Mental Monday

As a former fat girl, I feel like I know everything about diets and workouts and all the latest fads and trends ... because I tried them all. For the novice person trying to get in shape and get fit, it can be really overwhelming. The following article debunks many common fitness myths, and I'll be honest - I'm guilty of a few of them! Okay, in all honesty, I've been guilty of ALL of them LOL

I would love to help you on your transformation journey with motivation, support and the best tools available to help you achieve your goal. Click here for more information.


"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves - self-discipline with all of them came first." Harry S. Truman

Top Fitness Myths Demystified

When it comes to getting in shape, losing weight and toning up, the conventional wisdom can sometimes be a little weak. Here, Jan Wyche, a certified personal trainer with Chelsea Piers Sports Center gives you the real skinny on some of the most common fitness myths out there.

Myth 1: Stretching is Essential

Research shows that stretching before exercise actually increases your chance of getting injured and may decrease your workout performance. According to Wyche, the best way to prepare your body for physical activity is with a three to five minute warm-up of easy walking, light cycling or gentle movement.

Myth 2: Muscle Turns Into Fat

"Fat and muscle are two totally separate types of tissue. They aren't interchangeable," says Wyche. People get fat when they stop working out because they continue to eat the same amount but burn off fewer calories. As a result, their unused muscles grow soft while they simultaneously gain excess body fat.

Myth 3: Stay Skinny With Diet Alone

You can lose weight simply by cutting back on calories. But combining exercise with diet will help you lose weight more quickly. More importantly, it will help you keep the pounds off permanently. The majority of participants in the National Weight Control Registry (a survey of thousands of people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for years) report that a consistent exercise program is one of their key weight maintenance strategies.

Myth 4: Long and Slow to Zap Fat

Wyche claims that the so-called "fat burning zone" is about as real as 'The Twilight Zone.' "The workout that burns as many calories as possible, whether it's long and slow or fast and furious, is the best workout for fat burning and weight loss," she advises.

Myth 5: Lose Before Lifting

Actually, if you're truly serious about losing weight, lifting weights two to three times a week is a must. "Building muscle helps maintain your metabolism even while you're resting and will help you slim down," Wyche notes. When you combine diet with cardio exercise only, you tend to lose a lot of muscle mass; weight training helps preserve muscle so more of your weight loss is truly from fat.

Myth 6: High Reps Rule

Choose a weight you can lift at least eight times keeping good form but no more than 15 times without your muscle feeling the challenge. If you can do more reps than that, the weight you're using isn't heavy enough to give you results. And, as Wyche points out, decreasing body fat will help you see the shape of the muscles underneath.

Myth 7: Crunch Away Ab Flab

There's no such thing as spot reducing -- that is, you can't magically zap the fat from an area by exercising it. Wyche says that you could do 5,000 crunches a day and still not see any improvements until you burn the layer of fat over your ab muscles, which is done by trimming your diet and burning more calories through cardio exercise.

Myth 8: Beef Up to Gain Muscle

"The body uses protein, carbs and fat to build muscle," Wyche notes. Any excess protein you eat beyond what your body needs will simply be expelled through your urine or stored as body fat. Your best bet is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals and enough calories to build strong, shapely muscles.


Former Fat Girl of the Week

Former Fat Girl of the Week is a place for us to come to celebrate and learn from the success and achievements of one another. Former Fat Girls of the Week are regular women like you and me, living normal lives, but are extraordinarily inspirational. This is their time to shine, and I hope you are as inspired by them as I am.

Name: Annie
Age: 26
Occupation: Personnel Officer a.k.a. sit-at-a-desk-all-day-long
Blog: The Amazing Shrinking Girl

Annie, September 2008. 176+ lbs

How often do you exercise?

Six ays/week. Three of those days consist of weight-training (circuit training or free weights) and some form of cardio is done on all six days. After my weight training session, I usually get in 15 - 20 minutes of HIIT or I run home from the gym. On my cardio-only days, I rotate monthly between the treadmill, elliptical, stairmill, and bike to keep my body guessing and to keep me from getting bored. Once in a while I'll do an exercise dvd as my cardio (P90X plyometrics is the BOMB!) just to keep things different.

What is your favorite workout?

Circuit training/boot camp style workouts by far! At my gym, they have monthly boot-camp sessions that you sign up for, but the trainers actually call me to let me know when they are because I love them so much! The mix of cardio and weight resistance is totally my thing but don't get me wrong, I love a good and heavy weight-only session too! I totally believe that you need both cardio and strength to be the healthiest.

Annie, October 2008. 172 lbs

What 5 food items are "must haves" in your kitchen?

In no particular order:

  • eggs

  • baby spinach

  • protein powder

  • chicken breast

  • Shakeology

Please tell us what your nutrition program is like ... what would a typical day's meal plan look like?

I try to eat a "clean diet" so I try to stay away from pre-packed and processed foods as much as possible, but that gets hard. A typical day for me would be:
Breakfast: Chocolate Shakeology, 1 banana, 2 cups spinach, flaxseeds, and soymilk blended

Snack 1: steel cut oats, honey, cinnamon, and a fruit
Lunch: Lean Cuisine (so not clean eating, I know) and a salad
Snack 2: post-workout protein powder and soy milk
Dinner: brown rice, chicken or fish, side of veggies, and a salad
Snack 3: protein powder and water

As far as the types of fruits and veggies I eat, I try to get different kinds every week: bananas, apples, sweet potato, carrots, peas one week and peachs, berries, romaine lettuce, broccoli the next.

Annie, December 2008. 159 lbs.
Annie is most certainly the amazing shrinking girl!

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote?

"The future is not some place we're going, but one we create. The path's are not found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination."

I found this quote on the exact day I decided to get healthy and it's stuck with me every since. It's so amazingly true. If you think you're stuck with the body you have, think again! WE are the ones that change our future! WE are the ones that get stronger every time we fall! WE are the ones that change in the process!

Another one I like that helps me get through food cravings, "A little bit of crap is STILL crap!"

Annie, April 2009. 145 lbs.
Annie says, "This entire hike is made out of steps...
talk about stair master from hell!"

How do you find balance in your life?

Exercise in itself has become one of my biggest stress-relievers. As much as I hate doing it some days, I know that when I finish working out, I'll feel like a million bucks... and I always do! A sweaty and tired million bucks, but a million bucks none the less.

