Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Welcome to SuperFoods month!

Overall wellness is primarily based on what you put in your mouth. Yes, excercise is important, but what you eat is where it all begins. It doesn't matter how many miles you run, if your diet isn't rich in vitamins, minerals, and wholesome, healthy food, you will not be well.
I have decided to dedicate April to superfoods on this blog, and my cooking blog, A Year in the Kitchen.

As I read more and more about health and food, I become more and more passionate about the quality of the foods I eat. If you browse back though A Year in the Kitchen, you'll find an abundance of superfoods in my everyday meals. This month, I've decided to choose one superfood or superfood 'sidekick' to blog about each day. I will post here about the benefits and nutritional information about the superfood or sidekick, and I'll create or find a fun, fresh, new approach to preparing the superfood in a meal, which I'll blog about on my cooking blog.
I think you'll be surprised at how many superfoods you already eat, but you will also be faced with a few easy changes you can make to include more superfoods!

If you'd like, you can add the button (on the right in my blog layout) to your blog and link back to here or my fit blog to let your readers know about superfoods month.

Thank you so much to Emily for creating the banner and button for me :) She's amazing!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Edited Race Results :)

My official time was 30:45.8
I finished 73rd overall
26th woman
This is out of 145 participants
Here's the website with official results

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 1 Results!

Congrats to Joy and Pam for losing 5 lbs this week!
Here is how everyone else did ----
(I'm only posting the losses of those who emailed me this weekend)

Week 1 Loss

Allison B 1.5
Amanda G 2
Amanda H 0.5
Amanda NY 0.6
Amy Ma 4
Amy R 1.2
Amber 3
Andrea L 1.2
Angela N 1.2
Andrea S 2
Anna 3.3
Ash 1.5
Ashley R 0.5
Ashley S 2
Becky 1
Beth 1
Benita 2.2
Bev 1
Carrie 0.6
Cassie 1
Charlotte 1.5
Chelsie 1
Cindy 2
Colleen 1.8
Courtney S 3
Courtney W 1
Ellen 0.2
Emily G 2
Emily Sm 1.5
Erin C 2.8
Erin A 2
Heather B 3
Heather Mu 0.2
Heidi 0.2
Holly H 0.5
Jacqui 2.4
Jaime 2
Jamie Ba 1.8
Jamie Br 2
Jen F 1
Jen M 4
Jenn B 1.5
Jenn G 4
Jennifer J 0.6
Jesse 0.5
Jessica A 0.6
Jessica De 1.8
Jessica Ke 2
Jessica Ko 0.5
Jessica MR 0.8
Jessica T 3
Jessica W 1.8
Jill D 1.2
Joy 5
Jules 2.5
Karly 1
Kate J 1.2
Kate Q 1
Katie O 1.2
Kirstie 1
Kelli 4
Kelly 2
Kendra 1
Kim B 2.2
Kristi 4
LaShawn 1.5
Lauren 2
Lex 2.2
Lianne 1
Linnea 2.2
Liz 3
Lyndsey 1
Mckay 1.2
Megan A 2
Megan D 3.8
Megan KT 1
Meghan 0.9
Michelle R 0.4
Mindy C 0.5
Mindy D 1
Misha 3
Monique 2
Natalie 1
Nicole H 2.8
Nicole M 0.6
Nicole Z 2
Pam 5
Rachel 1.2
Ruth 2
Samantha 0.5
Samantha S 2.8
Sandy 2
Sara M 0.8
Sara H 1
Sarah L 1.2
Sarah SS 2.2
Lena 0.9
Stacy 1.2
Stormy 1.4
Tessa 1
Tricia A 0.5
Tricia C 0.4
Vickie 2
Vicky 2.8
Yael 0.5
Zania 2

Our group of 167 started at 27,635.2 lbs.
This week we lost 163.1 lbs (or more, I didn't get emails from about 20 people)

Great job, everyone!

Another thing I want to note is today at the chat, we had 4-5 people. It's really hard to carry on a great chat when so few people are there. There are about 30 people who recieve transcripts, so I'd like to find another time when all 30 people can be there.
I'm also thinking maybe we should have a host each week who should have a few topics on hand to discuss, or I can plan the discussion topics and post what they'll be the day before so you all can think about it. Does that sound like something anyone would be interested in? Or do you like the chats as they are?

You NEED to get this book. NOW!

I got this book at the library this morning, and it has consumed my day. It is chock full of information that just blows my mind! I feel like I'm constantly learning 'healthy' things, and then I learn something else that takes me even further towards that healthy AND ecological friendly nirvana.

For the past few months, I've been really leaning towards vegetarianism again. If you follow the cooking blog, you can see it's been very vegetarian dominant. Well, the past few weeks, I've been looking into veganism. I ultimately decided that it's not for me. I just don't think I'd be able to feel full, or get all of the vital things I need with that type of diet. However, I have made some big changes - for example, I only buy organic dairy products and free range eggs, I now get plain yogurt, with no artifical sweeteners, and I started incorporating soy milk into my daily diet.

Then, a bombshell was dropped on me last weekend - soy is bad for you?! Ok, maybe not bad, but soy is in EVERYTHING, and there are ties between soy and estrogen. For example, my mom had breast cancer, and a histeretomy, and is no longer allowed to eat soy... however, soy is in everything. Look at your labels, you will see soy or soy oil and corn in nearly every packaged product. Our bodies are getting way too much soy, and far too many Omega-6's (which are in soy) I don't consume many prepackaged products, so the soy I do consume is going to be ok I think...(still need to read more) but I am going to drop the soy milk and stick with organic 1% milk. I also might start taking some fish oil supplements for Omega 3-s, which only 40% of Americans get enough of!
I also learned so much about the differences between grain fed, grass fed, and mass produced meats, as well as the benefits on the earth of grass fed, free range meat. I was always under the assumption that all animal farming was bad for the earth, but that's not at all the case!

I also am now going to cut quick cooking oats out of my diet and make a big batch of steel cut oats on the weekend and reheat them for breakfast. I've stopped buying 'quick cooking' grain products, yes it takes more time, but the quick cooking things are stripped of so many of the nutrients we need.

I could go on and on, but wow, the past few weeks all the reading I've done has BLOWN MY MIND! I can't possibly write everything I've learned on here, and I sort of rambled through this post anyway, but my point is, EDUCATE YOURSELF!
I'm so glad I'm only in my 20's, and have the rest of my life to put all of this information into practice!
Empower yourself, go read :) You'll be shocked at what you don't know, and what you thought you knew.
I'm going to blog a bit more about this book, but in the mean time, see if your library has it!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

5K Results!

Today's 5k was great! It was at a park, and basically you ran 1km down the road, then turned around a cone and bame back, and down the road 3k, and came back 1k to the finish line.
The morning was very cold and little drizzly, but not too bad. My feet were a little numb in the beginning. I felt like I was running pretty fast in the beginning, and I was! I ran my first mile in 9:12! I knew I couldn't keep the pace, and the 2nd mile was basically running gradually up a hill, so I tried to slow myself down a bit. When I hit mile 2, I was at 19:26, still a great pace! When I hit the finish line, my ipod timer said 30:49, so I think that's about what my finishing time was! I can't believe how great I did. I cut 2 minutes off my last 5k!
However, this one had one long, gradual hill, and my first timed 5k had lots of smaller ones, so I can't compare them too much. However, my April 18 race is the same course as my first, so I'll have a better idea then. I was going to try to shave 20-30 seconds off each race, but geez, I don't know if I'll be able to get it lower any time soon!
I am so happy with my results, and I love the t-shirt I got, super cute, huh?

Hopefully the paper will have the results and breakdown among age group tomorrow. I'll update for sure! :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Weigh-In Week 1 Results!

This morning when I weighed in, the scale flickered between -1.5 and -2.0, and settled on -1.5! This pace will set me at -30 lbs. in 20 weeks (which is my ultimate goal, to reach 145-ish!)

All of the emails are coming in with some great losses! I'll be posting on Sunday night with everyone's results.

