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Planning on Being Awesome This Year?

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First of all: Happy New Year!  I don’t know that I’m really huge on partying to welcome in the New Year or anything like that, but I love any opportunity to reflect on the past and make goals and plans for the future.  I do this regularly.  The start of every semester I like to make a list of goals and an accompanying set of plans to help me work on things that I could be doing better at.

I’m sure a lot of you have goals that include getting more fit or losing weight.  And those are really great goals to have.  My health/fitness/overall wellness journey began with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  It’s been five years since then and I’ve learned a lot.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.  For example, I have a goal of someday hiking to Havasupai Falls.  However, because that isn’t a goal that I plan on accomplishing within the next year or so,  I don’t have a plan yet.  However, I do have a pressing goal of hitting 20% body fat by June.  So here is what my plan looks like:

-Get my body fat measured (in the BodPod on campus) every three months. Making an appointment on Wednesday.

-Eat clean (Paleo) 13 out of every 14 days.

-Be mindful of starch and fruit intake, especially on non-workout days.

-CrossFit at least 4 times a week.

There are other parts to this plan that are more secondary goals (work on mobility of one body part after each WOD, go to Endurance weekly, etc.)  And I did make other goals that have their own plans (audition to be a Disney Princess, improve my grades, etc).  But the important part is that I wrote it all down.  That always makes me feel more accountable to myself.  And I wrote down the things that I have to do on a regular basis to help me succeed.

Anyone can have a goal, but that’s like saying “I’m going to Hawaii”.  Making a plan is like buying the tickets to Hawaii.  And then when you achieve your goal, that’s when you’re in Hawaii. (Consequently, I wish I could afford to go to Hawaii as a reward for hitting 20% body fat.  Anyone rich want to take me?)

And for those of you who want to lose weight, I want to impart to you the wisdom that I have learned over the last 5 years.  If I had to give you only one piece of advice (other than making a plan), it would be this: DO NOT underestimate the importance of weight training. I did for four years, and I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner.

In my first couple of years, I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and from 215 to 150-ish pounds.  And I stayed consistent at that weight and size for a couple of years after that.  At the beginning of 2011, I decided I was ready to really embark on my quest for lady abs.  I did p90x and a few other home-based workout programs.  I started tweaking the last bits of junk out of my diet (everything processed had to go, even if it was whole grain — this eventually made the transition to Paleo a lot easier).  And then in August, Chris got me to join CrossFit.  In the last year, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds.  But I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 8.  Sometimes a 6.  My body confidence is way higher, my pudge is way smaller, and my posture is improved.  I not only look better, but I feel amazing in my own skin.

And I am now convinced that whoever told girls that weight training would make them look manly was probably lying to someone they wanted to stay fat.  I am also convinced that thin girls who say things like “I’m fat” often feel that way because they lack the muscle to make their bodies look the way they want.  Looking fit is a combination of losing fat AND building muscle.  I neglected the muscle for so long because I felt like I was still too chubby to have to worry about it, but worrying about it is what helped me get to the point I wanted to get to.  Sure, I still have a handful of body fat percentage points to drop, but I can actually see the faint outlines of my lady abs starting to emerge.  My shoulders and arms look toned.  My legs look killer in high heels.    But in no way do I look manly.

Gratuitous picture of my arm. But seriously. Last year, that did not look like that.

So, basically my whole point is this: if you want to lose weight, you can do that any number of ways.  If you want to feel great about your body and you want to look your best: weights.  You don’t have to do any particular program.  Pick up a copy of the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises if you’re new and don’t have a lot of resources, it’s an excellent place to start.  And they have a lot of 6-12 week programs, so you can switch up your routine a lot.  Of course, if you have the money and a nearby affiliate, you could always do CrossFit. Or you could borrow your friends copy of P90X.  Whatever you plan on doing, make a plan.  Pick up weights.  Don’t be afraid to lift as heavy as you can.  Practice good form.  Eat enough protein.  For that matter, eat enough food.  You can’t starve your way into a nice body.  You have to feed it.  And, oh yeah, did I mention that you should lift weights?  Because you really, really should.