But actually for me, setting goals has been the biggest contributor to keeping me sane and balanced! I always make sure to have short-term goals and long-term goals in place because it's hard to achieve either of them without the other. Short-term goals keep me focused on the "now" - what I need to do today, this meal, this workout - to get me where I want to be. Long-term goals actually let me see the end result, which in turn pushes me to do good with my short-term goals. It's a catch 22!

Last 5 songs listened to you on your iPod/mp3 player:

None! Is it weird that I don't listen to music when I workout? I started my weight-loss journey doing exercise dvd's so not much room there to listen to music. When I 'graduated' from dvd's (I still do them and love them today!) I bought an elliptical and watched t.v. when I worked out... again no room for music. And since I have joined a gym a couple of months ago, I'm still a newbie and still absolutely LOVE the environment there! All the other people working out around you, the noise of the machines, and the big screen tv's don't hurt either. In fact that's where I catch up on the news that's happening around the world... on the treadmill at my gym!

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Well if I had to pick just one, it would be one that I seriously NEVER thought I'd accomplish... running and finishing my first 13K. Ask me a year ago if I would walk a 5K and I would tell you HECK NO! Ask me today to run a 13K and I'll do it!

I signed up for my 13K in November of 2008 and the race was held in February 2009 which meant not too much time for a 'fat girl' to train! I really think I completed the race because my boyfriend signed up and trained with me. We completed the race in one hour and 40 minutes, which comes out to 12-minute miles... not bad but I'll do better next time!

What do you love most about your body?

My legs! Even though they're beat up and scarred from a detergent allergy (another story all by itself!), they are so strong! They get me to where I need to be and right now, with 30% body fat on them, they are the most defined set of muscles on my body. I love shaving them because the muscles just pop out everywhere!

Are you working towards a particular goal we can support you in?

My next 13K is February 15, 2010 and I want to bring down my miles to 10-minute miles. I better start training now!

Any words of advice you'd like to share with someone sitting at home, reading your interview, wishing/hoping/wanting to change?

One step at a time. Like the quote says, "Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither is your body so don't try to change all of your unhealthy habits at once. Doing that will only set you up for failure.

Instead, change one thing, and ONLY one thing, today. When I started my weight-loss journey the first thing I changed was my water intake. I made sure to get at least eight 8-oz cups of water a day and when I could do that daily without even thinking about it, I 'took another step' and upped my fiber intake to 30g/day.

When I could do that with no problem, I starting watching my calories, then upping my protein amounts, then lowering my sodium intake, and so on and so on. The same thing can be applied to exercise. Increase the amount of steps you walk today, then when you have that down, change something else that will get you moving even more.

Annie today. What an inspiration!

One more piece of advice: do it for yourself and no one else. Not your doctor, not your significant other, not your family... no one! Sure, your doctor, significant other and family can be reasons for you to get healthy, but it'll be hard to succeed if you don't want to do it for yourself.

And last but not least, as corny as it may sound, if I can do it, anyone can! REALLY!!!
I am so excited to share Annie's transformation with you as our Former Fat Girl of the Week! I have literally watched Annie shrink since I first found her blog earlier this spring, and have found so much inspiration and motivation watching her transformation! Congratulations Annie on all of your success and thank you for inspiring so many of us to keep on keeping on! Please be sure to visit Annie's blog, The Incredible Shrinking Girl.


The BEST Testimonial Ever!

I researched Beachbody for well over a year before I decided to become a Coach because I wanted time to take care of myself before I committed myself to taking care of others. I strongly believed that I would be the best testimonial ever to potential clients, and I couldn't be as effective or believable if I wasn't walking the walk.

107+ lbs, a triathlon and half-marathon later, I am confident in my own success to help others, but also want everyone to know that I'm not done yet. I still have a journey ahead of me to reach my ultimate goal, but even then, I won't be done. There is still after the happily ever after that I will be working on. Because health and wellness journeys never end - there is a clear and definite beginning, but true health and wellness never ends.

With that said, it is my aim to be the best testimonial ever for my Beachbody business by continually working hard to improve my body, mind and spirit. Please subscribe to my feed, add me to your google reader, or follow my blog in Blogger. Watch my transformation, and when you're ready to give Beachbody a try, I'll be here :)


I would love to help you transform your life - whatever your goals may be, I can offer you the support, motivation, and the right tools to get you there. Contact me and let's get started today! You can also click here for more information.

The one that started it all!

TurboJam Maximum Results was my first experience with Beachbody and I was immediately hooked on Chalene Johnson's vibrancy, energy and personality.

I count on my TurboJam DVDs for a fun workout that gets my heart pumpin' and body rockin'! Putting in the DVDs and seeing the familiar faces of Chalene and friends is comforting - it helps me remember just how far I've come in my journey, and how "easy" it was - as long as I was willing to push play and focus an hour of my day on ME, the rest was history.

I would love to help you transform your life - whatever your goals may be, I can offer you the support, motivation, and the right tools to get you there. Contact me and let's get started today! You can also click here for more information.


What am I THINKING??

Yowzers ... I do simple feat like completing a triathlon and half-marathon, and now I think I'm SuperGirl or something and take on the world!

Here are a few things I've taken on at the moment ...

I've started my own business - Before & Forever! I am now an Independent Beachbody Coach, and will get paid to get fit, and help people to achieve their fitness goals! I'm very excited about my new business - but don't worry, Secrets of a Former Fat Girl is here to stay, and I will continue all of my features such as Mental Monday, Twitter Question of the Week, and Former Fat Girl of the Week as normal. I'll still blog here every day, without fail! Promise!

My son and I kick off our P90X adventure on Monday, September 1st (the day I'm officially cleared for workouts by my doctor!!) Because P90X is Beachbody related, I'll be blogging about our experience at Before & Forever, complete with photo and measurement updates!

I start training for the PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on September 1st, along with Tigerlilly and Betsy. We're still looking for a few running enthusiasts to join our Get Fit Challenge Team in Phoenix. Let me know if you're interested!

I just joined the 30-Day EA Active Challenge at the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans, and will start tomorrow, August 31st. I got the EA Active for Mother's Day but haven't really used it yet, so this challenge is just what I need!

I'm also kicking off The Biggest Loser: OFB Style on September 15th over at Operation Fat Blaster. More on that later!

Yeah, so I'm going to be a busy little fitness freak around here! And you know what? I LOVE IT!!

As part of the EA Active Challenge at the Sisterhood, I have to complete the following profile ...

