Days 15 - 21 -- I'm BAAAAACCCCKKKKKK!!!

Did ya miss me?  :-)

After five wonderful, sun-kissed days in San Juan, Ted and I returned home to a lovely, very slushy, mix of rain and snow yesterday afternoon.  I don't think it'll surprise you that neither of us were ecstatic about trading 85-degree weather in for that.

Another thing I wasn't so psyched about upon our return?  Weighing in on that devilish little device I like to call a scale.  And I have to be honest, I have been dragging my feet all day today, avoiding writing this post because of the number that showed up.  But here goes nothing...

I'm up.  253.8, up.  That's .8 over where I started three weeks ago, for those of you following along.  Yea, no more vacationing for Nicole in the next year.  Now, before you jump to conclusions and start writing out your comment chastising me for not being more cautious and falling victim to the vacation mode, let me at least try to defend myself.

As I wrote before we left, I did bring workout clothes.  And in fact, I got two sweat-induced runs in on the treadmill in the hotel gym in the four full days we had.  Not bad, all things considered.  As I also said before we left, I had the best intentions, and packed enough workout gear to clothe a small, albeit overweight, army.  While I intended to run all four days, that just wasn't plausible.  And I'm not sure why I thought it would be, when I don't even get to the gym every day when I'm home.  Not for lack of effort and desire, but sometimes I'm just too tired, or my muscles just need a rest from the constant pounding.  But needless to say, I did get two solid runs in.  In addition, Ted and I spent a good four hours walking, casually, I'll admit, around Old San Juan.  A good four-six miles of trekking along the seashore in the blistering sun.  That was the day I didn't put sunscreen on.  Didn't make that mistake again!  But I digress.

* Seeeeeeeee... sunburn.


*Proof, I did work out.

We also spent the morning driving to, exploring, and driving back from, El Yunque -- the Puerto Rican Rain Forest.  What we were told was going to be a hike was actually an anti-climatic, disappointing fifteen minute trail walk on a semi-paved road through the forest and a number of stops at places like the Visitors' Center, a waterfall, and the Observation Station.  In our defense, we truly thought it would be more taxing.  I guess our first sign should have been the 70+ year-olds waiting in hotel lobby for the same bus.  (And at least one of them looked like he had one foot in the world of the living and one foot in the world of the dead!)

As for the rest of the trip, we had a few casual walks, mostly to and from restaurants and shops.  But this vacation was mostly relaxing.  We spent time reading on our balcony, soaking up the sun at the beach and poolside, and de-stressing with a couples massage.  And although we weren't exactly as active as I'd intended us to be (Ted wouldn't do the kayak tour through the bioluminscent bay because he can't swim and claimed he'd be too chicken to jump off a platform if we tried zip-lining through the canopy), this vacation was just what we needed.  It gave us a chance to regroup, relax, and just spend some time with each other.  Because let's face it, with all my time spent writing this blog, countless hours at work, gym workouts, grad school apps, and God knows what else, we haven't had much time lately to just be a couple.  So while I could have worked out more, I'm still happy to have had some much-needed time with the hubby.

Now, I  know you're wondering, so let me just give you the highs and lows of my nutritional intake (or lack thereof) while in PR:

Egg-white omellettes with ham and cheese and fresh fruit for breakfast every day
Stuffed chicken breast with spinach and ricotta cheese
Grilled veggies
NO ICE CREAM before Day 7-- I completed last week's challenge, in case you had doubts I wouldn't make it :-)
Chicken and shrimp fajitas
Subway turkey 6-inch sandwich (yes, they had Subway!!!)
Nature Valley Oats & Honey granola bars for snacks
Trail Mix for snacks

Cheeseburger and French Fries
Nachos (as an appetizer, shared with Ted, which we in no way came close to finishing)
1 Pina Colada
1 Strawberry Daiquiri
Subway footlong meatball sandwich on wheat (don't know why I even bothered with the wheat!)
Chips and salsa
1/2 bagel with cream cheese
Chocolate-frosted donut and Cinnastix at the airport for breakfast
Toblerone bar for dessert (had to have something to hit that sweet craving!)
Turkey Club with French Fries (split with Ted)
MUFONGO (go ahead, look it up... it was GROSS!)

I'll be interested to see what kind of grade Kali gives me when I see her on Wednesday.  (Anyone have any good excuses I could use to postpone that meeting and the "Walk of Shame" I'll be doing into her office???)  Definitely an improvement from prior vacations, that's for sure.  But still not great.  I really struggled with the "I'm on vacation!" mentality and as a result, found it hard to make the right, nutritious, decisions.  I'll be honest, it really sucked watching Ted chow down on French Toast, pancackes, danishes, and Frosted Flakes while I nibbled on pineapple, strawberries, and omelettes (don't get me wrong, I love omelettes!).  But all five days, I had to constantly remind myself to make the right choice.  As you can see, I didn't always choose wisely, and my stomach and thighs now reflect that.  Thank you gym shorts, with your ever-expanding drawstring waistline and forgiving, flowy summer dresses for hiding what some might have interpreted as a baby belly. 

But as Ted reminded me earlier today, when I finally brought myself to step on the scale, it's a "small setback."  I'm still trying to digest that one, because it feels like a HUGE setback.  I'm back to where I started -- actually, I'm even worse off.  So forgive me if I'm finding it hard to believe that three weeks of work and effort down the tubes is a "small setback."  But when I stop and really think about it, he's absolutely right.  I think this week really proved to me just how detrimental eating out can be.  Eating out two, three meals a day is bad.  Really bad.  And a surefire way to pack on the pounds.  I have no doubt that now that I'm back to my normal routine, my eating habits will revert back to what they were before we left, I'll be able to regulate what I'm eating (and what's in the house), and my workouts will be semi-normal again.  In fact, Ted and I did a good $200 dollars worth of grocery shopping today to stock the fridge with fruits, lean meats, yogurt, and yes, Kali, even a few vegetables.  So it's back to reality for this girl, although, admittedly, it's unwillingly.

