Jun 19, 2015

The Clothes, The Clothes, The Clothes!

Now that you've lost so much weight, what do you do with all those clothes that are too big for you? Should you keep them, just in case you gain the weight back? No! Forget about all those other times you lost weight and gained it backget rid of clothes that are too big for you. Keeping them is like telling yourself you are going to gain the weight back. Nowe not!
Thinning out my closets
You have several options as to what to do with clothes that are too big for you: give them away, sell them on eBay, take them to a consignment store, donate them, or have them tailored.

After my first year on program, I invited a friend over and told her "take what you want" and she left with three large over-stuffed bags of clothes. Two days later I did the same with another friend and she left with four large over-stuffed bags. Having been the recipient of many bags of clothing given to me by key-friends, who were perfect strangers at the time, it felt good to do this.

There were  times when I passed along an item I cherished to someone I thought would appreciate it. I gave my favorite blue leather jacket to a friend last year and this year she when it was too big for her, she gave back to me so I could take it to a consignment store.

I  used to sell my larger clothes on eBay, but these days I prefer taking things to a consignment store. Specifically one that doesn't require hangers or ironing. There are Facebook groups where you can sell things, but I really like the idea that if my item doesn't sell it is donated and I never have to see them again. I like the simplicity of this.

To make things easier and to keep me organized, I have a plastic bin and a large trash bag in my clothes closet. When I try something on and find it's too big or I don't like it anymore, I immediately choose: consignment store or donate?

If I'm going to donate the item, it goes right into the plastic bag and the consignment items go into the bin. This helps me know at a quick glance what's for consignment and what's for donation. There have been a few times when I mixed things up and later realized items I wanted to take to consignment were donated. Oh well, they're out of my closet at least!
Bins to take to a consignment store
Winter on left and summer on right
I usually get rid of clothes before the start of each season. This spring, I pulled all my summer clothes out of the bins and I tried on every one of them. I hung up the items I wanted to keep and the rest went into a bin or a bag. Pieces that are too small that I want to keep went back into the bin.

By the way, I use the bins to carry my stuff to my car and into the store. Then they go back home with me. Some day I expect I'll take the bins to the consignment store and ask them if they want to sell my bins.

This year when thinning out my closet, I asked myself a few questions about the clothes that are too small for me, to help me really thin out my summer wardrobe:
  • Do I still love it? 
  • Will I ever wear it again? 
  • Is it really ever going to fit me? 
I decided that by the time some of these items fit nicely at my hips, especially dresses, the top is going to be too big. This year, those items went into a consignment bin.

Each year I have less bins than the year before. At the moment, I only have one bin of smaller sized summer clothes in my closet. Winter, well I still have a ton of winter clothes, but I'll thin them out in September. Meanwhile, there are several bins full of winter clothes and others that hang in one of my closets.

There are random times of the year when I ask myself: Why do I have so much in my closet and at the same time I feel as if I have nothing to wear? In those moments, I know it's time to thin out my closet again.

A couple weeks ago I took my favorite dress to a tailor. I bought it three years ago and when I wore it on a cruise last year I was sorry that I hadn't taken it to be altered. I wore it to a wedding a few weeks ago and before wearing it to a second wedding this past weekend, I had the tailor take in about 4 inches under the arms.
May 2013 vs May 2014 vs June 2015
This was one of those times when I followed my instincts and it paid off.  Everyone told me the dress looked great and there was no need to take it in, but it felt too big. I can see this dress doesn't look much different in these photos, each taken a year apart, but it feels like a better fit. It was well worth the $28 to have it altered.

I wish I had taken my Capri's to a tailor instead of a consignment store. I can't find any Capri's at the store that fit and for a few dollars I could have just had the waist taken it.

I can't wait until I no longer need bins for all my clothes, to use my three closets for my clothes, (yes, I do know how lucky I am to have 3 closets in one room), to no longer have clothes that are to big or to smallonly clothes that fit, to be able to quickly see what I have in my closet, to not have struggle with clothes packed in so tightly that I can't find anything, and to not own so many pieces of clothing!

Hey, a girl can dream can't she?

What about you? What's inside your closet? Is it time for you to remove clothes that are too big for you? It feels fabulous to let go of them, regardless whether you sell, donate, or offer them a friend. It's very freeing! Set yourself free my friends.

Rememberyou are not going to gain that weight back, so you don't need clothes that are too big.

