2012 March

March Non-Scale Victories

  1. Not having to worry that the “hair color smock” at the salon will be too tight
  2. Tucking shirts in becomes the norm over wearing them out
  3. Resisted having a small glass bottle Coke when I had the stomach bug
  4. Not quite recognizing myself upon a quick look in the mirror
  5. After being called out for a bad push up, trainer Danny did compliment me: “great triceps”
  6. Completing 16-months at Doctors Wellness Center and getting these results:
  7. Reducing my heart rate from 96 to 69
  8. Reducing my blood pressure from 135/87 to 112/78
  9. Reducing my BMI from 40.6 (Obese, Class Two) to 24.6 (normal)
  10. After my massage, I told my masseuse about having lost 90 lbs. He said that he’d worked on people who’d lost a lot of weight and that they usually have a lot of loose skin, some so much they were hard to massage. But he said that he would’ve never known I’d lost that amount because he didn’t see the loose skin. (Shout out to the trainers at Doctors Wellness Center for that!)
  11. Ordered a dress on line, and when it got here, it looked too small. I tried it on, and it fit! Fun feeling!
  12. Up for an early morning workout on a Monday, the Monday morning after “spring forward,” no less. First Monday morning cardio session in weeks; have been opting for an after work workout most Mondays.
  13. Second day up early, despite DST. Today, woke up at 4:15 a.m. on my own.
  14. Actually tried on a sleeveless shirt, and while I didn’t like the shirt, it looks like I may just be just to confidently go sleeveless this summer!
  15. Burning up in my office and am able to take off my sweater (sleeveless shell underneath) because I’m not embarrassed about how my arms look. What freedom!
  16. LOVE being able to dress the way I want to dress and not in whatever I find that fits. Buying new clothes and getting dressed in the morning is so much fun now.
  17. When I was doing bench presses today, someone comment on how flat my stomach was. I do still have some goosh, but it was still nice to hear.
  18. Trainer Danny said that I had taken a beat down well today, and when your trainer says it was a beat down, you know you had a beat down. (I was just happy to get through w/o throwing up or fainting.)
  19. Surprisingly, I experienced little to no soreness after yesterdays’ beat down.
  20. While I in no way aspire to run, I am now jogging just a little in one of my sets. It is only notable because 90-something lbs. ago, I could not and would not “jog.”
  21. I can now “see” my obliques.
  22. Noticing a lot of lower body changes for the better lately.
  23. Wearing the sled weight belt on the last notches.
  24. Now bench pressing 75 lbs.
  25. Now using 20 lb. dumb bells for dumb bell press; trainer reminded me that I started this exercise with 8 lb. dumb bells
  26. Ordered a black travel dress for upcoming trip and size chart indicated that I needed a small. Debated buying the medium, but trying the small at urging of a friend. The biggest NSV will be if it actually fits!
  27. And it fit! YAHOO!
  28. Tried on (and bought) a fab red dress that when I tried on, I literally saw a different person in the mirror
  29. Bought a great pair of Under Armour workout pants in medium (a medium anything that fits still surprises me)
  30. Tried on a small workout shirt — it was on sale big time – and it fit
  31. Bought a pair of knit travel pants, medium petite.


Thank You Thursday #6

It’s the Thursday before Easter, and since I was doing this project for Lent, technically the end of Thank You Thursdays. But, this has given much good perspective, I’m going to stick with it a little longer, tentatively through the end of April. I’m not sure if it has given Julie Turner the same good feeling, but for me, it’s helped me focus more on the good things that people do rather than the bad. Every day I find myself wondering,”Will today be the day that I find my Thank You Thursday?”

Dear Richland Mall LensCrafters Manager:

“As long as I’ve got my eyesight I’m not going to stop.” ~ Peter Cameron

In the time it takes a pair of glasses to break, for all intents and purposes, I lost my eyesight the evening of March 21. My progressive lens glasses broke, and I was relegated to my old single lens glasses. I’d often doubted that I really needed progressives, but in my first 10 minutes without them, I became painfully aware that I did.