30 Day Challenge Profile

Name: Michelle, chelle, chellie

Age: 30-something

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Family: 13-year old son, 8-year old daughter and a sweet tuxedo kitty

1) Complete the following sentence – “When I look in the mirror I see…

strength, determination, courage

2) What exercise do you take? What’s your current level of fitness?

I guess I do a little of everything? I'd say I'm pretty physically fit having lost 107+lbs, and having completed a triathlon and half-marathon this summer, plus being able to bench press 125 lbs and leg press 450 lbs!

3) How do you relax?

Meditation, yoga, and reading

4) Do you watch your weight?

Oh yeah ... working on shedding my final fatty fat fat!

5) What’s your favorite body part?

My core! It supports EVERYTHING and without it, I can't do ANYTHING.

6) What’s your least favorite body part?

My angel wings :) But they're slowly shrinking, so it's only a matter of time!

7) What’s your favorite way to workout?

Giving it everything I got - whether it's strength training, cardio, running, or biking!

8) Its time to work out, we’re most likely to find you decked out in?

An oversized tshirt and lycra pants. I'm a walking fashion emergency!

9) You’re due to workout, but it’s pouring rain. What do you do?

Pop in a DVD and workout anyway!

10) What’s the one item you wouldn’t be without when working out?

My iPod and an ice cold bottle of water.

11) What do you hope to get from the 30 Day Challenge?

Pride in committing to this challenge and finishing it strong!

12) What are you apprehensive about going in?

Nothing, really ...

13) How will you reward yourself after the challenge?

Hmmm ... maybe a massage?

14) Complete the following sentence – “I’m Active for …”

I'm Active ... FOREVER!

I hope everyone has a great day - I now have to make breakfast and pack lunch and snacks - the kids and I have a train to catch! We're headed to Chicago for a day at the Shedd Aquarium, and I'm finally getting my new Nike+ thanks to help from Sarah!!


“Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” General George S. Patton

Twitter Question of the Week

Fridays at Secrets of a Former Fat Girl is Twitter Question of the Week day, and I want to hear from YOU! There is so much we can learn from one another, and this is a great place to show us your sparkle!

Want to join in? Just follow me on Twitter, and watch for the Twitter Question of the Week (posted by 8am CST on the previous Wednesday). All replies received via Twitter or Facebook by 10am on Friday will get posted with a link back to you!

When you're craving your number one temptation, what do you do? How do you deal with your craving?

  • Amanda says: sometimes I give into temptation other times I try to make a healthier version

  • Diane says: When I have a craving and I can't shake it, I have some. If I deprive myself completely, that's when things go bad!!!

  • Danielle says:Wait until Sunday :) OR if you don't have a sane day planned then give yourself a little of it. Like chocolate. It is my super favorite and I need it everyday (ok I'm sure I don't NEED it but you know what I mean) so I keep little Hershey bars, the kind that you would give out at Halloween, and I limit myself to one a day. I'm sure you ... Read Moreremember how we always said that you can't deprive yourself of all the things you love. That's how binging occurs and we all know that binging can lead to a serious set back. SO don't deny yourself what you want just keep it small and you'll be fine! Or do sane days and then the most you ever have to wait is 6 days :)

  • Kae says: It depends one how a person is...but for me, I have a little bit of that craving or find something that is just as satisfying. If not, then I tend to eat more and eat worst than the craving, because I was not satisfied...and it lingers...I constantly think about it. So might as well have a little bit of it (or find a great substitute) and then move on.

  • Betsy says: I try and wait it out and if I REALLY need it, I'll indulge in a tiny bit of my craving. Either portioned out and eaten (and savored) slowly or I'll go out and purchase it. A lot of times when I go to buy it, I can never find it in the store...which I take as a sign that I don't need it to begin with!

  • Alice says: They say the best way is to exercise that amount of calories off first before you eat your craving then you might think twice before you eat it! Of course, I am not at that point yet.

Thank you all SO MUCH for your answers! Here's how I handle temptation and cravings:

  • First of all, I try to see if there this is an emotional craving or a "real" craving. Most times, it's brought on my emotion - happy, sad, stress, anger, etc. If it's an emotional craving, I'll keep myself busy and not give in. If it's a "real" craving, I try to make myself wait, like Danielle said. Sometimes, though, I know that I need to give in to temptation - in moderation - because if I don't, I'll wind up eating as many "good" calories trying to avoid the temptation than if I simply gave in and ate a portion of whatever it is I'm craving.


“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’ ‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’ ‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.” A. A. Milne, ‘The House at Pooh Corner’

Diabetes and YOU!

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

There are 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 5.7 million people (or nearly one quarter) are unaware that they have the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.

  • Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

Finding out you have diabetes is scary. But don't panic. Type 2 diabetes is serious, but people with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives.

While diabetes occurs in people of all ages and races, some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

from the American Diabetes Association

My mom is the 3rd generation on her mom's side to have Type 2 Diabetes. My grandmother and great-grandmother both passed away from complications of Type 2 Diabetes, and I worry that the disease will also claim my mom.

Thankfully, Beachbody has an incredible, groundbreaking program especially made for people with Type 2 Diabetes ...

Kathy Smith's Project: YOU Type 2 is the only diet and fitness program developed in conjunction with doctors, certified diabetes educators, and the American Diabetes Association. Project: YOU! Type 2 is the first all-in-one solution to help manage diabetes, reduce your risk for diabetes complications, and get back in control of your life!

And even better, Project: YOU! Type 2 is 50% off now through August 31st! Click here for more information or to order yours today!


I Get Paid to Get Fit!

I decided to become a Beachbody coach after researching the company for over a year. The more I learned about Beachbody - from clients and coaches - the more impressed I became. I finally decided to become a coach because I realized that in order to achieve my dreams and live the life I've always wanted, I needed to take control of my destiny. I needed to stop being a spectator in my own life, and quite literally, become the coach calling all the plays.

As a single mom, I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck with a feeling of never getting ahead, or being a failure. Beachbody provides me the opportunity to succeed and achieve financial independence that is unparalled in any other home-based business. And I know what I'm talking about, having dabbled in Tupperware, Avon and Pampered Chef. I was very successful in each (I received a free Dodge Caravan minivan while being a successful Tupperware Manager!)

Where Beachbody differs is it's very low startup cost and investment. And even better, I am getting paid to do what I love - help people achieve their dreams. Tupperware, Pampered Chef products and Avon makeup are great and fun, but achieving your fitness goals, losing 100 lbs, curing your high blood pressure, and adding YEARS to your life to spend with your loved ones ... that's PRICELESS!