My Thanksgiving Resolution. (Also, things from my lunchbox)

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I am currently typing this on my phone as my hair color marinates on my head. I straight up love technology.
Anyways, more to the point, I took a picture of stuff I ate this week! It wasn’t cute, but it fed me. As you can see, I had a lettuce wrapped burger with sauteed onions and mushrooms. Also, deviled eggs with homemade mayo. And two mandarins. Delicious. And afterwards, I had a nice spot of loose leaf tea. Because I love a nice spot of tea at my desk in the afternoon. I am a nerd.
Not exactly fancy food, but the point is to eat well. Not to eat fancy.
Along those same lines, I decided to lay myself some ground rules for Thanksgiving. I’m sure a lot of people would love to tell me what a pretentious over-achiever I’m being for not letting myself go crazy and eat everything in sight on Thanksgiving of all days. But to those people, I respond with the following: why is your tradition to eat until you rue the day you were born on a day set aside for gratitude?
Seriously, though. I have been thinking about this lately, and the thing I am most thankful for is a healthy body that serves me well. Why do I abuse it by stuffing myself so full that all I want to do is sleep and vomit? That doesn’t show a lot of gratitude. So this year, I’ve decided on some ground rules to get my body through the day without feeling too neglected or abused.
1. No bread products. No one is making rolls or stuffing from scratch, so it really isn’t worth it.
2. One dessert per completed workout. 50 burpees for each additonal treat I want (to be completed before consumption). I hate burpees, so this makes me evaluate how much I really want something.
3. Go on my annual run with Chris in the evening. This year, we will be breaking it up with some bodyweight moves. I think we should start calling it the Gratitude Run.
That’s it. Those are my guidelines. Nothing too complicated or hardcore. Just bringing some health and sense back into a day normally filled with debauchery and digestive distress.
Steal my idea if you want. Go crazy on food if you want. I just felt like I needed to write it down and share it, because now it’s a commitment. Feel free to follow up to see how I did!

You Never Deserve Cake/Cookies/Chocolate. NEVER. Seriously.

I decided today that if I had to wait for every time I had a coherent thought or priceless piece of advice to post a new blog entry, this blog would look. . . well. . . about like it does.  As in, I haven’t posted for two months.  So all I have today are some random thoughts about the Biggest Loser competition at work that is coming to a close next Friday and my long-standing issue with the “I deserve it” philosophy.

We’ll start with the competition at work.  I can’t speak for how everyone else who is participating is doing, but I’ve really enjoyed having some kind of short-term end goal and motivation to keep me on my toes.  When you have a looming and untimeable goal like “I want lady abs”, it’s easy to cheat yourself and slack off because you don’t really have rules or parameters.  On the other hand, when your end goal is “all I wanna do is *bang, bang, bang, band* and a-*click, ching!* and take ya money” (thanks to MIA for the mission statement there), and you have two months to work as hard as possible, you have not only motivation but a marker that says: someday, this will end.  I will not be doing this day in and day out forever.

Well, at least that’s how it started.  And now?  I have no desire to throw out the hard work I’ve done or the habits I’ve established by mustering my willpower and saying no to heaven only knows how much delicious-looking treat food.  So what began as a short-term quest to reign in my diet to a near-perfect state only to win money to buy new clothes is now an awesome habit.  That just so happens to be helping me get closer to that abstract goal of getting my lady abs.  Win win win.

I can’t say if I’ll win the competition.  My starting body fat was likely one of the very lowest to begin with, so in some ways that put me at a disadvantage.  But this I do know:  I have worked hard. I have eaten better than ever before in my life.  I have been prioritizing sleep.  I even joined CrossFit with my boyfriend (we’ll be addressing this at length in another post), which I never thought I would ever do.  I have had days where I feel like I could do this every day for the rest of forever.  And I have had days where I spent hours on foodgawker crying over pictures of cake.  Luckily, I’m doing a lot more of the former the further into the competition we get.

