Monday, January 31, 2011

Eat It. Work It. Blog It. - Week 1

**I know this is a super long post - and I don't generally do super long posts - but if you'll just keep reading it's worth it. I promise!**

So as many of you know, I've been on a journey to a lighter, more fit, happier Amber over the past five months.  But maybe I should share what has led me to this weightloss journey.

I've never been thin.  *Ever*  I was a chubby kid - cute - but chubby.  Although I grew out of the "baby fat", I remained we'll call it "thick" throughout high school.  I was that teenage girl crying in the dressing room because her butt just would not fit in junior size jeans.  In college, I was one of the largest girls in my pledge class - not the largest, but definitely one of the larger girls.

I'm not saying that I'm ugly - or that I've always felt ugly.  I'm not saying that I look at pictures of skinny girls in magazines and wish that could be me.  I'm simply saying - weight has always been an issue for me.  A part of it is genetics - I've got my mama's thighs and hips and there is no changing that.  But the real problem is my lack of self control. 

I could easily eat a Snickers and an entire bag of salt & vinegar chips in one evening if I wanted to.  I could eat fast food one a day and not think twice about it.  It's very easy for me to mindlessly graze on high sugar, empty calorie snacks all day long and never consider the impact of that grazing on my waist line.  I could go weeks, maybe months, without exercising.  Basically - I was a fat girl because I choose to be a fat girl.  (Please note - I use the word "fat" very loosely.  I believe skinny/fat/chubby are relative terms that apply differently to different people.  I was by no means actually fat - but I felt fat and that made me a fat girl.)

I lost about 15 pounds before our wedding and I felt great.  (Most of the pictures you see on my blog are from my wedding or around the time of our wedding.)  I was by no means a size 2, but I felt comfortable in my skin and I was happy with my body.  As I settled into married life, I put those 15 pounds back on.  Seven months after we were married, I started my weight loss program again and dropped the 15 pounds.  But somehow between November 2009 and August 2010 I managed to put 20 pounds on - TWENTY POUNDS!

I woke up one morning about five months ago and I'd had enough.  ENOUGH! I truly didn't recongize the woman in the mirror.  I hated getting dressed in the mornings because none of my clothes fit, but I refused to buy new clothes because I refused to acknowledge that I had gained weight.  My sex drive was basically nonexistent.  This had *nothing* to do with my husband - but more the sheer embarrasment I felt at the thought of him seeing me naked.  My weight gain was a catalyst for a complete breakdown of my self confidence.  I no longer took the time to apply makeup or fix my hair.  I bit my nails and avoided spending time with friends.  I was sad and pathetic and I only had myself to blame.  As I looked at my tear filled reflection that Wednesday morning all I could think was, "How the hell did you do this to yourself!?!?!"

And that was it....that was the spark that I needed.  Steven and I decided to find a gym that we both enjoyed going to and within a week we had joined CrossFit Charlotte.  Coach Andy, the owner, encouraged both of us to try The Zone Diet and within a week we were "In The Zone". 

There have been a lot of ups and down for me throughout the past five months.  By no means have I stuck to my diet the way that I should and it took me some time to fully commit myself to a steady workout routine.  But now - I'm there.  I'm over the "trial and error" phase of this lifestyle change and I know the right foods to eat to fuel my body and I am getting my butt kicked on an almost daily basis at CFC.  I've lost 17 pounds so far and I've got 15 pounds to go.  I know that I can do this.  I know that I am strong enough to accomplish this goal - especially with support and encouragement from people who care about my success.

And that's where my idea for "Eat It. Work It. Blog It." came into play.  I know that many bloggers are on a journey of their own to accomplish weight loss or fitness goals.  Some may want to lose 20 pounds or more.  Others may simply want to clean up their eating habits and incorporate exercise into their daily lifestyle.  Whatever the goal, I think it would be SO much easier to accomplish that goal with the help and support of other bloggers.  To share your "Do's & Dont's".  To share your favorite recipes or favorite healthy snack ideas.  To share your triumphs and failures.  To hold one another accountable and celebrate each other's success.

I thought we might give this a trial run....just for the month of February to see how it goes.  Each Tuesday post your "results" for the previous week (Tuesday - Monday).  Post your Eat It. (Diet choices throughout the week and share any new recipes or snack suggestions.)  Post your Work It. (Exercise routine throughout the week.) Post your Blog It. (How did you feel?  Did you experience any breakthroughs on your journey?  Did you find a new favorite exercise or learn something new?)

