Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's Time To Make A Change - Weight Watchers Style!

I have struggled with weight my entire life. I go up, I go down. And then back up. Each time I go down, I swear I will never go up again. Each time I go up I think, "Meh. I'll start again on Monday." Unfortunately, sometimes Monday doesn't come until a year or so later. 

Three years ago I was in the best shape of my life, winning weight loss challenges and gearing up to start training for my first 5K... something I had always wanted to accomplish but never tried to do. (Side note: I highly recommend the Couch to 5K program for new runners! It was fantastic.) In July of 2010 I ran my first 5K, in August my second - a trail run, no less. In November of that year, I completed a 5 mile Turkey Trot. From there until now it has been a steady slide back down the hill as I watch all of my hard work and good intentions zip past me. Again.

My weight loss didn't work ... didn't stick ... because I didn't actually change me. I would manipulate the system - whatever system it was. For years back in the late 90's, my girlfriends and I would go to Weight Watchers and then go out for dinner at Applebee's. We'd choose weigh-in days close to the weekend so that we had the whole week to recover. We weren't drinkers, but more like weekday dieters. Kick it into gear on Monday and then starve until Thursday and take the weekend off. 

This does not work. 


In more recent years I have participated in weight loss challenges through a local fitness club. There I learned more practical information about eating healthy and losing for life. My husband and I placed in the top three for every challenge we participated in, but when the challenges ended eight weeks later, so did our dedication. 

I have known for awhile now that I needed to make a change for the better. While that change comes easier for me with the accountability that weighing in with Weight Watchers brings, the biggest change needs to come from me. I need to dedicate myself to eating healthier, to exploring the world of healthy cooking with whole foods. To commit to activity and energy and exercise on a regular basis. Something I had done over the years, but never consistently. I only made temporary changes to accommodate whatever plan I was using at the time. 

I messaged my friend - the same one I joined Weight Watchers with back in the 90's and early 2000's - and mentioned taking that step one more time. I just tossed it out as an option, still not convinced. She was willing so, like I've been doing with many things lately, I took that leap of faith one more time and we joined Weight Watchers one last time on Saturday, February 16, 2013. I committed myself to healthier choices, tracking, measuring, and living within my Points Plus Value limits all seven days of the week, not just Monday through Friday. My goal is to make healthy changes that I can live with permanently. To not do anything so drastic that I find myself longing for it to end.

Origami Owl recently partnered with Rascal Flatts to help promote change. Rascal Flatts has an amazing new single out (Changed - worth a listen, even if you aren't a country music fan) and we have designed a new limited edition tag to help commemorate this release. Along with this promotion, Origami Owl has issued a challenge to their designers... a challenge to change. And not only to change, but to tell our story of change. Be a force for good, as the company motto says. 

In my case, a force for good health. 

This is my story; this is my change.

This past Saturday I went in for my first weigh-in and was pleasantly surprised to see all of the counting paid off. In my first week lost 7.5 lbs. I tracked and counted all seven days and while there was a bit of an adjustment at first as I went from mindless to thoughtful eating, it really hasn't been that bad. And what's more important, I *feel* a change happening inside me. A movement toward health as a lifestyle choice rather than a temporary means to an end. 

I don't have a number for my goal weight. My goal is only to be healthy, and to keep my family healthy. The fact that I am losing weight along the journey is just icing on the low-fat cake, so to speak.

In addition to tracking, counting, and cooking/choosing healthier meals, I am also exercising again. It is frigid in Wisconsin, so I've been bringing out the DVD's, most recently Leslie Sansone's Walk At Home videos and a few Biggest Loser work outs. I have always loved aerobic videos, so this is going great. My biggest issue is finding the extra 45 minutes each day. I've always said that we find time for the things that matter to us though, and I have done just that. Even if I only finish one mile of the three mile walk, it's still a mile. I'm moving, and that's more than I could say for myself last week. 

With Origami Owl, we say "Every locket tells a story." Here is the locket I am wearing this week and the story that goes with it. 

