Tag Archives: weight loss

Weight loss Journey #1: On Progress and Patience

I had meant to write about this the first time around, but having to stop a few weeks before the wedding never gave me an opportunity to blog about the journey so I’m rectifying that now. I’ve just completed the 6th week of T25, which is the same amount of weeks I’d completed the first time around. It’s also the 1st week of Alpha Round 2, as the program is technically only 5 weeks long, and I’m doing Alpha twice because I know I’m not ready to move on to Beta yet. Heck, I might need to do Alpha three times before I feel like my body can actually handle Beta, to be honest. On Saturday’s I always do an extra workout, because I don’t trust myself to take two days off, and that workout typically ends up being Tae-Bo Cardio, but in the 3rd or 4th week I thought I’d give Beta Cardio a shot and holy crap was it so much harder than I could have imagined. Now, I made it through it, and felt totally badass for it in the end, but it’s definitely not something I could do everyday yet and so I’ll stick with Alpha for another 4 weeks before I decide whether I’m ready for the upgrade yet.

 

So how has it been, now vs. before? Interesting? That’s a bad answer. Challenging? Yeah, that’s better. And challenging is good, because growing bored in this certainly wouldn’t keep me motivated. I must admit, though, that some weeks have been harder than others.

 

In week 1, making it a habit again was difficult. I found myself barely making it home in time to swallow some dinner, workout way too late, shower, and head to bed before midnight. For someone who gets up between 4 and 5 AM everyday for work, this is too little sleep. It left zero time for anything else, stressed me out, and left me constantly tired in a dangerous way. The best thing about week 1 was being able to actually do the recommended 2 workouts on Friday. I couldn’t do 2 in one day until week 4 the first time!

 

In week 2, that tiredness in week 1 caught up with me and my workouts suffered for it. Where I should have been able to give them a little more oomph, I was giving them a little less because I just didn’t have the energy. But, the habit felt formed already, like something I couldn’t skip – something my body needed – something I must do! Even though my muscles ached, I’d started to crave the pain because it reminded me I was doing something right.

 

By week 3, my priorities surrounding my schedule started to shift. Feeling like I must workout everyday forced me to make the most of the minutes in all the other things I do everyday. It also forced me to ax some non-priority activities like TV and social media from my everyday to-do list. If it couldn’t be done on my phone in a handful of minutes, it’d have to wait. I managed to make getting at least 7 hours of sleep a real thing and my muscles and mind were grateful for it.

 

In week 4, frustration set in. When you physically push yourself hard 6 days a week, you expect to see significant or noticeable progress. And when you don’t, it’s so easy to just want to throw in the towel. For as much as I loved the aching of my muscles, I hated it too. I hate how much my knees crunch every time I go to stand up or squat down. I hate how old it makes me feel to move stiffly after being seated for too long.  I hate how I have to take ibuprofen on leg intensive days just so my knees can even handle the workout. I hate standing on the scale and seeing the number either not move at all or even move up, when everything about your body feels tight and awesome until you step in front of a mirror and confirm that nope, you’re still giggly and fat. In week 4, my insecurities wanted me to just give up and stop wasting my time, but mentally I knew that wasn’t the answer. And I kept praying desperately for just the slightest evidence of progress, a 1/4″ even would have helped, but it hadn’t come. Thankfully, I didn’t quit and it was probably the sermon at church that week that kept me going. Things happen in God’s time, not ours – Pray for patience, not progress.

 

In week 5, frustration turned into obsession. Truthfully, I’m surprised it took that long. I suppose the feeling of working out as a must was the beginnings of it, but fitness obsession was in full-blown effect by week 5 and it’s not going away anytime soon.

 

 

Screenshot_2016-03-20-13-54-37

At the start of this second attempt of T25, I’d sold the unopened Fitbit Flex I got for Christmas and got myself a Garmin VivoSmart band to track my steps and sleep activity. My husband and mom have older model Garmin bands and it’s made both of them revive their naturally sedentary lifestyles. I wanted to do the same, but I wanted more features so I went for the newer “smart” model and quickly became obsessed with it. It’s thin and unobtrusive on my wrist and it acts like or appears to just be a digital watch whenever you touch it, but swiping and pressurized touches will give you a whole series of other options like: how many steps you’ve taken for the day, how many you still need to hit your goal, how many calories you’ve burned, or how many miles you’ve walked today. It also does even cooler things like when you’ve been sitting still for an hour, it vibrates at you and tells you to move and won’t clear itself until you do it to it’s satisfaction. If you ignore it, it will continue to vibrate at you every 15 minutes until you’ve hit 2 hours. It takes a lot longer to clear it if you let it get to that far without listening. It also tracks activities, so whenever I do T25 (or any sort of “workout”), I tell it to track the activity and then when I’m finished it stores them all on the app so I can later compare the actives on a week to week basis to see how I’m improving. It can track an assortment of different types of activities and it breaks each of them down by your fastest pace, a graph of your movement, how many calories you burned, etc… The sleep tracker is one of my favorite features though because it not only tracks the hours you sleep, but your light vs. deep sleep hours too so you can tell which things might be making you get more or less of the different kinds of sleep (for instance, my sister discovered her lifelong habit of sleeping with the TV on was leaving her with very little deep sleep every night). It even knows when I’ve gotten up to pee in the middle of the night. And you can set a little alarm on it, so you wake up to a vibration instead of the jarring sound of a regular alarm. Lastly, it can sync so seamlessly with your phone that you could control music from it, if you were in the middle of a workout and wanted it louder or softer or just to change a song, and you can have notifications sent to it, of which you can actually even read right on the band! I currently have my phone calls, text messages, and emails linked to it and it’s extra convenient for knowing when I NEED to check one of those things right away or if I can wait a minute until I’m near my phone again.