So what’s the biggest thing I’ve learned?  I’ve learned that people sell themselves short.  A lot.  I know girls who have no problem getting enough exercise, but they absolutely do not control their eating.  I’ve been doing it for a long time.  I’ve been a relatively healthy eater for quite some time now, but it’s amazing what the difference is between being a “relatively healthy” eater and a “nearly optimal” eater.  I still have more things I could clean up, but I’ve cleaned up a lot over the last couple of months and the results have been so much better than before.  Just a little fine-tuning has gone a long way.  I feel better. I look better. My skin is nicer.  I even smell better, which is totally weird.  (Well. . . except for after a workout.  I have never smelled/looked worse in my entire life than I do after some CrossFit workouts — I assume that means I’m doing it right).

And here’s the thing that really gets me: most people tell themselves that they deserve the crap that is holding them back because they’ve worked so hard.  Or because they’re so stressed out.  Or because they’ve had a rough day.  You deserve it?  Really?  You deserve to keep yourself from seeing progress because you want to put something delicious in your mouth, chew a couple of times, and then swallow?  Seriously?

Let me tell you something: you don’t deserve it.  Nope.  Never.

What you deserve is to see the results of the work you put in at the gym.  What you deserve is to reap the benefits of all of the rest of your healthy eating choices, instead of having just done all that work to create a buffer.  What you deserve is to make progress, not to barely break even or to sabotage yourself.  You deserve to feel better, and that ice cream is not going to do it for you.  I promise.

So what you really deserve is to accomplish your goals.  You deserve to feel healthy and strong and fit and amazing.  In short, you deserve so much more than dessert.

At any rate, next Friday we’ll find out if I win.  But I already know that my hard work has paid off based on the way I feel and on the way my sexiness has definitely increased over the last 7 or so weeks.  But to win the cash would just be the icing on the cake.  (Mmmm. . . cake).

Weight Loss: A Primer

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So I’ve been thinking of doing a Weight Loss 101 post for weeks now, but I’ve had a really hard time getting passionate about calories in/calories out and macronutrient ratios and blah blah blah. Because, really, you can get that kind of information everywhere on the internet. Calorie needs calculators are everywhere. I even have one on my phone.

So here are some things you need to get started (or to keep going!) that you won’t find in your calorie needs calculator.

To preface this, I have to tell you that right now, I am really freaking frustrated with my progress this month. I am working my butt off, and I don’t feel like I have anything to show for it. So yesterday I made a list (I always make lists instead of writing in a journal) of things that I need in order to continue to be successful.


If you have nothing else, at least have this.  I think the most successful people in life, not just in weight loss, are the persistent ones.  Look at Abraham Lincoln, who famously failed to get elected to pretty much any office but didn’t give up.  And now he’s one of the highest regarded presidents in US history.  Anything you try, you may end up failing at over and over again.  But keep going!  You’re going to have days where you feel disappointed in yourself.  You’re going to have setbacks.  You’re going to feel like you aren’t making progress.  But if you give up, you don’t give yourself the opportunity to yield the rewards of your work later on.  Which bring us to. . . .


I struggle with this one.  I’m working really hard right now! I should get to see my results right now!  Sadly, life does not work that way.  And it’s really true what they say, anything worth having is worth waiting for.  You didn’t get into the body you have overnight, and you’re not going to get into the body you want overnight, either.  Give it time.  But don’t give up!

Hard Work

Yes, hard work.  You’re going to have put in a lot of time in the kitchen, and a lot of time sweating it out.  You’re going to have to say no to things you want to eat, and you’re going to have to expect the best of yourself even when you don’t feel like it.  You can have access to all of the best equipment and resources in the world, but it won’t you do any good unless you put in the work.  No one can eat well for you.  No one can go on your run or to your Zumba class for you.  It’s all you.

Trust in the Process

Oh yes.  “The process”.  You have to believe that if you’re creating a calorie deficit and are treating your body right, it’ll get you to where you want to go.  It’s as simple as that.  You have to believe it’s doing something for you, even though some days you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere.  You are.

A Good Attitude

Having a good attitude will help you be so much more successful, simply because you’ll learn to want to be doing what you are doing.  I used to think about what I’d rather be eating, but now I just enjoy what I’m eating for what it is, rather than for what it isn’t (because nothing other than a cheeseburger is a cheeseburger. . . sigh).  And I used to dread going on a run with my boyfriend because he was faster and stronger and fitter than me, which always resulted in me doing extra poorly and becoming a whiny baby.  Now I see that time as an opportunity to run the best that I can and know that we can enjoy doing something together that is good for us, even though I don’t challenge him.  That’s not my role.  It’s my job to be the one who works harder because he’s there with me.  Life is too short not to enjoy what you’re doing.