Also, it seems as though many ladies would like to be involved in the chats, but the times don't work. I'll be creating a little survey to send out to all of you and maybe we'll change a time, or add in a 3rd chat.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Weekly Menu/Exercise Plan

I'll be doing my first 5k of 2009 this week! Saturday is the Habitat for Humanity 5k, and I'm hoping to run it around 32:00. I haven't driven the course, so I don't know about the hills, but Bloomington is pretty hilly. I'm not too thrilled at the weather forecast for Saturday morning, 40ish and rainy... not good! Oh well, I'm still excited to get in a race!
Saturday night we'll be going out to eat. I've been holding onto a gift card to Cheeseburger in Paradise for quite a while now, so we're going to go. They don't post their nutritional information, which is a bummer... and generally means everything is bad for you! But they do have the option to sub in a veggie burger or they have St. Bart's chicken, which doesn't look terrible. Either way, I'm going to have a heavy workout day Saturday to make up for it! We're expecting scattered rain all week, so I'm going to hopefully plan the right days to run outside!

Sat: Exercise - 5k in the morning, 1 mile walk back to the car after the race, and No More Trouble Zones
Dinner - St. Bart's Chicken at Cheeseburger in Paradise

Sun: Exercise - (Rain on the forecast) Hopefully walk/run with Pumpkin, Banish Fat/Boost Metabolism DVD
Dinner - Jerk Chicken Burgers with Grilled Pineapple, Grilled Jerk Veggie Kebabs

Mon: Exercise - Run 4 miles, Shred L3
Dinner - Homemade Gluten Free Veggie Lovers Pizza, Italian Salad

Tue: Exercise - Banish Fat/Boost Metabolism, (Rain in forecast) Hopefully walk Pumpkin
Dinner - Turkey, Artichoke and Red Pepper Quesadillas, Warm Spinach Salad

Wed: Exercise - Run 3 Miles, Shred L2, Walk Pumpkin
Dinner - Lentil and Goat Cheese Patties, Mashed Cauliflower, Kale Chips

Thurs: Exercise - Run 3 Miles, No More Trouble Zones
Dinner - Pomegranate Glazed BBQ Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Salad

Fri: Exercise - Off! Walk/Clean the house
Dinner - Pea and Tofu Tortellini with Greens

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Biggest Loser Casting Call

It was always a dream of mine to be on the show, but I never applied because I was in college, and by the time I graduated, I no longer qualified for the show.

However, think you have what it takes??? Apply now! Sorry for the all caps, I c&p'd off the NBC press release!


PLEASE NOTE: April 3rd is the deadline for submitting tapes and applications. There is no guarantee that tapes and applications received after the April 3rd deadline will be reviewed in time for season 8.We are currently looking for outgoing and charismatic people who have personality along with the WANT, DESIRE and COMPETITIVE EDGE to vie for this once in a lifetime opportunity to change your lives forever and compete for $250,000!


How to Apply:



Step 3: MAIL THE APPLICATION, PHOTO AND TAPE TO US ASAP (photo and tape will not be returned)

What to include in your 10 MINUTE videotape:
Show us why you should be on The Biggest Loser. Make your video as personal as possible. Start with your name, age, hometown, height and weight. Take us on a tour of your typical day at work and home. Let us know (and see) why losing the weight is so important to you! Show us, don't just tell us, why you need to lose the weight. And, Remember, we want to see your personality shine.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

20/20 Update

I'll probably post every few days with some general 20/20 information, FAQ's, requests, and such.

-If you have a blog where you're posting about 20/20, please comment in here with a link to it so the other girls can add you to their reader! (If it's public)

-Some of you have said you can't make some of the chat times, but were wondering if I can get a transcript to you. I try to make it to every chat, so I'll copy and paste the transcript into an email. If you want to be part of that email, comment or email me.

-I've gotten some great feedback about the buddy groups! I am so happy you all are bonding. I'd love to get updates if your group has any special goals or plans (for instance, one group has all decided to start c25k). I'd love to do special posts about the groups if you are doing something fun together or have an additional goal.

-We are up to 166, and that is where the group has officially been cut off! 166 PEOPLE! AMAZING!!!

I hope everyone stops in tomorrow night at 9pm EST for our group chat! Thanks :)

2009 Race Schedule

It's finally race season again! This year I'm going to try to do 1 5k each month from March thru December (if I can find races). My last 5k time was 32:50, so I'm going to aim to beat that for my first 5k, and then I'll try to cut my time 30 seconds each month.
I was planning for my 2009 inaugural race to be in April and the Y's spring run, but I saw a sign up in my neighborhood for the Habitat 5k, which is this weekend, March 28!

It takes place on the IU campus, here's the website for more info: IU Habitat 5k

April is the Spring Run at the YMCA, where I work. I was on the fence about whether I'd run the 5 or 10k, and I decided on the 5k. Many of you said don't worry about being last, but my self confidence lost and I don't want to be last!
This race will also be special because my dad is coming out to Bloomington to run the 10k that morning. He aims to beat his age when he runs 10k's, which would be 54:00! He calls himself the grey stallion :) It will be fun to have him cheering me on at my 5k, and I'll cheer him on during the 10k!

For May, I'll be running the Coach Hep Cancer Challenge 5k. Coach Hep was IU's football coach, he unfortunately died of brain cancer. He was a fantastic coach, and all around a great man. He really left his mark on IU after only coaching for 2 years!
This race is fun because there are cycling races, family walks, and a 5k. Here's the website for more info: http://coachhepcancerchallenge.org/
You even get some red shoe laces for the race!

For June, I'll hopefully be running the East Fest 5k in Bloomington. That's as far as I've scheduled for so far.
I love running 5k's because they're short, fun, and don't take a lot of training! Hopefully all of these races will really get me fast and prepared for the 100th running of the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day 10k!

I know a few girls in the 20/20 Challenge are working on the c25k program. I highly encourage you to go ahead and sign up for a 5k at about the time you will finish the program. It will really motivate you to make it through all 8 weeks.
It is fun to run races with people, but I've done some on my own, all of these will be too - so don't be discouraged if you have no one to run with :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

20/20 Update

-Last night I sent out emails regarding buddy groups. If you didn't get one, or you have an issue, please email me ashisfit at gmail dot com (sorry no link, i've been getting lots of spam)

-There were about 10 people in our first chat session. It went really well! We talked about the shred, running/shin splints, and some goals. Please log on sometime and get to know the other participants! Our next chat is Wed. at 9pm EST

-I've had people emailing me and commenting daily about joining still. The cutoff is going to be tonight at 12pm EST. I hate to cap the group, but I want everyone to participate for all 20 weeks, and we're up to 152 people! If you still want to join, email me at ash is fit @ gmail dot com with the following:
*Weight on Friday
*If you want a buddy group - Age, State you're located in, your preferred exercise method, and your motivation

-Please don't forget to go to PFPChallenge.com and donate your pounds! We can potentially donate 900 lbs. of food! GO NOW!

That's all for now, hope you all have a great week!

Friday, March 20, 2009

2 Things...

1. All of the "I want a smokin' hot bod" reasons for the 20/20 challenge are hilarious. I'm not going to lie and say that's not my reason, too... haha
2. We are up to 144 participants! WOW!!!

Happy Weigh-In Day! 20/20 Kickoff...

Let me start out by saying 131 of us signed up for the Challenge! Wow! This is truly amazing. Our group has the potential to lose over 1 TON!!!
That also means we should donate around 786 lbs. to the Pound for Pound Challenge! Please go pledge your weight, I'll post a reminder in May for you to go back and confirm it! (This is my original post about it)

Last night I sent out the first group email requesting some info from you as well as info about the Buddy groups I'm going to set up. If you joined and didn't get the email, please contact me and I'll get that straightened out.

A few highlights from the email included:
-We are going to have chat times set up at http://chatroll.com/ashisfit on Sunday from 3-4pm EST and Wednesday from 9-10pm EST.
-Buddy grouping will take place this weekend, please reply by Sunday with the info in the email if you want a buddy.
-Contine to educate yourself, and the "steps" are all optional but encouraged, and don't need to be done by today or anything.

Thank you again, to all of you who signed up.

I also want to encourage my readers who are already at their healthy weight, or aren't in the challenge, to still come back here often. I'll be posting non-challenge things as well, and if you are at a healthy weight, we all could use your words of advice and support of how you got there and stay there. You're also welcome to come to the chats!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Step 8: Develop Healthy Snacktime

Snacking. It's unavoidable! I don't really snack much during the week, but on the weekends I could graze all day long.