 

 
Sleep Tracker

 

Activity Comparison

 

Screenshot_2016-03-20-13-53-46Looking back, that all sounds a bit advertise-y, but it’s just because I really do love it. So much so that my sister has also since gotten one and now my whole family competes against each other daily in steps. You can “friend” people on the app and set challenges or just see their general daily progress every time they sync. My sister and Heath are so competitive they will literally run in place for 10-20 minutes several times a day just to get more steps and there’s a ton of trash-talking in the daily comments; it’s quit funny really. Having a job that requires I actually SIT at my desk means that I don’t beat them often, but I have on a few occasions and it was such a victorious feeling! My best day so far was over 16K steps and since I’ve had the band, I’ve put in over 400,000 steps total! I’ve found myself so obsessed with the steps that I have a hard time sitting down for too long now. Heck, I delayed a whole week in writing this post because I didn’t want to sit at my desk long enough to write it when I could be stepping. You can imagine what that means for my reading. If I can’t read it while I’m walking around the house, I haven’t touched it (which means, I’ve basically only read comics these days). Even while I’m doing menial tasks like the dishes, I’m stepping or dancing in place as much as I can to get those steps in.  I’ve joked that by this time next year, everyone will ask our family how we got so fit this year and our answer will be out stepping each other, but it could be true. I never thought I’d ever see us so motivated before and who knew we were so competitive?!

 

Anyway, I rambled about all that because it’s feeding my fitness obsession right now and in week 5 signs of spring started to make an appearance outside so Heath and I started walking after my T25 workouts. At first it was just a mile or so, but since then we’ve wandered halfway through our town, walking up to 3 miles a day now in addition to T25! That’s like an additional 3-5K steps just for walking around for a half hour. We both signed up for the Color Run in May this year and while I know we’ll likely just be walking it since the kids are going with us, I’m excited that if we keep up this walking every night thing, we might actually do the Color Run (walk) without being winded at all.

 

This past week, week 6, was a re-start of the program and you might think that since you’ve done it before and already made it past 5 weeks, that going back to the start wouldn’t be very challenging, but it is for a couple reasons. For starters, I can do a heck of a lot more now with the group than I could in week 1. I almost exclusively followed Tanya (the modifier) in those early days, and while I still need to for the high impact knee moves (primarily any that involve jumping), I’m otherwise doing everything else with the crew now. I’ve also been struggling with the tiredness again, but this time not of my own doing. Turns out that despite taking prescriptions for both of these things, my thyroid and vitamin D levels are back in dangerous places. I’m currently working with my doctor to rectify these things, but my week 6 routine definitely suffered for it. Hopefully it will be all sorted out before I hit week 8.

 

Yesterday I did the stretch session for the first time since having T25 and I’m not sure why I waited so long to check it out. My muscles are in a constant achy state, even with Sunday being a rest day, but doing that stretch DVD after my Saturday workout yesterday not only settled my heart rate and mind to a calm place, my muscles also felt SO relieved for a change. They’re achy again today, which is to be expected since I murdered my legs yesterday, but I think that stretch session is crucial from here on out. In addition to this, I’m going to continue to up my step goal by 1K every two weeks and try one of Blogilates daily mini workouts for the month of April. With all of that, my T25 schedule, and neighborhood walks with Heath, I’m bound to be reporting even bigger progress the next time I blog about this journey.

 

For now, I’ll leave with this… Anything worth having in life takes time and it’s important to track any and all of the things you want in life so you can later reflect on them in a better light than you might have had along the way. I’m on a mission to lose a significant amount of weight, on a journey to feel strong and be healthy enough to house a baby. Nothing about that will happen overnight. So, celebrate the progress, no matter how small or how long it took to happen, because it is happening. You are changing, little by little, for the better – just don’t give up!

 

Current Stats:

 

Weight: -6.2 lbs (-20 total since first starting in September)

Bust: -1/2″ (-4″ since September)

Waist: -1″ (-4.5″ since September)

Hips:  -1/2″ (4.5″ since September)

Arms: -3/4″ (1.25″ since September)

Thigh: -1/2″(1.5″ since September)

 

2015 In Review: Everything Else

 

Last year I had just five resolutions; that should have been doable, right? Not so, apparently, but let’s start with the ones I did achieve.

 

Get closer to God. I don’t know if it’s really right to say I nailed this one because I think this is something you should always be working on, but I definitely did work on it all year like I’d wanted to so I say it’s a win. I read my devotional everyday and even flagged the days that spoke the loudest to me to refer to later. I volunteered for the Sharing Table and enjoyed it immensely, so much so that it’s something I will always do when it’s my churches turn now. I was able to put some of my creative skills to work at my church during Vacation Bible School and hope to do that again this year as well. But even with doing all those things I set out to do, I missed a lot of church this year, for either being sick or bad weather or just because I was too tired/busy. I wish that part wasn’t true because it’s so much easier to drift from God without that weekly sermon to keep you grounded. I need to work on that for sure in 2016. I also didn’t write in my prayer journal nearly as much as I might have thought I would. In fact, praying as a whole is something that slips my mind all to often these days. I get it in my mind to, but instead of doing it right then and there, I collect my prayers and then forget to do anything with them. I really want to work on that in 2016 as well. Still, as a whole, I feel like my faith is definitely stronger this year than it was last year and even though I’ve got so much more room to grow, I feel like I’m moving in the right direction in my walk with Christ.

