Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Handful of Things I've Learned From Losing 30 Pounds

I was going to title this 30 things I learned from losing 30 pounds and send it to BuzzFeed, but I don't know if I can think of 30. That's too much pressure.

First of all, here is a before (left) and after (right) picture. I took the before picture BEFORE I was at my heaviest weight of my life - so I looked even worse when I finally started to be serious about my health. I am not at my goal weight yet, but I did have to take this last picture for another challenge I just entered this morning. So here it is (don't judge - it was early for me and I was still in my PJs):

I have struggled with my weight and self image all of my life. I have tried Weight Watchers, Calorie Counting, Paleo & Whole 30s. I've had a gym membership for the past four years. It wasn't until we started a Weight Loss Challenge at work that I decided to really give it a shot. That little boost of competition and community really helped me to stay focused.

I am not an expert, but I have had a few people ask me what I've been doing. So, I thought I'd list my thoughts in one easy place for reference.

In no particular order...

1) Believe in yourself. Stop telling yourself that you're not capable or worthy of a healthy body. THIS was my biggest barrier, but it didn't come first. It took trying consistently for at least two months for me to begin to understand that I was capable of more than I realized. 

2) Do what works for you. My brother lost 100 pounds by eating meat & vegetables and exercising at least 1 hour every day. That's great for him, but I can't do that. I like dessert, I like bread, I like cheese. For me, it's all about learning to eat those things in moderation. There are a lot of options out there! If you like Paleo, do that! If you like Atkins, do that! If you like Weight Watchers, do that! If you like Zumba, do that! If you like treadmills or hiking or swimming, do that! The important thing is to find something that is going to work for YOU.

3) "Make a commitment to yourself first, the results will follow". When Bryce and I first started going to the gym there was a motivational poster hanging up above the water fountain that said just that. During the first week of our challenge, I lost my water weight and it got me excited. Over the next 12 weeks my weight loss was never consistent. I tracked my calories and activity with my FitBit Zip (which is a GREAT product and I can tell you more about it later) and I was being consistent. This proved to me that each week's loss was not directly correlational to what I was doing - but what mattered overall was that I kept trying even when there were setbacks. Ultimately, I lost 26 pounds during the 13 week challenge - that was an average of 2 pounds a week, but sometimes I would lose 4 pounds and other weeks I would lose .4 or stay the same. So STICK WITH IT. Your effort may not show up for a few weeks but it WILL SHOW UP if you keep going.

4) Exercise does not get easier, but you get used to the pain. I thought that after I had been exercising for awhile that there was going to be some magical moment that it wasn't hard anymore. In all of my prior attempts, I hated that first month of exercising. It felt awful and I didn't believe that anyone could really enjoy such a thing. As I mentioned above, push through at LEAST two months of consistent exercise. It took time for my body to get used to the idea that this was going to be a consistent thing. That after gym soreness used to be noticeable, but now I am used to pushing through it. It hasn't got any easier, but I'm at least used to the feeling and that's what has made the difference.

5) Get over the guilt of indulging! I don't let myself associate guilt with cookies or candies or treats. I think guilt is a horrible thing. If you want a cookie, have it! Now that I am exercising more, I know what I'm willing to indulge for and what I'm not. One of the things that I did learn on our past Whole 30 journeys (among many others for another time) is that we need to let go of the emotional attachments we have to food, that includes guilt.

6) Work on building a life long habit rather than a short term fix. This is ultimately why we could not keep up with a Paleo lifestyle. I gained back all the weight I lost during our cleanse periods, because it wasn't something I could do forever and I slipped back into my old habits. This is a reiteration of do what works for you!

7) Find support! Having a group of coworkers that were working on the same thing was so awesome. It was great to talk about what was working what wasn't. Be open about your goals. MOST people are pretty cool about it - I've never encountered anyone that said, "Yeah, you're fat and you're always going to stay fat." My coworkers weren't the only group that was giving me support. Bryce comes to the gym with me every time. I also talked about the challenge with pretty much everyone in my life. Whenever we went out to eat with friends or had dinner with family I would always stress that I needed to eat something healthy. I have cousins and other friends who post their progress on Facebook and Instagram and it keeps me motivated indirectly as well. I have some great fitness instructors at 24 hour fitness (Veronica, Sara, and George to name a few) that help me learn and are always so inspiring! I'm starting to make some friends in my classes too, so I'm feeling pretty cool lately. People now compliment me on how I am looking and it holds me accountable. I can't gain it back now! People think I'm successful or something! Even if you don't have any other support, I'm yours! Reach out to me! Let's be fitness buddies!

8) Don't compare yourself with other people. There is a great article going around right now about how our standard measurements of "health" have contributed to our problems with self image. 150 pounds is going to look different on everyone, depending on their body type. Additionally, your progress to health is going to be different than mine. Maybe someone else has the time to workout 7 hours a week. Maybe they have the time to plan out and cook super healthy foods every day. Don't worry about it, if you don't. Go at your own pace and know you'll get there eventually.

