Friday, August 30, 2013

Kowalski! Progress Report!

Sadly, my plans do not involve lemurs. (Maybe they should.)
So, after the turmoil of the past week, I sat down and really looked at my goals to try to calm the classic goal-frenzy that I usually succumb to. I'm quite sure I haven't recorded them all, but I got a pretty good working list of all the goals, dreams, and desires tumbling around in my head. Everything from grand ideas of travel plans and career aspirations to specific goals like "organize the basement" or "learn how to utilize explosive hip power to improve thrusters and 'wall balls'" (both of which require moving weight efficiently overhead from a squat to a standing position) made the list. I even, reluctantly, wrote down "figure out student loan repayment plan." (Ugh.)

I've scratched out giant lists like this one before, but I get so enthusiastic/overwhelmed that I rarely get anywhere. This time, after setting some bigger, longer-term goals to keep in mind for the future, I also settled on ONE thing to work on for September that I will then practice in two areas of my life: track everything.

The first aspect of this goal will deal with my finances. I recently started a new job, so this week I redesigned my budget into something I will actually stick to. I use Mint to track my finances, but for September, I'm going to track them on my own, too, with the intention of sticking to my new budget categories and funneling the extra money towards paying down some student-accumulated debt.

The second aspect of this goal deals with my diet. I eat fairly well, but I have terrible self-control when I'm not eating at home. Donuts at work? Please! Friends going out for ice cream after the movie? Sign me up! I may have a relatively healthy number on the scale, but my half-healthy, half-whatever diet doesn't often make me feel healthy, strong, or energetic, and that's what's important to me. However, just as I'm relatively new to fitness, I'm also pretty new to nutrition. I know I feel better after some meals than others, but without data, I can rarely remember enough details to make significant changes. The solution? Take detailed notes on how I regularly eat for the first two weeks to accumulate some "baseline" data for reference. Then I'm going to experiment with Zone* eating for six weeks, until Halloween!

I think the biggest key to succeeding is believing in yourself, and that's absolutely one of the things I struggle with the most. Despite the progress I've made in the past year, I still see myself as the mildly asthmatic shy girl who brought books to parties and was terrified of throwing a frisbee. It's exciting to see myself developing some muscle, but I still don't think of myself as athletic -- and I think that self-doubt is really holding me back.

That's why I tried really hard to make these goals seem doable. I drew up a sheet to record all purchases instead of logging into Mint at the end of the month and going "Oh no, why is everything red?" I also ordered a kitchen scale this week so I can better analyze my food intake instead of writing "I had some yogurt this morning" and not knowing what that means. I'll also need it when I start trying Zone to make sure I'm getting the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in each meal.

I've never successfully attempted something like this in the past. However, this time I've gathered the tools I need to succeed, and unlike before, I haven't picked twelve new things to do daily. I'm just going to start writing everything down, which sounds much better than "Work out every day, go full Paleo, stop spending money, and re-paint the house." I'm feeling more motivated than ever and -- dare I say it? -- I really do believe that I can accomplish these goals by September 30th.

To add to my optimism, enthusiasm, and self-belief, I've got some extra motivation going on where food tracking is concerned. For some reason, I have a hard time finding comfortable (and, alright, flattering) shorts for working out, and lately a number of my fitness idols have all popped up wearing the same kind. They're a little super pricey, but if I fulfill the goal of sticking to my budget and of tracking my food for the month, I've resolved to finally pick up a pair!

Bonus motivation: I'm not a very crafty person and have never made a costume, but I really, really want to do my first cosplay as the newest rendition of Lara Croft for Halloween this year. You'll notice that my 6-week Zone timeframe lines up with Halloween... As I work out and prepare my meals, I'll keep her in mind for some kick-@$$ inspiration to stick to my goals!


What are your goals for September?

*Questions on Zone? I'm new to it too, so here's what I know so far:
--I first found out about Zone eating from Claire over at The Ascent Blog. Check out her tips, experiences, and inspiring before/after pics!
--The 2004 article in the CrossFit Journal (issue 21) also has some great insight on Zone eating.
--I also have "Enter the Zone" by Barry Sears in my Amazon wishlist, but I have yet to read it!
(Please note that I am not a doctor, professional nutritionist, etc. Claire's pics are inspiring, but be sure to check with professionals before attempting anything drastic. Feel free to ask questions about my experiences with Zone/Paleo/CrossFit/Whole30, though, and I'll do my best. Just be safe! :) )

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Achievement Unlocked: Below 280 lbs!