 

Get Healthy. This is another one of those resolutions that is always on my list and will probably stay on my list forever, but I definitely feel like I can call this one a success this year too, maybe even more so than years past. As I mentioned in my “Stuff I Loved” post, I got really into fitness in 2015. I had already been practicing the whole “clean eating” lifestyle from the year before, so that part wasn’t hard. In fact, once I started pushing my body past the limit, eating right seemed to get even easier – like my body was only craving the nutrients that would allow it to keep enduring all those grueling workouts. T25 is an amazing workout regimen and I’m so glad that I gave it a shot. In that first week, I keep starting an overly dramatic blog post about how I was basically committing suicide, but I’m glad I never finished it because I swear once I got past that first week my perspective changed 100%. Being the busy person that I am, it’s almost too easy to say I just don’t have time to workout, but I swear that somehow squeezing that 25 minute workout in everyday made me capable of fitting even more into my everyday schedule. I guess it just makes you more aware of your use of time? Something like that. I’m still disappointed I had to quit when I got pneumonia and that I haven’t been able to re-start it again because of my limited space/Christmas decorations, but I’m really pumped about killing it in 2016. And I’m really proud of/happy with the changes in my body so far as a result of the 7 weeks I already completed. By my wedding I’d lost 3-4” everywhere, dropped down 2 bra sizes and 1 size in clothing, and lost 15 lbs. total. Thankfully, despite my increased cookie/sugar consumption through the holidays, I’ve managed to keep it all off, too! I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m truly at a healthy place, but I feel like 2016 is definitely going to be the biggest year of success in this resolution.

 

Pay down debt. I don’t think I was able to pay off nearly as much toward my debt as I did last year, partly because I didn’t have the same amount of overtime and also because I got married/went on a honeymoon. But I did still put a significant dent in my credit with the help of another successful year of the Savings Challenge and in shifting my cards around to 0% interest rates so the money I was putting toward them was being used more effectively. I’m definitely not in the clear yet (or even close to be honest), but I do think I’m closer to being able to buy a house and am still hopeful that 2016 is the year for that. After we do our taxes and meet with the bank, we’ll have a better idea of what’s possible or not, but I’m still hoping for the best and I’m glad I’ve gotten in this saving/paying habit over the past few years because I’m confident I’ll be able to keep it up whether we can buy a house this year or not!

 

*Bonus: Get a Tattoo!* This was technically 2014’s resolution and I hadn’t achieved it by the end of 2014, but in reviewing those resolutions I felt confident that the day was right around the corner and I’d been right. I got not just one, but three new tattoos in 2015 (over 4 separate sessions) and gosh if it doesn’t make me want ALL the tattoos now. Seriously, it’s not even painful at this point and that’s when you know you’re in dangerous territory – lol. Thankfully the cost will keep my tattoo collecting in control, because boy is it expensive! Still, I’ve got a small savings started already for the next one and I can’t wait for more ink!

 

Tattoos2015

 

So for the things I didn’t succeed at….

 

Time Management. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to master this, not unless something major comes along to force me into it. Even then, though, I’m not sure. I really need to learn how to say no. Outside of all the creative pursuits I have on my own, I’m constantly saying yes to doing things for other people and thinking I can fit them all in my schedule together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want and need to do. Once again, this year I found myself sick with pneumonia for the first time in my life, as a result of trying to do way too much. People even tried to tell me to slow down, but I didn’t listen. It didn’t help that I had a wedding to plan, prepare, and participate in during the height of my busy season. That’s all I should have been focusing on, but instead I was doing so much more. If I could go back and do it differently, I would, but since I can’t I really just need to learn from it. I hope that I won’t find myself making those same mistakes this year, but I also know how foolish I can be. :/

 

Try to get Published. What a laughable joke. And not the funny kind either, no it’s the sad, pitiful kind. The most I achieved this year in the way of writing was reading through and redlining my manuscript. Not the one that’s complete either, not the one I wanted to shop around. No, just a regular old work-in-progress. And then I set it aside and literally did not write even one single new word in 2015. Failure doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings over this. I miss writing. I hate that my other creative pursuits eat up all the time I’d usually have for writing. I hate that I don’t know how to balance the two and be successful in them both. I miss my characters; they’re almost never even around anymore. I feel so out of touch with writing at this point that I feel almost foolish for thinking it’s still a possible dream to have. Am I even a writer anymore?

 

 

Bye October, Hello November

I’ve seriously failed as a blogger lately. I wrote three blog this month and never even bothered to post them (or never found the time, because I was actually quite busy this month). If I’m honest, I think I might kill this blog in 2014 (that is if I can get my website complete by then). This place has just lost its luster for me.

In case you’re curious, here’s what I’ve been up to in October…

I spent 7 days baking this month. Not 7 all at once, but scattered about. When you think about it, though, that’s a whole week lost to baking. Whoa. But it was all for good reasons, even if it wasn’t for my own enjoyment, I’m pretty sure all the people on the receiving end of my treats were happy about it. Here are some pictures of a few of those goodies.

Treats

I didn’t read nearly as much as I’d hoped, and nothing nearly as creepy as I wanted for Halloween either, but I did read three really great books and one awesome comic! (Titles link to my GoodReads reviews.)