First thing the next morning, I went to my ophthalmologist’s office, where I was assured the glasses could be repaired as good as new and back in three weeks! Three weeks? After they picked me up off the floor, they recommended that perhaps LensCrafters could help, so I was on my way.

When Robin greeted me at 10 a.m., I was a half-blind nervous wreck. When she checked my prescription and said that you could help me out, I was absolutely thrilled, but still a little anxious about picking frames and getting the glasses. Robin painlessly walked me through the process and genuinely seemed to have as much fun as I did trying and finally deciding on new frames. By 12:30 p.m., my two-tone DKNY progressives, as well as a FAB pair of red Ray Ban sunglasses, were ready, and I was back in business. 

Special thanks for turning what started as a disastrous day into a fun style makeover. I have already recommended your store – and Robin, in particular – to many friends and family members. And when it comes time for new glasses, hopefully not for a while, I’ll be right back at LensCrafters!


Mary Pat Baldauf

Be Prepared: Not Just for Boy Scouts

“To be prepared is half the victory.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spanish writer

When asked the secret of my success for the healthy lifestyle change that resulted in a 90-something lb. weight loss, I’d have to say preparation, hands down.

Don’t get me wrong. It took a village to transform my life:

  •  A nutrition counselor to educate me on healthy eating, challenge me to try new things and coach me through the rough spots
  •  Personal trainers who carefully guided my workouts, helped me to know my potential (and limitations), and kept me motivated to exercise at 5 a.m.
  •  Friends, family and co-workers who cheered me on, encouraged me on rough days and tolerated my newly found soapbox

But the thing that tied all of those things together? Planning and preparation.

Here are five tips that made a difference in my journey. In one way or another, they all go back to being prepared. Any of these tips could really be a post on their own, but for convenience, I’ll give you the “Readers Digest condensed version.”

  1. Make a weekly menu plan and cook ahead for the week: To eat healthy, you can’t fly by the seat of your pants. Unless you’re superwoman (or have a chef), you can’t cook every day either. On Friday, I look at the coming week, make notes of special challenges and plan several items I can prepare ahead of time. Over the weekend, I make several dishes, pack one-serving portions and pop them in the fridge and/or freezer.  Soup, chili and bean dishes work especially well.
  2. Do prep work ahead of time: Let’s face it; some things just don’t lend themselves to pre-cooking and freezing. For that, I do as much as I can ahead of time – that cuts out quite a bit of time in the kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is Glazed Tofu. On Sundays, I mix a large batch of the sauce, divide it into portions and freeze it. The night before I want to cook it, I drain the tofu and pull out a sauce from the freezer. When I get home the next day, it’s as easy as throwing it on the stove.
  3. Expect the unexpected: Ever pack a healthy lunch and leave it on the counter? Or get stuck at your desk when you’d planned on eating healthy at home? Keep healthy, non-perishable food in the car, the office and in your purse. Bring several lunches for the work ‘fridge at the beginning of the week. Eat something healthy before going to special events. At first, it’s hard to hone those clairvoyant skills, but soon it becomes second-nature.
  4. Take your show on the road: Traveling for work or pleasure? With a little planning and creativity, you can do as well on the road as you do at home. Look at your itinerary and plan accordingly. If some meals are provided, check the menu and don’t be afraid to make special requests. Use the Internet to research area markets and grocery stores, restaurant menus and hotel amenities. Pack non-perishables like peanut butter and raisins, as well as non-breakable containers and a set of utensils.
  5. Schedule activity: Make exercise a priority. Schedule time on your calendar for it, and don’t let anything keep you from it. My job often requires me to attend evening meetings and events, so the best time for me to exercise is in the morning. Most weekdays, I’m at the gym between 5 and 5:30 a.m., back home in the shower by 7 a.m. I’m not a morning person by nature, but with a little preparation, it’s not so bad. Don’t do mornings? You don’t have to; just find your best time and work through the challenges that might stand in your way.