Stop by tomorrow for more on my mishaps in Puerto Rico.  I'll be sharing all about my self-confidence issues, and other people's lack of (see photo below), and how my weight kept me from participating in a few activities (booo!!!!). 

Nicole's Daily Menu
1 packet of Maple Brown Sugar Quaker Oatmeal
Willow Tree chicken salad on 100% whole wheat bread with romaine lettuce
2 Hermit Bars
Yoplait yogurt
8 Ritz Cracker Chips
Chicken and beef stir fry with zucchini, squash, carrots, snow peas, peppers, and onions
Fresh-sliced strawberries with fat-free Cool Whip (Better alternative to ice cream, no?  Too soon to say I'm cured????)

PS -- This week's challenge: Find a recipe for, and make, asparagus.  I've never had it, and I think you've all noticed by now that I'm not a veggie person.  But hey, I'm going out on a limb here!  Feel free to leave me some tasty recipes on how to cook it!

Day 13 & 14 -- Preparing for the Week Ahead

My apologies for not posting anything the past two days, but Ted and I have been busy running around.  This week, the hubster and myself are ditching the snow and "Jack Frost nipping at your nose" cold for the sun-kissed shores of Puerto Rico.  Yes, you can be jealous.  I'll allow it. 

Needless to say, I've done just about everything the past two days to prepare -- from getting last-minute items at Target and CVS to pulling out summer clothes, doing laundry, and packing two suitcases full.  And yes, we'll only be gone 5 nights.  Seems I've done just about everything with the exception of blogging. 

And to be quite honest, I'm not that motivated to be sitting here in front of my computer after running ragged all day, especially when I know I have to be up in seven hours.  That's right -- 4:00 a.m. wakeup call.  Wahoo!!!

However, I did want to leave you with something before I left -- just in case I'm kidnapped by Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Lords and never return :-) 

All weekend I've been mentally preparing myself for this week.  Vacations are synonymous it seems with cheating.  No, not on your husband or wife.  On FOOD!!!  It's like the word "vacation" is all we need to hear to justify our outrageous eating habits.  Enormous country breakfast every morning?  Sure!  Why not?  I'm on vacation!  Margaritas, Daiquiris and Cervezas from midday on?  Absolutely!  And dessert every night after your three-course dinner?  Well, that's a given! 

And the old me, Jumbo Nicole, would definitely have given into all of the above.  Something about vacations used to siginify a free-for-all for me.  But not anymore!

Part of the reason I have two suitcases?  Because one of them is half-filled with my gym clothes alone.  No need for a double-take.  You did read that right.  I am going to work out on my vacation.  Sigh.  I'm packing gym shorts, sports bras, my running sneaks, and lots of T-shirts.  I'm not sure whether I'll be running in the hotel gym, in the streets of Old San Juan, or for an extra calorie burn, on the beach.  But I know I'll be running. 

You can laugh now, or think I'm crazy, or form whatever opinion you'd like.  But this is what this challenge is all about.  No more excuses.  No more justifications.  No more of what my old life used to be like.  Instead, this vacation, I'm going to be active.  In fact, there's a rainforest, El Yunque, which Ted and I plan to hike.  We're also hoping to add a kayaking tour through a bioluminescent bay and exploration of the Camuy Cave Park to the itinerary.  This, of course, is in addition to the plentiful walking we'll be doing shopping, um.... I mean sightseeing.... in San Juan. 

And as for meals -- well, I'm hoping that the culture of this little island really doesn't agree with me.  Now, I know that's a long shot, because I thoroughly enjoyed Spain and love just about every locale where the Spaniards have left their touch.  That said, I'm also hoping that if I happen to hate the food, I'll be a lot less likely to eat a lot of it.  If my plan fails, however, I'm aiming to keep my meals small, and healthy.  I'll do my best to look for fish and chicken on the menus and steer clear of fried foods.  Oh, and let's not forget -- ice cream is not allowed this week. 

I'm not sure how this vacation is going to really turn out.  I have great intentions -- but then again, I always do.  I'm well aware I could come back, weigh in on that scale, and curse myself for eating that extra burrito because I gained three pounds.  Or, maybe I'll return only to find that I've maintained my weight, which I'd be more than ok with after a week away from my normal routine.  Obviously, I hope that I'll come back and have lost.  But with the travel, crappy airport food, and "vacation mode" mentality which I'll be trying to fight off, I know that's not all that realistic. 

Either way, I'll be doing everything I can to ensure I stay active and eat healthy on this trip.  And don't worry, my #1 Accountability Partner will be with me - and he does NOT like to see me stray.  :-)  I'm sure he won't even hesitate as he pushes me out of the bed early in the morning to go run while he snuggles himself back under the comforter.  And I'm also positive he won't mind eating my dessert, should I order one. 

So, pray for me this week -- that I don't gain, that I don't over-indulge, and that I don't find myself getting kidnapped.  I'll be thinking of all of you while I'm sitting back on a lounge chair, staring out at the surf.  Try not to miss me too much!

P.S. -- Weigh-in numero dos was a success!  I'm down another 1.8 pounds, which puts me at 249.4!  Yay for being under the 250s!!!

Nicole's Daily Menu
Multigrain Cheerios with 1% milk
Cheese & Crackers, 1 stuffed shell, hummus and pita slices, a few Scoops and Spinach/Artichoke dip, and 1/2 slick of cake, 1 Portuguese fried dough (the menu is a little off today due to a surprise birthday party we attended)
Quaker Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal
See above crappy foods

Day 12 -- Five Words

I.... MISS.... MY.... ICE.... CREAM!!!

Definitely going through withdrawal. 

And that's all she wrote...

Nicole's Daily Menu
Wheat bagel with lite cream cheese
Chewy Granola Bar
Roast beef sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and cheddar cheese
Diet Mt. Dew
Chocolate Chip Cookie
cheese stick
Enchiladas made with ground turkey and green peppers
None -- although that mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer is calling my name.  Literally, I can hear it.

