It is ALL Up to Us!

This was too spot on to not post to the blog.  It is all up to us.  Be positive instead of negative. Say "I can" instead of "I can't".  Push your own limits and be proud of your accomplishments.  Be contagious and share your smile.  Train yourself with self-discipline to get up a little earlier and then add a little earlier still. I am so not a morning person, but guess what? Only 15 minutes earlier for a month and then another 15 minutes and now I'm up and at 'em a full hour before I used to drag myself out of bed.  Let's just be our BEST selves, friends.  : )

Five Pounds in February? Eat Well For It!

February continues the Healthy Loser Gal 5 Pound Club challenge that began in January and will continue throughout 2017.  Those who joined in with me - how'd you do?  I was so sick of Christmas cookies and over-indulging that I lost 6.6 lbs. in January and it was fairly easy.  (Yes, I said "easy" because I felt like I wasn't exercising much, just cutting back on calories.)  

Enter the "I'm doing great, I can have whatever I want" phase!  Ugh!

Weight loss is a tricky thing.  We know the rules.  We know the calculations. We know the mindset we need to have, what we need to do, we tell ourselves we're worth it, we write down goals, we write down food journals and STILL... 

I blew it!

I gained back 3 lbs. in the first two weeks of this month of February!  Call it "I don't have a Valentine" blues or the winter doldrums or whatever the heck you can think of to call it.  The reality is I ATE and ATE and ATE.  And I cooked at home and bought chocolates for Valentine's and made sweets for work (and kept half the pan for "treats for home").  Hello??

Considering that I am a fairly optimistic, upbeat, "you got this" kinda gal... I certainly DID NOT "have it" in the first two plus weeks of this month and it wasn't until a few days after Valentine's Day did I get around to shaking my own shoulders (that's my go-to move when I'm upset with friends for what they're doing!lol) and turning my back on the 'dark side'.

So the damage has been done and I've straightened out.  I do NOT want to be a yo-yo weight person 'cause, sometimes, that is worse than just keeping the weight on.  (Please note I did say "sometimes" so don't you go using this post as an excuse to not lose the excess weight you know darn well you need to lose. Don't MAKE me shake your shoulders! *grin*)

I was on a weight loss program through the University of Vermont called VTrim when I first lost weight 7 years ago now.  It was based on really sound principles and it works.  Sadly, the VTtrim program was given to a company that tried to monetize it and failed big-time.  The fortunate thing is, though, that the eating plan was published by what has now become "Eating Well" magazine and books.  

I've just re-read The Eating Well Diet, 7 Steps to a Healthy, Trimmer You, which you can purchase on Amazon.  It is so funny to me because when I went to look for the link, Amazon told me that I purchased the book on March 29, 2010.  That was just about the time I had joined VTrim through the University of Vermont.

I highly recommend this book as it is exactly what one needs to do to get SERIOUS about losing weight and getting healthy and it originated with the testing of Dr. Berino of UVM.  It has the basics that I learned and preach... journal every bite, move more every day, walk-walk-walk, and count your calories.  PLUS it has great recipes and meal plans that are easy-peasy to make and follow.   

So, here we are:  14 weeks until Memorial Day and I'm making myself a President's Day promise:

Two pounds x 14 weeks = 28 pounds gone by Memorial Day!

I can do this.  You can, too.  

 I just found this Swimsuitsforall site online and they have great styles for every woman's body, no matter your age or weight or size. (And for those of you who are skeptics... I know you're out there... I do not get a penny for mentioning either the EatingWell books or the SwimSuitsForAll site.)  ; )

Join in the #hlg5lbClub with me here or on Twitter and let's treat ourselves to a great bathing suit come summer! : )   

Dream! Believe! (Work Hard!) Achieve! 

Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

HealthyLoserGal FIVE POUND Club... are you IN?

Where will you be a year from now?  What are the fitness and/or weight loss goals you'd like to achieve in the next twelve months?  Do they seem achievable to you today?

I'd like to have you join me in a journey to lose five (5) pounds.  Just five pounds.  A month. : )  Every month of this new year of 2017 or until you've reached your healthy weight!

I know the overwhelming feeling it is to face having to lose a great deal of weight.  I was morbidly obese once and know the fatigue the weight puts on your body and your self-esteem.  You think there is NO WAY you'll be able to lose the weight.  But I'm betting on you - believing that you can set your sites on losing five pounds and that you'll be able to achieve it.  And then we'll do it again.  Five pounds at a time.  Before you know it, we'll have lost 20 pounds and then 35 and then 50 and, finally, next Christmas or Hanukkah time, we will be 60 pounds lighter and so much healthier! 

Tomorrow is the 3rd of January and will be Day 1 of the Healthy Loser Gal 5 Pound Club Challenge. The January #HLG5lbClub challenger will end on January 31st when we'll celebrate out 5 pound losses!  On February 1st we pick back up again and set another 5 pound goal for that month.

So how do you lose the weight in a month?  Science has long held that if you decrease your food intake by 500 calories per day times seven days of the week, you'll have a 3500 calorie deficit which adds up to one pound lost.  Sometimes this works for people and sometimes it doesn't.  I, personally, will be walking more and exercising with weights to help boost the calories I'll be reducing through cutting out sugary soda and meal-end sweets.  

There are tons of apps to help you count calories burned and log your food which I suggest you give a whole-hearted try! : )  Logging helps you realize the food that you casually may snack on during the day or evening without giving much thought to but that add up quickly when you log the amounts!

I will be on Twitter and Instagram and hope to see others use the #HLG5lbClub hashtag so we can offer support to one another as the challenge starts and continues!  Relying on friends to help you through a difficult day is a great way to realize you're not the only one craving chocolate or not wanting to go out to walk in 30 degree temps! 

If we truly COMMIT to the challenge and set our sites on only five pounds at a time, I know we can do this!

I hope you're in the Club with me!!

