Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 11

Here we are, approaching a New Year and the time when everyone makes resolutions. The question is, do you actually remember what your resolutions are and do you keep them? I manage to do well on some of them, but honestly, most of the time my resolutions are unrealistic.... sooooo....

Tip: Set REALISTIC health goals for yourself.
If you need to lose 50 lbs., then say "I can lose a pound a week." If you do better than that great, but the point is 1 pound a week is much easier to attain than 10 lbs. a week. I was realistic with my weightloss goals and I managed to lose 30 pounds in 4 1/2 months.

You can do it! And, if any of you want me to help cheer you on, just drop me a note, and I'll gladly help in any way I can. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Sweets- Frozen Deliciousness

I have a weakness for ice cream, but lately I've been avoiding it as much as possible. My goal for this holiday season is not to gain weight! It's not easy, but I'm finding more self-control than I thought I had.
Anyway, I've discovered how much I like eating frozen fruit like Strawberries, Banana chunks, and Raspberries with Hershey's syrup on top. It's really good and not bad on calories.

1 cup Frozen whole Strawberries = 50 calories
1 tbsp. Hershey's Syrup = 50 calories

100 calories? That's totally doable. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2 minute, 100 Calorie Chocolate 'Cup' Cake Recipe

I like having something warm and chocolaty once in a while. However, except for pigging out on the 'ACTUAL' holidays, I don't want to sabotage the hard work I've done, so I came up with this simple, warm, yummy treat to satisfy my cravings without leaving the rest of the pan sitting there calling my name.

In a microwave safe mug
1 Tbsp. Flour
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 generous pinch of Salt
then add:
1 Tbsp. Fat-Free Milk and stir.
Microwave on high for 45 seconds (give or take depending on your microwave).

It's easy and it's yummy. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 10

Got a sweet tooth, but want something that won't cause your calorie bank account to charge you overdraft fees? Try chewing some yummy gum. I've heard that the Extra desserts gum is good so I'm going to pick some up next time I get to the store.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Off to a bad start!

This is my second post. Although I did lose 2lbs, I can honestly tell you that I'm shocked! I've done nothing...you read it right...nothing to rid myself of this weight. I know this will get harder with the onset of the holiday season (not only because of the food and sweets, but also because I'm 'closet exercise' person meaning I don't like to workout in front of others and we often have family in town during the holidays). So now is the time to set some REALISTIC goals! Lets starts off nice and slow. I want to do something each day. The trick is to find the right time (some suggestions would be nice!). I think 8:30am is okay.
Monday: Run 1 mile
Tuesday: Wii routine (Yes, some may find this sad but the Wii can be considered a workout)
Wednesday: Run 1 mile
Thursday: Cardio work out to my fav DVD
Friday: Wii routine
I'll take a break on the weekend, because I have the feeling that I'll need it :-)
I'll check in next week. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday: 4

Body Health Thought: Multi-Vitamins. Since not everyone is perfect at eating a well balanced diet and/or has aversions to specific foods that could give you the essential nutrients and vitamins you need, it's important to take a multi-vitamin. Just make sure you're taking the appropriate vitamin for you. Children's, Women's, Men's and Senior's Vitamins are not the same. Having a good balance of Vitamins and Minerals in your life can really increase your energy and help boost your immune system.

Brain Health Thought: Multi-Vitamins.... hehe.... see a pattern? Anyway, since multi-vitamins can help you have the energy you need, then they help with your brain power. I don't know about you, but I can think a lot more clearly when I have energy, and also my memory seems to like me a lot more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Guest Blogger

Hello! My name is Denay. Bonnie-Jean and I met in college a LONG time ago. She's pretty much awesome! She's asked me to be a guest author on her blog because I'm starting my journey to lose the baby weight.

I have 4 children (I'll use their blog name):
Trouble is almost 6
Dynomite is 4
Backpack is 2
Aussie is 7 1/2 weeks.

After I had Trouble and Dynomite I shed the pounds quickly. After Backpack I didn't lose the weight like I did before. In fact, when I got pregnant with Aussie I was 10 lbs heavier than usual. So I knew I'd have to work harder to get to down to my weight goal.
This is a week after birth. It was great to hold little Aussie, but what is wrong with this picture? My phone has Kindle on it. So even after I was done nursing I'm still sitting there reading. Then hanging out on the couch next to me is some chocolate cake. During my six weeks postpartum sabbatical I fell into a bad habit of sitting around and eating all the great things I had avoided during pregnancy (because of heartburn). Bad habits don't die easy!Bonnie-Jean's blog has inspired me to work hard and eat right if I'm going to fit back into my drawer full of jeans.
Each Wednesday I will post what I've been doing all week along with my weight. Right now I'm 152.6lbs. My primary goal is to 135 lbs (my typical, I'll be happy with it, weight). Ultimately I'd love to be 128 lbs, like I was in High School.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 21: Down 25 lbs.

I've gone from a size 10-12 to a size 6. :) I've lost 25 lbs. and I feel great. My BMI is 21 and I'm pretty much where I want to be. It's been hard, but I feel wonderful. Now the trick is to keep it off. Since I'll be traveling soon, we'll see how successful I am. One of my friends is going to start blogging about her weightloss experience, and I'm so excited to follow her journey. Here are my pics. What do you think?

Before: (6 weeks Postpartum)

After: (6 months Postpartum)

my progress
Week 1~
Weight: 170 lbs.
Chest: 44 inches
Waist: 33 inches
Hips: 39 inches

Week 2~
Weight: 167 lbs.
Chest: 43 inches
Waist: 32 inches
Hips: 38 3/4 inches

Week 3~
Weight: 164 lbs.
Chest: 43 inches
Waist: 31 1/2 inches
Hips: 38 1/2 inches

Week 4 ~
Weight: 163 lbs.
Chest: 42 1/2 inches
Waist 31 1/2 inches
Hips: 38 1/2 inches

Week 5 ~
Weight: 162 lbs.
Chest: 42 inches
Waist: 31 inches
Hips: 38 inches

Week 6~
? Oh well :)

Week 7~
Weight: 161 lbs.

