has been helpful, I wanted the guidance of a professional to help me through the elimination phase. I wanted some type of guidance with regards to where to begin and how long the elimination phase should last before I start re-introducing certain foods. She stated the elimination phase varies per person. For some it could take six weeks for their symptoms to improve; while for others it could take up to a year (Fix it, Jesus!).

At her recommendation, and the recommendation of the GI doctor I spoke with last year, I stopped drinking coffee at the end of March. This actually wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I realized most of the time, I was drinking coffee to keep warm (#TeamAnemia). So instead I drink hot water and lemon which seems to satisfy my need.

Most of the research I found regarding caffeine and IBS is that it is primarily a trigger for those with IBS-D (diarrhea) since coffee is a stimulant and can make the digestive tract work faster causing lose stool. I haven’t seen much in relation to IBS with constipation. However, I have noticed my movements are starting to become more regular (insert happy dance!). I’m thinking there is a correlation between coffee and my digestive system because when I would drink coffee, I noticed my stomach would make loud gurgling noises. That should have been my signal to stop drinking coffee, but, what can I say? I’m just stubborn like that!

Second Nutritionist Visit

On m second visit, she suggested I finish dinner 1-2 hours before bedtime, because when you lie down it makes it more difficult for your body to properly digest your food.

She gave me a list of probiotic foods, such as Kefir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, or Yogurt with live active cultures. I probably won’t try yogurt since I had flatulence last time I tried yogurt. Probiotic foods can help improve digestive health. I just need to get over the strong smell of Kimchi!

She provided meal and snack Ideas. Some of the meal combinations I currently eat and some of the other suggestions seem appetizing! But, eating at home isn’t the challenge. What honestly causes me the most anxiety is when I eat away from home, because I can’t be certain how the food is prepared. I feel bad (although I shouldn’t) because I have to ask questions or request that certain foods be removed from the dish so I don’t experience IBS symptoms.

With that said, I have had some pretty good dining out experiences. I don’t eat out much, even before I started the elimination diet. When I have dined out, I tried to order from the Gluten Free Menu options. But….there were times when I assumed something was gluten free or safe to eat and that proved to be the wrong assumption. So I learned the hard way to never assume, ALWAYS ask!!

In addition to dietary changes, there are some medications and supplements that I began taking. The first being Dicyclomine, which helps reduce gas, bloating, and constipation. Magnesium, which is a natural muscle relaxer. The colon is a muscle, so if the muscle is more relaxed that will promote regularity. And I must say that an added benefit is that I have experienced AMAZING sleep since taking magnesium! So if you have challenges with getting better sleep, then definitely try this and you will be lights out!! I also take Miralax, which is a laxative and we all know what those do. Lastly, I take digestive enzymes to help me better digest my foods.

From my research, what was consistent is that it would take a combination of dietary changes and medications/supplements to help improve my symptoms.

After my March Nutritionist visit, she told me I don’t need to see her again unless I started feeling worse or until my symptoms have cleared up and I am ready for the re-introduction phase. Bring on the avocados! Lol

As sweet as she is, she doesn’t appear to be a specialist for this particular diet. Our visits were short (less than 30 minutes) and she didn’t provide a customized meal plan, which I was expecting to receive. She provided documents to me that were more generic. So I will continue to monitor my progress, try to adhere to the list of foods to avoid, read labels, research, take my medications/supplements, and seek help from various Facebook groups.

So, like Dori I’ll “just keep swimming!” 🙂



IBS: Diagnosis to Victory, Part II

I created my first blog post about my diagnosis in October 2016. It’s been a few months since then, so I wanted to update you all on how I am feeling these days and ways I am trying to manage my symptoms.

As of today, February 20th, I am feeling pretty good. I am still experiencing symptoms of distension and constipation. The gas hasn’t been nearly as frequent. So some of the changes I’ve made are working. But I still have work to do if I want to get closer to feeling like the old me. If you notice, I didn’t mention bloating. That is because, while reading up this condition, there is a difference between bloating and distension. Bloating is the feeling of increased of pressure in the abdomen. While distension is a measurable change in the circumference of the abdomen.

