Friday, March 16, 2012

I've been asked how to melt fat!

I did a review yesterday at PR on a holiday dress I finished two weeks ago. Yes, a dress that was supposed to be done 4 mos. ago finally got finished. Typical of my sewing, stopping, starting, stopping, sewing activities. However, it was kind of a good thing, and I'm happy to tell you a little story as to why.

My younger daughter hurt her back about 18 mos. ago in a softball game. After $8,000 of medical tests over 6 months (mostly covered, thankfully), my friend recommended she see her certified massage therapist. Best decision we ever made. The CMT got her back to playing in two months with no pain. That's another post altogether though. However, during that time my husband and I did a lot of research on the Internet. One of the things I wanted her to do (with doctor's permission) was to increase her core strength via Pilates. We found , and the great, online Pilates instructor, Cassey Ho! Cassey is amazing. She has a full selection of free exercise videos and is quite the motivator.

Here she is! Cassey Ho--a great, online Pilates instructor and fitness guru:

Last summer/fall, she developed a 12-week Eating Challenge to drop fat and get in shape. It was based off of a bodybuilder's cutting diet and Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Principles. It sounded like something I wanted to do. I was one of the those women who would listen to other women 10-20 years older than me talk about how hard it was to lose weight or keep off weight after 40. I smugly resolved that would never happen to me. After all, I watched what I ate and have worked out religiously at the gym for the past 15 years.

Cassey also mentioned that our physique is 80% what we eat, 10% exercise, and 10% genetics. That was hard for me to believe. Very hard. However, I am a convert to this philosophy. As in, "Abs are made in the kitchen and revealed in the gym."

Here's my other motivator and fitness/nutrition guru/author, Tosca Reno of the Eat Clean Diet:

Unfortunately, I ended up eating crow. Between the ages of 41 and 45, my waist was expanding about 3/4" year. Last November I put on my leather skirt for a church event and was wowing at my expanding waistline. The thighs on my jeans were a little snug as well, but my problem area has always been my tummy. Not the ideal place to gain weight either because excess abdominal fat is a heart health risk factor. My waist-to-hip ratio actually put me in the moderate risk group for heart disease. It stinks being an apple shape.

I knew I was going to commit to doing the 12-week Challenge after the New Year, however, I decided to get a 3-week pre-Christmas jump start. I put the meal plan challenge into gear on December 1 until December 23. This kept me away from Christmas goodies and sweets until Christmas week. Pounds lost? Not exactly sure because I don't own a scale but think it was about 6. Things were getting loose! It was working.

Christmas Week is the one week out of the year I don't worry about what I eat. Yeah, I may gain 5 lbs., but it is lost in January. By January 3, the day the kids went back to school, I was SO ready to do the 12-week Challenge. Fast forward to today, March 16, and I'm 10-weeks into the challenge and 11 lbs. lighter. I've lost 3.5" off my problem area waist, about an 1" off each thigh, and 1.5" off my hips. I'm very close to my high school/college weight. The main reason why I'm doing the challenge is for health, not to lose weight per se. My waist-to-hip ratio is back in the low risk zone.

Now, a little bit about this 12-week Challenge. 2 1/2 years ago the trainer at my gym did my fit recheck. We get an annual free evaluation for our birthday every year so that is a nice program. We talked about my typical gym routine, and he inquired about my eating and hydration habits. I used to be a 3 square meal/day eater with no snacks/no desserts 6 days/week with one day off. My beverage preference was one diet soda/day, flavored seltzer, and two cups of half caf coffee. He wanted me to switch to 6 small meals. I flat out told him no--I wasn't going to be thinking about eating all day. And one diet soda/day was my vice. Wasn't giving it up. Ditto with the water and coffee.

3 mos. later I was involved in a car accident and lost all taste for coffee. My chiro implored me to get the artificial sweeteners out of my diet and give up soda and seltzer. Just opt for plain old water with a twist of lemon or something. I didn't think it could be done permanently, but did it for a week. And then two weeks. Then a month. Then a year. Now it's two years! Giving up diet soda has been one of the hardest things to give up. Trust me, it's like an addiction. But I did it!!! I've made the switch to Stevia as well. I'm not going to say I never consume artifical sweeteners anymore, but they've been cut out of 95% of my diet. My taste for coffee has come back about 70%, but then made the switch to decaf, then to herbal green tea. Too much caffeine will cause me cystic acne grief and the decaf process always has me wondering. Green tea is a healthy drink so that's what I've been consuming.

