weight loss

How I Lost 5 lbs. in One Month (without counting calories)

Many women (and men) struggle with their weight. For me, it’s been a struggle almost my entire life. I have never been a ‘petite’ person, nor will I ever be. As a matter of fact, the modeling community would probably classify me ‘plus-sized’, but that’s a different topic for a different day!

Over the past 10 years, I have tried so many diets such as:

  • Food delivery diets that provide the perfect portion of food that I should eat
  • Diets with number systems correlating to the food I ate
  • Apps (oh the Apps!), counting calories and tracking exercise
  • Sprinkling ‘weight-loss powder’ on my food to make me feel full faster (yeah, remember that one?!?!)

Some of these were a total loss, while others helped but were not a sensible long-term solution. I needed to find something that was simple, could be incorporated into my daily life and that had the potential to become my new way of eating, not just a diet program.

How I lost 5 lbs. without counting calories

First of all, I am not a weight-loss expert or dietitian. I’m not a fitness guru or trained in any manner in this subject. I’m just a woman and mom who is trying to be healthy and am more fit now, and weigh less now, than my entire adult life. You should always consult with a doctor before making any change in your diet or exercise program.

There are 3 things that I feel contributed to my 5 lb. weight-loss during the one month period I am referring to:

  • Eating a gluten-free diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • 14-Day Detox Tea

Gluten-Free Diet

A few months ago, my husband and I decided to start eating a gluten-free diet. We had heard that there were many benefits to not eating wheat products, and among those was weight loss. At the time we knew nothing about gluten. We didn’t even know what being ‘gluten-free’ meant other than we couldn’t have pasta and bread, two things that we loved. Together, we decided to give this ‘diet’ a chance, and try it for one month to see what happened!

We put ourselves through an online ‘crash course’ and decided to take the plunge. It was challenging at first, because we had to check EVERYTHING. We literally had no idea what foods contained gluten and what foods didn’t. To make it more complicated, some foods have the ‘gluten-free’ label on them, while others do not. We were unsure how to  know the difference.

As we started reading labels, we noticed that any product that is not gluten-free states clearly in the ingredients sections, ‘contains wheat’. Once we discovered this, it made grocery shopping that much easier! More recently, we have found an app called ‘The Gluten Free Scanner’. This app allows you to scan almost any bar code to determine if it contains gluten. If it does, there is a red exclamation mark. If not, there is a green check mark. This makes shopping for gluten-free food even easier!

I am still conscious about what I eat. I try to stay away from ice cream, corn chips and mashed potatoes and eat more protein, vegetables and fruit, but I DO NOT COUNT CALORIES anymore. No logging food an an app or checking to see how much more I can eat that day. I just get to enjoy my (gluten-free) food!

If you are interested in learning about how we started our Gluten Free journey, check out these articles:

Exercising Regularly

I can not stress the importance of exercising on a regular basis. For me, not only did I want to lose weight, but being in my 40’s, I want to ensure that my body is preparing for getting older (ugh). My husband and I are very active golfing and skiing among other activities, but I will only be able to continue those activities as I get older, if I ensure my body stays accustomed to activity.

Exercising regularly doesn’t mean once in a while, or even once a week, as I had once thought. It means fitting in some sort of exercise 2-3 times a week. More if you can fit it in! Each one of us needs to determine what the best way to exercise is. The key to regular exercise and ensure the longevity of it, is liking it. (Yes, it’s possible to like exercise!)

For instance, a few years ago, I was asked to participate in a 5k run. I hate running. But I took the challenge, and determined to succeed, trained for months and was able to run the entire 5k! I was in great shape, but once the 5k wsa over, I never ran again, because I HATE RUNNING. I know it looks like I’m smiling in the picture below, but that’s because it’s almost over!

weight loss

Then, I started dancing. I love dancing and always have, but thought dance classes was something that ‘kids’ did. Once I realized that there are numerous adult classes for all skills, I decided to give it a try. I started with one day a week at first. Eventually, I built up to 3 days a week. Because dancing is something that I love to do, I can envision continuing through the years!

weight loss

Your exercise can also be as simple as walking. You can join a gym, take up yoga, do Pilates; it doesn’t matter what it is. As long as you are doing something!

