Planning Equals Progress

I have never been the most organized person. I’ve heard that creative people tend to be messier than most. So, I am taking that as a compliment- yes, my house is never 100% organized and squeaky clean- but my creativity will not be stifled! I’ve always been this way.

When I was in the sixth grade my parents told me that I could get a kitten if I could keep my room clean every day for a month. Well, I knew that was impossible, but I REALLY wanted a kitten. I had a brilliant idea to clean my room, then leave it and not come back in for a month. And that is what I did. My family had one of those military style cots that we would use for camping, so I set that up in the basement and slept there for a month so that I would not mess up my room

. My mom couldn’t believe that I would sleep on a cot in the basement for a month rather than keep my room clean, but I think she was impressed with my creativity and stubbornness. Although it was technically cheating, my parents let me get a kitten. My cat, Cozmo, was a constant reminder of how disorganized (and stubborn) I am.  My life has always been lived surrounded my “creative clutter”.

Plan. Plan. Plan.

So, as you have read organization is not really my strong suit. Unfortunately, being organized and planning is a big part of both my weight loss journey and my journey to live a greener life.  Flying by the seat of my pants will not work anymore! I have to pre-plan all my meals and make sure the fridge is always stocked with healthy options.

When I come home from work, I am hungry. If I open the fridge and there is nothing to eat or I have to come up with a meal idea right then, I just won’t. I will pick up the phone and order pizza. If I have a meal planned, but I am missing an ingredient- forget about it.  I constantly live on the edge- any minor hiccup can send me straight into fat Jess mode, who has Jet’s Pizza on speed dial. So I know that I cannot give myself any excuse, because I will take advantage of it. This means I must be incredibly organized. I know every meal that I will be eating that week and have everything in my fridge to make me successful.

I prep and plan for each day before I go to bed the night before. I’m a hit snooze 5 times, roll out of bed 15 minutes before I must be at work kind of gal, so morning prep is out of the question for me. If I wait to make my lunch in the morning only one of two things will happen 1. I will be late for work or 2. I will leave without a lunch and eat lunch out or from a vending machine. Neither are good options.

Plan more, move more

Exercise must be organized and intentional. I have a work out schedule that I have to stick to, or I will never exercise. Weight training 3x a week and cardio 5x a week.  I even plan out when I will get up from my desk and take a walk around the building- if I don’t I will never leave my desk. Sitting in front of my desk all day not only hurts my back, but it is exhausting. Taking a 10 minute break to walk around every few hours helps to keep me more productive and energized. Even something as simple as that takes fore thought and planning.

Planning for the Planet

In an efforts to live a more eco-conscious life, I use many of these same tactics. I need to plan when and where I go shopping, bring my bags and containers- or I will end up using unnecessary plastic. I make a lot of things homemade that “normal” people don’t to save money and plastic, but that takes a lot of planning too. For example, I make my own Greek yogurt (Recipe here) but the whole process takes about 18-20 hours. That means, I need to plan ahead and make it BEFORE I run out. If I don’t, I will run out and pick up a plastic container of yogurt from the store. If I need bulk items like spices, flour or beans I have to a specific store and make sure that my jars are close by. Gone are the days where I just swing by the store on the way home from work- that is unless I plan for that before I leave in the morning.

Sometimes I think back to my life before weigh watchers. We used to not plan any meals, when I would go to the grocery store I would not have a list- I would just wander the aisles and put whatever I felt like at that moment in the cart. Thinking about shopping like that now gives me anxiety. I honestly have no idea how I did it.  

There is something that I really like about being so organized. It allows me to have more control over my life and my success. I’m not saying that I will ever have a sparkling clean house with everything in order, but a little bit of organization in my life has helped me get closer to many of my dreams. Maybe letting this concept bleed into other aspects of my life wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I will make my bed every morning. Or maybe not….. Probably not. I don’t want to push it.

Want to know more about my journey? Find out HERE 

Getting Back on The Wagon

Confession time: I fell off the wagon. I fell off, got ran over by the wagon and drug down the street.

This past week was very busy and stressful at work. I know, it is super ironic that my last post was all about how I learned to manage my stress. Well guess what? I came to find out, it is still a work in progress. The old stressed out Jess started creeping back into my life over the last few weeks. I don’t like her. She is mean. Stressed out Jess hurts the one’s she loves and she says horrible, grotesque things about how worthless I am and how I am such a failure. That version of me is not something that I do not like to see.

Over the last week I has been completely silent on all platforms. No new blogs, nothing on social media. I told my husband, I can’t post anything, I feel like a hypocrite. Here I am pretending that I have this whole weight loss thing figured out and all it takes is a few stressful days at work to throw me back into my old habits. Then it just spirals from there. It actually scares me how quickly I can revert to my old habits.

Falling back into old habits

I turn to my old coping mechanisms. Carbs comfort me. I am sure I am not the only one that suffers from this phenomenon. I think they have support groups just for Emotional eaters- heck, that’s basically what my weight watchers meeting is! So I ate. I ate a lot and moved very little. Losing control of everything that I have been so proud of accomplishing over the last 15 months. I ate until I felt sick.