Starting Weight (SW): 299 lbs
Week 1 Weight Loss (WL):  7 lbs
Week 2 Weight Loss (WL):  10.4 lbs 
Week 3 Weight Loss (WL):  +4 lbs 
Week 4 Weight Loss (WL):  7.6 lbs
Total Weight Loss (TWL): 21 lbs

One of my milestone goals, self-imposed, was to lose 20 lbs. If I could do that I was confident I could lose 20 more, but I exceeded that. Even if it’s just one pound…it’s one pound I never want back on my body.

In my last post, Human Nature, I talked about the challenges of having a dip or plateau in your weight loss. I ended it with:

“That just means, provided you’re making healthy choices, your body is adjusting to the new direction. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams… DON’T PANIC!”

I am here to tell you that not panicking…was exactly the right thing to do.  I saw myself last week falling into that same Fibonacci spiral pattern of “oh no’s” over 4lbs.

For you math geeks, the Fibonacci spiral is a design is based on the Fibonacci sequence are the numbers in the following integer sequence. By definition, the first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.

There’s several sequences in between the second one and the last, but you get the idea. Four Fraking Pounds caused me to lose sight that I had lost seventeen. Your mind will play tricks on you. Don’t let it.

How does this relate to weight loss?

The problems in your brain begins with this one thought and then another. Those two thoughts join up and create a bigger problem. That problem adds the one before it and goes on. If you allow it to…it will detail you from your goal and all the work you put in.
Here’s the example that I used in the last post.

“Maybe I should juice again.”
“Maybe if I only ate one time a day.”
“Maybe I was never meant to do this to begin with.”

So what did I do to have such a big turn around?

I didn’t give into the spiral of worry, fear, or self-defeat. I kept moving forward with my plan. Eating healthy with a paleo like diet, making sure I keep in my walks, and, while I’ve failed the 30 day ab/arm challenge, I am finding ways to increase my movement from simply taking laps around a hotel while walking around a convention to asking “What can I do to help” when I see people needing help moving things. There’s always a chance to increase your movement even if you can’t get to a gym. Trust me, I’m doing a convention every weekend through October and if I can do it you can.

I wanted to leave you with one last thing that will help you. I have also learned a very valuable lesson that you’ve been told from day one, but sounds cliché as hell. Breakfast is the most important part of your day. The days I eat breakfast my I saw some decrease in my numbers the next day, but, most importantly, my energy and metabolism kicked way up.

If I can do keep up with it…you can do this too!

Friday, August 23, 2013


One of the fitness tips I really struggle to accept is "Focus on one goal at a time." Sure, it makes perfect sense: if we have a limited amount of willpower, focusing on changing one small habit before you move to the next is wise, right? Aye aye, Captain Tightpants!

But no matter how logical this is, I haven't figured out how to do it yet. I want to adopt a cleaner diet. I want to get stronger. I want to get faster. I want to learn all sorts of new things that are outside my comfort zone. And on top of all of that, I also want to help others accomplish similar goals, too.

10-4, good buddy!
Slow down there, Bandit! This isn't a mad dash across state lines in a Trans-Am (sadly). Unfortunately, I've been having trouble prioritizing lately. I'm trying to increase my performance at CrossFit (including working towards my first pull up); I want to add krav maga, kung fu, yoga, and parkour classes back into my schedule; I want to get even a little better at both distance running and sprinting; I want to start attending a CrossFit "box" in addition to working out in my garage; I want to do more outdoor activities; I want to pursue coaching certifications and experiences; I want to continue learning how to autocross like the Stig; I want to learn Morse code, Ham radio, and how to tie sailing knots . . . and there are two jobs to go to, house projects to do, trips to plan, meals to cook, adventures to be had, and oh yeah, eight hours of sleep to catch each night. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, and I can guarantee you that I'm not any closer to 90% of these things now than I was last week. It kind of makes me want to check out and not attempt, well, anything.

Some say he read A Storm of Swords in forty minutes and didn't bat an eye at chapter 51.
I don't have an answer on how to balance all that crazy yet. I'm not even ready to say "_____ is my one priority right now, and I'll move on to ________ after that." (I'd tell you that my one priority is to be less stressed, but figuring out how to de-stress is stressful.) I'll try to work on prioritizing and focusing my scattered goals for next week's post. Hopefully.

Until then, I'd love to engage with the Project Reroll community a little bit and hear your stories. Maybe we can inspire each other! I'm new to PR, so, tell me about yourselves. :)

If you want to share your life story, let's hear it! Otherwise, if you don't have the time to write a memoir, I'd love to hear your answers to a few of the following questions . . . (I swear #4&5 aren't me selfishly looking for new suggestions!)