14-day Detox Tea

I testing the 14-day Detox Tea from FitTea as part of a complementary program. Because I was testing it to provide the company with a review, I was diligent about drinking it every morning. During the 2 weeks, I drank less coffee, as I substituted my morning coffee for the tea, and I had a lot more energy. FitTea does not claim to promote weight loss, however, having lost the weight during the same month as drinking the tea, I felt that there might be a correlation and worth mentioning.

To read more about the 14-day Detox Tea, click here.

Some of you may be wondering if I keep the weight off?

The simple answer to that is yes, in the last few months I have maintained that 5 lb. weight loss. I wish I could report that I have lost more, but life has gotten in the way! Due to our crazy schedules, my dance days dropped from 3 day a week to 2 days a week, and now it’s only 1 day a week. There were also a few weeks that I didn’t exercise at all due to being out of town for work. In the coming weeks, the kids activity schedule will be slowing down and I will be getting back to dancing 3-days a week.

Even with cutting down on exercise and being months past the detox tea, eating gluten-free foods has helped me keep off that 5 lbs. No counting calories and splurging every now and then.

Just because this process worked for me, I am not saying it will work for you. But if you have been struggling, like I have, to find something that is sustainable over time, you may want to give this a try!

trick or treat

Don’t Turn Away my Teenage Trick-or-Treater

Would you rather watch this article than read it? If so, click here!

Trick-or-Treating is such a fun time for our kids. They dress up in costume and go through the neighborhood knocking on neighbors doors and coming home with more sugar than they need in their lifetime! I remember watching my kids run down the sidewalks, house to house, head to the door and say ‘Trick-or-Treat’ and run back to me telling me all about the newest candy that had just added to their stash!

As my children grew older, I wandered at what age is it not appropriate for them to trick-or-treat anymore. And as my preteen became a teenager and continued to dress up and go trick-or-treating with the family, I was excited that she wanted to continue to spend the time with us. It was at this point, I determined the answer to that question, which is NEVER! Your kids are never too old to dress up and go trick-or-treating!

halloween

It was also at this point that I began hearing comments from neighbors like, ‘Aren’t you too old for trick-or-treating?’ and ‘I’m only giving candy to the little kids.’ Our daughter is 21 now and no longer goes trick-or-treating, but our sons are approaching the same age, I am here to say, ‘DON’T TURN AWAY MY TEENAGE TRICK-OR-TREATER.’

  • 300x50 25% off Evergreen 2017

What else are they supposed to do?

There are so many other things that teenagers can be doing instead of innocently trick-or-treating. If they  aren’t trick-or-treating what else could they do?

  • Go to a party, which could, or could not, be supervised by a responsible adult.
  • Sneak off with their boyfriend/girlfriend somewhere
  • Drink or do drugs
  • Stay home

haloween

Being a Teenager is Hard Enough

You remember what it’s like to be a teenager, don’t you? Thinking you need to be ‘grown-up’ but still wanting to be a kid. It’s a strange time in your life where you are trying to figure out who you are going to be.

I ask that you don’t give teenagers a reason to feel even more out of place at an already awkward stage in their lives. Let them be little as long as they can! Give them candy. Tell them they look cute in their costume. Let them know that they don’t need to grow up so fast and it’s great to just be a kid!

They are a good kids at a time in their life where they have choices. If they choose to trick-or-treat to try to hold on to their childhood, don’t squash it, encourage it!

stepmom

Advice from one Step-Mom to Another

I have been reading a lot of articles and social media posts recently about stepmom’s who feel that they are in a losing battle. That their step-children don’t appreciate them, and in some cases feel that their step-kids just plain don’t like them. It makes me sad, and the truth is, I know exactly how you feel. I was you 8 years ago. There were many times that I felt rejected, frustrated, and at times out of place in my own home.

Stepmom

As I said, that was many years ago. Today my step-daughter is 21-years-old and one of the closest friends that I have. We don’t live in the same city but talk every chance we get and text often. I’m telling you this, because I want you to know that there is hope. Even though there are times you feel that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I am telling you there is! You just have to be patient, and at times look really hard for it. But I promise, it’s there.

