Monday, August 31, 2015

Fixating on the Numbers: Nine Strategies for Weight Loss

I'll admit it.  I'm obsessed with numbers.  All numbers related to weight:  the numbers on the scale, the number of calories and protein grams I consume, the number of sets and reps I lift.   I am most obsessed with the bathroom scale.  I weigh myself at least once / week, but usually every day.  If the numbers are higher than the week before, I get very upset.  If the numbers are too low, I am not happy.  I want the numbers to stay right where they adding, no subtracting.

At the beginning of August, I weighed 150.  My weight has been up ever since, to the point that I need to just stay OFF the scale until after I do the Ride to Remember because I need the calories to do the ride successfully.  
For most of my adult life, I completely avoided the scale.  I didn't want to know how much I weighed and whenever I did get on the scale, it was dread and a complete sense of failure that followed.  When you're fat, who wants to get on the scale?  When I FINALLY started to see results, I started getting on the scale because I was excited to see the change.  The physical outward appearance that was changing, as well as the decline in the numbers on the scale.

However, I will be honest, it's become somewhat of an obsession.  One of my close friends keeps threatening to have my husband hide (or smash) our scale.

She added this comment when I posted the link to my, "Shake It Off" blog on Facebook.
She sent this on Friday night when I went shopping for new clothes.
Funny (not funny) thing is that my bathroom scale works fine, but the scale I rely on the most, my food scale.  That is broken and I really need to get a new one!!!
I changed the batteries.  It's broke.  Time for a new one.  Meanwhile, I guesstimate.
If you are trying to lose weight, you need to be concerned with numbers (just not obsessed).  Here are my recommendations for the process...a couple "Must do's" and some practical strategies too.

Number One:  If you don't have one yet, get a good bathroom scale and weigh yourself at the same time of day, once / week.  Keep track of your weight and DO NOT get upset if the numbers go up 1 - 2 lbs. or if the numbers don't go down enough.  (More on this shortly.)  What you REALLY want to see is a downward trend over the course of one month.  It's a good idea to weigh yourself weekly so you know if what you're doing is working or not.

Number Two:  Get a food scale.  You HAVE to weigh and measure your food so you can accurately keep track of your calories and macronutrients.  Guesstimating is not good enough.  I will get a new scale, it's on the top of my "to do" list.

Number Three:  Weight training is critical.  This is what I hear from my friends over and over again:  "I'm only going to do cardio because I want to lose weight first.  Maybe I'll add some weights into the routine later."  "I don't want a muscular body, I just want to lose weight."  and "I just want to be toned."  Throw all that talk out the window.
Fact:  Muscle weighs more than fat.
Fact:  As you increase your muscle mass, your metabolism increases and you burn more fat.
Fact:  If you want to lose weight, adding weight training will help to maximize your efforts.
Fact:  Weight training helps with bone density.
Myth:  Weight training will make you look muscular.  Ummm... yeah, about that.  The only way you will look muscular is if your body fat decreases.  So you can lose weight AND increase your muscle mass at the same time.  Its only healthy.  The only way you'll look "muscular" is if you have an incredibly low body fat, which would take a LONG time.

Number Four:  Cardio is really good for burning fat, especially if you are lifting weights.  I recommend working up to three times per week for about 60 minutes.  Walking on a treadmill or using the elliptical machine are extremely BORING.  Go hiking.  Ride your bike.  Swim.  Ski.  Play basketball.  One hour, three times / week.  Once I started riding my bike all the time, my body fat started to decrease tremendously.  I HATED, I mean really hated the cardio machines at the gym.  But once I got on my bike, I was able to really let loose.

Number Five:  Keep track of EVERYTHING you eat.  Count your calories.  Try to reach your macronutrient goals each day, but don't fixate on that.  Calories first.  Protein - try to get at least 100 grams of protein in each day.


Number Six:  Figure out what you want to accomplish and set some practical benchmark goals to help you on the journey.  Sounds easy, right?  When I set out, my goals were broad.  Lose weight, not hurt my knee.  When I became more serious, I added more tangible things to work towards.  The Rugged Maniac.  Push-Ups.  Pull-Ups.  Bench pressing.  The Ride To Remember.  You are the ONLY person who can determine what you want your fitness goals to be.  Doing this makes the journey so much more of a pleasure.  Think about it.  Do it.

Number Seven:  Don't allow defeat, discouragement, or set backs keep you from accomplishing your goals.  You WILL experience set backs.  You WILL experience discomfort and pain.  This is part of the process.  Accept it when it comes and KEEP moving forward.  NEVER let defeat conquer you. Turn your goals into your mission.  Make your mission your mantra.  Tell yourself OVER and OVER, "I will do this."  Make it happen.

Right now, Dmitriy wants me to full body-weight tricep dips.  This is the goal he has me working towards.  I can do them on a bench.  I can do them on a stability ball.  I can do assisted dips with only 20 lbs.  But I can't do a full body-weight dip.  On the days when those are part of my routine, I try to do them without the 20 lbs.  And I can't do them.  Sometimes I think to myself, "You're never going to be able to do this.  This is stupid."  And immediately, I take that negative self-talk and I turn it into, "Remember when you said that about push-ups?  Now look at what you can do!"  I turn that negative talk into, "Come on, don't give up.  You CAN do this."

Number Eight:  Keep track of everything.  We do body measurements once / month.  It is incredible to see not only your weight changes, but the change in your body composition.  Additionally, I keep track of my workouts, so I can see my progress.  I want both the reps and the weight I am lifting to increase.  It's both that matter.  So, I log my routines.  I keep my old routines, too.  This is great to help me see how much progress I've made.