A #7 for my 7 lb loss.
A footprint for the 13 miles I walked (at home) this week.
A snowflake for the exercise I got while shoveling. ;)
A star to represent the one given to me when I reached my 5 lb. Weight Watchers goal.
A key to unlock the future, a reminder that life is a gift from God and that I need to take care of this precious gift he has given me, and an inspire plate in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. 

My hope is that I'll remember to blog my progress as I go. Maybe it will serve a dual purpose by helping to motivate you while helping to keep me accountable. Maybe we can help each other. I also plan to change up my locket each week to keep a tally of my weight loss close to my heart and mind, always incorporating the number of lbs I've lost to date. I'll continue to share them as I reach various milestones or have other info to share. While I enjoy sharing my Origami Owl business with you, and I am thrilled beyond belief at how well this business has taken off for me and how it has blessed my family, this blog is about so much more than that and so am I.

In closing, here are some links for a few of the most inspirational healthy living books I've read, as well as links to the DVD's I exercised to this week and a few recipes we enjoyed.

Fitness Books I Love: 

Working It Out by Abby Rike - written by a former Biggest Loser contestant who is also a bereaved mother. This book spoke to me on many levels.

Water With Lemon by Zonya Focco - the only book I've ever read about weight loss and healthy living that was written in the form of a novel. A fantastic, fast, read.

Reshaping It All by Candance Cameron Bure - a great story of faith and fitness.

DVD's I used in week 1:

Leslie Sansone Walk Your Belly Flat - An easy three mile walk. Well... "easy" is relative. I think it's easy compared to some of the other dvd's I've done, but it's still a fast paced work-out. This is my go-to dvd this week. I think I logged 9 miles with it.

Leslie Sansone 5 Mile Fat Burning Walk - I did this one day, a 2 mile walk. Much faster paced than the one above, and a fantastic workout.

Biggest Loser Power Walk - I used this one night for a two mile walk as well. I enjoy this video (mostly because I enjoy Bob Harper ;) ), but sometimes the talking between contestants gets under my skin during the second mile. The third mile requires some jumping jacks and more movement, so keep that in mind when choosing your workout clothes and... err... support. ;)

Biggest Loser Cardio Max - I did this one night as well. I'll be honest - it's not my favorite work out. The flexibility section is fantastic though, and the cardio gets the job done. I do like that the dvd lets you build your own workout and I selected a 45 minute routine of warm up, flexibility, cardio, and cool down.

New recipes tried in week 1:

This chicken/potato/broccoli combo I found on Pinterest. Granted it uses a ton of butter, but my thinking is that it's still healthier than the Large meat lovers pizza on stuffed crust that I might have otherwise opted for. I kept my portions small, and was pleased to see how many meals we got out of the dish by doing so. It was yummy, but had to cook 30 mins longer than noted in the link for the potatoes to be done.

Skinny Breakfast Sausage - Very tasty! We had it for dinner with eggs and biscuits. I'm still using up some canned refrigerated biscuits that were purchased prior to my change, but at 4 pts per biscuit (I had one), they weren't too bad. Once we've finished what we have on hand I'll move to making my own biscuits when we want them for less preservatives and sodium.

Frozen Yogurt Bites - These didn't go so well. We tried to make them with Jack's favorite yogurt - Stoneyfield Farms Banilla. I had them freezing overnight and some of them still wouldn't set. Most of them ended up in the garbage. If you've had luck with this, let me know what your secret is.

This week, and for the rest of spring, we'll be switching to a Thursday night weigh-in to accommodate Soccer Saturday commitments, so this will be a short week for me. 7 lbs won't happen again... nor should it. Slow and steady is the way to go. I'll share again after this weeks weigh-in - hopefully with another, albeit smaller, loss!

God bless,

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Monday, February 25, 2013

True Love

Have you had a chance to look through my Origami Owl site? It has been four months since I joined this company as an Independent Designer and I am still loving every single minute of it. I have been with other direct sales companies in the past, but have never felt as at home and comfortable as I do with this company; and on this team (both the larger one above me and the fantastic one I am building myself). 