The most recent change I made is trying to adhere to a gluten free diet. I had no idea it would be this difficult. It seems like it’s in everything! So now, I am training my mind to be a label reader again. I say again, because when I was losing weight, I was reading labels and looking at the calories, sugar, and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). Now I have to train my mind to read the label to make sure it says “Gluten Free” or read the back to see if it says “contains wheat.” Gluten is the main protein in wheat, rye, and barley.  I can definitely tell that eating wheat does not agree with me. I noticed my symptoms were triggered when I ate wheat. I just refused to believe that all of a sudden I couldn’t digest wheat properly. I had been eating it my whole like. Like, I grew up on Wonder Bread! But I do recall a rather thought provoking quote that stated something like “are we allergic to food? Or are we allergic to what’s been done to it?” I don’t believe I am allergic since I don’t experience any external symptoms when I consume it. But I definitely feel it internally. The quote makes sense because if you think about how a piece of wheat looks and then consider what process wheat has to go through to be turned into products like bread and pasta, it makes you wonder what they are either adding or removing during the production process that makes the end product difficult to digest.

As mentioned in my first IBS post, it is recommended that I follow a Low-FODMAP diet, which is an elimination diet. So removing foods from my diet that can trigger IBS symptoms and then re-introducing some items back into my diet. To help me better understand what is happening in my body, I purchased “The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet” book written by Sue Shepherd, PhD and Peter Gibson, MD. This book also contains recipes you can eat during the elimination phase. I haven’t finished the book yet or tried any of the recipes thus far, but I plan to do so in the future. For now, I am using recipes I already have and then trying to modify them to fit the diet.

To also help me with the elimination diet, I decided to visit a Nutritionist for support. I just didn’t feel comfortable going through this process without medical supervision. I visited her towards the end of February and have a follow-up appointment with her at the end of March. She also gave me background information on the condition and a list of foods to avoid. Some of the foods I don’t eat often, so I’m not bothered that I have to eliminate them. But there are some foods that I love, such as watermelon, avocado, mushrooms, cashews, blackberries, mangos, honey and peaches. Just typing them out hurts my soul!!  But I have to consider the bigger picture, which is identifying my trigger foods and working towards managing my condition. I should also instead focus on all the foods I can still eat.

I am going to do my best to stay positive because I know my situation could be worse. Even though there is no cure for IBS, I am thankful there are ways to manage the condition to the point where I can feel like I’m cured. I also know this experience is bigger than me. There is someone else dealing with this condition who may feel hopeless, but perhaps after watching my journey, they will be encouraged to keep going!

Low-FODMAP Diet Click here to see a list of foods that are part of the diet.

Getting Back on Track After the Holiday’s

One of the many pleasures from the holiday season was eating yummy food!! One of which was cookies J I had sooooo many cookies! As in…. RIP to ALL the cookies I devoured!!  But, going into the new year, my body definitely let me know I ate in a way it was not accustomed to. I started to beat myself up over it and feel like I failed in promoting a healthy lifestyle. I had to avoid my first instinct which was to be more restrictive with my food choices. But in reality, that wasn’t a solution since that would be a form of punishment. It would be like telling myself “since you over-indulged, you’re in trouble now and you have to make up for it!” When we allow our minds to travel down that path, we we’re setting ourselves up for a vicious cycle of over-eat, repent, under-eat, then the cycle repeats itself. So I decided to push forward and go back to what I was familiar with. I try to practice a lifestyle where I can eat what I enjoy, but in moderation. There is no one size fits all definition of moderation. Moderation looks different for everyone. The main point in practicing moderation is knowing you can have what you want; just not all of it, all the time. We are human and it is OK to enjoy life!

My typical lifestyle choices include drinking plenty of water – usually a gallon a day. Practicing portion control by using a food scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons. Eating clean, whole foods in the form of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. I also use MyFitnessPal daily to track my water, meals, and workouts. So the remedy wasn’t to go to the opposite end of the spectrum; but to get back in balance. Get back in touch with myself and my goals. To love myself and give my body what it needs to be healthy to support my goals.