Number Nine:  Be patient.  Trust the process.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you trying?  Are you giving it your all?  If you can say, "Yes." to both of these questions, then you need to trust the process.  It will work.  There are no quick fixes.

That's it for the numbers.

Follow me on Instagram @tracoleman99 

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
What's your FAVORITE way to exercise or workout?
What is keeping you from accomplishing your fitness goals?  If you could change that circumstance, what would hold you back?  (Are you your own worse enemy?)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Don't Hold Me Back

For the past several weeks, I've been on a roller coaster.  There is an incredible amount of stress with opening school, with tremendous pressure to get things done right and smoothly.  I've had some real highs along the way, which have really brightened the path. This past week has been a plummet, feeling like the roller coaster was going to crash out of control.  Most of the craziness has been pressure with the opening of the school year.

My Ride to Remember shirt and jacket came in this month! 
I can't believe the dream is becoming a reality!
The Ride to Remember is in three weeks.  The big goal in front of me, what I have been working for all year.  I was not committed at first, the dream was a fantasy and I have worked hard to make that fantasy a reality.

 As the big day approaches and I deal with the opening of school, I have been feeling like I'm going to crack.  I have often been abrupt (and sometimes rude) to people who want this or that or the other thing from me.  One person came to see me yesterday and I said, "Please just tell me what you need.  I can't listen to the story right now.  Cut to the chase, what's the bottom line?"  That's not really me either, I usually want to talk and hear all about it.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

Working out has become my way of dealing with the stress, but the longer hours of work and a much earlier sunset, have prevented me from being able to ride my bike as much as I want.  AND I have not been getting to the gym like I am accustomed. 
Monday night's ride was beautiful!  Look at that stone farm house...this is at the top of a mountain in Stafford, CT.  My speed is finally starting to increase, from 14-15 MPH to 16+.  With the sunset so much earlier now, our rides are shorter.  Still thoroughly enjoyable!

This week, the train derailed more than once.  Time to get off the roller coaster.

The worst low was when I thought my support system was coming apart.  The internal dialogue you have with yourself, the messages you give yourself about your situation or your ability to deal with or overcome your circumstances is definitely the most essential key to accomplishing a dream. This ride is incredibly important to me.  I've been training for it and I know I'll be able to accomplish it.  I have a certain mental vision of what it will be like.  But lately, I am worn out from all the stress and have not been able to alter my internal dialogue.  So when I thought my vision of what the ride will be like was going to change, I could not deal with it.  Disappointment set in and I almost let it consume me.

Dmitriy has been a wonderful trainer, and I consider him a friend.  I've learned a lot from him.  He's given me the keys to open doors I did not even know were available for me to open.  I can't say enough about him.  But this week, he kicked me in the butt.  He gave me a major dose of, "What is wrong with you?  What do you care? and  Why would you let that person disrespect you?"  A real slap in the face, "Come on, Tracey, you're in the best shape of your life.  You got this."  I think I told him three times, "I'm done talking about this."  But he wasn't done.  A half hour of him beating me up.

But I needed it.  I needed to get off the emotional roller coaster.

The Lord gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:29, 31 NIV

Next day, the story changes and my lifeline decided to join me on the journey.  Great, just great, really.  I'm glad you want to join me.  I'll be there for you, like you have been there for me all along.  But this journey that I am on, this dream I have, this is about me.  It is about what I want to accomplish.  It's about realizing MY dreams.  It's not about you.  This may seem incredibly selfish, but I am okay with that.  So whether you are there for me or not, I am going to do this.  Don't hold me back. 

A COMPLETE aside...

Thursday night, my husband told me that my pants were too big (the size 8's).  Clearly that meant I needed to go shopping and get some new clothes, right?  At my heaviest, in 2013, I was a size 18.  I kept the jeans as a reminder of where I was and how far I've come.  When I went shopping last night, I left the store with these Size 4 Levi's.  NEVER in my life have I been a size 4.  Never. 
In 1991, when Brian and I got married, I weighed 140 lbs. and was a size 10. 
Today, I weigh 150 lbs. (+/- one or two lbs.) and these jeans are a size 4.  A size 4.  I can't really wrap my mind around it.

Follow me on Instagram @tracoleman99

Let me ask you...
How was your summer?
What crazy things did you do?
How do you handle stress?  disappointment?
Answer in the comments below.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Time Hop, either you love it or you hate it.  Sometimes, I get tired of the notifications on my phone reminding me to check it...and then sometimes when I do check it, I either am filled with a sense of nostalgia or I want to cry or cringe.  Last week I saw the picture on the left on TimeHop from four years ago and I had to do a double take.  I guess I'm used to seeing the new me in the mirror, so it's still strange to see the old me.  I shouldn't be so surprised when people ask me what happened or how I did it.

I still surprise myself.
In responding to my Facebook friends' comments,  I realize that I am happy.  I think I've always been a relatively happy person. With the weight, I had aches and pains.  I was in pain just about 24 hours / day, 7 days / week.  I remember so clearly waking up in the middle of the night this past Christmas with incredible pain in my left knee.  My hips ached almost all the time.  Sometimes the pain would be in my lower back, my shoulders, or my neck.  I just did not feel well.  Add to that, I wasn't really happy with the way I looked, which affected how I felt about myself.

As a Christian, I know that true joy does not come from your outward appearance.  These things are temporal.  True joy and peace is found in relationship with God.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17

That said, being a Christian does not make up for being overweight.  I was carrying around an extra 80 lbs., working long hours, eating a completely unbalanced diet.  I was a complete couch potato at home and I physically felt horrible, which affected everything else.

Fast forward...