One important thing to remember is that these are estimates, your actual calorie count will differ, and make sure you measure so you know you're getting the correct serving size!

200 Calorie Snacks:
-12 Almonds (169) and 1 clementine (25) = 194 calories
-1 Apple (70) plus 1 tbsp. Organic, Natural Peanut Butter (100) = 170 calories
- 1 Banana (100) sliced in 1 c. Nonfat Yogurt* (100) = 200 calories
-^1 c. cubed canteloupe (55), 1 c. honeydew (61), 1 c. strawberries (59) = 175 calories
-1 oz. goat cheese* (75), 15 kashi TLC crackers (130) = 205 calories
-1 serving baby carrot sticks (65), 2 sargento lowfat natural string cheeses (100), 1 c. celery hearts (19) = 184 calories
- ^12 pieces brown rice vegetable sushi roll = 270 calories (soy sauce is extra calories!)
-24 cherries (90), Newman's 100 calorie mini popcorn pack (100) = 190 calories
-2 slices light wheat bread (80), 1 tsp. mustard (5), 2 oz. natural (I like boar's head) deli turkey, sliced* (60), 1 baseball sized sliced tomato (30) = 175 calories (yes, a sandwich for 175 calories!)
-^2 tbsp. hummus* (50), 1 c. cucumber slices (40), 1 oz. rice creackers (110) = 200 calories
- 1 large organic hard boiled egg (70), 1 whole wheat matzoh (100) = 170 calories
-1 whole wheat english muffin (130), 1 tbsp. honey (64) = 194 calories
-5 dried figs (105), 1 c. vanilla soy milk (100) = 205 calories
- 1 nectarine (60), 1 oz pistachios (160) = 220 calories
- 1 pear (110), 1/2 oz. dark chocolate chips* (80) = 190 calories
Ok, I'll try to come up with more as the weeks go by... those should give you some ideas! Just remember if you do get prepackaged snacks, read the ingredients and make sure it's not full of chemicals and additives. Try to stick with organics and reputable brands, like Kashi and Newman's Own.
*Please read your label and find yogurt close to the calories listed, or adjust your snack
^Photographed above

Educate Yourself! (The library is a candystore!)

I am more than happy to reiterate the health and fitness information I learn... but there is so much information out there to be consumed! I can't possibly blog all of the information I absorb because there is just so much, but please know that whatever factual information I give out on this blog does come from published sources.

Now call me a nerd, but I absolutely love the library.... it's my candy store! I just want to run through it and pull out every book and engorge myself in the knowledge! I go every Sunday and take out novels for pleasure and education, cookbooks, health related books, and all things inbetween. It's simply amazing the amount of information that is right at your fingertips - and free! Right now I am making my way through 3 books, one is the American Heart Association's Low Calorie Cookbook, one is a Superfoods Infomation and Cookbook (arranged by season), and the last is Jillian's Winning by Losing. Many of the cookbooks you can find provide nutritional information, making calorie counting MUCH EASIER!
I learn so much every time I pick up one of these books, but it can also be overwhelming, especially the Superfoods book. There are so many nutrients and vitamins and minerals and elements to food that your body needs, it can be scary to think you're not getting everything you need. However, as long as you're eating a rainbow of foods, you should have your bases covered. I'm going to do a little more research about vitamins, and blog about that (as well as some other supplements).

Here's one of my current books, which I'm fascinated by, and I strongly encourage you to check out:

Now I know not everyone likes to read books. Hard for me to understand because I love them, but I do know that most people will pick up a magazine. My mom gets Prevention, which I enjoy reading when I'm at home. There are tons of health magazines out there, as well as Cooking Light. I strongly encourage you to check these out at the library, or get a subscription. Sometimes you can even find magazine bundles by common interest, like here: Buy 2, Get 1 Free, or this Fitness/Shape/Natural Health/Bundle!
The great thing about magazines is they have current information, unlike books which can be outdated. They often have information about the latest fads in food and exercise, as well as any current health concerns. They also are seasonal, which is great for produce and weather related exercise!

Lastly, if you don't like to read, or you don't have time, try listening to health and fitness related radio shows, podcasts, or books on tape! Jillian Michael's talk radio show is on every Sunday from 9-11, but is also available for download to an ipod!
I love listening to her talk show because she really gears it towards people who are trying to lose the last 20 lbs, but she also gives so much insight about the benefits of eating clean, organic, and healthy foods. She also takes listeners calls and is just in general a huge wealth of information. So much of what I blog about stems from her shows and books.
I know there are some C25K podcasts out there as well, I've not used them, but I know some people really like them.

I'm sure there are other ways of learning more about health and fitness, these are just a few examples. I really can't say enough about how empowered you will feel, and how it will change your decisions about food and exercise when you understand the science of it. Not only will you think twice about what you put in your mouth, but you'll feel so smart, and you'll want to share the information you learn.
Knowledge is power, people! And it's all FREE!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Eating at a restaurant during these 20 weeks is inevitable, and for the rest of your life, it's going to happen. While it can be diet suicide, there are a few ways to keep yourself in check.
Though I'm hitting hard on lowering calories and eliminating the crap, it's OK to have a cheat night, or indulge a bit... you just have to adjust the rest of your day, and maybe even week, accordingly!

This is what I assume of all restaurants:
1. They give you much more food than a portion size
2. They want it to taste good, no matter how many calories it takes
3. If their portions are "small," they use fillers to make up for it.
(By fillers, I mean bread, chips, peanuts, rolls, etc., which you should either say no to, or only eat 1, and make sure you count those calories along with your meal. When they ask if you want a refil, say no. If it's there, you're more likely to eat it)

Now I know there are some restaurants and fat food places that do cater to a low-calorie diet, but they're few and far between. I rarely go out to eat (maybe once a month?) because I love to cook, I can cook better food than many of the restaurants I go to, and I don't like to spend so much money! But every now and then, I do like to go out and have someone serve me, do the dishes, and hang out with JJ or friends and family.

I tend to have ordering anxiety, so I always look up the restaurant online, check over the menu, and go with my mind set on what I'm going to get. Again, if you go with a plan, you're less likely to say, "Oh screw it, give me the bacon cheese burger or fettucini al fredo!"
The calorie content to almost any dish at any given restaurant is at your finger tips, just do your research! Here's a comprehensive tool for fast food and some chain restaurants.

If the restaurant you're going to doesn't have nutritional information, at least get online and look at their menu. Some key words to look for when you're ordering and want to stay low-cal are: steamed, baked, broiled, grilled, and roasted.
While you may think something like pesto is healthy because it's green, it's actually full of fat and calories. Yes, EVOO is good for you, but pesto has a ton of it in there, as well as parmesan and pine nuts, which can pack on the calories and fat. Try a marinara instead! If you order a steak, get the smaller size, like the 6 oz. rather than the 8 oz. Go for a tenderloin, a cut of meat where there is less fat.
While you may think salads are best, when they're loaded with cheese, nuts, bacon, egg and dressing, they're not healthy! Not to mention the calorie packed salad dressings served along side!

I just want to reiterate, it's ok to have a cheat night, but don't completely blow your calorie budget!!! Let me give you a little example - My brother in law has this idea that he wants to eat a 10,000 calorie meal, and then hibernate (he's a little strange...) anyway, my sister was looking at Outback, and EASILY put together a 10,000 calorie meal with plain old menu items. Sure, the portion size was large, but we've already talked about how our portions are most likely distorted.
So here's the 10,000 calorie plan - Cheese Fries, Bloomin' Onion, Steak, Chocolate Desert, Margarita and Long Island Iced Tea. Sure, he'd have to eat the whole onion and all the fries, but wow! 10,000 calories is 3 pounds!!! And that's just 'normal' Outback food!

One other thing you should look for, and PF Changs is guilty of this, is when they publish their nutritional info, they slip in that each dish is really 2 or 4 portions, so your noodle dish at 500 calories isn't terrible, but it serves 2, so if you eat the whole plate, you're eating 1,000 calories! It's a scary world out there at restaurants.... but you won't break the calorie bank if you plan ahead, read, and make smart choices!

Drink Your Water!

So everyone knows you should drink your water, right? I was always told 8 glasses a day, but as I researched that, I found that maybe we should be drinking a little more. I love using the Mayo Clinic's website for research, because it's all laid out so easy to understand, and no medical terms!