  1. What brought you here? How did you find Anne's amazing story?
  2. Who aren't you? What are you overcoming? What are you leaving in your past to become the new you?
  3. What's your current goal? Cleaner diet? Paying down debt? Strength training? Planning a trip? All of the above?!
  4. What are some of your favorite, motivating songs when you're running/driving/waking up on Mondays?
  5. What's your (current or all-time) favorite video game or novel?

Here, I'll go first:
  1. I found Anne through her interview on Nerd Fitness. She replied to one of my comments about trying the "Zombies, Run!" app, and was super awesome, so I came over to the blog and started devouring the archives. :)
  2. I really struggle with believing in myself. As I work on that, I'm slowly leaving behind the timid, overly cautious girl in my past and becoming stronger and more confident.
  3. Yes. All of the above, and so much more! I swear I'll pick just one. Maybe. I hope.
  4. Titanium (David Guetta ft. Sia) always gets me to run faster; I just discovered Hall of Fame (The Script ft. from a suggestion on PaleOMG and am digging it; We Own It (2 Chainz ft. Wiz Khalifa) rocked the intro of Fast 6 and makes me want to go out and be a badass. BONUS: They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard!! sort of makes me want to run, too, even though I'm with Gimli on the whole distance running thing.
  5. I'm currently loving my first taste of the Lara Croft empire with Tomb Raider Reborn. I'm told I should try Uncharted, but I have no PS3. (I'll save my immense archive of favorite reading material for later!)
Your turn! Let's hear your stories below. Make it so!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Human Nature

Starting Weight (SW): 299 lbs
Week 1 Weight Loss (WL):  7 lbs
Week 2 Weight Loss (WL):  10.4 lbs 
Week 3 Weight Loss (WL):  +4 lbs
Total Weight Loss (TWL): 13.4 lbs

Sorry for getting this in late. It’s been a challenging morning. Where week two was filled with pride and hope…this week ended feeling like a really good cliffhanger episode of Doctor Who. You know…the one’s where you have to wait six months to see what’s coming next?

Wednesday ended the Juice fast and I was uber conscious not to go full bore eating again. There are at least two options when transitioning after a fast. The first is to slowly incorporate solid food back into your diet. That’s what I did. I started with one meal a day for the first three days and then work your way up to 2-3 meals over the course of a week.

The other option is after you stop juicing all together that you eat only fresh fruits and vegetables for the week after you juice. This gives your body time to adjust and you are eating the same thing you are juicing which means your body isn’t going into shock and can adjust. This is the way I should have gone.

The weight gain of 4 lbs may not seem like much, but when it’s a pound a day and you’re just watching it climb it begins to create fear based illogical reasoning in your head.

“Maybe I should juice again.”
“Maybe if I only ate one time a day.”

And the worst…. “Maybe I was never meant to do this to begin with.”

The problem is, Dear Reader, it’s all bullshit.

You’re going to have a natural bit of weight gain after a juice fast. You just can’t obsess about it…like I was until I started this post.

Seeing the words go onto the post I realized three things that were always there, but my mind did not see.

1) I am eating and living healthier than I have in a long, long time.

2) I am learning every day what will make me healthier in the long run.

And the most important…

3) I have a great support system of people who want to see me succeed. Even to remind me when I’m being neurotic about a few pounds. Adding on those few pounds…I’m still at one of the lowest weights I have been in years.

I’ll leave you with this. Shit is going to happen. Likely the number on the scale will go up a little or stay the same for a few days. That just means, provided you’re making healthy choices, your body is adjusting to the new direction. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams… DON’T PANIC!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Stir Friday

Hi all!

I must admit, I wasn't sure how to start off here. Do I share my woe-is-me tales of an unathletic childhood? Maybe dive in with a long, long list of goals, hopes, dreams? Talk about how the pursuit of fitness has completely changed my life?

I'm sure I'll get to all of those things, because even though I'm pretty introverted in general, I'm a "talkative" writer, and I like to share things and connect with people. But today, before I launch into some epic tale of slow progress and hesitant adventures, I gotta just say: Wow, is everyone's summer as busy as mine is right now??

I graduated in May and am currently negotiating the uncertain waters of post-grad employment. By year four of my undergraduate studies, I decided I was no longer really interested in my major, but with one year left, I decided not to start from scratch. So, here I am, like many recent graduates: greeting the familiar "What now?" question.

