Category Archives: Motivation

To someone who feels like giving up…

Dear Friend,

You’re working so hard to reach a very difficult goal. You can’t just give something up and never use/eat/do it again. You have to conquer all of the reasons you’re here in the first place, and that is no easy task. Maybe you have a weakness for sweets or crave salty, crunch snacks. Maybe you despise exercise (um, guilty!) or lack the confidence to be the new/uncoordinated/out of shape/downright clumsy (um, again… me) person in a gym full of toned gym rats. Maybe you have medical issues that make it difficult for you to take on new activity or maybe those medical issues greatly limit your dietary options. Maybe you’re so overwhelmed with your life that you can barely get through the day, let alone add something else into the mix.

And maybe you’re thinking you just can’t do this. Maybe you feel resigned. Maybe you think this is as good as it’s going to get. Maybe you think you don’t deserve to reach your goal. Maybe you think you’re not good enough or that it won’t matter anyway.

Well, I disagree! You CAN do this. Setting a weight goal can be helpful, but remember that the most important thing is your health. How your body feels and what it can do for you, as well as numbers that actually show how your body is working (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.) means so much more than a number on a scale. It’s okay to sometimes feel down. It’s okay to wonder if you’re ever going to make it. For a little while. But then you have to get back on track, give yourself a pep talk, and be back on your way to reaching your goal.

I can’t really speak as someone who has reached her goal, because I haven’t. It is so hard! But, I keep trying. I plan meals, I try to make time for some exercise, and I try to remind myself daily that this isn’t just a diet. It’s not just trying to get to a goal weight. This is changing my lifestyle forever. This is how it’s going to be… FOREVER (dum dum DUM!!!!). I try to brush it off if I slip and indulge a little too much on the weekend. I try to remind myself that this is an overall thing and that the weekly weigh-ins are just a tool and not the only reflection of my efforts. Even though I’d love to look smokin’ in some outfit completely inappropriate for someone my age (Oh heck, I’ll probably wear that outfit at a party anyway and just embarrass myself…) and even though I’d be absolutely delighted to see a certain goal weight when I step on the scale, those aren’t the most important things. I want to be healthy. I want to know my insides are running as well as possible. I want to know that I’m giving my body the best shot possible to be here (and in good health!) when my little ones become big ones and have their own little ones.

Well, look at this… I started this as a response to a comment requesting a letter of encouragement for a friend. And then I started rambling. It happens. And I meant to craft it into something well-written and something very meaningful, but, well… Sometimes I get a bit impatient and now I’m ready to just click the “Post” button… So I’ll leave you with some links of encouragement!

Here’s some inspiration (click on the name for a link to the story and photos):

  • Dan went from 340 pounds to 182!
  • Jough went from 451 to 275 and is aiming to get to 200!
  • Jeffrey went from 425 to 175!
  • Stacy went from 245 to 145!
  • Ben went from 560 to 350 and is still going!
  • An inspiring weight loss video
  • Heather lost 157 pounds and is now trying to compete the Ironman competition!
  • Tammey went from 575 to 165!

To the unknown friend struggling out there, I hope you stick with it. I think you can do it. Be patient with yourself! And to anyone else, ditto! 🙂

Something for the weekend

I stumbled across the “Healthy Weight Conversation” activity on the Wellness site. It’s a little hokey, it does take a bit of time, but I think you could come away with something. Maybe you should do this as a pep talk to yourself for the weekend.

The conversation is basically stressing the importance of involving your brain in your weight loss goals. 🙂

Plus… you get a wellness credit for it!

It’s like this article was written just for me!

I was searching for weight loss motivation tips. I’ve fallen a bit off the wagon… We’re looking at house stuff, we have crazy rambunctious kids, etc., etc., etc. We can all come up with excuses. So, I was looking for something to get me back in the game, and came across this lovely article. It’s a site called Pick the Brain. I think it’s a self-improvement site.