Here is what they say: The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

However, if you exercise, sweat, are sick, pregnant, etc., you need to up your water. See the article here, that tells you more about how much water you should consume. The body needs water to function properly. Even if you're slightly dehydrated, it's going to affect you!

Don't forget that what you eat also contributes to that total. For example, fruit and vegetables contain a large percentage of water.

I fill this water bottle every morning, and drink it while at work, along with my 2 cups of coffee. Sure, I have to go to the bathroom often because I drink so much, but it's nice to step away from my desk every hour or so!

Did you know that often times you feel hungry when you're just thirsty? It's OK to feel hungry, but it's not OK to feel thirsty! Also, the colder the water is, the harder your body has to work to bring the temperature down, burning slightly more calories!

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, buy a water bottle that you can reuse, and DO NOT BUY BOTTLED WATER!!! I'm a greenie :) It's one of my soapboxes.... I'm sure the others will surface eventually!

Step 6: Donate to Pound for Pound

On Monday, I received an email from Samantha, who works in PR for General Mills, the company that does the Pound for Pound challenge on Biggest Loser. I know many of you watch the Biggest Loser, so you've probably seen ads for the program, and maybe you already contributed your weight loss.
Samantha wanted to let me know more about the program, as well as encourage everyone partipating in my 20/20 Challenge (and those who aren't) about this great program!
Basically, you go to the website: PFPChallenge.com, and pledge to lose weight. For each pound you lose, food will be donated to your local shelter to feed the hungry. It's as simple as that! I did it this morning, and it only took 2 minutes!

Now what you have to do is pledge your amount now, and then by May 5, go back and report your actual weight loss. May 5 will be in the middle of week 7, so we all should have lost 6 pounds by then. I pledged 7, but you can do whatever you think you can!
Now right now, the group is up to 102, which means if we all lose our 6 lbs., our group will be donating 612 lbs. of food!

If you want to take this a step further, you can even mail-in the Pound For Pound lids and seals from specially-marked General Mills products. For every lid or seal mailed in, General Mills will donate 10 cents to Feeding America. Visit this website to see the products you can find these lids and seals on.

I truly hope that you all take part in this. In my lifestyle change, it's about mind, body, and spirit. What better way (and EASY!) to enrich your spirit than to donate to those in need while also losing the weight? It's truly a win/win.

Thank you so much to Samantha for enlightening me about how important this cause is!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Choosing between Sugar/Splenda & Regular Fat/Light/Fat Free

Earlier in the week, I posted that you should go check out some cookbooks to help you plan your weekly dinners. I mentioned you should look for low-cal cookbooks, not low fat. While it is important to keep your diet low in fat, if you're watching your calories, eating lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains, your diet will naturally be low in fat.
I know you all know your diet should be diverse, and though you are allowed 1500 calories (or so) doesn't mean you can use 1000 of them each day on a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke, right? Right.
So let's talk about sugar. Refined sugar is EVERYWHERE in everything. It's very important that you get used to looking at nutritional information labels AND ingredients in prepackaged foods. I have personally found that the less sugar and artifical sweeteners I consume, the less sugar I crave. When I do eat something especially high in sugar (like a piece of cake with icing), I feel awful! I get a bad stomach ache, and I want to take a nap. It's not pleasant... it makes me not crave sugar!

This brings me to artifical sweeteners, like Splenda. I became very dependent on artifical sweeteners when I began dieting, which ended up backfiring on me. I started putting sugar free maple syrup in my oatmeal, ate yoplait light yogurt, drank diet soda, are sugar free ice cream and yogurt, and ate sugar free candies. Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of sugar free products? There are so many chemicals I can't even pronounce! It kind of scares me to think I was putting all of those chemicals in my body! Now, rather than dump in a splenda, I'll add 1 tsp. of sugar to my iced coffee, which is only 15 calories. I'd much rather have something natural and from the ground for 15 calories, than a chemical for zero.

I'm sure everyone has read and heard truths and rumors about artifical sweeteners. There are some who want to link them to cancer, some who say they're fine... you can find so much conflicting information out there!

Here is my opinion about it, and this has been a gradual change for me, so don't feel like it needs to be your philosophy as well: I eat as clean as possible, I don't like to eat anything that has a chemical name I don't know or can't pronounce. I try to eat all organic dairy and meat, and most fruits and vegetables. It really scares me when I read about everything that can be put in foods, and what it does to the body. And honestly, since I've cut out all of the junk, I feel better than ever. Remember this - you are what you eat!!!
I believe that it's better to save up and have a small ice cream cone with real ice cream or yogurt, than to have sugar free/fat free/who knows what's in there ice cream every night. This philosophy took me years to develop though, so please don't be offended or feel defeated if you're still working on getting over your sugar addiction! I really do believe though that if you gradually cut it out, you'll feel so much better!

Now, on to fat:
Your body needs fat to function. Do not try to completely cut fat out of your diet!
"Fat, along with other nutrients, gives you the energy you need to do your daily activities. It also provides essential nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. Essential nutrients are those your body can get only through food. Your body requires a certain amount of these fat nutrients." Read more about fat at this article!
Make a conscious effort to consume the right fats, and keep even those in moderation.
This article has it all broken out between good and bad fats, as well as where you can find them.

Now when grocery shopping, how do you choose between full fat, light, and fat free?
Here are a few simple rules to follow: Look at the calories. For example, I love Daisy sour cream. If you look at the nutritional info between Regular, Light, and Fat Free (Daisy doesn't make it, so I'm using Breakstone's), you can see the calorie differences:
Regular - 60 cal. 5 g. fat in 2 tbsp.
Light - 45 cal. 2.5 g. fat in 2 tbsp.
Fat Free - 30 cal. 0 g. fat in 2 tbsp.

So then I looked at the ingredients. Often times when a product is made low fat, the calories can be higher, or it will have artifical ingredients to make it taste better. Regular has Cultured Grade A Cream. I looked at the light ingredients, and the only difference was it contained Skim milk and Vitamin A Palmitate. So I looked up what Vitamin A Palmitate is, and it's a stabilizer used in dairy products. It is synthetic, but it is found naturally, and it is good for the body.
Um, what is all that CRAP?!
So Fat Free was OUT! 15 calories saved is not worth putting all of that junk in my body!

I know that the last thing you want to do is spend hours at the market looking at all the nutrition labels... so I'll make it easy for you - buy fresh fruit, vegetables, organic meats, dairy, and whole grains that are unprocessed!
I know, that's not going to happen. So how about this - USE THE INTERNET! You can research all of this on your own time. I found all of that sour cream nutritional info online. I went to Daisy and Kraft's websites and it was right there!

So to wrap up this post, READ READ READ!!! You need to make the decision of what is most important to you, though. Will sugar free products kill you? Current research says no. However, do you want to consume all of those chemicals? That's your choice... mine is NO!

You do need fat, so don't automatically always grab fat free. Look at the label, will 15 calories break your diet? It's not likely... so use your best judgement!
After reading this post, Jenn commented: Artificial sweeteners do terrible things to your metabolism. A very well received study came out last year that showed that if when you taste sugar, that taste tells your body to gear up your metabolism to process the soon to come calories. But if you use artificial sweeteners without the calories, then you train your body to not boost up it's metabolism when it tastes something sweet. This means that when you DO eat something with real sugar in it, your body will then do nothing to process those extra calories.
By using artificial sweeteners, you essentially train your body to ignore ever processing sugar.

Step 5: Before Photos

Step 5 - Take some photos! Take them from all angles in all different outfits. Take a photo in your underware! I'm not going to post that last suggestion, but I have taken them along the way, and boy do you see a difference looking at those!
Here's my mug shot - Vickie and I took ours at work today (but perhaps my weight will be a pound less on Friday!?), and held up signs with our weight! If that's not putting yourself out there.... what is?! You don't have to hold up a sign, or even post your photos... but take them!

5 to 9 a Day!