One night last week, I remember lying in bed and I could feel my heart beating. It was beating out of my chest. I figured out it was due to all the sugar I ate, my body didn’t know what to do with all of it. So I laid there miserable, I wasn’t able to sleep all I could think about was my heart beating and reflect on all the terrible things that I ate to make my heart practically take off out of my chest. I felt so out of control and I HATE being out of control.

Avoiding the Trap

But this time, I see the trap that has been laid out for me. This week was busy with lots of meals out and other temptations, but next week will be too. I have to travel to Chicago for work, meaning lots of meals out and not a lot of control. It would be so easy for me to say, I will just wait until I get back from Chicago to get back on the wagon. But then it’s almost Easter, so I better just wait until after that. Then there will be another excuse and another, and before you know it I will be 379 lbs again. I can’t let that happen. This is me avoiding that trap. I. can’t. go. back.

It is truly frightening how easily I can be derailed from my journey. If I have learned anything over the last 112 lbs, I have learned that the key to success is to never give up. So here I am brushing the crumbs off my shirt, standing up amidst the candy wrappers, saying I am not giving up. I may have fallen off the wagon, but this time I have tethered myself to that wagon and no matter what happens, I will never be too far away.

Getting back on the Wagon

I had every excuse to stay in bed on Saturday and sleep through my Weight Watchers meeting. The scale was going to be scary. My husband was out of town, so I had no one to nudge me out the door, but I did it. I stepped on that scale, because I knew if I didn’t it was the beginning of the end. Shocker: I gained this week. The damage was 4.8 lbs. 4.8 lbs in one week. Those same 4.8 lbs will probably take me 3-4 weeks to take off.

As I picked up my weekly, I knew that I was meant to be at this meeting. The topic of the week was bouncing back: How to recover after a set-back. Although, now I am convinced that Weight Watcher has bugged my house, it was perfect timing and just what I needed.

This week has just reiterated what I already knew. This will be a lifelong challenge, I have to be intentional about how I live for the rest of my life, because fat, unhappy, stressed Jess is lurking way too close to the surface. To keep her away, I cannot let my guard down. Each set-back I learn something new, so I am not falling it the trap this time, but I am only avoiding it because I have been caught in this trap before. But guess what? The world is filled with booby-traps, but I will untangle myself and move on. So here I am saying: I have sinned, but this new Jess that I have discovered hiding under 112 lbs is pretty forgiving. This is me, forgiving myself and moving on because there are challenges ahead and I can’t face them if I keep looking back.

I am keeping it real. Yes, I am human. I make mistakes, in this case it was in the form of Jet’s 8 corner pizza with Jet’s bread and garlic butter dipping sauce. This is hard. This is really hard. But I also know, it is worth it. I am worth it.

Want to learn more about my journey? Check it out here

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By Learning to Manage Stress I Found the Real Jess

I have never been one to handle stress particularly well. In fact, all extreme emotions or feeling that I have end in tears. When I am extremely happy… Tears. Extremely sad…Tears. Extremely angry… tears.   It is actually really inconvenient when I am furiously angry and all I am capable of doing is sobbing uncontrollably.

I am convinced that I feel emotions differently than most people. It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I realized there is a word for people like me. I am an empath.  I feel very intensely, and I do not just feel my own emotions I feel for all those around me too. It is very difficult for me to watch the news, I just feel drained after seeing all the horrible things going on in the world. It’s like the news becomes a part of me and I have to carry it around indefinitely. So, you can imagine that the same is true with stress. I get stressed out very easily and basically absorb the stress of those around me. Not exactly an ideal situation.

Building UP Stress

A few years ago, I was working a very stressful job. I was working ungodly amounts of overtime- constantly feeling overwhelmed. All of my co-workers were miserable too, so the whole environment was just very toxic- especially for someone who feels so intensely for those around me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I worked with and always will. They are the equivalent of war buddies, we have been in the trenches together. It was just that the job was literally killing me. My anxiety was getting out of control. I started experiencing night terrors. If you have ever experienced night terrors, you know how absolutely vivid and horrible they are. I got to the point where I was afraid to go to sleep.

Making matters worse, I started gaining even more weight, to my already obese frame. My doctor had to prescribe medicine to control my skyrocketing blood pressure. I was becoming someone that I didn’t recognize. My patience became not existent.  You know how you always take our frustrations on the ones you love the most? Well, all I can say, is I am thankful that my husband stuck by my side- even though I was constantly snapping at him and yelling for no reason. The stress was affecting every part of my life. And to be honest, I really did not have a life outside of my stress bubble. I would work from 7:30 am – 7:30 pm most days, then come home eat and sleep.

As I have said previously, I am a repeat offender when it comes to weight loss and weight watchers. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I has a monthly pass subscription that I was paying for over 3 years, before I became truly serious about my weight loss. I would go to a few meetings, lose 10-20 pound then give up and gain it all back, and repeat about once a year. Meanwhile I was paying monthly for the subscription, because I keep promising myself that I would go back.

Cut to November of 2016. I finally decided that no job was worth killing myself over. I quit my super stressful job and managed to find a much less stressful job. Quitting that job, changed my life. No, it saved my life. With so much of the stress gone, I finally had the strength and will to change other aspect of my life. I started my new job on November 1, 2016 and re-joined weight watchers on November 8. Since then, I have rarely missed a meeting.