I don’t know that I agree with everything in the article, but it makes some good points. For example, even though he throws in a disclaimer, I’m not quite comfortable with Tip #2. There might be some merit to it, but yeah… I just don’t know about that one.


Stay Focused on Getting Slimmer and Staying that Way

 “I’m going to be a fat blob on my wedding day!” The voice on the other end of the phone was desperate. “Can you help me?”

So Karen came to see me. “It’s always the same,” she told me. “I’m motivated for a few days and lose weight, then something happens. I gain everything – and more – back again! My wedding’s in three months! That should be motivation enough, but lately my weight’s been even more all over the place!”

Karen was right. Weight loss motivation is easy…at first. Rapid progress, compliments, wearing outfits you really want to, feeling more attractive, having more energy. All this positive feedback is motivating, captivating. Yet this weight loss ‘honeymoon period’ inevitably wanes. And then it can get tough.

Slim people do it! How?

Living as a slim person is a way of life. A healthy weight won’t be sustainable long-term if it requires constant positive feedback and the excitement of feeling newly slimmer.

“What do you mean: ‘Something happens’?” I asked Karen.

“Well, I might have a problem at work, or my kids wind me up, or I start worrying about being fat at my wedding!”

Ah, so Karen, like millions of people who struggle with their weight, was using food for emotional support as well as simply nutrition.

We had a simple goal, then. Karen needed to start thinking and behaving like a slim person long-term, up to and beyond her wedding. What follows are some of the approaches we used; you can ‘make them your own’ so they really work for you.

Tip 1: Think slim

 This tip is about that all-important moment: What do you experience just before you eat something? Do you tussle with yourself? “I really shouldn’t… but I want to!” Do you imagine how the food will taste, even feel in the mouth? Or do you focus on the real consequences, rather than the temporary satisfactions of eating?

People who are overweight tend to imagine how food is going to taste and feel as they eat. In contrast, people who naturally ‘eat slim’ tend to imagine how that pie or cake will feel heavy in their stomachs for so long after they’ve eaten it. Jumping from a great height might feel fun whilst it lasts, but the consequences that come after we hit the ground are what we consider when deciding not to do it.

So when you’re tempted to eat something you don’t need, practice imagining how your stomach is going to feel ten minutes or an hour after you’ve consumed that weight-increasing food. Keep it up until this becomes a natural habit for you.

Tip 2: Surround yourself with slim people

No, I’m not suggesting you dump all your less-than-slender friends. But research has shown that the average body type of the people with whom you hang out affects your weight and size (1). Start hanging around with slimmer, fitter types (perhaps at the gym) and your subconscious mind will pick up a new template for what is ‘normal’. Karen started hanging out and socializing with slim types at a jogging club.

Tip 3: Be fair to yourself

 Imagine someone walks up a hundred steps but feels a bit tired, so they stop and step back down one step. They tell you bitterly: “Now I may as well forget this whole idea of reaching the top! I’ve totally blown it!”

What?! You’d think that was crazy, right? Acting as if all that progress, the 99 steps they did climb, never happened – because they had one slip! But people do this all the time when it comes to weight loss.

You lose weight, maybe four or five pounds, maybe much more. But you slip, have a bad day or a ‘weak moment’, and eat something you shouldn’t have. And what do you tell yourself? “I’ve completely blown it! Now I might as well really binge!”

Beware the perfectionism trap. Aim to eat sensibly and healthily most of the time, not all the time. We all consume more than we should of the wrong kind of food or drink now and then.

Everyone’s weight fluctuates a bit and you should prepare for this (once you’ve reached a healthy weight). Have a ‘sliding scale’ in your mind of a couple of pounds on either side of your target weight. No one can live for long under a self-imposed, too harsh dictatorship.

Tip 4: Weight loss is not a cure-all

 Sure, being healthier, fitter, and so on will have positive and maybe unexpected ripple effects. However, even as a slimmer person you’ll still have a bad day in the office, moments of self-doubt, or times when you feel undervalued.