What changes have you made to accommodate a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a particular challenge you’re facing when it comes to improving your health?  How have you (or could you) prepare to meet that challenge?

Thank You Thursday #5

As soon as I read this yesterday, I knew this week’s thank you would have to go to Richland County Administrator Milton Pope. It’s a quick handwritten note, less formal than others, but very heartfelt. I’ve worked with Milton in several capacities: as a Richland County resident, director of a non-profit partially funded by the county and a local government employee. No matter what the issue or when it occurs, Milton is always professional, open and sincere.

Dear Milton:

As a Richland County resident and someone who has worked with you, I was sad to read of your pending departure. You are fair, open minded and an overall good guy — you will be missed.  I look forward to working with you between now and June, but for now, thank you for your service to Richland County.

Mary Pat

“Healthy” Foods to Avoid

I love this post from Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog, Nine “Healthy” Foods to Skip.

When I give a presentation on “Environmentally Friendlier Shopping,” I always warn people that marketers love to use vague words like environmentally-friendly, natural and green. To be sure you’re truly buying an environmentally-friendly product, you need to arm yourself with a little knowledge and read the label. The same is true with so-called “healthy” foods.

This article explains why nine foods often perceived to be healthy aren’t really the best choices. In my 16 months with a nutritional counselor, I learned a lot, both directly from her and through experience. Two of these foods especially stand out for me:

  • 100-Calorie packs: Before Traci, I was the”queen of 100-calorie pack.” I’d have at least one box for every weakness I had: cookies, candy, salty snacks. What I didn’t realize is that 1) they are not satisfying and in fact can leave you hungrier than you were before you ate them; and 2) just because they are only 100 calories doesn’t mean they’re healthy.
  • Salads: I’ve long had an aversion to vegetables, and salads were something I had to learn to eat. (Truth is, I’m still learning.) I’ve always thought salads were automatically a healthier option until I started looking up nutritional information. In Denver, I went out to dinner and ordered a salad. It wasn’t until I got back to the hotel that I found out how high the salad was in calories, fat and sodium. Turns out I could’ve had the personal-sized pizza on the menu and done better nutritionally.

Check out the list. Did anything surprise you? Have you ever had an experience similar to the one I had with the salad, either with a food on the list or another food? What food was it, and what did you learn?

Does the Need to Fit in Sabotage Your Healthy Living Goals?

If you’d asked me that at the beginning of this journey,  would’ve said no way. I treasure my individuality, and sometimes even take a little pleasure in going against the grain. Yet time and time again, I found myself in situations that pitted the two against each other, including:

Our department staff meetings, when I eat bananas when everyone else was passing around those holiday bags of bite-sized chocolates.

The APWA Center for Sustainability meeting in Kansas City, when the group went to an Italian restaurant. I had food in my room that I actually preferred over Italian, but I hated to miss the social part of dinner. I knew there was nothing there I would want to eat, and I didn’t want to just sit there for two hours and sip on water, but I felt like a weirdo.

At work when I’m enjoying my afternoon light soy milk and my boss playfully, but loudly asks “What’s wrong with milk?”

Check out this great post from Huffington Post’s Mindful Living blog, Five Ways Our Need to Fit in Controls Us. Author Michael Taft lists five proven ways that we bend over backwards to be part of the group, even when we don’t want to. The article doesn’t provide any strategies for handling these situations, it does help us to understand why we so often feel anxiety about wanting to fit in.

I find that of the five, peer pressure is definitely my weak spot. Like Taft says, nobody likes to be the odd one out. I experience this most at work, whether it’s having fruit in the staff meeting or declining cupcakes that someone brings. It’s not horrible, and it’s worth every second of very mild discomfort to be 90-something lbs. lighter. I’m learning to deal with it by laughing it off, bringing healthier food to share and/or celebrating my difference.

Question: Which of the five is your weak spot? Where do you experience it the most? How do you deal with it?

Is Your Family Hampering Your Weight Loss?

I’ve been lucky. By and large, my family and friends have been supportive of my improved eating habits and resulting weight loss. However, there have been a few folks who’ve been frustrating along the way. Do comments like these sound familiar?