So today begins the first Tuesday of Week 1.  If you would like to join - link up!  Today just simply post what eating habits you plan to follow during the month, what exercise routine you hope to start and what your goals for the month of February are.  Also, feel free to share a little about yourself and what made you decide to take this challenge.

So - now that I have said all that (and that really was a lot - I promise it won't be this lenghty going forward!) let me share my Eat It. Work It. Blog It.

Eat It:
I intend to follow The Zone Diet 6 days a week.  I will eat three meals and two snacks each day that are balanced with healthy proteins, carbs & fats.  I will take a cheat day each week to indulge myself - however, only one cheat day per week!

Work It:
I will complete at least five WOD's (Workout Of the Day) at CrossFit Charlotte each week.

Blog It:
It is my goal to lose eight pounds during the month of February and to do a body weight kipping pull-up.  I will encourage the other women who link up to Eat It. Work It. Blog It and I will be grateful for the small victories this week!

See - nothing to it! Now I just have to stick to my goals this week and report back next Tuesday!


Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

{one} We had a taste of springtime in the Carolina's this weekend and I want it back now!!!  The temperatures were in the high 50's/low 60's on Saturday & Sunday.  I sat in front yard sunbathing  while Steven washed my car yesterday afternoon  (well - I was in yoga pants and a long sleeve t-shirt, but at least my face was getting sun!)  Then we took the dogs for an afternoon walk.  It was pure bliss!  We are back to cooler temperatures today and I can already feel my chipper mood slipping away....

{two} I have a dentist appointment tomorrow to have a cavity filled.  Technically, I'm having an old filling refilled.  Either way - I'm terrified.  I had a *horrible* experience with my family dentist three years ago and my bite/teeth have never been the same since.  I hate going to the dentist.....

{three} I was so tempted to skip class this morning.  My alarm went off at 6am and the former, fun undergrad Amber quietly said, "Just turn it won't kill you to miss one day of classes!"  So I reset the alarm for 7:15am and closed my eyes.  Then the responsible *almost 26-year-old* Amber chimed in, "Get your BUTT out of bed right now!  You can't skip class because you have to go to work after class and you are not skipping work today young lady!"  So off to class and work it was for me this morning..... I'm starting to really resent the adult Amber that I am becoming.  

{four} I spent almost an hour yesterday making homemade protein bars.  They were primarily comprised of oatmeal, apple sauce, peanut butter & protein powder.  I tossed in some almonds and dried cranberries for good measure.  THEY WERE DISGUSTING!  Seriously - gross!  If anyone has a recipe for homemade protein bars made of primarily all natural products please share!!!

{five} I am considering beginning a weekly feature on Tuesday's that will focus on weight loss/fitness goals.  So many of my readers have commented on how they've been inspired by my recent weight loss from CrossFit & Zone.  I also have noticed that many of you are beginning your own weight loss journey whether it be Weight Watchers, counting calories, vegetarian lifestyle, etc.  So I thought it might be neat for us to link up each week and share our experiences.  Share recipes, favorite health foods, exercises, etc.  Would anyone be interested in linking up for the month of February & tracking your progress?  It could be a great accountability program!!

That's all for now!  Hope you're having a great Monday wherever you may be!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Confessional


Thanks to Aly over at Analyze This for introducing me to Friday Confessional!  If you feel like you need to get a few things off your chest - you should definitely play along!

I confess that I have on more than one occassion been caught dancing in the car by the stranger next to me at a stoplight.  Each time it has been mortifying - but it hasn't stopped me from continuing to dance.  Those tiny moments of joy keep me sane!

I confess that I have a crazy white girl obsession with Ludacris.  I love every song he's a part of!  Something about the way he raps just makes me wanna drop it like it's hot.  I'm especially loving his recent collaboration with Enrique - Tonight.  FABULOUS!  

I confess that I've been cheating on Zone a lot lately.  I have no idea why - it is very easy to eat "In The Zone" - but for some reason I just can't stay away from the sweets.  I'm rededicating myself for the month of February.  More details to come Monday......

I confess that I want my blonde hair back. *BADLY*  I promise, promise, promise I will never again dye my hair dark if the hair gods will just please allow me to get back to blonde (without my hair turning pink again!)  

I confess that over the past three weeks hubby and I have watched three seasons of Grey's Anatomy and we are currently five episodes into Season 4.  *Before you judge us - we haven't watched anything else.  We have hours of our favorite shows backing up on the DVR - but for some reason we just keep watching episode after episode of Grey's.  I can't believe how much I forgot happened on this show!

I confess that I'm over the moon that it is Friday!!!!!  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You're A Republican Aren't You?