Stress. Stress was the barrier that was holding me back for so long. I am not saying that my life was or is stress free. But quitting that job lifted such a heavy weight off my shoulders. It helped me stand up straight-  Giving me a fighting chance to handle other stressful situation that came into my life.  I am still bombarded with stress, as I am sure everyone is, I am now able to develop strategies to deal with it in a healthy way, without letting it completely cripple me.

Exercise

 

 

I have never been particularly athletic and would typically avoid exercise if I could. I did it because I thought I had to. The more I exercised the better I felt. It started out small, I would simply walk my dogs for 30 min a day. As I started losing weight, I started excising more and more. The more I would exercise the better I would feel and the more energy I would have.

I now run about 3-4 miles 4-5 days a week. Some people may even call me a runner (It still feels wrong calling myself that) – I’m one of those people that go on runs to clear their head. I never ever in a million years thought I would become one of those people. Exercise truly is the best stress reliever. And its not me just saying that, there is scientific study, after study that proves that exercise reduces stress.

Meditation

My husband is a big advocate for mediation and has taught me a lot about the art. When he was a kid, he had difficulties in school and in concentrating. He was diagnosed with ADD and also struggled with anger issues. Meditation was able to help him control his anger and focus. He has since passed on meditation as a tool to his daughter, who is on the autism spectrum and struggles with ADHD.  They call it peace and quiet time. It’s something that she looks forward to, and will ask, “Daddy can we have peace and quiet time tonight?”  It is amazing how it transforms her- from someone bouncing off the wall to a Zen master in just a few moments.

Mediation does not have to be complicated. You don’t need to be sitting cross legged on the floor, burning incense while “ommmmm”-ing (but it can be if you want it to be!).  It can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.  You don’t even have to be sitting, I often find myself mediating while walking through the woods. Nature is a big stress reliever for me and brings me such joy and peace.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

I needed help. I needed help long before I had the courage to ask for it. Once I did, all I kept thinking was, “why did it take me this long to do it.” It was really the night terrors that pushed me to get help. Night terrors are not the same as having a bad dream, they are so much worse. I would not wish them on my worst enemy. My husband can tell you stories- it is not pretty. It is sad that it took something so dramatic to push me to seek professional help.

My doctor prescribed me medication for my anxiety and depression and I am still on that medication today. I am not weak because I had to get medical help, I think I am strong for acknowledging that I could not do it on my own. My doctor also encouraged me to see a therapist, which has made all the difference.

Know when to say enough is enough

You cannot do everything. You cannot please everyone. If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. I have a habit of never saying no. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy helping others when I can, but I have learned that it cannot be at the expense of my sanity.

The same is true for work. My therapist told me something that really helped me. He told me to imagine a door in your mind. When you walk out of work, close that door in your mind and do not open it again until you return to work. This helps keep work stress contained at work, and not let it affect your personal life. This also made me discover that working tons of overtime when you are super stressed does not really accomplish anything. The more stressed I get, the less productive I get.  If I leave work on time, go home, get refreshed and come back the next day, I will be much more productive (and happy) than if I work through the night. I learned to say enough is enough.

Unfortunately, stress is just a part of life. We all have it, and will continue to deal with it for the rest of our lives. I am just glad that I now have some tools to stop stress from taking over my life. I’ve worked really hard for this life and I am not about to have stress come and take it from me again!

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Lean more about how I got here and other lessons learned through my weight loss journey:

My Journey

5 Things I Wish I could Tell my 12-Year-Old Self

5 Ways to Take Control of Your Weight Loss in Uncontrollable Environments

 

 

5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 12 Year-Old Self

I have had a weight problem all of my life. My baby fat, just never went away. I am convinced that I went directly from a kid’s size 14 to an adult size 16.

I have absolutely no recollection of being any size in between. One of my most distinct memories as a child, was shopping for junior bridesmaid’s dresses with my aunt at 10 years old.  I was looking through the dresses in the plus size section and there was another girl looking at the same rack. Yelling across the store that girl’s mother shouted, “No, no Rachel, don’t look over there, that rack is only for fat people.” I just stood there, completely mortified with my face turning red. I wasn’t in the wrong section, I was one of the fat people that needed to shop in that section. I quickly grabbed a dress and ran so that I could go and cry alone in the dressing room. That was the first of many embarrassing incidents that I would experience because of my weight.

Nearly every moment of my life, I have had my weight on my mind. I have a journal that I would write in when I was upset that I started when I was 12 years old. Every single entry was centered around my weight. I still have that journal buried in my spare room and I pulled it out and started reading some of the entries. It is heartbreaking. I can still see where my tears smudged the ink in the journal.

As I re-read that journal, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sorrow. The saddest part was realizing how I am still dealing with the same issues and battling the same demons. I kept thinking that really, not that much has changed over the last 20 years. I still am bombarded by the negative thoughts that 12-year-old Jess was obsessed with. Before, I let that sorrow consume me, I realized that the one thing that has changed is my mind set.  I have learned a lot about how to combat those negative thoughts and I have found a way to be happy. There are so many things that I want to go back and tell myself. If I had known these things 20 year ago, I could have saved myself a lot of tears and heartache.