I just can't stress enough the importance of eating Fruit and Vegetables. I grew up in a home where it was the norm to have my 5 to 9 a day, so it's not hard for me. However, I know some people just don't like vegetables or fruit. I think so much of that comes from thinking you didn't like something when you were a child, and you never gave it another shot.
I used to not like pears, cucumbers, and canteloupe, but now I love all of them! I still hate celery though... but I won't get into that! I was a vegetarian for 6 years, so veggies and I are best friends. And I love using fruit to get my sweet tooth fix!
One of the reasons I started this challenge now is because with Spring right around the corner, produce will be abundant, and the weather will be great for outdoor exercise!

To get your 5 to 9 in, and keep it exciting, what you might want to do is try preparing the vegetable a different way! You might be surprised how different it tastes in a new dish. You can also hide veggies from yourself! Vegetables are perfect for bulking up pasta dishes, meatloaf, soups, burgers, and soups. If there are only a few vegetables you like, only eat them, but eat them often and get in your 5-9!

Here are a few recipes of mine that are really bulked up by veggies:
Classic Meatloaf
Hidden Veggies Chicken Chili
Tons of Veggies Pad Thai
Spinach Lasagna
Rice Noodle Slaw Salad Bowls

Here are a few links to help you learn more about the benefits of fruits and veggies, the nutritional information about them, and some recipes!
General Information
Fruit of the Month with Information
Recipe Search


I've gotten quite a few emails with people just dropping in now, looking for the information for the challenge. That's the thing I sometimes hate about blogs, posts get shuffled to the bottom that you want first, and I hate rearranging my post dates and times.... So I created an archive box on the top right of the blog that has direct links to the steps for the challenge in order!

Also, as of this morning, we have 82 participants! I'm still entering everyones information into a spreadsheet, which I'll hopefully get finished this week. I'll send out a mass email over the weekend, so I'll post when I do, if you don't get the email, you're not on my list!

I've had quite a few suggestions come in, like group chats and how we can support eachother. I'm not sure how to set up a group chat, but maybe someone can enlighten me? Perhaps we'll pick 2 times per week and it will be totally optional for people to come in and share how they're doing.
What do you all think about being matched up with one other person, who you can keep tabs on during the week? I'd love to communicate with all of you every week, but I just don't think it's going to be possible with over 80 participants!

Comment here if you like the buddy idea... if it sounds like most people do, then I'll go ahead and send out the info in the email.

I've also had a few questions about competition and rewards and such. As of now, it's not at all a competition...and honestly, if it is, that's more calculations and charting for me to do! As for rewards, since I don't have sponsors or anything, rewards would have to be out of pocket... so I'm thinking about it... but not 100% sure what I'll do.
I'll keep you posted ;)

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Food/Exercise Plan For Week 1

I am going to post my weekly menu and exercise plan each week from now on.
When planning my menu, I like to mix it up with different starches and proteins, and find veggies that match. I love vegetables, and try to have 3-4 different ones with dinner every night.
As for exercise, I like to switch it up, and not hit one area of the body too hard over and over. A good mix of cardio and weight training is ideal, and 5 hours a week is Jillian's standard, so I try to stick to that.
Also, my menus may seem a bit out there. For example, this week I'm cooking Iranian food for my food blog country challenge! But I love variety and change.

Exercise - Run 4 miles (45 minutes), walk Pumpkin 1 mile (15 minutes), Shred Level 3
Dinner - Butternut Squash and Prune Khoresh with Lentils and Okra

Exercise - No More Trouble Zones DVD, Run 3 miles, walk Pumpkin 1 mile
Dinner - Zucchini Kuku, Yogurt, Homemade Pita or Naan, Salad

Exercise - Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism DVD, Walk Pumpkin 1 Mile
Dinner - Sweet and Sour Stuffed Turkey, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Exercise - Run 3 Miles, Walk Pumpkin 1 mile, Shred 2
Dinner - Tomato and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding, Chicken Sausage, Green Beans

Exercise - No More Trouble Zones, walk Pumpkin 1 mile
Dinner - Barley and Edamame with Oranges

Exercise - Run 3 Miles, Shred Level 3, Walk Pumpkin
Dinner - Baked Saffron Yogurt Rice with Spinach and Chicken, Tossed Salad

Exercise - Off! Walk Pumpkin and housework
Dinner - Sundried Tomato Soup with Mushrooms and Wild Rice

Reading Labels, Measuring, and Recipes with Nutritional Info

One of the most important things to familiarize yourself with is serving sizes. Aside from some produce, the serving size and nutritional information is right there on the package!
What most people DON'T do, is measure. Do you really know how much 3/4 c. of Cheerios is? How about 1 c. of skim milk? You think you're consuming 200 calories, but are you?
One thing you should always do, and invest in, is measuring tools. I have numerous cups and spoons for my baking as well as for measuring my grains.
One place where I think people constantly are over-doing it is with things like salad dressing, coffee creamer, and peanut butter. The serving size is usually a tablespoon. Do you know how much a tablespoon is? It's not much! Especially when it comes to peanut butter :)

I still measure my oatmeal every single morning. I use the 1/2 c. as my scoop!

Now about weighted measurements - it's not a bad idea to have a food scale. Did you know a serving of chicken is 4 oz.? You know how when you get the 6 oz. steak, it looks so small? (That's what my husband always gets, anyway) That's a serving and a half! It's called portion distortion.... and we all suffer from it! Check out that article for some more tips on recognizing serving size!
I know we all tend to eat a little more than the serving size, so MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE!!!

I highly recommend picking up a nutritional info book with common ingredients serving sizes, calories and fat. The back of my journal has it, but you can find this info in many books, or online (use the top right to enter in the food item)

Now for some of my recipes with calorie count, requested by Mckay!

Asian Salad with Ginger Dressing and Chicken Potstickers
Serves 2
1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped (3 c.) 24 calories
1 small head savoy cabbage, chopped (2 c.) 20 calories
1 c. bean sprouts 12 calories
1/2 c. scallions, sliced 40 calories
1 red bell pepper, sliced 31 calories
½ cup snap peas 22 calories
¼ c. shredded carrots 65 calories
½ c. mandarin oranges in water 80 calories
14 chicken potstickers (from Trader Joes) 460 calories

¼ c. shredded carrots 65
1" grated ginger root 5 calories
1 tbsp. soy sauce 10 calories
1 tbsp. honey 64 calories
1/2 tsp. sesame oil 60 calories
1 tbsp. EVOO 119 calories
1 tbsp. Rice wine vinegar 0
Salt and pepper
Sesame Seeds (1 tsp.) 12 calories
Chopped Cilantro, 10 calories

Total - 1099 calories, 30 g. fat
Per serving - 549.5 calories, 15 g. fat

Arrange salad ingredients.
Puree dressing ingredients in a blender.
Prepare potstickers according to package, arrange over top salad.
Top with dressing.

Spicy Orange Chicken with Broccoli and Peppers
Serves 2
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (8 oz.) 260 calories
1 head of broccoli (2 c.) 60 calories
2 bell peppers in a 1” dice 65 calories
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice 55 calories
Zest of 1 orange, 10 calories
1/2 c. soy sauce 65 calories
1 tbsp. thai chili sauce 10 calories
1 clove of garlic, grated, 5 calories
1/2” ginger root, grated, 5 calories
1 tbsp. cornstarch, 30 calories
1 tbsp. sugar, 60 calories
Prepared brown rice (2 c.), 436 calories

TOTAL - 1061 calories, 3 g. fat
Per serving - 530.5 calories, 1.5 g. fat
Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl, whisk and set aside.
Bring a nonstick wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. evoo, then toss in chicken seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until brown, toss around until almost cooked. Add in sauce, and turn to low. Let sauce thicken and cook chicken through.
Bring an inch of water to a boil, place steamer in the pot. Add in peppers, steam for a minute, add broccoli on top, steam for 3 more minutes.
Add drained veggies to the chicken mixture, plate over rice.

BMR 101!

I've gotten quite a few emails from people who are still confused on how to calculate their BMR and figure out how many calories to burn and eat.
We'll use really simple examples...

One pound equals 3500 calories. No matter if you weight 500 lbs. or 150 lbs, 3500 calories burned will always be 1 lb.

Let's pretend my BMR is 1500. So to lose 1 lb. per week, I need to burn 500 calories per day over my BMR, so I want my net calories to be 1000 (Net is calories in (eaten) less calories out (exercise)).

To burn one pound, you can eat your daily 1500 calories and then use exercise to burn 3500 per week (500 calories per day).

