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Welcome to my little haven of creative writing, passionate ranting, and thoughtful learning.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fitness- What Worked for Me

After my last post I was pleasantly surprised to hear a few people mention that they would be interested in hearing what worked best for me so far and what tips I've picked up over the last few months about losing weight.

So I thought it would be worth it to try to put all the best information I've come across in one place.

Losing weight is a basic science principal: burn more calories than you are taking in.
That's it.
No miracle pills, no secrets, nothing really confusing about it, if you intake fewer calories than you output in a day you will lose weight rather than gain it.

So, count your calories. 
I use LoseIt, which is a pretty great free app and website with a large database of foods with calories already figured out. I plan ahead the meals that I can and try to make overall healthy choices. But by knowing the calories in all my favorite food I'm still able to eat pizza and enjoy chocolate. If you decide to do LoseIt feel welcome to add me as a friend (camille.myers.kouris@gmail.com).




Schedule your workouts.
I'm serious. If you think, I'll go for a run sometime Saturday, but haven't set an actual time and location, you won't do it. I speak from a whole lot of experience here, and unless you are a person that really really just loves to workout, you need to schedule it.
Here's what a typical workout week looks like for me (in case anyone was curious):

Monday: 6:30-7:20am     Swim Laps
               7:00-7:45pm    Refit Dance Fitness

Tuesday: 6:00-6:30am     Workout Video

Wednesday: 6:30-7:20am  Swim Laps
                    6:30-7:00pm  Run or Family Walk

Thursday: 6:00-6:30am    Workout Video

Friday: 6:30-7:20am        Swim Laps

Saturday: Varies by week depending on what we're doing.



Drink water. All the time.
Yes, water is boring compared to the possibility of ___________ (insert your favorite soda here). But water is 0 calories. Your body needs it. Drinking more of it helps other systems in your body and helps clear up your skin if you're like me and still struggle with acne. I aim to drink 64oz a day, because if your body feels it's not getting adequate water the scale will tell you that you're gaining weight.
I'm sure there's science behind that, but I'm not enough of a science person to understand it.

Track your progress. 
And do it in multiple ways. Yes, the scale is a fantastic tool. Personally I weigh myself first thing every morning because it gets my day started thinking about my goal and what I'm working toward. But the scale won't always tell you what you hope to see. Measure to count inches, take weekly progress pictures, time your run or how long you can hold a plank. Seeing improvement in any way is the absolute best motivation to keep going.


Don't reward yourself with food.
You're not a dog, you don't need a food treat when you've done something good.
This was hard for me, because in college my reward for finishing a paper was to go get a milkshake. Or a burger. Or mozzarella sticks. So what I've had to do is find other ways to reward myself. For example, when I hit 165 lbs, I gave myself $10 to go to the bookstore in town and get a couple new books. When I hit 150, I get a pedicure.
Obviously this is going to look different for everyone, but write it out, post it where you will see it, and do it in increments that make sense for you (for me it was every 5 lbs).

Plan your meals.
If you have a menu and all the ingredients already in your house, the temptation to run through a drive through on the way home from work shrinks considerably. Do the same with lunch and snacks. Currently at work here are the snacks I keep on hand for my morning and afternoon snack:
Apples
Green Grapes
Plums
String Cheese
Protein Balls (oats, honey, peanut butter, dark chocolate)
Wheat Thins
Dried Cranberries
Granola Bars
Popcorn
Dark Chocolate
Pretzels
Sunflower Seeds

Utilize tools.
When I get something new, I get super excited to use it, and since I know that about myself, I've basically tricked myself by purchasing things used for workouts.
New workout tank top? I should go for a run!
New pretty tumbler? Guess who drank all 64 oz of water today!
And when I got down 28 pounds I needed an extra push, so I got a Fitbit Flex. It taps perfectly into my competitive side and I went down two pounds last week.

Take advantage of your Sunday.
My work week runs 8-5 M-F. So on Sunday I take some time in the afternoon to pack my gym bag, pack snacks to take to the office, make sure all my workout gear is somewhere near, charge my iPod if I'm going to need it, and declutter my house. If I wake up in the morning and the house is a mess I will sometimes avoid my workout by loading the dishwasher and picking up toys off the living room floor. If those things are already handled there is no excuse to not get my workout on.

Down 30 pounds! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Becoming THAT Person

I'm not really sure how, and certainly would never have imagined it, but somehow I have become that person.