So, 12-year-old Jess, listen up! These pieces of advice will change your life!

There is no finish line

I am a repeat offender when it comes to weight loss. I have lost 60 plus pounds at least 4 times. Of course, each time I would “fall of the wagon” I would gain it all back plus some. Each time I would lose the weight I was just so focused on the end goal. That finish line. I thought if I could just reach that finish line, my life would be perfect. I could start living my life like all those skinny people that I have envied all my life. That is just not true. The biggest difference this time around is that I do not see this journey as a race to the finish.

I used to obsess over the number on the scale and spend hours staring at a calendar while crunching numbers. Calculating how much weight I would have to lose each week to reach goal in a year. Or calculating how much I will weigh by my summer vacation if I lose 2 lbs. a week- you name the scenario- I would have calculated it. Then the second I fell behind on the weight loss schedule,  I felt so defeated. Now, my mind set has shifted, I no longer focus on timelines or finish lines. I focus on day by day- I am no longer looking for the end, because I know there is no end. I will continue this journey, no matter how long it takes, this is for life.  Which brings me to my next point.

This will be a life long struggle and that is okay.

My weight problem will never be “cured”. I now know that this will be something that I will struggle with my whole life. Occasionally, I will long for something from my “old life”, feeling sorry for myself, that I will never again be able to eat an entire pizza without thinking twice.  My Weight Watchers leader, Karen, once said something that has stuck with me. She said, “Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. Pick your hard.” I would prefer the struggle to maintain my weight over the struggle that I had everyday when I was severely overweight.

I know that I need to actively work on maintaining my weight loss for the rest of my life. I am committed to going to Weight Watchers meetings for the rest of my life. 95 year-old me will be attending a weekly meeting. Like I said, I have lost weight in the past, but I always gained it back plus 40, 50 or even 100 lbs.  I am still about 40 lbs. off of my lowest adult weight, but I feel like I am so much father ahead mentally than I have ever been before.

Learn to love yourself

This sounds so cliché, but it is so true. If you do not love yourself, no one else will. I will not wait until I hit a certain number on the scale to start liking who I am- loving yourself, flaws and all, it a big part of success. For me, getting healthy is the ultimate act of self-love. I am creating a life that I am worthy of. No more hiding in the corner or sleeping through the weekend- I love myself too much to do those kinds of things anymore.

Self-love doesn’t come easy. Especially, when your brain is programmed to fixate on every little flaw and compare yourself to others. Many of the things that I would say to myself were so unkind, I would never ever in a million years say something like that to someone else, so why is it okay to say it to myself? It’s not. Speak kindly to yourself and you can slowly start to change the conversations in your head to thoughts of love and appreciation.

Don’t worry so much about that everyone else thinks

It is hard to not let it bother you, when you are out walking in your neighborhood and the people in the car driving by take the time to roll down their window to oink at you. Sadly, that has really happened to me-more than once (I got mooed at in the mall too). Those kinds of things used to crush me- I would spend days or weeks reliving the moment over and over in my head.  I would obsess over what I could have done differently to prevent the incident. Thinking things like, it’s my fault for trying to exercise out in public, no one wants to see that.

With age, comes some wisdom and I now know that the problem is not with me. Those people have some serious issues, if they take the time to be-little another human like that. Although, it is very difficult to ignore, life is too short to let those kinds of things bother me.

I was out running in my neighborhood just a few weeks ago and I few teenagers drove past me, rolled down the window and yelled, “run, piggy”, and started oinking.  As soon as that happened, I felt that pit in my stomach, you know the one that comes only with the deepest sorrow.  But this time, that sadness only lasted for a few seconds, instead, I started getting really ticked off. I am out running, so obviously, I am trying to better my health. By the time I was done with my run, I had decided that I really don’t care what those people think, I am not doing this for them, I am doing it for me.

There are many more incidence that are not quite as dramatic where I let the fear of judgement stop me from doing something that I wanted to do. The point is, live your life for yourself, not to please other people.

 

You are not alone

At the time, I felt so alone. I felt Like nobody could possibly understand what I was going through. In fact, in several journal entries I write that exact thing. I wrote this in the journal at 13, “Nobody will understand. I can’t talk to my parents or a counselor or anybody. Nobody will understand. I am not normal. Why can’t I  just be normal?” As, I got older and gained the confidence to share my story with other people. I quickly found out that I was wrong. There are tons of people that have the same thoughts and struggles as I do- it’s just that no one wants to share it. My Weight Watchers meetings have transformed my life, because there are so many people in that room that struggle with the exact same things I do. I am not alone.

I by no means have it all figured out. And I don’t want to come across like I have all the answers, because I don’t- not even close. I just know it has taken me a really long time to get where I am today, and it would be selfish of me not to share some of the big lessons that took me 31 years to figure out.

I must admit that re-reading that journal was hard.  As I read that journal tonight, tears streaming down my face- I thought, there is no way that I can share this. Re-living all that pain was, well, painful. No one, not my husband, not my best friends, not my mom, has ever seen the contents of this journal. I always hid how much my weight consumed my every thought. What I have written, will shock many people who are close to me. I was a master at pretending that everything was fine- just smile and nobody will know. But you know what, everything wasn’t fine and that is okay. My hope is by sharing my story, I can help someone like the 12-year old me, figure out a few of these things with a little more ease and with less heartache and scars.