First – let me start by saying that this post is not intended to a platform for me to preach my political opinions.  It isn’t intended as a bash on our nation’s current leadership or any political party.  I’m simply sharing a revelation that I had yesterday.

While browsing my FB newsfeed yesterday morning I noted a rather strange status update from one of my best friends (we’ll call her EBT).  It read, “Mr. Obama, I got you!”  I’ve been friends with EBT for seven years and although she has never expressly stated it, I’m almost positive she’s a democrat – but still, this status intrigued me.  So I shot her a text.

Me:  So why exactly do you “got” Mr. Obama?
EBT:  Umm…you’re a republican – right?
I was tempted to reply, “EBT – we’ve been friends for seven years.  You know I’m a Southern Baptist pastor’s daughter from Alabama and that I married Steven (if you knew my husband - you would understand)…..of course I’m a republican!”  But I’ve been trying to avoid stereotyping lately – so instead I simply said…
Me: Yes.
EBT: Well, I’m a democrat – so I was just saying that I agree with what Obama said in his speech last night.  And I guess this means we can’t be friends anymore!
I was tempted to reply, “EBT – you’re a teacher from Boston of course you’re a democrat.” But again…stereotypes….so I replied….
Me:  I see.  I agree that he made some valid points.  I don’t exactly think he said anything new – but rather simply admitted that somehow we have allowed things to go too far and we have to find a solution to the problems facing Americans – but again, that’s not exactly anything new.  And of course we can be friends!
EBT:  True.  I agree with some things that republicans believe – it’s just that I believe that we should all do our part to help those in need.  I believe that we all have a responsibility to one another. 
Me:  I’m not a republican based on religious or social reasons.  Don’t get me wrong, I obviously agree with the republican party on conservative issues; however, I know how often I fail in my faith and how rarely I live the lifestyle that I should according to my faith so I have a very difficult time believing that politics should dictate lifestyle choices for others.  I’m a republican based on pure economical beliefs.  I’m a capitalist!  Allow the markets to regulate themselves.
EBT:  And I agree with many points the republicans make.  I’m not all democratic.  But it’s rather hard to work in the education system and not be a democrat.  To see the needs of others and not support government programs.
Me:  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely believe that we have a responsibility to help those in need.  I just believe that help should come from charitable organizations and the private sector – not the government.  I believe that if the government decreased those programs and as a result decreases taxes levied on Americans and increased tax incentives for contributing to charitable organizations designed to provide relief to those in need then we would be able to provide better programs and more assistance than the government currently does.  That may sound too ideal – but I at least believe there should be more restrictions placed on welfare programs to ensure the truly needy are being helped.
EBT:  Oh I completely agree that the system needs a major overhaul – many times it the wrong people entirely who receive aid – but at least something is being done.  But you may know more about this than I do…..
Me: Hey!  At least you watched the address and are trying to stay up on current events!
Me: If only our husbands could see us now!!!

And that was pretty much the end of our intelligent conversation.  It surprised me though.  Like I said, I’ve known for years (or at least suspected) how EBT felt about certain issues.  As a result, I’ve always avoided topics regarding religion & politics.  I guess it was for a fear of offending her or seeming like the “pushy conservative”.  I mean – this is one of my best friends.  I share details about the most intimate aspects of my life with her: my marriage, my family, my career, my sex life – and not once have I thought twice about any of it. 

So why in the world am I afraid to talk about the other factors that make me who I am?  My conservative ideals – whether they be political or religious.  Why do so many women fall back on talk about celebrity gossip, recipes, latest fashion trends or the new miracle product.  I mean – just look at our blogs – look at my blog!

I’m not saying we all need to blast our opinions as if they were the gospel or that we need to write weekly posts about our take on the current political climate – but I’m starting to realize that there is a way that you can express your opinion without being condescending or overbearing.  It is okay to disagree with “the other side” but at least have the conversation!  You may just find that you have more in common with “the other side” than you think and you might actually gain a new appreciation and respect for your friends!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Read Directions CAREFULLY

As many of you know, I recently began a graduate program to get my Master's of Accounting in the hopes that this program will help prepare me to sit for (and pass) the CPA Exam. )Oh yeah - and I guess it's a plus to have your Master's!)

The CPA Exam is a four part standardized test that tests basic information that an accountant with up to two years experience should understand.  And it's *hard* - *super hard*.

I am currently taking an Advanced Auditing course which is designed specifically to address the auditing portion of the CPA Exam.  The auditing portion of CPA Exam is comprised of 90 multiple choice questions and 7 task based simulations (problem solving).  All homework assignments in this Advanced Auditing class are practice simulation questions from the CPA Exam Prep website.