Or you can eat fewer calories, like 1300 and burn 200 calories by exercise.

Or you can drop your calories to 1000 and not exercise (NOT RECOMMENDED! this will kill your metabolism unless you have a lot of extra weight.)

Here is the math for eat your BMR and use exercise to lose:
1500 calories eaten
- 500 calories burned by running

= 1000 calories net consumed daily, your body burns 1500, so your net loss is -500
-500 per day times 7 days per week = 3500, which is a pound!

Here is the math for eat less than BMR, and exercise:
1300 calories eaten
- 300 calories from running

= 1000 net calories consumed daily. Body burns 1500, so your net loss is also -500

Say you want to lose 1.5 lbs per week, you need to burn 5250 calories per week over BMR, which is 750 per day. Here's the math for that.

1300 calories consumed
-550 calories burned by exercise

= 750 net calories consumed daily, your body burns 1500, so you're at a net -750 calories lost.
750 daily x 7 days per week = 5250, or 1.5 lbs.

I know I'll confuse some people here, but you can, and should, switch up your days. You don't want to ALWAYS eat 1500 calories and ALWAYS burn 500 calories. Some days you can eat 1300 and burn 300, some days you can eat 1800 and burn 800... as long as you keep your net calories lost each week to 3500, you should lose weight.

Again, that's the math of it all. Your metabolism plays a factor, as does where your calories come from, how much water you drink, how much sodium you consume, and so on... that's why sometimes when you work really hard, you don't see a big loss on the scale. Depending on how active you are, you need to multiply your BMR by 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 or 1.4 depending on your activity. I would consider myself a 1.15, I don't sit ALL day, but I do sit at a desk often. I like to leave out the extra .15 in my BRM as wiggle room for calories over what I think or approximate, and assume that I'll come out even in the end.
But, in the end, if you're doing this the right way (which you are if you're in this challenge), you'll see a loss!

Start Planning!

It's so easy for me, but I know it can be really hard for some people... You need to PLAN! Not only will it take some stress out of your life, but it will really help you in your weight loss if you have your weekly workouts and meals planned.

It can be as simple as you do the same workout MWF and a different one TRSat and take Sun off, or you can have a different schedule every day of the week - just make sure you're switching it up, working all parts of the body, and you're not hitting the same areas over and over.

I know, I know, meals may be a bit harder. I do my weekly grocery shop on Saturday morning so I never have to go to the store during the week. I have my list, I stay focused, and I don't let myself buy junk, EVER!

If you struggle to find healthy recipes, try cooking light, go to the library and take out some low cal cookbooks (low fat are ok, but we'll talk about that later), or check out my blog (shameless plug) but really, I have hundereds of dinner recipes that are healthy and usually pretty quick and easy! I even have a tag for weekly menus. I'll try to highlight some of them on here every now and then, and hopefully something will catch your eye! I also love Rachael Ray's Everyday magazine. She's got tons of recipes, many are healthy, and most can be lightened up easily. Keep your menu diversified, and keep lots of your favorites in, and you'll have no trouble at all! If you ever have a recipe that is too high in calories and you want me to lighten it up, I'm more than happy to give it a try! Don't forget, I do have this post, which links many of my past 'lightened up' recipes.

I know it can be tough because things come up, but when you have your plans down in writing, you generally stick with them, right? You're less likely to go grab take out or fast food when you have the ingredients to prepare a healthy, homemade dinner every night! And they say it only takes 30 days of doing something daily for it to become a habit!

One other thing I do every week is I look at weather.com's 10 day forecast. I love running outside, so I like to see what I can expect weather wise. For example, this week I'm thinking I'll run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday... and luckily it will still be nice enough for me to walk Pumpkin on Tuesday and Thursday, too! The worst thing you want to do is plan on going for a run or walk when you get home from work, and it's raining. I know the weather man isn't always right, but if there's a chance it will rain or get really cold, I make sure I bring my workout clothes with me to work so I can hit the gym if necessary. Of course, DVDs or on demand are always available, but then I have to rearrange my workout... and I'm anal and don't like to :)

Yay, Spring is here! 74.... wow!
So here's your homework for step 3 - plan out your first week on the challenge - write down your dinners and workouts for the week of March 20. If you plan ahead, you'll know if you're going out to eat so you can plan ahead, you might have events that will keep you from being able to workout one day, etc.
I'll post mine later on this week!


So when I checked my email this morning, I think I recieved an additional 20 sign-ups, bringing this group to close to 60 right now! In order for me to keep everyone straight and manage this, please email me at my new email I created for the challenge... ashisfit@gmail.com
When you email, please copy and paste this, and fill it out, all of the fields are optional, this will be shared with the group and posted on the blog, so if you don't want anything known, you can make an alias or whatever.
Anyone can still sign up, but please send me this email by Friday - weigh in day! I'll be communicating through group emails as well as posting on the blog!

Blogger Name:
Real first name:
Do you want to be in group emails:
Do you want to have your name/blog posted on AshIsFit?:

I've had a lot of people ask me what they need to do to be in it.
1 - Send me an email with that info
2 - Do Steps 1 and 2 on the blog

Remember, the new email is: AshIsFit@gmail.com

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Step 2: 20/20

As I've said, I'm a completely visual person. I like to have graphics and charts and pictures to track progress and see results. When I first started losing weight, I made a chart like this to track my first 20 lbs. My scale weighs in .5 increments, so at the bottom, I wrote .5 to 20, when I hit each one, I'll use a sticker to cover the number. Yes, I'm a child and like stickers...

I know some people weight themselves daily, weekly, monthly, all different... but I'm going to organize this as a weekly weigh-in. Since I organized it, I get to make the rules, right?
Ok, so here's how it goes...
On Friday, March 20, weigh in. That is your starting weight, no matter what. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours ;)
Then every Friday, for 20 weeks, we'll weigh in.
I'd like to post everyone's results on the blog, so if everyone participating will email me on the Friday we weight in sometime, I'll get the results posted by Monday morning. (You don't have to tell me your starting weight this Friday, but next Friday you can just tell me what your loss is).
This Thursday I'm going to post the list of names I have so far for our participants, so I'll ask everyone look at it and make sure I have you listed.

Now I'm sure in the beginning, people will really push and stick with the challenge, and by week 6 or 8, some of us may want to give up and quit. WE WONT! WE CAN'T!
Some of us may even lose more than 1 lb. per week... but you can't defer your weight loss to the next week. So don't think oh good, I lost 2 in week 1, so in week 2 I can lose 0 and still be on target. Doesn't work that way!
I mean, it's not like I'll kick you out of the challenge if you pull zeros, but we have to all be accountable. We're making a commitment!!!

True Story: Listening to Jillian yell at people has rubbed off onto me I think, I'm all about the no excuses, we'll do it kind of thing. I'd make her so proud!

Ok, onto the fun part of this post. In Step 1 we set our goal and did the math to figure out how we're going to get there!
Now for Step 2, we get to choose our rewards!
I am going to have a 10 lb. reward, and a 20 lb. reward. You can have one per pound, only one when you reach your goal, or a few inbetween!
Here is my reward for -10 lbs. - A beautiful halter top from The Limited!
I found it when I was Easter shopping, and fell in love with it. It is a Medium, a tiny bit tight, but I know dropping ten pounds (plus some more arm and back toning) will make this look fantastic on me!

Now you'll see I have little printed photos of it in the picture. What I like to do when I've got a goal set, is to keep reminding myself about it. When I was a bridesmaid for my sisters wedding, I had to lose 10 lbs. to fit in my dress, so I cut out little brown dresses and taped them to the fridge, put one in my wallet, on the computer screen, etc.
I'm going to put a few of these around the house so that halter top - and ten pounds - are always on my mind!

For my 20 lb. reward, JJ and I are going to go on a vacation. The location is TBD, so I can't really put up a photo...we never took a honeymoon, so we might just call it a honeymoon! I guess my -100 lb. party, if I have one, is my other reward... and a giant shopping spree for the vacation and party :)
I find clothes to be the best reward, but you choose what you like the most! Post some photos of it on your blog, get excited about it - because in 10 weeks, it's yours!!!

20 in 20 - We have banners and buttons!