"Nicole!  Niiiiiccoooooooolllleeee!  Come eat me!!!"

I should probably have Ted dress in football padding and prepare to defend the smooth and yummy goodness that's sitting, chilling, behind that white door.  Ughh.... it's going to be a long week. 

Ew, Ew, and More Ew

Hey everyone!  Check out this link.  You'll be thoroughly disgusted and never tempted to pull up to the Mickey D's drive-thru again:

So, who else is swearing off all items on the Dollar Menu and any other food that's handed to you through a window?

Day 11 -- A Sign From God

Today, thankfully, was not a repeat of yesterday.  I'm proud to say that I was put in the exact situation I was in yesterday, and I passed :-). 

A co-worker and friend of mine is leaving the firm I work at.  So, today, ten of us took her to a goodbye lunch at, you guessed it, Gregg's -- the burger-taunting Hell I visited yesterday.  But no burgers for me today!  Instead, I went with the grilled chicken club on multigrain bread, no mayo, no bacon, with a side of steamed broccoli instead of fries.  Now I'm sure a bunch of you could make the argument that it's still a sandwich loaded with bread, and probably not the best option.  And you'd be absolutely correct.  However, no matter how much I want to be, I just can't seem to shove myself into that salad-stuffing, veggie-loving mold everyone else seems to be so comfortable living in.  Despite my weight-loss goals, I still lean toward comfort food and sandwiches are still my go-to meal for lunch.  So I'm glad I made a healthier choice today, even though it might not have been the ideal one.

And I have to be honest, that lunch was a personal Hell today.  Everyone around me, and  I do mean everyone, ordered burgers, clubs, and buffalo chicken wraps.  One of my co-workers even stated that she didn't do healthy food. God, I wish I could say the same!  But the main reason I ordered what I did?  Let's put it this way...  I was born and raised a Portuguese Catholic.  I know what guilt feels like -- my grandmother used it against me often.  And boy did it work!  She was able to steer half of my childhood decisions by instilling the fear of Catholic guilt in me!

So today, when I was faced with another choice, another decision to make, that old, familiar feeling, that churning in my stomach came back.  And that's when I knew the guilt was coming.  I could have easily said "Who cares?!  I want another burger!"  But that would mean disappointing all of you, and more importantly myself.  So as twisted as it might seem, I chose healthy because I was afraid of feeling the guilt afterward.  And I don't particularly care if that's what led me to making the right decision today.  Because all that matters is that I did.  Maybe for now, that lovely Catholic, Grandma-staring-death-glares guilt is all I need to keep me from falling off the wagon, yet again. 

I know someday I'll get to a point where I don't need this group to convince me to make a better decision.  But if the guilt that comes with disappointing all of you is keeping me in check right now, well, then I guess I'll take it.  Quick thank you to God for blessing all of your Catholic followers with the famed Catholic guilt.  For once in my life, I'm actually appreciating it. 

PS -- Long story, but tonight I ended up accidentally topping my ice cream with Dawn Dishwashing Soap.  And then I proceeded to eat it.  I'm taking that as a sign from God that I should lay off the ice cream. :-\  So, wish me luck as I try to go the next week without ice cream.  That's this week's "Try Something New."  Pray for me.  I don't think I've ever done this before, and it's going to totally throw my evening routine off its axis.  This should definitely be interesting.  I wonder, should I warn my husband that severe mood swings, shakes, fever, and random outbursts of violence are all to be expected during withdrawal????

Nicole's Daily Menu
Multigrain Cheerios with 1% milk
Chewy Granola Bar
Laughing Cow Spreadable French Onion Cheese with Thin Crisp Triscuits
Grilled chicken club on multigrain bread, no mayo, no bacon, with side of steamed broccoli
Scromlette (as Ted referred to my failed omellette): eggs with 1 piece of ham, shredded cheese, and diced red peppers, 1 piece of wheat toast with little butter
*Eggs are a great go-to meal.  I didn't get home until 8:30 tonight, so I didn't feel like making something huge.  Eggs are quick, easy, and full of protein.
Dawn-covered Ice Cream. 

Day 9 & 10 -- Bad Decisions, Part 2

If I were an addict, you would call today a relapse.  In some regards, I guess you could consider me an addict.  My self-destructive weapon of choice?  That would be food.

After a week of pretty great eating, I went off and self-sabotaged again :-\.  I'm not sure what part of my brain controls the justification sector, but it was definitely up and running today.  My parents came to meet me for lunch at Gregg's Restaurant, a pub-like place.  And as much as I reassured myself before leaving my office chair that I would order a salad, grilled chicken and broccoli, or something of the healthy sort, I faltered... yet again.  Why on Earth would I choose a bunch of leafy greens over a grease-laden Cheeseburger and golden fries? 

I know about a week ago I wrote how I had learned my lesson when it came to French Fries and had sworn them off for what I thought was forever.  Turns out forever lasts just more than a week in Nicole's World. 

Earlier today, at about 4:00 (and when the heavy burger started to sit heavier and lower in my stomach), I flashed on an image.  In my head, I envisioned a golden retriever puppy whose owners were trying to train the dog to stay in their yard by installing an electric fence.  Do you see where this is going yet?

Yes, I am that cute, cuddly, rambunctious puppy full of energy and life, and hellbent against being confined.  And unlike the rest of the dogs in the neighborhood, I continuously ignore the "Zzzzap" that keeps stinging my neck as I break free across that line.  Don't get me wrong, I complain to the other dogs about how much it hurts.  But that doesn't stop me.  No matter how much it hurts or the damage it does to me, I still make the wrong choice each and every time. 

Unlike that puppy, I'm hoping I learn my lesson sooner than later.  To help me, I've created a new mantra:  "Fries are Foe."  Whenever I'm tempted, I'm hoping this little chant will remind me to stay on track. 