Dream. Believe. (Work hard!) Achieve! 
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Mind. Body. Soul.

Nearly a week has passed since I sat up in bed at 3:35am EST and reached for my iPhone in the darkness... clicking on the app to read the words "Trump Elected President".  I blinked and sat further up, disrupting my dog's sleep and turning on my bedside light.  I looked again, stunned, and closed the app, opening up the local television app, hoping for a different headline. Instead I read the same, "Trump Wins!".  I turned off both the light and the phone and pressed myself deep down under the covers... and then I wept.

I wept because, to me, the country has just elected a man who is a buffoon - a grandiose braggart who cares more about his own branding than the American people.  He sees a country of 'us' and 'them'. He degrades women, threatens those in crowds who dare portray another viewpoint with violence, mocks the disabled, rates women's 'appeal' openly ("Believe me, she wouldn't be my first choice!"), he openly states he doesn't like to read and learns by listening to his "own gut".  He's associated himself with white supremacists and openly known bigots.  The views he expresses seem to be war-mongering to me with no understanding of politics around the world from a military standpoint.  He is ready and willing to turn back decades of advances for women and minorities without a moment's hesitation because HE believes these changes will "make America great again".  Wrong.

The deep sadness I have felt since the election is permeating.  It wasn't that I so badly wanted Hillary Clinton to win, although I did vote for her and believed in many of the points she based her campaign on, it was that I couldn't imagine the America that I love actually electing Trump.  The furor I've seen his supporters display frightens me... and I'm a white, middle class, single woman.  I cannot even fathom the emotions my friends who are Muslim, black, gay, and/or immigrants to America must be feeling.  Tears well up when I think how these friends of mine are being 'grouped' by the President-Elect. (Ugh! I feel ill just typing that!)

So, since I am by nature a positive person I have given great thought to how to go forward.  My son is 30 years old now and, seeing me in tears as we discussed the results, he suggested that we work toward the good that we know can be achieved.  In our personal lives, in how we treat individuals, in our towns, in our states.  That we seek out ways to promote positive action in our own world.  You can read his own words on his Instagram account here.

I'm going to continue to do good works where I can but, finally today, I have thought of what else I can do... I can speak out.  When I see someone being treated disrespectfully, I am going to - right then and there - call them on it.  I don't intend to add 'fuel to the fire' but to call it into the open and ask what is the person's intention?  If I see a child being mistreated by a parent in a public place where everyone is watching in shock or turning away, I will step in for the child.  My fear has always been that 'interfering' could get the child in worse trouble.  Is stepping in for a child who can't protect themselves 'interfering'?  I will interfere for what is right and decent.  I have dear friends who are gay and other friends who are homophobic.  I never have understood this fear they have and plan to say so going forward.  What the heck are you afraid of?  And if someone gives me the line in the Bible that they always give, I'm going to shoot right back with 'judge not lest YOU be judged'.  Fair warning on that one, friends, if you're reading this epic!

And myself, I'm going to work to make myself a better person.  Mind. Body. Soul.  So when asked to help out with important actions, charities, purposeful events, I will be ready and not stymied by this sadness I have felt since November 9th.  I am reclaiming me and my personal power and hope you'll join me in promoting goodness, decency, and open mindedness going forward to all our neighbors, despite however they may be different from what you consider your 'norm'.

Finally, have you seen the iPhone commercial that originally launched in August at the time of the Olympics?  It is narrated by the late Maya Angelou, someone I admired a great deal and whose poetry I find so meaningful.  You can see the advertisement on YouTube but I urge you to read the words to this poem as it relates to who we are and where we are in our lives today.

Human Family - Poem by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike. 

Dream. Believe. Achieve.
Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

HLG 30 DAY CHALLENGE: Step it UP September

I don't know how you're doing, but I am ready for a little September SUCCESS! : ) I'm putting away the "oh, its summer, I'll walk (bike, swim, run) off these extra pounds this summer... no worries" lies to myself and getting off of my high horse and taking *action*!

There are dumb goals and there are SMART goals and I'm into the smart kind after years of finding out the dumb ones only lead to further despair and unhealthy behaviors!  SMART goals are all about Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Restricted goals.    In other words: they're the right kind of goals to set.

September for me is going to be about losing weight and shaping up.  I haven't been journaling my food and have gained weight. I tore my meniscus in April and was inactive all summer because of the pain involved in just getting around. But I'm healing up well and it is time (doctor approved, too!) to get back at being healthy!

I'd love to have you join me in the September fitness and weight loss challenge.  I'll be tweeting about it using the #hlgStepUpSept hashtag.  Let me know here in the Comments or on Twitter or Instagram if you'd like to join in! : )

When I was morbidly obese and set out on this journey, I was ECSTATIC to be able to complete one loop around the high school gym track.  That is a quarter of a mile.  I did it without having to stop and I thought I'd won the Olympic gold!  So if you're worried about starting and not being able to keep up - don't worry... I've BEEN THERE! ; )  You have to dig down deep and realize that you have within you what it takes to conquer your old habits and reclaim your health. Push those negative thoughts away.  You CAN do this. I CAN do this. We ARE going to DO THIS!

Here are the #hlgStepUpSept challenge goals:

1)  Whatever you are doing for steps per day, make a SMART goal to double it by October 1st. I wear a FitBit so it is easy for me to count my steps but there are plenty of apps that will do it for you or buy yourself a good ole pedometer which are much less expensive than they were just five years ago.  My goal is to walk 2 miles daily for steps.

2)  Set a specific goal for your calories per day and follow your plan.  I've never liked the phrase "oh, I cheated on my diet last night".  No, you didn't cheat on some fantasy diet, you cheated yourself.  You let your self-discipline slip and gave into cravings which will not make buttoning that top button on your skinny jeans button any easier. I, sadly, know this from experience! ; )  THIS will be the hardest part of the challenge for me... keeping within my planned food and journaling what I have eaten daily.  It is SO worth the effort, but - when I have slipped up - so hard to admit to.

