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This Summer, Follow Your Gut

5 Jun
archway at Descanso Gardens

An archway of branches at Descanso Gardens in Southern California. It’s a beautiful place to explore. What’s keeping you from exploring new activities and places this summer?

Summertime, like New Year’s, can be a great launch point for new goals and adventures. It’s not only a clean slate, but also a season that enables you to be more active and that inspires happiness and fun. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve reached a plateau. I’m at a point, physically, where I need to amp up my weight loss methods in order to keep my metabolism high and lose more weight. I’m also at a point, emotionally, where I feel like if I don’t get up and run with some of my project ideas, I’ll miss out on some great opportunities. With all that in mind, I’m kicking off summer with a reinvigorated mindset. I have all the tools necessary to accomplish my weight loss goals. It’s time to kick myself into high gear. Here are some of the plans I’m making for summertime weight loss:

  • I will follow my gut, take more risks, and try things I’ve never tried before. Experience can only be gained by trying something new…and if you fail in the process, you’ve learned even more. I’d rather see what’s on the other side of trying than to sit on this plateau and not try.
  • I will give myself a mini-makeover. I have an extremely limited budget. I mean, money is really tight these days. So doing things that cost money is usually ruled out for the time being. However, there are small, inexpensive ways to boost your self-confidence and have some fun. Like my budget, my old jeans are still too tight. Instead of getting hung up on what I can’t wear, I’m pulling out all of my skirts and sundresses and mixing them up with other clothes to make new outfits. I’m also thinking I’ll dye my brown hair blonde for the summer. That kind of change gives your system a real jolt and can help give your attitude a new spin.
  • I will listen to a record or CD every day. Instead of sitting down for an hour to watch a TV show or read articles online, I will choose instead to dust off an old album or disc and keep moving–standing, stretching, dancing, anything but sitting!
  • I will explore new places. I will find as many places I can to walk to or drive to (if they have free admission) so that I can see more, hear more, and feel more. Sometimes a different bird call or view can tap into a sense or memory that leads to new inspiration. I will also take my sketch pad with me and start drawing again. It’s so much more relaxing than vegging out in front of the TV.
  • Speaking of vegging out, I will dedicate this summer to trying new veggies and new ways of cooking them. Summer is probably the best time of year to take advantage of local produce markets and farmers. I realized yesterday that I pretty much only boil my veggies unless I throw them in the baking pan with some chicken or fish. I want to break away from this habit and learn new ways to incorporate veggies into our meals (besides my love for making veggie dip). My first experiment will be using the indoor grill to make different types of veggie skewers.
  • I will use the longer daytime hours to my advantage. One of my favorite things about summer is the longer days. I feel like the extended daylight gives me extra energy and opportunity. Now that it’s still light out even after we have dinner, I’m going to start suggesting we go for evening walks. It’s time together; it’s good for digestion; and we may learn something new about our neighborhood.
  • I will indulge in more fun and games this summer, including but not limited to hula hoop, jump rope, beach fun, and dancing. Anytime there is a chance or invitation for fun and physical activity, I will do myself and my body a favor and say yes!

What are your weight loss plans for this summer? How are you going to keep motivated to stay active? Share your thoughts, struggles, questions, or achievements in the comments section. Good luck!

–Michelle

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No Pain, No Gain

14 May

When you’re trying to lose weight, there are days when you’re hungry, cranky, and sore. I’m hungry and sore today…and I’d be cranky too if it weren’t so darn beautiful and sunny outside. Our perspective on healthy weight loss has been to not deprive ourselves of things we want but to instead focus on moderation and nutritious choices. But when you’re modifying your portion sizes and eating habits, inevitably there are days when you’re going to feel frustrated. To get through this mood without letting it sabotage my progress, I’m going to try this today: Continue reading

How to Burn 2000 Calories in One Day at Home!

9 May
michelle's plants

Spring cleaning burns tons of calories. The only household task I can’t count is gardening because these are the only plants I have–one amaryllis and two black succulents.

Every little calorie burned helps me get one step closer to achieving my goal of losing 40 pounds. To keep me motivated, I decided to educate myself about how the little activities I do can add up.