As for today, well... there's nothing I can do about it now.  (Although looking back, I'm totally regretting that 700-calorie plus lunch).  All I can do is put it behind me, try not to beat myself over the head with the club too much, and try to make better choices tomorrow.

And hopefully, this will be the last time I write about making the same mistake twice.  

Nicole's Daily Menu
Multigrain Cheerios with 1% milk
Cheese stick, sliced strawberries
Ugh... it sickens me to even write it!  Cheeseburger with French Fries :-\
Yogurt, Laughing Cow Spreadable French Onion Cheese and Triscuits (too big a snack, especially after that huge lunch and too much cheese in one day)
Shrimp fried in garlic and olive oil, green beans, rice pilaf
Honestly, do I even need to write it out at this point?  Ice cream.

*Today's meals sucked.  Lots to fix/improve upon tomorrow!

Day 8 -- 15-Minute Workout at Old Navy

Who says you have to be at a gym, or in front of your TV, balancing on the Wii Fit Board, to get a good workout in?  I beg to differ!  There is a story to this, so let me begin.

Yesterday, I was rumaing through my drawers looking for a pair of jeans to wear.  I have "Going to an All-You-Can-Eat Buffett" jeans, "Standing Room Only" jeans, "PMS" jeans, "Make Him Sweat It" jeans, and my personal favorite... "My Butt Looks Like A Half Moon and Not a Full Moon" jeans.  I also have "Just Another Five Pounds" jeans and "Maybe One Day, but They Were On Sale" jeans.  Girls, I'm sure you can all relate. 

My problem, you ask?  I don't have any jeans that actually fit.  The sucky part about this losing weight thing is that I'm fluctuating between sizes.  Currently I'm in the "18s are way too loose and are falling off" stage.  But 16s don't seem to fit, either!  Some 16s fit perfectly around my butt and thighs, but not so well around the waist.  And I'm sure we've all been guilty of the following:

1. Resolve to get the jeans on.
2. Pull them up as far as you possibly can.
3. Squat, lunge, and practically split to stretch them out just a tad bit more.
4. Finally, lay on the bed, as flat as a plank, suck in that gut, and pull with all your God-given strength to make sure that button meets the hole.

For me, this seems to be my new weekend routine.  My changing body, and weight, have left me with two pairs of jeans, neither of which will last much longer.  Mother Nature clearly has decided to take out her anguish on my thighs, and because of it, I can't seem to run, or walk, more than two steps without creating a bit of friction between them.  As a result, the denims I love most (because they fit!) are starting to get that '80s grunge look -- you know, the jeans that looked like a shredder got ahold of the sides of them.  Yea, well, that's what my jeans are starting to look like, but on the inside.   And while I do spend five days a week in business attire, I still like to have a well-stocked reserve of ass-flattering, thigh-slimming, tummy-flattening Blues. 

After littering our bedroom with every shade of blue I own, Ted and I headed out to Old Navy -- one of four stores who actually make plus-size clothing.  Pair that with the $30 and under selection and I'm there! 

It took me ten minutes to scan the women's section for jeans that might flatter my figure (which, besides being labeled as "fat" would also qualify for hourglass or rotund).  Why is it that flared leg denims aren't in this season?  I don't need skinny jeans to accentuate just how chunky my thighs are!  And I'm pretty sure that no one else wants to see the dimples on my upper left thigh.  I don't need low-rise jeans, either!  Just remember this equation when shopping ladies:

Low-rise jeans + ample badonkadonk = Plumber butt and views only my husband should be priviledged to.

Finally, I came across a few "Classic Rise, Boot-Cut" jeans and grabbed two pairs, in different shades.  What happened next, well... I'm just thankful there was no one tending to the fitting room.

After entering the stall of my choice, I closed the door, took off my coat, and stared at the denims in front of me, deciding who my first victim would be.  Those poor suckers didn't know what was coming.

I should have known, as I slid the darker pair on over my MLS soccer-player calves, that they weren't going to work.  But I was convinced that my Beyonce booty might just squeeze into these 16s.  I managed to pull them all the way up, tucking in the front pockets, and jumping a few times to further slide into them.  But when it came to buttoning those bad boys... it just did not happen. 

After a few moments of "Uggghhh..." and mentally coaching myself to suck it in, I abandoned my first choice.  Getting them off was almost as hard as getting them on!  It probably didn't help I still had my shoes on.  :-\  These blues were painted on, and peeling them off was almost as difficult as peeling bubble gum off a sidewalk.  As I struggled to get the last bit of my right leg free, using both hands to pull, I started to tip, and quickly.  Before I knew it, my backside met the back of the stall door, making a loud clang as it slammed shut.  Next time, I'll be sure to double-check that it's closed completely.

The second pair of jeans went off much like the first, despite my optimism that they would be my new go-to pants.  No such luck.  After more sucking, pulling, squatting, and thudding against that door, I was pooped.  I was visibly sweating and afraid to face the crowd I feared was gathering outside.  But after re-dressing myself (and wiping my brow), I exited the dressing room to find my husband, relaxed and seated at the kiddie table, waiting for me to give the thumbs up.  Again, no such luck.

I left with one pair of 16s jeans.  Currently, they fall in between the "Standing Room Only" and "Another Five Pounds" categories.  And as aggravated as I could have been yesterday (and was, temporarily), I have to try and remember that size 16 jeans haven't always been possible.  So the fact that I can even get one pair pulled up and zipped (even if I have to wear a baggy sweatshirt to cover my rolls of squishy not-so-goodness) is an accomplishment.  And that, my friends, is what will motivate me this week.

The jeans I bought are hanging in my closet, on display for me to see each morning when I'm choosing my work attire, and each evening when I'm putting my shoes away.  Those puppies will remain there, as a reminder to me of why I'm doing this.  And hopefully, they'll deter me from choosing donuts over Cheerios, pizza over salad. 