3) Drink water or unsweetened ice tea or lemon water ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT long.  Water flushes out toxins in our fatty tissue and helps our vital organs, our skin, our metabolism.  When you drink a lot of water you don't become hydrated and you will feel more energized.  (And yes, you'll become very familiar with the path to the nearest rest room the first week or so until your body is used to you not starving it for H2o!)  ; )

4) Journal for yourself for how you're doing, positive thoughts, encourage yourself in your writing, and also encourage others in the challenge, too, on Twitter, in the comments here, through Instagram and on Facebook.  I like to hand write my goals every morning in blue ink (studies show that blue ink on white paper is proven to give better stimuli to the brain!) and then I usually - okay, this is a little over the top but it helps me, you'll have to find your own way to encourage yourself - find and write a positive quote to get my day started.  And, for me, this works!

I'll be checking in on Twitter every day as I can (while working full-time) and hope you'll join me in this month of Stepping Up our September SUCCESS! : )

Here's to our health!

Dream! Believe! Achieve!
HealthyLoserGal ./ Jan

Let the Wellness Begin!

My work desk at 10am... and all the good things that are helping me with my weight loss and fitness.  

My water bottles! 
Water is sooooo darn important to keep us hydrated, especially in the New England winters when our skin is exposed to cold and dry conditions. 

Fresh fruit and yogurt!
A mid-morning snack of yogurt and fruit keeps me full until I take a late lunch. The apple is ready for my afternoon snack.

Hot tea and an inspirational reminder!
My "Life is good" mug is full of Earl Grey, a nice way to get in a little caffeine and add to my hydration.  No sugar, no creamers. And every sip gives me a peek at the inspirational reminder that life is, indeed, good!  ; )

FitBit encouragement!
My Fitbit is on my wrist 24/7 now and I have found it is really a great way to keep me motivated to get in extra steps, track my sleep patterns, and challenge friends who are also tracking their wellness with Fitbit online.

Let's make this first work week of 2015 and the hlgJumpIntoJanuary Challenge a great one!  Let me know how, and if, I can help you!

Dream. Believe. Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Jump Into January with SMART Goals!

So here we go again... a New Year is upon us and many of us scramble around trying to imagine our lives in perfect order and everything is in cosmic alignment. Hate to burst your bubble, but no one's life is ever going to be perfect... let's settle for great! :)

I don't like New Year resolutions - I think they're a set-up for failure because they're often so broad there is no way (or a very slim margin that) they can be accomplished. And the failure of living up to our good intentions often is downright depressing which - for some - can lead to a downward spiral.  Who needs THAT?! I certainly don't and doubt you do either.

So let's do this for the New Year:  Let's set Smart GOALS! 

A Smart Goal is a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Restricted Goal.  If I were to set a goal of being able to run a full marathon on April 19th (Boston Marathon Day), that wouldn't work because it is Specific and Measurable but it is NOT Attainable or Realistic for me... being that I don't currently run at all!   What would be a Smart Goal is to run a 5k by April 19th and to set my sights on that attainable, realistic and time related goal.

I rejoined the YMCA on Monday evening.  It felt darn good to walk in that door again, plunk down my hard earned cash and have a goal in mind and be doing something about achieving that.  When I went home, I finally took the time to scan through my "On Demand" section of my cable stations and found that Gaiam TV is free for me with my subscription and has a huge array of yoga, aerobic, pilates, kick boxing (by Jillian Michaels!), and more classes/routines. I'll be using those as well.

My goals for January are:

  1. Get to the YMCA every Saturday, Monday, Wednesday.
  2. Work out at home every Thursday, Sunday.
  3. Walk 2 miles daily (I have my dog, Ruari, to walk, anyway, so this is fairly easy for me to check off).
  4. Eat no more than 1200-1300 calories daily and lean toward whole foods wherever possible.

Join me in January to get a jump on great goals for 2015 and join #hlgJumpInJan challenge on Twitter!  Remember that is really important and effective to WRITE OUT your goals on paper.  It helps, believe me! 

Happy New Year and happy, healthy 2015, friends!

Dream. Believe. Achieve!
HealthyLoserGal / Jan 

Holy Inactivity, Batman! Awesome August Challenge

Here's the 'down and dirty':  I've been slacking, inactive, snacking, not journaling and have gained weight.  I was at my doctor's on Wednesday for a follow-up visit and I have an annual physical scheduled in December.  "When I see you in December", he said to me with a side-glance, "you'll be 15 pounds lighter and will have gotten back on track." Then he made a notation on his iPad.  I wrinkled my nose and both loved him and hated him in that moment.  He wasn't going to let me get by with the gradual weight gain.  He also wasn't going to lecture me.  "Only 15?" I said to him with a laugh, "I probably should lose all 30, don't you think?"  "I was being generous", he replied with a smile as we stood to leave the exam room.  He put his hand on my shoulder and looked me square in the face, "You know how to do it, Jan. Get going."  

And get going, I shall, and ask for you to join me and support me as I will support you in our mutual journeys to health.  Deal? : )

The Awesome August challenge is simple in scope:  

1. Do some soul searching and come up with a reasonable goal.
I always set my weightloss goals at 5 lb. increments and then reward myself with something non-food related for every 5 pounds lost. I have a dream board that helps me focus on my fitness and physical goals. 

2. Write your goal down in a book you will use as a journal for the month.  Use a standard black and white composition pad from the school supply aisle at any chain store. It is important, though, to WRITE it, not type it.  The act of pen to paper is proven to increase the likelihood of achieving your goals and keeping you on track.

3. Track everything that goes into your mouth.  
My goal will be 1250 calories daily with a low-fat diet but you can decide for yourself what is best for you.  Don't go below 1200 while exercising, though, it just isn't healthy. I tend to eat a big breakfast with protein, a morning and afternoon low-fat snack, and then a regular lunch (500 cals usually) and a lighter dinner. I stop eating anything and everything by 8pm.  Write down your food in your journal and how you feel about your day at the end of each day. 