A bit about the 12-week Challenge. It is 6 small meals/day with very good ratios of protein/fats/carbs. I was not hungry on it, still am not. One is supposed to consume lots of water and eat every 2-3 hours. This took some getting used to. After 20 years of eating 3 meals/day, it's not easy make the switch to 6. It's somewhat restrictive too. But my goal by doing this was to reteach my body to accept the 6 small meals/day with proper ratios. By keeping blood sugar levels even throughout the day, it reduced my cravings and "crashes" when I felt tired, especially mid morning and mid afternoon.

The problem some will find with the plan is that it IS restrictive. But I've learned to adapt and have made adjustments to help me transition from the 12-week Challenge to a new, long-term daily eating plan. How did I do this? I discovered Tosca Reno! As in and . She is an amazing inspiration. The Eat Clean Diet is a lifetime plan. It is sound and healthy. I've made plenty of meal and snack time adjustments during the second half of the plan to help me formulate a transition to the Clean Eating lifestyle once the 12-week Challenge is over. Both are actually similar, but I need to increase my daily calorie count to maintain my desired weight.

A few things I've learned from the program. My body can lose a tremendous amount of body fat by reducing my caloric consumption to 1550-1600 calories/day and keeping my blood sugar stable. Note: I do NOT have any problems with my blood sugar. My basal metablic rate for calories/day is about 1350. My active metabolic rate for calories is about 2000. (Based on my age, activity level, and desired weight.) Based on this info, I should never go below 1350 (nor would I want to), but should consume about 2000 calories/day to maintain my weight.

I've learned a lot about sugar (Tosca considers it to be legal "cocaine") and portion sizing. Over the past 10 weeks, I've pretty much been no flour/no sugar (sounds like Dr. Gott's plan, right?) and eating very healthful foods. As in clean eating. What Tosca recommends. Can I still satisfy my sweet tooth? Absolutely. However, now I do it cleaner and healthier. I do have a few favorite recipes I'll share in a future post including a no-mayo egg salad, protein balls, oat balls, chicken nuggets, pumpkin pancakes, healthy pizza, avocado sauce, no calorie/no carb noodles, faux mashed potatoes...all made with no flour and no sugar. And best of all, I think their delicious! Several of them have passed the taste bud test of my picky, 12-year old boy.

So, I just want to post about my eating plan and how fat melted off my body in all the right places. It was rare that I was ever hungry (usually if I didn't get enough sleep), and I feel better than ever. I'm not getting the annoying tired crashes during the day and feel alert and energetic. One note that must be made is I do work out regularly 5-7 days/week and have been doing so for 15 years. I weightlift 3/days week, and abs and cardio 5-7 days/week. This was probably one reason why the fat melted off quickly at my age--solid muscle mass and fat-burning exercise intensity--in addition to the meal plan.

But anyway, I have my waistline back. My clothes fit great. And I wanted to let people know how I did it and will easily be able to maintain it. A program like this does take planning, but it does NOT take a lot of extra time. Many things can be made in advance and pulled out of the fridge or freezer for very quickk prep or a grab-and-go. I've read comments about how people can't be making two meals at dinner for themselves and their family. I completely understand as I have four kids and a husband to prepare food for, but I make things in bulk once or twice a week for myself and my daughter (she's an athlete and modifies the plan for healthy eating and energy). In fact, keeping our food supply in stock can be a tough feat when my other kids hunt down my healthy options :) !

So in a future post, I'll include some of my favorite food items and recipes that work with my new program. Including tonight's meatless fave of Healthy Pizza. Right now I'm off to make the healthy, no-flour, personal crusts and the pumpkin protein pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast. Yum!

Stay healthy and eat clean and delicious! If you're interested in retraining your eating habits and develop a healthy body, look into Cassey's 90-Day Challenge. And, of course, visit Tosca's website to help with a permanent change to the Clean Eating lifestyle. NAYY.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why do I always do this???

This is a boring post. Just a rant. No pics. No need to read any further if you're looking for something remotely interesting.