Coaches (myself included) are here to make sure to get the most out of your workout programs. We offer motivation, inspiration, and advice based on our own experiences with Beachbody workouts. And we do this all for free. Most importantly, we lead by example.

When you want to talk about your progress, your goals, or when you have a question about what product would suit you best, you can always come to us for help. Pretty cool, right? Have a question or concern? Ask a Team Beachbody coach.

But apart from just being there whenever you might want to chat about working out, here are a few great things about the coaching network.

Who are we?

Beachbody coaches area also Beachbody customers. We come from all walks of life, too. There are coaches who are also doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, cops, firefighters, soldiers, stay-at-home-moms and everything in between. (I am a data analyst and single mom).

What we have in common is that we all bought the workouts, we worked through the programs, and NOW we share our results with everybody.

Do we get paid for what we do?

YES! When a coach recommends a product, he or she will also provide a link to their personal website with access to all Beachbody products and services. You can also sign up for a FREE Team Beachbody membership with tons of great tools to help you reach your goals. When you make a purchase from a coach, he or she receives a commission on the sale.

It is important to remember that when you turn to a coach for motivation and advice, that coach is helping you free of charge. We do this because we love what we do, and sharing our experiences with people who need help is making a big difference for a lot of folks.

We only get paid when you make a purchase. Believe me - it is great getting paid to do what you love to do.

If this sounds like something you'd like to do, I'd love to be your Coach and welcome you to the Beachbody family. I'll be by your side every single step of the way, and beam with pride as you achieve your dreams!


Special Ops Mission of the Week

I've challenged the members at Operation Fat Blaster to revamp one of their favorite comfort food recipes, and to post it on their blogs.

In all honesty, I am NOT a cook, and don't particularly like cooking. I cook because I have to eat, but I'm not the most creative or exciting person in the kitchen. I rely ALOT on great cookbooks by Devin Alexander, Rocco DiSpirito, and others to get me by when I'm feeling creative, and here are my favorite revamped recipes:

Devin Alexander's Double Chocolate Brownies

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
Butter-flavored cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 inch non-stick cake pan with spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, using a sturdy whisk or spatula, mix the applesauce, vanilla, egg whites and sugar until they are well combined.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir the mixture until it is just combined and no lumps remain. Pour it into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chips evenly over the top. Bake the brownies for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry (a few crumbs are okay).

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow them to cool 5 minutes. Cut into 12 equal brownies. Makes 12 (1 brownie) servings.

Each brownie has: 88 calories, 2 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, less than 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 133 mg sodium

Traditional Double Chocolate Brownies have: 260 calories, 3 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 165 mg sodium

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting and working out with Devin earlier this summer, and she even made several of her yummy treats for me - the Double Chocolate brownies included and they are my ultimate comfort food. I took Devin's personal suggestion of baking them in a mini muffin tin, then put them in the freezer. Making them in the mini muffin tin brings each brownie to approximately 50 calories, so whenever I need a "hit", I just take 2 out, put them in the microwave for a few seconds, and voila! I have my own homemade, healthy and decadent 100 calorie treat!



"We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are." Adelle Davis

Wordless Wednesday


"If you bite it, write it." Unknown

I have a lovely blog!!

The super sweet Annie has presented me with an award!!!

I am SO HONORED! Thank you Annie!!

To make this award "official", I need to ...

1. Recognize the person who gave it to me - YAY ANNIE!!

2. I need to give it away to 15 other bloggers who I think are just lovely ... so here they are ...

The Amazing Shrinking Girl
Gluten Free Betsy
Fran Wants to be a Healthy Girl
Journey to the Healthier Side of Life
Inside Every Thin Girl
Linda Gets Fit
Melissa's Journey to the Figure Pro-Stage!
P90X - Our Journey
Race & Repeat
Seattle Runner Girl
South African from Cape Town Now Living in Germany
The Unnatural Mother
Washing Away The Gain
Where is Tigerlilly?
Witness THIS Fitness

Please check out these amazing bloggers - I know you'll love them!

Soo ... the neck injury. It was starting to feel just fine - I took NO Tylenol AT ALL from Sunday through yesterday. Today, my stress went through the roof at work, and my neck hurts. It's almost relieving to discover that it's stress induced because it means I'm not "really" injured. Now that I know what triggers my neck pain, I'm going to work even harder to manage my stress to prevent the pain from even occuring. My doctor told me yesterday to continue with no workouts for one more week (darn doctor's orders!), and I'm counting down the seconds to workout again!

My weight watchers meeting tonite was very enlightening ... I'll try to summarize it in a few days, I'm still absorbing the message myself and applying it to my own life. But it was certainly eye opening and comforting!

And the weigh-in ... oh, that damn weigh-in ... I was seriously going to use my free pass to skip my weigh-in, in fact I totally avoided my group leader during weigh-ins and sat waaaay in the back of the room. I was so worried about not working out all week and how it might affect my weigh-in. Ugh!!!

About halfway through the meeting, I decided to weigh in, so I discreetly walked back to the receptionist and asked her to weigh me in. And ... another 1.2 lbs bites the dust! Can I get a WOOT WOOT??? LOL

Man, relief flooded through my body, and my group leader winked at me as I walked back to my seat. She's an absolute doll, and if she ever leaves WW, I'm outta there too! lol

So all in all, that was my day ... how was yours?


"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." Author Unknown

Mental Monday

When I share my clean eating program with friends or acquaintances, one of the first questions or comments they make is "Wow, low-carb" or "Where are your carbs?" when they see the lack of traditional carbs in my meal plan. I admit to being tired of the skeptical looks on their faces when I explain I get my carbs via other sources, and finally googled this article to help shed a little light on the situation.


"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." William Jennings Bryan

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why Carbohydrates Matter to You
The right type of carbohydrates can boost your health!

What’s the difference between a sandwich made on white bread and one made with 100% whole grain bread?

Or, the difference between French fries and side salad made with spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and kidney beans?

All the foods above are carbohydrates. But the second option in both questions includes good carbohydrate foods (whole grains and vegetables).

Carbohydrates: Good or Bad?
In the past five years the reputation of carbohydrates has swung wildly. Carbs have been touted as the feared food in fad diets. And some carbs have also been promoted as a healthful nutrient associated with lower risk of chronic disease.

So which is it? Are carbs good or bad? The short answer is that they are both.

Fortunately, it’s easy separate the good from the bad.