None of us are perfect and we all make choices we aren’t pleased with, but the point is to be kind to yourself and re-focus. You cannot change the past. You can only propel forward and use the past as a lesson. So, yes, when the holiday’s roll around again this year, I plan to enjoy myself. But just be more mindful about what I am eating and how my body will respond.

I am sure I am not the only who needed a fresh start and a system re-set. So I created a 90 Day Wellness Challenge called The Comeback Season! This group will offer support, community, and accountability!! There will be weekly meal plans, weekly workout video’s that can be followed at home or in the gym. There will be live Q & A’s each week led group leaders where you can also receive product information. The group will be facilitated by a certified holistic health coach, a certified personal trainer, and wellness consultants, such as myself.  This is an exclusive VIP Facebook community for people who seriously want change and most importantly, RESULTS!! If you’re interested, we would love to have you! You may email me at In the Subject Line, please put “The Comeback Season” so I can provide you with more information. This challenge is not a diet, but a foundation you can use to build a healthy lifestyle. Diets are temporary; quick fixes. But, when you make lifestyle changes, you are making changes that are sustainable for you.

Happy New Year!! ( I think I have until January 31st to keep saying that, right?! Lol)



Top Tips for Weight Loss

Between Facebook pages, blogs, email newsletters, YouTube and other sources, it is easy to become overwhelmed trying to sift through so much information in order to find advice that will help you along your journey. All of the resources listed above can be helpful and I do recommend that you seek information from several sources, but don’t feel like you have to try everything that everyone suggests all at once. Choose pieces of advice that you feel will be helpful and sustainable for you. Try them and if they help, continue with them. If they are not helpful, try something else. The key is to find what works for you and be consistent.

Below I compiled a list of tips that helped me lose weight. I am still using these tips to maintain my weight loss. The work continues even after you lose the weight. For me, I don’t call my way of living a diet; this is a lifestyle so that I can live my best life! Your best days are ahead of you if you make the right choices and believe in yourself!

Top 15 Tips

1)      Keep a food journal – Either use traditional pen and paper or use an app such as MyFitnessPal. Tracking your food helps you make sure you are consuming the right amount of calories. Journaling also keeps you accountable and helps you remember you had hat slice of cake earlier in the week J

2)      Drink your water – Start with 8 glasses, then work your way up to half your body weight in ounces. Sometimes we think we’re hungry when in fact our bodies are telling us we’re thirsty

3)      Eat one indulgent meal per week – Notice I said meal and not day. I personally don’t recommend a whole day. You may consume too many calories and that will derail your efforts. It may also be more difficult to get back on track the day after. You don’t want a cheat day to turn into a cheat weekend, then a cheat weak, and cheat month….you get the point. Also eating some of these more indulgent foods may wreak havoc on your digestive system if your body is not used to consuming them on a regular basis

4)      Get moving – Find something that you like and that challenges you. Start incorporating physical activity 3-5 times per week for a least a half hour. Then increase your physical activity from there. But, remember you cannot outwork a bad diet. Just don’t even try it. You will be wasting your time and energy in the gym and you will not see progress. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body expends. 3,500 calories to be exact. So you need to consume 3,500 fewer calories per week to lose one pound. Just let that sink in! lol

5)      Try new foods – Our bodies are smart and adapt to repetitiveness. Change things up to avoid hitting a weight loss plateau. So, don’t worry, you don’t need to eat chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli just every day to see results

6)      Take progress pictures – I wish I did this more while I was losing weight. The scale may not move much, but you may notice your clothes fit looser and your body composition changing. I’m starting to take more pictures of myself now. Also, the number on the scale can be deceptive if you’re retaining water from eating salty foods or if you’re on your monthly cycle. And depending on the time of day you weight yourself, your results may not be consistent

7)      Goal clothes – My goal jeans motivated me to keep going! It may be vain, but who cares; it kept me on track. I was determined to fit comfortably into those jeans! I paid $100 for them and was not going to let my hard earned money go to waste.

