Feature Friday: Healthy Living

Today’s Blog is written by my sister Josie.

I want to give a few personal tips for maintaining a healthy weight and losing weight. I am at a weight right now that I like and feel good about but this hasn’t always been the case. I usually judge my weight based on how I feel in my clothes and not so much on what the scale says. However, just like most women I know, including myself, we go through seasons where we put on weight and lose weight. My hope now is for maintaining my weight. I am not an expert on the subject but I have some things that work for me and wanted to share how I have been able to achieve weight loss success.

I went through some emotional things in my early 20’s which ended up effecting my physical body. I gained weight and ended up weighing a little over 30lbs more than I should have and was used to. Once I was back where I needed to be emotionally I realized I needed to do something about my weight and began a journey on becoming healthier. I will share a few of the things that started my weight loss and things that I use to this day; close to ten years later.

The following picture is the best before picture that I am willing to share and at this point I had already begun to lose weight.

Heavier side of Me: 2006

My First Weight Loss Accomplishment

I began to drink more water than any other beverage. It was a big deal for me because I LOVE  my sweet tea and at the time I had a pretty strong attachment to Mountain Dew and coffee. I stopped drinking soda altogether and began to limit the amount of sweet tea and coffee that I drank. I think it is best to make small changes because they are more likely to stick if you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself. When I first stopped drinking my sugar filled coffee and soda I lost 10 lbs in just a few weeks. That jump-started the rest of the changes I made because I began to feel better and it motivated me to make better choices. I still drink water more than any other beverage but when I do want coffee or the occasional soda, I limit the amount and add it into my calorie count for the day. This leads me to my next point.

Second Important Key to Weight Loss

I count my calories. When I first stared counting calories I wrote everything down that I ate to keep track but after a while it just became second nature. Now I know the calorie count for most of the foods I love to eat and can keep track mentally. I have a resource that I use and recommend that will calculate what amount of calories you should have in a day if you want to lose, maintain, or even gain weight based on your age, height, and activity level. I love this tool and especially the zig-zag feature. It will allow me to eat different amount of calories each day which will prevent my body from reaching any plateaus. I limit the amount of sweets and carbs I eat and drink but do not cut anything completely out. I believe in moderation for all things and portion control versus deprivation. I heard a tip from a nutritionist in the past who said it’s okay to have 200 “cheat” calories each day. I also have 1 “cheat” day per week to keep myself motivated. But even on that day I don’t eat everything I see, just the things that I normally don’t eat like pizza or brownies I may indulge in on these days.

Calorie Resources

Resource for calculating calories needed: Calorie Counter

Also if you would rather not write down the calories, you may want to use an online app like:
My Fitness Pal.
This app is also available in the Android and Apple markets.

Food That Works for Me

As far as actual foods, one go to food that has helped me maintain and lose weight is soup. Campbell’s Soup has some pretty healthy options available now and they carry some of my favorites like Healthy Request Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup. If I need to lose a couple pounds quickly or want to jump-start any weight loss I will replace one meal a day with one healthy soup and it has done wonders. I told my mom about doing this a couple years back to replace her meals at night because she had to eat late due to her work schedule and she lost 20 lbs in less than a month!

Important Weight Loss Element

Let me not forget to include adding some movement to your daily life. I started running a few years back and that was awesome for my body but I don’t do as much running now. I mainly walk and use Kettle Bells, which I can expound on more in another post. However, moving in some way is important to your overall health. Walking is awesome and will help you drop pounds if you add it to your diet changes. I would suggest getting a pedometer and keeping track of your steps. 10,000 is the recommended amount of steps you should take in a day. Add more steps and you’re doing even better.

Here is me before a run I completed in 2008.

July 2008

After 4 mile run!

July 2008 After 4 mile Run

I hope that what has worked for me in my journey to healthier living is helpful to someone else. Feel free to share anything you do that works for maintaining a healthy eating plan or let us know if you decide to make any of these changes.

This is me currently, in my maintaining phase.

Thanks for reading,


Throwback Thursday: Every Penny Counts

Growing up I was critical of my mom for how “stingy” she was with her money. I did not really understand the value of a dollar and I felt like she was too much of a penny pincher.

As a young person I felt a little embarrassed at times when mom would brag about finding shoes or a shirt for $1.

But now, as an adult, I have actually become a lot like her in her thriftiness and I have really started to value every single penny that I have.

Today, I visited the newest Dollar Tree store near my job during my lunch break. Upon returning to work I almost shouted from the rooftop about how impressed I was with their $1 items. I have been to Dollar stores before with food, but this one was converted from a restaurant so with all the space they were able to have a huge refrigerated/freezer section including frozen veggies and low calorie frozen meals. I was in a hurry so I haven’t done a full shopping trip there yet, but I foresee an upcoming blog post in which I describe a meal made using only items purchased from the Dollar Tree.

FYI, in case you didn’t know, if you are in need of a bulk order from Dollar Tree, you can order through their online store as well here: Dollar Tree.

Today my light bulb went off–about my childhood feelings of resentment–so I would like to publicly apologize to my mother. I forgive you for ordering for me from McDonalds’, the cheapest thing they had on the menu, before there was a dollar menu!! And I love you and your thriftiness. It has come in handy!


P.S. I have not received any compensation for being hyped about the Dollar Tree, although I would welcome a gift card to there (Hint Hint Dollar Tree).

Post Script: My mom won’t read this public apology, but I will read it to her! LOL

Tasty Tuesday: Olive Bar

One of my friends (Dana) wrote on her facebook page yesterday that she had a craving for olives. I find it a bit random, but it placed the thought in my mind and as I began to ponder the random thought, I began to want some olives for myself!

So on my lunch break as I went to pick up the sandwiches I ordered from Publix’s deli, I stopped by the Olive Bar.

What’s that you say? You don’t know what an olive bar is?

The Olive Bar is a mini, self-serve “salad bar.” The store charges by weight and everything in the Olive Bar is $7.99 per pound. For the amount of food I got, I paid $2.40.

Well here’s me scooping out some olives. The Olive bar was out of regular Kalamata Olives, which are my favorite, so I settled for the Mixed Greek Olives.

Mixed Greek Olives

I also decided to try something that I have never tried before. That was this pepper stuffed with feta cheese.

Sweet pepper with Feta Filling

The olives were great. The pepper, not so much. It was not feta cheese. I think it was gouda. And there was some type of meat. I took a bite, chewed it a while and then spit it out! It was pretty spicy as well, even though the label said “Sweet peppers.” Maybe the wrong label was on this one?

And here’s me posing at the checkout. I was in the “express lane” for a total of 20 minutes. I’m not complaining. But I try to enjoy myself as much as possible–especially when I feel inconvenienced.

And for those of you wondering, this was my trusty photographer for the day.

Dallas the Photographer