At the end of Monday's class, my professor handed out a memo detailing our homework assignment which was to be completed on the CPA Exam Prep website.

So last night I read through the memo, logged onto the website and began the specified simulation.  It was a little overwhelming because there is a timer that ticks off at the top of the simulation.  And the time it takes you to complete the homework assignment will be reported to your professor.

There were 7 tabs across the top of the simulation and as you completed each tab you could move to the next until you completed all 7.  So that's exactly what I did.  And it took my 1 hour and 45 minutes!

After completing the simulation, I checked the memo one last time to make sure that I had completed all necessary steps for the assignment and that's when I saw it....
Note: Only complete portion "Tab 1 - Independence".  Select "Done" after completing "Tab 1" and print your results.  Completion of other tabs is not necessary.
Umm...."Tab 1" contained 6 True/False questions that took me only 10 minutes to answer.  TEN MINUTES!  So I spent 1 hour and 35 minutes doing unnecessary homework.  And I only have myself to blame because I didn't read the stupid directions completely!

Here I am complaining about not knowing when I'm going to have enough time to get all my required reading/home assignments done and I spent an extra hour and 35 minutes doing unnecessary homework last night.  OYE!  Oh well - I guess I could just look at it as logging hours of prep for the exam.  Or a rather hard lesson learned - always read the directions carefully!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Am I Dirty - Or Is This "A Girl Thing"?

In an attempt to welcome the New Year and bring about positive change, I have made a conscious effort to take better care of myself be more presentable each day stop waking up at the very last possible second, throwing on the first thing I grab from my closet and rushing out the door looking like a complete slob each morning. (I mean - there really was no nice way putting that!)

My recent weight loss has brought a renewed sense of self-worth and self confidence.  I wish I could say that I am one of those women who feels gorgeous at any size, but that simply is not the case.  I allowed my weight to get out.of.control during the first six months of 2010 and as a result I pretty much gave up on myself.  However, I am now 15 pounds lighter (and losing more everyday!) and the weight training/intense cardio at CrossFit is slowly changing my body composition so I have become significantly more comfortable in my skin.

As a part of my new "pretty Amber" pledge, I decided it was time to step up my fashion.  Hubby bought me a gorgeous pair of leather riding boots for Christmas and I finally invested in a pair of skinny jeans.  I am proud to announce that I have officially rocked the "boots over the jeans" look. 

Which brings me to my question......

I found an outfit on the clearance rack at Target last Thursday evening.  I'm in love.  Nothing too special - just a pair of jeggings and a brown large button cardigan that goes perfectly with my new boots.  Match that with my new large, brown drop earrings and I managed to put together quite a fashionable outfit.  I felt like it said, "I'm old enough to know how to dress for my body - but young enough to look damn good doing it!"

So, of course, I wore the new outfit to work on Friday.  My female coworkers immediately commented on my chic appearance.  As soon as I got home, I changed into PJ's and settled in for a quite night with hubby.

Saturday evening, my closest friends and I had a "girl's night" planned at a friend's house.  The "old" Amber would have thrown on jeans and t-shirt and ran out the door; however, the "new" Amber felt like being pretty.  I stared at my closet trying to determine what to wear as my mind kept flashing back to Friday's outfit - my new, fun outfit. 

After about a minute of internal struggle as to whether it would completely disgusting for me to wear the same outfit two days in a row - I threw the jeggings/cardigan in the dryer for a quick refresher.  Five minutes later I was dressed and out the door in exactly the same outfit (minus socks) that I had worn the day before. 

I mean - it's not like I was doing lunges or anything at work on Friday.  I didn't wear the outfit out to dinner or to some smokey bar....just straight home.  But I can't help but wonder - does this make the smelly kid?  I mean, I know it's okay to wear the same sweatshirt two days in a row or pajama pants two nights in a row (or at least I hope it is!) but is it acceptable to wear the same outfit two days in a row if you are around two completely different groups of people (and if it's your new favorite outfit?)

I really pray I'm not the only woman who has done this and that it really is acceptable...otherwise, I may be the new smelly kid on the block!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

{one}  Thank-you for the encouraging comments and understanding regarding my limited ability to blog lately.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with my recent push at work and I'm hoping that blogging will become a regular occurrence for me in the near future.

{two} I experienced a HUGE breakthrough at CrossFit this weekend.  I jumped on a tire!  Not just any old tire - one of the HUGE ones - like for a tractor.  It's about 30 inches I believe. Now to put this in perspective...when I started CrossFit about five months ago, I could barely jump on a small box that was about 15 inches high.  That's an increase of about 15 inches in my vertical jump!!! I did 50 tire jumps and it felt amazing.  (I'm sure this sounds incredibly silly - but as a Crossfitter, I'm learning to appreciate the small victories!)

