Oct 9, 2014

Megan's Transformation

Megan's weight loss journey has taken her from a size 22/24w to a size 10/12. This isn't the only change in her life, not that her weight loss isn't incredible enough on it's own. Megan changed her attitude. She became an avid runner. Megan no longer suffers from acid reflux or the daily pain she had carrying so much weight. Megan makes time in her life to train for 5k runs and half marathons. Megan made this transformation while working full-time and raising her family. Here's a peak into her transformation...
Megan two and a half years ago and today
My journey began 2 1/2 years ago. For me, I changed immediately after that first session. The change wasn't physical; it was my attitude, that inner voice was singing a different tune for once! I actually had hope. I believed that I could do this. I didn't see a change in size for a good three months. I was OK with that.
Megan experienced more than physical changes - her attitude changed too.
Over the first year, I celebrated small victories:
  • No more acid reflux.
  • No more pain all day long.
  • Being able to paint my toe nails and cross my legs.
  • Fitting in a restaurant booth.
  • Fitting in an airplane seat and being able to fasten the seat belt.
All these things that skinny people take for granted – I could finally do!

Over the last year, I have not dropped a size. While I am disappointed, I have never wavered. I have had to think about what I have accomplished during this time since I haven't gotten any smaller.

Over the last year, I have run:
  • Five 5k's (3.1 miles)
  • Two 10k's (6.2 miles)
  • One 7-mile road race
  • Two half marathons (13.1094 miles) - I'm running the second half marathon this Sunday.
Megan before her 7-mile road race; August 2014
And I'm disappointed that I haven't dropped a size?  If I stay this size forever it will be OK with me. I have never been this active in my life and stuck with something for so long!

Springfield Biggest Loser Run - a proud moment for Megan.
I came home from my run this morning disappointed. I said to my husband "I was supposed to run nine miles, I ONLY ran 8!"

He looked at me like I was crazy.

I had just run eight miles and I'm not happy about it???

I needed to put this in writing to remind myself that I HAVE CHANGED – even if I'm not an 8 or a 10. 
I first met Megan after I finished the Hot Chocolate 5k Run in Northampton in December 2013. She recognized me from this blog and introduced herself. I asked her what size she was and she replied that she was a size 12. My response was "if this is how good a 12 looks, then I'm good with being a size 12!"
Megan and Theresa; Hot Chocolate Run December 2013.
Megan's change in attitude is one of the keys to her success, but this isn't something she did only once, she changed her attitude again and again along the way. Keeping herself in check and seeing where she was being too hard on herself was another factor in her success.
Theresa and Megan April 2014
Megan and her husband, who has lost 10 inches from his waist on this program, are running a 5k in early December. I'm training for this run as well. I'll meet them at the start line and then I'm on my own from there. This how this weight loss works too: some will finish sooner than others. This journey is not about how long it takes to reach your goal size - it's about reaching your goal size. This is not a race, but exercise will help you reach your goal sooner. Keep moving forward, stay committed, stay the course (on program), and you too will be a winner (reach your goal).

You don't have to run a marathon to lose weight, in fact you don't have to run at all, but exercise helps transform your mind and body. Find a form of exercise a part of your life helps tone your body. This is your journey and you get to choose what form of exercise works for you.

Oct 2, 2014

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted cauliflower? A whole head of cauliflower? This recipe has you slathering cauliflower in a spicy yogurt marinade and roasting it at a high temperature. The result is an amazingly delicious dish that’s as dramatic in presentation as it is easy in preparation.
Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking sheet with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  2. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over its surface. (Excess marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and used with meat, fish or other veggies.)
  5. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.
  6. Let the cauliflower cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges and serving alongside a big green salad.

Sep 30, 2014


Pistou is an olive oil—based basil sauce from the south of France that closely resembles Ligurian pesto. Like its Italian twin, pistou can also be served as an accompaniment to grilled meats, poultry, fish and vegetables. I searched online for other ideas on what to do with pistou and discovered you can add it to soups; I included those instructions and a recipe for Pistou Meatball soup.
Photo © Quentin Bacon.

