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 :)

*                  *                  *                  *                  *  

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:)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I am sleepy.

This is how I feel! Just got back from Zumba Toning. I'm totes famished. I don't know why. I haven't been getting much sleep, but other than that, nothing has changed. I've just been constantly feeling uber tired. And during the Zumba class, I almost had to stop and sit down because I just felt ill. Ugh, no fun :(

But the wonderful news is, I've lost 12 pounds! I literally have no idea how because I have not been nearly as fitness-conscious as I should've been this week. A.k.a. I ate three cookies yesterday. And I'm somehow still losing. This is fab news. Just hoping I'm not weirdly sick or something and losing weight because of that.

I have no plans for the next week so I plan on sleeping in often, relaxing, and getting in some fun Indy-area activities in before heading back to school.

Have an amazing Thursday night!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Yeah that means I'm exhausted.

It was a very successful move in day! My house is adorable, my room is a great size, and I can't wait to move back and live with my roommates next week!

Move-ins are always tiring. Even though it went smoothly, it really zapped my energy! Not to mention I was too anxious to sleep last night so I'm extra wiped.

Since I'm moving in to a house and there's endless decorating possibilities, I recently checked out this Buzzfeed article: 26 Dorm Room Decorating Ideas. And I officially became obsessed with washi tape.

Washi tape is a thin, colorful kind of tape made out of paper. It's kinda like painters tape and is easily removable, making it great for a rented house. In this photo, they used it to frame their posters! I totally plan on doing this. So cuuuuute.

After buying a few rolls today at Michael's and Target, I made this little craft.

My first of many washi tape crafts, I assure you :)

I cannot wait to sleep in, work out, and have a normal day tomorrow. No craziness, just bliss and relaxation.

Nightie night,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Before the Big Day

Holy cow! Move-in day really creeped up on me. It's TOMORROW.

I have everything packed up and I'm raring to go. I'm nervous, but very excited about this new adventure. I'm proud of all I've accomplished this summer and can't wait to see how I'll do (fitness-wise) in a school setting!

Even though I'm moving in tomorrow, I'm coming back home after everything's in place to live with my parents and kitty for another week before classes begin. I don't even know how I'm going to say goodbye to little Lizzie. It's so hard every time! *Cat lady status: achieved* I'm excited to have a new kitty to meet and live with: my roommate's cat! That should be fun. But nobody compares to the queen:

Wish me luck with the move in!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Transformation Monday!

(Yeah, I know it's supposed to be Transformation Tuesday. Shhh.)

I knew at the start of the summer that I wanted to keep my hair long until August. I was fascinated by the hairstyles and braids I kept seeing on Pinterest and frustrated that my hair was always too short to try any of them out!

I honestly did enjoy the multitude of options I had when my hair was long. (Keep in mind, when I'm saying "long" I'm meaning...slightly past shoulder length. Not that long for normal people, but I felt like Rapunzel.) I did all kinds of cool braids and ponytails and buns and it was a joyous time. But I almost never wore my hair down because it was a pain to straighten and backcomb and spray it until it looked acceptable. And if it was rainy or I was going to Plus, my hair is very thin and doesn't have a lot of volume, so when I wore it down it just seemed a bit flat.

Also at the start of the summer, I knew I wanted my hair to be short for back-to-school time. Cause I just love having short hair. It's much easier to take care of, and I am forced to wear it down most of the time because a 1" long ponytail just looks a little silly. I was very scared because I'd had it long for a while, and I hadn't had side bangs since high school. But, voila, here's the before and after:

It's soooo shoooorrrrtttt. At first I hated it. I came home, looked in the mirror, and had a panic attack. And cried and moped. And then I saw people and they liked it and other people liked my facebook photo so I figured it wasn't as bad as I thought. And now I think it's cute. Ha. Post haircut stress disorder is real, my friends.

Can't wait to try some new styles with my new 'do! Whaddaya think? :)

P.S. Health update: Now down 10.6 lbs! (Took awhile...) On to my next goal, -15! :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Family AfFAIR

I had a fabulous day at the State Fair with Joshie and his family!

On the other hand, my eating was just ridiculous. Like, if I listed off everything I ate today you would probably laugh out loud. But I basically skipped breakfast, lunch...and dinner....and just snacked all day long. So honestly it wasn't that many calories. NOT THAT ANYTHING I DID TODAY WAS HEALTHY IN THE LEAST. Except 40 minutes of P90X Plyo. I earned a little tiny bit of the fried goodness I consumed:)

Lizzie seems to be feeling better. She's not totally well, but I'm letting her sleep in bed with me again. She just hopped right in, snuggled up, and fell right asleep. How could I kick her out? She's way too adorable. Please say a prayer that she doesn't wet the bed. In my bed. :/

Tomorrow I'm getting a haircut YAYYYYYY so I'll letcha know how it turns out!