October Books ReadVicious by Victoria Schwab
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (library copy)
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Afterlife with Archie Vol. 1

Speaking of books, I also got some in the mail. One a long awaited kickstarter purchase and two I had no business buying, but couldn’t resist the sale prices.

October Books In My Mailbox
Let it Snow (Three Holiday Romances)
Necromancing the Stone (Necromancer, Book 2) by Lish McBride
Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy

Somehow, despite being busier than normal, I wrote 4150 words in October (yay for working my way back to those 5K days!) and 1K of those words were for a Christmas short story I’m SUPER stoked about. I really, really want to finish this one in time. I feel like it’s going to become my favorite short story to date.

I worked out (sometimes up to 3 times a day) 20 days of October. This is the most consistent workout regimen I’ve done in a long, long time and I actually don’t hate it. But I do hate how slow the process is. Despite being at this now for over 7 weeks and eating super clean, I’ve only lost 2.2lbs. and no inches. I was so frustrated in fact that I went to my doctor about it. She said I’m definitely doing all the right things and that it just might take a little longer for my body to adjust to the change (which isn’t what anyone wants to hear), but she also switched up my thyroid medicine and the time of day in which I take it and I swear it’s already making a difference two weeks in (in fact, I didn’t even lose those 2.2lbs until AFTER the switch). Having a thyroid condition is known to make weight loss even more difficult than it already is and I know this, but I need at least SOME progress so I hope that this switch lets me finally start seeing some results for all this hard work.

Some great new music came out this month and I played the crap out of it, along with a bunch of old stuff like Twiztid and ICP because this always happens when Halloween nears. Songs/albums you should check out for sure include:

Dance Gavin Dance – “Doom & Gloom”

 

Arcade Fire – “Normal Person”

 

The Head and the Heart – “Gone”

 

Plush Soundtrack/Emily Browning – “Close Enough to Kill”
(click the image to listen on my Tumblr because there isn’t a track available on youtube)

This past week I’ve been particularly busy first by helping out at Trunk-Or-Treat at church [PICS] and then by throwing my ‘Sister from another mother’ a baby shower with my real sister while she was in town [PICS]. And on Halloween, my sister gifted me another nephew!

Abel - Halloween 2013
Click HERE to see more!

Abel was born at 8.3 lbs., 19.5” and I’m already so, so in-love with him. After doing a small photoshoot with him in the hospital, I spent the rest of my Halloween with his big brother trick-or-treating. It was one hell of a way to say goodbye to October.

Unsurprising, fall is already turning out to be delightful though I do wish it’d slow down a bit so I could enjoy it more. How was your October?

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When life gives you lemons…

I keep meaning to blog, but for one reason or another, life hasn’t permitted it. I had blog posts planned in my head, but now that they’re hardly relevant, I’ve decided to just do a short recapping of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

My birthday was last Monday. As I suspected last year, it was far less exciting than it’s been in the past, which as a person who loves birthdays, disappointed me. While I think this was partly because I’m not thrilled about getting older, it was also because that weekend all sorts of sad/bad things happened in my family.

My grandmother’s sister died unexpectedly, my own sister had a pregnancy scare and spent time at the hospital, and some drunken punk was dead set on giving my father a heart attack by harassing him daily (he even went as far as physical property damage).

I had taken a long weekend to “celebrate” my birthday, which really only consisted of reading a lot of books and going out to dinner because my life is so riveting (duh). While I did make it to dinner, reading books didn’t happen because my mind was too consumed with all the woe going on in my family. So, my house is extra clean now and I baked my first apple pie because these are the kinds of things I do when I’m stressed/sad. Such a lovely way to spend your birthday, right?

It wasn’t all bad, though. My friends and family lavished me with lovely cards and gifts, small tokens of love that I appreciated greatly. And dinner was chaotic as always, but in a way I love because despite the rough time my family was going through, they are always entertaining when we’re all together. Really, I can’t complain.

And yet that’s not true as I shift into my next topic: Photography. I’m pretty sure I’m finished *trying* to be a photographer as a side thing. I will still take pictures because it’s what I’ve always done and I will still try to perfect the craft because I want to grow as an artist, but I’m finished with offering my services outside of my family. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me or commented how good of a photographer I am and how they’d love for me to shoot their family or kids, etc… and even though it’s incredibly hard for me to have enough faith in myself to agree, I do. I even offer to do it for free as I build my portfolio, but every single one of these people (EVERY ONE OF THEM) has gone off to have professional photos done instead for a hefty price. I’m tired of extending myself like this. It’s almost as if they’re mocking me when those professional photos pop up online. It’s not that I think I could do better, in fact I bet I couldn’t, but I’m tired of people baiting me into something I’m already scared of doing just for the sake of saying something. NO ONE TOLD YOU THAT YOU HAD TO COMPLIMENT MY HOBBY, PEOPLE. If you’re not sincere, please just say nothing at all! I can’t continue to be led on this way. So, I might just remove the update altogether from my monthly reviews. If there are really great pictures I feel are worth mentioning, maybe they’ll get their own posts if you guys care to see them. In the meantime, I will shrink back into the introverted photographer I’ve always been and just be happy with my pictures because I like doing it, not because I’m trying to be something more than I am.