Week 8~
Weight: 160 lbs.

Week 9~
Weight: 159 lbs. :)
Chest: 42 inches
Waist: 30 1/2 inches
Hips: 38 inches
Thighs: 21 1/2 inches

Week 10~
Weight: 158 lbs.
Chest: 41 1/2 inches
Waist: 30 1/2 inches
Hips: 38 inches
Thighs: 21 inches

Week 11~
Weight: 157 lbs.
Just above the Knees: 14 1/2 inches (I want this # to go up because it means that my quadriceps are getting stronger and will hold my knee cap in place better.)

Week 12 ~
Weight: 156 lbs.
Chest: 41 1/2 inches
Waist: 30 inches
Hips: 38 inches
Thighs: 21 inches
j.a.t.k.: 15 inches :)

Week 13 ~
Weight: 154 lbs.
Chest: 41 inches
Waist: 30 inches (stubborn!)
Hips: 37 1/2 inches
Thighs: 20 1/2 inches
j.a.t.k.: 15 inches

Week 14 ~
Weight: 153 lbs. :)

Week 15 ~
Weight: 152 lbs.

Week 16 ~
Weight: 152 lbs. (sigh)

Week 17~
Weight: 151 lbs. :)

Week 18~
Weight: 150 lbs.
Chest: 40 1/2 inches
Waist: 29 inches
Hips: 37 inches
Thighs: 19 1/2 inches
j.a.t.k. 15 inches

Week 19~
Weight: 149 lbs.

Week 20~
Weight: 147 lbs.

Week 21~
Weight: 145 lbs.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week 20: Calorie Bank

Another week has come and gone. I'm tired and I'm busy, but I'm sticking to my own suggestions most of the time and it keeps working. :) For those of you who wonder about last week's Three Strikes game, I'm doing just fine. Since Thursday was my Anniversary, I traded eating sweets on Thursday with Saturday, so Saturday I was good. This week I've done ok, but I decided to permanently trade Tuesday for Saturday or Sunday because I attend a parenting class on Tuesday mornings and people always bring delicious muffins etc. If you're shocked, don't be, I just don't eat breakfast before class and I have a small salad for lunch and my calories end up balancing themselves out.

For those of you who don't really understand calories, let me see if I can explain by substituting $ for calories.

Let's pretend that every day you're given $2000 to spend on food. (This is only make believe.)
Breakfast: 2 bowls of Toasted Oats cereal (1 cup each) with Fat free milk (1 cup total) and 1 banana. -$460.
Lunch: A Turkey, Swiss Cheese, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich on whole wheat bread with a couple of sliced carrots. -$550
Snack: A medium Apple with 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter for dipping. -$300.
Dinner: 2 slices of Pepperoni Pizza and 1 Breadstick. -$690.
Balance= $0
Dessert: 2 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot-Fudge Topping. -$350
Balance= -$350

Ideally we all want to keep our Calorie Bank Account balance at $0 every night.

If you think you're overweight then you're already in the (-) negative numbers.
For every extra pound you weigh, you owe $3500.
If you're 20 pounds overweight,
then your Calorie Bank Account balance is -$70,000.
(Starving yourself doesn't work because it freezes your account, and leads to fees.) The only way to bring the account to $0, is to steadily pay it down.
If you walk at a moderate pace for an hour, you earn $300, but if you continually choose that $350 Dessert, then you're slowly increasing your debt. The best way to look at the situation is to slightly reduce the amount of $ you spend each day, and work to add $ to your account.

I began this journey with an account balance of -$87,500 , and over the passed 20 weeks I've been able to pay it down to the point where I only owe $7,000. It's taken A LOT of hard work and self control, but I'm almost to the point where I can easily balance my account at $0 before bed every night. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Sweets- Dark Chocolate Applesauce Brownies

So, since my niece and I are doing the no sweets Monday - Friday thing, we decided we could make a yummy treat today before going without sugar tomorrow. I made the recipe a little healthier than it normally would be, but it's still delicious. However, since I'm feeling lazy, here's the link to her blog where the recipe is posted. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week 19: Three Strikes

This week I've decided to try and up my healthy eating habits. I'm trying to see if I can limit my intake of sweets to the weekend alone. While discussing my strategy with my niece Emily, we came up with the three strikes policy. Basically here are the rules of our game:

-No sugary foods Monday- Friday. (Fruits, and yogurts don't count)
-If you slip and eat a sweet goody, then you get a strike.
-If you get 3 strikes, then you have to give up being able to eat sweets on either the following Saturday or Sunday.

Want to play with me?

I'm trying to conquer my sugar addiction because sugar really isn't good for you.

Sugar raises insulin levels which inhibits growth hormones and promotes fat storage (especially around your mid-section). Sugar also suppresses your immune system.

Here are a couple of links about sugar that I found interesting:
Ask Dr Sears
Sugar Addiction
Healing Daily

Healing Daily:
"It was only in the 1970's that researchers found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocytize viruses and bacteria. White blood cells require a 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C...

We know that glucose (sugar) and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, so what happens when the sugar levels go up? They compete for one another upon entering the cells. And the thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. It doesn't take much: a blood sugar value of 120 reduces the phagocytic index by 75%. So when you eat sugar, think of your immune system slowing down to a crawl."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 9

I like to veg in front of the TV or read a good book after I've put my children to bed. A couple of years ago, I always kept naughty snacks like trail mix and chocolate chips handy. However, after I started ballooning out, I realized that I was eating way too much junk and calories that way, so I stopped. Now if I want a snack, I pop some popcorn, put the amount I want in a bowl and sit down. I leave the bag on the counter in the kitchen so if I really want more I have to physically get up and refill my bowl. I also find that keeping baby carrots, sliced cucumbers and/or celery sticks handy gives me more choices on guilt free snacks to fill my bowl.