4. Exercise daily for at least 45 minutes to an hour.  No less.
I love to walk so walking for me can easily burn up that hour.  But if you think you're pressed for time and wonder where you can fit in 45 minutes, break up your activity into three fifteen minute bursts of intense activity.  Power walk for 15 minutes then, later in the day, do some sort of stretching and weight routine. Whatever works for you to consistently DAILY get in your exercise is what you should be doing! 

5. Celebrate YOU!  Don't let those negative voices in your head drown out the good voices.  You are a unique person blessed with all sorts of wonderful attributes. You can do things well that others struggle to do.  You have a beautiful spirit.  Celebrate YOU in August and remind yourself when you're feeling down that YOU ARE AWESOME!  If you don't believe it, ask me to remind you! ; )
I'll be posting on Twitter during the month with the #hlgAWESOMEAug hashtag. Please join me for a great month of encouraging one another in our goals and getting serious about losing some weight and getting healthy and fit.

Here's to our health!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

Dream. Believe. Achieve!

Cherish Your Dreams...

I was happily down 1.5 lbs. this morning when I stepped on the scale. I am sure it was a lot of show shoveling and the Walk Away The Pounds DVDs I've been using.  Oh, and cutting out the junk I ate over the holidays and replacing it with healthy food!  That *may have* had something to do with the loss!  I hope all the challengers for January Jump In are feeling positive and have your goals written down.  Let me know in the Comments or on Twitter if you need some encouragement. :)

I found the quote below today and think it is perfect for those of us with Vision Boards and goals written to help us achieve our goals!

Here's to a great week for us! :)

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve!

Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

January Jump In Challenge! Let's Set GOALS!

If there has been one thing I have learned in the last four years since starting my weight loss and fitness journey it is this:  you have to set GOALS for your own success.  And you have to WRITE THEM DOWN! If you don't write them down in a journal or make a dream board, you may as well be wishing.  And we can all wish, but wishing doesn't make the pounds come off or your BMI go down.  Just sayin'...

So as I'm beginning the New Year, I'm not out wining and dining today, I'm home blogging and journaling because I KNOW that if I just think about the goals I want, nothing will happen.  I have to have them there before me - confronting and challenging me - every single day.

And then you have to TAKE ACTION.  I can write out terrific goals, inspiring goals, needed goals for myself and my health, but if I'm going to sit on the couch on my butt and do nothing, nothing is going to come back to me.  In order to achieve your dreams and your goals, you have to take action.

So here comes the January Jump In (#hlgJumpIn) actions that I am taking.  It falls into four easy criteria that you can modify however you want to best fit your health level if you'd like to join the challenge for this month:

  1. Hydrate.  I plan to drink 1/2 my body weight every day in water.  If you don't like plain water, you can drink unsweetened tea or water with lemon or lime.  Whatever will get you to stay hydrated without carbonation or sugar works.
  2. Plan and track.  Planning my food has always been difficult for me for whatever reason.  To alleviate "falling off the planning wagon" I make the first month's food fairly similar.  I eat a lot of chicken and salmon, salad greens and veggies (both raw and cooked into meals), fruit, low fat yogurt and simple grains. I try to stay away from cheese and cut down on mayo, sauces. And then as soon as I have eaten something, I track it.  There are so many great apps available as well as websites that allow you to track (and plan) your foods but I usually use an old favorite, Free and easy to use and has a vast food list for nutrition and calorie counting.  My calorie allotment daily is between 1250 to 1400 calories. 
  3. Move, move, move.  I will be walking a total of 15-20 miles a week. This works for me but you can move in any way you know will work for you and that you can stick with.  In the dead of winter you're not going to find me walking outside except with my lab on those "doggie necessary" walks. : )  But, I walk on the treadmill at the YMCA or Cambridge Athletic Club and have Walk Away the Pound DVDs to walk to in the privacy of my own home.  I will be firming up my sagging arms with the help of a kettle bell and stand alone weights.  I use a balance wheel, a stability ball and Lisa Johnson's Pilates' DVD in my own home, too.  There really is no excuse to not get some activity in daily with the online and at home sources we have available to us! 
  4. Be accountable to others.  Tell everyone you know that you're changing your lifestyle and taking time for yourself.  And I do mean everyone! Friends, co-workers, social media buddies. If your friends give you a hard time about getting healthy, you might ask yourself how good of friends they are to not support you in your goals. And if you just had the thought "what if I tell my friends and then fail", all I can tell you is GET THAT THOUGHT OUT OF YOUR HEAD.  You need to remain positive and upbeat no matter how hard it may feel.  You're telling everyone so they'll support you and - if necessary - you can prove it to them and to YOU that you are going to SUCCEED!  There is no other game plan here except to plan on succeeding.
So are we ready to tackle our fitness and weight loss and JUMP IN to the new year with positive action? Let me know if you want to join me by leaving a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook! 

I am ready to make big changes starting today and by my telling you am expecting you to hold me accountable, too!

Here's to our success!

Dream big dreams and write them down.  Believe in yourself and accept only success as an outcome. Achieve your best life knowing that you worked hard and have learned you CAN achieve goals you work hard for!

Jan / HealthyLoserGal

A New Year, A Clean Slate...

If you've read the blog over the years (phew! "over the years"!! I've been working on my health for YEARS now - yay, me!!) you know that I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I am, however, big on new starts and I believe the 1st day of a new year offers just that:  a time to start anew.  And so, on January 1, 2014 I rededicate myself to.... well... myself! : )

The year of 2013 was not my best.  It may have been my worst in my 50+ years.  First and foremost, my Mom died and while it was expected, it still has been very hard emotionally.  I had one minor and one major eye surgery.  I moved and had to pack the house and all my belongings on my own, and even though the movers pulled away on the 7th of November, I am still in the process of unpacking. I had severe poison ivy spread across my face and down my neck. I am in the process of cleaning out my Mom's home and dealing with all her estate issues which included her oil tank spilling 100 gallons of fuel onto her basement floor, damaging everything in the basement and causing an environmental disaster that included Haz-Mat teams there to gut the basement and all the belongings within.  2013 was a heck of a year and one of the major things that happened during this time was: I gained 40 pounds.  Forty.  Back.  Good Lord!