I should stop now, but I have more to complain about. It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with this weight loss thing lately. Since October it’s been one sugar sponsored holiday after another and I fell weak to it all with the best of them. I’m relieved the holidays are over with. I truly want a break from refined sugar, but my mind and tongue are not on the same page about this yet and so I find myself scathing the grocery store for obscure things like Berger cookies as if I actually need them. I know that if I just avoided them altogether, I’d be making this easier on myself, but instead I get this ridiculous idea that I can limit myself to one a day because that’s not all that bad, when in reality I know they won’t even last 4 days.

I hate that I know what needs to be done, I’ve done it before and it’s not all that hard, and yet my willpower is crap and I enable its inability to stand strong. In other words, I’m an idiot and I know it and yet I continue to be one. Obviously, I’m a genius.

So at this point, I’ve almost crept back up to my highest weight ever, making all my effort last year a total loss. It disappoints me in ways you can’t imagine if you’ve never struggled with weight. I cleaned and prepped a week’s worth of healthy food this weekend to get myself back on track with this healthy lifestyle I’ve been trying to achieve. I also finally treated myself to new running shoes. I currently have none that fit; it’s been at least 8 years since I’ve bought a pair (I’m more of a “coat/jacket girl” than a “shoe girl”). It’s been equally as long since I really ran, but I used to love it and I need some cardio in my life so I’m determined to get back into it whenever the shoes show up in the mail. Hopefully these are the things I needed to turn my goals around in the right direction. I do have to say that for as much as I hate the warmer weather, it does register something in my body that says, “You are too fat for this heat, Sarah, get busy!” And so I’m listening, or trying to at least.

My apologies for so much negativity, but I’ve had a lot brewing in my head and it’s been sort of therapeutic just typing it. I promise you a happier post sometime this week, but until then… anybody got anything they’d like to get off their chests, too? Rant away.

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2013 Resolutions

Last year I didn’t bother making a resolutions list because I’d failed pretty bad at achieving anything I’d set out to the year before, but I think it was a poor decision on my part because I am a list-maker by nature. Even the smallest tasks get written down day-to-day on a post-it and there is this great satisfaction for me when I get to scratch it off once it’s complete. I’m also someone who is pretty critical of myself and the expectations I set for myself, but last year I set none. Basically 2012 was a free-for-all in my head which isn’t wise for a planner like me. I love to live by a schedule. I’m not good at winging it. And so, this year I’ve decided to get back on the resolution train in hopes that this time next year I’m a lot more okay with where I am in my life than I was this year.

So, here’s a list of things I’d like to do this year.

  1. Finish one of my novels. Even if it’s the roughest draft ever, I need a completed manuscript in my hands. I’m just not sure I can keep letting myself believe I can actually be a successful writer one day if I have yet to produce a finished product. So far all I’m good at is having great ideas, great beginnings, but without endings that makes me pretty useless. It’s really time to prove to myself that I can do this.
  1. Write more in general. I suppose this is similar to above, but I mean in different ways. I have short stories I could write, I have other novels that haven’t really budged in a while. I want to improve on that too. I want to really absorb the writer’s life and it seems to me that none of them are ever just working on one thing.
  1. Read 60 books. I don’t know why, but 60 was the number I was really shooting for this year and I came close. There were a few months were I only read one book or none at all. As long as I don’t let that happen again this year, I should be able to achieve this. But just reading 60 books isn’t the only part of this resolution, I want some of those books to be classics, I don’t read nearly enough, and I’d like to sneak in a re-read or two as well. For years now I’ve been wanting to re-read my favorite book (ACHERON, a Dark-Hunter novel), but because of it’s enormous size and the time it would take to read it I always tell myself I need to read something else first. I think it’s about time I get rid of that thought. It’s my favorite book; I should be allowed to re-read it whenever I want.
  1. Learn how to use my camera better, to take better pictures, and to become better acquainted with editing software. I’ve bought a few books that I hope to not only read this year, but actually apply to my effort. I’d like to have a really awesome In Review at the end of 2013 that explores my growth as a photographer.
  1. Go to at least 1 concert. I miss out on shows so much because I have no one to attend them with. It’s a sad sort of thing to love music as much as I do and have no one to enjoy it with. But I’m really regretting all of the shows I’ve missed and I think maybe I just need to get over my fear of going alone and just do it. I know it won’t be the same to go alone, but I won’t be missing it altogether either.
  1. Lose 60lbs. (+/-) This will require a clean eating lifestyle and a deeper devotion to exercise, but I’m really ready for it.
  1. Create more in the kitchen. I’ve really gotten into baking this year, more than ever before. Not only is it therapeutic in some sort of way, it’s rewarding sharing my treats with people. I got a lot of new “tools” for Christmas to improve my skills and I hope to put them to good use this year, creating my own recipes and adding healthy twists to tasty treats.
  1. Make better use of my free time. I want to be as productive as I can whenever I’m not working or sleeping. I don’t want to look back and regret lazy days. I can rest when I’m dead.

What do all of you hope to achieve in 2013?

2012 In Review: Weight Loss

In preparation of writing this, I went back and read last year’s weight loss review. I sat here laughing at myself in the most pitiful way.

Last year, I vowed to return to Weight Watchers and lose my fat suit by my 30th birthday in April.

While I did return to Weight Watchers in January, I’d quit again by March because 40 bucks a month was just too much strain on my pocket, and by the time my birthday rolled around in April, I actually weighed more than I ever have. I’d reached a whole new level of shame.