So... what's keeping you motivated this week?  Or please, by all means, feel free to share your own jeans story -- I know I'm not the only one.  C'mon guys -- don't leave me hanging out there alone on the cloud of embarrassment I just created! 

Nicole's Daily Menu
Multigrain Cheerios with 1% milk
Laughing Cow Spreadable French Onion Cheese with Multigrain Tostito's
Honey ham on 100% whole wheat with mayo
Cheese stick
Quesadillas with Perdue cooked grilled chicken strips and salsa (no sour cream)
You guessed it -- ice cream. 

Ugh! Disgusting!

After running home for lunch to take out the dog, I decided to get a medium White Hot Chocolate from Dunkin Donuts on the way back. 

And after practically finishing the thing, I chose all too late to look up its nutritional value -- or lack thereof. 

I will NEVER be ordering one of these, or anything else for that matter, from Dunkin Donuts ever again.  So disgusted with myself! 

Check out the calorie count on this bad boy!  It's just over half of what I burn when running!  I'm going to have to run an extra 25 minutes tonight to burn this off alone!!!  Soooo not worth it!

Day 7 -- Valentine's Day, Revised

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! Hope you're enjoying the day with someone you love! 

As I posted yesterday, Ted and I had a bit of a Valentine's Day, revised.  We'll be taking a vacation next week, and with that in mind, we decided to have a low-key celebration.  I think we started a new tradition! 

We slept until 12 (or at least I did!) and let me just say it's amazing what a full night's rest can do for you!  Around 2, we decided to head to the gym, where I proceeded to run 2 miles straight.  I had so much energy from getting more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep!  It was a good workout, and a total contradiction to the Valentine's Day norm.  No chocolate, no roses -- just some good, old-fashioned sweating with my hubby, who was running at an impressive 7.5 on the treadmill next to me.  Way to go babe!

Later, we ran a few errands and then picked up Chili's To Go.  The rest of the evening was spent at home, cuddling.  Like I said, low-key.  But the most important thing I realized yesterday?  That it's so amazing to have a husband who loves me and supports me so much that he's willing to spend his Valentine's Day at the gym with me.  I'm sure he would have much rather been getting a couple's massage, or the like.  But he's the one who suggested the outing, and he's the only reason I got my butt to the gym yesterday.  It's great to have such an awesome support system!

Again, I hope you all had an amazing Valentine's Day and were able to do something active!  Or at least make a healthy choice if you ate out (or in, like us!).  But even if you didn't, remember... today's a new day!  Keep fighting the good fight!

OH... and be sure to check back later for my post detailing my unexpected, sweat-on-the-brow, 15-minute workout at Old Navy.  I promise you it will be entertaining!

Nicole's Daily Menu
Multigrain Cheerio's with 1% milk
Cheese Stick
None!  (Very, very, very bad!  Never follow my lead on this one!  When you go without a meal, you're more likely to overreat later!)
Multigrain Tostido's with Laughing Cow French Onion Spreadable Cheese
Dinner (from Chili's)
Margarita Chicken, grilled shrimp, corn on the cob, and cinnamon apples
Edy's Ice Cream (also another don't!  I should have had either the cinnamon apples, or the ice cream!)

Day 5 & 6 -- Time to Face the Music

Those were the exact words Kali uttered in her office on Thursday evening before forcing me onto the scale.  And six days into this challenge of mine, I decided it was time to weigh in again.

I am happy to report that I'm down 1.8 pounds!!!  Buh-bye 253, hellllooooo 251 (or 251.2 if you want to be techincal, I guess.  Go ahead and do the bow-legged chicken dance for me now.  I know you want to!

Now before I go into what is sure to be a four-paragraph rant about how great it feels and how proud of myself I am, let me first provide a brief sidenoe: I absolutely HATE scales.  I think they're a product of the Devil (right up there with Peeps) and were put on this Earth to drive otherwise happy, healthy, confident women into an early grave.  Think about it for a second -- I'm willing to bet that those old women, you know, the ones rapidly approaching 90, have managed to live as long as they have because they IGNORE the scale.  And let's be honest here for a second -- scales suck.  They derail the most important message Kali has worked to instill in me -- that the number on the scale doesn't matter.

Truthfully, to an extent, it doesn't.  What matters is how I feel, how my clothes fit, how healthy I am.  So, if I happen to go up slightly, but I've been working out hard and eating right, then I'm supposed to just take it in stride.  Suuuurree..... 'cause that's easy to do!

But scales... Oh man!  They present you with a number, which you the proceed to fixate on for the next week.  So for that reason, I detest them.

And yet I find myself weighing in almost daily just to make sure I'm always headed in the right direction -- which is down, for those of you not following along.  Humph.  Catch-22 much?  I don't weigh myself constantly, and I don't know how I'm doing through the week.  I do weigh myself daily and I find myself focusing on whatever number shows up on that dirty device.  I swear I feel like I'm on an episode of the Biggest Loser with a daily weigh-in instead of a weekly one, and without the $100K.  Man, that incentive would totally make this easier to do.  :-\

**OK, sidenote over. Back to patting myself on the back.**

This week, I'm happy I chose to monitor the instrument of my demise.  I found myself taking strength in the fact that I saw the scale slowly decreasing each day.  And that kept me going.

I'm so psyched that for the first time in a few weeks, that number is going DOWN!  Wahoo!!!  I can't tell you how great it is to see your hard work rewarded.  Maybe this week, turning down the burger and fries I was tempted with at lunch on Friday will be a little easier.   