  • We can reap the health benefits of good carbs by choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These carbs that get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels. Examples: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.

  • We can minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. Examples: white bread and white rice.

Why Carbohydrates Matter
In September 2002, the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommended that people focus on getting more good carbs with fiber into their diet. The following statements are based on information given in the report:

  • To meet the body's daily nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat, and 10% to 35% from protein.

  • There is only one way to get fiber -- eat plant foods. Plants such as fruits and vegetables are quality carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber. Studies show an increased risk for heart disease with low-fiber diets. There is also some evidence to suggest that fiber in the diet may also help to prevent colon cancer and promote weight control.

The recommendations:

  • Men aged 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber a day.

  • Women aged 50 or younger should get 25 grams of fiber a day.

  • Because we need fewer calories and food as we get older, men over aged 50 should get 30 grams of fiber a day.

  • Women over aged 50 should get 21 grams of fiber a day.

What Are The Good Carbs?
Most of us know what the good carbs are: plant foods that deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals along with grams of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. You can’t judge a carb as “good” without considering its fiber content (unless it’s a naturally low-fiber food like skim or low-fat milk).

Why Fiber in Carbohydrates Counts
Fiber is the part in plant foods that humans can’t digest. Even though fiber isn’t absorbed, it does all sorts of great stuff for our bodies.

Fiber slows down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates.

  • This slowing down may help prevent peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.

  • Certain types of fiber found in oats, beans, and some fruits can also help lower blood cholesterol.

  • As an added plus, fiber helps people feel full, adding to satiety.

The problem is that the typical American diet is anything but high in fiber.

“White” grain is the American mode of operation: we eat a muffin or bagel made with white flour in the morning, have our hamburger on a white bun, and then have white rice with our dinner.

In general, the more refined, or “whiter,” the grain-based food, the lower the fiber.

To get some fiber into almost every meal takes a little effort. Here are three tips:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices.

  • Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day.

  • Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc).

What are the Bad Carbs?

  • Sugars

  • “Added” sugars

  • Refined “white” grains

There’s no way to sugarcoat the truth: Americans are eating more sugar than ever before. In fact, the average adult takes in about 20 teaspoons of added sugar every day, according to the USDA’s recent nationwide food consumption survey. That’s about 320 calories, which can quickly up to extra pounds. Many adults simply don’t realize how much added sugar is in their diets.

Sugars and refined grains and starches supply quick energy to the body in the form of glucose. That’s a good thing if your body needs quick energy, for example if you’re running a race or competing in sports.

The better carbs for most people are unprocessed or minimally processed whole foods that contain natural sugars, like fructose in fruit or lactose in milk.

Avoid Excess “Added Sugars”
“Added sugars, also known as caloric sweeteners, are sugars and syrups that are added to foods at the table or during processing or preparation (such as high fructose corn syrup in sweetened beverages and baked products),” explains Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman with the American Dietetic Association.

Added sugars supply calories but few or no nutrients, Gerbstadt says.

“Americans are very aware of low-fat diets and because of that we’ve been eating more fat-free and low-fat products,” notes Shanthy Bowman, USDA food scientist and author of a recently published study on sugar in the American diet.

“But what many people don't know is that in many of these products, sugar is being substituted for fat, so we've really been trading fat for sugar,” Bowman says.

The USDA recommends that we get no more than 6% to 10% of our total calories from added sugar -- that’s about nine teaspoons a day for most of us.

Use the Nutrition Label to Track Your Carbohydrates
The Nutrition Facts section on food labels can help you sort the good carbs from the bad carbs. Here’s what to look for on the Nutrition Facts label.

Total Carbohydrate. For tracking the total amount of carbohydrate in the food, per serving, look for the line that says “Total Carbohydrate.” You’ll find that often the grams of “fiber,” grams of “sugars” and grams of “other carbohydrate” will add up to the grams of “total carbohydrate” on the label.

Dietary Fiber. The line that says Dietary Fiber tells you the total amount of fiber in the food, per serving. Dietary fiber is the amount of carbohydrate that is indigestible and will likely pass through the intestinal tract without being absorbed.

Sugars. “Sugars” tells you the total amount of carbohydrate from sugar in the food, from all sources -- natural sources like lactose and fructose as well as added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup. It’s important to distinguish between natural sugars and added sugars. For example, the average 1% low-fat milk label will list 15 grams of “sugar” per cup. Those grams come from the lactose (milk sugars) not from added sweeteners.

To get an idea of how many grams of sugar on the label come from added sugars – such as high fructose corn syrup or white or brown sugar -- check the list of ingredients on the label. See if any of those sweeteners are in the top three or four ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so the bulk of most food is made up of the first few ingredients.

Other Carbohydrate. The category "other carbohydrate" represents the digestible carbohydrate that is not considered a sugar (natural or otherwise). 

Sugar Alcohols. Some product labels also break out “sugar alcohols” under “Total Carbohydrate.” In some people, sugar alcohol carbohydrates can cause intestinal problems such as gas, cramping, or diarrhea. If you look on the ingredient label, the sugar alcohols are listed as lactitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and others. Many “sugar free” or “reduced calorie” foods contain some sugar alcohols even when another alternative sweetener like Splenda is in the product.

Written by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
From WebMD, 2009

    Former Fat Girl of the Week

    Former Fat Girl of the Week is a place for us to come to celebrate and learn from the success and achievements of one another. Former Fat Girls of the Week are regular women like you and me, living normal lives, but are extraordinarily inspirational. This is their time to shine, and I hope you are as inspired by them as I am.

    Name: Amanda McQueen
    Age: 27
    Occupation: I am a Labor and Delivery nurse.
    Blog: Inside Every Thin Girl

    Amanda and her hubby, before

    How often do you exercise?

    I exercise as often as my body decides it wants to. Usually 6 days a week, sometimes 7. But I don't beat myself up when I need a break.

    Amanda, before

    What is your favorite workout?

    I love running and I LOVE spinning.

    Amanda loves her active lifestyle!

    What 5 food items are "must haves" in your kitchen?

    • Pickles: They are great nearly-no-calorie snacks when you just need to munch.

    • Boneless skinless chicken breasts

    • 98% Fat Free condensed soups: you can make soooo many recipes with these and just a few other ingredients

    • Light String Cheese

    • Jello Sugar-free Pudding

    Please tell us what your nutrition program is like ... what would a typical day's meal plan look like?