8)       Research trends – Don’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon or take everything you read at face value. Research first to see if it is something that will be beneficial to your journey. Do you really need to go gluten free? Should you only consume foods that are fat-free, low-fat, or low-carb?

9)      Review ingredient lists – In addition to looking at the nutritional facts, you also need to know what is in your food. Avoid long ingredient lists that have ingredients you cannot pronounce. Food is fuel. The calorie count may be low, but will that food fuel your body?

10)   Meal prep – Having your meals prepared beforehand leaves you with no room for excuses to make unhealthy choices because you don’t have the energy to cook. All it takes is a few hours one day a week and you’re set for the rest of the week. Trust me, it’s worth it

11)   Have healthy snacks on hand – Keep healthy snacks at home to satisfy you in between meals. If you plan on running a long day of errands, pack a healthy snack to avoid getting so hungry that you make a poor food choice

12)   Weigh yourself – Weigh yourself regularly, but no more than once per week. Yes, you want to measure your progress, but you don’t want to become obsessed with the scale and feel like a failure when it doesn’t give you the number you’re expecting

13)   Subscribe to email newsletters – Daily health and wellness emails help keep you on track by serving as a reminder that you’re on a journey. Newsletters letters also serve as motivation because of the community aspect. They are also great ways to get new recipe ideas

14)   Take a multivitamin – As much as you’re changing your eating habits for the better, no one gets all of the vitamins and minerals their bodies need 365 days a year. Supplements can help us get more of the nutrients our bodies are lacking

15)   Eat 5-6 times per day – Eating one meal a day or something crazy like that will only be counterproductive. Your body will begin to go into starvation mode because it doesn’t know when it will eat again. When you eat more often throughout the day, not only will you be more satisfied, but you will keep your metabolism running optimally. I try to keep my body on a schedule and eat about every 3-4 hours

I hope you find these tips helpful! Feel free to try some or all of them. Whatever tips you choose to take away, please remember to love yourself during the process! So, I guess I have 16 tips! Lol. Just make sure you are not being too hard on yourself if you are giving it your all. You cannot compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

Top 15 tips picture.jpg


My Home Gym: Getting Fit Without a Gym Membership

When I first decided to lose weight, I found the concept of a gym intimidating and was too afraid to purchase a gym membership. I had this idea the gym would be filled with a bunch of really fit people who were going to make fun of the chubby couch potato just starting out. So I decided I wanted to work out in the privacy and comfort of my own home. Even though I wasn’t super into health and fitness, I was still familiar with the name Jillian Michaels and the hit show Biggest Loser, so I decided to buy the Biggest Loser work out DVD. I also found her 30 Day Shred program along with some other work outs On Demand. Once I was comfortable with those work outs, I went to Sears and purchased a treadmill. Running was always a challenge for me and I hated it when we had to run the mile in PE class. I almost always had the slowest time and felt like crap afterwards. But with my treadmill it was a chance to kind of redeem myself (even though I was far removed from high school) and conquer something that always made me feel defeated. So I started off by walking at a brisk pace for a half an hour and then for an hour. From there I would jog as long as I could and then walk when I became tired. Finally, I started running as fast and as long as I could. I thought I was going to die! My chest and calves were burning and I was sweating in places I never sweat before. It was hard, but I didn’t let that stop me. I kept pushing! Eventually I became more comfortable running. I even started running outside sometimes to change things up. So that is how my love of running began :).  To this day, I still run as my main form of cardio. I run about 3.5 miles 5-6 days a week and I love it! There are still times when I think I’m about to die when I decide to change things up and run faster or increase the incline, but I keep going and challenging myself. If something doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