Jun 6, 2015

Hostage to Food

Are you searching for motivation to re-start your weight loss journey? Have you fallen off program and you can't get back on? Do you sometimes think about how all "this time" you could have been so much further on you journey if only you... STOP right here. Don't beat yourself up for what you could have or should have done—instead—choose to start again right now.
Dec. 2000: I was a hostage to food
June 2015: I choose not to be a hostage to food
If you've been off-program, jump back in the river this moment. Don't wait another day. 

If you feel like you can't get back on-program because you lack discipline or motivation, take a look around and you'll see this isn't true elsewhere in your life and it isn't true in this area either.  Let go of that inner critic who is judging your for not staying the course; that critic who is holding you hostage.

Trust yourself that you have the tools to see your weight loss journey through and right now make your weight journey your top priority.

When you wake up tomorrow morning, pat yourself on the back for having started today. Don't count the days you've been back in the river. Knowing the number of days you are in the river only reminds you that you were off-program and makes you feel that you had failed. To be successful, we must focus on our successes—not our failures.

Sometimes we make mistakes in life. Instead of seeing this as a failure, see this as part of your journey. While your side-trip may or may not have been planned, you probably learned a few things along the way. You may even have more clarity as to why you need to choose to stay in the river. Don't let that clarity hold you hostage and prevent you from reaching your goal. Let go. Accept the lesson you learned, get back on program, and don't look back.

Get back to the basics: eating clean and exercise.

This may mean dropping what you're doing right now (or once you finish reading this post) to go to the grocery store. Planning ahead is critical to your success. Focus on proteins like steak, fish, chicken, and eggs. Make big meals and freeze some so you don't have to cook every night.

The weather is no longer an excuse to stay indoors, so get outside and exercise. If you have physical limitations, find something that you can manage and start moving at whatever level you're at. If you can get a friend to join you - even better. If not, grab your cell phone and call someone who is willing to talk as you walk. If you are just starting to exercise again, do as much as you can and be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up for what you no longer can do. Give yourself encouragement for what you are doing now.  Once again: success is contingent on planning ahead. Make a consistent plan to fit exercise into your life and stay the course.

Remember this isn't a race. You didn't gain your weight in a few months and for most it will take many months or even a few years to reach your goal size.

Don't compare your weight loss to that of others, as there are many variables as to why one person takes a year to lose weight and another takes a few years to lose the same amount. Do your best every day and you will reach your goal.

Celebrate your non-scale victories along the way. They come in many forms. A recent victory for me was choosing not to eat something "because I could get away with it." A few weeks ago I was at the register at Barnes and Noble at 7:30 pm and I hadn't had dinner yet. As the cashier rang up my books, it seemed as if all the little gold-foil wrapped candies were calling out to me. I pushed away the urge.

It used to be so easy to just grab a bar of some kind to "hold me over," but I never bought just one. I'd buy ate least two bars, eat them on my way home, and then convince myself to stop at a store for a pint of ice cream for dinner.

Those little bars never held me over, they held me hostage on an endless journey of never having enough sugar and always wanting more.

Eating those foods is what I used to do, but it's not what I choose to do today. Today I choose healthy over easy.

You have a choice too. You can choose to keep doing what you're doing or you can choose to change. You can make that change right here and now or you can wait another five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years.

This what choice is all about—you get to choose when to stop being a hostage to food.

How about choosing to stop right now?

Jun 4, 2015

Alaina's Non-Scale Victory

I recently wrote about Non-Scale Victories and since then I've heard more incredible non-scale victory stories, but this story from Alaina is my favorite non-scale victory ever. I met Alaina at the beginning of her weight loss journey and seeing her transformation has been amazing. Lean in as Alaina reflects back on her vacation pre-Julie while on vacation a weeks ago.
Alaina in 2013 vs May 29, 2015
We've been coming to Ogunquit, ME for vacation almost every year since like 2004. Our last visit was in 2013, pre-Julie. I was out of breath and hot just walking from the parking lot to the water's edge.

My vacation consisted of napping, reading, snacking, and dining out.

Life is different now.
Left: Alaina in 2006 at her wedding
Right: May 2015 at her daughter's wedding
Yesterday we walked the Marginal Way, up and back, and then partway through town. I still had energy to go out in the evening. Before Julie, I'd be in bed by 8 pm.

Today we hiked the Rachel Carson Wildlife Sanctuary in the morning, drove to Portland, had lunch there, and then hiked the trail around Mackworth Island. I still have energy left for dinner out and then the piano bar tonight.