Want to know more about my journey? Check it out here!

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Homemade Pumpkin Oat Dog Treats

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Ever since I could hold a spoon, I loved getting creative in the kitchen. Growing up, as one of our weekly chores each of the kids had to plan and cook a dinner for the family. My brothers would always make the fastest, easiest meals they could think of, so we had spaghetti at least once a week. I, on the other hand, never made the same thing twice. I was always trying new, complex recipes. My Mom would call be the Swedish Chef, because every time she would walk in the kitchen she would be met with a cloud of flour and little Jessica wildly throwing ingredients around.  My heart has always belonged to baking.

I love to bake!

The problem is that I also love to eat what I make. I have never been the kind of person that can eat one cookie and be satisfied. Meaning, after I taste test one cookie- several more usually follow. This doesn’t even include all the beaters that are licked and raw cookie dough tested along the way. Once I started my weight loss journey, I felt like I couldn’t bake like I used to and stay in control. This was hard for me, because baking is one of my creative outlets.

I wasn’t willing to give up my baking, so  I thought of a creative alternative, combining my love for baking and my slight obsession with my dogs. Now, when I get the urge to bake, I make treats for my furry friends, rather than my human friends. By making dog treats, there is absolutely no temptation to lick the bowl or taste test the final product.

Pleasing a Picky Pooch!

My pup Charlie has always been really picky when it comes to dog treats. I have spent so much money trying different store bought dog treats for him, almost all of them end up in the trash can. He is actually really polite about rejecting the treats. He will take the dog treat, pretend to chew it, leave the room, then politely spit it out when he thinks you’re not looking. Whenever I would take him to the pet store with me, the cashier always asks if they can give him a treat. I always reply with, “You can try.” And without fail, he politely takes the treat, but as soon as we get out to the parking lot, the treat is spit out on the sidewalk.

With such a picky dog, who I will go to extraordinary measures to please, I have made hundreds of dog treats trying to find the perfect recipe for Charlie. Through lots of experimenting, I have created recipes for treats that are Charlie dog approved. My other dog, Ella, joined our family a few years ago and she is the opposite of Charlie- she will eat anything and everything that you put in front of her. She loves my homemade treats too, but then again she loves everything.

Not, only are the treats delicious (at least that’s what my dogs tell me), they are also better for your dogs and better for the environment. Skipping all the chemicals and the plastic packaging is a win-win. Both your dogs and Mother Nature will thank you.

Charlie’s Favorite Recipe

Today, I am going to share with you Charlie’s favorite Pumpkin treat. This was the original recipe that I created and has been the basis for all my other puppy creations.

This recipe is so quick and easy to make, you can have a whole batch done in the time it would take you to go out to the store and buy a bag!

I start by mixing together ½ a cup of pumpkin puree with an egg. I then add in 2 Tablespoons of dry milk power.

To that mixture I add in 2 cups of oat flour. I read somewhere that dogs have a hard time digesting regular flour, so I always use oat flour. You can buy oat flour at a grocery store, or you can make your own. Oat flour can be pricy, so I usually just put regular oats in a coffee grinder and grind it up, until it is a flour consistency. It take a little time, but I have been know to go to extreme measures to save a few dollars.

You may have to add more or less of the oat flour to get the right consistency with the dough. It needs to be able to be rolled out and stay together without being too sticky. Then, all you need to do is roll out the dough and cut out the treats! Of course, I have a plethora of dog themed cookie cutters that I use, but any cookie cutter will work. I found most of my cookie cutters online, it just make it a little bit more fun!

 

 You can also just use a knife and cut it into squares, although I think the cuter the cookie cutter, the better the treat tastes.

Put the treats in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.  I bake them for 15-20 min, but my pup doesn’t like anything crunchy. If your dog likes crunchy treats you an keep them in for a few more minutes.

Once the treats come out of the oven, make sure that they cool completely before you package them. If you put them in a container when they are still warm, your treats will grow mold quickly. I keep my treats in a mason jar, in my fridge. They will keep on the counter for about a week, but will keep for 2 weeks plus in the fridge.

Now, it Is time to make your doggie’s day! I promise, they will love these treats! Even my picky eater gobbles them up! My cat Carlton has even been know to beg for these treats- they are that good!

You can create so many different variations of this recipe. I have made peanut butter, peanut butter bacon, sweet potato, blueberry, apple and carrot- the list can go on and on. Get creative and share your recipes with me!

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Print Recipe
Pumpkin Oat Dog Treats
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
small treats
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min
Servings
small treats
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl mix together pumpkin pure and egg, until well combined. Stir in the dry milk powder.
  3. Add in the oat flour. Knead the mixture until the dough comes together. Add more oat flour if the dough is too sticky to roll out.
  4. On a clean, dry work surface roll out the dough using a rolling pin. Add flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter or rolling pin.
  5. Cut out desired shapes and place on a baking sheet. Bake the treats for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Let the treats control completely before storing in an airtight container.

Love Makes My Waist Go Down

 

I am so fortunate to be surrounded my A LOT of love. If I really break it down, love is the number one reason for my weight loss success.