This week, I started an office job that I do really enjoy. It will hopefully turn into a permanent opportunity, but I won't find out for a few months. That uncertainty, combined with a nice long daily battle through traffic and construction and a payroll delay that's making my bank account resemble freshman year, have made this a pretty stressful week. Not to mention the piles of laundry, housework and to-do lists that are multiplying in my house...!

My point is, sometimes it's tough to keep it all together. I try to eat around 80% paleo "ish" (peanut butter with no additives and greek yogurt are both on my "approved" list), but this week has slipped a bit. I also had to work late at my second job on the night I would normally have gone for a run. I caved to cravings and got a pastry from the cafe at work yesterday. Little things add up, but the only thing you can do is move forward and make a better choice next time.

Though the week hasn't been completely in-line with my dietary goals, I did manage to include a few healthy dinners to make up for less-than-satisfactory days. On Tuesday night after our CrossFit workout in the garage, my boyfriend and I made a recipe we found on (an amazing collection of Paleo and Whole30 recipes, if you're interested!). This one was "Apple Lime Chicken Stir Fry" from a blog called "Delightful Taste Buds," and it's painfully easy and completely delicious! For those of you following any paleo/primal/gluten-free/etc eating, it should be right in there (sorry, vegetarians). No grain, no dairy -- just meat, veggies, apples, and spices! And delicious diced garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. (Sorry, vampires.)

Though I didn't cook growing up, in the past year I've started to experiment, and I've gotten to the point that recipes are much-needed guidelines, but maybe not strict rules. As it was already 7pm and we were tired from the workout, we elected not to do the make-your-own-applesauce portion of the recipe, and instead used all-natural store-bought applesauce (no added sugars or high fructose corn syrup, I checked!). I also winged it on the spices. It came out pretty well!

I am not a foodie or a chef, and I'm certainly not a food blogger, either. I took a few photos to document the process, but go ahead and give the recipe a shot if you like, and let me know what you think!

My heroes!


(Don't worry, that plate is 3-4 servings. I shared!)

How have the dice fallen for all of you this week? Any quick, healthy recipe suggestions or fun, active weekend plans?


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meet Our New Friday Guest Blogger: Simone

Greetings from London, Slayers! Anne here! I just wanted to drop a line quickly and let you all know I'll be on a brief hiatus until after the 30th. I'm on vacation and while I WANT to write, I also know I should be focusing on enjoying this once in a life time chance to explore instead of worrying about when I'll be able to get wifi access again and post my blog. Please don't think I love you all any less! I am very excited to post when I can over the next few weeks and give you the "skinny" on my exercise adventures in England! I'll definitely be taking a run around Chelsea tomorrow morning so that should be exciting! I'm also going to the Harry Potter Studio tour in the afternoon and I am pretty much DYING of excitment already. 

BUT, my dears! You shan't be without entertainment. You'll still have posts from Michael on Mondays and he is doing an AMAZING job with his juice fast. The guy is nearly down 20 lbs since he started blogging here and his progress is mindblowing. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

I'd also like to use today's post to introduce you to Simone, our new guest blogger for Fridays! She's a Kung-Fu and Crossfit badass with the desire to get stronger. Her tale is so different from mine or Michael's and there is so much we can learn from each other! I could go on, but I'm going to let you hear about it from the horse's mouth!

Tell me a little bit about who you are and what you do.

My name is Simone, and like Anne and Michael, I’m a huge nerd, too. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was three years old, and I love good sci-fi and fantasy. I grew up without a gaming console (I know!) but dived in about two years ago with Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, and I am currently loving my first taste of the Lara Croft world with Tomb Raider Reborn. The theme here is that for my entire life, I’ve loved adventuring from the safety of my home – but I’ve always been too afraid to get out there and try to be an adventurer myself. I don’t even have an arrow to the knee as an excuse!

When did you decide you needed to make a change in your health and fitness level and was there a specific moment where it clicked and you actually committed to doing it? 

I actually have a different story than many, and I’m a little guilty about it: I’m not on a weightloss journey, exactly. I’m a healthy weight. But for the majority of my life thus far, I have never been athletic, never strong; never particularly physically capable at, well, anything. I picked dandelions on the soccer field and spitefully walked my entire mile in gym class (still managing to turn bright red from the effort).

Because I’m in a healthy weight range, I’ve always felt like I should be perfectly happy with my body – like it was selfish of me to envy the strength and confidence of fit people when my own body was “fine.” My lack of talent at sports as a kid had convinced me that I just wasn’t cut out for physical activity. Oh well, right?

