Blog Forward: The 2014 ZonePerfect Challenge

The last two years have been such an amazing journey with my health. This week in 2012, I was beginning the pre-surgery diet to prepare for my gastric bypass. I lost 120 pounds in the next 11 months, with a pretty constant downtrend in scale numbers. Through 2013, my life was less restricted. I was able to eat more, tolerate more varieties of food, and started testing out the limits of my newly-regained healthy body. Despite the loss of weight, I still had health concerns and had to proceed with caution. I struggled with reactive hypoglycemia as I tried to become a more serious athlete. I had mono and peritonsillar abscesses, went on steroids, gained some weight, and then had a tonsillectomy. Two weeks later began a two month whirlwind of travel, packing, interviewing, and general life insanity to prepare for our move to Michigan.

zoneperfect cashew pretzel barNow it’s 2014. I feel like my health is back in my control. I got a Fitbit One for Christmas, and it’s helped me be more aware of my activity levels. January has been an incredibly involved month at work, I’ve worked a lot of overtime, and the Fitbit kept me motivated to walk a little more and take the stairs whenever possible. I haven’t been to the gym as frequently as I’d like, but tracking on the Fitbit stats often push me to go longer at the gym. However, no matter my activity levels, I still need to be mindful about what I eat.

ZonePerfect invited me to be a blogger for their 2014 BlogForward challenge. It’s a campaign for bloggers to make healthy resolutions in 2014, with challenges through the year to keep us motivated and on-track for long-term success. I have been a fan of their bars for several years, and I’m happy to act as a brand ambassador in this challenge.

zone perfect nutrition protein barsFor this challenge, I’ve decided on these goals:

1. Avoid mindless snacking by planning the food I bring on the go. Between long work days, too much time in a car, frequent travel, and other life unpredictability, I’ve begun to rely too much on junk and convenience foods again. A pastry or bag of chips at the gas station were almost a daily norm before surgery. When I don’t plan, I don’t make good decisions. I do best when I have a supply of nuts, jerky, dried fruit, and bars tucked in my desk or glove box.

2. Walk 3,000,000 steps. With the Fitbit being much more accurate than any cheap pedometer I’ve used, I feel like my efforts are properly documented. And seeing my number sync through the day help me add additional activity. I’ve calculated that to reach 3 million steps, it averages out to be about 8,500 steps a day. Most days, this is doable. And when it’s not, I’ll make up for it other days.

3. Work on my endurance to prepare for the Detroit Free Press International half-marathon. Through the encouragement of my friend Wendy, I’ve signed up to participate in the Detroit half, which is one of the only races that cross international boarders , going from the US to Canada and back.

4. Get below a BMI of 29. Despite losing so much weight, I’m still in the obese category. And by golly, I want to just be “overweight”!!! That means I’ve got about 40 pounds to hit that milestone. If I’m consistent, that’s just 3-4 pounds a month. It’ll be tough, but I think I can achieve it.

zone perfect vanilla cupcakeSo, dear blog friends…what are your health and fitness resolutions for 2014? Can you help be my cheerleaders to meet my goals this year? Let’s Blog Forward together!

P.S. The Kidz Zone Yellow Cupcake bar is THE BOMB. I call it the “cupcake crack” bar. It’s soooo good. You’ve gotta try it.

Disclosure: I have agreed to be a brand ambassador for ZonePerfect as part of the Blog Forward Challenge. I have not received any monetary compensation, but I will be receiving shipments of free product through the year to enjoy and share with my readers. All opinions, good or bad, are my own.

KSL’s Blog of the Week

KSL Blogger of the Week

Yesterday I had the amazing honor of being interviewed on TV as KSL 5‘s Blog of the Week. Every Wednesday, they highlight the website of a local Utah blogger on their Browser 5.0 show. I was interviewed by Scott Haws about my weight loss journey and how my blog has affected the success I’ve had.

For someone who has struggled with morbid obesity for several years, the thought of being on TV was daunting. Back in high school, I lost a significant amount of weight taking Phen-Fen. At my skinniest, I was an anchor on my high school’s morning television broadcast SpartanVision. Since then, I have been so self-conscious about being recorded on TV or having pictures taken of me. So had I been given this opportunity a few months ago, I don’t know if I woud have taken it.

beauty and the bypass blog of the week

While I was waiting to go into the newsroom, the 12:00 noon news was being filmed. Mrs. Backer from Mrs. Backer’s Pastry Shop was on the show, displaying all sorts of gorgeous holiday treats, pastries, and cakes. After filming the segment, they brought out all of the goodies on a giant rolling cart for people to eat. The “former Nicole” would have pounced on that tray for something gooey and covered in frosting. But I wasn’t tempted at all.