I can finally LIVE my life instead of being a spectator.

Today, if Alaina's out of breath, it's probably because she's just finished two back-to-back Zuma classes. Last year I did a 5k walk/run event with Alaina and a few other key friends and I joined her in Zumba. Her energy level if off the charts!

Congratulations Alaina and thank you for sharing your story with us.

May 28, 2015

Meet Morgan

Today's story of inspiration comes from Morgan, who graciously shares her weight loss story with us. In less than a year, Morgan has transformed her body and her life. Morgan's story reminds us that weight loss isn't just about our new size, it's about creating a whole new life too.
Left photo: Morgan (on right in long black dress) the day before seeing Julie
Right photo: Morgan today
Thank you for this blog, for writing all that you write and just being you! There are so many times, I feel "stuck" or lost on this program and I refer to your blog and it seems to pull me out of whatever funk I maybe feeling! Everything here is just so real!

I'm 28 years old, and I have been on the Key Hypnosis program for close to eleven months. I started between a 22/24 size pant and I was just completely unhappy. I have been overweight for almost all of my life. I had done every diet under the sun and nothing ever worked.

I work for a salon that my aunt owns and one of our clients, who comes in every seven weeks, kept coming in smaller and smaller! The first time I asked what she was doing she told me she was just eating meat and veggies. Finally by the third time I saw her, I asked her again, and that's when she pulled me to the side to tell me about Julie.

Completely skeptical, I decided to put my name on the wait list. I was drawn to the program because I have an old skeleton key tattooed on my ribs prior to even hearing about Julie. Keys are all over my house, I am big believer in the "key to a new life" mantra.

So I got the phone call. I remember I couldn't even give the woman my credit card number because I was crying so hard.

I remember thinking: this is it, I am going to change my life.

I remember going to my first session, I showed up almost an hour early.

I remember sitting there thinking: What did I just pay for? What is going on?

The first session finished and on my way home I had a strong need to stop at the grocery store for a New York strip and asparagus. And that's when I knew something was different. I've never wanted that for dinner. And that's how my journey began....

I have not gone off the program fully to this day. The following sessions were just as powerful, and my complete appreciation for Julie began.

But the part of this journey absolutely no one prepares your for is the mental side of it all. The first few months was a high, people quickly started noticing that my clothes were significantly looser and everyone was quick to say how great I was looking.

But that's when everything changed.

My emotions were a like a roller-coaster, I was happy for two minutes and then miserable for the next few days. I decided to seek the help of a therapist. I couldn't control how I felt for anything. That's when working with her I realized this "diet" is so different. For the first time in my life I wasn't turning to food for comfort, I didn't eat when I was sad, happy, or upset, I ate when I was hungry. And I was learning for the first time how to deal with my emotions head on. It wasn't just emotions, it was the outpouring of comments from people as well.

My personal relationships suffered, my relationship almost came to an end, and girlfriends who saw me as the fat friend had a hard time with me getting smaller. But all and all, I am completely blessed with the most amazing support group I could ever ask for.

But that's what lead me here, eleven months later.... I have successfully gone from a size 22/24 to a size 10/12. I had hoped to be at my goal in a year, which would be an 8, but I may be staying the course for a bit longer.  
BTW Morgan, if I looked as good as this, I'd scream from rooftops too!
I can never thank Julie enough, she not only got me into a smaller size, but made me a happier person, a person who wants the most out of life, who can't stop living and experiencing everything. But more importantly she gave me a second chance at life.
I wish I could scream from the rooftops that everyone should get to experience what I did with Julie. But I feel fortunate enough to have been able to.

I also can't thank you enough, for allowing me to feel the connection to Julie even when I wasn't in her room. I was able to log onto this blog and feel Julie, and know that I wasn't loosing my mind–other people too had felt what I felt at one time.
These photos of me were taken last night trying on my size 22 jeans
that were getting super tight on me when I decided to go to Julie.
Thank you so much again for making this blog, and all you do and say! Thanks, and much success in your journey! 

Morgan, thank you for sharing you journey with us. I love that you feel like screaming from the rooftops! Congratulations on your transformation of your body and your life.

May 26, 2015

Get Your Grill On

Today I'm pulling my grill out of my garage and it's staying outside until it starts snowing. To up my game and my skills of grilling meats and veggies, I went to YouTube for recipes and tips. What about you? Are you ready to get your grill on? 
Get your grill on
Grilled Corn

I love grilled corn, but I haven't done this myself. This video makes grilling corn look super easy and includes three different recipes. I prefer my corn without butter, but if you add butter be mindful of your fat intake if you add butter.