“Oh, I forgot. We can’t eat at 10,000 Calorie Burger Joint. You can’t eat there.”

“You can’t avoid 10,000 Calorie Burgers forever. This is a lifestyle change, and you can’t avoid them forever.”

“You aren’t as much fun now that you won’t go out to any good restaurants.”

“Why don’t you make hamburgers anymore?”

Because I’m single and don’t have children, I think I’ve had it easier than  most. My sister/roommate, Beth, enjoy the food I cook now, in some cases, more than I do. And if she wants something else, she simply goes and gets it. My friends who cook for their husbands and/or children don’t always have it so easy.

From Every Day Health, check out this great article on how you can get your family aboard, even if they aren’t changing  their lifestyle like you. I especially like the idea of making healthier versions of favorite foods by substituting ingredients.

If you cook for your family, how have you been successful in getting their buy-in and support?

Customize My Fitness Pal Settings

I keep my food log online via MyFitnessPal, which I access via iPhone or internet. (There is also a Droid app available, as well as one for iPad.)

I just realized that MyFitnessPal offers even more flexibility than I realized via the Settings tab. It turns out you can rename and/or add up to two additional meal categories. Here’s how:

  • Go to Settings.
  • Under Food and Exercise Diary Settings, Meal Names is the second category down.
  • There, you  can change the meal names and/or add up to two  more.

I just set it up so I have the three main meals + places for morning, afternoon and evening snacks.

If you aren’t familiar with myFitnessPal, you need to check it out. It’s been a great tool for me, much more convenient than trying to keep paper food log. You can also use it to track your exercise and connect with other friends who use MyFitnessPal.

Thank You Thursday #4

Today’s Thank You Thursday! I’m really starting to have fun with this. I’m trying to thank someone in the same week that they did something outstanding, but I’ve got a running list, too. Thanks again to Julie S. Turner for inspiring me with her Thank You Project!

Mr. Kevin Daniels, Manager
Columbia Place Mall
Lady Foot Locker
7201 Two Notch Rd
Suite C-1340
Columbia, South Carolina 29223

Dear Kevin:

Marilyn Monroe famously said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Thanks to you, I’m now ready to do just that!

I came by Lady Foot Locker around lunchtime on Tuesday, looking for a new pair of shoes to wear for strength training. You were in the store alone and waiting on at least three of us. You patiently assisted me with several pair of Nike shoes, and even though I own a pair of Free TRs,   I wasn’t quite thrilled with any of them. You recommended a pair of Reebok RealFlex running shoes in a FABULOUS neon pink, and you were right on the mark!

I wore my new shoes to the gym the next day, and I’m pleased to report that the performance is as fabulous as the neon pink color. I’m far more satisfied with them that the Nike Free TRs; they provide much more stability without losing any of the flexibility. On a side note, they are also quite a head turner, and you can’t go wrong bringing a little style to the gym, especially at 5:30 a.m.

I appreciate that you took the time to listen to what I needed and recommend the Reeboks. I’ve been loyal to Nike and wouldn’t even have considered Reeboks; without your input, I would’ve missed out on one fabulous pair of kicks. Thank you for not just trying to sell me a pair of shoes, but the right pair of shoes. Consider me a fan, as well as a new Lady Foot Locker shopper.


Mary Pat Baldauf

Fit as a Fiddle?

When I posted my assessment results last week, we hadn’t yet done the VO2 sub max test. VO2 is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance.  We did the test during Friday’s training, and I have the results.

When I started, my VO2 was 15.5, which for my age, was considered very poor. In May, it was  38.6, which was a low good. Friday, it was 53.9,  which is an excellent.

Going from very poor to excellent in 16 months feels incredible, even better than the weight loss. I know that I’ve worked (and continue to work) hard, but to be able to make that change feels pretty incredible and very empowering! Especially for the girl who was always picked last in gym class!  (I bet not all of those junior high team captains would have an excellent these days!)