Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting to "Normal"

I stood in the middle of my favorite local clothing store with a big goofy grin and excitement coursing through my veins.

For years, I've walked to the two or three racks of clothing marked 'For the Curvaceous" and looked through to find something I liked marked either XXL, 3XL, or 22/24.  Out of habit, I went to these racks and started to browse. Then it dawned on me that I'm not that size anymore. So I grabbed the XXL, big looking XL and 18/20s and headed to the dressing room. Nothing looked right. And it dawned on me that perhaps these were also too big!

I almost left. Too afraid to spoil my high by trying on "normal" sizes only to find they didn't fit. But then I thought, WTH? Let's give it a shot. So first, I tried on a pair of size 16 slacks. Imagine my surprise when they fit. Then I tried on an XL dress. And it fit. Then I tried on a XL shirt...and you guessed it, it fit.

OMG. This is a huge day for me. I haven't been able to shop the "normal" sizes in at least 10 years. Yes, I still have some clothing that is considered "plus" that fit. And yes, there are people who would tell me that an XL and 16 are still plus size. I don't care. I feel great!

I feel great enough I thought I'd bore you with one more before/during shot. I say during because I have 50 more lbs to lose to reach my goal. But man, I'm totally bragging....look at these results!

A Note: I have discovered there are very very few pictures of my whole body before. I avoided the camera so bear with me while I show you my "before" shots....I had to dig them up where I could.

First up, on the left is me the day I started this diet. Yes, I'm wearing clothes that are a  little revealing on purpose but look at the difference!!

Now, probably a more fair observation. On the left, here I am taking a picture in the mirror on a day I thought I looked good. Then of course, me on the right today!

For the record, I've lost 42 lbs! I've gone from a 22/24 to a 16/18.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

38 x 38 - Make a Quilt (In Progress)

Growing up, my mom was one of "those" moms - totally uncool and set to ruin my life! While everyone else was wearing clothes from department stores, I was stuck with either Kmart or (sometimes even worse) my mom's handiwork. She made shirts, dresses, or ack . . . this horrible skirt/vest corduroy thing that will forever haunt me in my 6th grade picture. I look more like the teacher in this horrid gray "suit" with my hair in a banana clip and my big giant uncool glasses.

I remember Mom used to sit me down at her sewing machine and attempt to teach me to sew. Totally uncool. I would roll my eyes and mutter to myself how unnecessary sewing is. I mean, like really, that's what we have stores for (said in my best 12-year old girl in the 80s voice). I wouldn't pay attention and pretty soon I'd have a big wad of thread, a messy pile of fabric, and my mom's total and utter frustration. Needless to say, she gave up.

Since then, I've had a complete aversion to sewing. Sewing was impossible and frustrating. I can't sew straight. I can't sew well. I'll break the machine. My mom will yell at me. I hate sewing.

But then as I've gotten older, I've started thinking of all the things I could make. A skirt? A throw pillow? Curtains? Or how about a quilt?

Yes, a quilt, that's it. Unfortunately (and sadly) my mom lives hours away from me so my mom teaching me to quilt is just not possible. It makes me wish I'd paid attention way back when so that I could say, "see what my mom taught me." Not her fault, all mine.

I added make a quilt to my annual bucket list and last week, I asked Eva to teach me. Eva is almost 90 years old and makes the most intricate beautiful quilts ever. She's my boss's mom and I love her to pieces. She likes to be helpful and was eager to get me started (she didn't know she was dealing with a non-sew-er).

She gave me overwhelming, huge piles of books to look through and asked me to pick a pattern. I admired intricate lines, triangles, and details before ultimately deciding to go simple. . . squares and strips. Easy right?

As for the material? I raided my mom's closet of scraps. I wanted to buy one of those neat jelly rolls where all the fabric coordinates and it's basically like a "kit" but I really didn't want to spend the money yet. Plus my mom said with my first one, I should use her scraps until I get more practice (see my mom remembers my sewing projects from long long ago!). I ended up selecting a frog pattern with many primary colors and then some fabrics in primary colors.