Reflecting back on the year I realize that I always felt my best when I could get some sort of activity into my day.  When I'd walk the dog for longer than a typical walk, when I could swim laps in a lake, when I could leave work for a 15 minute power walk in the middle of a hectic day and just concentrate on my breathing and restore my balance a bit.  Those were the moments when I realized that exercise, movement, putting my health first HAD become part of my daily life in the year before this one.  I knew what to do, I just wasn't doing it!

I have been looking forward to rededicating myself to my health.  And I hope you'll consider joining me as we head into a new year.  My plan to lose 50 pounds (the 40 I regained and 10 more to hit my goal weight) is not complicated at all.  It involves counting calories, staying away from fats, walking, and weight training.  I shouldn't say "weight training" because that sounds so rigid and my weight regimen (isn't there another word besides "training" or "regimen" I can use?! lol) is simple enough for anyone to do. I'm a novice, too, remember! I believe there is an athlete within me that occasionally pops up her head and says to me in this exhilarated voice, "Yay! You found me... I'm right here... let's DO this!"  One of the emotional moments for me when I first started training with a personal trainer a few years ago (for six months) was when he said to me "we're going to find the athlete within you again"...  I cried.  No, I bawled.  Right there in the lobby of the YMCA in Waltham.  My trainer had tapped into what I had not dared dream yet:  that I COULD become the person who played tennis, and rode bike 20 miles without thinking of it, and played softball, and had a college scholarship offer for field hockey.  I had been a fit, active person who LOVED being outdoors and hiking and biking and playing.  I'm ready to go back to that person again and it starts today.

Want to join me?  Stay tuned and read on for the January challenge post! : )

Here's to a clean slate in 2014 to write a new, healthy story!

Dream. Believe. Achieve.
HealthyLoserGal / Jan

Crystal Light Giveaway!

I have been remiss in thanking Crystal Light for the oh-so-fun package that arrived after I was named a finalist in the #SqueezeATweet contest where you had to squeeze a soap opera tweet and mention the new Crystal Light liquid flavors in 140 characters!  Was so fun to come up with a tweet and be one of the finalists!

I received three new Crystal Light flavors which are meant to be added to your water.  I won't use them so thought - if anyone would like to enter a weekend giveaway drawing - I'll send them off to three blog readers!

flavors are:
Mango Passionfruit
Blueberry Raspberry
Strawberry Lemonade

If you would like to be entered in the HealthyLoserGal giveaway (to be drawn on Monday, 8/19) please do the following:

1) Leave a comment with your top choice, your second choice and your third choice here on the blog
2) Follow @HealthyLoserGal on Twitter and Facebook
3) Post the following on Twitter and Facebook: "I've entered @HealthyLoserGal's #giveaway for @CrystalLight liquid on her blog. Check it out & join in at"

I'll announce the winners on Monday and will need your email address to get in touch with you should you win!  You can send me an email with your email addy to

That's all there is to it!  Enjoy your weekend and good luck!

Here's to our health!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

Two Weeks of August ALL In Challenge

I'm a fan of Tony Robbins and have been for years and years. I have loved and believed in his quote below:

A real decision 
is measured by the fact
that you've taken a new action
If there's no action
you haven't truly decided.

I am ready for some massive ACTION.  I have goals written down that I damn well am going to accomplish. I need to take action and reclaim some pride in myself and my ability to STICK TO IT! 
Brian Tracy says that self-discipline is the most important component to any success.  Self-discipline is getting out of bed in the morning when your alarm goes off and NOT hitting the snooze button.  Self-discipline is laying your workout or walking or running clothes and sneakers (I'm an East Coast girl, we call them sneakers, you can call them 'running shoes' if you must!) the night BEFORE so there is no excuse that you can't find them in the morning. Self-discipline is walking the full three miles at 6am you planned on - - not just one mile, not just two. It is doing the whole set of repS at the gym, not just a few. Self-discipline is telling yourself that you're going to do something and DOING IT!  Self-discipline is planning your healthy meals, drinking your water, taking your vitamins, preparing your protein shakes, writing your goals out, logging your food, and doing what you said you were going to do.  Make no excuses to yourself about yourself because there is no heavier weight in this world than the weight of regret. 

On Monday, August 19th I am going to begin two weeks of an intensive (for me!) fitness and weight loss plan.  On challenges I've organized here, on Twitter, and Facebook before I have always allowed for "days off" during the month long challenge.  With only two weeks left in August, this HealthyLoserGal August ALL IN Challenge won't be taking any days off.  We're going full steam ahead into September which happens to be one of my favorite months of the year - full of new starts and new possibilities.  

For two weeks I challenge you to set a walking and/or running goal and to write that goal down in a journal. I am going to be walking a minimum of 2 miles daily to total no less than 15 miles a week.  Every other day I will be in the gym during the work week and both days of the weekend for an hour or more (but no more than 2 hours).  So Tues-Thurs-Sat-Sunday will be my gym days.  If possible, I'll fit in more.
I will be working on my core with stability ball and floor exercises and my arms and legs with free weights and nautilus machines.  I will drink half my weight in water each day (and will probably log another mile weekly in trotting to and from the Ladies Room! lol).  I will plan my food for the week on Sundays, shop on Sundays, prepare anything that needs to be cooked and/or made ahead, and not waiver from these planned meals.

