Monthly Archives: April 2014

Top 10 lessons learned

I got a lot more out of my 24 Day Challenge than just pounds and inches lost. I gained a greater appreciation for how my body works and reacts, lessons that I plan to draw on post-challenge. 

So what did I learn? I’ve developed a Top 10 list!

1. Breakfast is important. For the first 10 days of the challenge, my goal was to eat a protein, a complex carb and a fruit for breakfast. I ate a LOT of eggs during this time! In fact, I wasn’t used to eating so much food…some mornings I had to spread it out over the course of the first few hours of the day. 

For the last 14 days, my breakfast (except on Easter, and Good Friday when I fasted) was a meal replacement shake, and I usually had fruit or a nutrition bar mid-morning. Either way, still more than I usually would eat in the mornings. I’m not a breakfast skipper, but a breakfast skimper. I learned quickly filling up in the morning makes staying satisfied during the day easier.

2. Balanced meals help keep you satisfied. The goal of each meal on the challenge was a protein, complex carb and fruit or veggie. I noticed that I really had to think meals through! Before the challenge, there were a lot of times I would hit two of the three. But again, the more I stuck with this, the more filling I found it to be. 

3. Reading labels is worth the time it takes. On the challenge, one is to avoid added sugars and sodium, and eat minimally or non-processed foods. For me, that meant checking a lot of labels and skipping ones with enriched flour (yes, even enriched wheat flour is not as good!). I’m already mindful of sodium levels in foods and was used to skimming ingredient lists to avoid high fructose corn syrup. More careful review was another step but I think a big one in my success. 

4. Planning ahead is key to success. I thought through each day’s meals in advance. If I knew I had a meal out for work, I would look at the menu online before heading out and narrow down my choices that would fit the challenge. I shopped ahead on weekends to keep the right foods in stock (and became a fan of Sprouts!). And I made sure to pack extra fruit and nutrition bars each day for snacks. It took time, but it was worth it as I had no excuses.

5. It’s hard to eat out, especially on a whim. There were times I found myself without a dinner plan. It is hard to just “run and grab something” when you are trying to find healthy, non-processed, non-fried options (especially non-meat options on Fridays in Lent!). I’ve learned my fallbacks are grocery stores like Whole Foods and Mediterranean restaurants.

6. Try new things. I had quinoa for breakfast. I had tofu as an entree. I rediscovered couscous. When you are limited to whole grains, it cuts some options out. I had to get creative or I was going to eat a lot of oatmeal and brown rice!

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. For the most part, I stuck to drinking 80 oz. of water a day (aiming for the half my body weight in ounces). The days I didn’t, I could feel a difference. I felt puffy, and my face was redder. Also, this is just water…I didn’t count the water I was mixing with my Spark.

8. Staying active makes everything easier. I will admit I didn’t work out as much as I would have liked while I was on the challenge…maybe a little more than half of the days. On the days I did, I had plenty of calories to enjoy a bedtime snack while staying on point. The other days, it was hard to keep to the calorie goal on My Fitness Pal. I went over. It happens. 

9. Alcohol adds up. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol on the challenge. I was fortunate to only have a small handful of opportunities where I had to pass up a drink (I picked the date of my challenge start purposely around that). But I know that even wine or champagne (lower calorie options) add up. So I’m aiming for 4-6 glasses total a week, still less than 1 glass a day (which seems to be the healthy consensus for women).

10. Sacrifice makes splurges better. I gave up a lot of my loves for the sake of the challenge. It didn’t say I had to give up coffee, but I did since Spark has caffeine in it. I appreciate my morning coffee now and can keep it to one cup instead of the two I used to have. It’s easier to enjoy one drink at a happy hour now and savor it. And after giving up bread for Lent, boy did I enjoy getting to have whole wheat bread back in my diet!

Absence does really make the heart grow fonder, and on the rare occasions I’ll allow myself something fried or otherwise indulgent, I will enjoy it and then put it back on the back burner.

The main point is that I’ve found a way to deal with the daily temptations of an American diet. I won’t always be perfect. I will slip. I will allow myself treats. But I feel so good eating the clean way that I’ll definitely be a LOT more mindful of sticking to it.

This means queso and ranch dressing have moved to the treat list 😉

PS-Give me a shout if you’d like to give the Challenge a try. Happy to coach you through it!

Final 24 Day Challenge Results (4/24/14)

The best part is you can really see the difference in my face!!

Weight: 152.8 lbs (down 5.7 lbs)
Body fat: 33% (down .2)

Chest: 35.25 (down .75)
Waist: 29.5 (down 1.5!)
Hips: 38 (down 1)
Thigh: 22.5 (no change)
Calf: 14.75 (down .25)
Arm: 12.25 (down .25)

Total loss = 3.75 inches

# pushups in 24 secs: 15 (up 2)
Overall energy level: 4 (scale 1-5, up 1)
How well I sleep: 4 (up 1)
Overall feeling of wellness: 4 (up 1)

I’ve fallen in love again…

…with running! I have to admit, I had burned out on running after 2 Januaries in a row of half marathons. The spark was gone. Instead of excitement, a look at my sneakers or the thought of miles brought me dread. 

So I took a break for most of 2013. I took dance classes. I became a Zumba instructor (though I am still mainly in student mode). I kept up some fitness, but I didn’t really run. I didn’t race. 

With true love, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I ran on Thanksgiving morning, and really enjoyed it (the scenery at Terry Hershey does not hurt!). But I had moved into my new place 3 days before. The time wasn’t right to get back together. But the possibility of a reunion was there. I felt hope.

I began to daydream about a goal that would spark my return to running. And then, 2 random sightings led me back to my love. First was a post within our AFP International Conference app … another attendee posted about a half marathon the opening day of conference. I knew I wasn’t in shape for a half (plus didn’t want to miss the morning session), but saw there was a 5k option. Better yet, my fellow AFPeep Paola (the Peeps are a flock of social media mavens deputized to spread the association and conference love!) was willing to run it with me. And there were donuts at the finish line. SOLD.

The race was lots of fun, and I had my best 5k time in a while, just under 42 minutes. (Here’s me and Paola after the race having a little fun in front of the Alamo.)


Around the same time, I happened to see a Tweet from the Chevron Houston Marathon promoting the ambassador program. If my application was selected, I would be part of a team of runners who agree to promote the races through blogs and other social media. I love using social media for good. And for someone who presents on social media (including the latest presentation with AFPeep Dave featuring a baker’s dozen of up and coming apps!), it seemed like I’d be a fool not to apply. So I did.

And here I am, an official ambassador for 2015! I like to think it’s a blend of fate and faith that has brought me back to my love. They say if you love something, set it free…if it comes back, it’s yours.

On my run this past weekend, it felt like everything just clicked. Sure, it was hot out. It wasn’t my best 4 mile time. But it just FELT right … especially those moments when I could feel all the muscles I’ve been working so hard in personal training sessions the past 3 months starting to collaborate. 

I’m not the fastest runner. I take walk breaks. But I give it my all. And that’s all you can ask for in love, to give it your best shot and know that this is what matters.

I look forward to sharing the courtship in the coming months leading up to the big race!