I can't really put my finger on the day or time when it happened.  But I can say, I truly am happy.  I no longer suffer from chronic pain.  I'm not tired all the time.  I have energy.  I enjoy life.  I want to be very clear.  I don't attribute the joy or happiness to being thin.  It's not a perfect body I seek.  This journey has given me a new lease on life.  And for that, I am grateful.

Grateful for those who have helped, and sacrificed along the way, most of all for my husband and my trainers.  My husband is the love of my life.  He has loved and encouraged me for nearly 25 years, through the good and the bad, whether I was fat or thin.  Mike...Yesterday would have been his 25th Birthday.  I would give anything for him to be here to see me now, to know how much he inspired me.  Dmitriy...whose support and friendship have been immeasurable.  Words just are not enough.  Most of all, I am grateful to the Lord for all He has done, for allowing me this second chance in life.  To Him be all the glory!

Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.
1 Peter 1:8

Follow me on Instagram @tracoleman99

Let me ask you, what makes you HAPPY?
Does your physical health affect your ability to be joyful?
What is keeping you from living a healthy lifestyle?
Answer in the comment section below.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

No Sweating Today

I don't want to mess up my hair!
I really like when I do my hair and it comes out kinky like this.
This week!!!  Let me tell you, I thought last week was stressful.  This week has been a whole lot of crazy.  
Sunday's ride photo:  the farm with the beautiful horses.  I just love to stop and admire them when I ride.
Sunday I went out for a ride on my bike and had a crash (completely my fault).  Fell on my head and my bum, so my tail bone has been sore all week.

I could barely move Sunday night.  The cat had to lie right next to me to make me feel better.
Tuesday night I got together with one of my former students.  Had her over for dinner and took her and her baby out for ice cream.  Her baby is so sweet and so well behaved.  I am so proud of her, she is such a good mom!

Lauren is such a good baby!  Her mom is an amazing mom!
Wednesday morning I woke up at 2:30 a.m. with excruciating stomach pains, my stomach the size of a small basketball.  I think I'm reacting to either the re-introduction of gluten to my diet or a change in the brand of protein powder.  I did some research and it could be either.  So not only did my bum hurt from the accident on Sunday, but I wanted to throw up all day. 
Can't decide if it's the gluten or the protein powder leaving me feeling like my stomach is a basketball. It's so very uncomfortable and downright painful!
I had a session with Dmitriy on Wednesday afternoon.  I sent him a text message, "I have graduation tonight, so no sweating today."  He responded, "Ok, good luck with the no sweating part.  It's really humid and I'm guessing we're gonna be working out.  Hah!"  My response, "Seriously, no sweating.  I have to do my hair before I come in because I'm going straight to graduation."  When I saw him, he was like, "What does that mean?  What am I supposed to do about that?  That's like going swimming and saying you don't want to get wet."  Ok, I get it.  But seriously, I have bone straight hair and when it gets damp, it falls and is ruined.  I did sweat, my hair did fall, I had to suck it up.

So...graduation.  I was the coordinator for one of the district's summer programs.  Have I ever told you how much I absolutely LOVE my job?  I think it's because I love to see the change in my students, how they grow up and mature.  My students know I care about them, I never give up on them.  The tougher the case, the more connected I feel to them.  One of my students gave the graduation speech on Wednesday night.  In 2013, she dropped out of high school, and came back to school in September of last year.  Between her regular day classes, Night School, Credit Recovery and Summer School, she managed to make it across the stage in one year.  I convinced her to give the speech because I believe she is an inspiration.  Her determination inspires me and I knew the other students would be able to relate to her.  She hit a home run and the students cheered for her.  She nailed it.  I was / am so proud of her.

This is Ashley.  She is truly an inspiration!  I am so proud of her accomplishments and I know she will go far in the future.  (And by the way, my hair was a lot fluffier before I sweat at the gym and it flopped!)
Today (Thursday), all the teachers came back to school for professional development.  I didn't get much done all day.  "Can I talk to you about my schedule?"  "Oh my God, look at you!  What did you do to lose all that weight?"  (I haven't really lost any weight since June.)  "Tracey, you really don't need to lose any more weight.  Stop now."  I do enjoy seeing the teachers after a few months of not seeing them, but I can't get anything done if I can't work on my students' schedules and address the issues that have arisen since we locked in the master schedule.  Sigh.

After school I went for a quick ride on my bike. little did I know how quick it would be.  About four miles in, I popped another spoke and my rear wheel would not move at all.  I pulled over to look at it, I needed to at least get back home. Some other riders stopped to help, but we couldn't fix it.  I had to get a ride from a friend.  Thank God for friends!!!  
When I brought my bike in on Monday for them to look it over after my accident, I had them re-strap the handlebars.  My favorite color!!!  But today's ride was a complete fail, as the broken spoke made it impossible to ride. 
Tomorrow is Friday! I have so much work to do to prepare for school opening.  After work, bring on the sweat! I plan to ride my bike (I got a new wheel already), followed by a workout at the gym.  I don't care if I mess up my hair!
My working station while my bum is sore.  I can stand up or lean on the stool.
So, in spite of two rough weeks, I am even more determined.  The Ride to Remember is in less than one month.  I count every challenge as a learning experience to better prepare me for the big day.  Figuring out how to get in enough riding now that I'm back to work full time and the sun is setting earlier is another challenge I get to figure out.

Brothers and sisters I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Follow me on Instagram @tracoleman99

Questions for you:
How has your week been?
What interesting things happened to you this week?
Any suggestions for dealing with the bloating?