I will be grateful for each and every obstacle that pops up and that I have the self-discipline to overcome. I will be positive about the challenge and the fact that I am working hard toward goals that I am achieving. I will encourage my friends here, on Twitter, and on Facebook to stick to their goals and plans because working out and reaching goals with a community is far better than going it solo! ; )

So... here are the #hlgAugALLin challenge details:

1)  Set a fitness goal for either walking or running for the 14 days.  If you're morbidly obese or completely out of shape, 1/4 mile to begin with is doable for anyone and I know you can do it!  I will be rooting you on!

2)  Plan out your food and get ready to count calories. There are plenty of online sites, apps,etc. but I like which is a great FREE resource for planning, counting and logging food (and exercise)! They have an iPhone app, too.  If you're trying to lose weight, don't go below 1200 calories or over 2000 daily, it is that easy.  It takes 3500 calories burned to lose a pound.  Watch what you're putting in because you're going to have to work it OFF to lose weight.  Calories in / calories out.  When planning your food, plan to drink lots and lots of water!  Water is soooo important to good health.

3) Set a second fitness goal that you can do 4x each of the two weeks.  You saw that I'll be in the gym and what I am going to be doing (notice I didn't say that I am 'planning' to do!).  Depending on your current level of fitness, you should chose something that will challenge you, that will take you a little bit out of your comfort zone so that - when you accomplish it - you will be exhilarated and proud of yourself for sticking to it!

People with clear, written goals

accomplish far more 
in a shorter period of time 
than people without them 
could ever imagine.

Brian Tracy

4). Finally, plan to write down your two week challenge goals and keep a journal for the two weeks.  Your journal can include as little as your goals (a must!) and a record of everything you ate and drank, your exercise log, and the times you got up and went to bed.  Or it include much more (and I suggest you write about your feelings and your own habits and self-discipline struggles in your journal) including your moods, your hopes for your health and fitness, your short term and long term goals, and your observations of how you're doing.  If you have failures, they should be journaled, too, because often times our failures teach us great lessons that we can overcome in the future.  This challenge isn't about perfection, it is about progress and improvement. 

I'd love to have you join me on August 19th to start off August ALL In Challenge!  We *can* be self-disciplined and achieve our goals without the regrets of giving in to temptation! Only 14 days are between you and achieving your August goals.  Who's "all in"?  : ) 

Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

Ready. Set. Dream.

It is always the right time to dream new dreams... bigger dreams... and to bring dreams back to life that you may have given up on long ago!  Drag those "I could never do that..." and "How could I possibly go there?" phrases to the curb and give them a good hard kick 'bye bye'.  You need to reclaim yourself and your dreams and believe that anything is possible again.  Because (psssttttt!)... anything IS possible!  YOU just have to believe in yourself and turn those negative little voices in your head and sometimes the negative voices surrounding you in your life ("supposed" friends, family members who don't wish to see you succeed or change for selfish reasons of their own, your group at your work, you know the ones who are in this category!) into positive beliefs and positive influences in your life.
All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.
Brian Tracy 
If you follow the blog or have seen my tweets, you must know I am a big believer in "Dream. Believe. Achieve!".  : ) I've just completed a new DREAM BOARD (also called a Vision Board) as I'm embarking on a new chapter in my life as I return to my fitness and health disciplines and as I embark on a very exciting new healthy business venture!  It was time for me to renew my goals and dreams in my own life, to think about "what do I *really* want in my life", "where do I want to be in one year, two years, five years", "if I weren't worried about (fill in the blank), I would...".  I absolutely love having a dream board because I KNOW the dreams on the board, with action put behind them, and belief in yourself and (for me) God and the universe to bring you the dreams you have, and deep gratitude for what you already have becomes dreams realized.  Four years ago I put up my 2009 dream board as my background on Twitter because I knew - that way - I would see it every day, a couple of times a day, and would be reminded of what my dreams were... where I was focusing my energy and momentum.  I have purposefully left that board up for you to take a look at because I have achieved 75 percent of the goals I once thought "out of reach".  75%!!

So let's get started so that you can begin making your own Dream Board and allow great things to appear in your life, too.

1.  Find something to use as a "board"... it can be an old white paper bag, or a poster board, or a piece of foam board that you can buy for under $2 in most office supply stores.  It can be whatever size you feel you'd like it to be... mine is foam board and BIG! :)   You'll need scissors and a glue stick and a stack of old magazines or newspapers or wherever you can find inspiration!

2.  Lay back, close your eyes and DREAM!  What do you really want in your life?  Be specific! Do you have fitness goals?  Do you want to be able to walk a mile without having to stop?  Do you want to skydive?  Do you want to be a marathoner?  (Remember, even if you can't walk 1/4 mile now, you can STILL believe in yourself and your ability to achieve ANY dream, so if you want to run a marathon... that is a dream/goal for you to write down!) You don't have to know now how it is going to come true, just add it to your dreams! Now... what about your personal life?  Are you happy in your relationships?  Do you wish you could see your family more? Do you wish you had more girlfriends?  What about your finances? Do you wish you were able to afford new outfits every season?  New running shoes?  A vacation home on a lake?  A second car? A motor home?  A trip to Australia?  Whatever YOUR DREAMS are - they are your dreams and worth going after.  No one else has the right or the ability to dismiss your dreams.  You get to hold onto them, believe in them, believe they can and WILL come true.  

3.  Write the dreams and goals down.  Big and small.  Make a list and date it.  (You're going to put this list into an envelope and paste the dated envelope on the back of your dream board!)

4.  Now begin paging through your magazines and materials and cut out everything and anything that appeals to you or attracts you.  Words that mean something to you personally, images of people doing things that are part of your goal.  You'll see in the photos that I have cut out a photo of a woman jumping up onto a high box.  I cannot do this yet.  (Note the "yet"!)  But I have a goal to do this and I will do this.  And the photo is a reminder of this goal.  When I see it now every morning, I say to myself, "I've GOT that!"  That positive attitude may take a little work for some people at first, but attitude is like a muscle, it may hurt a little and feel uncomfortable for a little bit, but pretty soon that positive nature and attitude will be second nature to you and not feel odd at all. We ALL want to be positive people, that is how we feel best - when we're smiling and happy.