Many people feel let down when they become slimmer and then find that being slim doesn’t solve all their problems in one go. They then revert to eating poorly again. Don’t fall into this trap.

You have lots of different needs which need to be fulfilled in life. Being slimmer, healthier, and fitter is just one of them.

Tip 5: Eat when you’re hungry

I know this sounds obvious, but eating sugary foods causes a subsequent crash in energy, leaving you wanting more sweetness. On the other hand, eating for slow energy release is a sustainable way to keep your weight loss motivation firing on all cylinders without you having to consciously think about it. For slow-release energy, eat protein with every meal alongside ‘good carbs’ such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. This avoids the ‘crash and burn’ of sugar overdosing.

Karen walked down the aisle over six years ago. I still see her at my gym sometimes. She tells me that the happiest day of her life was so happy because she felt so healthy. The fact that she was slim was (and is) just a happy outer reflection of the changes she’s experienced in the ways she feels and thinks about food.

(1) Having an obese friend dramatically increases the risk of becoming similarly fat, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Obesity is ‘socially contagious’, spreading from person to person in a social network, researchers said. The study found that if one person becomes obese, those closely connected to them have a greater chance of becoming obese themselves. Surprisingly, the greatest effect was seen not among people sharing the same genes or household, but among friends.

Mark Tyrrell is a Guest Blogger for PickTheBrain,  therapist, trainer and author. He has created many  articles and audios on self help and personal development, including many on weight loss.

Healthy Eating is Not Perfect Eating

How many times have you started a diet? If you’re like me, it would be almost impossible to count how many times I’ve resolved to stick with a healthy (or in earlier years, not-so-healthy/fad) diet. And each time when I’d start, I’d go into it with an all-or-nothing attitude. I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables for the rest of my life! (maybe a slight exaggeration) or I will stick to 1200 calories per day, and I will not go over, not even by 10 calories. Inevitably, this doesn’t work. At some point (maybe a few hours into the diet, ha ha) you want something other than vegetables. Some day you’re going to go over your designated calorie limit. It just happens. And what do most of us do at that point? We throw in the towel, at least for the day, and resolve to start again another day.

Perhaps there’s a better way…

Stephanie Quilao

Stephanie Quilao is a blogger who focuses on healthy living and healthy choices. On one of her blogs,, she discusses her eating philosphy: Make healthy choices 80% of the time, and eat whatever you want 20% of the time.

In her post, she points out that when she’s going to have a “20%”-type of meal, she’ll help balance it out with extra exercise that day.

So if you blow your diet at lunchtime, don’t decide to give up for the day. You haven’t wasted the whole day. You haven’t fallen off the wagon. Don’t feel guilty about those extra calories, just do something about them! Enjoy the decadent lunch (occasionally), but maybe have a light dinner and maybe add a long walk after dinner.

Stay tuned for a healthy recipe later on today…

Start Eating Healthy Day

*It might be a little late for most of this, but click on the links for some tips and information! Or, if you have the afternoon off, maybe venture on over! 🙂

Start Eating Healthy Day is TODAY!!!

Start Eating Healthy Day
Discover ways to buy, prepare, and eat healthier foods

IU Health, in partnership with the American Heart Association and the American Health Network, is participating in the nationwide campaign to help Americans learn to buy, prepare, and eat healthier foods.

Join us for Start Eating Healthy Day by participating in the following events:

Participate in cooking demonstrations on November 2

·  Methodist Medical Plaza East, 9660 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46229
  Methodist Medical Plaza South, 8830 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46217
  Methodist Medical Plaza North, 151 Pennsylvania Pkwy., Indianapolis, IN 46280

· Cooking demonstrations begin at 11:30 am. All participants will receive a sample of the healthy menu and free recipes.

Tuesday, November 1
Join one of the Lunch & Learn presentations, presented by registered dieticians at the Petticrew Auditorium in IU Health Methodist Hospital.  All Lunch & Learn presentations will be streamed live and also available for viewing at a later time for those who are not able to attend in person.