Just wondering why I always make clothes for my oldest daughter, send them off with her, and never take a pic of the project first? It happens a lot! Like this past weekend. She came home from college, and we were headed out for grocery shopping. She asked her sister if she could borrow a sweatshirt, but I said there was no need to because her finished black, fleece jacket was hanging in the closet.

It looked great on her with her jeans and black boots. I was proud of my project, and that she liked it. She did mention the identical grey jacket I sent to her last month got her lots of compliments by her friends. Anyway, I drove her back to college AND NEVER TOOK A PIC OF HER IN THE JACKET!

Dummy me. Now I'm going to have to beg her for a pic lol. And her phone doesn't always take the best of pics either. Might as well wait until May.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Suddenly popular again!

2012 is well underway, and let me tell you, it's going to be the year of challenges.

Two of my projects just got finished, a jacket for DD#1 and a UFO holiday dress that has been sitting in my sewing cart since December. There are a slew of projects in my queue as well.

Why the sudden increase? Because I'm popular again! Years ago I did lots of sewing for my girls when they were toddlers up to the pre-teen years. Then RTW snobbery hit. Anything that didn't have "Aeropostale" or "Abercrombie & Fitch" was not cool to wear. Label status had taken over their lives.

And now? DD#1 is 20. She is discovering that being unique is special again. I've just finished her jacket, drycleaned some material for a coat for her, and she sent me yet another request for a dress. DD#2 is no different. She's a high school senior who has put in a request for 3 dresses, a suit for an FBLA competition, and at least 2 pairs of jeans. She tried on my jeans, liked them, and is going to pick out some denim for hers. We went to a JoAnn fabrics in Wilkes-Barre, and she couldn't believe the huge stock of denim from which she could pick fabric. Currently I'm on dress 1 of 3 for her.

Which brings me to the fact that 2012 will be the year of sewing challenges. My girls can't just pick a pattern and say, "I want that!" They tell me, I want "this collar" with "that front" among many other design changes. They don't make it easy for me. Like DD#2's current dress. She only likes the top part of the dress. So I have to redesign the bottom 2/3rds.

It has never been easy with them lol. This was DD#1 AND DD#2's latest request:

Both want that dress. See what I mean? It's not just a pattern style I've seen. (The closest I can find is a KS lingerie pattern so maybe I'll use that but I think it had seamed cups.) It's kind of like a bustier, but really a bra in a bustier with a simple skirt piece. I can do this, but it's going to take time. And I'd really like to locate bra cups that would be perfect for this style. If I do a seamed cup, it's going to have to be covered with a stretch fabric. Will look at Bramaker's Supply and Sew Sassy a bit more to mull over what to do. This is a typical request from them. Busy, busy, busy with sewing challenges for 2012.

And our famous family phrase, "What about ME?!?!" Yeah, what about me lol. I'm just hoping to pull off a swimsuit for the PR Swimsuit competition by the end of the month. I love making swimsuits, so I hope there will be time in myschedule to get it done. And speaking of swimsuits, I'll be happy to model them :) . I created my own somewhat healthy eating plan when I was about 25. Ditto with exercise. The problem was my age caught up with my eating plan! When I turned 41 or 42, my waist started growing each year. This year I said enough is enough. My eating plan has changed courtesy of Cassey Ho of and Tosca Reno, author of the Eat Clean book series and . Currently I'm doing Cassey's 12-week Clean Eating challenge and will tweak it when I'm done to Tosca Reno's Eat Clean program.

The results since January 3...I've lost 3.5 inches of my waist, 1.5" off my hips, and an inch of my thighs. 10 lbs of fat has melted off my body, mostly from my troublesome tummy. Admittedly, I'm also a gym enthusiast who regularly pumps iron and does cardio most days of the week so that does help with fat melt. However, Cassey once posted a saying and I believe it: Abs are made in the kitchen, and revealed in the gym. Definitely! She mentioned in one of her posts that a person's physique is 80% diet, 10% exercise, and 10% genetics. Initially, I scoffed at that comment but am eating crow. I have changed nothing about my day, nothing with my gym workouts, except have cleaned up my eating with a new 6 small meal/day plan. It has worked for me. I have abs again :) .

So here I come future swimsuit! I can actually model you proudly :) . That is, if I can actually get time to make you.