My little Team FAITH (named for the leap of faith I took when joining the company before ever seeing the product outside of a catalog) has grown by leaps and bounds in the past four months and now holds upwards of 25 designers. Twenty-five! I was blessed to promote from Designer to Leading Designer in January, and am on track for yet another promotion this month. None of this would be possible without the amazing ladies I "work" with and the equally amazing ladies and friends who have supported me by hosting shows and helping to spread the word about my business. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! 

I was doing some reading online this morning about network marketing and came across this 2005 article from Entrepreneur magazine. The article is titled, "7 Tips For Network Marketing Success" and talks about what to look for in a company. To summarize, the six key factors for choosing a direct sales company include stability, excellent products and service, the generosity of the pay plan, the integrity of the company, the momentum of the company, and finally the training and support available. I'm proud to be a part of a company that encompasses all six elements so completely.

If you have ever thought about getting into direct sales, and working towards earning a full time income from home, I invite you to consider Origami Owl, and also consider joining us on Team Faith. The ladies on our team are spread from coast to coast with representation in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and here in Wisconsin. We also have ladies in Minnesota and Tennessee who are currently on the wait list and more exited than ever to get their official invitations to join. We would love to have you with us! If you are looking for a positive, energetic, affirming and faith-based group of ladies with a strong structure in place and a mentor (Me!) dedicated to helping you develop and grow your business, look no further!

In four short months this journey has well exceeded every goal I set for my first year of business and then some. As always a little faith has taken me a long way in life, and for that I am truly grateful.

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more, please message me through my Facebook page or click the link in the sidebar to the right of this post to email me directly.

God bless,

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Lincoln, Life, and Loss

My husband and I had the opportunity to have a little "us" time yesterday and decided to see the movie Lincoln at the local cinema. We had heard so much about the film - as I'm sure all of you have, too, and were looking forward to seeing it. I read some of the information about reactions to the film, and was aware that it centered around the former President's efforts to abolish slavery. I was prepared for a stellar performance by Daniel Day Lewis and looked forward to seeing one of my all time favorite actesses (Sally Field) in action. I have always been fascinated by our First Ladies. Where our Presidents have had the ability to decide whether or not to run for office, it is their election that catapults their wives into the public eye whether they are ready for it or not. I have read several books about the stories of these women - in particular, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Lady Bird Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, and of course Mary Todd Lincoln. Truth be known, I was more interested in seeing her role in this movie than his.

The movie, of course, was fantastic. It was a little drawn out on some of the political debating for my tastes, but my husband assures me it was very well written and very true to form for the men that were emphasized. We expected debates, and we got them. What I didn't expect... What completely took me off guard and hit me to the core, were the two scenes in which Mrs. Lincoln grieved over the loss of their son Willie.

William Wallace Lincoln died in February of 1862 at the age of 12 of an illness described as "most likely typhoid fever". The movie was set in January of 1865, making the Lincoln's three years bereaved at the time of the vote on the 13th Amendment. Almost exactly the amount of time that has passed since we lost Henry.

When Henry died in 2009, I was so lost. I didn't know how to live. How to keep breathing. Every breath I took was a physical effort. I had to remind myself to do it. There would be times when I would gasp for air because I would forget to inhale for a bit. It seems odd that something so ingrained would be forgotten, but it happened. As a semi-related side note, the song "No Air" by Jordin Sparks is one of the songs that will bring me to tears and has since the first time I heard it after Henry's death for the exact reason described above.

I was determined to keep living my life for Jack's sake, but although my head was convinced, my heart wasn't sure I was up to the task. I looked for comfort in the most unlikely of places - the cemetery. After Henry's funeral, I found myself wandering around the cemetery, memorizing the names of the people he now took up residence with. I would try to piece together different family members of strangers and figure out how they met. I'd calculate the years between the death of a child and the death of his or her mother. Then I'd think, ok, she lived forty years past her son's death. If she can do it, so can I. I found one woman who had buried three sons and was still living. I wanted to call her and ask her how she managed, but even in my grief state I realized that might be a little too stalker-ish. How would I even start that conversation? "Ma'am, you don't know me, but I found your stone at the cemetery..." Umm, no.