This is another thing I’ve always struggled with.  Get to know your body and what it needs and what it’s capable of.  Learn to distinguish between physical hunger and an emotional craving (quick check: are you hungry from the shoulders up–your mouth? or from the shoulders down–your stomach?)  Learn to pay attention to the feeling in your body that says: I don’t feel like working out today.  And learn to throw that feeling out the window and suck it up and do it anyway.  When you know the difference between hunger and a craving, and between genuine physical exhaustion (which you don’t really get very often, I promise.  We’re talking like. . semi-annually) and just not feeling like it, you know how to move forward in the best way possible.


Make a plan and stick to it.  That means scheduling in your workouts and not compromising them, no matter what.  That means sticking to your meal plans and your healthy habits.  When you have discipline, these things become automatic and you’re less likely to get off track.  I work out right after work every day.  It’s just what I do.  I don’t eat any sugar on weekdays, and I know that.  So when someone pulls out the cookies at work, I don’t have to sit there and think about whether I want them or not.  That decision has already been made, that habit has already been implemented.


You’re going to have to give up things you want.  Period.  I’m sorry, but you can’t have it all.  Figure out what you want more and give up the things that are standing in your way.

Adequate Sleep

Everything else on this list is a lot easier when you’ve had enough sleep.  You feel better.  Your body works better.  You’re happier.  Do not overlook this.  Experts say you need at least seven hours a night.  Bare minimum.  This goes back to sacrifice.  You’re probably going to have to give up some things to get enough sleep, but what you get back is worth it.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  But it’s a start.  So, when you’re collecting all your resources to accomplish your goals, don’t forget that all of the workout programs and personal trainers and diet books in the world can’t make you successful.  Only you can do that.  You’re the only thing standing in between who you are now and who you want to be.

Get moving.

5 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Losing Weight

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So, here’s the deal.  When I started this blog, I thought I wanted it to be about cooking.  But as far as cooking goes, I don’t feel like I have anything extra important and special to talk about.  What I have come to realize is that I do have something important to say to my friends and loved ones (and anyone else in the world who stumbles onto this blog) about losing weight and getting healthy.  So I’m going to start going in that direction.  And I’m going to start by telling you guys the things I have learned, through trial and error, that have worked for me.

Also, I’m going to shamelessly give you guys another before and after picture.  Because, seriously, who doesn’t love those?

So here are some things you may or may not read elsewhere on the internet.  At any rate, they are things that I truly believe.  And things that I had to figure out the hard way.  Things I wish someone would have told me when I started out.

1. It takes courage to lose weight.

I know when I normally think of courage, I think of people going out on the battlefield.  People leaving their families to defend their country.  Or even explorers, going out into the wild unknown.  We don’t really think of changing out bodies as being a process that takes courage, but it does.  Because there is always risk and fear involved.  As someone who had never been thin and had spent her whole life feeling like the chubby friend, I admit now that I was scared to change.  Without my extra pounds, I was worried that I wouldn’t know who I was, in some ways.  I was scared of getting attention from the opposite sex and how that would make me feel, thinking that these people would never have liked me when I was heavier.

I was also scared of how hard it was going to be.  I had never put a lot of thought into the way I was eating before, and I didn’t really know what I was doing most of the time.  I was scared of people paying too much attention or judging me when I went to the gym.

And I was scared that I was going to fail.

I don’t remember exactly what it was that helped me overcome most of these fears.  Probably just the act of doing it anyway.  You can’t let your fears hold you back.  When it really comes down to it, the only thing standing in your way is you.  I truly believe that.

2. Not everyone is going to be supportive.  People will sometimes see you making good choices and take it personally.  Make them anyway.