9) Keep going! Don't let minor setbacks turn into major setbacks. Let yourself start over in the morning or even at your next meal. Once you get going, it's easier to stay that way. Don't lose that momentum.

I'm going to leave the list at 9, because it's not an even number and just short of 10. That's going to bug some of my fellow "OCD-ish" friends but life is about learning to live in the awkward and uncomfortable moments and pushing past them, right?

Thanks for listening to my thoughts! Share yours below!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back to Being an Adult at Church

The problem with not blogging very often for lengthy periods of time, is that I feel like I have so much to say and can't decide where to start. I should go to sleep. We have church at 9:00am. I have just been released from my 3.75 year long calling as a Primary teacher and now I get to be with the adults in Sunday School and Relief Society (currently, I do not hold a calling). I am nervous.

I am an active Mormon and fully support my leaders as best I can. However, some of the adults are just plain annoying. That doesn't mean I don't care about them as fellow human beings and fellow ward members, but I also love my family and they frustrate me sometimes too. One of my most often recurring challenges in life (which I have yet to overcome) is learning to love people in spite of the personality flaws I despise most.

I think Gospel Doctrine is the same everywhere. At least, it has been for me - the class gets off topic pretty quickly and then the same five people keep interjecting with their interpretations and thoughts. People skip ahead or go back to certain parts of the lesson because they want to give their little anecdote on a particular subject and they want to make sure they are heard.

I have never been a person that was very interested in classroom-style/group learning. Most of the time I think comments that have been made are pointless. We waste time on certain topics instead of discussing things I believe to be truly worthwhile. I do my best to support the person teaching (it's a tough job), but get so frustrated by my fellow classmates. This is true of my personality in school, church, and even work meetings. I hate inefficiency - even in learning. It is hard for me to want to listen to others when I feel that they are wasting people's time. And most of the time I think people just like to hear themselves talk... Please remember I am an introvert and don't quite understand the "need" for attention.

Primary tends to be the same way. You have one girl who just wants to keep telling you a story that's not applicable to the lesson. You have two boys who aren't paying attention at all and are talking the whole time. You have another boy who is quick to raise his hand and answer the question before he's even been called on. Even after you've specifically stated that you would like to give other children a chance to participate. It is OK when children act this way, because they are, well.... children. But I don't have much patience for it when you're an adult and you should know better.

I know that tomorrow will come and I will be eating a slice of humble pie after enjoying a wonderful few hours of church. But for now, I will expect the worst.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013: The Year of Steady Well-Rounded Progress

January is almost over and one of my goals for the year was to write in my journal/post a blogpost on a weekly basis... but, rather than beating myself up for it - I am starting today.

Bryce and I have set some realistic family and personal goals for the year. I won't list all of them here, because I don't think anybody really cares to know that level of detail into our lives. People often ask us what is new in our lives and honestly, not much has changed over the last year. Sure, we went to Tonga - but our day to day lives have been pretty consistent. We have grown into a sort of comfortable complacency about how things are going. Maybe I needed 2012 to really learn how to adjust to a life without my Dad on this Earth, gain some strength, etc. But things were starting to get a little stagnant.

I consider myself a decent person. I think my good deeds outweigh my unkind thoughts. I've been to the temple, been sealed to my husband, I attend church every week, say my prayers MOST of the time... etc. I guess I had started to think that decent and good enough were sufficient for me to go the Celestial Kingdom (for those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, I hope you will look it up on or - but for all intents and purposes, we can just think of it as the highest level in Heaven). 

I don't remember exactly what I was listening to at the time. It could have been a talk given by one of my church leaders or a program on KUER, but either way - one night in late December (after supposedly coming to the conclusion that New Years Resolutions were dumb, because most people didn't keep them up past February anyway) I had a thought come to my mind...

"If I have a hard time exercising and eating right in order to keep myself in optimal physical shape, why do I honestly believe that my bare minimum spiritual habits are going to keep me worthy of the presence of my Heavenly Father someday?"

At first I thought, "Okay, this is it - let's  be perfect for a month and just see how much better we feel!" But then when January 1st and 2nd and 3rd flew by and I was trying my hardest to keep my resolutions, but couldn't do them all. It is extremely difficult to overcome all of your bad habits at one time, in fact it might be impossible. So instead I decided it was more important that I kept trying, the entire year, instead of giving up after a few failed attempts.

2013 will be the year of steady and well-rounded progress. We're getting healthier, saving our money, growing spiritually, and keeping up our relationships with our friends and family.

I am nearing the end of my Associates degree with Salt Lake Community College and prepared to embark on the next challenge at Western Governors. I was just released from my calling as Primary teacher, which I have had for the past 3.75 years... we are sticking to the Paleo diet, while allowing ourselves to have some occasional indulgences on the weekends. But importantly, we don't expect perfection - only consistent effort. Maybe then I can start to be worthy of the Celestial Kingdom.