11 – 11:30 am: Portion Distortion
11:45 – 12:15 pm: Grocery Shopping Tips and Tricks
12:30 – 1 pm: Healthy Holiday Eating

Wednesday, November 2
Stop by Riley at IU Health, IU Health Methodist Hospital and IU Health University Hospital cafeterias and try the menu developed specifically for Eating Healthy Day.  

All events are free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please contact Ashley Jenkins at 317.962.1409 or to register for cooking demonstrations or with questions.

If you are unable to attend one of the IU Health events listed above, please tune into Indy Style on November 2 at 9 a.m.  Jim England, 2010 Indianapolis Heart Walk Chair & President of J.D. Byrider Advertising Group, and a local dietician will be preparing some healthy holiday meals using the American Heart Association’s Holiday Healthy Eating Guide.  If you would like your own Holiday Healthy Eating Guide, please click here on or after November 2 to download your own copy.

*Inspiration* Ready to Talk: My Story of Obesity

From You should read this post. It might contain some language, but man, is this a good post! If you’ve ever struggled with weight (and I’m assuming you have if you’re reading this), at least a part of this will probably hit home. If this woman and all of her food demons can do it, so can YOU!

You’re going to have to click HERE for the full post and before and after photos!

That was me. Just over two years ago (May 2009) and over 110 pounds ago. This is such a hard, emotionally raw topic for me that I’ve written dozens of posts about it over the past year and discarded them all. But I really want to start sharing my story as I begin work on my newest project – a low-cal, full-flavor cookbook (which I haven’t gone so far as to look for a publisher yet but imma get on that part real soon). ;)

I’ll share a little background with you… by sixth grade I was 180 lbs. By 18 I was pushing 200. By 29 I was 265 (ish… that was the last time I stepped on a scale months before I started losing weight. Probably a little higher than that in reality but I wasn’t able to face it.) I’ve been “overweight” or “obese” the majority of my life. As a kid, my mom always said “oh the allergy shots you had at 7 years old made you gain weight” but lets face it, eating large portions of unhealthy food mixed with a lack of exercise are what really made me gain weight and continue my upward course. It’s so. Effing. Hard to change your habits, regardless of what they are – eating, drinking, smoking, exercise, etc. It’s so easy to say, whatever, I’m fat, this sucks, there’s no end in sight. No way to imagine how to shed 100+ lbs. Shit, it’s hard to even own up to the fact that youneed to lose 100+lbs. Nobody starts off life at 265lbs, but over the years somehow you just wake up one day and it’s gotten to that point. And you don’t like looking in the mirror. And you don’t like stepping on the scale. And you can’t stand photos of yourself or, god forbid, video.

Having been overweight for nearly all of the first 30 years of my life, I know exactly how people treat you. In grade school you get called names like “thunder thighs” or the likes there of (that one still echos clearly in my mind), as you get older people just stop looking you in the eyes. Everyone makes judgments or assumptions on the type of person you must be to have “let yourself” get to that point. I even had a local vendor at the Ocean Beach farmer’s market say to me “Yeah, you should definitely eat some more [grapefruit] and lay off the french fries” as I went to sniff the citrus at his stand. Another time when I was a personal chef in Rancho Santa Fe, I went to buy some beef jerky for the family I was working for and asked a store clerk for help finding it. He took me to the tofu jerky section, aisles away from the actual beef jerky section, and said, “I think this would be better for your needs”. Really? Do you know my needs? Because I “needs” to keep my freaking job and buy beefjerky for my client. Don’t assume, people. (Sorry, 2+ years later, it’s still as raw as if it had happened yesterday.) If you’re overweight, or have ever been overweight, you have undoubtedly shared similar experiences. It sucks. People are mean. I, personally, consider myself a judgment-free zone. (If you know me, this is a phrase you are well-familiar with.) In all situations, not just regarding weight, I try not to judge other peoples actions, choices or lifestyles. Nobody knows what life situations anyone else has been through to evolve and shape them into what/who they are today. Just be nice and treat people with respect and love.