5. Start a big pile of all your dream photos and words, phrases and begin to lay them out on your board.  I segregate my dream board a little because it is so big... I have a personal fitness side, the middle is about dreaming, believing, and achieving, and the other side is about financial, relationship and business goals I have for myself.  But you should organize your dream/vision board however you feel best it works for you!

6.  Finally, starting pasting down the photos.  I paste and say to myself with each photo or phrase I put down "This dream of jumping on a high box will come true before (and then insert a date) and I will be so excited to have achieved this goal! Thank you, God!"  Sounds a little crazy at first, but I learned this part of the process from reading Jack Canfield's "The Success Principles" and it seems to have changed how I look at each phrase or photo to being able to single them out individually in my mind and know their intent.

7.  When your board is dry, turn it over and paste the back of an envelope to the board and fold up your list of dreams/goals and put it into the envelope, dated.  Let it dry and then find a place you can put your dream board every single day.  If you want to hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall, a cheap, easy way to make a hanging hook is to take a large paperclip and bend the top outward, taking a piece of duct tape and taking the flat part of the paperclip to the back of your Dream Board.

It is best to hang or place the board where you'll see it multiple times a day.  Take a photo of it and use the photo as your desktop wallpaper and your smartphone background.  Print the photo out and stick it on your frig as a reminder of your dreams and goals.

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.
Brian Tracy 
Believe in your goals and take action to make them come true.  Every dream is achievable if you're willing to work hard enough, give up or go after what it is that is needed to accomplish them.

Good luck with your dream board.  I would LOVE to see photos of them on my HealthyLoser Gal Facebook wall! : )  If you have any questions, leave me notes in the comments here and I'll get back to you with an answer as best I can!

Here are a few additional resources that I like about Dream Boards and Vision Boards:

From Jack Canfield:
From Oprah: O Dream Board: Envision Your Best Life

Dream. Believe. Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Transitioning from one life to the next...

Nine months ago I was enjoying the trip of a lifetime in Ireland... over two weeks of setting my own agenda, going where the wind took me, and thoroughly reconnecting with my own hopes and dreams and goals.  I had never felt more "me" and to say I was empowered by the vacation was -at that time- an understatement.

Then the voice message came two evenings before I was due to fly home to Boston.  My brother's voice sounded tense and filled with worry.  "Hi, Jan. Could you give me a call when you get this message.  It is about 4pm out here.  Call as soon as you can. I'd appreciate it. Okay, bye."  He seemed to have totally forgotten I was away in Ireland. His "out here" meant the time of day in Seattle, Washington, so PST.  I was GMT in Ireland.  It was 4pm in Seattle... it was 12 midnight in Ireland and when his call came in I was fast asleep with no cell coverage until the next day.

My 85 year old mother had fallen and had been taken by ambulance to the hospital despite her protestations.  Since the 4th of July weekend of last year, I had been worried about her rapid decline in mental capability as was her friend who stopped in daily to help her around the house.  We'd accompanied my mom to her doctor to explain the deterioration we'd experienced and to let her know my mother's weight had dropped dramatically in the past four months.  That doctor visit she sailed through the short dementia / Alzheimer's testing administered verbally, much to the wide-eyed surprise of both my mom's friend and me.  Not convinced, I began doing online research and found that the same cells of your brain affected by dementia also trigger your hunger response.  My mother ate breakfast out of habit, but the rest of the day she simply had stopped eating.  "I'm not hungry!" she'd snap at me when I tried to ask her over the phone what she'd been eating during the week.  Before I left for Ireland I made her three weeks of food, labeled every one, how to reheat or prepare it, left a schedule taped to her refrigerator door, and asked her to promise me - hungry or not - that she would eat the food every day.  I even called her twice from Ireland to check in - noting she'd admitted she'd been sleeping a lot - and she couldn't tell me what she'd eaten that day.

With the news from my brother of her fall, I returned home a day early from Ireland and spent the first day back in Boston at home after having checked in with the hospital and my mom's attending physician.  No need to rush right there, they assured me... they were running tests and she wouldn't be checking herself out as I was her health proxy.

While I'd been in Ireland I had been able to have dinner with a dear friend and I had explained to him the health condition of my mom and my concerns.  "It is all a part of life," he said to me, "and as her daughter you are helping her transition from this life to the next. You'll do a fine job."

I held onto that statement for the past nine months like a lifeline.  "You are helping her transition from this life to the next."  I vowed to myself to do whatever I could possibly do for her to allow her to 'transition' with dignity and respectfully and made decisions with her, when possible, and for her as I believed she would have made them for herself had her mind been capable.  I was blessed in that, if there could be good timing, she was hospitalized just as a six week sabbatical from my job had been planned upon my return from my trip.

My mother's dementia robbed her of short term memory completely.  She always remembered me, which I am grateful for, but she never remembered that I had been with her an hour before, a day before, or the prior weekend before.  She did thoroughly understand important decisions needed to be made (for example we talked at length about her funeral and what her wishes were and how I was handling things at her home, with her finances, and her cat's well being) but yet she couldn't tell you if she'd done any activities with other residents that same day or if she'd had physical therapy an hour previously. She had no interest in reading, watching favorite television shows, or socializing with anyone.

The one thing she never forgot, however, is that she wanted 'to go home' to her own house and that the nursing home had better be just a temporary place until she was well enough to resume her independent living. The doctors and nurses suggested that allowing my mom to believe she would be going home 'someday' was not necessarily a bad thing.  They were worried about depression and so - whenever asked - I would say 'well, as soon as you're a little stronger, Mom, I think we'll be able to talk with the doctor about going home".

