Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The end of one journey, the start of another.

Wow. This is it.

A little over three months ago, I started this blog with an open mind, a hopeful heart, and a spirit full of determination. Now, here I am, headed back to my junior year of college, almost 14 pounds lighter. But the physical change doesn't even compare to the mental strength I've gained.

Before this summer, I had never worked out on a regular basis. I'd gone into almost every summer since middle school aiming to lose weight, but getting frustrated and giving up again and again. So lately I've been asking myself: What made me stick to it this time? Honestly, I'm not sure. I think something finally just clicked and I realized that I needed to make a change in order to really be happy with myself. And maybe as I've gotten older, my will power has gotten stronger and I've realized that success only comes from hard work. This time, I was prepared to put in the work and not just skate through life hoping something would change.

It took a lot of patience. Some tears. A lot of sweat. But I did it. I took myself from overweight to healthy. And gained so much confidence. Surprisingly, the confidence didn't really come from the numbers on the scale. It came from the knowledge that I had the power to make myself better, and I was doing it! I pushed through the difficult days. I fell and got back up so many times. And, in the end, it was all worth it.

But, of course, this isn't the end of my health journey. It's just the beginning. This summer really laid the foundation for a healthy lifestyle that I hope to continue forever. I now understand how rewarding and amazing it is to be active, eat right, and treat your body with respect. So, here I go. Embarking on Part II of the journey, a.k.a. the rest of my life. I plan on getting super active back at school, keeping up with my workouts, and preparing healthy meals every day. Off I go! Wish me luck :)

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I can't end this blog without giving a huge thank you to everyone who's helped me and supported me along the way!
  • Josh - thanks for being my most faithful reader, my rock, and my biggest fan. 
  • My parents - thanks for being so supportive and always doing your best to support my healthy lifestyle.
  • My friends - thank you for being so inspirational and letting me be a part of your own special health journeys.
  •  YOU - yes, you, reader! I was so surprised and honored to get over 4500 views on my page this summer. Thanks for being one of those 4500 clicks! Thanks for reading my rants, raves, and occasionally decent posts. Thanks for reaching out to me via Facebook to offer support, or just silently supporting by reading every once in a while. I loved every second I spent working on this blog, and I sincerely hope you got something out of it :)
If you're really going to miss me and my posts, I've got some good news for ya. I'm going to keep blogging :) Not every day, and not all about fitness, but I promise there will be health updates, in addition to fashion, DIY, and food posts! And of course my occasional diatribes and ramblings, don't you worry ;) Please read, subscribe, and comment, if you'd like. And, most importantly, keep being beautiful you.

CLICK HERE to visit my new, permanent blog! :) 

All the love in the world,
Ellen ♥

Monday, August 19, 2013

How I did it: 8 quick & easy tips.

Hello there. If you're just now tuning in, I'm Ellen, and I've lost 13ish pounds in 15 weeks.  (Wooooohoooo!) If you're curious about how this mystical thing happened, I'd love to share what I did. Maybe this will be helpful to you and maybe it won't. Remember, I'm not a nutritionist, or Jillian Michaels, or really any kind of expert whatsoever. So, take these tips how you will. Hopefully they work as well for you as they did for little ol' me :)

1. Be consistent!
I can't stress this enough. It's not going to do you any good if you have a good week, followed by two bad weeks, followed by a good three days...etc. Everyone makes mistakes and has bad days. Don't let it turn into a month-long food frenzy/lazyfest. Get up, get moving, and remember that one bad meal won't make you fat, just like one healthy one won't make you skinny.

2. A little bit of exercise, a lotta bit of food modifications.
This one is probably controversial because, as I know, every body is different. For me, this philosophy worked really well. I worked out almost every day, but I usually burned less than 300 calories. To balance this out, I ate 1200-1400 calories every day. I assure you, this is plenty. Especially if you get plenty of protein (Something I still need to work on.) Other girls might go to the gym and burn 600-700 calories working out and lose a ton of weight. GREAT for them. Seriously. I just hate exercise and have fairly good self-control when it comes to food intake. Do what works for you.

3. Count your calories (Try MyFitnessPal!)
It kind of baffles me when people try to lose weight but don't have any idea how many calories they're burning and eating. When it really comes down to it, weight loss is about math. Of course the quality of foods and the type of exercise can make a difference, but nothing is going to matter as much as input and output. I almost flunked pre-cal, but this math is simple enough even for this right-brained girl. It's really helpful to use MyFitnessPal. Just plug in your info and it'll tell you how much to eat every day. Easy as that.

4. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
No, I'm not saying to eat a chocolate bar after every carrot. I'm saying, be like Bobby Deen. He always says he lives on the 80:20 ratio. 80% of what you eat has to be healthy and sensible. 20% of it is the yummy stuff that allows you to fully enjoy life. You can't be silly enough to think I, Ellen Dairylover--that's not really my last name, guys--went an entire summer without eating ice cream, pizza, and cheese. It happened, I assure you. The point of this tip is: eat things that make you happy every once in a while. It will help you enjoy your life. And it'll make sure you don't get so burned out on health food that you give up altogether.

5. Think of the bigger picture.
I like to use this ridiculous photo I made on to remind myself of the goal I'm working towards. You may not notice that .4 pound difference on the scale, but just keep thinking about how it all adds up. (It's fine, you can laugh. Laugh at the photo, please.) But in addition to the bigger picture body-wise, think of the bigger picture emotionally. Think of how confident, healthy, and amazing you will FEEL (and look) when you reach your goal.