DON'T keep junk food near the your lounging spot!

Keeping bad food within an arm's reach makes it way too easy to give in to a whim of indulgence and overeat. If you absolutely must have something naughty, put a little in a bowl, and limit yourself to that amount.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Week 18: WooHoo!

I did it! I haven't reached my 'Ideal' body image, and I probably never will, but I'm sooooo happy today because I've officially lost 20 lbs! While I didn't really care about how much weight I lost, I did want to get to a BMI of 22 or below and when I used the calculator on my side bar, I got 22.15....soooo.... WOOHOO! I haven't been this light since 2005 and I'm loving it. :)

In other news.... I was thinking about how to mix up my regular exercise program and I've decided to make sure I add swimming once a week. Yesterday I swam 1500 and it felt WONDERFUL, I was actually able to do a butterfly without hurting my shoulders and it's been 10 years since I was able to do that. I'm feeling myself getting stronger and although I still have to watch out for asthma flare ups, everything seems to be getting easier for me to do. I can't wait to see how I continue to change over the next 9 + months while my husband's away.

Progress to date:
- Starting Weight: 170 lbs........ Today: 150 lbs,
- Chest: 44 in............. 40 1/2 in.
- Waist: 33 in............. 29 in.
- Hips: 39 in............. 37 in.
- Thighs: 22 in............ 19 1/2 in.

= 20 lbs. lost and 12 inches!

(If I were 5' 5" I'd only weigh 133! :D )

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 8

Before you eat, drink a GIANT glass of water! My friend Jenni reminded me of this lovely tip the other day, and I wanted to refresh the memories of others too. If you haven't heard it before, you should give it a try, it does make it easier to watch your portion size. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Meals: Homemade Pizza

I love my pizza! It's not bad for you and very tasty. Perhaps you'll like it too!

Prepare your favorite whole-wheat pizza crusts.

To make pizza, top the prepared crusts with pizza sauce and top with your favorite sliced veggies and other toppings. I like mushrooms, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, pineapple, ham, and lowfat turkey pepperoni. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese over the top and then bake pizzas at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are slightly golden and the cheese has completely melted. (Adjust baking temperature and time as needed, just keep checking your pizza.)


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week 17: Back on the Horse

Have you ever fallen off a horse? I have, it hurts. However, my Mom always used to say "Are you okay? Great, well dust off, and get back on" and I always did. Last week was a little bit of a reality slap where my overindulgent eating halted my progress and I fell off my healthy horse. I decided that I needed to dust off and get back on, so here I am and it feels good.

I love the way I feel and I'm liking the way I look, so I'm glad that I've made the decision to be 'mostly' healthy. Like I've said before, I'm not perfect, but I succeed about 90% of the time, and that's good enough. Honestly, my life would not be as happy if I didn't enjoy a Gigantic Cinnamon Roll once in a while, or a yummy slice of Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake occasionally. I just can't do it more than once a week! :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week 16: the Wall

Everyone hits a wall to their weight loss eventually; I hit mine. For the first time since I began this journey I wasn't able to lose any weight this week but that's okay because I celebrated my birthday and enjoyed indulging in Oreo's, Ice-cream, Brownies, Pizza, and Chocolate Lucky Charms, not in that order, but you get the idea. Also, last night the Blue Star Card organization (a club for spouses of deployed soldiers) took me and my niece out to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner, and then we got to see 'Eat. Pray. Love.' There was also free childcare provided.... anyway, I'm certain I ate too many calories and woke up fatter this morning, but that's okay... everyone needs to celebrate once in a while; as long as it's not everyday.
To help feel a little less guilty about last night I attended a 90 minute Kickboxing class and I ran 2 miles this morning. I've also been watching my food again today.

If you want to make sure you're burning fat in your workouts there are some simple rules to follow:
-Find your target heart rate (THR)
-Exercise for at least 20 minutes within that THR.

To figure out what your target heart rate is, here's a calculator. that gives you a rough idea,
or use the Karvonen Formula:
206.9 - (0.67 x 23 (age)) = 191
191 - 65 Resting heart rate (rhr) = 126
126 * 65% (low end of heart rate zone) OR 85% (high end) = 82 OR 107
82 + 65 (rhr) = 147
107 + 65 (rhr) = 172
The target heart rate zone for this person would be 147 to 172

206.9 - (0.67 x (age)) = A
A - Resting Heart Rate (rhr) = B
B x 65% (low end of heart rate zone) OR 85% (high end) = L or H
L + (rhr) = X
H + (rhr) = Y
Your target heart rate zone= X-Y

If you stick toward the lower end of your THR then a higher % of calories you burn will come from fat, about 50 %. The high-end THR will result in more calories burned all together, but the percentage of calories from fat drops to about 30 %. So, a nice brisk walk for a long time is ideal, but if you only have a small amount of time, exercising for at least 20 minutes will help raise your metabolism for the rest of the day. I make sure I do at least 30 minutes in my THR at least 4 x's a week besides my weight/resistance training.

I'm going to try mixing it up with more intervals of fast and slow and more muscle confusion from a greater variety in the type of exercising I do. With any luck, this will help me knock down the wall. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Meals: Easy Low-fat Enchiladas

1/2 lb. 97% lean ground beef
1/2 lb. Pepper Stir Fry Mix
1 can enchilada sauce (10 oz)
3/4 cup Fat Free Shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 corn tortillas or 6 small Whole Wheat tortillas

1. Heat oven to 375ºF. LIghtly grease 7 x 11 inch glass baking dish. In large skillet cook beef until done. Add pepper stir fry and cook until vegetables are heated through. Add 1/2 the can of Enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup of the cheese to skillet, stir and remove from heat.
2. Spoon enchilada filling onto tortillas; roll up and place seam sides down in baking dish.
3. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top: sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until hot.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Week 15

I know I skipped posting last week but I went camping and other stuff so I just didn't have time. I've decided not to take my measurements for a few weeks because I seem to be stuck in that area for now. We'll see what happens. I was hoping to have gone down 20 lbs. by my birthday, but I didn't quite make it... 18 lbs. is pretty good though. :)

Tomorrow's the 3rd Anniversary of my 26th birthday. I refuse to get older if my husband isn't around to acknowledge my age progression. :) Anyway, I'm going to eat whatever I want and I'm going to enjoy it. I try to eat healthy for the most part and I'm successful 90% of the time, but a few times a year I want to just indulge in delicious awful food like brownies and Oreos. :)

The reason I don't do it more than a couple of times a year though, is because it only takes 8 hrs for any extra calories you've consumed to metabolize and be stored as fat. That's why it's possible for people to gain a few pounds over Thanksgiving weekend. Honestly, I won't be able to eat that much anyway because my stomach has shrunk.