I’m the kind of person who overanalyzes and overthinks everything, so I haven’t really had a “moment” yet because I still don’t fully believe in myself. But I’ve had some major turning points in my life, such as joining a kung fu studio at 16, finding Nerd Fitness a year ago and learning about paleo and healthy habits, and starting CrossFit. I’m still too afraid to admit to myself that I might actually be able to be strong and capable – so for now I’m letting my progress kind of sneak up on me.

If you gave up or didn't make it a priority in the past, why do you think that was?

Like many people, I’m afraid of failing. I get bursts of enthusiasm where I vow to do X workout and eat Y food EVERY DAY, and then I burn out and let it slip away. I’m a pro at rationalizing all the “I can’t” excuses in the book! Keeping a positive and realistic attitude is definitely something I’ve been working on for a long time.

What are your goals and how do you plan to accomplish them? 

I have so many goals, they’ll have to be in a separate post. Things like deadlifting twice my body weight, running a mile in under 8:30, and throwing a punch that would actually be effective are all on my long, long list. In short, I’d like to be a leaner, stronger, and more confident version of my current self!

As a recent graduate, I’m transitioning to a new job and uncertain future right now, so life is chaotic. For now, I do CrossFit twice a week and I just started adding two nights of running with the “Zombies, Run!” app that Anne recommended. I also plan on adding some extra stretching and will be targeting a few of my other goals in the near future as my schedule settles down. I’ll keep you posted!

There are so many options when it comes to diet and fitness. Why are you choosing this particular path?

I’m terrible at working out on my own. I really love the camaraderie and community of my kung fu studio and among my friends in my garage – it helps me to push myself and keeps me coming back each day. Running is more of a struggle for me, but having exciting radio transmissions of zombies shambling along behind me is definitely helping!

Even though I can still hardly believe that I am, in fact, becoming an athletic person, my own experience in the past year has been so heartening overall that I’m beginning to consider pursuing health and fitness as a career somehow. There are still a lot of things that I’m struggling with, but my life has improved drastically even with small changes, and I want to show other people that if this introverted bookworm can pick 200lbs up off the ground, they can, too!

What made you want to guest post about your journey on PR?

I loved Anne’s story on Nerd Fitness. I’m pretty sure nerds and fitness are my favorite combination! I think it will help me to have an outlet to share my struggles and successes – and even more, I hope that it helps other people who may be facing the same doubts and experiences. We’re all in this together!

A Good Man Goes to War

Week 1 Weight Loss (WL): 10.4 lbs
Week 1 & 2 Total Weight Loss (TWL): 14.4 lbs

Hey Dear Readers. First, let me apologize for getting this late. I stepped on the scale today and literally had to repeat the process SIX times before I believed the results.

Second, let me say the following message before you read any further.

I am not a doctor nor am I a scientist (but man do I wish I was Bruce Banner or Tony Stark). The things I try for my weight loss are things I personally research for what I think might work for me or that I’m crazy enough to try it. So, please, if you choose to follow a juice diet or get wrapped, please look into it yourself. Be as skeptical as I was and then try it with an open mind.

On with today’s post:

So last Monday I started my 10 day juice fast. If you’re not familiar with it, juice fasting is a type of fasting and detox diet in which a person consumes only fruit and vegetable juices. I was inspired to start it after watching a documentary called “Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead”, which you can see on Netflix. After doing some research I had tried one a while ago, lost some weight, and subsequently ended up back to the svelte weight of 299 lbs. Which inspired this big change that included blogging with Project ReRoll.

The first three days of your juice fast, let me be honest here, are going to suck big balls. You’re going to be tired, grump, and really want to quit, but that is the sugar and crap leaving your system. You are seriously detoxing your body of coffee, soda, and the crap you usually eat the same way a drug addict has to detox a chemical from theirs. So you’re body rejects that with feeling crappy and your desire to return to that bad habit get stronger.

Thus why this post is named for one of my top 10 Doctor Who episodes, “A Good Man Goes to War”, because your will is going to war with your brain and your body. The latter both just want to go back to the normal that made you what you are.

If you want to change…you can’t let them win. You must be the Doctor to their Daleks, the Gandalf to their Balrog, the Mario to their Bowser….you get the idea. And if you don’t there are some very nice TV shows, movies, and games a geek friend can introduce you to.

What I usually make is called Mean Green which comes directly from the documentary I mentioned above. You will need a juicer, but here’s the recipe.