Then Eva came over to show me how to cut the fabric. Have I mentioned I can't cut a straight line? Not with scissors, not with a paper cutter, not with the ruler and rotary thing. . . a straight line is my enemy.

Eva helps me prepare to cut the fabric
I somehow managed to cut the material and while it may not be perfect, it did resemble squares and strips. Eva kept explaining that if it's not exact that "we'll just take it up in the seams." Um, sure. Did I mention I don't sew!

After a full day cutting, Eva told me I'm now ready to sew. She gave me verbal instructions and left.

Hey, wait! I don't know what I'm doing!! I had a moment of panic where I was ready to throw the fabric in tomb of unfinished projects. I can always blame it on not know what to do next.

So yesterday, I decided to tackle the sewing part. It can't be that hard, right? I read and then re-read the book. Sew this halfway, then sew that, then sew this, then press....blah blah blah.

Getting started, fingers crossed

And lo and behold, when I was finished I had what looked like an honest to goodness quilt block!
Hey, wow, I sewed that!

Of course, after finishing this first block, I had a moment of confidence where I realized I could totally do this! I had to take a break and text the photo to my mom (just to prove I did it).

So then I sewed a second block, then a third, and before the night was through, I had sewed all twelve blocks (this first one will be a baby size quilt).

Now I'm on a roll and I'd rather be quilting. I can't wait to get home tonight and sew the blocks together. I think I can totally do this.

(this morning over coffee, I peaked at the instructions for doing the "finishing" part of the quilt and I'm a little worried this project will end up in the tomb of the unfinished. Tack this, sew this, do some math, bind that...uh, what?? Thankfully, I know I can call Eva and she'll show me what to do!)

Can't wait to show off the finished project!

Monday, July 22, 2013

38 x 38 - New Recipes (#8 and #9)

Cooking for the people I love is one of my favorite activities. This weekend, both boys were home and all felt right in my world (Marcus was gone for a month working and Nate was with his dad). 

I decided to try a couple of new recipes to celebrate. I hope you enjoy!

Pork Carnitas

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com but I made some modifications. 

2 tbsp olive oil (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil)
4 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into large pieces (original recipe called for pork shoulder)
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 cans of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in large dutch oven over high heat. Season pork with salt and arrange in dutch oven to cook until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes). Add the onion, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until pork is tender (original recipe said 2.5 hours, I did it for 1.5). Transfer pork to a large baking sheet, drizzle with small amount of cooking liquid. Bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Drizzle cooking liquid every 10 minutes, use two forks to shred the meat as it browns. 

This was delicious and worth the effort!! 

I served it with rice and a homemade "salsa." For my salsa, I chopped 4 tomatoes, 1/4 of a sweet onion, added cilantro, a touch of salt, and a dash of apple cider vinegar. Stir it up and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. 

I didn't have tortillas to serve with it so I looked online and found a recipe! 

Homemade Tortillas

I've made tortillas before a long time ago (my first husband's sweet grandma taught me). However, they were made with lard and I remember them being time consuming. When I stumbled on this recipe, I thought I'd give it a shot!!

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto lightly floured surface, knead 10-12 times, adding more water or flour as needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a 7-inch circle (or in my case, as close to a circle as you can get, maybe a triangle? Square? lol). Heat a large non-stick skillet and spray with cooking spray. Cook tortillas over medium heat for one minute on each side or until lightly browned. Keep warm until ready to serve. 

I didn't eat these (it's not on my eating program) but my boys LOVED them and begged for more. I can say they were probably the easiest thing I've made in forever!  

For my meal, I added a side salad and then served the meat and salsa over roasted poblano peppers. This isn't a new recipe but roasted poblano peppers are one of my all time favorites!

