Sometimes Life Gets In The Way
8:14 PM | Author: thenewmiranda
So, it has been quite a long time.

Unfortunately, life got in the way- in the way of blogging, dieting, weightloss. It is something that life does to each and every one of us. What is important is that we don't use it as an excuse to give up. So, here I am.

A quick summary - my grandmother passed away. I had cared for her for two years, living in her home. Obviously an emotional shakeup that was quickly followed by a need for a new housing situation. So, my fiancee and I bought a house - overwhelming! Lots of stress, renovations, adjusting (we went without a stove for five weeks while ours was lost in the abyss of Sears). I also went back to work at a new job for a photography company after a year of compassionate care leave and I started pushing my own photography business aggressively. There was a lot of adjusting. Two months into the new home, my fiancee's mother passed away out of country and a few months later my ex-husband passed away suddenly.

Our lives were roiling with emotion, stress - we had a need for comfort and finding nothing but strangeness and change. As such, we derailed. It took about a year and a half but I gained back 40lbs of my 77lb loss. It was mostly through inattention to eating, making bad choices and letting my emotions control my food choices.

You know how it goes, it creeps up on you. All of a sudden you wake up and you're needing new pants. Its no good.  So, this May (2012) after my fiancee's birthday, I decided I was going to try again.  This time, I took a combo approach. Back to MFP but I had a coach this time to help me combine South Beach principles with calorie monitoring and (ack!) exercise.

It wasn't easy. In fact, it was hard. I had to unlearn bad habits again, and at the same time learn a new diet. I was skeptical about it - low carb, high protein - thats pretty limited. There were growing pains, but my coached helped me with some recipes and I ended up not feeling like I was missing a whole lot at all.

After a while, it became natural. I started not to notice missing carbs and sugars. In fact, the few times I tripped up I ended up feeling horrible - it turns out, your body detoxes itself off of sugars. I still can't drink soda without becoming an angry rancid wench.

So I stayed dedicated to it, and about 5 months in I joined the gym and quit smoking. I surprised even myself when in about 7 weeks I was able to run for about 15 minutes in my 30 minute track cycle. When I started it was about 30 seconds.

So, theres the short (well, somewhat) and sweet(ner) version of the last two years. I am planning on maintaining this blog more actively over the next nine months as I finish my loss cycle.  Between May 14th and Dec 29th of 2012 I lost 41lbs and 24.5 inches. I am wearing a size 18 loosely (far cry from the tight 24 I started this in way back in 2009) and I would like to lose another 40ish lbs and get down to a 12-14. I have until September - why? Because I'm getting married!! I want that dress to be va-va-voom!!

Thanks for reading, and following all this time :)

I want to talk a bit about success.

I think its an extremely important subject and one that should be revisited frequently.

As a child, the idea of success begins by being quantified by numbers, categorized alphabetically and can be classified as a 'win'.  Its not quite black and white but very close.  As we age we form our own personal ideas about success, based on our moral and ethical opinions and ideals, the opinions of friends and family and accepted societal 'norms' (including what the media forces down our throats.)  As you can see, the scope of success grows more broad with age.

As a youth, I was part of the 'gifted' program - an enriched education program.  We fostered mostly healthy competition among ourselves and it is there that I believe my ideals of success were created.  An 80%, 85%, 95% - that wasn't 'success'. It wasn't a win, it was a lose. For me, at least internally, it was always go big - or go home. In some circumstances, the drive and ambition this way of thinking fosters could be a useful tool. Looking back now, I wonder if it wasn't a bit damaging at times.

Coming into this whole 'diet' (I still hate that word) thing, I realized that I would have to re-adjust my ideas of success.  I knew that it wasn't going to work if I didn't rethink things.  I have a very large final goal - to wait to reach that goal before celebrating success would be the effective suicide of my plan.  So I committed to celebrating every attitude change, every time I resisted temptation and every pound.  To this day, 4.5 months and 54lbs later, I still giggle like a schoolgirl when I lose another pound and send my fiancee a message to share my success. I dance around in my underwear and sing and look in the mirror and even though I can't SEE the 1lb difference, I know its there.

I have some fellow dieters say to me "Oh, well its only 15lbs I've lost." and "I wish it was more!" and "I'm stuck here at just 10lbs."  It makes me so sad to see everyone pass over their success! I try the best I can to remind them that 15 is amazing and better than none! I think that everyone needs to take a step back and celebrate what they HAVE accomplished, instead of focusing on what they have left to accomplish.