My husband is my number one supporter.

He loves me unconditionally. I joke with him, that he is the reason that I got so fat, because he would love no matter what I looked like. It’s true too, he looked at me the same way 112lbs ago, as he does today. There is something comforting about knowing that no matter what happens, there will be someone standing next to you- sometimes holding you up, if you cannot stand yourself. I’m sorry, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I have to get a little gushy!

When I joined Weight Watchers, I joined by myself. At the time, my husband, Dan, had just graduated college and was only working part time- looking for a full time job. Since he had more free time than I did, he did a lot to set me up to be successful. He would cook dinner every night, making Weight Watchers friendly recipes for me, would menu plan and do the grocery shopping.  He had not joined weight watchers yet, but just by eating the meals he made for me and not keeping junk food in the house, he lost 15 lbs. I encouraged him to join Weight Watchers with me, and he did. He later told me that he never really wanted to join, but he did it for me. Him joining with me has made all the difference. He goes to meetings with me, we can talk about our struggles, our joys and I really feel like I have a partner on this journey. He is even making my dreams of becoming a Weight Watchers Power Couple come true. Together we have lost 187 lbs.

 In one of my meetings, I was sharing about how Dan cooked dinner most nights. The next person who shared said, “Well, I don’t have a Dan, so this is what I do….” I know, not everyone is lucky enough to have a Dan, but love and support can come in many forms.

My Weight Watchers Family

As, I said, when I first joined Weight Watchers, I joined by myself. My first few meetings, I was completely silent. I soon found that the love and support in that room was incredible. Everyone in my meeting genuinely wanted each of us to be successful and would encourage and inspire all the people in the room. I soon, got up the courage to share and now they can’t get me to shut up! At my meeting last week, someone said that something I shared a few weeks ago had inspired them to be successful while they were out of town. When she said that, my heart was so full, I thought it might explode. I am overjoyed, that I am able to give some inspiration back to all those who have encouraged and inspired me! The people in that room were strangers just a few months ago, but now are pillar of strength for me!

Family and Friends

My family and friends are another source of love that has helped me thrive. I sometimes take for granted the wonderful childhood that I had. I make the assumption that everyone had the joyful, carefree household that I had. Now that I am an adult, I see that not everyone was that fortunate, and my parents made a lot of sacrifices to make my life what it is today. My family’s love has made all the difference on this journey.

Can I also say, I have the best friends. My friendship philosophy is quality over quantity. I have a few, close friends, but man are they the awesome. I can share anything with them, and I do. Every gory detail of my weight loss journey. The tears, the joys, the non-scale victories. When I got on a plane a few months ago and didn’t have to ask for a seat belt extender, I barely got the seat belt buckled before I sent a group text. My victories are their victories!

Nothing Beats Dog Love!

Love can take all forms. In my house the biggest source of love comes in the form of a golden retriever. Ella is my love guru, I only hope one day to love as fully and completely as that dog does. All of my animals show me love and affection, but Ella is a concentrated ball comprised of nothing but fur and love. You know that scene from Anchorman where Brick yells, “I love lamp!”? Well, Ella really does love lamp! She loves everything. My doggies, don’t care about what I look like, they love me no matter what. I must say, that they do give me motivation to exercise, because they LOVE going on walks. I lost my first 80 lbs., doing no exercise other than walking my dogs 30 min a day. Now whenever I put my gym shoes on, the dogs start going crazy, assuming that every time I put on those shoes it must mean we are going on a W-A-L-K. I would never want to disappoint them, so I rarely miss a day taking them on a walk.

Self- Love

This last one is the most important, but also the hardest: Self Love. A big part of this journey is combating the negative thoughts that fly through your head. Being overweight, I would spend a lot of time looking in the mirror hating what I saw. I was embarrassed. How could I let it get this bad? I am still not where I want to be, but I don’t want to wait until I reach a certain number on the scale to accept myself. I have to love myself at every stage of this journey, or I will never make it. Loving and forgiving yourself is so important. You can have all the love and support in the world, but if you don’t love yourself nothing will happen. This has been hard for me. My brain has been programmed for years to zero in on my flaws and obsess over them. I have to be intentional every day to think positive thoughts about myself.  Every morning, in my planner, I write 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things that I love about myself. It helps set my day off right! So love yourself, because you’re worth it!

Many have been searching for centuries, but I have found it! The secret to weight loss: LOVE! So go forth and love- your waist will thank you for it!

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5 Ways to Take Control of Your Weight Loss In Uncontrollable Environments

Full disclosure: This is my weakness. I have always struggled when I have to rely on my own self-control, especially when it comes to food.   I have my perfect bubble of control at home keeping none of my “trigger foods” within reach. However, the second that I leave that bubble and food appears, I eat like I will never see food again. I have never been the kind of person that can eat a few bites then put it down, I always finish everything on my plate- even if I don’t like it. I still have not been able to find my stop button, it just doesn’t exist. That being said. I am working on it, and I have made progress.