Stomachs are cool like that, they can either grow or shrink to accommodate how much food you put into them and tell them to get used to. It can take a couple of weeks for your stomach to shrink and you'll feel hungry, but if you persist in eating only the calories you should, your stomach will start to feel full faster after having eaten less.
Well, that's all for now. :) Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 7

In order to feel satiated make sure you include a decent amount of protein in every meal. Now I'm not saying you should eat an entire cow or something (although an occasional burger is nice), I'm saying eat lots of different types of protein like nuts, beans, and soy. Fish, lean poultry and egg-whites are excellent choices as well. One of my favorite forms of protein is seafood: crab, lobster, oysters, shrimp etc.... yummy and it's almost completely fat-free.

Protein=Feeling Full! :)

Besides, if you're working out your muscles with resistance training, you need protein to build your muscles.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Bread

If you'd like an almost Fat-Free, super yummy, healthy Bread Recipe, click here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Week 13: Recap and photos

So here's a Recap on my weight-loss journey.

I'm not sure how much I weighed in 2008 but I was not happy with my appearance at all. Here are a couple 'Fat' photos:
(I can't believe I'm sharing these: oh well)

In May 2009 I started exercising but not watching the amount of calories I was eating so I got up to 185 lbs. (Yuck!)

Anyway, I was determined to change that before I even thought about having another baby so I worked out really hard and ate 4 meals of 400 calories each and dropped down to 165.

Then I got pregnant. The day before I gave birth to Clara I weighed in at 194 lbs.

6 weeks postpartum I was down to 170.

Now I'm down to 154, I can't believe it, it's WONDERFUL! I keep losing weight and it's become easy to watch my calorie intake and I'm always motivated to exercise. I have finally gotten rid of a lot of my 'Fat' clothes and I went out and purchased some NEW smaller clothes since I feel as though I look a whole lot cuter than I did 15 months ago when I was 31 lbs. heavier.

For those of you who still think that 154 seems like a lot of weight remember that I'm 5' 9" so my BMI is only 22.74 which really isn't bad.
If I had the same BMI and I were only 5 '4", I'd weigh 132.5 lbs.
I think I'd like to drop another 14 lbs. and get down to 140, but we'll see what happens. I'm feeling healthy and cute and happy and I NEVER want to feel chubby again. I want to be Super Sexy for my husband when he returns from his deployment and I know I can make it happen.

Here are a couple of pictures from last week:

Getting in shape seems hard at first, but once you've developed healthier habits, it can come rather easily as long as you're not looking for the quick fix. I lose 1 or 2 lbs. every week and that works for me, maybe it could work for you too. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Week 12- Steady Progress

I've been doing what the doctor said and I can already feel a big difference in my knees; not much pain, and my knee-caps aren't shifting around like they were! YIPPEE!

By the beginning of next month I should be able to start running again! I can once again see that 5 K in my future! Also, I now have a couple of different friends who want to do it with me, so I'm going to start looking around for races toward the end of the year! Just the thought of it gets me itching to start training, but I'll stick to what the doctor has ordered.

Something else I've noticed is that I've had to increase the weight on the machines I use or I don't feel like I'm getting a workout.... so....I'm assuming either the weights are getting lighter or I'm getting stronger. My arms aren't progressing the way my legs are but that's because I'm unable to use the machines that require a grip so I do what I can, and I'll be happy with any progress for now. :)

Speaking of progress, check out the sidebar; I'm down 14 lbs from where I started, and my inches are moving in the right directions... I.E. my waist is going down and 'just above the knee' is going up! Feeling good over all, how are you doing? :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 6

I've decided that whenever I have a craving for something healthy, I'm going to make the effort to go out and get it no matter how much it costs. The other day I really wanted an artichoke, so I put it at the top of my grocery list, looked around the kitchen for other things I should pick up while I was at the store, loaded my kids in the van, and went shopping.
I bought my artichoke, and after the kids were down for the night, I cooked it up, put on a good movie, and thoroughly indulged in my healthy snack.
From now on, this one of my mottos, "if it's healthy and I'm craving it, then it WILL be mine!" :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Sweets- Blueberry Muffins

Healthy and Heavenly, these muffins are one of my favorite snack foods. The recipe is low-fat, easy and the results are delectable!

Yield: 1 dozen medium sized Muffins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

In a large bowl combine:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a separate bowl combine:
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup water
1 large banana (mashed)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon (or 1/4 tsp Lemon extract)
-mix thoroughly

Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then add

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries -mix lightly.

Bake in greased muffin tins for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
(Each muffin is approximately 130 calories)

New Note: Substituting pureed cooked vegetables like sweet potatoes or cauliflower for the applesauce is also a great way of sneaking some extra veggies into your diet.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fitness Friday:4

If you're lucky enough to have time to do strength training, here's the advice the Orthopedic specialist gave me the other day:
Set the weight on the machine to a level where there's resistance, but it's not really difficult either. Then you do four sets of repetitions in a 12, 10, 8, 6 pattern resting 30 seconds between each set. By the time you get to the final 6 you should be working pretty hard!