Peace, love, and fried Oreos,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The New Plan

Hey there! :)

So, I'm about back down to my lowest weight (the -10 lb. mark). Phew. That's a good start.

Since my "Lose 5 in 4 weeks" plan just ended, I hand-crafted a new exercise plan for the next 16 days.

"Calis." is my abbreviation for calisthenics (a.k.a. arms, abs, legs.) "BL" is Biggest Loser and "Jillian" is 30 Day Shred. Intervals = treadmill intervals of 1 min. slow, 30 sec. fast.

Note that this isn't the world's toughest exercise plan. I don't have a hard and fast weight loss goal because I'm giving myself a bit of wiggle room in honor of new-school-year-craziness. And I'm unsure about what I'll need to do once I'm in Bloomington and what kind of exercise classes are available.

Updates on Lizzie and camp: Lizzie is okay! She's on antibiotics for some kind of bladder infection. Just so y'all know, squirting an eyedropper full of antibiotics down a cat's throat is disgusting, upsetting, and will result in several scratches. EEEK. Horrible. But hopefully it's making her better.

The last day of camp was pretty fun. Our boss brought in cupcakes (yep, I ate one) and we all said our goodbyes and wished each other good luck with the new school year. I cried a little bit driving home because I'm very sappy and I get emotional thinking about journeys ending. A group of strangers turned into friends, and then, after one whirlwind summer, split up and went off on their own again. It's cool. Bittersweet. I'll always cherish the time I spent at camp this summer.

In other news, I'm going to the state fair tomorrow! I'll write a post about the obese animals and deep fried goodness I'm sure to encounter.

Til tomorrow,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Time Flies


I'm so happy, but sad at the same time. I know I'll really miss it!

I didn't work out today because I had a cat related semi-emergency and had to go to the vet. I'll find out tomorrow what Lizzie's problem is and whether or not she needs surgery. I'm praying she'll be fine and only need a change of diet. I worry about my baby :(

(But I didn't eat much today. Around 1250 calories. So. It's okay.)

The summer is drawing to a close and I just can't believe it! Time flies. For real. I also can't believe I'm going to be a junior in college. I still feel like I'm a junior in high school. I saw "first day of school photos" of Josh's little sister on her first day of high school and started crying!! I met her when she was 9 years old and now she's all grown up! And I'm, like, basically elderly. Geez.

Anyhow. Have a great night and I'll be sure to post updates on my kitty, my fitness, and my last day of camp!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Workout Wednesday: Zumba

Today I went to good ol' Zumba. Always fun and burns so many calories :)

Not too much to report today. I'm so bogged down because of my allergies and I haven't felt too energetic lately. I hope they go away ASAP!

I'm trying to crank it out and burn some major fat these last few days before school starts. Hopefully I can get back down to that -10 weight. (UGGGGGHHHH.)

Werk it out this Wednesday,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Banana Bread Smoothie!

Dieting sucks. Because food is one of the best things in the world. And when you can't eat what you want, life feels hard.

Something that's helped me is attempting to recreate unhealthy foods in slightly healthier ways. I'm not talking about Bobby Deen-type stuff like "300 calorie mac'n'cheese" (maybe the blandest thing I've eaten in my life) and other low-calorie recipes based on comfort foods. Because to me, that's kinda blasphemy.

I'm talking about...say...a banana bread smoothie. Still has all the good stuff that banana bread has. It's just in the form of a blended drink versus a sugar-packed, dense, heavy bread.

The other day, my mom used the 4-5 brown bananas sitting in our kitchen to whip up one of her best baked goods. Delicious, ooey gooey, coconut pecan banana bread. (Salivating as I type.) I've been snacking on this banana bread ever since it popped out of the oven (which likely explains why my weight is just ridiculous right now, but that's another story.) Anyhow. Today I decided to say NO to banana bread. To curb my craving, I invented my own version. Smoothie style.

I didn't take a picture because it wasn't pretty. It was, however, delish. And it allowed me to stay away from the banana bread today!

Recipe: Banana Bread Smoothie

1 small banana
1/2 cup plain vanilla yogurt (or Greek yogurt, if you're into that)
10 almonds
1/4 cup milk (almond milk would be great)
1 TB sugar free vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup ice
(opt.) 1/8 cup shredded coconut

Mix it all together in your trusty blender and sip slowly whilst pretending your healthy smoothie is actually a warm, fresh slice of Mom's famous banana bread.

Have a fabulous Tuesday :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Kardio Kat

So as not to discriminate and assume that all of my readers have the same exercise needs, I thought I'd diversify and show you examples of modified moves. Fitness is usually for humans, but if you're a kitty, you can get active, too.