{three} Grad school is in full swing.  It's my first full week of classes.  My schedule will now be *insane*:
Monday: Work (From Home) 7am - 8am
               Class 9am - 12pm
               Work 12:30pm - 6:30pm
               CrossFit - 7pm

Tuesday: CrossFit - 6am
               Work 8am - 6pm

Wednesday: Work (From Home) 7am - 8am
                    Class 9am - 12pm
                    Work 12:30pm - 7pm

Thursday: CrossFit - 6am
                Work 8am - 6pm

Friday: CrossFit - 6am
            Work 8am - 6pm

Now when/where I'm supposed to get homework and required reading done is beyond me.  Poor hubby...I hope he isn't too neglected over the upcoming months!

{four}  I can't believe I"m saying this - but I think I might actually like this new schedule.  If my body would just get used to waking up so early, I might have a decent shot at making this work and find that I am significantly more productive during the week than I have been in the past.  I'm hoping to utilize my lunch breaks on Tues/Thur/Fri to complete homework assignments so that I don't have to spend the entire weekend studying.  But we shall see!

{five} Is it just me, or is everyone pregnant these days?  So many of my favorite bloggers are pregnant and so many of my real life friends are pregnant.  Did I miss the memo???  Just in case anyone is wondering - baby plans have been put on hold for the next two years while I finish my education.

That's all for now!  Hope you're having a great start to the work week!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hi - I'm Amber, Just In Case You Have Forgotten Me

Hmm....let's see....once again a full month has gone by with no post from little old me.  And so many things have happened over the past month that it would take a full two months worth of posting to catch you up and frankly, I don't have time for that (hence the no posting for almost a month!) so I will give you a quick snapshot of what I've been up to these days.

  • Christmas holiday was wonderful.  I experienced my first "White Christmas" with about 6 inches of snow!  It was wonderful.
  • My two week long vacation was just what the doctor ordered.  My BFF, Khristi, from Ohio visited with her fiance for three days and rang in the New Year's with us.
  • I've decided it's time to go back blonde.  I don't know what I was thinking with the super dark hair - but I hate it and miss my blonde locks desperately.  In the process of trying to go back blonde, I have dyed my hair hot pink twice.  (Or my sister accidentally has - but that's not the point.)  So I'm a light brown right now and we're hoping to be able to do an all over dark blonde dye in the middle of February.  My poor hair has really been struggling the past few weeks - but I think I'll get back to the blonde soon enough!
  • Steven and I hosted about forty of our friends for New Year's Eve.  We had an amazing time - not such an amazing time the next morning - but we definitely said goodbye to 2010 in style.
  • After returning to work for only four days from the holiday break, the Carolina's were hit with a pretty large snow/ice storm and Steven and I were both out of the office Monday & Tuesday of last week.  We blew up our queen size airmattress, lit a fire and layed in front of the TV for two solid days watching Grey's Anatomy Seasons 1 & 2.  *BLISS*
  • After almost two weeks off work for the holidays and a three day week last week due to the snow storm - this week has been HELLACIOUS at the office.  By the time I left the office at 7:15pm last night I had already worked my forty hours for the week - and that's with me being out of the office Wednesday morning for grad school classes.  Whew - I need this day to be over ASAP!
  • I have officially begun grad school classes!   The next two years of my life should be pretty interesting: working full-time, taking classes part-time and sitting for the four portions of the CPA exam.  OYE!!! If all goes according to plan (and when does that actually happen right!?!) I will have my Master's of Accounting & CPA certification by December 2012. 
That's about all for now.  With all that's going on - work, school, CrossFit, trying to be a decent wife to my amazing husband - I have seriously considered giving up blogging.  I truly enjoy writing and reading along with my favorite bloggers - but if we are all honest blogging can become a rather large time commitment.  It's a hobby that I love dearly, but I'm just not sure how this will fit into my new schedule over the upcoming months. 

Don't worry, before I make any rash decisions I'm going to get through year-end/beginning of year at the office. I'm hoping that by the time I push through this insanely busy time at the office, I will have settled nicely into a study routine with my grad classes and I will be able to make time for blogging again.  I really would be so upset if I had to give this up!

I hope you all are doing well and that you're having an amazing, productive start to 2011.  After the year that Steven and I had last year, we can truly use a much better 2011 and I have faith that big things are going to happen this year!

Young, Fabulous, Newlywed

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