6. Get a support system.
Talk to your loved ones. Tell them how you feel. Surround yourself with people who will pat you on the back and act like you're the skinniest person in the world even if you just lose half a pound. It's hard to keep motivating yourself. So find some people who will help you out and always be there for a kind word and a hug when you're having a tough time. This journey is not easy. A lot of it isn't too fun. But you can do it. (P.S. If you need a supporter, let me know. I'd love to be there for you and help you through the ups and downs of getting fit! :))

(Maybe your support system could be Ryan Gosling.)

7. Learn to love yourself.
If you've read my blog, you're probably like I get it already. Inner beauty. Blah blah. So I'll try not to be too repetitive! Guys, I just want you to always remember that you are awesome. You're loved. You're brilliant and inspiring. And the way you look in a bikini (or mankini, I don't know) will never change that! Get healthy and look good. But, more importantly, look inside yourself and realize that you are a beautiful, amazing person, regardless of your appearance.

8. Have fun, be safe!
At camp, our final rule was always HAVE FUN, BE SAFE! It works for 5-6 year olds, and it'll work for you, too. Find exercises you love (Um, hello, zumba? Kayaking? These things make me smile.) Make fun healthy recipes that don't taste like cardboard (Here's the link to some good ones!) Laugh at yourself when you fall on your ass during a barre class, and remember that this journey doesn't have to be all work and no play. And of course, be safe. Don't undereat or overexercise. Don't do anything that's too advanced for your fitness level. Do take risks. Do be adventurous. You will be a lot more successful if you learn not to take yourself too seriously!

(Clearly, I greatly enjoy Mary Poppins.)

That's all I've got. Enjoy. Hope this helps out some way, somehow!

Is shopping an exercise?

Today I didn't work out. I wanted to go to Zumba with my mom, but she couldn't pencil me in. Ha. I should've made time to do an evening workout, but it didn't happen. But I did do a lot of window shopping and walking around. So, uh, basically I'm a fitness guru..?

I can't believe tomorrow is my last day in town! I'm so excited but so sad! But, the night will culminate in the annual back to school dinner at Benihana, and because of that, I'm all smiles :)

I'm really proud of all I've done this summer. I think I've laid the foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle which I'll try to continue with for years to come. I'm working on a wrap-up post where I'll reflect on my journey and give some parting tips!

I hope you all have had a truly transformative summer and that you're loving yourselves a little bit more each day!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Your mind is beautiful.

I just saw this on PostSecret and felt an immediate connection with the anonymous author. Though I wouldn't really consider my body fat, I notice its imperfections on a daily basis. Like most women in this country, I'm not a supermodel. And, like all women in this country, I'm subjected to media and a society that expects me to look like one.

Every day, we all see posters, magazine ads, commercials, and billboards featuring skinny models with airbrushed "curves," faux tanned skin, and impossibly "perfect'' bodies. This, society tells us, is what a woman should be. Beautiful, desirable.

But, what we don't see millions of times a day is stated so simply and perfectly in this anonymous postcard. Being thin and stereotypically sexy doesn't make you happy. YOU make you happy. And who YOU are has nothing to do with your clothing sizes or how attractive people think you are. Your mind is beautiful. Your thoughts, emotions, and meaningful contributions to this world are worth so much more than anything that shows up on the outside. 

The overarching message is cliche, I realize. "Inner beauty supersedes outer beauty." We hear it all the time. But I think it's important to remember, especially if you're going through a weight loss journey like me. When you focus most of your energy on looking good, and you use photos of skinny girls to push you through a workout...are you doing yourself any favors in the long run? I don't think so. 

I've found that for me to lose weight and focus on my health, I have to try to push the supermodel/ so-called "ideal" body out of my mind. I'm never going to look like that because I'm a real human being. I have flaws and I'm learning to love them day by day. Instead, I try to focus on how I'll feel at my goal weight. Confident, healthy, proud. I think these words are a lot more positive than skinny, desirable, perfect. 

If you're trying to lose weight, or if you're just feeling unhappy with your looks, I ask you to take a second to focus on the things that make you YOU. I don't think your "flabby arms", "red skin", or "thunder thighs'' are going to be on that list. For me, they are:
  • My corny sense of humor
  • My passion for arts and education
  • The love I have for the special people in my life
And, of course, other stuff too :) Just remember that your mind is beautiful, and that's so much more important than any physical imperfections you may have. So keep working hard and continue on in your health journey. But along the way, remember that happiness is a journey and not a destination. And real happiness comes from your amazing personality and not an image in a mirror.

Have a great night!
-Ellen <3

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Hola! Haven't been up to much over the last couple of days. Went to the state fair again today with my dad! Also, went on a lovely moonlit stroll with Josh. Other than that...nada.

My weight has sorta been fluctuating a couple pounds between 10-12 pounds lost. I've been keeping up with my workouts, but I've changed my calorie allowance from 1300 to 1600. It feels AMAZING. This is the goal MyFitnessPal gave me if I want to lose 1 lb. per week instead of my old goal which was 1.5 lbs per week.

We'll see how well my body adjusts and if I continue to lose weight. If not, I'll consider going back to 1300. I just figured 1600 would be easier to maintain during the school year, so I'll test it out shortly before going back.

Have a fab weekend:)