So, August of 2009 my two best friends from high school came to visit with their significant others. My friend Cristin’s husband happens to be obsessed with video documenting all aspects of their life (which I love/hate). We were on the beach and he, unbeknownst to me, took video footage of the day. Later that evening he plugged his camera up to our TV and started playing the recording. There I was, 265+ lbs, IN A BATHING SUIT ON A BIG SCREEN TV!!! I was mortified. It took all of my self-control not to run into the bathroom and start bawling. It’s one thing when you never have to see yourself and avoid mirrors, it’s another when your moving, breathing image, in a damn bathing suit, gets slapped up onto a big screen. No way to avoid the truth.

Just a couple of weeks before my friend, Nicole, had started the Couch to 5Kprogram – a jogging program that lasts for 9 weeks and starts off with you jogging for 60 second intervals at a time and works you up to jogging for 30 minutes straight (or 5K) by the end of the program. Though I had always said I would never be a jogger, I begrudgingly started the program alongside her. Not gonna lie – in the beginning I didn’t even know if I was going to make it through the entire 60 seconds of jogging. But each week I continued to surprise myself and was able to succeed at increasing the length of the intervals on schedule with the program, though some weeks that meant pushing myself more than others. About half way through, the flip switched in my head. You know what? Ican do this. And that’s the thing! It’s all in our freaking heads! When your inner dialogue is filled with “I can’t run for 5 minutes” “I can’t say no to that slice of pizza” “there is no way I’m ever going to shed 100 lbs” “I’m fat, I’m ugly, even Idon’t want to look at me, how can anyone else” all of these negative thoughts just constantly circling over and over and over, yeah – you know what? YOU NEVER WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE ANY CHANGES. You have to believe in your ability to do it first. It’s going from having an “I can’t attitude” to an “I can” that allows change to happen. Seriously – I truly believe that anyone can doanything if they really put their mind to it and STICK WITH IT! No, nothing will change overnight. It’s thought patterns that have allowed us to reach the weight that we’re at and it’s thought patterns that will similarly allow you to make healthy changes in your lifestyle. That’s the problem with weight-loss surgery as a “solution” and why such a high proportion of people who have it continue to struggle with their weight even afterward. The real problems come from our relationship with food and why, for whatever personal reasons, we over eat.

Personal reasons aside, weight-loss happens when you burn more calories then you are consuming. That means that a) you should be aware of absolutely everything that you eat and b) you should be aware of how much you are burning! There are some really great online tools these days that allow you to do this super easily and quickly. The one that I’ve been using for the past couple of years is The Daily Plate (which eventually picked up). You put in your height, weight, age, gender, etc, and then tell it how active you are and what your weight-loss goals are and it tells you how many calories per day you can eat an still achieve your goals. BUT BE HONEST! By claiming to a machine that you worked out more than you did, move more in your day to day life, or don’t record your honest caloric in-take, the only person you are cheating (and trying to fool) is yourself! I, personally, didn’t share (and still don’t) my account with anyone. I find it easier to be upfront with my slip-ups when it’s only my eyes that see what I’ve eaten. Hiding what I’d eaten is part of what got me to 265 in the first place. Having an honest relationship with myself about the amount of food I am honestly consuming has allowed me to continue eating bacon every day, or a serving of insanely rich mac & cheese or devilishly delicious peanut butter mousse brownie pie and still continue on a downward track from 265 to 153 over the past two years. Shit, I wrote and ate a cookbook on food porn after I started my weight-loss journey. ;) Yes, some days I eat more than what the calorie counter says I should (hello football game days!), but I don’t hate myself for it and I don’t give up! I just log it in, sigh, then try to do better the next day… and the next day… and the next day.