Last week, I was put to the test. I had to go out of town for a work conference.  This means, tiny hotel fridge, no kitchen and many meals that were completely out of my control. My comfy bubble of control was going to be popped. I was complaining to my husband, letting the negative self-talk creep back in. Saying things like, I can’t do this, I always fail in situations like this and on and on. Then he said something that snapped me out of it. He said, “You have accomplished so much, just think of this as a great opportunity to try and conquer this weakness.” He was right. SO far, I have done many things that I never thought I could, this is just another challenge.

So I decided to use this opportunity to document my challenges and hopefully have a success story at the end of the week.  Also hopeful that documenting my week on here would help keep me accountable and drive me to succeed.

Instead of dwelling on the things that would be out of my control this week, I focused on what I did have control over.

  1. Plan

I planned as much as I could. I knew there were a few things that I knew were coming so I made a plan. Lunch on the plane, breakfast and served meals were 3 things I knew I had to plan for. My flight was leaving around lunch time, so I knew airport food would be my first hurdle. Knowing this, I decided to pack a lunch that I could eat on the plane. I didn’t pack anything fancy; a ham and cheese wrap, a few cheese sticks and some fruit and veggies.

It was just enough to keep me from buying airport food. I was also able to say no to the airplane snacks because I was already munching on carrots. Next was breakfast, I planned to skip the continental breakfast each morning and eat in my room. This would give me a few more minutes to sleep in, and keep me away from the plethora of donuts and pastries that I knew would be served. I also stashed a few snacks in my purse to help me last through the day without being tempted by the snacks that were scattered around everywhere!

The final and most feared obstacle was served meals.  There were several meals that were supplied by the conference. These were plated meals that I did not get to order, so food literally just appeared in front of my face. As I stated earlier, I eat what is put in front of me, it takes a lot of control not to start stuffing my face. I know my weaknesses; carbs and desserts. Having attended this conference last year, I knew that each table would have baskets of bread and a variety of delicious looking desserts at each meal.

In the past, I have tried only having one piece of bread and one small dessert or promising myself I would just eat a few bites. That never works. I know these are trigger foods for me. If I start eating, I cannot stop. If I don’t even taste it, I have much more control. Know that, I planned on avoiding those things entirely. It worked! The bread basket was left untouched at each meal. The only bite of dessert I had was the raspberry on top of my mousse.

  1. Keep healthy options within reach

I know I do crazy, irrational things when I am hungry. I make poor decisions, so I knew I had to have healthy options close by in order to never let the hunger monster that lives within me escape. When I got to my hotel, I literally threw my suitcase in my room and immediately went down to talk with the concierge to find the closest grocery store. I grabbed some reusable grocery bags (I packed a few know I was going to go to a grocery store) and walked to the Safeway down the street. There I loaded up on healthy options.

That way the temptation to order pizza or Chinese food could be avoided. The vending machine also remained un-raided.

You could find a variety of snacks in my purse at any given moment during the week.  When I went through security at the airport on the way home they asked me to take out any food that I had in my carry-on and put it into one of those little plastic bins. My purse was like one of those bottomless clown bags, you know the ones where the clown keeps pulling out the most ridiculous things like a lamp or a live chicken or something. The look on the TSA lady’s face was priceless when I pulled out my 3 lb bag of clementines.  All my snacks made it through and I was set for the flight home.

  1. Exercise

Another thing that was totally within my control was my exercise. I visited the hotel gym every day and I sweated my butt off!

Not only did I do tons of cardio, I also utilized the weight room too. This might seem silly, but I conquered one of my gym fears while I was there too. The leg press machine they had at the hotel gym was completely different than the one at my gym at home- I could not figure it out. Normally, my social awkwardness and self-consciousness would cause me to run away and just avoid that machine. However, after staring at the diagram for a few minutes, I actually went and sought out someone that worked there and had them show me how to use the machine. I know this seems like no big deal, but that is a big deal for me. Just a few months ago, I wouldn’t even step foot in a gym, fearing judgement.  This is just another small victory that helps me gauge how far I have come.The gym also kept me busy. Instead of sitting in my room and mindlessly eating while watching food network, I was actually doing something.

  1. Accountability

I really think the key to keeping me on track last week, was that I knew I would be blogging about it. Just knowing that someone would be reading about my success (or failure) was enough to keep me motivated. You don’t have to publish a blog post to stay accountable, but you can let someone know about your plans. Ask them to call or text you to check on your progress.

I am really lucky because I have an awesome support system. My husband is on weight watchers too so he understands a lot of my struggles. He is so supportive and we hold each other accountable. My Weight Watchers family is another source of accountability. I share a lot in my meeting- if I tell the people in my meeting my plans, they will ask me about it the next week. This gives me the accountability I need to be successful.

  1. Forgive yourself and move on

Let’s face it, sometimes despite all your effort, you slip up (probably more than once). Once you lose control (because it will happen at some point), it is important to forgive yourself and move on. It sounds simple, but can be one of the hardest things to do!

Like many others, I have tried to lose weight countless times in the past, so I have made every mistake in the book. One of the things I always struggled with was when I made a mistake, I would spend hours or days beating myself up about it.  Many times, one small slip would turn into a steep slide. The thought process was, well I already messed up, I’ll just eat what I want today and get back on the wagon tomorrow. Too many times, tomorrow turns into next week or next month or after the holidays etc. We all know how that ends. This time around on my journey, I have been working really had to not let one tiny mistake balloon into a much bigger problem.