This is one that really gets me going.  And I see it all the time. Everywhere from work to school to family gatherings, I have seen or personally had people try to undermine healthy behaviors.  Sometimes they don’t say anything, and just give you a look.  Sometimes they’re open and loud about it.  But here’s the thing: they don’t think you’re doing something bad, really.  Most of the time they’re jealous or upset that you’re stronger than they are. Because they know they aren’t at your level, they want to drag you down to theirs.

Well, maybe that’s just what I tell myself to make me feel better, but it’s easier to swallow that way.

This happened once at work, very recently.  Management had brought ice cream bars in to celebrate an accomplishment.  I declined the ice cream, but I sit in a corner all by myself where no one can see me, so no one bothered me about it.  One of my coworkers, however, said no to the ice cream and our other coworkers tried to guilt her into eating it.  She did a great job holding her ground, but their reactions really bothered me.  Why did it matter to them whether she had some or not?  I could see no other reason for it other than feeling like they weren’t living up to her standard.

Remember that next time someone teases or belittles you for making a good choice.  They feel bad because they aren’t living up to your standard.

3. Write down your goal, and make sure you encounter something every day that reminds you of your goal.

This is actually a relatively new one for me, but I’m finding it super helpful.  Some people make motivational posters or have a goal calendar.  I have a really simple piece of yellow paper that has my beginning and current measurements written on it.  There’s space for more measurements, and I take them every month.  It’s a reminder that I want my measurements to be smaller next month than this month.

And if that fails to keep me motivated, I just google image search the phrase “lady abs” (though I admit that this phrase is beginning to return too many pictures of Lady Gaga, so I may have to find a new one soon).

4. Track your progress in more than one way.

Some people say you should throw out the scale and go on measurements alone.  I don’t believe that.  I think you need both to get an accurate depiction of what is happening to your body.  Track your weight, track your measurements, track your body fat as accurately as you can, and don’t forget to take pictures.  I don’t have a lot of weight left to lose.  It’s all vanity weight at this point, so I’m not seeing very much movement on the scale (4 pounds in the last 2 months! And I am legitimately happy about that), but I can see a lot of progress in my monthly photographs.  I promise you, if you’re working hard and you have a calorie deficit, your body is changing.  But sometimes it’s not showing progress in the method you’re tracking.  The more methods you use, the more likely you are to see your progress accurately.

5. Your body will likely always feel like a work in progress.

I thought that once I reached my initial goal, I would just happily stay at that magic weight forever and live happily ever after.  Not true.  Don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve done a great job getting to where I am.  But just like with pretty much everything else in life, there is always room for improvement.  I want to have more muscle tone, I want to be a better runner.  I really friggin’ want lady abs (someday!).  And sometimes it’s frustrating to feel like I’m never going to be done and perfected.  But I don’t think anyone feels that way.  Even the person you think has the most perfect body on earth probably wishes they looked as good as the airbrushed version of them that they see on magazine covers.  As long as you use that as motivation to keep active and keep eating well and keep working, I don’t really think that’s a bad thing.

But it is important to look at your body right now (right now, I said!) and appreciate it for what it is and what it does for you and what it allows you to do.  Thank your body for what it’s done today.  And appreciate the things about it you think are attractive.  I remember waking up one day and looking in the mirror and thinking, “my, what mighty fine clavicles I have!”  I am not kidding.  They are fantastic, feminine clavicles.  And on days that I feel bloated or I’m having a bad hair day, I take a good look at my clavicles and remind myself that I have mighty fine clavicles, no matter what.

Don’t ever give up, even when you’re discouraged.  Write down your goals and your plans, but lose your expectations.  Be patient.  You are a work in progress.  You are beautiful.  You are a miracle.     

And now. . . the promised before/after picture.  I don’t remember when the “before” picture was taken.  The “after” is only a few weeks old.

(Note: I’m not always sure what to write on this blog.  Hence the lack of updates.  So if you have any questions you’d like me to answer or address in a blog post, feel free to leave it in the comments or message me on facebook).

Take it Easy (+ Clean-Out-The-Veggie-Drawer Frittata)

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I learn new things all the time.  Like this week I learned that I can get a free copy of the New York Times every single day in one of the buildings I have class in.  I took advantage of this new discovery on Tuesday morning and (after reading up the turmoil in Libya) immediately flipped over to the Health section, where I was delighted to find an article on why going easy on yourself is a good weight loss and health tool.  Finally! Vindication!  I swear I’ve been telling people this forever and no one wants to listen.