Leave your answers in the comment section below.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Shake It Off

Something happened a few weeks ago that has been like sand in my shoe.  I've been trying not to think about it.  When you were fat as long as I was and you finally feel physically healthy and positive about yourself, negative comments can bring you down if you let them.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Last week was particularly stressful.  Lots of driving and horrible traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike on Sunday, followed by a week of sitting, glued to my laptop until all hours of the night so I could finish the master schedule for school.  Uggh.

But there were some amazing highlights...

First, we went white-water rafting on the Deerfield River on Wednesday.  I took a day off from work (and scheduling hell) and spent it with my family to tick something off my bucket list.  White water rafting has always been a dream of mine, but I have always been a little afraid to do it.  We went on the beginners' route, which was relatively calm.  I had a blast!!!!  We will definitely go again, and I'm hoping for something more advanced because the more intense rapids made it a lot more enjoyable.

I'd been working around the clock on the schedule, so we were running "On Time" to get to our rafting tour.  He wanted to be early and was sooooo annoyed with me.  This is me just being goofy.  We had an amazing time!
Bucket list - Check!
 Second, I had posted "What NO ONE tells you about weight loss", Parts ONE and TWO last week and had a lot of positive feedback from people about it.  I wrote in Part One that losing weight is expensive, but worth it and a friend from church asked me if I'd like any of her vegetables from her garden.  "Absolutely!"  On Thursday night, after a particularly stressful day, she stopped over with bags of vegetables and a dozen eggs and homemade yogurt from her farm animals.  I nearly cried.  What an unbelievable blessing!!!  I can't begin tell you what that did for me.

This:  Jackie is such a blessing!!!
By that point, my anxiety about finishing the schedule for school was through the roof.  There were so many dangling pieces that I really didn't think I'd be able to tie them all up and I was beginning to feel defeated.  Friday was my deadline.  EVERYTHING was getting to me and I was starting to snap at everyone (over really nothing).

Third, Friday night I got together with some of my classmates from the program I am in for my CAGS (a second Masters' degree).  We promised to get together during our class in June and Friday was the night.  We drove to Barre, which is in East Cupcake (I'm sure you know where that is) and had a lovely evening visiting and reconnecting with each other.  It was exactly what I needed. 

Friendship is so important.  They carry you through the difficult times.  I love these ladies!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Then, I had a restful Saturday.  I missed THREE days at the gym last week, which is unheard of for me.  So I spent a LONG time working out and walked home from the gym.  Our microwave bit the dust, so we took advantage of Massachusetts' Tax Free weekend and got a new one.  I got my nails done and then I went for a quick ride on my bike (I hadn't been out all week because of the stupid schedule).  It's getting dark earlier, so it was only about 25 miles, but I am excited because my speed is increasing and I was averaging 16-17 MPH until the end when my hip started cramping up.  Came home, had dinner and crashed.  Slept until after 6 a.m., which was great because I fell back to sleep after my 2:30 insomnia wake up.

I love to ride by this farm.  Last night the horses were right out near the road and I felt like they were talking to me.  I tried to video them, but I couldn't quite capture it.  I grew up in the city, so I'm not much of a country girl.  You horse lovers would probably tell me that they were talking to me.  They are so beautiful!  
And lastly, I was so busy all week that I didn't really have time to think about it until trainer Dmitriy posted a picture of me on Instagram last week.  When I got to thinking about it, I really got choked up.  I've been feeling agitated all week about the schedule, the "sand in my shoe" incident (above) was annoying me under the surface, and I gained three pounds!  To say I was frustrated is an understatement.  Yesterday I sat down and wrote about my journey, how I got started and used the progress picture he posted.  You can read that here:  "Getting Started."  Reflection is important for growth.  When you struggle or fail along the way, you need to step back and think about what you can do about it.  Looking at my pictures, thinking about my journey, I was able to realize that one bad week will not derail me.  

I am not defeated.  And as far as the sand in my shoe.  I'm just going to Shake It Off!!!

The haters gonna hate
I'm just gonna shake it off...
I never miss a beat...
I'm lightening on my feet.
That's what they don't see.
I'm dancing on my own.
I'll make the moves up as I go.
That's what they don't know.
But I keep cruising.
Can't stop, won't stop grooving
It's like I got this music in my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be all right."

A final shout out to the people who helped me get through the week:  
  • My husband, for putting up with me all week while I was so cranky!
  • My son, Mitch, for taking Dad to his medical procedure so I could finish the schedule.
  • Erica, without you, the schedule would NEVER have been done.  Thank you, I love you!!!  You are amazing and I so need your second set of eyes.
  • Maria, for helping me to check off a bucket list item.
  • Jackie, for being so generous and blessing me with all those farm fresh veggies, eggs and yogurt.  You are awesome!
  • Cyndi (for listening to my sand in the shoe strory), Antigony and Abbie, for being at the right place at the right time on Friday!!!  We really have to make a point to get together again, especially when our program is done.
  • Dmitriy, for making me feel good about myself when I wasn't feeling it.
I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.
Philippians 1: 3-4

Follow me on Instagram @tracoleman99 

Let me ask you:  
When something goes wrong, how do you shake it off?  
How did you spend your weekend?
Leave your comment below.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting Started

Is this me?
Dmitriy posted this picture of me on Instagram and nearly made me cry.
Left:  July, 2013 at Top of the Rock
Right:  August, 2015 at Best Fitness in Erie, PA

Do you ever hear yourself?

It's August, I'm enjoying the summer too much.  Fall is coming, I really like Apple Pie and Apple Cider.  School is starting again and it's going to be stressful.  Halloween is coming,I love all that candy!  Holidays are approaching, I can't wait for the food!  I think I'll wait until New Year's to get started on my diet.