That we have changed our mindset.
That we have taken the first steps.
That we try hard each and every day to stick to our plan.
That we get back on the wagon when we fall off.
- each and every pound.
- each and every minute of exercise we do.

you get the picture.

You may also notice, as I have, that when we change our ideas of success in this area, that it may infect our ways of thinking about everything else.
I want to mention a poignant moment that I had last night, that made me realize how much my ideas have changed.

I entered into a singing competition and last night was round three.  I gave it my best, and I had a great time.  It was a vote based competiton and I have a fairly clutter free life - limited friends :D  I invited my close friends and family out, some came, some were unable to. Others wanted desperately to come but distance and obligations stood in their way.  There was some stiff competition, everyone had talent.  Every voter had to vote twice - first vote counted as two and was meant for who you were supporting.  The second vote was meant for another competitor.   The votes came in at the end of the night.  3 of our 6 were eliminated, one of them being myself.  However, I was advised that I recieved the MOST 'second vote - votes'.  Votes that people who came to support others tossed my way because they enjoyed my performance. My friends were outraged - upset. Some people may have been upset with them - but I wasn't. I smiled and thanked my friends for their support and congratulated those who advanced.  I realized that even though I didn't win, it was a whopping success to get so many votes from others whom I did not know and/or did not bring to support me.  Why? because those votes, even though they didnt make me 'win' in a black and white sort of way, still made me a winner. Those votes were for merit.  So I took my success home in my heart, happy with what I had accomplished.

To top it all off, I danced off about a pound and a half too :)

Bottom line is, celebrate. your. success. No matter how small you think it is, for it is part of a much bigger picture.
Oh, the irony!

But seriously - nuts. Mother Natures little tiny gifts of delicious and healthy goodness. I have recently discovered how important the consumption of nuts and seeds is to our diets.  I think its a very important subject to touch on, and so I will - touch. on. nuts. :P (And fats!) says that incorporating a variety of nuts into your diet provides a great source of protein as well yields numerous nutritional and health benefits. Nuts are excellent sources of protein, minerals, healthy mono-unsaturated fats and other nutrients as well they're good for promoting a healthy cardiovascular system.

Too often we feel the need to gravitate towards a "low fat" diet. Its not really our faults, thats what we are being fed in the media.  We are filled with misconceptions and improper information about fats, and therefore we cut foods like nuts, seeds, oils (EVOO and coconut to count two) and butter/nut butters out of our diets.

From what I am hearing, we couldn't be more wrong to do so! We NEED fat in our diets. I will post more about this later. Nuts are an important addition to help us get the "good" (mono/poly-unsaturated) fats into our diet. Not to mention that they are tasty treats!

It has also been rumored that a proper balance of fats (25-30% of your daily caloric intake where 7-10% are saturated, 9-10% mono-unsaturated and 8-10% are poly-unsaturated) helps with emotional or behavioural hangups.  Good fats help your body burn bad fats and help reduce bad cholesterol, all while raising good cholesterol.

I will tell you one thing, my life got better with butter in it. Ditch the "one molecule away from plastic" spread and get some butter and use it sparingly.  Grab a handful of almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios.  Enjoy your sunflower seeds. Use your cooking oils but get rid of that veggie oil and trade it up for coconut (Will touch more on that later as well) or EVOO.

Thats right ladies. Let us eat fat! (And some nuts!)
Delicious desert!? No WAY!
9:11 PM | Author: thenewmiranda

So, as I was trolling through (which I will now refer to as MFP), I came upon a neat little idea.

Basically, it is a low calorie form of cake. It is cheaper than buying those WW cakes and bigger portions on top of being lower calorie! Nice deal eh?

I'll give you the basic rundown - Cake mix + 12oz of diet soda (or soda water) + 2 egg whites = VOILA!

You're laughing. I can tell.  Thats ok, I did too.  But, I'm staring at a delicious piece of cake and you're not. Who is laughing now?

Seriously though, there is a major major difference between preparing it with its recommended whole ingredients and using the above method.

Prepared via the recommended method I quickly calculated it to be about 244.5 cal/serving with 9.25 grams of fat and lord knows how much cholesterol.  (The back of the box is a lie btw, read the fine print!)
Prepared via the above method - 163 cal/serviing with 2 grams of fat and 0 cholesterol. I should also mention - 100% delicious.

What you need:

- Mix - Any cake mix - preferably a diet or low fat one.
- Soda - 12 oz of carbonated anything - diet pop or carbonated water (sometimes people think the pop makes it TOO sweet)  Just make sure that you match your pop to your cake - light to light/dark to dark with special considerations for orange and cream soda!!
- Egg - 2 egg whites to help hold it all together.
- Pan - either 9x13 or 12 muffin tin.