As I was getting my mic on, and the show was going to a commercial break, Scott Haws said “And next up, we’ll be meeting the beauty of Beauty and the Bypass. Stay tuned.” The way he said it made me chuckle inside and ease some of my fears about being on TV. I felt a little more nervous than I expected on screen. Because my weight loss struggles have been such a personal part of my life, I had a hard time holding back emotions at time. For how I felt as I was being interviewed, I think I came across as being fairly confident.

I am glad that I was able to give a mention to the Obesity Action Coalition in my segment, as well as my goals to be an advocate for others who struggle with obesity. But because I didn’t know the questions I would be asked ahead of time, I didn’t get to talk about some of the other important factors in my weight loss success. Beyond the support of my readers, I wanted to talk about the support I’ve gotten through my friends in Bariatric Bad Girls Club and my support group at Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians at St. Marks Hospital. I also wanted to give a shout out to Dr. Sherman Smith, the surgeon who changed my life.

It was fun and nerve-wracking to be on TV, but overall, I feel honored to be recognized as KSL’s Blogger of the Week!


Behind The Lens

This weekend I was at the Breathing Space Blogger Retreat. It was a meetup of 75 bloggers, mostly local to the Wasatch Front area, held at Daybreak. I’ve known about the retreat for several months, and one my factors of motivation was to lose enough weight to look good in pictures.

For a long time, I’ve shuddered at the thought of group photos. I’m usually the largest woman in the groups, and I just pore over the pictures in nit-picky comparison. But this week I hit the 60 pound mark in my weight loss, and I had some cute clothes to wear, and I got into a mindset where I didn’t feel like I needed to stress out about how I looked for the conference.

On Friday afternoon, I went to the salon at Daybreak for a complimentary shampoo and style. The attendees of the conference  got to choose a free service, and I wanted my hair done. I was thinking we could do something fancy, and I wanted to look good for the Stepford Wives party, so I found a picture of a rockin’ 60’s beehive style. I was totally bummed when they said I’d have to pay a lot extra to do it. So I told the stylist to do whatever she wanted with my hair. She blew it out and gave it some wave, and dubbed it my “Kardashian hair.”

That evening was the Stepford Wives party, and I had a custom dress made by eShakti. I’d never ordered a dress off measurements before, and I wanted it to not be too big, so I guessed where I’d be in a few weeks when I bought it in early April. It was very tight when I got it, and the sleeves were way too tiny in circumference. I ended up picking out the stitching to get the sleeves off and wear it with a little jacket. As you can see – I’m regaining my waistline! The party was so fun, and there were so many fun dresses and outfits. The party was hard to eat at though – Corner Bakery catered the dinner, but there wasn’t much I could eat. I am addicted to their tomato basil soup, but dinner was a choice of sandwiches. I ate the meat out of my sandwich, but I was still hungry and faced an army of dessert choices. I nibbled on a few sweets, but resisted the urge to binge on cream cheese brownies and Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcakes.

Saturday was full of classes and ended with a Cinco de Mayo party. As the day went on, Jenny K (the official conference photographer) was snapping away. I started getting nervous about what pictures she was taking of me. When I went through her photostream after the conference, I felt so self-conscious. So many pictures of me from “bad angles.” In the one to the left, I can’t even tell I’ve lost weight, especially compared to the above picture in my green dress. I started feeling really hard on myself. You can’t always control what pictures are taken and shared. But you can try to control the way you think and perceive what you see.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been having a hard time emotionally with my weight loss. I care too much about what other people think, and I’m having a hard time accepting myself. I love getting compliments and attention, but sometimes I have a very hard time believing the things people say to me. I look at photos of myself so critically, and wonder if other people are judging me as harshly as I do to myself. Luckily, I’ve been finding out who really cares about me, and who I can depend on when things are hard. I gained some great new friends at the conference, and felt more accepted by new acquaintances than I have in a long time. I think I intimidate some people, and I’m hoping that I’m becoming more approachable with my weight loss. I know that I’m working on myself physically, spiritually, and mentally, and these doubts and struggles are just part of the journey.