WOW!!!! Thank you SO MUCH to Emily for creating these for me! She is amazing, don't ya think? I feel all official now. So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take down my awful graphic, or reblog these because they're gorgeous (and mine is so, so sad...haha)
It's so official now, and we've got at least 30 people 'signed up'!

Miles for Monika

Please visit my friend Kelsey's blog to learn about this event she is hosting. It's very easy to take part in, and I hope everyone participates. I know I will! www.kelseytoney.com

20/20 Step 1

Alright, now that there are so many of you who want to participate, I'm going to get these posts going! Here is the first thing everyone needs to do if you don't already know! I'm a very Type A personality, I love plans, I love visual things, I need structure, so I'll be mapping out the challenge and steps everyone should take. I'll be using my blog as my journaling outlet, but if you don't have a blog, maybe get yourself a journal so you can write down this info, or create a secret blog!

Step 1:
Make a plan and set your goal!
My plan: To lose 20 lbs. in 20 weeks
My goal: To reach -100 lbs.

Now the basic principle we need to follow to reach our goal is this: If we’re going to lose 20 lbs. in 20 weeks, we need to burn 3500 calories per week over our BMR. SIMPLE AS THAT! How do we do that? Here's how:
The first thing we need to do is calculate our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Mine is around 1610, different calculators vary a bit. Now in order to burn 3500 calories per week, I can eat a little less than 1600 and work out more, or I can eat 1600 and work out lots more, or a combination of both.
-This is where you need to stop and look at where you are in your weight loss journey. If you have much more than 20 lbs. to lose, you’re going to want to cut calories by eating less than your BMR as well as workout to burn and use energy form your fat reserves.
-If you have just 20 lbs. to lose, you can do a combo of both, cut maybe 100 calories per day, plus work out more.
-If you’re down to 10 away from your body’s ideal weight, you should consume your BMR calories, and use workouts to burn calories for weight loss.

It is also important to keep your body guessing. You don’t want your metabolism to slow down because it always gets 1600 calories and always burns 500, day in and day out.
What I plan to do is switch it up, maybe MWF I’ll stick to 1600 calories and burn 500 those days, and on TR I’ll eat 1400 and burn 300, and on Sat. and Sun I’ll eat around 1800 and burn 700.
You might actually want to write down your BMR, and cals in v. cals out plan, make sure you’re burning 3500 calories above your daily BMR each week. Figure out the math! I know, most people hate math, but it's just addition and subtraction :)

Now I know it’s going to be tough, and not fun, but we’re going to really have to count our calories! I’m going to start blogging more dinners with calorie counts. If you look in my food blog and you see a dinner you want the calorie count for, email me and I will figure it out for you. We'll get more into food later on though.
I don’t have a HRM to track how much I burn when I do things like the shred or other workout DVDs, I just have to take a good guess (I’m going to assume the shred is 250, and the Burn Fat and Trouble Zones burn 500 for me). I also know that when I run 1 mile, I burn around 150 calories. You can use spark people to get an estimate of some daily activities calories burned as well.
Don’t forget that things like cleaning the house, doing laundry, walking the dog, etc., are also workouts! Make sure you take an off day at least once a week (Jillian recommends 2, but I like 1 day to rest). On my off days, I plan to walk Pumpkin and do some housework to keep moving enough though I’m not doing strenuous exercise.

Ok, step 2 coming later :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Challenge!

Alright, no one emailed me yet about making a clip art thingy for the challenge, so I did my best... haha. I'm going to be making random posts throughout the week to get us all ready for this! If you blog, feel free to add that to your blog and broadcast it to anyone who might want to join in!

I'm just putting this out there...

As I've said OVER AND OVER, I'm working on losing the last 20 lbs. Sometimes I waver if I have the ability to do it, but I know I can... and so can you!
So I'm just wondering who might be interested in joining me in the 20 week, 20 lb. challenge? I'll be gearing it most towards people trying to lose the last 20 lbs. to get to their ideal weight, but even if you have much more (or less) to lose, I hope you might join in.
20 weeks is 4 1/2 months, so this isn't going to be a quick fix, but we'll all be in it for the long haul.
I usually weigh in on Fridays, so I think we'll start Friday, March 20, using this week to get things in order (but still bust our buts this week!)
If there are any creative people out there who know their way with clip art and want to make a banner or tag thingy for us to put in our blogs, email me and we can talk about it. If not, I'll try... but I'm no computer graphics girl :)
So comment here or email me if you're game.... and I'll start getting some posts together to really plan this thing out. Let me know what you want to see here as well - like food ideas, workouts, meal planning, fitness tips, and general weight loss info (because we all know the last 10-20 is the hardest!)

ps - the email is ashlee (dot) wetherington at gmail (dot) com
(sorry no link, I've been getting spammed lately.... boo)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reader Questions!

Sorry for the backup on these, I've had computer issues and was out of town, but here are some answers to a few questions I've had recently...

Anonymous asked: I just got the diet journal book that you started off with & it took me FOREVER to fill out my daily nutritional intake/exercise & fitness page. Does this get easier after a while or will I always need to set aside an hour for looking up nutritional values? Did you keep up with just calories or the fat/protein/carbs/fiber stuff too? Did you include your BMR and everyday stuff like walking (I use a pedometer throughout my daily activities) when calculating your exercise & fitness tally or just working out? Thanks in advance!!! =D

I'm so glad you are journaling! It really does make a huge difference! During the first few weeks, I was really meticulous about filling it out and putting in the exact information. For me, it wasn't too hard because I have the same breakfast and lunch every day, so those calories never changed. The only thing I had to look up was dinner calories... but if you're making your dinner, you can simply look on the packaging and find out serving size and calories. The only things I had to look up were produce. I didn't put down my BMR because I don't have a HRM or anything, but I would weigh myself daily, write my weight, write my day's food with calories, and my exercise. I didn't worry about protein, fat, carbs, etc., because I know I eat a balanced diet, but if you're unsure, it might be important for you to do that.

Once you've been journaling for a while and you get very familiar with the nutritional info in the food items you eat often, it will take you much less time. But again, for me it wasn't bad because I just calculated calories in and calories out.

Grown-Up Teenager asked: I have a question for reader questions. Like I said, I want to slim down as well, and I've got some small stretchmarks on my belly. Did you have any before you started, and have they changed at all if you did? Do you think you'd be comfortable in a bathing suit (dare I say bikini?) after doing the Shred for a while?

Ugh, stretch marks. I think everyone has them, right? So I try not to let them bother me. I have them around the spare tire region and arm pit area. They actually got worse when I first started losing weight, but now they're all faded and not too obvious. Will I ever wear a bikini? Who knows! I'd need to get more toned in the core area before I do that. Perhaps one day I'll take belly photos... As for the bathing suit - I'm fine with that because I was on the swim team in HS, so you kind of get over it fast. I also took diving and aquatic games classes in HS, so I was around my peers all of the time. It was embarassing at first (especially when the teacher would tape our dives and we'd have to watch them and rate ourselves) but I also wasn't nearly as fat in HS as I was in college.
And right now, the shred has taken me far, but not far enough for me to be really cut. I'm moving on to running more and doing more intense strength training (like no more trouble zones) to really get rid of the last 20 lbs.

I stumbled across your blog through the nest health and fitness board and love reading about your journey. I'm wanting to start a weightloss journey myself and was wondering if you have ever posted a menu of what you eat on a daily basis. I've gone back through some of the archives but I may have missed it. If not, I am definately curious to know what you eat every day.

This post pretty much answers your question: http://ashisfit.blogspot.com/2008/07/first-50-menus.html
If you look at my cooking blog, http://www.ashleescooking.blogspot.com/, you can see exactly what I eat for dinner every night. I still continue to eat the same breakfast and lunch as in that post, but I have upped my calories to 1600. I also space out my food during the day so I'm never hungry. I eat about every 2-3 hours.

Molly asked: Hi Ash. I was wondering, when did you first start running? I want to start running this spring/summer but I am a little self-concious because of my weight. How did you start out? Also, could you please recommend some basic running attire? Thanks so much! :)

I started the C25K program last April. I was at about -55 lbs. at that time, so I was still 50 lbs. overweight. I was self-conscious at first, but when you run, it's really all about you and no one else. Don't worry about it! I have more respect for someone who can run a mile than can elliptical for hours, because to me, running is the hardest possible physical activity! It's so incredibly empowering when you finish a good, long run. Completeing the C25K was a HUGE achievement, followed by running my first 5k, then my first 10k! I think running has given me so much confidence! It's hard, don't get me wrong, biggest challenge EVER, but the bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward, you know?
As for workout attire, I run in old navy yoga capris or nike capris and bra tank tops. At first, I wore a sports bra and a cotton old navy $5 tank, but I love the nike dri fit workout tanks, they keep me really cool, and keep the boobs compressed. Having good support in that area is important for me, I was full D's, now I'm a full C, so having support there is really important for me.