Since I work from home, I structured my schedule this week to allow a day for taking care of household chores that have been piling up since my husband and I have been busy with work (spring cleaning!). All calorie-burning data is from the WebMD Fit-O-Meter (and all data is calculated based on my personal weight; you should enter your own weight to get the most accurate data for yourself). And, if you turn on some upbeat music while you’re doing stuff, it really helps your brain and body increase your activity level.

  • Make breakfast: Making breakfast takes about 10 minutes and burns 30 calories. Clearing breakfast dishes in 5 minutes burns 18 calories. In total, burns 48 calories.
  • Make the bed: Making the bed takes 5 minutes. Burns 15 calories.
  • Wash the dishes: Takes about 15 minutes. Burns 51 calories.
  • Go grocery shopping: Grocery shopping with a cart takes 20 minutes and burns 68 calories. Carrying a load of groceries to and from the car and the apartment takes about 15 minutes and burns 166 calories. Putting them all away takes about 10 minutes and burns 37 calories. Burns a total of 271 calories.
  • Dust the house: The entire house takes about half an hour to dust thoroughly (lots of bookshelves). Burns 111 calories.
  • Mop the kitchen floor: Takes 15 minutes to mop the kitchen. Burns 78 calories.
  • Vacuum the house: The whole apartment takes 30 minutes to vacuum. Burns 155 calories.
  • Scrub the bathtub: Cleaning the shower and bathtub well takes about 20 minutes of scrubbing and rinsing. Burns 112 calories.
  • Bathe and groom the cat: Takes about 20 minutes from the time I find the cat, scrub him with cat shampoo, rinse, dry, and brush. Burns 103 calories.
  • Reorganize the hall closet and file cabinet (includes some moderate lifting): Takes about 45 minutes. Burns 233 calories.
  • Fold the laundry: Standing while folding a couple loads of laundry takes 15 minutes. Burns 44 calories.
  • Make dinner: From prep to cooking to serving takes about an hour (standing and sitting). Burns 177 calories.
  • Do the dishes again: Takes about 15 minutes. Burns 51 calories.
  • Clean out the bedroom closets: Takes about an hour. Burns 310 calories.

TOTAL: Calories burned from all activities listed above: 1759 calories burned!

Add a stretch break! Whether you’re doing a lot of physical activity or just sitting around all day, your body can benefit in many ways from stretching. A total of 30 minutes of stretching burns 111 calories.

Count your walking! Light and moderate walking throughout the day between tasks counts too! Just one hour of general walking activity burns 266 calories.

Of course, no one wants or needs to do all of those chores in a single day on a regular basis. This was basically our spring cleaning. However, several of these daily tasks really do add up to make a difference in our daily dieting lives. Keeping these numbers in mind can help maintain a positive outlook toward daily weight loss activities. And don’t forget to drink lots of water and get a good night’s rest because both of those things help maintain your body’s metabolism.

Now that I know how many calories can be burned doing each of these household tasks, I can use the information to my advantage. If I eat a heavy dinner, I’ll work it off at the grocery store the next day. If I want a 100-calorie snack, I’ll bathe the cat afterward to burn it off. The cat may not think it’s funny, but I have to keep a sense of humor when I’m dieting! :D

Let me know what you think in the comments section!

–Michelle

Add Zumba To Your Life!

1 May

Michelle and I were thinking we’d like to try some aerobic or maybe dance classes for quite some time, but the financial aspect of this idea never let us move beyond the discussion. We have heard from other people about Zumba, apparently some new fitness class in the gym that everyone is buzzing about these days. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Its choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, cumbia, flamenco, cha-cha-cha, tango, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Well, after all that information we had to check it out, especially since almost every gym offers a one-week free pass, which we thought we’d sign up for.

However, instead of going to a Zumba class, I have decided to skip this step and bring Zumba to us. Yesterday I ordered the Zumba Kinect game so Michelle and I could exercise at home. As soon as her foot heals we are planning to try it out and see what the buzz is all about. Meanwhile, we’ll be stretching with yoga–Netflix added a whole bunch of workout dvds online, which we definitely have to take advantage of!