My Equipment

  • Treadmill – I still have the same treadmill I originally purchased. I don’t recall how much I paid for it, but good places to shop around are Sears, Walmart, and Fred Meyer
  • Weights – I have various sizes since not all muscle groups are the same size. You need different size weights to challenge those different areas. I have 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 20 pounds dumbbells. The ones that are 20 pounds were a Walmart steal for $20. They are adjustable from 5-20 pounds each. The other size weights I purchased from Target or Ross. I don’t recall the prices, but as the size of the weight increases, so does the price
  • Resistance Band – Medium resistance band purchased for $5 at Ross
  • Stability Ball – Purchased from Ross for $5
  • Weighted Jump Rope- Each handle has a 2 pound weight. Purchased from Walmart for about $10
  • Yoga Mat – Free! I attended a local Pop Sugar fitness event and they gave each participant a mat. I mainly used it when I was trying out Hot Yoga
  • Ankle Weights – Each ankle weight is 5 pounds. I purchased them from Walmart for less than $20

Workout clothes

You don’t have to purchase expensive workout clothes either. They just need to be comfortable and durable. I purchased my Nike running shoes from DSW so that I wouldn’t have to pay full price. I purchase clothes from a variety of places, but great choices include Walmart, Ross, Marshalls and Value Village. At Walmart I would stick with items from Danskin. That brand has been around for a while and they have good quality clothing. At Value Village I found workout clothes from Nike that were brand new with tags, along with Under Armor and REI brand clothing.

Free Online Workouts

To supplement my running, I like to incorporate workouts that include strength training, plyometrics, and HIIT cardio. Some of my favorite YouTube channels include Shelly Dose, Relentless Jake, Jessica Smith TV, Sweat Stream, Fitness Blender, and BeFit.


My DVD player broke (booooo), but I started building a collection of workouts that included kick boxing, abs, and Yoga. My favorite DVD’s are from Jeanette Jenkins. I really like her energy!

Outdoor Workouts

During the summer, I like to occasionally take my runs outside. I like using a park bench for pushups and lunges. The beach where I like to run has a couple of hills, so I will run up and down the hill a few times and then continue on the path.

Side note: always remember to be safe when working out outside. Make sure the area is well lit, there are other people around, and that you are aware of your surroundings at all times!

Using Your Own Body Weight

Even if you do not have equipment at home yet, your own body weight is still very effective. You can do lunges, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, high knees, jogging in place, glute bridges, and butt kickers.

House Walking – Inspired by Lisa Lillian of Hungry Girl

House walking is just that. Walking around your house instead of laying on the couch or sitting down. You can house walk during commercials and while you’re talking on the phone. Imagine walking around the house while on that hour long call with your best friend. You could rack up some serious steps and calories! And you don’t have to live in a house to house walk. I live in a one bedroom apartment and still have space to house walk. More about house walking can be found here:

Though I had an initial aversion to the gym, my views have changed. I believe a gym membership can be effective especially if you are just starting out. You can utilize the trainers and the fitness classes to help you get started. But a gym membership is not essential in order to attain the body you want. You can begin with a few pieces of equipment or DVD’s and build on from there. Whether you choose to workout at home, purchase a gym membership, or do both, just make sure you enjoy what you’re doing, add variety, and challenge yourself.

Do you have a home gym or a gym membership?

Below are pictures of my home gym equipment and some of my DVD’s


How I am Maintaining my Weight Loss

“Now that you lost weight, can’t you just eat what you want?” “Why do you still workout?”

Can I be honest with you, please? When I get these questions……they annoy me. It is not as if I don’t like speaking about my journey, it is just these questions don’t really make sense. If pounds just stayed gone once you lost them, then this journey would be easy and more people would be losing weight. Weight loss wouldn’t be a journey; it would be a destination you reached and stopped once you reached your desired weight. Once you lose weight, you still need to take certain steps to maintain the weight you lost; otherwise you will gain some, all, or more of the weight you lost and then you’re back to square one, or two depending on how much weight you re-gained. You still need to follow the principle of calories in versus calories out. If you consume more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight.

Once I lost the weight, I viewed maintenance as part 2 of my journey. Where do I go from here to continue with this new, healthy lifestyle I developed? I considered what weight was going to be sustainable over time without continuing to reduce my calorie intake and/or increase the frequency of my workouts. What lifestyle could I see myself living one year from now? It took some trial and error to determine how many calories to add back to my diet to stay within a certain weight range. I knew I couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted to since that is how I ended up needing to lose weight in the first place. I still needed to eat the right kinds of food; foods that were nutrient dense and gave my body the fuel it needed to function optimally. One of the most memorable quotes I recall from Weight Watchers is that “not all calories are created equal.” You can either have a Snickers or a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread. Of course the Snickers may be what you really want, but which choice will keep you in line with your goals?