Alright, I think that covers it all. If you'd like for me to elaborate or have any more questions, let me know! And if it's a more personal thing, I don't have to publish it, I answer many off the record emails :)

Oh, and I'd like to say HI DAD!!! He's shocked that people turn to me for health and fitness questions! Maybe I'll start forwarding my emails to him and see how his answers are!


I've been contemplating doing the 5k or 10k at the Spring Run on April 18. I was at first worried I wouldn't get the training in to increase my mileage from 3 to 6 because all winter, I was running inside, and I'd stop at 3 miles. Well on Saturday, I got up and went for a run on the trail and I did a little over 3 miles in 34 minutes. Then I was supposed to meet my mom at her gym for a class, but I was early, so I ran on the treadmill and did another 2 miles in 20 minutes...
So I did 5 miles, though seperate, I think it's proof that in 1 month, I'll have little trouble with the mileage.
But then I looked at last year's results, and only 150 people ran the 10k, and if I did it in 69 minutes (which is what I did my first 10k in back on Thanksgiving Day), I'd come in 146th place, which is 5th from last...
So do I want to risk the chance of being last and do the 10k? Or do I focus on getting my time down and doing the 5k and setting a PR there? I have another 5k scheduled for May 17, but no other 10k's until Thanksgiving again...
I love running 10k's, where it's a push to finish, I get my rhythm, I feel the challenge, and I feel so accomplished when I'm done....but I don't want to be last. I have self confidence issues! I think the only way I'll really feel challenged in the 5k is if I really push myself on time, but I struggle with speed, especially when I'm running outside. I've been working on HIIT on the treadmill, but for some reason, when I run outside, it's so different.

Hmmm, what to do? what to do?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Yesterday we celebrated Vickie (my co-worker/workout buddy's) 27th Anniversary at the Y. Of course, there was cake. And I ate a piece. It was delicious, but because I rarely eat sweets anymore... it kind of made me nauseous! I guess it's a good thing to equate cake with feelings of nausea.
So anyway, we decided we better go hit the gym. I was on my treadmill, running my normal 6.0 for 10 minutes, then 1 min. at 7.0 and 2 at 5.5 and repeating. When I got to my last minute of 7.0, I decided that just to make sure I burned off the cake calories, I'd try 8.0... which is like, a 7.5 minute mile or something crazy like that... and I did it! I ran my little legs off! It felt soooo good! I really do have little legs too, I'm all torso. I'm 5'6", but I have short extremeties.

I weighed in this morning, and no change... still stuck! Ugh, it's so frusterating! I'm still 20 lbs. away from -100. I'm sure that I'm going over in my calories every day because I've stopped counting them exactly, and I feel so hungry all of the time. It just gets so exhausting. Seriously, losing weight makes you go a little crazy. It becomes obsessive and I hate that.
I don't know if I need to just take a break from trying to lose or if I should just really focus and get the last 20 off. I know if I lose the last 20, I can maintain. I've had no problem with maintenance... maybe I will just shoot for slower progess... isntead of trying for -2 a week and feeling sad when I don't get it, I'll shoot for -1/week, and be thrilled when I reach my weekly goal... and if it would JUST WARM UP I could go for long runs outside, which really help me drop the weight quickly. Running does wonders on my body!

This weekend I'm going to Cincinnati to visit my parents. My mom got me a guest pass to her gym. She goes to Victory Lady Fitness or something like that... I can't remember. Anyway, she loves it there, she takes all different classes and she's doing great, so I'm excited to go with her. I haven't taken a fitness class in a gym ever (besides yoga).
At first, I was a little worried about it being hard and feeling stupid, but the more I thought about it (and did Jillians 2 new workouts flawlessly), I'm so confident in my workout abilities right now. I'm literally in the best shape of my life. I'm seeing muscle definition like never before, and I feel stronger every day. It's so great!

Totally not fitness related, but I'm so excited to go to Cincinnati because my mom and I have a little routine when I go visit without my husband. We always go to Trader Joe's and I bring my cooler and stock up, we usually go shopping at Rookwood (and sometimes I can say, Mom! Look, I dropped another size, I need new pants!) and she'll buy me something, and then we'll go to a movie or IMAX, and out to lunch. On Saturday nights after church, we'll get dinner to go and my parents and I will eat and hang out, watch sports, or whatever. I love weekends with my parents. It gives me a chance to really relax, feel taken care of again, not have to be a grown up. I can galavant around the city, stop by starbucks and read, go running in my old neighborhood... I think it's really going to be good for me, clear my head a bit.

Back to the blog - I've had a few people ask me for some specific posts, so in the near future, I'll be doing posts on portion size, eating in restaurants, and super foods/anti oxidants.
If there's anything else you'd like to see, let me know!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Scary Truth

Back in December, a woman was attacked and raped on my running trail. I was visiting my parents in Cincinnati that weekend, but when I came back, my co-workers told me about it. I was absolutely shocked as the trail winds thru neighborhoods and main roads. I always knew it was a possibility.... but it just seemed so unlikely.
At first I felt awful for the poor woman who was raped, but she was so brave and strong and worked with the police to find the asshole who did it, and he's in jail now. It was a completely isolated incident, and there have been no other reports of problems on the trail... thank goodness!
Then, as it sunk in, I got really mad! I've always known as a woman, it's a possibility. I do take some precautions, but I can't give up my ipod, and I don't always have a running buddy. It's so unfair that I have to worry about my safety when I'm trying to be healthy and do the right thing! Sometimes it seems like the universe works against those who are trying to be healthy (like the price of organics!!! ugh, don't get me started...)
So anyway, then it got snowy and I couldn't run if I wanted to... so it was a non-issue. It warmed up a few times, enough for me to go run... but rather than go to the trail, I ran in the neighborhood with Pumpkin. She can be a pain on me and will just sit and stop, so I hate to take her to the out and back trail, I like the neighborhood loop so if I have to carry her home, it's not as far... which I have had to do many time in the past. Yes, she's only 20 lbs., but carrying 20 lbs. after a 2 mile run for another mile... not fun! But, she can be vicious and will attack strange people if I let her, so I do feel safe with her around. She sweet for her mommy, but she's a spitz mix, and spitz's are known for their temper!
So now Spring is around the corner... and I'm faced with a dilemma. I don't want to let fear get the best of me, and I really do miss running. I've been having the worst runs on the treadmill because I get so bored... I'm starting to doubt my ability - and that makes me mad! I was able to run a 10k in November. 6 miles! I ran the whole thing! That was absolutely the proudest moment in my life, running across the finish line, beating my 70 minute goal! And now, I'm hoping I can make it 3 or 4 miles... with a possible 10k in 1.5 months.
So I might be a little scared to go back at first, but rather than avoid the busy times (Saturday and Sunday from 10am-12pm), I think I am going to go then so there will be many people around. I will still wear my ipod, but my mom's going to get me some pepper spray. I don't really want to run with it, but I want to run. I want to make a t-shirt that says, "Back off a-holes, I'll pepper spray your face".... but I don't run in t-shirts...
It just really sucks that someone can take something away from you, the feeling of safety, and freedom, which is what I felt when I ran my 4.6 mile trail...

Blog List Update

I know many of you read this blog in google reader, so you might not see this if I don't post about it.... Last week I asked you to give me a link to your blogs, and wow! I recieved about 35 blog links! They are all now featured on the right side of the blog, by name.
I added you all to my google reader, and I'm so excited to start reading!
I have a few posts in the works that I was hoping to do this weekend, but our internet was down. I'll try to work on them this week!
I'm feeling pretty good physically, no issues with the leg. I ordered Jillian's 2 new DVDs, and I hope they get here soon because the on demand ends tomorrow!
Now I'm going to get to reading.... I've got 300 items in my google reader!