On a different note, can I briefly bitch about how weekends manage to totally sabotage my eating habits and my motivation to get to the gym?  Literally, five seconds ago, Ted asked if I would join him at the gym tomorrow.  On Valentine's Day.  Really????  OK -- three things that come to mind when you say the words Valentine's Day:

1. Chocolate
2. Roses
3. More chocolate

Notice the complete and utter lack of the following words:

1. Gym
2. Running
3. Sweat
4. Exercise
5. Old dude who smells nasty running on the treadmill next to me

Not only is tomorrow Sunday, one of the few days a week I actually take off from the gym, but it's also a holiday.  A HOLIDAY!!!  I'm pretty sure that's like the non-religious equivalent of the Sabbath in the Bible.  It's a rest day.  A do-nothing, no gym, semi-cheat day.

However, the reality of this entire challenge is that I don't have rest days any more.  Boooooo!!!  To meet my goal of 100 pounds in one year, I'll have to lose just over two pounds a week.  That's an excess of 7,000 calories burned/cut out each week!  Just to give you an idea, I usually burn anywhere from 500-600 calories per run.  You thinking what I'm thinking?  Yup -- time to step up my game.

So as much as I'd love to think of weekends (and holidays) like I have in the past, that's simply not going to work from now on.  Instead, I'm tweaking my outlook.  Going forward, weekends/holidays are days in which I have extra time to spend at the gym.  And as for my eating habits -- well, that's going to take some serious control.  I'm a snacker by nature, so when I'm mulling around the house looking for something to do, visiting the cookie jar, or fridge, is no longer an acceptable passtime on a Saturday afternoon.

Starting tomorrow, I'll be shifting my thinking.  Valentine's Day with my hubby will be spent at Planet Fitness.  And instead of eating out amongst the crowds (where I'm bound to stuff my face and easily eat an excess of 1,000 calories by ordering an appetizer, cocktail, and dessert), we'll order in from Chili's.  Nothing says "I love you" like the Lunk Alarm and take-out!

But hey... this is my life!  At least for the next year.  :-\  Trying to reassure myself that it will all be worth it in the end.  Feel free to second that!

Nicole's Daily Menu
Poptars (yes, I know... uck.  They even tasted crappy going down.)
None (at the hairdresser and didn't pack a snack!)
Ham on 100% whole wheat bread with mayo
Multigrain Tostidos chips
Laughing Cow French Onion Spreadable Cheese
Yoplait yogurt
To be determined... (looking like chicken parm with some sort of vegie.  Yummy!)

Day 4 -- Thank God for Small Victories... It's What Keeps You Going

OK, so yesterday I said that the post was going to be short.  Immediately after, I proceeded to write for 45 minutes.  I'm sure you're all getting a little tired of the extra-long posts, and to be quite honest, I'm pretty wiped out today. 

SO -- quick, short, brief post for tonight about my small victory today. 

Recently, I've been trying to become more aware about my eating patterns/habits, and as a result, had a small revelation.  The past month for me was a rough one -- I went out to lunch, or ordered it in, every day for two weeks straight!  Now, according to Kali (my super-duper, awesome nutritionist and thunderous, albeit sometimes ignored, voice of reason), I should be eating out no more than two times a week.  TOTAL.  That includes pizza on Friday night if Ted and I are too tired to cook or lunch with the girls on Saturday afternoon before shopping at the mall.  TWO TIMES.  Yea, well, needless to say my once a day rate needs to end (and has, thankfully). 

What I couldn't figure out is why I was suddenly abandoning all my improved eating habits for greasy, fattening, stomach-churning food.  I think I've finally figured it out, though.  My job is, at times, a little stressful.  I work as a legal assistant in a VERY busy foreclosure department at a medium-sized firm.  And when I feel like I'm going to rip my hair out, I find the quickest escape.  For me, for the past few weeks, that's been going to lunch.  Now, looking back, I know that I wasn't necessarily craving junk food.  I just needed to get away from work long enough to regain sanity! 

With that little tidbit of information in hand now, I'm more empowered and I've come up with a different strategy -- one that might work for you, too (if you struggle with this).  And thanks to my co-worker and Work Best Friend, Rachel, for agreeing to go at it with me!  From now on, I'm allowed to eat out twice a week, per Kali's original and previously ignored suggestions.  If I find that I'm stressed and need some breathing room, I (and whoever feels like going for the car ride with me) will leave for lunch and go to Target, Borders, Wal-Mart... basically anywhere that gets my mind off of work and away from food that will tempt me to make bad decisions.  Then, when I get back to the office, I'll eat whatever lunch I've packed for the day at my desk.  On the off chance I didn't have time to pack my lunch (which actually is more of the norm in the Ekholm House), then I'll go home for that hour and make a nutritious lunch with food I trust.  And Rachel has pledged to do the same.  I tell ya, having a buddy who agrees not only to hold you accountable, but subjects herself to the same sort of torture sure makes adhering to these changes that much easier!  So, THANK YOU RACHEL!!!!

Now, onto my next subject. I met with Kali this evening for the first time in five weeks.  And while I could tell she was disappointed I had gained 2.5 pounds in the past 2 months (eek!), I also know she was happy to see that I have re-focused.  She thinks the blog is a great idea and is happy to hear it's motivating me. 

Which leads me to my small victory of the day:  I STARED DOWN PEEPS!!!  And yes, I realize that statement probably makes no sense at all to you.  So let me explain. 

I adore the marshmallowy goodness that are Peeps.  I love Pumpkin Peeps, I love Snowmen Peeps, and I love Bunny Peeps.  I LOVE Peeps.  In my previous lifetime (and by that I mean this past Christmas), I've been known to down an entire package (that's 12, people) of Peeps that were given to me in my Christmas stocking... by NOON on Christmas Day.  Yes, I know.  Absolutely disgusting, right?  Whatever... it was my binge food.  I've accepted it.  Now, moving on.

So trust me when I say it was truly NO small victory when I found myself roaming through the aisles of Rite Aid today, in search of deodarant and mascara, only to stumble across an entire aisle of Devil-inspired foods(including Peeps!) and still manage to leave with only those two objects in my hand.  What made it worse was that I was on the phone with a friend, so I was lingering.  You would have thought I was a mother saying goodbye to her infant child, the way I was looking at those cute, squishy, hot pink-colored Bird Peeps.  I wanted them so bad.  As if it was all playing out in slow-motion, I reached for them, and then quickly pulled my hand back, afraid if I actually made contact with the package I'd be done for. 