Mean Green

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Serving: 1-2 Size: 16oz. (500 mls) (I double up so I can have some for a full day and a half)


  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 apples
  • 6-8 leaves kale
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp ginger


  1. Wash all produce well
  2. Peel the lemon, optional
  3. Juice
  4. Pour over ice if you like.
  5. Enjoy! 

If you've ever had orange juice with pulp before the texture can be similar depending on your juicer. It looks green and at first your brain says “No, sir.” Yet, it’s actually kind of good.

I also make a breakfast drink which is orange and pineapple and a snack that is strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry. I got the recipes from juice bars and stores I've seen in New York. If you’re in the New York area, I am jealous of you.

Now let’s talk about the hard part…Temptation. I intentionally did not avoid normal life. Matter of fact I found ways to adapt to it. Avoiding normal life while trying to get healthy would suck, but letting myself down, and you, as well as learning how to adapt to maintain the weight loss was more important to me.
Here’s how I overcame it.

Friday I went out to the mall with my best friend, Sean, and his son, Tristan. Whenever I smelled food and I wanted to have something to nibble…I bought a bottle of water. Within half a bottle my desire to eat was gone. When Sean and his son would stop to eat, I had a bottle of water. Water does this amazing thing of filling your stomach. Negative side effect….you pee…A LOT!

Saturday I went to my sister Heather’s baby shower. Which meant I dropped my wife, Kelly, off and the guys took Dan, the awesome dad to be, and went to Dave & Busters. The guys belly up’d to the bar and I…had a glass of orange juice and a glass of water. Did it suck to smell the wings, burgers, and all the things I would normally gorge myself on? Yup. You know what sucked more? Watching that scale go up instead of down before August 1st.

That night Kelly and I went to see The Wolverine. She had popcorn and water….while I had water. And you know what? It didn't ruin anything about the experience.

Sunday I went for a 2.4 mile walk and talk with my good friend Ann. After we stopped at Starbucks, where she had tea and I had…you guessed it…water.

Before and after each I had a pre-made, by me, juice so I had nutrients in my system.

One thing I also did was tried the “It Works” wraps from my sister-in-law, Shannon, and her company Wrap with Waffediyok. After I posted that picture there was a lot of dispute in the comments about the “science” of it and so on. All I can tell you is I saw 4.25” come off my midsection and have keep about 2” off since. It, for me, was a great motivator to see change. As a onetime deal I did not expect it to provide long term solutions, but it was the boost in self value I needed to get me over the hurdle. I've had a few friends try it based off the post I made and one friend saw 4” herself from the wrap. There is a 90 plan they offer that I have seen people have results from, but I would recommend talking to Shannon if you have ANY questions. Any… and I mean any, because I’m a n00b with that stuff and asking me is going to get you “um…here’s Shannon” as a response.

So as of this post I’m on day nine of the juice fast and, folks, I have to tell you I haven’t felt better in a long time.

After I’ve gone through the 10 days, I feel clean. I don’t crave food and honestly I don’t miss it. I’m going to enjoy having a burger from a non-fast food place, but I don’t think I’ll go back to having a burger every day. I will enjoy a slice of pizza, but I don’t want to go back to ordering a whole pie for just Kelly and myself.
More importantly, I’m more aware than ever of what goes into my body and how it affects not only my body as a whole, but my mood and brain as well.

So, dear reader, I leave you with this one simple bit of motivation that I’ll expand on in my next post.
I started this blog series at 299 lbs. and here is the reason I had to step on and off the scale several times.

If I can do it…so can you!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

10 Steps of Preparing Your Next Cosplay Project

With Syfy's new show Heroes of Cosplay on the horizon, I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with costuming and what I think goes into creating a successful project and an enjoyable experience for the creator. For some people (like the ones on this upcoming reality show), cosplay is more than a hobby. It's a way of life.

I'm not to that point quite yet, but I've put together 10 basic steps that I can apply to any costuming project in order to ensure it's as rewarding, challenging, and educational as possible. 