Example: I set the leg extension machine at 65 lbs.
Set of 12 reps
Wait 30 seconds
Set of 10
Wait 30 seconds...etc.
This works great! I get an awesome work out when I circulate through the machines applying this technique.

I worked hard today and right now I have the nice, slightly sore feeling. :)

Remember, muscles increase your metabolism so to lose weight effectively, it's important to try and increase your muscle mass. (If you're a lady, don't worry, unless your hormones are really screwed up, you won't become the Incredible Hulk!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Week 11: Runner's Knee and Carpal Tunnel

I'm trying to get myself to the best me possible which includes fixing ailments etc. This week I went to visit the Orthopedic specialists and Occupational Therapists to see what could be done to not have knee or wrist pain anymore.

Although I did my seated leg raises, I have still been having a lot of knee pain. Well, the awesome specialist told me I have 'Runner's Knee' and he gave me a Quad strengthening exercise routine. Then once that's done, he also gave me a 'Walk to Run' program. So, after a few weeks of focusing on building my Quads I can resume my goal of running a 5K. :D He told me to go home and measure my leg right above my knees so I can see my progress as my muscle builds!

As for my wrists, I saw the Occupational Therapist today and he gave me some guidelines to follow to help my pain go away. I'm not a fan of surgery until you've done everything else possible! I don't have the typical numbness and tingling that people associate with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), instead I have a constant dull pain that radiates toward my thumb and I have a relatively weak grasp. Anyway, for the next few weeks I'm going to NOT be doing things like pushups and pull-ups or anything that requires constant/repetitive grasping/flexing. I am allowed to use the arm machines at the gym that don't require a grasp so I'm not giving up my arm strengthening goals. Tomorrow I go in and get some custom wrist splints made too! I'm excited and I'm going to follow the directions I've been given faithfully! :)

Overall, I feel as though I look better in my clothes and I have reason to hope that I won't be in constant pain anymore! Hooray!

Finally, since I said I'd post some pictures of my progress this week, here you go. What do you think? Do I look like I've made progress?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fitness Friday:3

Flexibility! I've mentioned it before but with my recent doctors visits my thoughts were reaffirmed. While I work on trying to get my knees back into tip top shape, the importance of increasing my flexibility comes to the forefront. I plan on making flexibility a top priority by warming up and stretching every morning.

Would you like to become more flexible? One of the main things that a lot of people do incorrectly is not holding a stretch long enough. A minimum of 30 seconds is recommended. Here's some other ideas about how to stretch properly.

Also, try and stretch all of your major muscle groups regularly:
Hamstrings (my personal nemesis),
Gastrocnemius a.k.a. Calves,
and Shins.
(When done properly it should take between 10-12 minutes)

I think I need to be more flexible in other areas of my life as well:
Mentally, and

Maybe I should try and become an all around contortionist... hehe

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Week 10: Thirst/Hunger Confusion.

How do you know you're actually hungry and not thirsty? It's possible that you're receiving the wrong signal. When you're feeling hungry and it hasn't been very long since you last ate, try drinking a large glass of water and waiting 10 minutes to see if you're still hungry. The same advice applies after you've been working out, instead of ravaging the contents of your frig and pigging out, drink a bunch of water and wait an hour.

I've managed to consistently lose a pound of week since Week 3 of this blog, and staying hydrated by drinking water instead of eating right after working out has helped me keep my weight loss going. I'm curious to see when my progress will stop. It's always a pleasant surprise to get on the scale and see that the number has gone down again. :) I've also enjoyed the small but steady changes in my measurements.

I've not been exercising as much as I once was, but I'm still learning to balance my life now that my husband is gone for a year long deployment. I'm not perfect but the trick is I keep going... right?!

Next week I plan on getting some updated swimsuit pictures to post to see if my progress is noticeable.... so.... stay tuned... :D

P.S. Words of support would not be discouraged if you feel so inclined... ;o)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 5

Craving something really bad for you like doughnuts or ice cream? Well, instead of buying a box of a dozen doughnuts, or a tub of ice cream, make a plan to go out. I don't deny myself yummy things, but I don't leave them sitting in my house in front of my face either. When I want a doughnut I'll go to a doughnut shop and choose 1 decadent creation and then eat it slowly. When I want ice cream I'll visit a superb ice cream parlor and choose a scoop of some amazing flavor and savor it. When I'm done I'll not have eaten more than 500 calories and I won't feel like I've completely ruined any of my progress. If you plan it far enough ahead of time you can even budget the treat into your daily calorie allotment.

Tip: Don't deny yourself something yummy, but instead of buying too much of something and bringing it into your home to stare at you, go out to a specialty shop and purchase a small amount of something amazing! :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Sweets- Chocolate Fix

Sometimes I really want chocolate.... wait, who am I kidding, I ALWAYS want chocolate. Anyway, when the craving hits particularly hard and I'm determined to be good, I grab a couple of little chocolate flavored hard candies from See's. They are only 17.5 calories a piece and they last for a few minutes so I get to extend my pleasure... (Mmmmmm).

Seriously, I HEART

See's Candies: Gourmet Hard Candies - LIttle Pops- Chocolate :)

They also have other flavors if you want some variety.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 9: What's the Ideal?

People have different ideas of what the ideal body should look like. I think a woman's ideal proportions should be based on her own measurements. I'll explain my guidelines for my goals below:

Measure your Wrist. Wrist x 2= Neck. Neck x 2 = Waist.