The past nine months for me were filled with many hours in the car between Boston and Saratoga Springs, New York.  During the week I was often on the phone twice with the doctor and nursing staff to hear their weekly report and then - over the weekends - I would arrive and spend time with Mom at the nursing home (she was blessed to be admitted to a wonderful home with caring staff), in the early months we would be able to go out to lunch or she was able to walk with help of her walker outside with me and we'd sit and talk in the sun in the fall weather.  We'd have lunch and dinner together usually on Saturdays and Sundays and then I would drive home.  Around Christmas time she lost the ability to correlate that when she heard the phone in her room ringing, that meant she should pick up the phone, answer it and talk with whoever was on the call.  If an aid or a nurse were in her room, I would be able to reach her - but it wasn't too long before I could only reach her during the week to 'check in' by calling the nurses' station and asking them to carry a portable phone to her room so we could chat.

I worried a lot. I fretted over decisions I had to make about testing for possible anemia and possible cancer of the blood.  I ate hospital food and began to think that I really liked the little plastic tapioca pudding cups.  I never exercised.  I stopped counting calories and fell back into old bad habits where food - late at night after driving home to Boston - was comfort.

Two months ago Mom lost the cognitive ability to remember to swallow food that she'd been fed and had chewed.  I spent four days with her over Memorial Day and was cutting up her food and feeding her when I realized this.  She wasn't swallowing.  The same day I spoke to the staff about calling in hospice after my cousin, who is a retired head nurse from a Florida Alzheimer's unit, suggested I think about it.  One of the charge nurses I had grown to trust and ask advice of, suggested the same.  Hospice came the next morning.

The four days over Memorial Day weekend were exceedingly difficult for both my mother and myself.  I knew the 'transition from this life to the next' was not far off.  My brother and sister were trying to plan when they would arrive to visit.  Mom and I did have some very good moments together during those days... I would sing her old favorite songs of her's and when I'd stop, she'd continue singing the verse... it was sweet.  We talked about my having gone to the family graves and having put flowers in all the urns, something Mom and I did routinely together for many years.  I showed her the photos of the flowers and she was glad to see them.  At one point we were sitting together and I'd been reading to her and she said to me, "You've been a good girl this weekend, Jan... thank you.".  I felt like I was ten years old and smiled at her, realizing that in her mind, perhaps that was about the age she saw me at in that moment.  "...helping her transition..." was always in my mind as I struggled with my own emotions of losing my mother.

On Monday of Memorial Day Weekend I left her room to drive back to Boston about 7pm.  She'd slept most of the day from pain medication that she'd begun earlier in the week but I'd stayed in the room with her, reading, so that when she woke up, she saw me there.  I'd explained to her that it was Monday and I would be back on Friday, only four days away.  Mom had liked that it was only a few days off before I would be back and looked at me quite clearly, her blue eyes very fixed on my face, and thanked me for doing everything that I had done for her.  She made it clear from her look and her tone she wanted me to hear her thanking me. I heard it and absorbed it and explained she didn't need to thank me, she was my mother, I was her daughter, and - of course - I would take care of her.  I leaned down and kissed her as she turned up her lips to me to be able to do that.  I told her I loved her and she said "I love you, too, Jan."  I smiled at her and slipped out.

On Thursday of the same week I had emergency eye surgery.  My eye doctor called the emergency room from his office and told them to prep the OR for me, I was on my way.  I cried in his office and explained I could not have the surgery, my mom was dying.  He explained that I had to have the surgery- that day!- or I could potentially lose my site.  Thursday and Friday I was face down into a special pillow to save my eyesite. Saturday morning I put on the eye patch my son had gotten for me at the pharmacy and drove myself to Saratoga to see Mom.

I stopped first at her house to pick flowers from her gardens to bring to her.  I was worried my eye patch would scare her and slipped it off (even though my eye was swollen shut) and put my glasses on and stepped into her room to see she was sleeping.  I put the flowers on Mom's bedroom dresser and stepped over to her bed to rouse her, saying "Hi, Mom... I'm here...", and leaned down to kiss her, hearing her breath as I lowered my face.

And then she was gone. I felt her presence with me as I called my brother, my sister, and my son from her room to tell them Mom had left us and that I was there for that transition.

My birthday was the following day.

I became acutely aware that my mother had spent nine months bringing me into this world and I had spent nine months helping her leave this world.  And the dates were a day apart.

It is now a month later. I had planned to take this week off from work as vacation as I usually do and decided, even though I have been out of the office with my mom's wake and funeral and my own recovery from eye surgery, that I needed this week to be here in the house I grew up in by myself to regroup and make a push to get a lot of estate business taken care of.

I have spent nine months pushing my health and my fitness onto a very back burner.  I knew I was doing it and could only do what I was emotionally and physically able to do in those months.  I rarely blogged, seldom tweeted, and was on the HLG Facebook page sporadically, at best. (Oh, and I started a new job in December!) But now I can turn my attention back to myself and regaining my health and losing the additional weight I gained while eating hospital food and fast food on the road. Could I have made better choices - absolutely.  Did I?  No.

And I was dreading writing this blog post tonight - as long and as soul bearing as it is - I dreaded it because I knew that this very act of blogging honestly tonight would lead me to be fully back and committed again to myself.  No more excuses.  No more 'putting it off'.

Commit and be accountable.  I am ready.  It begins now.

I have 50 pounds to lose to get back to my goal weight.  My intention is that I will hit that goal in nine months.  That is my pledge to myself and to you (if anyone has been able to read through this whole, very long blog post).  I need to get back into my fitness regime.  My arms are so pathetic again - but I know that if I have done it before, I can (and will!) do it again.

I am no stranger to hard work and perseverance.  I know what it takes to get the weight off and my fitness level up.  And I'm ready.  And I could use your support.  I would like to be able to support you, too, with the goals you've made for yourself, so let me know what they are in the Comments.  We can do this.  We're worth the effort and the determination it will take. Are you with me?

Dream. Believe. Achieve.
Jan / HealthyLoserGal 
My Mom (age 86) and me in late November, 2012