There's only one way to make true pistou—by hand. Tear the basil leaves into pieces first, then grind the leaves against the side of a mortar with a pestle to puree them into a silky, creamy sauce. 

  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  •  4 1/2 cups basil leaves, torn into pieces (2 ounces) 
  • 1/4 cup coarsely grated plum tomatoes 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup finely grated Mimolette or slightly aged Gouda (3 ounce)
  1. In a large mortar, pound the garlic with the salt to a paste. 
  2. Add the basil by the handful and grind the leaves against the side of the mortar until almost smooth. 
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, then gradually stir in the olive oil until it's incorporated. 
  4. Stir in the cheese and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
Above recipe and photo source: Food and Wine

Add Pistou to Soup
  1. Make the pistou first and let it sit around for a while, enhancing. 
  2. Put the finished soup in bowls and then add a dollop of pistou to it just before serving, releasing a fragrant aroma of basil and garlic. 
  3. Or just add the pistou to the pot after the soup has finished cooking and be done with it. 
Pistou Soup with Meatballs
Pistou Meatball Soup
  • 1 cup of basil leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3/4 lb Romano green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In the food processor or blender or mortar and pestle, make a thick paste with the basil leaves, garlic and olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Form small meatballs with the ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Saute the leek, garlic cloves and carrots in the olive oil until the leek slices are wilted. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, bay leaf, water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes. Finally, add the white beans, zucchini, and green beans, cooking until the green beans are crisp tender.

Either add the pistou directly to the cooked soup or add a dollop to each bowl. Serve with shaved Parmesan.

Above recipe and photo source: Cooking in Sens. I modified this recipe to be key-friendly.

Sep 20, 2014

Eye on the Prize

Meet Kathleen. She's been following the Key Hypnosis Program for three months and she's had great success. Join Kathleen as she reflects back on her journey.
July 2013 vs July 2014
Three months ago today at this time I was one in a group of people being ushered in to begin our first session with Julie. I was hopeful that my life might change for the better, but I was a tad anxious that this too might not work.
I wish I could go back in time and reassure that version of myself. I'd tell her "your life won't just change for the better....YOU and your life will be forever shaped (literally and figuratively!) by what will transpire in this room."

Three months of no sugars; no grains, no fruits, no carbs, and most amazingly - no cravings.
Three months and I'm down three sizes and my current size is loose.
Equal to being pleased with the changes in my appearance is the change in how I feel: I feel more energized, more fit/spry, healthier.
I think my body is starting to trust me...is finally forgiving me for hurting it. 

Trust me folks....anyone questioning or struggling....if I can do this, you can too!
Eye on the prize!

Sep 19, 2014

Special Occassions

I met Barb when she first started the Key Hypnosis program. It's a year later and she has transformed from a size 24 to a size 12. Her weight loss journey has been inspiring for me to witness and I'm honored to share some of Barb's weight loss journey wisdom and photos.
July 2013 vs July 2014
 Lean in, as Barb shares what she's learned about handling special occasions:
When I started this program a little over a year ago, I thought I'd be done by now. I'm not, but I'm still going!

I also thought that once I reached my goal size, I would go through cycling [maintenance], and then I would eat out of the river on "special" occasions.
Sounds good right? 

Well in the past year, I've had lots of special occasions that I thought I should be able to eat off program! Holidays, birthdays, picnics, weddings, showers, parties, and the Big E. These special occasions, which only occur once a year or once in a lifetime, were the times I really wanted to go off program.
If I think about it, these special occasions happen almost every week!

I'm coming to the realization that even when I'm on maintenance, I'm not going to be able to eat sugar or carbs at every special occasion!
I think there are two things I need to start wrapping my brain around: 1) not every activity is a special occasions that needs to be celebrated with food, and 2) special occasions can be celebrated without food, even once I'm on maintenance.
Barb started in a size 24.
Barb is now a size 12.
Congratulations Barb on your incredible transformation and thank you for sharing with us!