You know,
the one who can tell you the calories in any food,
that constantly talks about working out and new exercises,
and that seems to have become obsessed with fitness.

I've known that person my whole life: watched their progress pics show up on social media, and thought, well good for her, but there's no way I can do that, I'm just not that athletic/ not as motivated/ can't afford healthy food/ don't have that kind of time etc.

Then in October, I got a sudden spurt of inspiration.
And kept that motivation going.
I tried not to make too big of a fuss about it at first because, realistically, I was probably not going to be able to stick with it.

But then three months passed, and I was still changing.
I was noticing a difference, and learning how to make a healthy lifestyle work.

Now it's been almost 6 months.
I'm still not there, but there are times I don't recognize myself. Physically, yes I see a change, but the more important adjustment has very much been mental.

I don't see my goal weight as a dream or a maybe, I see it as a goal with a deadline.
I don't wonder how it might be possible to lose weight, I research tips and ways to boost the healthy choices I make.
Basically, I realized that I have control over this. I decide what I eat, and how much. I choose to drink water instead of pop. I resolve to work out daily. I hold myself accountable.

And so, I have become that person.
The one trying to encourage others to come swim with me.
Who tosses out healthy snack ideas and workout tips without even realizing it.
That probably irritates everyone with my constant fitness chatter.

But every once in awhile someone will tell me that since I've been able to do it, I've encouraged them to take control of their fitness too. That I (the klutz who has never before stuck to a diet) inspired them.
Because of that, I think I like being that person.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blogging: One Year Strong

Happy Birthday to this blog!

It's been a year since I started it, and I'm proud of how it's grown.
When I began, I just wanted a place to put my thoughts, writing, and pictures, and I'm glad I've stayed faithful posting to it, and for the positive responses I have gotten for much of my writing and ideas.

Thanks to everyone that's been reading!

Top 5 Posts of Year One:

1.) Apparently Buckeyes are an Ohio Thing?      455 Views

2.) According to Society, I'm a Bad Mom          160 Views

3.) This Post is Offensive                                   146 Views

4.) Welcome to the Grown Up World                112 Views

5.) This Image has Been Circulating Facebook    100 Views

Here's to another year, wherever it should take me and whatever may come!





Monday, March 24, 2014

Blissful Birthday

I've always loved my birthday.

From the beginning of March I start counting down to it, I try not to be too annoying about it to all my friends, and I think about all the things good and bad that have happened over the past year.

But the last few years, my birthday has had to come and go without major celebration.

Last year my husband was sick, so after helping out at a job he was too ill to go to, I then went with the baby to dinner.
The year before I was extremely pregnant and had school all day. After all my classes I went to get an oil change and Nathan and I grabbed dinner. That was the year my mom was so excited that she would soon meet her grandbaby that she actually forgot it was my birthday.

I had come to accept that getting older meant that your birthday was no longer a special day, and I was okay with that.

But this year, that changed.

This year I felt special, loved, cherished and blessed from the time I woke up until I went to sleep.
Actually, it went beyond that, I've felt the birthday love for four days now.

Friday, I received flowers at work from my in-laws. Beautiful tulips that I'm staring at as I type this because they look so lovely in the sunlight.

Saturday morning I woke up to run my first ever 5k. I was so nervous, because this has been my big goal for about 6 months. I didn't lose all 40 pounds that I wanted to, but I've lost 27. I've trained hard. And as a result I ran it in 35 minutes. And I placed first in women age 20-24. Shocking, but in the most wonderful way.
Then I was taken to lunch of my choice by four (okay, three and a baby) very dear friends that just wanted to spend time with me on my birthday.
And that evening, after taking me out to dinner and getting me a cookie dough blizzard cake, my husband successfully snagged the last DVD copy of Frozen from Redbox for us to snuggle up and watch.

Sunday morning brought "Happy Birthday's" and congratulations for my 5k, as well as cards with sweet words appreciating me for being, well, me. Accepting me: the introverted, refuses to drink coffee, thinks in a weird way, sometimes talks too much person that tends to be rather insecure.

And today my bosses remembered my birthday, so in addition to bringing me Starbucks goodness upon arriving at the office, they took me to lunch anywhere of my choosing.

The undeniable love I've felt over the weekend is how I believe everyone should feel on their birthday: and I hope to return this feeling to all of my friends when it's their day.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

The 5k is a week away!