Grilling Fish

This video includes tips (if you want to avoid burning your fish - don't walk away from your fish) and recipes for veggies, shrimp, swordfish, salmon, and grilled veggies seafood salad (skip the rice) that you can make the day before and serve chilled. My favorite tip here, which is near the end of the video, is to use your skewer sticks to poke the fish to make sure it's cooked right, as you can take a peek without ruining your fish. The other tip that surprised me was that veggies take longer to cook than fish, so put them on the grill first. I did not know this.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

This video show how to cook a 1-inch medium-rare steak in 8-10 minutes. If you want it cooked more, plan on a few minutes longer. After pulling the steak from the grill, add the final touch of blue-cheese butter to your guests steaks and skip this on yours if you don't want the additional fat.

How To Grill Boneless Chicken Breasts 

This recipe calls for preparing the chicken an hour before adding it to the grill, so plan ahead. After you marinate the chicken in your favorite sauce, then head out to the grill.

Safety Tips For Gas Grills

It's important to know how to use your grill safely...

These are just a few tips and recipes to get you started. Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather, because after the winter we had, we need some gorgeous weather!

May 24, 2015


Summer is finally here and gatherings with our family and friends are in full swing. The best plan is to pull out our favorite key-friendly recipes so we aren't tempted to eat things off program. During these events, which can be a lot of fun and also stressful, be mindful to only eat when you're hungry and don't snack. BTW, this is how key-people define appetizers: anything we like to eat.
Langostino, deli meats, chicken coleslaw, hard boiled eggs
Photos by Theresa
Here are some appetizer ideas to get you started. Note: if a link isn't provide, do a Google search and you'll find tons of recipes.
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Langostino with cocktail sauce
  • Crab Gazpacho
  • Scallops wrapped in bacon
  • Bacon wrapped butternut squash
  • Kielbasa
  • Meatballs
  • Mini kabob
  • Deviled eggs
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cold cuts
  • Mushrooms stuffed with sausage or seafood
  • Buffalo chicken dip
  • Baked wings
  • Any great sausage cut up in a small crock pot is always a winner—even for non-key folks
  • Water chestnuts wrapped in bacon
  • Buffalo chicken meatballs 
  • Prosciutto asparagus mozzarella basil and garlic wrap
  • Chicken of beef marinated in teriyaki sauce overnight (if time permits) and then grilled 
  • Basil chicken coleslaw
  • Potato Salad
More recipes

May 21, 2015

Kathleen Reaches Her Goal

Today's success story comes from key-friend Kathleen, who has just announced she has reached her goal size. After hearing her story, I asked if I could post her story and photos of her journey. Sit back and be inspired by Kathleen's story...
Kathleen: before and after
Goal.Usually I'm not a fan of four letter words, but I'm thinking I like this one. My one year "Julieversary" is coming up July 1st.
I started last summer a size 30/32. Two weekends ago, a week after celebrating my 10 month anniversary, I went shopping to replace some "must wear with belt so they stay up" slacks and bought jeans, capris, and a skirt all in size 12. Goal!
Kathleen at her goal size 12.
It's odd to admit that it was almost anticlimactic. Almost. I did get verklempt in the dressing room…but over all these months I had thought the moment I hit that size I would be posting pictures and shouting it from the rooftop. Instead, I've kept mum.

I think I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it all, and as I still have some toning to do...especially on my upper arms, hips, and thighs...I don't feel like I'm 100% there yet. Make any sense? Not to me either.

The month of May has brought four interesting events...

First Event
We went to my nephew's Little League game a couple weeks ago...I haven't seen my nine-year-old niece in almost 5 months and she had no idea who I was as she approached her mom and me, even after I called her by name. At first I was taken aback, and a little saddened until my nephew; her father, said with a grin "Well, you are half the person you used to be!"
Kathleen is half the size she was 10 months ago
Second Event
My husband and I went on the Mountain Coaster at Berkshire East! After getting over the initial shock that he was suggesting going (he's neither a fan of roller coasters or heights so this is way out of his comfort zone) just because he knew I wanted to, the kicker came when the attendant asked if we were going to each take a separate coaster or share one. Doesn't seem major I know, except that there's a weight limit for the coasters, and the fact that she looked at the two of us and was suggesting we could take one together without exceeding that limit, well I was happily stunned! (btw, the coaster is awesome!)