My cat, Lizzie, who is a true Kardio Kat:

Oblique twists, kitty-style:

The secretary stretch. Great for humans and felines alike:

The classic lunge. This cat is on her way to some rock hard glutes:

 After an intense jump rope workout:

 Side plank. Modified so she's just laying on her side. Cause cats have little paws and weak arms and can't hold up their own body weight:

After all that exercise, she ruined it with a binge:

 If you're a cat and you're new to exercise, good for you. Hope Lizzie's summer health journey will inspire you to do your best.

-Ellen and Lizzie

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What is "Success"?

Hi there! Today was a good Fun in the Sun-day. It included lots of walking. Walking around parks, walking around the neighborhood, walking through the grocery store, y'know. Thrilling stuff.

Also, I sold a ton of my old clothes and made $40. Fab. And of course I'll use that money to buy MORE clothes. It seems like even though I keep buying stuff, the list of things I need continues to grow...;)

In other news, I'd like to share with you the graphic of the day:

This picture, which I love, encapsulates my entire summer health journey. It also looks pretty similar to my current weight loss graph (a.k.a. it's pointing UP right now. Bad.)

Somehow I gained almost a full two pounds in just 3-4 days of a non calorie-counting lifestyle. On these days, I exercised, used good judgment for portion control, and tried to drink lots of water and stay active, while still indulging a little on the "good stuff" like a dinner out at McAlister's and ice cream with friends. I did all the things I would do if I were trying to stay healthy and maintain my weight, yet enjoy my life and not obsess over weight loss. And I GAINED.

This just makes me very distraught and worried for the future. Am I destined to be overweight? Can I ever live a normal life and still maintain a healthy weight? Must I incessantly document every food I eat and work out six days a week in order to look normal? Will I ever achieve success by hitting my UGW (ultimate goal weight) and staying thin and healthy for the rest of my life?

I have no idea.

But, like this lovely graphic shows, success isn't a simple, solitary event that just comes up out of the blue. It's not just: Get healthy, see results, gradually lose weight until the perfect day arrives when you reach your goal weight and look like a goddess. 

It's more like: Get healthy, see results, gradually lose weight, remember that cookie cake exists and eat a few pieces of it, gain some weight, work out again and lose some weight, and then maybe one day reach your goal weight and not resemble Jabba the Hutt.

The point: Being healthy and losing weight feels amazing. Seeing your measurements get lower and lower rocks. However, conquering your fears, trying new things, and achieving little victories are worth more. They attribute to making you a better you and will make you feel more successful than any petty measurement of your body mass. Success isn't a number on a scale. It's a journey. It's a state of mind. And it takes time.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *

I'm feeling very bittersweet going into the last week of camp, which will lead right into the last few days of summer. This summer has been really eye-opening and special for me and I'm sad to see it end. I'll miss all of my co-workers. My beloved, adorable little campers, who touch my life every day. I'll miss family dinners with my mom and dad. My cat sleeping at the foot of my bed. The warmth that encompasses me when I truly feel at home. 

But, there are new adventures to be had and new memories to be made. And life begins where your comfort zone ends.
So. Let's go out with a bang and have a fabulous finale of summer 2013. And let's celebrate hope, courage, and new beginnings.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Fitness on Friday

Hey! So, I haven't had a normal post for quite a while. This is because I'm in this weird funk, as I kinda mentioned yesterday. I haven't really gotten an accurate measurement of my weight over the last few days, but what I've seen has reallllllyyy displeased me.

So, instead of my planned rest day, I went to a Zumba class with Mom. It was a little slower-paced than usual, which made me a bit piffed. But it's better than nothing!

It was cooking week at camp, so I was constantly sampling all the crazy things we made like dirt pudding, s'mores, etc.

NIBBLING IS SO BAD. It adds up. You may be all like One gummi worm is like zero calories, who cares. Then, 10 gummi worms later.......yeah.

I'm going to try really hard to refocus and continue losing weight (NOT GAININGGGG) before school starts!

I'm so worried about going back. As I mentioned, I want to have a much more active lifestyle. But I know myself, and I recognize my tendencies to get lazy when I'm tired or stressed. Gotta kick up the will power.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Sorry I've been absent for the last couple of days.

I'm just...not feelin' it. I don't know.

I've been so tired and sluggish recently. I've been exercising, but not as much. I've been watching what I eat, but not enough.

Trying really really hard to get back on track. I think I'm just getting really burned out on all this fitness stuff. Maybe when I get back to school I'll be re-inspired.

Hopefully I haven't gained any weight. Ugghhhh.

Here's hoping you're feeling more motivated than I am. Gotta re-focus ASAP.