OR is it ...

I don't have time.  I'm too busy.  If I try, it might not work for me.  I really don't want to go to the gym.  I really don't have it in me.  I work really hard and I can't take one more thing.  I've blown it already, so what's the point?  My   fill in the blank  hurts and I really don't want to injure it again.

Both of these types of internal dialogues used to play in my head.  It was like a broken record when it came to convince myself to lose weight.  At Christmas, 2013, I pretty much knew I had to do something.  My weight was increasing, I felt horrible all the time and I was heading towards a medical disaster.  (I have a family history of diabetes, addiction, high blood pressure, and stroke.)  So, on January 1, 2014, I started my journey towards fitness.  It was NOT pretty at first.  I've written about this previously.

I could probably go back and find another 10 years of pictures of me.
Being fat, battling the ups and downs has been my life story.
There are two major factors in getting started:

1. You must fight the internal dialogue, whatever messages you are giving yourself that say, "Not now" or "You can't do it."  This is key.  When you hear the voice in your head, say to yourself, "Stop!" or "Shut up!"

2.  This one is somewhat obvious, but simple:  stop waiting until tomorrow.   I don't care what time it is today, what you had for breakfast, dinner or snack, or what you have going on tomorrow to keep you from starting today!  Endeavor today to make the change.  You don't need to have one last big splurge!  Make a healthy dinner, start a shopping list of foods you need to keep in the house, go join your local gym, pour out all the sugary drinks in your house and start drinking only water.   Start now.  Don't delay.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25a

If I had not determined to put one foot forward and STICK to it, I would probably have serious medical issues by this point.  Just say to yourself, "I'm going to do this!" and refuse to allow anything to interfere with your goals.

I'll be honest, the first seven months were pretty much a disaster for me, but I did not give up. I kept saying to myself, "Tracey, you can't give up.  You have to figure this out."  My trainers really helped me, more than I can even tell you.  I've written about them here: Mike Made Me Do It and Dmitriy Made It Happen.  In those early months, when I wanted to quit, I didn't.  If I had a bad day or a bad weekend or a bad week, I said, "Come on now, get back on track."  When you are getting started, or if you are stuck along the way, my best advice is to refuse to allow one bad day to turn into a month of bad days.
2014 is the year I decided to change.  I had a rocky start, but I finished strong!
Most people want immediate results and get easily discouraged when they don't see them.  This is a scenario that will not lead to long term success.  In all of 2014, I lost 47 lbs., with my body fat decreasing 6.3%.  You can do the math, that's less than one pound per week.  When I started with Dmitriy, he gave me a good talking to (albeit kind) about my nutrition.  This has made all the difference.  I've lost 35 lbs. since January 1, with my body fat decreasing 14% (a total decrease of 19.2% since I started).  The decrease in body fat is far more remarkable than losing 35 lbs.  If you want to lose weight, you have to get started.  And you DO NOT have to wait until tomorrow.
This year I really got serious.  In January, I went from a Size 16 to a Size 12.  By March, I was in a size 8.  In May, I wore a two piece bathing suit for the first time since 2003.  I feel stronger, healthier and happier than I have in my entire life.
So, I challenge you to choose your health over the bag of chips, the quick meal from McDonald's or the bowl of ice cream.  Start today!

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 1:2

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Question for you:
If you could change ONE thing about yourself, what would it be?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Part Two - What NO ONE Tells You About Weight Loss

For Women Only, Part 2:  the GOOD and the BAD


Over the past 19 months, I have been on a journey to lose weight (and now keep it off) and become healthy and fit.  Here, I share my journey with youWhen you lose a lot of weight, there are a lot of unexpected benefits and a few side effects, that you learn to deal with.  This is part two of the things NO ONE ever tells you about.  You can read Part One here.

Gym Hands

I got my first callous last fall after I had been training with Mike for a little while.  I was appalled.  I bought gym gloves, but they get dirty fast and are just nasty.  You can wash your hands after working out, but are you going to put your gym gloves in the wash every time you work out?  You should!  When Dmitriy started having me do pull ups (and hanging leg extensions), my hands got numb and turned white.  I said to him, “I really wish I had my gloves on.”  He said, “You don’t need them.”  But my hands hurt!!  So when I was by myself trying the pull ups, I used the gloves.  Worse thing ever!!!  They seriously cut off the circulation to my hands and I felt like string was tightly wrapped around them.  I haven’t worn gloves since.  I do treat myself to a manicure about twice / month and I use lots of hand cream, but the callouses are simply part of gym life.
Calloused, sore hands after doing pull-ups
Gym Attire
Because I was fat, I did not want to wear anything tight fitting.  When I worked out, I wore grubby sweat pants and an over-sized t-shirt.  I didn’t even necessarily pay attention to what I was wearing to the gym.  One time I was working out with Mike and I had one of Mitch’s swim team t-shirts on and he asked if I was the swim coach.  I was like, “What are you talking about?  I’m wearing this shirt because it’s my son’s senior class t-shirt.”  I didn’t even know what I was wearing!!!  He must have thought, “This chick is a real dummy.”  After that, I bought a couple of shirts to wear just to the gym and recycled them with my t-shirts.
This is the t-shirt I thought I was wearing when Mike asked me if I was the swim coach.  I actually had on the boys' swim team t-shirt, but I didn't even realize it.  I used to just grab whatever was at the top of the drawer, throw it on with sweat pants and go.  I don't have the swim t-shirt to show you and this one is like a small tent on me, but it holds sentimental value.
In December, I brought my gym clothes to change into at work and the girls stopped me on the way out and said, “Tracey, you need some new gym clothes!  Look at you!  You look ridiculous.”  So, I threw out the worn out Adidas yoga pants and bought three new pairs of yoga pants, but kept wearing my t-shirts and the couple of gym shirts I had.  In February, I had started shedding weight quickly and added a couple of Patriots shirts into the mix after they won the Super Bowl.  I needed new clothes for work, so every time I bought some, I bought new clothes for the gym.
This was a real treat!!!  I got rid of all my sweat pants, bought some tank tops and a couple of new sports bras.  I use the mirror when I lift to make sure I have good form.  With the new clothes, I began to like what I saw.  Instead of wearing clothes that were baggy and loose, I wore clothes that let me see my body.  As I began to see some definition develop in my shoulders and arms, I bought MORE clothes to wear to the gym.  In the spring I bought a couple of tank-tops with built in bras, which were great.  But new problem – they don’t provide the best protection, so I had to add my own inserts.  I see a lot of women double bra with those tank tops, but I don’t like the added restriction.  We are women, we do whatever we have to make it work!!
One of my new tank tops.
For the ones with a built-in bra, I've improvised and added some protection to keep the girls from showing everything.  I only have one that came with its own built-in protection.  I wonder who actually designs these?  Certainly not a woman who works out!  I've tried to double-bra it, but that's way too uncomfortable.