Apparently they did this study where they had two groups of women taste-test candies and doughnuts.  One group of women was reassured that they shouldn’t feel bad about eating the foods because everyone in the study had to do it, so it wasn’t a big deal.  The other group of women wasn’t given any such reassurance.  You would think that the ones who were told it’s okay to eat the sweets would be the ones who ate more, right?  But . . . no.  The group of women who wasn’t given any reassurance and were feeling guilty about what they were eating were actually overeating because of their guilt about it.  So counterproductive.

There’s more in the article about self-compassion and further details about the study.  It’s a great read, especially for anyone who is struggling to lose weight and deals with guilt eating.  Read the full article on the NY Times Well blog here.

(Keep reading for more commentary on how letting go of negative emotions helped me. . . and for the frittata recipe!)

Read the rest of this entry

On Weight Loss. . . And Finding Out What You’re Made Of

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I’ve been perusing healthy living blogs for a while now, and I’ve decided that two things are absolutely certain.

1) I don’t have anything new or earth-shattering to add to the collective knowledge of the internet.  I’ve been successful pulling resources from hundreds of websites.  Everything I have to say is just re-hashed knowledge.

And. . .

2) That doesn’t matter and I’m going to blog about my life and experiences anyway.

In a real way, I’m not even doing this to try to benefit the world of people trying to lose weight or eat healthier.  The things that got me inspired enough to commit to a blog are the people who have asked me for recipes or advice, and my innate need to talk. A lot. About myself. All the time.  And one of the most remarkable things about me (and certainly the thing I love to talk about the most), has been my transformation from a hopelessly clueless, overweight, depressed girl to the me I am today: not perfect, but working on it.  I love to eat healthy, and am learning to love physical activity.  I am at a healthy weight.  My depression is now under control thanks to my healthy habits, and I have been anti-depressant free for over three years.

Just about four years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  I had been overweight as long as I could remember, but going to college and gaining the dreaded freshman fifteen saw me topping the charts at 215 pounds.  The only reason I even knew my weight at the point was because I went to the doctor, and had to step on the scale.  I had no idea that I weight that much.  At 5’7 and 215 pounds, that gave me a BMI of 33.7 . . . solidly in the obese category.

Obese? Me?  I had always had a weight problem, but the term Obese was so. . . harsh.  I tried not to focus on it too much.  Instead, I started reading websites about weight loss.  I signed up for SparkPeople and started tracking my calories.  I tried eating less carbs.  I ate pre-portioned snack packs of everything.  I ate sugar free jell-o.  The weight began to come off, but I still felt like something was missing. I was still hungry all the time.  I was cranky even more often than I was hungry.

I had been walking regularly with a friend of mine, but decided it was time I signed up for a gym membership for times when that wasn’t convenient.  They, of course, wanted to try to sell me a personal trainer.  One of their tactics for getting you to sign up is to take your body fat with their little hand-held scanner.  Had I had the money to afford a personal trainer, it would’ve worked.   44% body fat.  Almost half of me was made of fat. And I had already lost 15 pounds! It took a lot of self-control not to run out of the gym right then.  I waited until the end of the session to let the full realization of that number settle in.  And then I walked outside, got in my car and cried.  I cried the whole way back to my apartment.  I cried for nearly the rest of the day.  And then I cried some more about it the next day.  How had this happened?  And, more importantly, what was I going to do about it?

For months, I obsessively counted calories and tracked calories burned at the gym.  Over time, I began to figure out what made me feel best.  It wasn’t eating a certain amount of calories, but eating things that were good for me.  I switched my emphasis from wanting to lose weight to wanting to be good to my body.  Because, despite how I might have felt about the way it looked, it was doing everything I asked of it.  It was amazing. And now we’re to the ongoing part of my development: eating whole foods, exercising regularly.  Being as good to my body as possible.  Because, so far, it’s been good to me.

Before and After:


Then: 215 pounds.  44% body fat. 33.7 BMI.

Now: 150 pounds. 25-ish% body fat. 23.5 BMI.