    I try to eat a variety of different foods so that I don't get bored. So I do a little something different every day. Today I had:

    Breakfast: Jimmy Dean Turkey D-Light Breakfast Bowl

    Lunch: Fat Free Hotdog on WhiteWheat bun with kraut and ketchup, carrot sticks and 100 Calorie Pack of Pringles.

    Snack: Pure Protein Bar

    Dinner: Shake N Bake Chicken breast, twice baked potato and broccoli with cheese sauce.

    Dessert: Skinny Cow Frozen Yogurt Sandwhich

    Amanda, now - looking fit and fabulous!

    What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote?

    I really like, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got".

    My personal mantra is: "Don't give up on yourself!"

    How do you find balance in your life?

    I find balance by prioritizing. The laundry can wait til tomorrow if it has to. I make it a point to make some time for myself every day.

    Amanda and her hubby, now

    Last 5 songs listened to you on your iPod/mp3 player:

    • Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas

    • Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

    • She's A Hottie- Toby Keith

    • Poker Face- Lady GaGa

    • Right Round - Flo Rida

    What is your greatest accomplishment?

    I hope to one day be able to say that my greatest accomplishment is being a great role model to my son. For now my greatest accomplishment is losing 88 pounds!

    You're setting a wonderful example for your son, Amanda!

    What do you love most about your body?

    I love my face! Its nice to see it without 2 or 3 extra chins.

    Are you working towards a particular goal we can support you in?

    I'm working towards running a 5K. I don't have one planned just yet, but hopefully I will accomplish this goal soon.

    Any words of advice you'd like to share with someone sitting at home, reading your interview, wishing/hoping/wanting to change?

    You can do it! Its going to be a long road, it will be hard and there will be setbacks, but you'll feel so accomplished, determined and alive. Its the most amazing feeling in the world to realize what you are truly capable of.
    I stumbled upon Amanda's blog a few weeks ago and was immediately blown away by her attitude, determination and drive to succeed! It is a pleasure to feature Amanda as a Former Fat Girl of the Week, and I couldn't wait to introduce you to her. Thank you Amanda for being an incredible inspiration! I look forward to watching your continued transformation!


    Positive Thinking & Presents!!!!

    This past week at Operation Fat Blaster, I wanted our members to really start believing how incredibly strong, beautiful and inspirational they really are. I challenged our members to create a vision board, to be a visual reminder to you, to motivate, inspire, and encourage them every single day. The challenge was voluntary, but all members that complete the challenge are entered into a weekly giveaway drawing. Check out these amazing OFB members and their vision boards: Andrea, Betsy, Cheryl, Kristina, Marie, Melissa, and Tigerlilly.

    I really think this week's challenge helped them go outside their comfort zones and opened their eyes a little bit that they really are the words they chose in their acrostic poems :)

    The power of positive thinking. It's a force that can not be denied!

    Look what I got in the mail today!

    Here's the note ...


    I decided that I'm going to send you monthly doses of inspiration. Hopefully this will keep you pumped as you train for the half-marathon. You'll always get a mix CD of some of my favorite workout jams and a little something extra.

    Enjoy & keep on runnin'!

    Is Betsy amazing or what??

    The CD insert is so amazingly cool - I absolutely LOVE the front cover - the girl running with the road signs saying "I'm Not Done Yet", and "Believe" and "Visualize Your Victory." It's just the coolest thing!! I immediately popped the CD into my laptop to listen to it - OMGosh, it's phenomenal!! I could NOT sit still for the entire CD and simply can't wait to listen to it on one of my training runs! I'm calling my doctor first thing Monday morning to get clearance to run because it's torture listening to this mix and NOT being able to run to it!

    Thank you Betsy!! Phoenix is going to be so much fun!


    “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose." Tennessee Williams

    Twitter Question of the Week

    Fridays at Secrets of a Former Fat Girl is Twitter Question of the Week day, and I want to hear from YOU! There is so much we can learn from one another, and this is a great place to show us your sparkle!

    Want to join in? Just follow me on Twitter, and watch for the Twitter Question of the Week (posted by 8am CST on the previous Wednesday). All replies received via Twitter or Facebook by 10am on Friday will get posted with a link back to you!

    What is your go to meal when you're busy and pressed for time?

    • Annabel says: A hummus plate with veggies and pita! Quick, healthy and delicious (oh, and cheap, too!)
    • Kyra says: Shrimp scampi. I almost always have shrimp & green peas in the freezer, and I always have garlic paste & olive oil in pantry
    • Amanda says: - Fast food: Subway sub. Homemeal- boca burger, pickle, w/ side salad. I have tons of preportioned meals in my freezer made up 2
    • Kristie says: Pan cooked Tilapia with lemon juice. They come individuallly wrapped and only take 30 minutes to thaw. yum yum
    • Tigerlilly says: Ground turkey with salsa, beans and rice all mixed in. Makes a quick 'chili'. Oh yea... and a banana smothered in peanut butter!!! mmmmmmmmm
    • Betsy says: Quesadillas. Corn shells. Cheese. Pico de gallo. Avocado. Yum.
    • Foodie McBody says: turkey chili. Open black beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili spices. Mix with ground turkey. Voila.
    • Kari says: Chicken Soft Tacos FRESCO-STYLE at Taco Bell = YUM
    • Jeannie says: Peanut butter sandwich... My comfort food.
    • Christi says: PBJ - Wendy's

    Thank you all so much for your answers this week! I've been struggling with this myself as I find that we're so busy lately, and I knew you'd have really great suggestions for me! Please be sure to visit everyone that participated this week and either follow them on Twitter or Blogger!

    Here's my answer:

    • Our go-to meal is soup! I always have Trader Joe soups (Organic Tomato Bisque, Free Range Chicken Broth, Butternut Squash, Organic Vegetable Broth) in the house, and add whatever we're fancying that night - we'll just chop up some veggies, add chicken (already sliced and pre-portioned), or pasta (TJ organic alphabet pasta or TJ brown rice fusili), or beans, or whatever! Super fast, super easy, and super healthy! The kids have gotten really good at making single serving size portions this summer. I love that TJ soups comes in easy pour cartons too!

    Thank you all so much for your supportive comments on yesterday's post! It feels really good knowing I'm not going to live the rest of my life as a spectator, you know?

    So who knew laser tag is an amazing workout? Sheesh, between playing laser tag and playing Dance Dance Revolution, we were all sweating buckets by the time we left last night! I spent most of the night being a human shield for my daughter LOL She was the littlest in the group for each game so everyone kept picking on her. I am a serious champion of underdogs, so I did what I did to make sure she had a great time. It was really nice getting a good sweat on - especially after being a slug all week long!