A little bit about us

My step-daughter just turned 3 when my husband and I started dating. Less than one year into our relationship, she was asking to call me ‘mom’. I clearly did not feel comfortable with this, but once we got engaged, and she asked again, of course my answer was yes! From that point on she called me ‘mom’ and I thought, ‘This step-mom thing is going to be pretty easy.’

stepmom

As she got older, and her mother became more involved in her life, she became conflicted. These feelings of conflict were directed at me, because who else was she going to direct them to? I also took it very personally. It is personal, of course, but she would have done the same to any other woman in my position. It wasn’t direct at me, but at who I was to her. For the record, I didn’t recognize this until recently. I wish that in those moments I would have been able to remove myself from the emotions of it and see it for what it was.

She never really said things like, ‘You’re not my mom’ (well, maybe a few times), but there was a period of time that she stopped calling me mom. It was her way of saying it without actually saying it. That period was a difficult time for me. We had 2 small children at the time and a volatile preteen that was finding any way she could to disrespect me in my own home. I was so worried about the example that she would be setting for her little brothers.

As she became a teenager, there were moments that we were close, and other moments that we couldn’t stand to be in the same room. At this point, looking back, many of her outbursts were just her being a teenager, trying to find her way. As step-moms we tend to internalize the behavior of our step-children thinking it’s directed as us because we aren’t their ‘real moms’. The reality is, that they are dealing with so many emotions that we could not even imagine. Their immature-selves have to deal with some very mature situations.

Will you love your step-child like your own?

I remember when I told my grandmother that I was going to marry a man with a daughter, she asked me, ‘Will you be able to love her like your own?’ My instant, and knee jerk response, was, ‘Yes, of course.’ Looking back, my answer to her should have been ‘I will give her all the love she could ever hope for from a mother.’

The truth is, I don’t love any of my children the same! Each of my children hold a special unique place in my heart that is all theirs. I connect with each of them differently and on different topics. It is not fair to think that we should love our children the same, whether we gave birth to them or not. Loving our children uniquely is the best gift we can give them. It may be conceived by others that the unique love is not equal, but that can’t be farther from the truth in my situation.

stepmom

For many years as a young wife and mom I carried around the thought that I should love my children the same.  When it was just my step-daughter, I thought, ‘This is what it feels like to be a mom.’  Then, I had my oldest son, and I felt differently about him and loved him differently. I thought, at this point, that there must be something wrong with me because I loved him differently then her. Then my youngest son was born and I loved him differently than I loved the other two. It was at this point that I discovered is that the way I love all my children is unique. It’s not based on who gave birth to them, but based on who they were as people.

When it comes down to it, I believe that she was meant to be my daughter, just as much as my sons were meant to be mine. She is EXACTLY LIKE ME, which is why we struggled to get along at times, especially as she got older. She’s stubborn and hard-headed like me, but loves with her whole heart and takes every moment personal, just like me….

stepmom

What can you do now?

While your story is different than mine, and every relationship has their own path, below are some ways to nurture the long-term growth of your relationship with your step-child:

  1. Be yourself – don’t try to change who you are to be accepted by your step-child. Even though they may lead you to believe that they don’t like ‘you’, stay true to who you are.
  2. It’s not personal – As much as you feel it is, it’s not. Try to remove your emotions from the situation. (I know, I am asking the impossible!)
  3. Get support from your spouse – It’s vital to let your spouse know how you are feeling.  Whether is frustration, rejection, love, or anything else, it’s important that they know what you are feeling.
  4. Stand your ground – Don’t give in to requests in hopes that they will ‘like’ you. Not only is it not helpful for their growth as a person, they will respect you more as they get older for not caving
  5. Give them space – there are times that they just don’t want you involved. Remember that they have a lot of their own emotions about having to juggle two families that sometimes, they just need to figure it out for themselves with their birth parents. You should allow them the space to do that without feeling rejected.
  6. Get support from other step-moms – I never did this, and wish I had. No one can understand your situation and offer support as much as another step-mom can. I remember feeling isolated at times because there was no one in my world who truly understood what I was going through.
  7. Don’t give up – on yourself or your step-child – as much as there is push back, as much as you may feel like your failing – YOU’RE NOT! Don’t give up on yourself!