One of the things that has been hardest for me to adjust to, is drinking enough water.  For whatever reason, I don’t have a taste for it.  I tried everything to get myself to drink it.  Lemon wedges didn’t work.  Buying special water bottles was a pain to always have to wash them.  I started buying cases of bottled water and keep some refrigerated at all times, which has helped.  It wasn’t until I got my 20 oz. Wonder Woman Tervis cup last month that I finally started drinking enough water.  I love being able to keep track of exactly how much water I am drinking (it has measurement lines) and the insulation keeps the water cold for a long time.  I still have to consciously make myself drink water, but it’s so much easier now.  I only drink coffee, water and tea (when it’s cold), so that makes it easier to consume enough water.
If I fill this with ice, it will keep my water cold all day!
Here’s the one thing they don’t tell you:  when you drink a lot of water, you constantly have to pee.  The urge to pee is constant.  When I’m working out at the gym, I drink a lot more water, so I take at least two trips to the bathroom.  If I stop at the grocery store after working out, I have to pee.  When we are on a long drive, I’m the one who says, “Honey, we need to stop at a rest stop.  I have to pee.”  Any woman who has given birth knows that when you have to pee, it means you have to go now.  All that water has added an interesting twist in our travels. 
At a rest stop in New York on our way to my cousin's wedding.

Probably the best part of my weight loss is what it has done for my marriage.  My husband and I are closer than we ever have been.  He has always been the love of my life, but since I feel so much better, we have been able to really connect through this journey.  In Part 1, I talked about my energy levels and how they have improved.  This is largely due to the improved balance in my hormones.  The excess body fat doesn’t only bring down your energy levels, but it messes up your hormones.  My mood has improved drastically and my anxiety levels have been largely in check, although I do still worry.  There are other hormonal benefits as well, which pair nicely with the increase in energy and improved affect (mood). 
Me and the love of my life
I’ve done some research on this and it’s relatively complicated to explain.  But I will tell you this – if you are overweight, your hormones are out of wack, which affect just about everything.  A proper nutritional plan, coupled with exercise will improve your overall physical well-being – body, soul and spirit.  It's hard to explain unless you've been through it yourself, but you really feel like a new person!
These are just three of hormones that become disrupted when you are overweight and have an excess of body fat.  An imbalance of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone will wreck havoc on just about everything.
 Final thoughts...
I have talked with many people about how I lost weight.  Most think doing cardio to get their heart rate up will do the trick.  Unfortunately, cardio alone is not enough.  Nutrition is the biggest factor for weight loss and choosing the right plan for you is critical.  Be very skeptical of any plan that promises a quick fix.  Your workout must include weight training, which is essential for building muscle, strengthening your bones, and increasing your metabolism.  Don’t expect rapid results and be willing to take the first step to start your journey.  It took me 19 months to get to where I am now and I'm not finished yet.  I'm not trying to lose weight anymore, but I can't stop where I am and expect to stay here.  It's an ongoing, lifetime commitment.

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Questions for you...
What do you wear when you exercise?
How do you drink enough water?
What do your hormones say about your health?
Leave your comments below.

Monday, August 10, 2015

For Women Only - What NO ONE Tells You About Weight Loss

The GOOD and the BAD:  Part 1

Over the past 19 months, I have been on a journey to lose weight (and now keep it off) and become healthy and fit.  I have shared my journey with you on this blog.  When you lose a lot of weight, there are a lot of unexpected benefits and a few side effects, that you learn to deal with.  This is part one of the things NO ONE ever tells you about. (The Good and the Bad!)

Good!  Get out your wallet:  losing weight is expensive!   (Yes, good!)

My grocery bill is through the roof.  Lean cuts of meat, fresh fruits and vegetables and other dietary supplements (protein powder and bars) are lot more expensive than the processed foods that used to fill my grocery cart.  I pretty much shop the perimeter of the grocery store, with a stop in the middle aisles for cereal, peanut butter and iced tea or soda (for my 17-year old son).

Clothes!!!  I have dropped from a size 18 to a size 6 or 8, depending on what it is.  It is August and I have absolutely no clothes to wear for the fall because all of my winter clothes were size 16+ and have been donated.  While it is a drain on the wallet, it’s not too bad if I catch a good sale.  I went to my cousin’s wedding this weekend and I found a cute little dress on clearance for $19.99, which was not bad.  Still, it all adds up.