    The laser tag arena was 2 stories tall, so we got a massive workout running all over the place. We had a great deal last night - $15 per person for unlimited play, but the regular price is $7.50 a game, so I doubt we'll go back anytime soon.

    The weather this summer has been really weird - alot cooler and wetter than normal. It was downright chilly this morning, and as I walked to work along the riverwalk, the wind chilled me to the bone! I'm so not ready for Fall - not just the cooler temperatures, but because I have nothing to wear! I got rid of all my cold weather clothes earlier this summer, and have nothing to wear (other than summer clothes!) I'm going to hold off on buying clothes as long as I can - I'm not at goal yet and don't want to spend too much money on a new wardrobe. I have visions of consignment stores and thrift shops in my future!! It should be fun! What do you do when you're inbetween sizes but not at goal yet?


    "Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm ... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others." Audrey Hepburn

    Taking charge!

    So after a depressing and discouraging phone call with my momma last night, I woke up determined to stop sitting on the sidelines, reacting to life and situations. I woke up empowered to take control of my destiny (with God in ultimate control, of course), and live the life I've always dreamed about.

    I realized labels like "former fat girl", and "domestic abuse survivor", and "food addict" are holding me back. They're likes ropes wrapping around me, binding me to the past. A past that I am grateful for - after all, surviving my past has made me the strong, independent person I am at this moment. But it's a past that I want to distance myself from, nonetheless.

    So my entire morning has been filled with exciting ideas and brainstorm sessions on how I'm going to get the life I want. A life acting upon my wishes and desires, instead of reacting to situations and other people.

    I'm on fire, dear reader ... I am on fire ... I know what I want, and I know how I'm going to get it. Don't even THINK about getting in my way!

    The next few days will be spent fleshing out my ideas, and putting my life plan together. I haven't been this excited since, well, I've never been this excited. Period.

    Time to buckle up, buttercup. This ride is gonna take off!

    More to come in the next week or so!!

    I'm happy to report my neck pain is getting more manageable. I'm still on regular doses of regular strength tylenol, but that's progress considering I was doubling up on doses of extra strength tylenol over the weekend!

    I'm still very restless, I can't believe how much I've come to rely on my workouts for relaxation and stress relief! I've been taking little walks throughout the day to get rid of the ants in my pants, and am continuing with the daily yoga DVDs as well.

    I'm counting down the days until I can get a good cardio workout in though! I miss it!


    "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." Harriet Tubman

    Wordless Wednesday


    "Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the a celebration of that miracle." Martha Washington

    Doctor's Orders

    Well, I am officially prohibited from all high-impact activities until further notice. My neck pain hasn't gone away, so I went to see the good doctor yesterday. She wants me to take a break from high-impact activities (strength training, HIIT, cardio, running). We suspect it's a combination of things - overtraining, stress, and horrid posture. I'll be treating it with rest, Tylenol, hot/cold packs, and stretching. I'm also re-evaluating my work area to make sure everything's ergonomic and as it should be.

    It's a bit of a bummer - I have really gotten hooked on running, and was looking forward to adding a few group classes at the gym this week. I'm definitely listening to my doctor though - I don't want this getting any worse! 3 weeks of headaches is the pits, and I'll do whatever she wants me to do in order to get rid of the pain ... I can't sit for very long periods of time, so I am getting some activity as I'm up walking around every hour or so.

    Rather than obsessing about the things I can't control, I'm focusing on the things I can control, namely, my nutrition. This break from heavy activity is the perfect opportunity to tighten the screws on my nutrition. I'm working on our September meal plan for home - I forgot to mention I scored a free subscription to Clean Eating magazine, and the kids and I have been post-it-ing recipes that look yummers. I'm also going to experiment a bit with my food processor and blender and try to sneak in even more vegetables to our meals. It should be fun! :)

    Weight Watchers was a lot of fun this evening - I really enjoy the group leader and the other people in the group. There is a great vibe and energy in the room on Tuesday nights! It probably also helps that I had another great weigh-in: -1.8 lbs! I've been really good monitoring my points, and haven't had to dip into my 35 weekly allowance points yet. I also haven't eaten any activity points yet. I really was eating too little prior to WW, so eating all my daily points can be a challenge!

    This is where I usually go on about my daily workouts ... but with the workout restrictions in place, I didn't make it to my HIIT cardio workout yesterday or my total body strength/endurance workout today. :( It's a huge bummer because next week is my last week of personal training sessions and I really wanted to push myself HARD ...

    Instead, I did an hour of yoga both mornings. I did Essential Yoga for Inflexible People with Maggie Rhoades yesterday, and Yoga for Back Care with Rodney Yee. They were really good workouts - I felt very limber and relaxed when I was done - I wish I could bottle that feeling and make it last all day long!

    Sidebar - ok seriously ... is this lady amazing or what?? This is Dr. Lan Phan, a Broward County, Florida yoga practitioner.

    I still feel a bit restless, but the nagging pain in my neck is keeping me on the straight and narrow with the doctor's orders! I'm also taking advantage of the down time and getting more meditation in as well. Other than the neck pain, I do feel more relaxed and not as stressed as I usually am. This could really turn out to be a blessing in disguise!


    "Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings." Author Unknown

    Mental Monday

    In the early days of my health & fitness journey, I shied away from ALL fats, thinking they were the enemy. I now know better, and can differentiate between "good" and "bad" fats. I still use "good" fats in moderation, but use them nonetheless due to their health benefits. I hope the following article will help educate you on your health & fitness journey!


    "Knowing is not enough; we must apply!" Goethe

    The 5 Best Fats to Get Lean

    You might think that to lose weight you need to cut the fat out of your meals. After all, fat is higher in calories than protein and carbs, and low-fat diets have been very popular since the Senate Nutrition Committee first recommended them in the late 1970s. But research shows that a moderate-fat diet (with about 35 percent of calories consumed coming from fat) will help you drop pounds permanently, feel full longer, and avoid bingeing. The trick is to eat the right kind of fat to increase satisfaction and boost weight loss. Here's why it's important to eat fat—and we offer five of the best fat sources to add to your diet.

    How eating fat will help you lose fat

    In 2008, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that people who followed low-fat diets lost less weight than people who followed low-carb or moderate-fat diets. The low-fat group lost an average of 6.5 pounds over 2 years, but the low-carb and moderate-fat groups lost about 10 pounds. Women did especially well on the moderate-fat diet, losing an average of 13 pounds during the study.

