One Year

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A year ago (well, a year ago 2 days ago) I made the decision to flip my life upside down.

After spending the better portion of the previous 3 years doing nothing but planning for, buying, prepping, photographing, and eating (and eating, and eating, and eating) the most delicious food I could imagine, I decided to give it all up.

I walked in to the Alexian Brothers Weight Loss Solutions clinic with zero expectations. What I knew was this (and I’m sharing things I’ve never shared before because, what the heck):

  • I weighed in at 285.1 pounds, wearing a snug size 22 pants (which should’ve been a 24) and a 22/24 top.
  • I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting winded.
  • I had zero space between my real chin, my second chin, and my neck.
  • I wore a size 46 H bra
  • I was always tired. Always. I woke up tired, worked tired, got home tired, and never slept well.
  • Size 2X men’s t-shirts were snug
  • I wore a size 10 wide shoe, and could not stand wearing any sort of heel for longer than an hour or so.
  • I was sick a lot. If a cold or the flu was going around work, I got it and got it bad.
  • I had consistent skin rashes (in fairly bad places) almost constantly. They hurt all the time.
  • My face was always broken out in horrific painful pimples
  • I wore my fitbit band (because just wearing it would help) on the biggest notch, and it irritated my wrist.
  • I had issues keeping myself as clean as I would’ve liked, as cleaning my whole self in the shower was difficult.
  • I had to have my wedding ring set resized twice, which pained me, as it was the last handmade thing I have from my dad. I wore a size 8.5 ring.
  • My stomach almost always hurt, usually from sheer overeating.
  • Every joint in my body hurt, almost all the time. Even my fingers and toes hurt, and my neck, ankles gave out fairly often, causing embarrassing falls.
  • I had a hard time finding glasses that fit my face, causing ridiculous grooves on the side of my face when I took my glasses off. And forget contacts! They caused a weird allergic reaction.

This was me, always with a smile on my face, but always feeling not quite right.

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I was actually wearing those same pants when I walked into that clinic. They were digging into my stomach as I sat in the waiting room, and I noticed that I had splatters of Frappucino from that morning on the knee. Probably from when I used the straw to scrape the last of the whipped cream out of the bottom of the cup.

After talking with the nurse, dietician, doctor, and my mom, I made a decision to jump in head-first. Meal replacements for a minimum of 12 weeks through OptiFast.

I made it 14 weeks. I slowly added food. I traveled. I learned to not loathe exercise. I lost weight successfully for the first time in years.

Today:

  • I weighed in this week at 198.6 pounds, two up from my low of 196, wearing a comfy size 14 pants and dress, and a 14/L top.
  • I can run up my stairs without a second thought.
  • I have one chin, and a definite neck. I had to buy new chains for most of my necklaces that were 2”-3” shorter.
  • I wear a size 36 J bra, which actually needs to be re-fitted soon
  • Ok, I’m still tired a lot, but a big part of that is my job. However, I can sleep now, and have energy more often than not.
  • I wear a Medium or Large men’s t-shirt
  • My walking shoes are a 9 regular, and my dressier shoes are a 9 1/2 regular. I lost weight in my feet.
  • Except for losing my gallbladder, I’ve only been sick a handful of times.
  • The only skin rash I’ve gotten is from a mean mosquito.
  • I can count on my fingers the number of bad pimples I’ve had.
  • I wear my fitbit band on the second to smallest notch.
  • I take much more pride in my appearance and am no longer “the smelly kid.”
  • I have to have my wedding ring set sized back down, and wear a size 6.5 ring.
  • I only get a stomachache on the rare occasion that I eat off-plan.
  • My joints don’t hurt like they used to. My knees hurt after a long walk (more than 5 miles). No more finger or toe pain, shoulders are good, neck is fine.
  • I can wear almost any pair of glasses I try on now, without the embarrassing side of face lines. I can wear contacts too, but I’m out at the moment!

I’ve lost and maintained an 86 pound loss, and I still have a bit to go. I’m in a plateau at the moment, and my doctor assures me it’s “normal” and he would be satisfied if I could just maintain here.

This is my new normal, minus the fancy hair and makeup!

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This was, by far, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s up there with choosing to marry my husband and choosing to work where I work. I’ve never felt better!

Thank you to all of you, my friends, family, readers, and support system for being there every step of the way! I’ll continue to update here, as I learn more about losing, as my old weight watchers leader used to say, “the hard lard.”

One last progress photo, for fun… my school pictures from last year and this year!

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OptiFast New You Prize Trip

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**FYI, those on OptiFast Full Fast, this post contains photos of delicious food**

Remember back in June when I found out that I’d been selected as one of the winners of the OptiFast New You contest?

Well, this past weekend, Adam and I set off on our “Luxury New York City Weekend” courtesy of OptiFast! I hadn’t been to NYC since I was 17 and a high school senior, and I was looking forward to seeing the sights, tasting the foods, and enjoying the city as an adult.