I'm happy to say, no to boast, that I turned down those Peeps, and every other chocolate piece of decadence that lined both sides of that aisle.  I made it through the Gauntlet of Tempting Treats!  Go me!!!

But I'll be honest, the one thing that convinced me it wasn't worth it in yet another moment of weakness (I tried to tell you I stray often!)?  It was you guys.  The comments you have left, the messages you have sent me have really inspired me. It's so great to hear that you're all working through your own issues, making your own adjustments, and fighting the good fight.  And because of your inspiring words, your encouragement, I was able to make a good, healthy choice.  So thanks to you guys!

On a sidenote:  I've decided to start posting what I'll call "Nicole's Daily Menu."  This way, there's no hiding what I'm eating, and I'll be a hell of a lot less likely to make a poor choice when I know that I have to share it with all of you.  If I ever post something that looks of interest to you, feel free to comment and ask me for the recipe, or, if you'd like to know where to find a particular food.  I'm here for you guys! 

Stay strong tomorrow!  And keep making healthy choices!

Oh... and once again, I lied.  Yet ANOTHER long post.  :-\  Sorry!

Nicole's Daily Menu
1/2 cup of Multigrain Cheerios with 1% milk, almonds
Morning Snack
Low fat Cheese Stick
Roast beef on 100% whole wheat bread with Olive Oil-based mayo
Thin Crisp Triscuits with Laughing Cow French Onion Cheese spread
Strawberry Yogurt
Afternoon Snack
Sliced strawberries with Equal
Enchiladas (yum!)
Steamed green beans
1/2 cup Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream (It's a weakness!  What can I say???)

Day 3 -- Yay for growth (the good kind)!

Unfortunately, tonight's post will be brief because instead of writing, I spent the last four hours tending to grad school apps, Fellowship programs, and registering for all sorts of SAT-like tests that I REALLY don't want to take but kind of have to.  :-\  Trust me, I would have rather been writing.

Tonight, I wanted to take a moment and thank those of you who have started following the blog.  It's been three days, and I'm actually more than a little surprised to have 9 followers -- none of which are my mother.  Call me cheesy, but to me, that's an accomplishment. 

In all honesty, the past two days have probably been the most uplifting days I've had in a few weeks.  I've really been able to re-focus and re-examine what it is I'm trying to do here, and exactly how I need to go about it.  I'll be the first to admit that while my intentions are pure, I stray.  And I stray often.  It takes a lot for me to turn down the french fries and burger and instead choose some nice, steamed broccoli.  'Cause let's be honest, grease is good :-) 

And today, in a moment of weakness, I chose grease! 

And I've been paying for it all afternoon.  Let's just say that when you've been trying to eat healthier, more natural foods, and you decide to surprise your insides with processed crap, it does NOT go well.  (Kim -- I should have listened to you!)

After multiple trips to the bathroom (and a few magazine articles later), I determined that I probably should have listened to my co-worker, Kim, when she suggested ever so politely that "ordering the healthier option of a turkey sandwich is probably cancelled out when you get the french fries and Diet Mountain Dew to go with it."  Thanks, Kim. 

Now, while this might seem obvious to most, in my head, there were a THOUSAND reasons to justify my purchase. 

"But if I don't get what I want now, then I'll just go home and binge later."
"But I did get a turkey sandwich, unlike my usual fried buffalo tenders sandwich... so it is slightly healthier than my norm."

You get the idea. 

At first, I was slightly annoyed with Kim for making my lunch order her business.  But seven hours later, I came to the conclusion that by creating this blog, I had just made my lunch order EVERYONE's business.  I don't think the reality of what I had done when I started The 100 Pound Challenge had set in until today.  Somewhere inside, I had some concept of what I had just done.  But it didn't hit me until now:  I had just invited every single person reading this into my life.  To criticize.  To analyze.  To monitor my every move.  Ten accountability partners and still counting.

Now, intially, this little "epiphany" of mine caused me to march to my computer, where I contemplated disabling the blog, and the entire challenge.  Did I really want EVERYONE's eyes on me, watching what I ate, wondering why I was eating french fries when I clearly needed to have green beans?  Did I really want to see the look of doubt on my friends' and family members' faces?  Gotta admit -- on the surface, not really.

That's when the big cast iron skillet came down and smacked me in the head.  Yes!  I DID WANT THAT!  I mean, Heeellllloooooo!!!!  That's the underlying point of this entire project!  I've tried losing the weight, making lifestyle changes, without anyone holding me accountable.  And it doesn't work.  I'm the type of person who needs to see the doubt, the questioning, so I can look that person straight in the eye and say "Oh yea?!  Watch me do it!" 

I'm glad this blog is growing, and at a faster pace than I had expected.  And I'm thankful for each and every one of my followers.  I'm glad your eyes (and mouse!) are just one click away, daily.  I can't tell you how appreciative I am that you've all decided to take this journey with me. 

P.S. -- Kim, I'm not mad anymore :-)  Thanks for looking out for me today, even if I did make a poor decision!  Lesson learned!  I promise!

Day 2 -- Doomsday Has Been Determined

So I realize that earlier I wrote that tonight's post would further expand on my love for -- no, that doesn't seem adequate enough -- my insatiable need for, chocolate.  And as much as I'd love to go into a tirade about the second love of my life (honey, if you'r reading this, don't worry -- you're still number 1!), I'm way too hyped up about an entirely different topic.

Tonight I did something I know I am going to regret IMMENSELY over the next four months.  This evening, I signed up for my first half-marathon!!!  Yes, me, the Fat Girl -- actually, the really, really, really fat girl -- volunteered to run 13.1 miles.  Now there are two words I never thought I'd see in the same sentence with my name!