Check out this Zumba promo video:

 

All the best,

– Vita :)

Getting a Leg Up

26 Apr

I’m having severe pain from plantar fasciitis and a subsequent cortisone shot in my heel. Since I can hardly walk, I’m stuck in bed or on the couch feeling lame. To make the best of it, I set up my computer in the living room and pillows to prop my leg up, and then I used my awkward positioning to help me stretch throughout the day. Injuries can be a real setback when you’re trying to lose weight because your physical activity is limited. But movement of any kind is better than no movement at all, and stretching is the easiest way to maintain mobility. It also just feels good.

As long as I kept weight off my foot and didn’t overextend the nerves in my leg, I didn’t feel pain so much as discomfort and tingling. If I did anything to tweak the nerve in my heel, I’d yelp and wince in pain, so I was very careful.

Stretch #1

I sat in the middle of the couch with the long coffee table parallel to it in front of me. My injured foot was propped up on a pillow on the table to my far left. My normal leg was positioned the same way to my right. Slowly, I’d lean toward each side with my arm outstretched in front of me, toward my foot, or over my head. I’d relax back to take a break, then tuck in my tummy, sit up, and repeat. It helped take the pressure off my lower spine and loosen my shoulders, in addition to stretching my legs and arms.

Stretch #2

With my legs comfortably relaxed in front of me and my feet flat on the floor, I scooted up so I was sitting on the front edge of the couch where there was the most support. Then I straightened up, sucking my stomach in toward my lower back, and maintaining good posture. I stretched my arms out and slowly rotated to each side and then raised my arms above my head before relaxing down and repeating.

Beyond that, I couldn’t do much, and I had to take a lot of breaks (the best was my lunch break to eat some of Vita’s borsch!). But it did make me feel like less of a lump. Sitting around all day with an injury can add a lot of pressure to your back. Stretching in any form really helps, even in its mildest form.

–Michelle :)

Playtime and Friends Improve Weight Loss

25 Apr
Window view before take-off of Southwest planes.

Southwest Airlines' Spirit magazine's April 2012 issue included two articles--one about playtime and the other about weight loss camaraderie--that mirror our efforts with the Diet Drop project.

When my husband and I were flying back from New Jersey to LA, I couldn’t sleep or reach my book so I read the Southwest Airlines’ magazine, Spirit (April, 2012, issue). Two articles caught my attention and reflected some of the goals and philosophies we share on Diet Drop. The first article is, “It’s Called Play,” which, in a nutshell, states that playtime at any age is essential to a health and creative thinking; and the second is, “Dynamo, Mississippi,” which parallels our emphasis on companionship and how it can greatly increase long-term weight loss success. Read on for more insights and highlights from experts that mirror our efforts with Diet Drop.

Continue reading

Work or Workout?

23 Apr

Yesterday I had to work on one photo shoot and needed an assistant. Michelle, of course being the great friend that she is, agreed to help me out. I only needed an assistant to hold a reflector during the shoot, but it turned out to be a whole workout for both of us. The area where the shoot took place had a hill-y landscape, and during those two hours we were constantly hiking from one spot to another. To top it off, we had two quite heavy bags of equipment, which I was trying to balance between the two of us as much as I could, but most of the time Michelle had to carry it while I was running around with the camera trying to capture the shots. I felt really bad for her since she still struggles with her sprained tendons and inflammation in her heel, and I knew such a hike and weight carrying doesn’t do any good either. However, I could see her strong personality through the whole time of the shoot, even if she was tired she didn’t show a bit of it and was very encouraging toward my work.

Photo shoots can take from two to five hours, and usually during the shoot itself you, as a part of the photographer’s team, might not realize how tiring it can be because you are constantly involved in the production. However, the minute it’s over and you sit down to relax, you realize how generally tired you got. By the time we finished, it was already late afternoon and we were pretty hungry. On our way back I remembered that there was one little sushi restaurant where I used to go quite often and I couldn’t resist stopping by that place once again to try their fresh, great sushi. We ordered Alaska roll, avocado roll, and various sushi to share. Unfortunately, we left all my photo equipment in the car and all we had to take pictures with was Michelle’s cell phone.

On our way back we stopped at the store to get a bottle of our favorite moscato wine. It was the perfect end of a great day. We had quite a workout, had a great healthy late lunch that lead to skipped dinner, and the weather was perfect to sit on our patio and enjoy the glass of wine talking the evening away!

Sincerely,

— Vita :)

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