Of course, I couldn't buy just the dress...I got a new tank top for the gym, a new top and new earbuds.

The dress was really cute!  
Although this cost seems like a negative, it is definitely a positive for a few reasons:  there’s no guilt in spending money on healthy food; shopping for new clothes is a lot of fun; and you learn to adjust your budget.  I hardly ever go out to eat anymore.  I used to buy fast food at least once / week, but it’s not healthy so I rarely get that either.  One of my pleasures is wine tasting, which I have not done very much of recently.  All of this has saved me a ton of money.

Bad!  Skin

I know people who have had bariatric surgery and end up with a lot of excess skin, but I never thought it would happen to me.  I have been reading about what to do about it and everything says, “Build muscle and reduce your body fat.”  Well, I lift weights at least four days per week and my body fat is 21.6%.  If you look that up, that’s pretty healthy for a woman my age.  When I look down at my legs (or the scars of childbirth on my abdomen), it’s really not pretty.  I have looked online for remedies and they sell these wraps and things that look interesting, but I’m nervous about investing a lot of money in that for it to not work.  My moisturizing cream and vitamins contain collagen… I’ve heard that gelatin supplements help too.  I haven’t tried that yet.  One thing I know is there are no quick fixes for any of this, so before I go a little off the deep end, I’ll probably talk to my doctor and get his advice.  As far as surgical options go, I feel like there must be a better option. 
It's hard to capture what I'm talking about in a picture.  You can kind of see it around my knees.  It's worse on my abdomen.(which I won't take a picture of!)  And it's even worse when I'm doing push-ups and look down and see all this skin hanging.  It's just nasty.  Thankfully I don't do push-ups for a living and I'm the ONLY one who has to look at my legs when I do them.  I'm probably being overly picky about this, but I really just don't like it.  
Good (GREAT)! Energy 

I am somewhat of a workaholic.  I used to work 10 hour days, come home and be completely wiped out.  If I made dinner, it was something quick and fattening.  Maybe fish sticks and macaroni and cheese (no vegetable), Hamburger Helper (tomato basil, that’s vegetable enough, right?), pizza or McDonald’s take out.  Many times, dinner was a bowl of ice cream and a handful of cookies!  If I got home early enough, I would crash and take a nap.  After dinner, I would sit on the computer and play Farmville or watch TV.  I had no energy to do anything, not housework, not school work, let alone go to the gym and work out.

Since I started going to the gym faithfully, my overall energy levels have drastically improved.  Add an improved nutrition plan and I feel like the Energizer bunny.  It’s almost bizarre because I have a hard time sitting still.  On the weekends, I’ll go to the gym, go hiking and take a ride on my bike all in the same day. My husband thinks I’m a little crazy.  “You went riding yesterday,” or “You’re going hiking? You just went for a bike ride.” 

A perfect day:  morning workout at the gym (Leg day, uggh), followed by hiking and a bike ride.  Took the top picture of a tobacco farm in Connecticut during my evening ride.

Bad!  What happened to my beautiful boobs?

I used to have the most magnificent breasts.  When I lost weight, my boobs were the first thing to go.  I don’t know what size bra I wore before, because I always wore a sports bra.  In February, I got fitted for new bras (I had lost 50 lbs. and the sports bras weren’t working).  Victoria’s Secret measured me as a 32 DDDD.  A 32?  That’s small!!!  But a DDDD, that’s HUGE.  It was weird.  Try finding a bra that size, even at Victoria’s Secret.  It’s almost impossible.  My “sister size” was a 34 DD, which was a lot easier to find.  So I bought a few bras, and spent a fortune on them.  By the end of March, the bras were too big and my boobs were floating.  It was ridiculous.  So I bought some 34C’s (I can’t find any 32C’s) and these have worked for a while.  I still prefer the comfort of a sports bra, even though they make me look smaller.  I know I should get refitted because the floating boobs are back.  What no one has to tell you, because you already know – bras are expensive, so spending more money on bras is not exactly on a list of “Yeah, I get to do this” things.  The final straw is that at my annual mammogram, I had to go for a recall for a second set of scans because my breasts had changed so much, which adds a whole new level of anxiety.  But for the sake of breast health, we do what we have to do! 
Me (and my boobs)...before and after.
They really were marvelous!!
The truth is, I'd rather be thin and have no boobs than fat and have big ones.  Any day.
Update:  10/4/2015
This was taken at my Great-Aunt's 94th Birthday party.  I think it's hysterical, because if you look closely, you can actually see my floating boobs.  I bought the smallest bra I could find and it's still too big.  Time to go back to Vicky's for a fitting.  It's just so expensive there!

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Click here for Part 2Gym Hands, Gym Attire, ALL THAT WATER, and Hormones

Questions for you:

*Have you lost or are you trying to lose weight or work out and be healthier?  If so, what has surprised you about the journey that you did not expect? 
**Have you found any good deals on clothes lately?  
***Any suggestions for what in the world I can do about the skin?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Throughout my life, I have enjoyed "dabbling" in this or that, but I would never have described any one hobby or interest as my passion.

Ready for a ride...
Last year, I dared to say I want to do the Ride to Remember (R2R) this year.  It was a long term fitness goal for me.  Saying it out loud scared me.  When I was a kid, I rode my bike everywhere because I did not have a car.  I remember my parents flipped out when they found out how far and to where I was riding.  When I was in college, a man from my church died in a cycling accident.  He was hit by a drunk driver.  I did not ride my bike again until after I had Mitch.  I knew it was a good way to lose weight.  I used to take him on the bike trail in Northampton after work.  We had such good times.  When Joey was born it was a lot harder to ride together because Mitch was on his little bike and Joey was tiny.  It just did not work.  And that was the end of my cycling.