Measure you Ankle. Ankle x 2 =Thigh. Thigh x 2 = Hips and Bust (Chest)

So here's my ideal:............ Here's my reality:
Wrist = 6 1/2 " ..................Wrist = 6 1/2"
Neck = 13 1/2 " .................Neck = 13 1/2"
Waist = 27 ".......................Waist = 30 1/2"

Ankle = 9 1/2 ".................Ankle = 9 1/2"
Thigh = 19 ".....................Thighs = 21 1/2 "
Hips = 38 ".......................Hips = 38 "
Bust = 38 ".......................Bust = 42 "

So, to reach my ideal I need to:
-lose 3 1/2 inches off waist
-lose 2 1/2 inches off each thigh
-lose 4 inches off my bust, although my husband may say otherwise...lol. :)

To go along with this idea I'm updating my goals box on the side bar. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Week 8 - Finding Motivation

Since my husband left it's been hard to find the motivation to really make myself do all the exercises I know I need to be doing. Some days I'm really good at doing it all and other days I'm good just to go for a walk. My lack of motivation combined with my knee pain is evident by my slowing progress. Oh well, I have to give myself a little more time to grieve his absence and adjust otherwise I'm just lying to myself and prolonging the process.
Anyway, to help give myself extra motivation I'm going to create a daily checklist of exercises and I'm hanging it up on the wall so that it's staring at me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 4

Invest in small baggies. I divide treats into individual portions and put them into baggies. Then if I want a snack I grab one of my prepared baggies and I know I won't be accidentally eating too much.

Baggies + pre-measured portions = good idea! :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday: 3

Body Health Thought: Do you take a multi-vitamin? I do. It's important to make sure you get your daily vitamins. Sometimes if you're lacking in a certain vitamin/mineral you'll have cravings for things that aren't the best for you. I have a weakness for chocolate which comes from a low level of magnesium. It's important to try and keep your calcium and magnesium levels balanced. Here's a cool article all about why some dark chocolate can actually be good for you. :)

Brain Health Thought: I have a heck of a time remembering things, but I find that if I purposely set aside a little time each day to memorize a verse of poetry or scripture that my memory works better. Like muscles in the body, different areas of the brain need to be used and exercised to work properly. Give it a try, find a book of poetry or scripture that has passages you enjoy and try and memorize one every day, you may be surprised by the results. :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Week 7- Getting Back on Board

I woke up this morning and decided that I've had enough pity-party time and I need to get back into the regular swing of things. That said, I decided to walk to the library this morning. I went to the doctor last week because of pain I've been having in my knee and he said I've developed tendonitis in the knee and I need to cut back on some things and increase on others. I was in pain and my husband was getting ready to leave so I just stopped exercising all together until now. I figure I want to be as attractive as I can be for the next time I see my handsome hubby. I am glad that I've continued to lose some weight, at least I didn't gain any of it back. I admit that my diet has not been as healthy as I normally enjoy and my energy level has definitely been affected negatively by it. I was simply trying to make whatever my husband wanted before he deployed and wouldn't get any more of my home cooking for a year so we had cookies, cakes, brownies, ice-cream.... etc... I did still try and make things a little healthier like the cookies were made with whole-wheat flour and oats, the brownies had half the oil cut out, and the cakes were made with applesauce. So, I guess I wasn't too horrible but based on the way I feel today I've decided to definitely limit my sugar intake.

Things to change for now:
I am not to do any lunges or jogging for awhile. (This makes me sad because I was up to jogging 1 1/2 miles without stopping)
I am to walk, use the elliptical and use stationary bikes as much as I want as long as there's minimal resistance.
I am to add seated front leg lifts to my routine to help build up the muscles directly around my knee. (see directions below)
I am to take Ibuprofen 3 times a day and ice my knee after I exercise to help minimize swelling.

My new goal is to eventually be able to run a 5K in under 45 minutes.

Seated Leg Lift Directions:
Step 1
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Touch your legs together. Pull your toes back. Sit up straight. Put your hands on the floor next to your hips and straighten them. Fingers should be pointing forward.
Step 2
Lift your right leg straight into the air a couple of inches. Keep pulling your toes back. Maintain a straight spine and do not lean back. Exhale as you lift. You should feel this in your quad, which is the large muscle on the top of your upper leg.
Step 3
Lower your leg with control back to the floor. Inhale as you do so.
Step 4
Lift your left leg the same way as you did your right leg. Alternate lifting your legs until you have done at least 12 reps per leg.

(Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/79574-slim-down-legs/#ixzz0sNtRNxgU )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why I've not posted for a couple of weeks

My husband just left for a year long deployment. Before he left I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could so I put my blogs on the back burner. Next week I'll get going strong again. If you'd like to see our farewell click here.
Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 3

I like going out to eat, but I hate not knowing how many calories I'm eating...etc. Anyway, my tip for today is to figure out where you want to go before you leave your house and look up the nutrition for the menu online. Read through the information and write down some healthy choices before you go. :) Remember try not to eat any meals that are more than 800 calories. Good luck and enjoy your next dining experience.

Here's an example from Ruby Tuesday's.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Sweets- Feeling Hot?

I have a couple of new favorite treats...... drumroll please.................................................... Frozen Grapes and Frozen Blueberries.... YUM! Seriously, how guilty can you feel eating something like frozen fruit.... I feel NO guilt whatsoever when it comes to these delicious sweets. I highly recommend them. Easy prep too... I just buy the blueberries and/or grapes, wash them off, stick them in a gallon size freezer bag, suck the air out and lay them flat in the freezer initially so that they don't all stick together. Then when I want something sweet, I just grab a few. On hot days, they really are a perfect snack!

Click here for some more ideas. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Week 4- Time out

Well this week has been very crazy because of the visitors we've had. We had a lot of fun but it was difficult to stick to my routine so I had to put this blog on the back burner. Oh well, now things are starting to get back to normal and I'll do my best to resume where I left off.

After visiting the Pediatrician this week I have decided to slow my progress for the sake of my baby. Your body stores toxins in your fat and if you burn your fat too quickly, you release those toxins back into your body. Anyway, long story short, losing weight too quickly can flood your breast-milk with bad things and can be bad for the baby. That said, my new goal is to lose about 1 pound a week.