I’m not saying that I did all of these. I’m not even saying it was easy. Actually, in those moments it was extremely hard! Looking back there are so many things and moments that I would change as a step-mom, but as we know that is not possible. The best I can do is take what I have learned and pass it on to other who might appreciate it.

Teenagers

5 Ways to Connect with Your Kids in the Car

Our family is so busy with school, work, sports, activities and social gatherings that we are always on the go! As a matter of fact, some days I feel like I am in my car more than any other place! With that said, most of the quality time I spend with my kids is in the car. Especially as they get older and appreciate their privacy and down time at home, the car ride seems to be the only place that I can take advantage of connecting with them.

But, if your kids are like mine, as soon as they get into the car, they pull out their phones and start looking at Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, and you’ve lost them to the world of social media. Asking questions like, ‘How was your day?’ and ‘How was school?’ only gets answers such as ‘Fine’ and ‘Good’. I don’t know about you but this is not what I call engaging conversation!

 

Teenager

teenager

I have found that I need to get creative to urge them to hold a conversation with me. It may seem sneaky, but the car seems to the best place to do it. I mean, we have to be in the car together anyway, and where else can you get their undivided attention? It’s not like they can leave!

  • Spyder 728x90

5 Ways to Connect

  1. Ask them questions – I know. This is an obvious one, but it’s a little complicated, especially as your kids get older. Asking yes/no questions is the quickest way to either end the conversation or sound like an interrogation asking question after question after question (you get the point.) The best way to spark a conversation with them is to ask OPEN-ENDED questions. It’s kind of like interviewing someone. You can’t get any insight if you don’t ask questions that warrant a thoughtful answer.  Not sure that open-ended questions you should ask? Here are a few to get you started:
    • What did you do today?
    • Who did you hang out with/play with?
    • What was the best part of your day so far today?
    • What did you work on in math class?
    • What things did you and your friends talk about today?
    • Keep in mind that the follow up questions to these answers should be open-ended as well!
  2. Let them play their music – Music is an amazing way for children of all ages to express themselves. Their taste in music is as unique as they are as people! We usually give our kids an opportunity to play music that they have downloaded on their phones as a way to give them some control in the car. Because it’s up to them to find the song they want to listen to, it gives me insight to how they are potentially feeling in the moment. That will usually either spark a conversation or gives me an opportunity to connect with them on something they like.
  3. Take them for a treat of their choosing – At my kids ages, their favorite quick treat is either at Jamba Juice or Starbucks.  It may be ice cream or cookies for your kids. But ask them where they want to go, and take time to actually sit with them and enjoy the treat, if you have time. It’s amazing when you sit with a Jamba Juice across the table from your teenager, and it’s only you and him, what he is willing to talk about! There are times when I purposefully plan appointments with time in between so we HAVE to sit and ‘waste time’ while we wait for the next appointment.
  4. Talk about what your doing – As mom’s we put our kids first, as we should, but have a tendency to forget that we are people too! Especially as your kids get older, they like to feel that they are having a conversation with you, not that just we are drilling them with questions. I find that when I talk to my kids about how the blog is going, or how dance class was, or something that happened to me during the day, they are truly interested in what I am saying and are more willing to respond with something about themselves.
  5. Play a game – There are many car games that you can play, depending on your kids ages. The idea of the game is getting them talking  and engaging in conversation. You may not uncover any major information, but the casual, fun atmosphere will help your kids open up. When our kids were younger, our go-to games were ‘Eye Spy’ and the ‘Alphabet Bulletin Board’. We still do the alphabet bulletin board on long car rides, but our new game is ‘Name that Tune’. Whoever is sitting in the front passenger seat has to cover the name and artist of a song and we try to be the first to guess right.

Being able to connect with our kids and stay informed on what is going on in their lives is important to me. The older our children get, the more I realize that I have to find new ways to accomplish this. As our kids begin to creep closer and closer to 16, I get worried about not having their undivided attention in the car. Pretty soon I’m going to have to find a new creative way to connect with my kids!

What do you do to connect with your kids? I love to hear your suggestions!