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 350

Throw it all in a bowl and mix it! I whisked it by hand because I was worried about over-mixing it and hey, gotta get some arm muscle right? But you can use electric mixers as well.

Once mixed pour into a lightly floured 9x13 pan or a muffin pan with papers.

You have to reduce the cooking time a little and it has been suggested to cook the cake for about 20-25 minutes and for the muffins 15-20 minutes testing both at the low end with toothpicks.

So, that was pretty easy!

I know that it maybe isn't the most "whole" food out there, but we all know that there are times where a whole food just wont cut it :D  I think this is a nice alternative and can be served with the light or non-fat whip (Cool Whip or Dream Whip) and some berries as well!
I have only made the golden mix from Betty Crocker but it was a huge hit at home and with my father in law at work too!

My next test is the tiny muffin tin!

Happy Baking :D
Chastise me, I deserve it!
12:36 PM | Author: thenewmiranda
I am so sorry to have strayed so long away from posting.... you know the holiday season, it monopolizes your time and then you need three weeks of recovery.  I apologize. I didn't forget about blogging though, and with my trusty partner Laura at my side constantly reminding me I knew it was only a matter of time before I got back around to it.

I will admit that over the holidays I did have some indulgences, its to be expected I think. Besides, the holidays come only once a year!  I also fell off the wagon one day to the tune of a PILE of chocolate truffles.. but I paid that price terribly the next day. Lesson learned.

Glad to say however, that I have kept on track. Even through all of the sugary coated Christmas goodness and the January blah's, I have managed to keep my diet going. I was losing track a bit and found a nice website to help me with my goal making/goal keeping/calorie tracking.  Its called  A nice little place to keep your food diary, it has all the food there so it counts the calories for you and you can add your own as well.  It also has some nice forums so you can stay motivated, join teams for a little bit of competitive spirit and get some healthy recipes.  I suggest it to everyone who is trying to lose weight or is one of those "New Years Resolutionists".  With this tool, you may actually keep your resolution this year.

I have some results for everyone, but before that I want to congratulate my mother Cheryl and my friend Joy for embarking on this journey as well! It takes some courage to take that step and they both have that and more.  Keep it up girls! Oh, and for all that don't know, my mother hurt her knee badly and even though she can't be as active as she likes she is trying hard to stay on track. I'm so proud.

So, the long awaited results!

Since I started, I have lost a totaly of 42 lbs.  YAY! Go me!  Its a HUGE deal... like, four 10lb bags of potatoes or a small child! Crazy.

I have also had these changes in my measurements:

Measurements at 296lbs

Chest - 125 cm/ 49.2 in

Bicep - 37 cm/ 14.6 in
Waist - 129 cm/50.8 in
Hips - 143 cm/56.3 in
Thigh - 80 cm/31.5 in

Measurements at 274lbs

Chest - 48 in
Bicep - 13.75 in
Waist - 47.5 in
Hips - 54 in
Thigh - 29.75 in

Thats a grand total of 12 inches!! (counting both biceps and thighs!) Now I know that doesn't seem like a whole lot, but I will remeasure in about a week since I know I am carrying a weee bit of bloating right now (yay for womanhood!).

I also haven't really increased my exercise at all. Thats where the January blahs hit me hard... laziness. However I think that these results are impressive considering how lazy I have been.

Anyhow, theres a fast update! I hope some of you are still following :S

I have some neat recipes I will share with you and also some results of the PGX system since I got a free bottle and am trying it out.

Hang in there ladies, stick with it - if I can do it, anyone can :)

The Long Awaited Relacore Results!
6:51 AM | Author: thenewmiranda
So last week I promised that I would do a measured review of Relacores ability to reduce "belly fat".
(If you didn't get a chance to read the original, then click around for "Product Review: Relacore)

Now, I certainly do not endorse measuring after only a week. It promotes obsession and in my opinion only serves to create disappointment because there isn't a lot of time to generate 'wow!' results.   It is suggested that measurements be taken only once every 1-2 months.

Anyhow, I got up nice and early to give you the nitty gritty breakdown, so here goes!

I'm down to 293.6lbs so far, which is just a hair under 20lbs lost. GO ME!