    For weight loss, fat is important for several reasons:

    • Fat helps your body control blood sugar and insulin spikes after eating carbohydrates. Better sugar metabolism means less fat storage.

    • Fat slows down digestion and aids nutrient absorption. You'll stay fuller longer and get more health benefits from the food you eat.

    • Essential fatty acids (such as omega-3s) may boost your metabolic rate and increase fat-burning.

    • Fat tastes good. It also provides a "mouthfeel" that is satisfying, which can help you be happy with less food.

    Eating more fat may also help you stick to your diet longer. In a study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, participants got either 20 percent of their calories from fat or 35 percent of their calories from fat. Both groups lost weight after 6 months. But after 18 months, only 20 percent of the people in the low-fat group were still following the diet, compared with 54 percent of the people in the moderate-fat group. Likewise, the subjects in the moderate-fat group maintained their weight loss, while the low-fat group participants gained most of the weight back.

    If you reach for a box of low-fat or fat-free crackers or cookies when you want to lose weight, you may actually be sabotaging your diet. Manufacturers frequently replace fat with sugar in many packaged food items to make them taste better. You think you're making a good decision by eating fat-free products, but the excess sugar and refined flour can lead to fatigue, cravings, mood swings, and weight gain caused by the overproduction of insulin, the fat-storage hormone. As a snack, an apple and peanut butter or a salad with oil and vinegar dressing would be a better weight loss choice. The complex carbs and healthy fats will maintain your blood sugar levels, boost your energy, and keep you satisfied longer.

    What kind of fat should you eat?

    To get lean, you need to eat the right kind of fat. Avoid saturated and trans fats (which are found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and many packaged foods), and instead choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Here are some of the best sources of fat to help you reach your weight goal.

    Fish. Fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines contain beneficial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Most experts agree that eating two servings of fatty fish per week is safe for people who are worried about mercury or other toxins. (Pregnant women should consult with their doctors about consuming fish.)

    Olive oil. Heart-healthy oils such as olive, canola, and peanut are excellent sources of fat for dieters. They have also been shown to lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Use them sparingly when sautéing, or drizzle them over your favorite salad vegetables with a little vinegar and herbs to maximize the absorption of nutrients. Moderation is important: You really only need about a teaspoon of oil to get all its benefits. Using more will add significant calories.

    Avocados. Eat a spinach and carrot salad with a little avocado, and you'll not only get a dose of good fat, but you'll also absorb more phytonutrients like lutein and beta-carotene. Scientists at Ohio State University in Columbus found that more antioxidants were absorbed when people ate a salad containing avocados than when they ate a salad without this tasty fruit. One-quarter of an avocado will add flavor with about 75 calories.

    Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts are powerhouses of good nutrition—full of antioxidants, minerals, and monounsaturated fat. The Nurses Health Study, where more than 86,000 nurses were followed for 14 years, found that those who ate nuts regularly (about an ounce per day) tended to weigh less than those who didn't. The protein, fat, and fiber make nuts more filling, which helps dieters stay on track. There's an added psychological bonus to eating nuts: because they're rich and satisfying, you probably won't feel like you're on a diet.

    Flaxseeds. Packing a wallop of fat, protein, and fiber, flaxseeds are a delicious and healthful addition to any diet. You can grind them up and add them to oatmeal, yogurt, salads, or vegetables, or pretty much anywhere you want a nutty crunch. They're a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, making them a good choice for vegetarians or people who don't like fish. Ground flaxseeds also have 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon that will help slow digestion and keep your blood sugar stable.

    Making room for fat

    Fat might be considered a health food, but that's not a cue to overindulge. At 9 calories per gram, fat is a more concentrated energy source than protein and carbohydrates (each has 4 calories per gram). You need to be mindful of your overall caloric intake if you want to eat more fat and lose weight. But you'll probably find it a bit easier to manage your calories when you feel full and satisfied after eating the right kinds of fat.

    Written by Whitney Provost
    Published July 2009

    Former Fat Girl of the Week

    Former Fat Girl of the Week is a place for us to come to celebrate and learn from the success and achievements of one another. Former Fat Girls of the Week are regular women like you and me, living normal lives, but are extraordinarily inspirational. This is their time to shine, and I hope you are as inspired by them as I am.

    Name: Mandi Kramer
    Age: 31
    Occupation: Cosmetologist

    Mandi before

    How often do you exercise?

    4 - 5 times per week

    What is your favorite workout?


    Aubrey, Bob, and Mandi

    What 5 food items are "must haves" in your kitchen?

    • popcorn
    • string cheese
    • oranges
    • turkey bacon
    • protein shakes

    Mandi lost an amazing 92 lbs during The Biggest Loser Season 7!

    What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote?

    "Feel the fear and do it anyway"

    Mandi, now

    How do you find balance in your life?

    Taking an hour to exercise keeps me balanced.

    Tara, Mandi and Laura at the BL7 After Party. I loved Mandi's yellow dress from the finale!

    Last 5 songs listened to you on your iPod/mp3 player.

    • Pussycat Dolls, "I Hate This Part"
    • Mary J. Blige, "I'm Fine"
    • David Gray, "This Year's Love"
    • Jack Johnson, "Banana Pancakes"
    • The Killers -- All of their songs!
    What is your greatest accomplishment?

    My boys :-)

    What do you love most about your body?

    My smile

    Mandi looks great!

    Are you working towards a particular goal we can support you in?

    Fat for Food Challenge -- its over on August 31 and I would like to lose 10-15 pounds!

    Mandi and Bob at the BL7 after party

    A bit more from Mandi ...

    When I am asked what was the greatest thing I learned in my BL experience, I answer, ”I realized I am a lot stronger that I thought I was, inside and out. The thing that keeps me going and inspired the most is realizing how many people I inspired while I was there; it’s really humbling.”

    Mandi, now. What an inspiration!

    Since BL, I have started my own business with Jus International. I am super excited about it -- it is a Super Antioxidant Drink -- awesome nutrition! Just one ounce per day. Check it out!

    Thank you Mandi for allowing me to interview you - I'm very proud to feature you as a Former Fat Girl of the Week! You were (and still are) very inspirational, and I know you've helped many women get up off the couch and make a change! My daughter Meghan, would also like to thank you for the autographed photo of you and Aubrey that you sent her!

    Please be sure to visit Mandi at Mandi and Aubrey and Mandi Kramer NOW!


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