Last year at this conference I had just started weight watchers again for the millionth time and I have all kind of plans to be successful. I did many of the things that I did this year, like going to a grocery store to get healthy foods and going to the gym every evening. I was doing great, until the last night at a networking reception. They were just serving appetizers so I foolishly though I could go and not have anything and get dinner afterwards.

The one thing I didn’t plan on was the make your own chili cheese fry station. Nothing is better than that ooey gooey cheese over perfectly golden fried potato deliciousness. I caved, I had a small plate of cheese fries. It really should not have been a big deal, but in my mind I was a failure. At this point I already though I failed, so why bother? I made a trip to the slider bar then the dessert station. Each trip through the line I hated myself more and more, but I couldn’t stop. By the time I got back to my hotel room I was wallowing in self-pity and disgust.

What do I do when I feel this way? I eat. So I ordered Chinese food and I’m not talking about chicken and steamed broccoli- I ordered enough for a family of 4. Well, surprise, surprise at my weigh in that Saturday I had gained 4 lbs. I let one small plate of cheese fries turn into a full blown crisis.  This overshadowed all my hard work earlier in the week. Had I just forgiven myself for eating a few fries, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache. This year, I had a whole year of mistakes under my belt and I was able to stay in control all week.

I’m not saying this past week was easy, I worked really hard to keep myself on track, but I did it! I came home on Friday night and my weigh in was Saturday morning. -2.8 lbs. for the week!

Different things work for different people. I know someone that keeps M&M’s in her desk and eats 5 at a time to satisfy her chocolate craving. A  bag can last over a week. That works for her, but would never work for me. I know because I have tried it and failed big time.  A big part of this journey is failing over and over again. The key is to learn from your mistakes and never stop trying.

I want to know what works for you. What are some strategies that you use to take control? What is something that is hard for you to take control of on your journey? Maybe we can help give you some suggestions!

Interested in hearing more about my journey? Find more here!

My Journey

I am on a journey to finding joy and purpose through weight loss and green living.  Although, a lot of progress has been made, my journey is just beginning.  I do not think there will ever be a time where I can say I have “arrived”.  However, over the last year there have been  many lessons learned the hard way. My weight loss journey has not been easy, and I still struggle with it everyday. I want to share some of my experiences in the hopes I may help make someone else’s journey a little easier.

The Dark Days.

A few years ago I was miserable. I had a mega stressful job that I hated, I was morbidly obese, and my family life was a mess due to health issues and other really heavy things that no 20 something should ever have to deal with. Basically, I lived my life with a storm cloud hovering over my head. I wanted so desperately to be happy, but no matter what I did, I could not pull myself out of my own self-pity long enough to get my life together. I remember sitting at my computer googling ‘how to be happy’ in some desperate attempt to find the quick fix to happiness that you could order on Amazon. Spoiler Alert: That quick fix doesn’t exist.

Emerging from the darkness.

Then something happened, I just decided one day that I had enough. I was tired of being miserable and I decided to do something about it. I took control of my life. It took getting a new job, getting help for my anxiety/depression, and joining weight watchers. I started seeing the life I had always imagined somewhere at the end of that dark tunnel.

So far, through this journey I have been able to lose 110 lbs (and counting- halfway to goal!) and discover one of my passions – living a greener life.  As an overweight, over stressed person diagnosed with anxiety and depression I had no energy to do anything. I would come home from work and lay down on the couch and watch TV, only getting up to eat. My weekends would consist of sleeping in until noon, eating and napping. As the stress began to disappear and the weight started coming off, I suddenly found myself with more energy.

My “old life” was all about convenience, fast food, prepackaged foods anything that would make me expend as little energy as possible. When I joined weight watchers, my family started making all of our meals and planning out all of our food. Fresh fruit and vegetables became a staple in my diet.

Finding my passion.

When spring came, I decided to try my hand at growing my own fresh produce. I fell in love with gardening! Growing my own food is so satisfying!

This re-ignited my passion for nature and all things eco-friendly. I have always been interested in environmental issues, but I never had the motivation to really follow through with living an eco-friendly life. I would recycle, when it was convenient, but I never really went out of my way to reduce my environmental impact. Watching the news and the current political climate, I realized that I could no longer ignore the problem. I was waiting for big changes to happen from up top, and after the election, I knew that was not going to happen. So I started with the only thing I could control: my own actions. The changes started small. Using reusable shopping bags, skipping Ziploc bags and ending my relationship with plastic straws (this was hard, I loved my straws!!).

I  started thinking about what I consumed and once I realized how much waste (especially plastic) I produced, it was hard to go back. With my new found energy I started getting creative. I experimented with things I could make at home. I started sewing reusable sandwich bags, making my own bread and laundry detergent. Not only was it fun making things, I was saving money and the planet too! I still have a lot to learn about reducing my environmental impact, but I think just being aware of impact is the first step. I am by no means perfect but I am trying!

My weight loss goals and environmental goals may seem quite different, but I think that these are parallel journeys. I really think that losing weight has allowed me to focus on my passions rather than just surviving through the day. My hope is that we can learn from each other

Want to know more about me? Take a look at my page About Me page!