Your statement "when I started this program a little over a year ago, I thought I'd be done by now" really resonated with me. I started a few sizes larger than you and I figured it would take me two years to reach my goal. It's been three and a half years for me and I'm not there yet either. I'm still going too! 

We're doing this program once and then we're done. We'll learn to cycle through maintenance and then live the rest of our lives at our goal size.

I'm going to pause right now and do the happy dance for the both of us!

Thanks for helping us to redefine special occasions! If I gave in on every special occasion along the way, I would have gone off this program so many times that I'd never be able to get back on.

Sep 18, 2014

Choose Once

Exercise helps you to lose weight. Exercise is good for your health. Blah, blah, blah. We know all this, but many of us struggle to start exercising or to continue with our exercise goals. What if you didn't need to decide every day should I exercise, but instead you just do it because you made the commitment? What if you no longer had to debate with yourself every day about doing it or not doing it? End the debate. It's exhausting and doesn't make you feel good, especially if you decide not to exercise. Make the decision once and then do it every day (or at whatever frequency you chose).
I could not walk this reservoir in a size 30/32. Today I walk here 4-5 days a week.
I took this photo on my morning walk, which I get to do weekdays, yes at 6am, with my friend. When I was a size 30/32, this walk, that I loved, was something I had to give up because I couldn't walk the 4 miles around the reservoir. I couldn't even do part of this trail because of the steep hills at the entrances, because I was afraid of falling down, and because I could hardly breathe going uphill. When I added exercise to my life again, this was the first place I went to walk/run. At first, I couldn't cover the whole circle, but I kept at it and eventually I could. This was a big non-scale victory.

Robin had questions about exercise and how to get motivated to exercise:
It seems every one here is walking or working out. How do you do Zumba? I can't seem to get the steps to fast! How do you all do it? How do you get yourself moving? Motivated? Please help me!
You ask great questions and I'll respond to them, but first there are a couple observations I want to make and I have a couple of questions for you...

It sounds like you're in a panic about your weight loss journey, so I encourage you to stop right now and take a deep breath! Take a long breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat three more times.

Are you measuring your success with the success of others? I've been guilty of this from time to time and I know I'm not alone in thinking this way. This kind of thinking brings on self-doubt, which is not a good place to be, but here we are just the same.

The choice is ours: stay in self-doubt and allow those feelings to bring our weight loss journey to a halt or push past those feelings and continue our journey. We get to choose: move forward or move backwards, reach our goal and live our lives to the fullest or quit and live our lives wishing we could do this.

Part of the journey for many of us is to experience this self-doubt, to question why others are losing faster than we are, and to ask ourselves why we aren't losing as fast as others. When we're in this questioning stage, we're at a turning point on our journey, one which we may encounter many times along the way, when we stop and ask ourselves the question "why aren't I losing as fast as others?"

Behind the curtain, the real question we may be asking is "can I continue to do this?" or "should I continue?" or "is this sustainable?" Perhaps what's really going on inside is that we are having doubts about reaching our goal size. At this point, we're often close to another drop in size and if we can get beyond this point we will feel incredible when it passes and we're no longer questioning ourselves.

This is the point where we need to stay the course the most, to push away those feelings of self-doubt. This is the moment to reflect back on this same kind of moment when we didn't stay the course and how we regretted it later.

This is also the moment to also reflect on the moments like this that we pushed ourselves through the moment and how great it felt when we did.

Don't make this one of those moments of regret. Make this one of the many moments you can look back on with pride at how you pushed yourself through this moment. All these moments are what add up to your success and the propel you to goal size. Stay the course.

Weight loss is not the same for all of us, as there are many variables in each of our lives. Some start heavier than others. Some are older. Some have carried their extra weight for a longer time than others. The bottom line is that time doesn't matter. Do you best every day to stay the course and you will reach your goal. If someone told me it would take more than three years for me to reach my goal size, I don't know that I could have done this program. What I do know today, is that it doesn't matter how long it takes and that I feel good every day I choose to stay the course.

Motivation to exercise comes when you decide it's time for you to get moving. I remember at a refresher Julie told the woman sitting next to me "if you don't exercise, it's going to take you a really long time to get to your goal size." It was nine months later before I would take those words seriously and started to exercise.