Friday, January 27, 2012


It is now 3:50am and I am wide awake. Just 7 hours ago I was yawning every other minute and ready to sleep for days...


Additional note to self: Follow the advice of your first note.

I have been avoiding my blog because I feel like I should write some sort of tribute to my father, but my feelings are complex. I will avoid it some more, but I miss him.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guess It's Time For A Change...

I have been home alone for a few hours now, I've done a little homework, done a little work-work, taken a nice relaxing bubble bath, ate some chips and pasta, and drank some Diet Mountain Dew.

I thoroughly enjoy being by myself, at times. I have nothing to distract me, nothing to pull my thoughts one way or another, other than myself. Right now, all I can think about is the upcoming change in my life - so it's time for a blog.

These past few weeks have been somewhat of a metamorphosis for me, let me tell you my tale.

The Beginning

It all started out when I had my annual performance review, with Melissa. The very next week I was invited (technically I invited myself, but that's another story) to a Team Building exercise with the team members from one of our major customers. Most people groan when they hear of the idea of "team building", but being young and inexperienced I am still excited by the prospect.

In order to participate in this ALL DAY meeting, I had to first take two tests. The first being the 16pf (16 personality factors) and the second, a DiSC assessment. Both extensive, both give you valuable insights into the reasons why you do the things you do. I have always loved taking personality tests. I have an extremely hard time understanding my strengths, explicitly. I could give you a general idea, but specifics are hard for me to determine. The thought of having those strengths written in a neat little paragraph has always attracted me.

I then met with the Director of HR for our major customers, who sat me down and pointed out my strengths, but also showed me my biggest weakness: low self-confidence and low self-esteem. At first, I felt embarrassed for having it stand out as so glaringly obvious, for a person that I have never even held a conversation with.

After going through my review and my test results, I found out that I do have a LOT of strengths as a leader. I can make decisions without being too emotionally involved, I am extremely self-reliant, I have better than average reasoning skills, and I am personable. The only thing that was holding me back is my self-esteem issue.

I decided to listen to what she said, and do something about it. I came to that meeting the next day with the idea that I am smart and have valuable ideas. I am part of this team, dang it, and I want to contribute. We eventually decided to start going through our "Emotional Life Cycles" to get a better idea of the reasons why we have those darn "hang ups". I, of course, cried through my entire thing.

But when it came time for people to give feedback to me, something that the HR Director said really resonated with me. "Lina, you have a tremendous amount of potential. Once you set a goal, and fully internalize it, you reach it. I think once you find out where it is that you want to go in life, you are going to just take off!" Later in the day, people had to give us feedback and everyone kept saying how positive, friendly, kind, and reliable I am. It made me feel really good to hear such kind things being said about me.

It also made me realize that even all of these experienced leaders around me, have weaknesses and imperfections. I don't have to be a perfect leader or person, I just have to try. And trying is something I can do.

The Middle

The next day, I was still feeling a little emotionally exhausted. But we had another all-day Executive Management meeting. We started out our meeting by trying to determine what it is that we needed from our HR department, our CEO was present and talked about how the HR department had been searching and searching for someone to oversee all of their systems. As he explained the position, I thought, "That's me. That is something I can do!" I tried to put the thought out of my mind, because I love my current job. I love my boss and I love the people I work with.

That night, I was talking with Melissa about the direction of our department and that I was not comfortable moving forward with duplicating HR processes within Inpatient, unless we let our HR department know that was our plan. I am not really sure how or why she jumped to the same conclusion that I had earlier, but she said, "So you're going to leave me and go work for HR, I guess!" Our Compliance Officer then came over and asked what we were talking about and then proceeded to tell us that her and our CEO had a similar conversation earlier that day. She said, "You know, what HR needs was sitting in that room (Lina)." He agreed, but also never even dreamed about asking Melissa.

After a long night, I ended up meeting with all three of them, the very next morning (Friday). I had all of their support to approach OUR HRDirector about it, so I went back to MLR's office and did that very thing. She also seemed supportive, but had to think about it over the weekend. By the end of Monday I had a job offer as MLR's new Human Resource Systems Coordinator!

And Where I'm at NOW

After announcing my move, I have only heard positive things from all of our departments about what a great job I will do in this new role. It seems as though everyone is so excited to have me there, and I am extremely excited to start - although, it is not without it's sacrifices. Inpatient is where my heart is and always will be. Melissa has done so much for me, and I could never express how grateful I am for that, as the tail end of this post. It will have to be saved for another day.

I have already felt a surge of self-confidence and self-esteem flooding into my personality. To have all of these great leaders say such KIND and AMAZING things about me, for what felt like a week straight, has helped to fuel my spirit. I feel so very unworthy of such an outpouring of love that it brings me to tears, almost every day. I feel alive and I feel unstoppable!

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."

- Patanjali