Then one night this past summer, while perusing Pinterest, I stumbled upon a series of before and after pictures of girls from tumblr dubbed ‘fitblr’s’ that made my jaw drop. I read everything I could about each of them. How they began, how they succeeded. I tried to soak up as much knowledge as I could from these people who did exactly what I was trying to do. I followed their progress quietly at first, but eventually my intrigue over these ‘clean’ lifestyles they lead, while still eating more food than I would have ever dreamed you could eat and still lose weight, got the best of me. I had to give it a shot.

And so at the end of July I marked my starting weight and measurements down, took before photos, calculated my needed calories, and set out to try ‘clean eating.’ It was slow moving at first, it takes some adjusting to when you suddenly start paying attention to the things you eat and how they can/can’t benefit you, but I started to lose weight – in a healthy way. By the end of October I’d lost 20.1 lbs.

Things have been rocky since then, with the holiday season arriving and my uncontrollable desire to bake these days, but I’ve only gained 3 of those 20.1 lbs back. And while it’s still nowhere near the total weight loss I hope to achieve, I think that I at least have a better, more realistic formula to follow this year than last. I really hope when I’m reflecting on this journey at the end of 2013, I’ll have made enough progress to share my own before and after photos and join the league of successful fitblrs.

I suppose it’s time to give a little shout out to the four main girls who’s drive to live healthier lives encouraged me to do the same. Caitlen, Brynn, Shae, & Sharee, what you’re doing is amazing and inspiring. And I am really grateful for all of you.

Best of luck to all you out there trying to lose weight or just generally be healthier!

November: In Review

November was honestly one of the most unsucessful months of the whole year for me, which is super disappointing considering how sucessful November's have been for me in the past. It's like I jinxed myself or something. I'm pretty down on myself at the moment after a series of failures this weekend and the realization that it was time to make this also full-of-fail post, so rather than try and make this long and broken up like usual, I'm just going to make this short and sour (because it can't be sweet with so little to report). 

I only wrote a little under 900 words this month. 

I only read Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races.

Of all the pictures I took, this one of Gideon on Thanksgiving is really the only one worth sharing.

13 

I hardly even listened to music, but I did get into Atlas Genius at the start of the month.

I gained weight. 

I'm glad November was over with the quickness. At least this month, even if I fail at all the things I aim to improve on, it's Christmas and it's pretty hard to kill my spirit during Christmas. 

Watch, I probably just jinxed myself again. 

How was your November? Hopefully better than mine. 

October: In Review

For the first time this year, I’m not actually surprised that October was over in a flash. In fact, I’ll be surprised if the next two months don’t pass by just as quickly, if not faster. It’s just the nature of holiday season. This sucks for me since the beginning of fall marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year, but I try to not waste time moping about its fast nature and just soak up as much of it as I can while it’s here.

Writing: Even if the weather wasn’t an indicator of the changing season, I’d be able to tell it’s definitely fall because the writing bug is alive and well within me. Thank you, Autumn!

The month started off with me completing my Halloween short story. If you missed it, click HERE to read Intrusion! I’m rather fond of it and mostly because it came from a dream and while I often draw inspiration from dreams, stories rarely ever present themselves from start to finish the way this one did.

Since I finished my short story earlier than expected, I got to working on Dreamsters. After outlining the better part of the book I decided that the first two chapters I had written just didn't work so I deleted over 4K words. I haven’t added them all back yet, but I’m working on it.

Towards the end of the month we were hit with Hurricane Sandy, which left us without power for 48 hours. I used some of this powerless time to finally read my printed Crack the Sky manuscript (27 chapters worth) and see where I needed to pick it back up. It’s been a while since I read/wrote anything for Crack the Sky (like since March O_O), so I definitely needed a full read through before I could move forward. I was surprised to find that there was little to nothing I wanted to change at all, in fact I found myself captivated by the story which I hope can only be a good thing. But as I reached chapter 25, I shook my head in disturbed amusement over the remaining chapters. It is obvious to me that I must have written them when I still drank because they were horrible. The idea is there, but the execution is laughable. Needless to say, I’ve decided to can the last three chapters (3K words) and try again, not intoxicated.

So, where does that leave me for overall word count for the month? 3,895 words for October. Maybe you’re not completely wowed by that number, but I’m pretty okay with it considering it’s more than the month before. Plus, I’m hopeful that November will be even better.

Reading: For the most part I read the books I’d hoped to read this month. I am still in the middle of one unfortunately because it’s not really that good. Luckily I was smart enough not to let it keep me from other books and was able to read 7 books this month as a result! The titles of each below the picture are links to my Goodreads reviews on each book, if you’re interested.  

October Reads (Smaller)

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Gatekeepers (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 3) by Robert Liparulo
Timescape (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 4) by Robert Liparulo
Whirlwind (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 5) by Robert Liparulo
Frenzy (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 6) by Robert Liparulo
Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 by Matsuri Hino

Photography: I tried to take pictures of more than just Gideon this month. It’s fall, after all, which in my opinion is the prettiest time of the year. Because of this, I have lots to share this month! 

Gideon Pumpkin Patch
Gideon at the Pumpkin Patch

Milburn Orchard
Milburn Orchard

The Huff's
The Huff Family

Hurricane Sandy
Flooding in my walkway during Hurricane Sandy

If you’re wondering why there aren’t pictures of Gideon on Halloween, the reason is sad. As Hurricane Sandy struck Maryland, Gideon was rushed to the hospital with a 104 degree temperature and a potential meningitis scare. After several tests (including the all-painful spinal tap) they discovered an infectious sac in his neck obstructing his breathing and mobility. They decided to transfer him to the University of Maryland’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and attempt aggressive antibiotics before deciding if he needed surgery or not. Luckily, the antibiotics seem to be working, however he is still in PICU. This situation made the hurricane even worse than it already was. Halloween was nearly forgotten in the grand scheme of things, not that we could have celebrated it the way we’d intended to anyway. 