For me, exercise first took shape when I downloaded the couch-2-5k app. I was going to a conference and I decided ahead of time I would use the treadmill each morning of the conference. In fact, I was on my way to the airport and I had driven about a mile away from my house when I realized I had not packed my exercise clothes and I turned around to go get them. At the airport, I told my co-worker I would be joining her in the gym each morning. I made the decision and then took steps to see my commitment through. The first morning of the conference, I went to the gym at 5am, I stepped on the treadmill next to my co-worker, and I turned on the c25k app and did my first workout.

I quickly realized I needed a goal to keep me inspired, so after returning home I registered for a 5k. There was just enough time for me to finish my c25k training before the race day. What helped me was that I solicited a friend to train and to run the race with me, but there were many times that I had to run by myself.

You asked about Zumba - Zumba is a blast! However, every time I went I felt that everyone else was doing so much better. I couldn't bend or move like they did. In other words, I was judging myself and I was in my own way. Once I got out of my own way, once I stopped comparing myself to everyone else in the room, I was able to enjoy myself. I haven't been back to Zumba, but it's not off the list of possibilities, it just doesn't fit into my priorities at the moment.

Right now my focus is walking 10,000-15,000 steps a day and to train for a 5k race in Dec. I made the decision to do this race once and now I'm following through by taking the steps (training) to reach my goal. There is no debate on "should I" because I'm committed.

In the end, it is only you who can motivate yourself to see your exercise goals through. Apps are helpful tools and having a walking or running buddy is wonderful, but it is on each of us to do this for ourselves, with our without friends or apps.

Make the decision what you want to do for exercise. Make the decision once and then take action each day to stay the course. If you take on too much, adjust the plan. This isn't failing, this is learning what's possible for you right now. Adjust your plan as you need, but don't get into the debate about exercising or not exercising. Choose once and then stay the course.

Hmm, this is sort of like what we do with this program right? We choose to follow this program and there's no further debate. Take the debate out the equation for staying the course on this program and with your exercise plan.

Sep 15, 2014

Who is That Woman?

After six weeks of feeling like I was having a bad hair day every single day, I decided to get a short haircut. Wow! Talk about change! This has been more shocking to me than anything I've done in a while. Every time I see my reflection in a mirror or in a store window I wonder: who is that woman looking back at me?
Before and After
A few days later, I'm still answering this question.

After I got my hair cut on Thursday, I went to Talbots looking for new clothes. They had a great sale and I left with three items: a classic long-sleeved white blouse (size 14), a grey pencil skirt (size 12), and a pair of navy blue shorts (size 14). I tried on all kinds of styles, attempting to find a new look to go with my new hair cut. Of course, all I could see when I looked in the mirror: my hips, oh my hips!

Hello? This skirt is a size 12! Hush little mean girl, hush!
Size 12 pencil skirt from Talbots.
I've been shopping several times in the past few weeks and most of the time I left the store frustrated and empty-handed. A couple times I took home a few items, only to return them the next day. I'm happy to say I didn't return any of the Talbot clothing!

I need to find a couple outfits for job interviews, so I asked my sister-in-law to go shopping for clothes with me yesterday. Determined to find clothes that fit me, I tried on 12's, 14's, 16's, large, and XL. I found items in all these sizes that fit and I had to narrow down which items to buy and which ones to pass on.

Wait - what? Yes, I had choices of what items to buy! I don't know when the last time I went shopping and had choices like this!

I left the store with two interview-appropriate outfits, two dresses, and two casual tops. I passed on the skirt and jacket in this photo, because it's really all about spring and summer and my focus was on 1) interview appropriate and 2) fall and winter. The shorts from Talbots was my last summer splurge ($10), because it's really time to say good-bye to summer clothes.

Change is here: new haircut, new clothing size and styles, new career opportunities, and a new outlook on life.

Who is that woman looking back at me in the mirror?  Oh, it's me!

Change is here: August 2014 vs September 2014