Roasted Poblano Peppers

Set your oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray your peppers with cooking spray on all sides. Put on baking sheet and broil about 5-10 minutes on each side. The skin will get dark and bubbly (doesn't need to be completely dark but you'll notice the "skin" coming up, you want it to look like that so you can peel them). Remove and place in a bowl for 20 minutes. Remove the skins from the peppers. Remove the cap and the seeds. Voila, done! I put my pork on these peppers with the salsa on top and a tbsp of avocado. Super delicious. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wacky, Crazy, Human-Powered

The Klamath Kinetic Challenge is one of my favorite events of the year! Cooky, wacky, crazy, and creative are the best ways to describe it. Costumes, giant sculptures, crazy people....it's a great time.

For anyone who doesn't know, it's basically a race between these giant, homemade, human-powered vehicles that must be able to travel over land, sand, mud, rocks, and the water. There are really no rules and the judges take bribes:) It's basically a Dr. Suessian race.

It's probably just best to show you in photos:
My niece and nephew stand in front of the Banana Split Sculpture

Last year, this sculpture was a dragon, this year they added a mustache to make it a Lorax

The Kinetic Kops

This post-apocoloyptic cockroach had real working pincers and lots of details

Spectators dress up like this guy with silver paint

or this guy that my niece wanted a photo of

And the cockroach takes off 

The banana splits....
So if you like creativity, a little wackiness, and a whole lotta Dr. Seussian fun, you should add it to your list.

Monday, July 15, 2013

38 x 38 - 12 New Recipes (#5, 6, and 7)

I've been looking for new recipes to incorporate into my new eating plan and I have a few great ones to share with you:

Roasted Cabbage Steaks
I got this idea from Pinterest and then adapted it just a little. Look here for the original recipe. These are my very minor changes:

  • Slice the cabbage into 1" thick steaks. 
  • Brush lightly with olive oil (I used about a 1/2 tsp on each "steak"). 
  • Rub the steak with fresh garlic, sprinkled on salt, pepper, and lemon pepper. 
  • Bake at 400 degrees in the oven for 30 minutes. 
These were delicious and super easy. Rob even liked them and he doesn't care much for cabbage. 

Cauliflower Bread Sticks
Another pinterest recipe! This was delicious - I'll definitely make it again. I will say don't expect it to be exactly like breadsticks obviously but still wonderful and delicious! 
1 cup raw grated cauliflower 
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 cup shredded light mozzarella
garlic salt and italian seasonings to taste

Preheat over to 350. Mix cauliflower, 1/4 cup egg substitute, and 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella together in a bowl until combined. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment and lightly spray with Pam. Pour mixture into pan about 1-1/2 inch deep. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until set. Lift the edges of the parchment and place bread with parchment onto cookie sheet. Carefully use a spatula to lift the edges of the "dough" off the parchment and flip the dough. Bake for an additional 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Take out of oven and using a pizza cutter, slice strips through and separate slightly. Spring with seasonings and the remainder of the cheese. Bake at 450 for 10 more minutes until cheese is melted. 

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad
Surprise, surprise...another Pinterest find! This was soooooo good too. Definitely worth trying:

3 cups chopped fresh kale
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp dried thyme
pint of salt and pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (optional, I obviously left them out because of my program)

In a large bowl, whish together olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper. Add Kale and parmesan  (and breadcrumbs if using). Toss until kale is coated. Serve immediately.

Three delicious veggie recipes worth trying!! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Random Thoughts On a Friday