Also – one thing that I really want to touch on before I move on is the importance of not making unrealistic goals! Sure on reality tv shows where you have a trainer whipping your ass 6 days a week, no job to focus on or kids/spouse’s mouths to feed it’s possible to lose 8 or 10 lbs in a week. That’s an insane and unrealistic goal in the real world. From the beginning, I never set goals of more than 2 lbs a week. Two pounds is an attainable goal for someone with a significant amount of weight to lose. When you set a goal that you can actually reach, you can accomplish it, feel great about it and set a goal for the next week. If you set unattainable goals you are just going to reinforce that “I can’t” attitude as opposed to reprogramming your brain into an “I can” state of mind.

So why am I now, after two years on this journey, sharing my story with you guys? Well, I’m finally getting comfortable with my new self, and trust that I amnot going to return to my old way of life. I mean, I spent nearly 30 years obese. I was really scared for a long time that I would be just another statistic and revert back to my old habits. After two years of building positive habits I no longer have that fear. I believe in myself and my ability to maintain control of my life and eating habits. But more importantly, food is what I love. It’s what I live for. Beyond that, it’s my livelihood. I run two websites dedicated to food and write cookbooks. I’ve always wanted to spend my life doing something to help others and right now, I feel like I have a great opportunity. I know that I have a low-cal cookbook in me that will show that getting healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up things like bacon or cheese or chocolate. It just means learning correct portion sizes, feeding your metabolism regularly and moving a little.

Yes, I will continue to post desserts and high calorie content foods on this site, because true to my life, I will continue to make and eat them. But I’ll do so along side of healthy, delicious recipes. I hope you guys will continue along this journey with me. I have about twenty more pounds until I reach my goal weight, and these last twenty are the hardest. Let’s all be accountabilibuddies, through the good, the bad, the mac & cheeses and the bean & corn salads. If anybody needs support, I’m here. If you’re just beginning your journey and need an ear or want to chat, not in a public forum feel free to email me rather than comment below. (My email is at the bottom of the about page!) Or, alternately, let’s start a community of support. We all need someone to give us a push when we aren’t feeling it, or uplift us when our inner dialogue is weighing us down!

You know I couldn’t do this post without sharing a healthy recipe, right? The super flavorful baked spiced tilapia filets with black bean and corn salad & tangy fresh tomatillo salsa verde below serves four and rings in at 373 calories per serving! So good it’ll make you wanna slap yo’ mama but so healthy that you won’t feel guilty about cleaning your plate. (Now you might feel guilty about slapping yo’ mama, but that’s a whole different story!) ;)

A Low Cal Recipe, by Amanda

Spicy Baked Tilapia with Black Bean and Corn Salad and Salsa Verde

For the Salsa Verde:
6 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled & roughly chopped
1/2 – 1 1/2 jalapenos, stem removed, roughly chopped (vary depending on how spicy you like it)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
juice from 1/2 fresh lime
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus extra
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus extra

For the salad:
3 large ears sweet corn
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 large clove garlic, peeled & minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled & chopped
1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, stem & seeds removed, chopped
1/4 head red cabbage, core removed & finely shredded
juice from 1 lime
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus extra
3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus extra

For the fish:
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 (4oz) tilapia filets
1 tsp canola oil

Make the salsa:
Place all ingredients for the salsa into a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 72 hours.

Make the salad:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil corn for 3 minutes. Remove from water and run under water until luke warm. Cut kernels off cobs and place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients for the salad into the mixing bowl with the corn kernels. Stir until ingredients are evening dispersed. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with more kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Before serving, toss to coat with juices and taste once more. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Make the fish:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together first six ingredients for the fish in a small bowl. Place tilapia on a sheet pan and drizzle filets with oil. Toss to coat evenly with oil. Season each filet evenly with 1/4 of the spice mix. Bake at 450 degrees until fish is just cooked through, about 7 to 9 minutes.

To plate:
Spoon 1/4 of salad onto a plate. Place a fish filet on top of the salad then spoon salsa over the fish and around the plate. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Servings: 4
Calories per serving: 373
Total cooking time: about 1 hour