At this point, needing more information (or inspiration) than just dates and life spans, I turned to the celebrity bereaved. For better or worse, the lives of those in the public spotlight are kind of an open book for anyone to read, and I took advantage of that. The first person that came to mind given my life long fascination with our First Ladies, was Mary Todd Lincoln. I started reading book after book about her life and her children's deaths (three of her four sons died at age 18 or younger). I read about her grief and about her life after their deaths. Although she handled her grief much differently than I hoped to, my heart still went out to her and I've often wondered if her insanity that came with later life was simply a defense mechanism to save her broken heart after burying three children and a husband.

Yesterday, when the movie turned away from politics and slavery and turned toward the very real emotions of a bereaved mother, I was inconsolable. Thankfully there were very few people in the theatre at this late date so I didn't make too much of a spectacle of myself. Each time Willie was mentioned, I cried. If Mary cried, I cried. I also cried when the votes were tallied for the 13th Amendment, though for very different reasons (by then I was on a roll with the tears and they flowed easily). I find that I am much more emotional since Henry's death. Even the mention of a loss of a child or a child who has passed can bring my soul to its knees. Seeing a woman - or the portrayal of a woman - who I looked to for inspiration, in the midst of her pain was heart wrenching. And then to watch her compounded grief when she lost her husband so unexpectedly... I have no words. None. It was just too much for me.

It is often said that time heals all wounds. I disagree. Time does nothing more than put distance between you and the epicenter of your pain. It puts a bandaid on your wound. You feel better, but at any moment a turn in life can rip that bandaid off and there you are with that open wound again, just as painful as ever. Thankfully, each time the bandaid is removed and the wound re-opened, you become more adept at first aid and can more easily transition back out of grief to that more comfortable state where life and emotions seem somewhat under control.

Where breathing comes naturally.

Lincoln is a fantastic movie. My husband and I both enjoyed it and the acting was superb. I encourage everyone to see the movie and allow themselves to be engulfed with such an important man and moment in our nation's history. I only ask that when you do, you also allow yourselves a moment to grieve with the Lincoln's  and raise a prayer for this family that gave so much to our country despite their personal heart aches.

On the off chance that anyone else seeks out fellow bereaved parents for inspiration in their own grief journey, I encourage you to also look to the lives of:

Bill Cosby (Ennis, age 27), John and Elizabeth Edwards (Wade), Joe Biden (Naomi, infant), John Travolta and Kelly Preston (Jett, age 16), Sylvester Stallone (Sage, age 36), Marie Osmond (Michael, age 18), Eric Clapton (Connor, age 4), Kirk Douglas (Eric, age 46), Barbara Eden (Matthew, age 35), Carol Burnett (Carrie), Mike Tyson (Exodus, age 4), Vince Neil of Motley Crüe (Skylar, age 4), Dr. Dre (Andre, age 20).

In addition to President Lincoln, at least 23 other Presidents have buried children during their lifetime, including Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and John Kennedy, just to name a few.

Some day I would like to create a blog post detailing all of these individuals and their stories, but that is a post for another day. In closing, I will say to my bereaved readers that if you are looking for modern day inspiration in hopes of life after loss, look to former Biggest Loser contestant Abby Rike or the now deceased Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards. Elizabeth was very active with The Compassionate Friends and very open about her grief journey.

This morning, while watching Good Morning America, I saw footage of Robin Roberts returning to her home in New Orleans after her surgery and I heard her say, "My mama always said, 'Make your mess your message.'" It should come as no surprise that I got tears in my eyes. Abby and Elizabeth have done just that, and I hope to follow in their footsteps and do the same.

God bless,

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