  1. Love it. If you don't love your project, you are WASTING YOUR TIME. You will spend a lot of time and money working on it. You will make mistakes and problems will arise that you never expected. In order to push through it, you have to love the character and the process so much that it overshadows the more stressful aspects of the experience. 
  2. Do a lot of photo research before you begin. Before you settle on a project, make sure you research the character from all angles and put together a bunch of pictures. Get close-ups of the material/armor details whenever possible. All of this will help you begin to put together how you'll have to construct the piece and you'll know pretty quickly whether you have the skills to pull it off. 
  3. Draw up your design and think about every single element before you get started. After you spend time doing research, draw up your own design for each of the separate pieces that make up your costume and make a list of materials you'll need. You can also start putting together the steps it will take to construct the costume. Having this determined ahead of time can save you from a lot of headaches later on.
  4. Make sure you have access to all of your materials before beginning. I don't like to start constructing the costume until I have ALL of the elements. It would stink to start and then realize halfway through that you still need worbla and have it out of stock or take too long to get to you to make it to the event. Organization is the key to success.
  5. Leave enough time. Once you know when the event is, make sure you have enough time to pull off your costume. More than likely you have a job, or school, or some other aspect of life to plan around. You don't want to let your costuming overshadow your other commitments and you certainly don't want to have to rush the process. You're putting your time, energy, and money into this venture. Make sure you can make the most of it or it's not worth it.
  6. Don't do "halfway cosplay." Maybe I sound stuck-up, but there's nothing sadder than seeing someone with badly constructed cardboard armor held together by duct tape. Obviously, you should do what makes you happy first and foremost, but I can't imagine that those people see themselves in pictures afterwards and think, "Nailed it." If you're going to do something, go all the way! If you can't afford to go all the way on a particular project, then I suggest scaling it back to something more manageable. Personally, I want to feel like I did the absolute best I could every time. The artistry of cosplay is in the execution, the polish, and the details. Anything less than that just seems like a waste to me. I don't mean that you have to do a full set of chain mail every time. I just mean that you should pick a costume that uses materials you can make look good. Again, I might be alone in that opinion so feel free to disagree in the comments. I just know how I feel about it!
  7. Make sure it's something that will make you feel confident. If you are self conscious about showing your belly, don't wear a costume that forces you to do that. If your friends want to do a group costume project and you don't feel like you can pull it off and have a good time, chat with them about trying something else or get them to help you you brainstorm ideas to adjust the costume design without destroying the recognizable silhouette of the character. At the end of the day you want to be standing tall and proud (or short and proud in my case!). Personally, I try to pick something appropriate to my stature and body-type but it all comes down to your preference. You're putting a ton of time into this. Make sure it's something that's going to make you feel like a million bucks when you finally get to debut it.
  8. Make sure you have the necessary skills to pull it off. If you don't know how to make armor, don't start out with an N7 suit from Mass Effect. If you don't know how to sew, don't start with a ball gown. My rule of thumb is that every costume has one element that I've never done before and the rest are skills I already have. That way I can minimize any mistakes in the execution and therefor I can avoid wasting time and money I don't have to lose. When you make a challenging, but attainable goal, you get to learn something and continue to grow as a cosplayer without setting your sites so high that you fall short and give up in frustration. 
  9. Choose an appropriate venue for the costume. BronyCon is a kid friendly event. I definitely would not have gone with a super sexpot character design for that particular convention whereas donning a corset and thigh high boots for my Sindel costume for Halloween was totally fine with me. It all comes down to what you're comfortable with but it is something to think about. I also think you can make yourself stand out if you wear the right costume at the right venue. There weren't a lot of MLP cosplayers at PAX East, so my boyfriend and I really stood out from the pack there and got a lot of attention, whereas we were just more ponies at BronyCon. My Appa costume was hot on the heals of the release of the first season of The Legend of Korra so it was a big hit because the show was experiencing a renaissance in fandom at the time. These are all good things to keep in mind when it comes to making the most of your costume. 
  10. Make a budget. This is so important. It's so easy to get into the middle of a project and find that you've spent hundreds of dollars. Be clear during the design process about how much money you have to allot to the project and figure out whether it's feasible to create your costume for that amount. For instance, I just looked at my bank account and even though I want to do a Xena costume really badly, I realized I couldn't possibly pull off paying for the armor materials or the leather/pleather and rivets it will take to make the dress. I will definitely be making that costume at some point in the future but when I sat down with my budget and my time line, I realized very quickly that it was a pipe dream at this particular point in time. Do not get yourself into a financial hole! Pick a costume that you can pull off for the right amount of money and you'll be much happier in the long run. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BronyCon: Adventures in Love, Tolerance, and Community

Hey everypony! I just got back from a long weekend at BronyCon in Baltimare. Above, you'll see a picture of my new pony OC, Lyric Wit. Overall it was a great weekend despite the organization of the actual con leaving a lot to be desired. Even though the programming was a little wonky and there was a lot of confusion between the staff about what was going on when it came to clearing rooms, cancelations, or rescheduling panels, I witnessed a lot of great moments; from bursting spontaneously into songs from the show in huge groups of people, to seeing fans express their love and creativity through original videos, music, and artwork, and even a very moving support group for people who were in the fandom because they really needed the positive messages and lessons that the show espouses. I even participated in a physical training session with some military Bronies. Yes, that's a thing and they are out their in larger numbers than you would ever expect.