After reaching my target weight I also stopped weighing myself as often. When I was losing weight, I was weighed weekly at my Weight Watchers meetings. Now, I weigh myself perhaps once per month. I go more by how I look and how my clothes fit. I learned that the scale can be deceiving and is only one measure of your progress. I am not telling you to abandon the scale; just don’t be a slave to it and obsess about what it shows you.

My workout routine has also evolved over time. I wanted to discover new ways to challenge my body. Even though running will always be my first love (hint: it will firm that backside, ladiesJ), I started incorporating Hot Yoga and Zumba into my workout regimen. Groupon is an inexpensive way to try different workouts. I also recently purchased a Planet Fitness membership to incorporate more weight training (and who can say “no” to only $10 a month?). Additionally, I add a YouTube workout after my run to increase the intensity of my workouts and add variety. Some of my favorite YouTube channels include Jessica Smith TV, Relentless Jake, Fitness Blender, BeFit, and Shelly Dose. I like these channels, because the workouts combine strength training with high intensity cardio, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Plyometrics (jump training).

To aid in maintenance, I continue to track my food intake and calories burned during workouts using the MyFitnessPal app. This year, I began to monitor macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) more closely to make sure I am getting the nutrients my body needs. I wear a Polar watch when working out to calculate my calories burned. Fitness watches are helpful tools, because you see how different workouts challenge your body and when you need to increase your intensity level. Here is a link to the watch I wear:

Adding variety to my meals has also been important. I’m even starting to like cooking more! Though I would still prefer to read or shop, a girl’s gotta eat! Some of my favorite recipe sites include Hungry Girl, Paleomg, My Whole Food Life, Skinny Taste, Clean & Delicious with Dani Spies, Paleo Grubs, Fit Men Cook, PopSugar, Paleo Leap, and On YouTube, some of my favorite recipe channels are Blogilates, Mind over Munch, Healthy Grocery Girl, Joanna Soh, Kara Corey Fit Life, and Baking Mad Gym Addict.

When I first lost weight I had to challenge myself to wear brighter colors, different patterns, and cuts of clothing. It may sound silly, but when I was heavier, I avoided certain types of clothing, because I wanted to conceal the parts of my body I wasn’t comfortable with. Even now, I have to remind myself to branch out and wear fun colors and patterns. I worked hard to achieve this weight and shouldn’t conceal it underneath dark colors and long, flowy tops.

To help me stay motivated, I continue to set goals for myself. My goals are no longer related to reaching a certain number on the scale. For 2016, my goals were to monitor my macronutrient intake and incorporate more weight training. I may also set a monthly goal. My goal this past February was to run 100 miles and I did it! For 2015, my goal was to drink a green smoothie every day for lunch during the workweek and I have kept up with that goal. Smaller goals I set may be how I will handle the food at an event. This means having a plan so that I don’t mindlessly eat the whole time. This one is still difficult for me sometimes if I am not entertained during an event. My first reaction is to eat to pass the time. So I am challenging myself to open up and talk to people and focus on other parts of the event that do not concern food. Even though I have kept the weight off since 2009, I still have challenges and need to continue to develop strategies to combat old habits.

Reaching maintenance is an awesome accomplishment, but that does not mean the journey stops there. You need to continue living the healthy habits you developed, be willing to try new things to keep you motivated and challenged, and set goals for yourself. Remain mindful that some habits and mindsets will be more difficult to break than others. You developed these over time and they will not break overnight. So be patient with yourself, enjoy the second part of your journey, and wake up each day with the intention to lead a healthier lifestyle and be the best version of you that you can be!

“You are Allowed to Be Both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress.”

If you reached maintenance, what helped you reach your goal? If you’re struggling to reach maintenance, how can I help you achieve your goal?