Music: It seems strange to say I don’t really have a lot to report in this area this month, but it’s sort of true. It doesn’t mean that music didn’t make me happy and that it wasn’t played non-stop like usual, it’s just that I spent more time listening to things I’ve already posted before than anything new, and mostly because Dreamsters playlist lived on repeat A LOT! But the one band I did listen to TONS was Relief in Sleep. And you’ll never believe what characters they woke up from a year long nap: The Cleaphytes. 😀

Relief in Sleep – “Collide”

Misc. Other: For anyone following my weight loss journey, I’m now officially in a smaller size of pants and at a total weight loss of 18 lbs. It’s a slow journey, I realize, but I didn’t gain the weight overnight and I won’t lose it that way either – at least not if I plan to keep it off (which I do). I’m impressed mostly in this past month to have still maintained a successful loss despite my seasonal favorite – pumpkin – being in everything. I even baked every weekend this month, but felt no obligation to keep the baked goods and found more reward in sharing them with others. I’m feeling rather proud of myself for this.

So, what kind of accomplishments did you have in October? What do you hope to achieve in November? Sound off in the comments!

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August: In Review

Somehow August managed to seem unusually long and fast at the same time. I know, this is impossible, but it happened. At the end of every week, I was blown away by how quickly it had passed, but every time I glanced at the calendar wishing fall was closer, it was still August. So how did I fare in this long/fast month?

Writing: I wrote 1463 words for my short story and finally finished it! This is the first short story I’ve finished in over a year so I’m feeling pretty happy about it. If you missed its original posting and care to read it click HERE for “A Pill for Bravery.”

Reading: I only managed to read 2 books this month. I’m not necessarily in a reading slump, but I was more interested in writing than reading this month. Nothing in my TBR pile is currently demanding me to read it and so I took advantage of the break and wrote instead. The books I did read at the start of the month are listed below. You can click the titles to see my “review” of each.

Photography: It wasn’t that great a month when it came to shooting my camera. I tried to on several occasions, but it seems like something always got in the way of a photo opportunity (like the time my sister’s kitchen nearly caught on fire right before we were about to take pictures. Yeah, that happened). Luckily, in the last week of the month, we were able to knock out a rather adorable photoshoot, one where I got to play with some new editing apps I bought. I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. What do you think?

 “She loves me, she loves me not…” 

“Old Timey”

I have a cute fall based photoshoot idea I want to do with Gideon and my sister would like pictures done for her first year wedding anniversary to sort of recreate the moment so hopefully I’ll have lots of lovely pictures to share for September’s In Review.

Music: Oh, music was so good to me in August… So good that making this list a reasonable length was somewhat of a struggle. 

City and Colour – “Hope for Now”

I'd heard of this artist before, but finally just got around to checking him out this month and after listening to two albums worth of music, I'm sold. He has such a mellow and chill sound that creates such a moody feel. This particular song already belongs to my Crack the Sky playlist. It's making me extra eager to start writing it again!

O’ Brother – “Lo”

Credit goes to Circa Survive for me checking this band out. After they featured them on a sampler for their latest album Violent Waves, I just had to have more O’ Brother and it was such a worthy purchase. 

Grafitti6 – “Stare into the Sun”

My sister’s to blame for this one. She’s been getting a lot of music from me lately (and surprisingly liking it) and she wanted some Grafitti6. I’d never even heard of them, but since their album was on sale, I went ahead and bought it for her. I didn’t necessarily expect to like it, but how can you not want to dance to this song? And several others like it on the CD for that matter! 

Circa Survive – “The Lottery”

I was really looking forward to the release of this album this month and it did not let me down. I have three favorites, two of which will be featured on Crack the Sky and Beyond the Trees playlists, but this track I like just because

Other Life Stuff

After following several fitblrs on tumblr for the last few months, I finally decided to take my weight loss efforts seriously in the last week and half of July with a total lifestyle change to clean eating. I’ve forced myself to try new fruits and vegetables and found that I’ve been missing out on a lot of good, healthy food for a long time. I’ve adjusted my sleep schedule to get 8-9 hours a night and I’m feeling much more rejuvenated as a result, and I quit drinking. It’s not that I had a serious problem, but my weekends were being wasted with drinking on Friday’s and Saturday’s and it’s just empty calories. It also didn’t help going through my dad’s liver attack scare when I was already feeling like it was time for me to give it up myself. If my dad could quit cold turkey after drinking everyday for the last 30 years, there is no reason I couldn’t kick it too. I’m happier now that I have, I don’t miss it a bit. And in these last seven weeks, as a result of my lifestyle changes, I’ve lost 12.5lbs. It’s not huge, and I still have so much more to go, but it’s the healthy way to lose it and hopefully once it’s gone, it will easier to maintain since it will just be part of my life. I hope to begin a reasonable workout regimen in the coming month(s) as well, something that doesn’t feel like a chore and is rather fun instead. Hopefully I adjust as easily to this lifestyle change as I have the current one.