This was probably one of the last rides we went out on as a family.
Until this year...I remember my first ride this year.  I did not have my new bike yet.  We had a miserable winter and it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Dmitriy saw me at the gym and was like, "Get out there.  It's nice out."  And so I did.
Read about this in Dmitriy Made It Happen.
It was freezing!  I thought I was in shape, but the 15 mile loop I did kicked my butt.  Still, it felt good to get it done, even though I had to walk up the last hill near my house.  I was glad to get out there and get riding. The R2R was in about six months.  I had to figure out how to ride long distances and increase my speed and not be in agony afterwards.  It was going to be a challenge, but one I was stoked to beat.

Today is 45 days until R2R.  I'm averaging about 100 miles / week on my bike.  I am disappointed if I can't ride my bike and I think about how I am going to make it happen when I am busy.  Sgt. Delaney posted this YouTube video on Facebook.  THIS really sums it up how I feel about riding:

I would say it's passion.  I love it.  I love how I feel on a long ride.  I love the feeling of the hot sun on your skin, but the cool breeze from riding that keeps you going.  I love the smells and scenery.  You can go for a nice ride in the car and enjoy the scenery, but nothing compares to riding your bike.

I try to take a picture on every ride to help remember the journey.
These horses were out feeding the other night when I was out riding with my husband and I just had to take their picture.  How often do you do that when you're driving in the car? 

If you are on a journey towards becoming fit, I highly recommend endeavoring in an outdoor activity that keeps you in nature.  Hiking, cycling, swimming, skiing - anything that encourages you to move your body and gets you outdoors.  You never know where you will find your niche...try something new.  You may surprise yourself!  I LOVE hiking, but cycling definitely rules since all I have to do is gear up and get on my bike.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
Colossians 3:23

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What's your passion?  Do you have something you love to do?  
Do you look for opportunities to go outdoors?  What do you do that makes you happy?  Answer in the comment section below.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


On Friday, I posted, "Staying The Course" and wrote about what happened when I hit a wall.  I wasn't eating enough and my body couldn't keep up the pace of my training.

I took a few days off from riding to get ready for a wedding on Thursday.  I spent most of the day Friday driving my son and the youth group to Logan Airport to send them on their missions trip to Ireland.

My son, Joey.  We met at the youth pastor's house and prayed for the team before we left for the airport.
I relaxed all weekend, with a lot of riding.

Here are the pictures I said I'd post.  (I have been sort of photo-journaling my rides.  I try to take a picture on every ride to help me remember this journey.)

Friday, July 31,2015

Had a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich before the ride.  Simple carbs... Ended up with stomach cramps on the ride, so I'll have to pace my pre-ride meal out a little.
My bike!  I was going to name her Katana, but I'm leaning towards Wonder Woman.  What do you think?
My husband is tired of me taking all these pictures!
Liking my new bike shirt.
There are so many farms in Connecticut that we ride by.  This one is a sunflower farm.  It's hard to see them, but the entire field was sunflowers.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I haven't really had a vacation at all this summer, so I took today as a "me day."  I did what I wanted all day.

This is how I feel after "Leg Day" at the gym.  Exhausted!
I went hiking at Soapstone Mountain, which is not too far from us.  This was my first time hiking there.  I like a little more rigorous of a climb, but that could be because I was not familiar with the trails. The graffiti added some flavor to the tower, that's for sure!  :-)  I left just in time to miss the rain storm that hit.

In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
Psalm 95:4
New England is so beautiful. There are such pretty churches, stores, and farms everywhere.  Did you know that Connecticut is a big supplier of tobacco leaves?   When we went to the Dominican Republic a few years ago, one of the locals told us they roll their cigars with leaves from Connecticut.
Sunday, August 2, 2015

I go back to work (no summer school) full time in less than two weeks.  I really wanted to spend this weekend doing whatever I wanted to do.  I want to go to the beach, but my husband and my BFF's are not beach heads.  I may just take a day off my summer job and go visit my sister-in-law.  (That's definitely a possibility.)  What did I do today?

I went to the gym!!!  Core day today...

My son had my car, so I walked home with my cup of Dunkin'.
I went for a ride!!!!  Goal was 50 miles...I had it all mapped out.

Was doing pretty good...
Feeling courageous, I climbed Glendale Road, which is particularly hilly ascent on Wilbraham Mountain.
Intersection of Monson Road and Glendale Road.  The sun was high and it was hot, but I made it!!!!

On the way down the mountain, I popped a spoke.  Bummer.  Headed home, put the bike in the back of my car and dropped it off at the shop.  It ended up being OK because I got a horrible cramp on  the right side of my back and I could barely keep going.  Between the blown spoke and the cramp, I was just glad to make it home!
I started growing my nails out in May.  They were doing pretty good until they all broke two weeks ago.  So I went in for a manicure on Wednesday and they redid my nails.  On Friday, the polish peeled off on three of them, so I took advantage of the extra time and got them fixed.  Pretty!  The nail tech said, 'You must work out.  You're in really good shape."
All in all, I got over 80 miles of riding in this weekend.  I took it easy and had a good time!  I didn't over-do it, so I don't feel worn out.  I feel like I'm in a decent mood.  I ate a LOT this weekend too, which I know helped.  I enjoyed the scenery and the cool breeze on my face.  Looking forward to getting my bike back so I can ride some more.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.
Psalm 96:11-12

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Here's my question for you.
What did you do this weekend?
How do you enjoy your "me-time"?
Put your answer below in the "Comment" section.