  • I noticed that since I've lost 39 lbs (yes, as of this morning woot woot), I'm starting to get a few wrinkles noticeable on my face and I wouldn't admit it to just anyone but I wonder if I'm going to start looking older and then I wonder whether it's better to look older but be thinner or look younger and be fatter. Of course, I quickly reminded myself that what I want is a life of mobility and good health so I can live a long time and accomplish all the amazing things I have planned for myself. 
  • I thought I was doing so well on my annual bucket list and was knocking off the items one by one. Then today I realized I have less than six months to do 31 things. I better get on it!
  • I realize every once in a while that I have a real fear of God. I'll blame all the times I went to church and was threatened with fire and brimstone. Right now while I go through some crazy amounts of stress, I start to feel like I'm being punished for something. Maybe because I got not only one but two divorces. Maybe it was that I said His name too many times in vain. Was it a little white lie I told now and then? But then I remind myself He's a loving God and He has a plan for me. 
  • I wish I had a few hundred dollars to just spend on shoes and pretty lingerie. 
  • I wish I was brave enough to cut my hair into a pixie cut. 
  • I'd like to live in a time when everyone dressed up and wore hats and the men looked dapper and the women looked classy. (I wouldn't want it every day but I do wish I had more opportunities to really really dress up). 
  • I want two more tattoos. One on each wrist. Small enough that I can cover them with bracelets and watches. 
  • I want to climb a mountain. 
  • I'm already planning next year's bucket list...it'll have to be grand ...I'll be the big 4-0!
  • I want to learn to dance. 
  • I want to go out of town and be a little crazy and let loose. 
  • I want to do something fun and adventurous when I grow up that gives me lots of cool experiences but instead I'll go to school for marketing because it's the practical thing to do. 
  • I want to be adventurous but mostly I'm chicken. 
There you have it. All the random thoughts that popped in my head on this fine Friday morning!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

12 Week Celebration

Today I celebrate twelve weeks on the Take Shape for Life program and I couldn't feel better. I've lost 38 pounds so far and I have more energy than I could have imagined. I posted photos last week so I won't bore you with more but I'm amazed at my continued progress.

In fact, I'm so impressed and passionate about my experience, I took the leap and became a health coach! I'm not a salesperson and I hate being pressured so I won't pressure you but should anyone be interested in learning more about my experiences, I'm happy to share! You can visit my new Take Shape for Life website here.

This weekend I'll take my measurements. I am thrilled to have gone from a size 24 to between a 16 and 18. I'm so close to being under 200 pounds that I can hardly stand it!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Responsibility Part 2

It's amazing how quickly kids respond to positive influences! Just a few weeks ago, I posted about my teenage son's job (and my guilt over it).

Let's just say I'm over the guilt and thrilled with the results! Marc was already an amazing young man but when he came home last week for his few days off, it was pretty amazing! 

Instead of retreating to his bedroom, he was in the living room visiting with us. He had stories of what he'd been doing in the woods, what he was learning, and how hard the work was. He told stories instead of shrugging his shoulders and saying, "it was fine." 

He did laundry! Yes, seriously. 

He helped whenever I asked him and didn't say, "I'll do it later." 

Marc and his girlfriend helped me set up the 4th of July event.

On Saturday, we took him back to finish his last two weeks of working. And I saw even more changes. 

He took out Grandma's garbage before she even asked him to. He asked if there was anything she needed and then mowed her lawn. 

He made a grocery list for the week (he stays out in the woods Monday through Friday) and then asked Grandma to take him shopping to help him get the best deals. 

He didn't retreat to his room to text his girlfriend, instead he rode horses with the little cousins. 
Riding horses was on Marc's annual bucket list....mission accomplished!

Of course, as you probably also read, Marc bought his first truck with his money. He bought a 1977 Ford truck that runs perfect. It starts right up and purrs (why do guys say that?? weird.) It's mechanically awesome. But it's ugly. I got to see it for the first time (my family helped him make sure it was a good buy). He's right, it's ugly but it's all his. 

Marc's first truck

 Of course, now having some tunes, Marc's happy and ready to drive. It made my heart swell when he said, "let's go for a drive mom" - so off we went. Listening to music, windows down, heading down the road....

So yeah, right now I'm pretty proud of this young man! He has two more weeks (so keep up the prayers that rattlesnakes stay away and he doesn't get caught up in the barbed wire!!).