After being greeted at LaGuardia Airport by a guy holding a sign with my name (and I totally forgot to take a picture), we were chauffeured (literally!) to Le Parker Meridien, a beautiful boutique hotel in Midtown, a stone’s throw from Times Square.

After settling in to our room and changing into more public-appropriate clothes (as opposed to the loungewear we flew in), we went for the first of many walks. We saw Times Square, Carnegie Hall, the old Paramount building, and loads of others. Our ultimate destination though? A New York standby: The Carnegie Deli.

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We split an enormous corned beef sandwich, and I had a childhood favorite: an egg cream! Seltzer, chocolate syrup, and a touch of milk… so good. So New York.

Of course, we took the obligatory Times Square selfie:

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After a brief stop back at the hotel, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen since high school! Chrissy and I met when I was in 5th grade, and we played the flute in band together all through middle school and high school. She went on to be a professional flautist, and lives just outside of NYC. We met for a drink, and later a slice of pizza and dessert. I’ll spare you those photos, but this one is cute!

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Friday brought more exploring: East Village, Alphabet City, and an ultimate stop to meet up with Adam’s cousin at Katz’s Deli.

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We sat at the very table from “the famous scene” in When Harry Met Sally, and I had the best sandwich of my life, and yes, another egg cream.

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We ventured into SoHo for a phenomenal dinner, but I’ll spare you all the photos from that.

Saturday was makeover day! After a relaxing massage at the Moonshine Spa in our hotel, I met up with Marcia (the other female winner) and Arleni, our OptiFast contact. We walked to the salon and I was greeted by my “team” for the day. I got highlights, a haircut, a manicure, and my makeup done… I felt like royalty! The results were phenomenal… I still feel so pretty!

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We had a lovely cocktail reception with the winners and our spouses, and then Adam and I went to the famous Iron Chef Morimoto’s sushi restaurant for the sushi of our lives.

Sunday brought more exploring, a trip to FAO Schwarz, a walk down 5th Avenue, and an amazing brunch.

I went in to this trip, as I had with my others, wanting to have no regrets. I didn’t want to regret choices I’d made, nor did I want to regret those I didn’t make. So yes, I indulged, but we also walked a ton. Sure, I had a drink or two, but they were at lighter meals. It’s all about balance! My success was proven at the scale today too, I was only up POINT TWO pounds between my Spain trip and NYC. I call that a win.

Traveling: Then & Now

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I’ve been lucky enough to spend a good portion of my Summer break traveling which, after years of a weekend trip here or there, has been truly amazing.

Last summer, my sister and I went to Key West, Florida for a few days at the very end of the summer. I ended up getting strep on the trip, and apart from that, I was generally sick and tired all the time. We walked around in the heat, and I ended up being 2-3 strides behind my sister the whole time. She told me that she was so worried about me. This was my favorite photo from that trip:

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This year, I spent a week in and around Portland, Oregon with one of my closest college friends. I told her when I booked the trip that I wanted to do “all the outdoorsy stuff I physically couldn’t do last visit”. That last visit was two years ago. This was me and Ericka on that last visit:

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So, Ericka planned all sorts of fun things for when I was in Oregon. We hiked miles upon miles in beautiful places, but there were two moments where I just stopped and appreciated how far I’d come. We were on a trail at Silver Falls State Park and we just kept going and going, up and down hills, taking photo after photo of gorgeous waterfalls. At one point, we took a short little dirt trail to a rather hidden waterfall, and I took off my shoes, waded in the water, and climbed up onto a rock to take a little breather. Considering I was breathless in that photo above after walking up a short flight of stairs, this was quite an accomplishment. We ended up hiking almost 9 miles that day!

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A couple days later, we took a short road trip up to Crater Lake, quite possibly one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. We hiked about 3 miles that day, and there was only one point where it was just “too much”. I mean, really, a 45 degree angle for miles at a time is hard for everyone!

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Just this past week, my mom, her best friend, my sister, and I all went to Barcelona, Spain and the Mediterranean coast. We’d spent months planning, and surprised my mom with the trip for her birthday back in May, and it was every bit as amazing as I’d imagined it would be. We walked a minimum of 12,000 steps each day (thank you FitBit!) and I was able to keep up with my sister this time! We even talked about how I wasn’t “scurrying behind her” on this year’s vacation. These are a few favorites from this year’s trip:

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And just so you don’t have to scroll up to see, here’s a comparison of last year to this year:

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Now, let’s talk food a minute. I’m a huge fan of food, obviously. On both my trips, I generally ate what I wanted, but the quantities were significantly different than in the past. In Oregon, keeping low-carb was really easy, as Ericka is gluten-free. We enjoyed amazing meals, I think I may have overeaten once, and I rediscovered my love for peanut butter.