So, how was your August? Any notable achievements? What are you hoping to accomplish in September? Sound off in the comments! :)

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Me, the Slacker?

You’ve probably noticed I’ve failed to make an April: In Review post yet and it’s already the 12th of May…. Yeah, I’ll cover that in this post first (quickly).

        Nothing to report here, April was useless.        

Okay, no, I’m kidding. I mean I don’t have a ton of things to report, but I have a few things to reflect on. Like…

I managed to read two books, neither of which were the completion of those two books I started back in February. (Who knows when I’ll ever finish them?) You can see what I thought about the two books I did read though by clicking the title: Infamous (Chronicles of Nick, Book 3) by Sherrilyn Kenyon & The Walking Dead (Book 1 (Vol. 1-2) by Robert Kirkman 

With my birthday, Easter, and some beautiful Spring weather all going down in April, I put my camera to use more than usual and tested my photography skills on more than just Gideon for a change (though there are some adorable ones of him, too). Rather than post an excess of “favorite” pictures that will likely slow down your feed, I’ll post one from each of the albums and if you want to see more, feel free to venture to the albums by clicking each of the pictures below. 

‘A Mother-Son Bond through the Glass’
Rachel & Gideon, Easter 2012


Me in the Smithsonian Gardens, Washington DC
(Technically Heath took this, but I set up the shot)


Mariner Point Park


Best of Instagram
(Oh, yeah, I’m on Instagram now. Follow me @swhisted)

Music in April was glorious as usual. It’s one of the constants in my life that never lets me down.

Arctic Monkeys released a new track….

“Electricity”

I fell hook, line, and sinker for Four Year Strong and Circa Survive.

“Falling on You”

“Semi Constructive Criticism” 

Saosin and letlive. demanded my ears attention and are still screaming, “Play Me NOW!” despite my attempts to listen to the new loot Heather () sent me for my birthday.

“Sleepers”

“Homeless Jazz”

And I checked out a number of new (to me) stuff by bands like Cage the Elephant, Arcade Fire, and Sleeping with Sirens. (Clicking those names will take you to a song, FYI.)

The oddest song that found itself on repeat in April had to be this, though:

Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”

As for writing (notice how I saved that one for last?), well it didn’t happen. At ALL. And while I’ll admit to it bothering me greatly (like self-doubt is at an all-time high), I realized that it’s Spring, and while I’d love to deny a truth I settled on last year, it means I probably won’t write anything of value or substance until Fall comes around again. The idea of this makes me feel a little insane. If you are a writer, you know what it’s like to have words trapped inside of you with no way of escaping. If you’re not, I probably just sound like a crazy person, but whatever. I really hope that I can somehow break this seasonal writer curse I seem to have placed on me, but my outlook is pretty grim.

Anyway, the real purpose of this post was to tell you what I’ve been up too because it’s been a while since I did a ‘general life’ post.

Last week I had an HBO marathon of the entire series of Bored to Death and The Game of Thrones. Bored to Death was a terribly hilarious series that was canceled too soon in my opinion. Ted Danson is a riot in it. And I’ve already seen most of Season 1 of The Game of Thrones, but I needed a refresher course before I finished what I’d missed. That show is crazy good. I’m glad I can finally keep up with it instead of having all of Twitter and Tumblr spoil it for me. I plan to finally catch up on True Blood next, as the new season begins in June and I’d like the net to not ruin it for me by still being behind.

I’ve also been watching a lot of hockey. I always keep up with the Washington Caps (my team, duh), but since they’d made it into the playoffs, I was paying even more attention than usual. Sadly, they played their last playoff game tonight. I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed, but I can at least conclude that 3rd string goalie, Braden Holtby, is amazing in the way that Olaf Kolzig was back when I first got into hockey and this thrills me. The caps would be foolish to let his talent remain in 3rd string standings come next season.

Today I just finished reading the funniest book I’ve ever read, and it’s a memoir which is not my typical read, so I’m delighted to have enjoyed it the way I did. I’m not lying when I say I’ve literally laughed out loud, to the point of tears, every couple of pages in this book. It is full of comedic value, even at times when you wouldn’t expect there to be anything funny. You should totally check it out. 

“Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)” by Jenny Lawson
(otherwise known as The Bloggess)

Immediately after I started reading Carrie Jones’ ENDURE (the final NEED book) and am already half way through it. I’ll likely finish it tomorrow because it’s so great you just can’t put it down, but I’m sure I’ll regret speeding through the last book so quickly because it’s always sad saying goodbye to a great series.

My weight loss effort has been heavier than ever on my mind. In fact, I’ve become a bit obsessive about it, but like all other things in my life that I let my OCD take over, I can’t see this being a bad thing because it’s keeping me on track more than I’ve been in the past. I’ve been finding all of these people who are as big as me or even bigger who have made remarkable progress – the right way – and it inspires me greatly. If they can do it, there is no reason I can’t believe I can’t do the same. Still, the time it will take can be frustrating. There are days when I feel like I must have made a great progress and the scale has nothing positive to say to me. This can be discouraging, but overall I know I’m making healthier choices and it’s doing something really cool to my mentality. I hope I really keep it up this time. I’d love to post before and after picture with major evidence of my journey.

And, so, that’s pretty much it. My life is so exciting, right? (That’s sarcasm, obviously.) What have all of YOU been up to these days? Please sound off in the comments!

Peace – Sarah

P.S. I know I'm behind on LJ comments. I plan to work on that this week, so sorry in advance if your blog gets a ton of late love.

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