My measurements are:

Chest - 125cm / 49.2in
Bicep -  37cm / 14.6in
Waist - 127cm / 50in
Hips: - 140.5cm / 55.3in
Thigh - 78cm / 30.7in

Thats a difference of 2cm on my waist, 2.5cm on my hips, 2cm on my thighs.  Grand total 6.5cm / 2.6in!
Now, thats pretty good to me so far.  Only in a week? Hey, I'm happy with that.  Lets talk about its possible relation to Relacore though.  Relacore says that it is supposed to help cut down on stress induced belly fat by reducing cortisol.  I can't say whether or not its true, but I do see by these results that most of my weight loss is clustered around my waist/hip area.  So, tentatively we *could* say that it has been affected by the Relacore, but I am not entirely convinced at this time.
Thankfully, Relacores real value for me is in its mood regulation, which I discuss in my original product review.  As a result of its mood regulating abilities I will continue to use Relacore and just reap whatever belly fat reduction that I can get!  So, what I'm going to do is follow up on these measurements in a month to see what happens.

Ok, I have to go and get ready for the day - remember your daily apple!

Ciao Bellas!
Eating at Restaurants is NOT Forbidden!
6:54 PM | Author: thenewmiranda
Alright so today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to deal with going “out” for dinner!

Just to touch on something I said earlier in my blog, it’s really important to not restrict yourself from enjoying the foods you love or the restaurants you love. This can just cause us to want to break the restrictions and we end up often making not-so-good choices. So, I’m going to give you a few tactics that I use when I want to go out to a restaurant for a nice dinner.

1. Do some research ahead of time.

Pre-plan your meal! A lot of restaurants have web pages now and they have easily accessible nutritional information. Alternatively a lot of PDA and data devices have applications available to help you with this search on the go! Then you don’t have to mull over the menu and be tempted. You can also make considerations for how you want to choose your meals earlier in the day to allow for a special dessert or a glass of wine – whatever your tastebuds desire!

2. Don’t be afraid to ask!

If you don’t have access to the internet in order to preplan, never be afraid to ask for the nutritional information listing from your server. All restaurants are required to have the information available – either in a form you can take away with you (which is handy to keep on file for later!) or a booklet that has to stay in store. They are often more than glad to get it for you so that you can make a healthy choice.

3. Eat what you want, just eat less of it!

So you want to have some pork ribs – nothing wrong with that! Go for it! With your nutritional information in hand, just do a little bit of math. If your ribs are 800 calories, and you want to have more than just ribs, section them off. Ask for a doggie bag right away and have them halve the portion into the container. That way you’re eating more responsibly, you’ll have some for lunch the next day and you can still afford to have a side with your ribs!

4. Choose your side wisely, young skywalker!

We all love fries. Come on, admit it. But we also all know that they aren’t that great for us. There are often many other delicious options available that we can replace our fries with and this will make a significant difference in the fat and calorie content of our meal. Check the menu for your choices – they often range from garden salad, (C├ęsar salad but its sometimes more), seasonal vegetables, a single veggie choice, soup, or baked beans. They may also give you other options for how you want your potatoes cooked – baked, mashed etc. If you don’t see the choices, ask your server!

5. They don’t put water on the table to look good!

There is water on the table at most restaurants, and it’s a great way to reduce your calorie intake. A glass of water while ordering will help you consume less of the food you love. It is also a great replacement for empty calories from sugared sodas, milkshakes and sweet alcoholic mixed drinks. I personally will always skip the pop/juice at dinner and replace it with water. (Also, if you want to know a little secret, the ice cold water on the table actually burns a few calories (12 I think), while your body warms it up after you ingest it!)

6. Share! (Its hard to do, but a valuable lesson learned in preschool)

So, you want that cheesecake mousse. And it’s givin’ you the eye. “I’ve made good choices tonight!” you think. You’re going to order it but you don’t know if you should eat all of it. No problem! If you’re out with girlfriends, I’m sure there is another of your friends that would be glad to share with you (especially if you’re on the healthy journey together!) Or, if you’re out with your spouse or partner you can ask for two spoons and romantically share you dessert. You’ll eat it more slowly and enjoy it! (Maybe you'll burn off the calories later!)

7. Ditch the filler. It just fills out your pants!

Bread on the table, Starters – they’re bad news. Why waste your calories on bread? Deep fried cheese sticks don’t really fill you up. Avoid these diet-busting foods at all costs.

Hopefully I’ve been able to give you a few good tips that you can use, especially with the holiday season upon us. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t enjoy your office party – just enjoy it smarter! 
Don’t forget to watch my blog tomorrow for an “inches update”! I’m also going to doing a Vlog tomorrow about some of the top *diet* killers. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn about what you’re putting in your mouth!