In Spain, I was bound and determined to eat as much authentic food as I could, and yes, this included carbs. I had fruits, bread, desserts, wine at lunch and dinner, and enjoyed thoroughly every last bite. I ate a ton of seafood, sucked the stuff out of shrimp heads, drank Fanta Limón, and don’t regret a thing. The minute I touched down on US soil, it was back to plan: a salad at the airport during our layover, followed by a lettuce wrap for dinner before I went to bed at 8:45 p.m. I can say today that I’m proud of myself for indulging the way I wanted to without overdoing it, and I have no regrets about what I didn’t indulge in.

I do, however, regret that I didn’t bring back any jamón iberico… sigh…

Summer Vacation: Photo Dump

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Back in the food blogging days, every once in a while, I would dump a bunch of photos onto the blog for fun. I’ve got a bunch since, to be honest, summer vacation has not been terribly exciting! I’ve done lots of long walks, lots of time outside, time with friends and family, and my fair share of lazy days too. So, below are just a bunch of photos that sorta kinda show what I’ve been up to!

Me and my sister, August 2013 to June 2014.

Me and my sister, August 2013 to June 2014.

Down 82 pounds here

Down 82 pounds here

Last day of camp to last day of school: down 84 pounds

Last day of camp to last day of school: down 84 pounds

One year apart, 86 pounds down

One year apart, 86 pounds down

Meeting my nephew Logan!

Meeting my nephew Logan, born 6/29/2014

Me and Adam at a Cubs game

Me and Adam at a Cubs game

Me and my friend Ericka, who was visiting from Oregon

Me and my friend Ericka, who was visiting from Oregon

Dinner at Cafe des Architectes with Mary and Lara

Dinner at Cafe des Architectes with Mary and Lara

Strawberry Selfie

Strawberry Selfie

365 days: camp 2013 to visiting camp 2014

365 days: camp 2013 to visiting camp 2014

4 quarts of fresh-picked strawberries

4 quarts of fresh-picked strawberries

My progress page is updated with new side-by-side photos, and my non-food rewards page is updated as well! I was able to achieve one of my small goals of wearing lululemon workout clothes, so my “Onederland” reward to myself was a cute workout outfit!

That’s about all over here… more soon!

Onederland!

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After last week’s gain, I was not optimistic about this week’s weigh in. I figured I’d get on the scale and have lost what I’d gained last week.

Have you figured out that when I start out a post with an expectation, it’s usually because the opposite happened?

I got on the scale after shedding my maxi skirt and extra tank top as I have for the last few weeks. I stepped on the scale, and I saw something I haven’t seen since 2007.

There was a ONE at the beginning of my weight number. A FREAKING ONE!!!

I saw 199.6!!!

That puts my total weight loss at 85.5 pounds so far, which according to ILostWhat.com  is the same as 4 lemurs.

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It has been a red-letter week over here, with my “New You” contest win, a 5.8 pound loss, and hitting Onederland (get it? Because my weight starts with a 1?)

There’s three days left of the school year, and I have a lot of packing to do… but at least I know that moving my stuff OUT will be easier than moving my stuff IN. There’s 85 pounds less of me, and I’m tons stronger…in more ways than one!

Super-Exciting News!

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Over a month ago, on a whim, I entered the OptiFast “New You” Contest. It’s an annual contest in which people who have had success with the OptiFast plan write an essay and submit before/after photos and throw caution to the wind. I didn’t think I had a chance.

I wrote a super-long essay (1,800 words!) and had to edit it down to 500 for the contest. I submitted pictures, and when I didn’t hear anything by May 31, as it had said on the page, I figured I hadn’t won. No biggie, right?

Then the email came in.

“Congratulations! You’ve been selected as one of three Grand Prize winners in the OPTIFAST New You Contest.  You were selected based on your overall weight loss, the creativity and originality of your essay, and the compelling nature of your story.  The OPTIFAST team is very proud of you and your accomplishment and look forward to meeting you in New York!”

Wait, what?

I freaking WON?!

I’m one of the three winners of the NATIONWIDE OptiFast contest! I get to go to New York with Adam, get a makeover, have a spa day, go on a $500 shopping spree (which I’ve joked will get me one shoe or half a nice purse!) and have a professional photo shoot! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING!!!

Without all of your support, I don’t think I could’ve done this… thank you for everything.

In case you want to read my super-long essay, since I don’t LOVE the edited one as much as the unedited, you can do so here.

My First Gain

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36 weeks in and I just now had my first gain.

After this past week, I was up 3.2 pounds and it really hit me hard. I’m trying to not let it get to me.

I checked my food logs and saw that I was over on sodium for the three days before weigh in, and under on my water intake. That would do it, for sure, but it’s still hard to see that number on the scale go up.

When I got home, Adam looked at me and said “Remember, don’t let a box of springs make you forget all the work you’ve done.” It’s what our old Weight Watchers leader used to say, and I needed the reminder. I’ve still lost 79.7 pounds, which is nothing to sneeze at!

And, I’d still rather look like this:

Favorite outfit as of late

Favorite outfit as of late

Than this:

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And be healthier to boot, any day!

Keep on keepin’ on…