Monday, February 24, 2014

Friend Makin' Monday - Randomly Getting to Know You

First of all, I want to say how GIDDY I am that Friend Makin' Monday is back! Kenlie from All the Weigh has decided to take a break from FMM and hand over the reins to Sarah at Losing Weight and Having Fun for a bit. Kenlie has done an excellent job, and I fully understand her need for a break for now - so I'm really glad that Sarah has picked this up so we can continue to get to know others in the big blogosphere!

1. Introduce yourself in under 10 words.
Minnesota native, current Iowan, music teacher, learning to love myself.

2. How did you find Friend Makin' Mondays?
I can't remember which of the many blogs I follow linked me up to Kenlie's blog, but I've been hooked ever since!

3. Have you ever met any of your blog readers?
Nope, but I would love to in the future!

4. How many states have you visited?
25 of them, mostly in the Midwest, not many in the northeast or far West (or Northwest)

5. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
More of a snack of some ham and string cheese.

6. How many different places have you lived in?
Depends on what you mean by "lived".  I've "resided" many places for 2-3 months or more, but as far as "homes", I would have to say about 6 - mostly in Minnesota and Iowa, but some other places as well.

7. What’s your favorite color?
"cool" colors (depends on the day) - blues, purples, and greens

8. Do you have any pets?
Nope! I grew up with pets, and am anxious for the day when I find a place that will allow pets. I'm especially interested in getting a dog!

9. What would your ideal job be?
I have no idea (still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up!)

10. Do you have any tattoos?
No, but it is one of my "rewards" when I get close to my goal weight.

OK - you know what to do! If you are a blogger, answer these questions on your blog, and then head on over to Losing Weight and Having Fun and leave a comment so others can get to know you.

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

100 Challenge and a New Blog Addition

What a week it has been! Talking to a friend of mine, I explained that it has been the fastest and slowest week I've had in a while! In some respects, I felt like I was speeding through an emotional and physical obstacle course, with lots of extra events and changes to my daily routine. I am also in the midst of concert planning, and if you ask any music teacher, that becomes a CRAZY time of year! On the other hand, it seemed like a really slow week, in that I couldn't wait for the weekend to arrive! We've had some really crazy weather this week, including a very thick layer of ice, 3-4 inches of snow, and a huge thunderstorm with several inches of rain, so that has made the rest of the week pretty crazy.

With all that said, I only lost 0.8 pounds this week. It is disappointing, but at the same time, I am learning! I once again let a small treat and a rush of emotions control my food choices for several days, and so recovering from that took some work! Luckily, I am still very much in the habit of exercising, and managed to do so 6 times this week - between 1-2 miles/day (and sometimes more, if I use the Walk Away the Pounds dvd!) today I stumbled upon a new blog (have I mentioned that I LOVE reading other weight loss blogs, especially if they are people who have lots a lot of weight - so inspirational!). Clearly this is a blog I should have been following for a long time, but it is Tanee's blog at She has lost over 200 pounds, is a mom and a runner! I absolutely love her posts!

As I was poking around her site, I came across this fitness challenge she did for November last year:

you can find her blog post  about it here. And I thought, "I CAN DO THAT!" Ok, probably with a lot of modifications, but I can do it! I have been looking for something to add to my walking routine, especially something to get me up and moving in the morning before I head to school, so this should be perfect! I love that I can break it apart into as many pieces as I need to (which I am sure I will!) To modify, I plan on using modified jumping jacks (no need to put all of that pressure on my knees right now - I need them for walking!), wall push-ups, and I will also be cutting out the sit-ups, as I tend to get the absolute worst thigh cramps when I attempt these (I'm not sure what is up with this - a good question for my doc the next time I see him).

Tanee suggests that if you need a rest day, take it, so I'm just going to start and see how it goes. Has anyone else tried a challenge like this before? Did you finish it? Like it?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Just Like Tying Your Shoes

I haven't blogged all week, but today has been a particularly inspiring day, so hopefully I'll have lots to talk about this week!

I teach music to elementary students, and one of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis is convincing hesitant singers that they CAN sing. Many people seem to believe that people are either born to sing or not born to sing, and while I do know and understand that people have different singing voices, I am also a believer that 99% of the population can sing. The thing is, singing is much more of a SKILL than a TALENT. Don't get me wrong, there can definitely be talent and "innate gifts" involved, but ultimately singing is something you have to practice to get better at. "Kinda like tying your shoes," I often tell my students (many of whom have mastered shoe tying in the not-so-distant past). I tell this to adults too, but they rarely listen ;).

Today I read an article by Alan Henry at here. He has so many incredibly good points, but the one quote that really jumped out at me was that, "a healthy lifestyle is a skill you work and get better at—not a thing you just get up and start doing one day." BINGO! Now he's speaking my language! How could I be so silly to constantly tell my students that singing is a skill, but not think about losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle the same way?

I think that is why I am feeling so much more successful in the past month or so. I am taking things slower, practicing my exercise/healthy eating skills, and getting stronger all of the time! That doesn't mean I'm not making mistakes, I'm just learning from them.

In the beginning of January, I began in the hallways after school to get some exercise. I started with completing 4-5 laps, then increased to 7 (1 mile) two to three times a week. It was slightly painful, but it was an exercise that I was able to do on a regular basis without feeling crippled the next day. Ever so slowly, I have moved up to 10-14 laps, four times a week. It's not an extremely fast improvement, but I'm increasing the mileage and the time I'm exercising because I am getting stronger and I am improving my skills.