And therefore I am attempting to get things in order and get prepared.

One of the biggest things I have been told in prepping to run is to have a playlist of strong music. And yesterday morning I decided that it should be Disney.
If you've ever met me, this choice should not surprise you in the slightest.


Thank you to everyone that commented on my Facebook status yesterday with ideas and favorite songs, I'm hoping the above list will be long enough to get me through the race without having to repeat!



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

For a reason.

Two of my good friends have been doing a mini-series of sorts on their blog. They call it "God Moments."
I've enjoyed reading the moments of their lives that they know were some divine intervention, and recently I've been having one of those moments myself.

Last week, my husband lost his job. It was a seasonal job, something temporary, so we knew eventually it would happen. However, we were told he would have until the end of March, so we were still taken a bit by surprise.

The unexpected added stress, I think, jump started a sickness I'd been feeling. I've been sick for nearly a week now, which is the longest I've been under the weather in a long time. I went to bed at 6pm Friday night and slept 14 hours. I have not stayed still for 14 hours since... ever. And since I've not completed 90 days as a full time employee, I do not have sick days and vacation days yet.

Yes, all the above sound like bad things.

Realistically, they are bad things.

But here's where the good comes in.
Upon hearing that I was now the only person with income for my little family, my supervisor mentioned that a good friend of his had some job openings. He encouraged Nathan to put in an application. That day, Nathan got a call for an interview. Nothing is guaranteed of course, and Nathan is still looking and applying, but when he left the interview he actually felt confident that it went well.

Friday afternoon, when I was feeling completely awful, I was told to go home. Rest. Don't worry about it, just get better. And then Monday, the toddler had what I had. We weren't sure if he was contagious or not, but Nathan had his interview and I was supposed to work. I explained the situation and asked if there was any way I could work from home for a couple hours, and the answer was "of course." I wasn't made to feel like less of an employee because I am also a mom, I wasn't told that if I had to take the afternoon I wouldn't be paid. I was reassured that I could work from home and to let them know how the interview went for Nathan.

This job, these people, all the goodness. I have to believe this is where I'm meant to be right now. Because this past week could have been awful. It could have been overwhelming. But instead, all I can do is count my blessings.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fairness

My little small town is actually a fairly progressive town, which is one of the reasons I was so able to stay here after my husband and I had both graduated.

But there's an issue that seems to have a good part of the town divided. The Fairness Ordinance. While most people are in support of it, some oppose it on the grounds of "reverse discrimination." They believe it forces those who are not LGBT community or allies to condone that lifestyle and even grants the LGBT community special privileges.

Let's think about this in a term that many of those opposing would still consider sin, but it's a sin we seem much more comfortable with: divorce.
Image that you went through a divorce in a society that sees divorcees the way that many see a gay man. And imagine there were not ordinances protecting you from discrimination.

You're starving, and rather that stop by a fast food chain, you want to see your money benefit the local community, so you hit up a quaint local restaurant. You go in, seat yourself, decide what to order, but before the waitress comes to take your order she stops and goes back into the kitchen. Then the manager comes out and tells you that you will have to leave, they don't serve divorcees and they can't condone the lifestyle you've chosen to live.

Then you find an adorable apartment that is perfect for you. It's walking distance to work, a fair price, exactly what you're looking for. Your credit is great, the rent would only be 25% of your monthly income, and your references are impeccable. No one else has shown interest in renting over the past month, and you are more than willing to sign the one year minimum lease. But then the owner of the property hears talk that you've been divorced and, based on that information alone, you lose out on the apartment. You are forced to continue hunting because of your marital status.

After a few of those instances, you start to live your life in constant fear. Your friends invite you out, but if it's a restaurant you know has an anti-divorce stance you have to decline or risk the embarrassment of being tossed out in front of people you love.

My real point here? Whether or not you agree with someone else lifestyle, they deserve the same basic protection and respect we all take for granted. We have legislature that protected my right to breastfeed in public, that protected my job when I was pregnant, and that allows me the same freedoms as my husband because we are all human. The fact that someone could be refused service based on who they love, is a wrong I can't believe exists in the United States.

*P.S Not every Christian is like this. I and most of my friends and church would fall under the category of doing what Jesus said and loving people. But... this comic has a certain amount of accuracy in mainstream media.