A few other fun things from this weekend. My mom cooked a turkey in a trash can that was delicious! Sounds crazy but here's a photo. It was moist and tasty. A 20 lb turkey took about 2 hours.
turkey cooking in a trash can

My grandparents came in for dinner. I have to brag that both their first comments were about how much weight I've lost. Yes, I was happy:)

Me and my beautiful grandma

We took our dog on this trip. He loved his head out the window as we passed the lake.
Drake loves a road trip

You'll notice this post is missing photos of Nate. He's with his dad for the next two weeks. Missing that kid like crazy! And with Marc gone working, I'm going stir crazy. Watch here for some posts though...I'll share everything I'm doing to stay busy and not think about it! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Giving up the 4th

For 33 years, I celebrated 4th of July with the rest of the nation. It usually included a barbecue, a trip downtown to the parade, and a visit to the fireworks show. Sometimes, I went to the lake, a river, a campground, but always I was surrounded with family and friends.

That all changed five years ago when I was put "in charge of 4th of July." Of course, that's not exactly the case but I am the organizer for our community's local Independence Day celebrations. It sounds a little pretentious to say I'm in charge of 4th of July and when I made that comment the other day, I didn't say it for kudos or because I think I'm important. It's because I take my job seriously. I really do feel responsible for how well (or poorly) the events turn out.

I don't want kudos....those should be reserved for my volunteers who spend hours upon hours leading up to the event planning and organizing (and dealing with me). They call businesses for donations to be turned down 9 times out of 10. They call organizations to ask if they'll be in the parade. They call in favors from other business associates. They meet with me in the evening, they meet with me at lunchtime. 

Then these dedicated volunteers miss Independence Day with their families to show up early, work all day, deal with some of the public who are grumpy and sometimes rude. While their families are at home or at the lake, they're in the park with me. 

They work in the heat from sun up to well past sundown. They put up tents, haul our vendors tables and supplies to and fro, help lost kids find their parents, and pick up trash that didn't quite make it in the trash can. 

They survive sunburns, brave dehydration, and wear out their feet to make sure our community can celebrate in the best possible way. 

They act professionally and respectfully when they're yelled at by the guy who is mad he has to park two blocks down. When a vendor is grumpy because they don't like their spot and they call my volunteer a name (or two), my volunteers stay calm, cool, and collected. 

When someone complains the parade is too late, or too early, or that it's too hot or that they don't like this or that, they listen. 

These are my heroes. They deserve the kudos. 

And I ask that next time you're at an event, take time (even if it's after) to thank those who helped pull it together. It's a big task! 

So now that I've got that out, let me share a few photos from our Independence Day Jamboree and Parade. 

Debbie and Tori start out at 6:30 a.m. putting up caution tape downtown, they won't finish their day until after midnight

Jacob and his mom Holly meet us bright and early to hang flags on Main Street

Our pyro guys set up a spectacular fireworks show! 

The parade kicks off the event and many organizations put hours into their floats

Our theme this year was 4th on the Farm....lots of tractors and patriotism

With heat in the 90s, Roe Outfitters sprayed parade-goers with water guns! A welcome relief from the heat

Look closely and you'll see my cute little Nate waiving at me in an orange t-shirt. 

Even Marc and his girlfriend helped out. Marc hung flags in the morning, kept people out of the fireworks fly zone, and did whatever else I needed

Our event was featured in a magazine. That cute kid eating a snowcone is my Nate. The fireworks photo was taken by my friend Scott Brainard. 

I'm worn out, exhausted, but overall pleased with how the event went. I have a year to recuperate! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

11 Weeks and 35 Lbs

In 11 weeks, I've lost 35 pounds using Take Shape for Life and Medifast. I'm feeling great. I'm super busy so I can't post all the wonderful things but I'm really excited to share my photos.

Here's the photo I posted to show my progress at 6 weeks. I had lost 27 lbs at this point.

On the left when I started, on the right, at six weeks - down 27 lbs

5 weeks after that and I've lost 8 more pounds. I feel great. I will say I've been under a huge amount of stress so I bet I would have gained more than that if I hadn't been doing this program. Here I am today:

11 weeks, down 35 lbs!

Just have to keep going!