Today I did a "Walk Away the Pounds" DVD that I have had for AGES, but for the first time I was able to do the 4 mile walk, something I have never attempted before. It's not because I have more willpower, or because I've found some extra boost of energy, it's just because I am getting better at it. Talk about a non-scale victory!

What non-scale victories have you been seeing in your own journey lately? Do you feel like these victories are proof that your "practice" is paying off?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Starting a Dietbet (or Two?)

This week I decided to join a four-week Dietbet on Alex Respess' team (from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition).  Dietbet is a website where people pledge money to lose 4% of their body weight in 4 weeks. Those that meet this challenge split the final pledge money. I have thought about doing one of these many times, but I finally think I am in the right head space to be successful.

In reading many reviews of other bloggers' experiences, I noticed that a lot of the negative reviews had to do with the frustration of people who tried to cheat the system and rig their weight loss attempts. While I understand their frustrations, I think that if you go into this challenge only worrying about meeting your own goal, then there is nothing to be frustrated about (although, I'm only on day 4, so it will be interesting to see if this changes as I go along!)

I picked Alex's team for several of reasons: 1. I got to talk to Alex when auditioning for EMWLE a while back, and he was a really sincere guy. 2. I think he and Courtney Crozier make a very cute couple, and she has been a huge inspiration for me, as she and I share a lot of similar attributes. 3. It's a Dietbet with many people, so there will be lots of support and opportunities to get to know other people. There is another Dietbet that I am looking into joining that is a 6 month challenge. While I like the idea, I am not sure that I want to invest in that financially right now.

In other news, I am excited to share that I now consider working out to be a good habit! I have heard other people talk about how, eventually, exercising just becomes part of your routine. I never thought I'd be one of those people, but I noticed this week that exercise was no longer a negotiable thing. On Friday I taught all day with a really nasty soar throat and a little bit of a fever (I know, I know, I shouldn't have gone into work, but if you are a teacher, you know that sometimes it's just easier to go in than it is to write sub plans!), and I still managed to walk 1.5 miles after school. Success!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Transparent Tuesday (on Wednesday)

I love reading other people's weight loss/fitness/health/randomness blogs, and this week I am inspired by Emmie at to make a "Transparent Tuesday" post. The idea is to share some not-so-idyllic moments of your journey, and to capture the realness, imperfections, and bumps in the road. So here I go!

This weekend, I let an office Superbowl celebration derail me. After making a plan and bringing food that I could eat, I still couldn't resist some items. After that, I let "old Jen" take over, and somehow convinced myself that this slip-up was reason enough to throw away the entire weekend. Off-plan eating, not exercising, and overall being lazy. And you know what? I felt miserable the WHOLE TIME! I felt literally sick, and realized that my body loves (and was starting to get used to) me giving it exactly what it needs - balanced nutrition and exercise.

The good news is that I am officially back on track. I have exercised for three days in a row, my eating is back under control, and I'm feeling good! The biggest part of my journey, I can already tell, is going to be how I respond to setbacks. I will thank last weekend for reminding me of why I am doing what I am doing, and I will move on. 

By the way, the blogs to the left are some of my blogging all-stars, the blogs I read when I need encouragement, support, or a swift kick in the rear, and I highly suggest you check them out!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Friend Makin' Monday - Random Questions

It's that time of the week again - Friend Makin' Monday! The time of the week when Kenlie from poses some interesting questions for her blog followers to answer on our blogs to get to know one another! If you are a blogger, you should join us, and then post a comment on her blog so we can get to know you too!

1. Did you watch the Super Bowl?  If so, what was your favorite part?  Yes, although honestly I didn't pay attention to the football portion very much. Loved Queen Latifah (stunning!), Renee Flemming (goosebumps!), and the Heinz and Budweiser commercials. Oh yeah, and I really liked getting some work done at the same time.

2. What is the weather like where you live?  Really cold this morning, but supposed to get warmer today. Lots of snow tomorrow? (This teacher is hoping for a snow day! :) )

3. When is your birthday?  September 13th

4. Do you prefer sparkling water or flat water? Ice cold flat water, please! My favorite beverage!

5. How many hours did you sleep last night?  7ish hours.

6. What is your favorite day of the week? This has changed many times in my life. Currently, probably Saturday. Nothing like having a full day to get things done, sleep in, etc.

7. If you had to choose between riding a bike or swimming, which would you choose?  This is a tough one. I love swimming SO much, but am also looking forward to the day that I can get back on a bike and ride with the wind in my hair! When I was in middle school, I used to ride everyone, so that is something I really miss.

8. How often do you eat red meat?  Pretty regularly. I am following a low-carb diet, so red meat is playing a substantial role in what I am eating, although I am including lots of other protein sources as well.

9. What time did you wake up this morning?  6:00am

10. Do you have any goals for the week?  My goal is to recover a bit from the weekend (more on this in tomorrow's blog), and get back into a routine eating and exercise-wise. I also really want to work on cleaning a little bit of my house each day, so I don't have to have such a massive cleaning spree like I did this weekend!

OK, your turn! Head on over to, check out some other bloggers links, and include your own as well!