For now I'm going to keep doing the same things I've been doing for the past few weeks. My husband will be deploying soon so if my blog is a little inconsistent I'm sorry, but I might need some time out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week 3 - The Magic of W's

I'm definitely making progress and it makes me smile! :) I don't know how long I'll be able to keep up such dramatic progress (for me it's dramatic), but I'm happy with it so far! I feel confident in saying that sticking to my goals works for me, and might work for someone else if he or she follows them faithfully. It's not too late to join me! :D

Anyway, to get to my goal's for the week remember W's:

WATER minimum 64 oz. daily

WALKING/jogging 45 minutes daily

WEIGHTS 2 sets of 10 reps of the exercises described last Friday

WATCH what you eat, paying special attention to serving sizes, calories, and balance.

Then of course you have the crunches and pushups. This week I will do 25 crunches and 13 pushups daily.

Something else I forgot to mention is STRETCH! If you work out regularly you need to make sure to stretch all of your major muscles. On Friday I'll show you what I do to stretch. :) Being flexible is a major key to preventing injury.
Good luck! :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 2

Today's tip is try incorporating whole grains/whole grain flours into your diet.

I find that when I eat whole grains I stay full a lot longer. With that said, I don't remember the last time I had to purchase a bag of All-Purpose Flour; we go through Whole Wheat flour like crazy though. We started off just substituting 25% of the regular flour with Whole Wheat and kept working into adding more and more. Now most of the stuff we make, we use 100% Whole Wheat flour and we feel full a lot longer! You can also add other whole grain flours like Oat flour and Barley flour to add extra nutrition. However, don't use 100% of those other flours in place of All-purpose because they don't bake the same. I just substitute about 25% of the Wheat flour with a variety of other whole grain flours. If you want complete proteins, try to mix grains! :)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Meals: Meat and Veggie Skewers

Tonight we are heating up the grill! I could call what we're making Shish kabobs because one rough translation means: shish= skewer, and kabob=meat, but if you ask a Turk, he or she may think you're serving lamb because the term normally refers to skewers of lamb and we're actually using beef. So for my weird sense of accuracy I'm calling them Meat and Veggie Skewers. No matter what meat you use though, they are yummy :)

What you need:

1 pack of skewers
Green pepper
Yellow pepper
Orange pepper
Green pepper
Medium Onion
package of Mushrooms
Cherry Tomatoes
Stew size chunks of meat
Light French Dressing

Marinate the meat in the light French Dressing.
Soak the wooden skewers in water.
Cut up the veggies into 1 or 2 inch pieces.
I use button mushrooms and leave them whole though as well as the cherry tomatoes.
Anyway, arrange the ingredients on the skewers in whatever way you like.
Heat up the charcoal, and then set your rack on the highest setting to cook the skewers.

If you get too close to the heat, the food will burn on the outside and remain raw in the middle. (YUCK!)
The idea is to cook them for a long time at a low heat that way they turn out perfectly. (DELECTABLE!)
Anyway, this is a lowfat delicious dinner that I highly recommend! :D

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fitness Friday:2

So, I've been working on running a mile and I've gotten to the point where I can jog half a mile without stopping. :) Anyway, in my weekly post I said that I'd describe my resistance work so here it is: If you'd like further detail, just say so in a comment!
(Each exercise is linked to a video showing how it's done.)

2 sets of 8 repetitions of the following with 3 or 5 lb barbells:

-bicep curls (arm at side slightly bent, tuck elbow next to side, slowly bend arm raising weight up and then back down again)

-tricep extensions (kneel on all fours/lean over, tuck elbow into side arm bent 90 degrees and slowly straighten arm out, and bend again)

- over head shoulder press (hands next to head, elbows out, slowly raise hands over head until almost straight and bring them back down)

-lateral arm raises (arms slightly bent at side, raise them out to form a T and then slowly lower them back again)

-squats (feet facing front, bend knees and waist until knees reach 90 degrees, bring arms forward)

-lunges (one leg forward, lean forward until knee reaches 90 degrees, back knee close to floor)

-pelvic/hip raises (lay on back, bend knees, feel flat, raise hips until straight line from shoulder to knee, slowly lower back down again)

Do 1 minute:
standing twists (stand feet shoulder width apart bring barbells in close to chest and twist at waist)

As many as you can:
crunches (minumum 20)

push ups (minumum 10)

Thoughts for Thursday: 2

Body Health Thought:

So, last week I posted a picture of some cookies next to some carrots, and one of my friend wrote: "if I could only get those carrots to look half as tempting as those cookies." This got me really started thinking about what it is I do to help keep from overindulging. I realized that what I tend to do is eat a good amount of something healthy, like carrots, before I eat something like cookies, that way I don't have as much room to shove an entire dozen cookies into my belly and onto my waistline. Next time you feel like a treat, eat something healthy first and you should find it easier to eat less of your guilty pleasure. :)

Brain Health Thought:

Some weeks seem harder than others, and it's at times like those that I find I really need to set aside time to worry. I know it sounds funny, but if I give myself a 10 minute window in which I'm allowed to worry, once that 10 minute timer goes off I am able to shove the worries out of the way. Next, I take a few minutes to write down whatever productive thoughts may have come about during my worry session, and then I take 5 minutes to clear my mind and focus on my breathing. I find these simple steps can be really refreshing and help me to concentrate on the things that I need to get done and can control. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Week 2 - Add Weights to Lose Weight

Here I am after a week of trying to shrink and I've made some progress. I keep a record of it on the sidebar if you're interested. :)

I've been pretty good about drinking my water although I admit I haven't written it down, but I know I've been drinking plenty.... of water that is.... hehe.

Anyway, I write my calories and food group servings down so I can stay within the 1800 calorie guidelines.
This week I challenge you to really start paying attention to labels. At the very least compare the calories and fat calories per serving. i.e. Light Ice-Cream: Serving size 1/2 cup, 90 calories, 50 from Fat, but notice that the serving is only 1/2 cup! Pay attention and you may be surprised by how many servings/calories you're actually eating.