Third Event
Last week in the grocery store parking lot I ran into one of my husband's former coworkers and a good friend of ours who hasn't seen me in ages. I headed his way and started speaking to him when I realized he was giving me the "I know you seem to think you know me, but you're mistaking me for someone else as I have no clue who you are" look. I asked him point-blank if he knew who I was, to which he started to shake his head no! I jokingly reached out my hand and introduced myself to him. Could've knocked him over with a feather. His reply... "I didn't recognize all '98 pounds' of you!"

It's no surprise that people don't recognize Kathleen.
Fourth Event
The biggie started last week. I'm being voted on to the Alumnae Board at my high school Alma Mater. I was contacted last Friday about being made the focus of an article in our school magazine. The "new me" had just enough moxie to agree, while the inner "old me" regretted my impulsive act the moment I hung up the phone. Today I spent an hour plus in the company of a professional photographer who shot dozens of photos of me around campus, one of which will be featured with the article in the next issue. Me. In front of a camera lens. Deliberately. By choice. No alcohol involved. LOL! (I only say that because I would've thought it would take liquid courage to ever do so…)

To say I was hugely uncomfortable at the beginning is an understatement. The photographer had the patience of Job however and according to him he got "the shot." Had this request been made of me this time last year…no way in hell! No bribing, pleading, anything would have gotten me in front of the camera lens let alone agreeing to have my photo distributed to every student and alumna! While the new me is still fresh enough to have doubts about my agreeing, I'm leaning more towards being glad I did it than regretting doing so. Obviously, I am still a work in progress in many ways.
It's hard to believe this is the same woman in these photos
Sometimes I still see the old me reflecting back from my mirror or find I am being critical of myself as I would have been in the past. I still get startled when I catch my reflection in a store window etc. as I don't always recognize myself at first either…I am loving the new me, but we're still very much in the getting acquainted stage. 

I am also very much loving that I'm still not tempted by any of my previous "go to" comfort foods despite having had circumstances arise in the past several months that would normally send me gleefully in their direction. I'm still shocked by how relatively easy this process has been for me, embracing both the food plan part of it and immersing myself in an exercise regime. Even my husband gets amused by my enthusiasm about going into places like Sports Authority to get new workout clothes or add to my equipment. We're even shopping for a bicycle for me! This tush. In public. On a bicycle seat. Who knew? 

Now I am facing, albeit with a huge dose of trepidation, maintenance. I'm hoping to go to the refresher in June, just wanting to confirm for myself the process that I need to go through. All y'all that have recently started maintenance and have gone to refreshers for that have been so generous about sharing the information here but I've always just felt that I needed to do that as well for myself. If I can't get into June's refresher I will aim for July's and start maintenance then. I both want and need this to be a once and done so I need to make sure I do it right. I'm confident I can own this portion of the process as I have the swimming in the river part, but there's enough of the old me in me still that has me feeling nervous about maintenance.

It's not an understatement when I say that I owe Julie my life. While unlike others who have had issues with diabetes or blood pressure…it could've been only a matter of time for me to develop either. Prior to Key I was existing. My weight, and the lack of self-esteem from that, had me just coasting through life. I can't say I was truly living life to my fullest. Now I am trying to do just that each day. With renewed energy and a slowly increasing self-worth, I am embracing life! This coming winter I turn 50. A year ago that seemed daunting to me. Now I am eagerly anticipating it as I feel better than I did when I hit 40! It's just a number in so many ways, but now it represents the year I gave myself health and happiness.

Along with Julie, I also owe all y'all. The support system you've have provided...from being cheerleaders to sharing recipes, it's been amazing. From a simple Facebook messenger conversation on 2/5/2014 with Martine came the biggest game changer ever. To you MT.....I owe the world! I love you more than bacon!

So that's my ramble/story.

Thank you all for being a part of my journey until now, and as it continues.
Half her size - wow!
Congratulations and thank you Kathleen for sharing your incredible weight loss story with us!You look incredible.

I'm in awe, as we started at the same size and your journey took you along the fast train to your goal. Good for you! I'm jealous of course, your success fuels my resolve to stay the course and get to my own finish line.

For those of you reading this, I hope you Kathleen's story fills you with inspiration. This is not a race, so if your journey is taking a longer - keep eating clean, exercising, and staying the course and you too will reach your goal size.