Let me first explain that up until September of 2009, I did not "run."  I walked, at a quickened pace, but I did not run.  I always thanked the divine fates for blessing me with some height (I'm 5'9'') because that allowed me to play the position of center in basketball.  And for those of you not familliar with the sport -- that's the position that required the LEAST amount of running.  So when a co-worker (I'm still cursing you, Kim!) encouraged/pushed/told me I was running a 5K, I laughed.  And then I realized that I was pretty pathetic if at the age of 22 I couldn't run 3.1 miles.  That said, I began training in August and have been running since.  I try to get at least 3.25 miles in, three times a week.  It's taken me six months to get to a point where I can run 2 miles straight on a treadmill. 

But 13.1!!!!  Now I'm playing in a whole different ballgame.  Somewhere in the depths of my mind, I knew the day would come where I'd want to run a half-marathon.  I just didn't know that Doomsday would approach so quickly.  Then I heard about this run -- the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America Inaugural Half-Marathon Run/Walk in Boston on June 27 (  My husband has Crohn's.  How am I supposed to say no to that??? 

Part of me was guilted into doing it, part of me is excited, and part of me is still waiting for the reality of this to set in.  But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that I just did possibly the craziest thing I've done in a while.  So crazy that even my mother told me I'm being ridiculous and "it's too much."  Thanks, Mom :-\ 

That brings me to my next point, though.  As much as this entire Challenge is about me losing weight, it's also about me regaining my life.  For too long I've sat on the sidelines, letting my weight dictate what I can and can't do.  And to be honest, I'm kind of sick of it.  What kind of life are you really leading if you're just watching it pass you by?  I'm tired of being told I'm too big to do the things I want to do.  And for once in my life, I'm not going to be ashamed or embarrassed if I fall on my ass trying.  To hell with it!  At least I tried! 

So as much as this blog is going to focus on my struggles with food and excercise as I try to shed what I'm referring to as my mini-me, it's also going to force me to live again.  Each week, I will attempt something new.  Whether that means I try sushi (which I can't even think about chomping down on... poor Nemo :-\), take a new class at the gym (gotta admit, Zumba intrigues me), or sign up for a half-marathon, I plan on forcing myself, and my body, to experience life.  No more excuses.

Now here's where I challenge you.  (What?  You had to have known that was coming!)  What new thing will you try this week?  Will you push yourself to do an extra 10 minutes on the elliptical?  Or maybe there's a guy you've been thinking about asking out?  Or perhaps you've been meaning to start eating healthier.  Let me know what you're thinking of doing and I'll be more than willing to keep you accountable!  I know you'll all do the same for me!

Now... off to bed.  I have a feeling that treadmill isn't going to be too forgiving tomorrow!

I Hate You Mr. Candy Jar

Please excuse my brief moment of insanity to follow:

May I just say, I am SERIOUSLY struggling with the candy jar located at the receptionist's desk right now.  I'm not sure if I should tackle it -- no really, I mean TACKLE it -- or just re-locate my desk three floors up and to the other side of the building for the remainder of the day. 

Either way, all I know is that those mini Snickers bars look miiiigghhhhtttyyy scrumptious!

I think a dark chocolate fix might be the answer to today's temptation.  More on the subject of the very bad, mean, no-good, awful, temptation that is chocolate (and how's it has sabotaged my diets before) later. 


Day 1 -- Let's Do This!!!

I'd love to say that I'm more than enthusiastic about starting this challenge.  But let's be honest -- it's going to suck.  Losing 100 pounds is no small feat, as I continuously remind myself.  :-\  I should probably stop doing that, and then maybe the task wouldn't seem so daunting.

Regardless, though, of how much it's going to absolutely, positively, suck, I am semi-excited about embarking on this adventure.  For far too long, I've been trying to squeeze into already-bigger-than-I'd-like jeans and pretending to actually crave that salad I ordered when I'm out with the girls.  And I have to admit, the idea of size 10 jeans has uber appeal right now.

So after months of staring at my dimpled thighs and seemingly endless rolls of stomach flubber, I made my decision: no more Jumbo Nicole. 

Now, it wouldn't be fair to say that this is my first attempt -- because I assure you, it's not.  Not by a long shot.  I've tried Atkins (and almost socked my then boyfriend the first week when he made the not so wise choice to eat Mac 'n Cheese in front of me).  I've tried South Beach (and found myself sobbing as I walked up and down each aisle of Shaws wondering what the hell I could eat).  And I've tried Weight Watchers (just how many points are in a mug full of ice cream again?).  Nothing worked.  So last July, I started seeing a nutritionist.  With her help, I lost 16 pounds. 

And then I got cocky, assuring myself I could complete this journey on my own, now that I had the proper tools to go at it the right way.  But when I cut back on how many times a month I met with her, I quickly found myself slipping back into old routines.  My nutritious, homemade lunches were swapped out for steak and cheese sandwiches at Cheesecake Factory.  Funny how you don't mind eating an entire small pizza and the like when there's no one to report it to! 

So, here I am again.  Not quite where I first started, but getting close to it!  So before my full-blown Jell-O legs make their triumphant return, I figured I'd try and start again. 

Today, Feb. 8, 2010, I weigh 253 pounds.  There, I said it.  It's out there now.  For my parents, in-laws, sister, friends, family members, colleagues, and old classmates to see.  Phew!  (In case you were wondering, yes, that was hard.  And yes, I'm secretly hoping no one is reading this.) 

But hopefully, by Feb. 8, 2011, I'll weigh 153 pounds, and look a little more like Heidi Klum, and a little less like Kirstie Alley.  I'm not going to try fad diets or detox sessions or gastric bypass.  I'm doing this the most natural way I can -- by altering my Keebler/Nabisco-filled eating habits and excercising my giggly ass off!  With the help of Kali, the support of my friends, and some seriously motivating running buddies, I'm going to lose this weight! 

Now... who's with me?!