This week I'm increasing to a minimum of 10 pushups and 20 crunches every day. I've walked/jogged 5 of the past 7 days and a couple of those days it was for a couple of hours... not too shabby! :) I'm going to continue to walk/jog as frequently as I can for at least 40 minutes everyday.

I'm also going to add weights to my routine. If you really want to lose weight successfully, you have to increase your muscle mass which in turn increases your metabolism, besides I want to have awesome arms like Jillian from the Biggest Loser. I don't have time to write down each exercise right now, but I'll give you a summary on Friday. :) Just pick up a set of 3 lb. barbells and keep them with you and when you have a free minute do some basic exercises.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday's Tips: 1

When baking something like cake or batter breads, use applesauce instead of oil. Use the same amount and you'll cut out a LOT of calories. One cup of oil has approximately 1600 calories whereas one cup of applesauce has about 100. That's a big difference. :)

Also, when you want to indulge in a treat but want to make sure you don't eat too much, deny yourself something to drink with it. I don't know about you but if I eat a couple of cookies and I don't have some milk to wash them down, then I'm able to refrain from eating an entire dozen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Meals: Satay Lettuce Wraps

Here’s a lowfat yummy recipe that you might want to try. We made this for dinner last night and my husband requests it frequently. The best part is, the entire dinner is only 1100 calories, so if you want to eat the entire thing, it's still less than a Big Mac, fries and a soda. Otherwise, it makes enough to serve 2 very hungry adults and one small toddler.

Satay Lettuce Wraps

1 lb. Lean ground turkey or chicken
8 oz. packet of mushrooms sliced
1 onion minced
2 inches fresh ginger grated/minced
-1 or 2 cloves of garlic minced (optional)
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
½ cup apple juice or pineapple juice
¼ cup soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste
Head of iceberg lettuce washed

Brown turkey in pan, add onions half way through, cook until their tender. Add mushrooms, ginger ( and garlic) and cook 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add peanut butter, juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Stir until well coated. Serve in washed lettuce leaves rolled like burritos. ☺

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Sweets- Guilt-free Creaminess :)

Just a quick idea. If you enjoy Yoplait yogurt, and you enjoy ice-cream, try freezing your Yoplait. I promise you it's creamy, delicious, better for you than ice-ceam, and relatively guilt-free if you partake in dairy anyway. Enjoy! :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fitness Friday:1

I have to convince myself to start slow, so the thought of the day is Small Steps!

I've decided that an achievable small fitness goal will be to run one mile without stopping. If I walk as much as I can, and run in progressively longer distances, I will succeed. What about you? Figure out one small realistic fitness goal you can set for yourself and begin working toward it. If I can do it, so can you! :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday: 1

Body Health Thought:

Do you Eat to Live or do you Live to Eat? Put thought into your food choices. Are you eating something because it's convenient and you're hungry, or do you want to give your body the best fuel you can? Next time you go to grab a snack, think about whether or not it's good for you.

Brain Health Thought:

If you're anything like me as you work on de-junking your body you might want to clean up other parts of your life. I was thinking about my stress levels the other day and I decided that I was going to get rid of stressors that I have control over. This week I'm focusing on de-junking my house. I hate clutter, it makes me nervous and it's hard to relax when I look around and see clutter. I've decided to make a goal of getting rid of one piece of clutter every day. To accommodate this goal, I'm setting aside a box to fill to take to Goodwill. Think about it, if you get rid of one piece of clutter everyday for a year, that's 365 pieces of junk gone! ... Sounds great to me! :D

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Week 1- Let's Get Started

So I'm not going to overwhelm you with a million things to worry about this week, we'll start slow and build more stuff in.


-Take picture of self in a bathing suit, print it out and put it on the refrigerator. Nothing motivates me to stay healthy quite like seeing a real picture of myself looking not so gorgeous...lol!

-Purchase/Borrow/Find an accurate scale that you can check your weight on once a week or every other week.
(TIP: Check your weight no more than once a week because doing so every day can be really frustrating.
Also, always check it at the same time of day because your weight can fluctuate a pound or two throughout the day.)

-Get a measuring tape and record your starting measurements.

-Get a large 32 oz. water bottle and make it your daily goal to drink at least 2 full bottles of water every day.

-Get a notebook to use as a food diary and write down everything you eat every day. I find that if I have to write it down I tend to make smarter choices.

-Do at least 5 pushups (can be modified) and 10 crunches everyday.

-Finally, make an effort to take a walk for 30 minutes everyday minimum. (other forms of exercise are fine too.)

-For those who are extra motivated, here is a link to a daily diet guide. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And So It Begins

In highschool I had a pretty decent shape and I stayed active. I am 5' 9" and I weighed 150 lbs. As time went on my weight fluctuated up and down 20 lbs.

While I was pregnant with my son I ended up gaining 40 lbs more reaching 200 lbs. and I was very dismayed when I only lost 30 of those pounds once he was born. As I began nursing I thought I was supposed to lose weight but I was hungry and ate all of the time and ended up gaining 15 pounds back; so, I ended up at 185 my heaviest non-pregnant weight.

I decided that before I even considered getting pregnant again I wanted to get into the best shape I could. I worked really hard and got down to 165 with the same measurements from high school so I figured I must have had more muscle mass.

Anyway, I got pregnant shortly after achieving my goal and I tried really hard this pregnancy to not gain more than 30 lbs. and was successful by only gaining 29 lbs. Once I gave birth to my daughter I was curious to see what my weight loss would be. Here I am 6 weeks later and I fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes but that doesn't mean that I like the way they look. I currently weigh 170 lbs., but my measurements can definitely use some work.

This blog will be an account of my diet and exercise program as I get back into a healthy attractive shape. I will offer tips, recipes, and weekly exercise goals that you can try if you'd like to join me on this journey.
After my doctor's appointment tomorrow I will start Week 1 so here's your chance to get on the exercise bandwagon with me.

Here are my before pictures so I have something to measure my progress against. (Please don't laugh too hard.) :D

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