My biggest reason for attending is my love of the show. The other reason was the documentary, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Male Fans of My Little Pony.

My boyfriend and I watched it and completely fell in love with the way the fan community was presented in the film. We had a chance to attend the convention and we wanted to experience it for ourselves, plus it gave us another chance to wear our Rainbow Dash and Soarin cosplays that we debuted at PAX East.

I will say that there was more social awkwardness at this convention than any that I've ever attended in my life. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I'm making an observation. For almost everypony I talked to, it was their first convention ever. I heard some really sad stories from people! A 21 year old college kid told me he asked his friends to come with him and even though they watched the show and enjoyed it a bit AND his dad offered to pay for their trip, they wouldn't go with him. In talking to him I noticed he was a bit shy and awkward, but he was just a sweet person and I couldn't help but feel bad for him and hope that he made some better friends over the weekend. 

Unlike at PAX, when Brandon and I would separate, people did not approach me for conversations or photos. They gave me a wide birth. The only two times somepony did approach me, it went down really bizarrely. The first time was after a really sweet proposal during night one of Bronypalooza. Brandon ran up to the stage to try to get some photos and then this guy next to me leaned over and patted me on the back and said, "You're next. I got a feeling. Don't you worry!" He meant well, but it was a very strange interchange! 

The other time was in the cosplay lounge while I was fixing Brandon's wig. A guy dressed as Octavia came over and started preaching about how we need to be even more tolerant and loving as a community. Then he tried to hand out some cards for his bronyrock friend. I politely said that we only needed one since we were together. His response was, "Will I ever win?" Before thinking I said, "No." ...And then immediately backpedaled and said, "Not with me I mean! But one day! One day you will!" It was just weird because he was hitting on me while I was clearly with someone else. Ugh, I guess that was my Rainbow Dash insensitivity coming out. I... yeah. There were lots of weird moments when interaction did occur. 

As a girl, I was definitely in the minority. I'm not saying their weren't other girls there, but guys tended to travel in big packs and be in constant conversation with each other, showing off their new plushies of their favorite characters or picking out what panels to go to next.

When we asked how other people were reacting to the way the convention was run, they often didn't seem to notice the same issues that we had or they were willing to overlook them because of what attending the con meant to them. Perchance they weren't trying to attend as many panels. Perhaps they didn't have anything to measure the issues against because it was their first con. I have a sneaking suspicion that their experience was overshadowed by the relief of being able to hang out with other dudes who loved the show and network friendships/support groups with them.

I live in New York. Being "different" is the norm. I certainly take some flak from my friends about liking MLP: FiM, but they're pretty accepting because at the end of the day, we're all nerds! Some of these other con-goers are completely isolated in their fandom and that has got to be so hard. I have a group of friends and a boyfriend who love the same things I do and don't judge me too harshly if I introduce a new interest to the list. It's easy to forget that for a lot of these people, this is a very isolated event where they can come out of their shells and feel completely confident in who they are as men.

I've already written about the power of building community and finding your fellowship when it comes to achieving your goals and finding support through life's challenges, but this weekend really reminded me that there are people for whom that very idea is a challenge in itself. Because of it's themes of tolerance, love, and acceptance, these fans open their arms and hearts to anyone. There was a huge cross section of people. Obviously there were kids and their parents, groups of guys from 18-30 (and some even older!), but then there was a huge number who were "on the spectrum" (I met at least two who labeled themselves as having Aspergers), and there were a great many transgender fans milling about as well. It was great to see everyone feeling so comfortable in their skins as they moved through the halls despite how diverse the attendees were. It made me happy to see that all of those groups could get along and have a great time together. One guy at the support group panel told us he had Aspergers and said that although he was having a good time and found it easier to come out of his shell at BronyCon, he did feel like he was an arm's length away from everyone. After the panel a group of five strangers approached him and invited him to lunch with them. I don't know that I would have seen that happen at any other convention. Another guy told us about how he had met a girl at the con and had bucked up enough nerve to ask her out to dinner on Sunday night. "Go get her!" I shouted over the crowd at the panel. "Baby, he's gonna win!" Brandon exclaimed beside me. We didn't know him and yeah, it did seem like maybe this guy was doing that nerdy thing we all do, aka pretending not to put too much pressure on a new dating situation, but we couldn't help but HOPE that he was gonna get out there and make it work! I genuinely wanted the best for this complete stranger and I think that's what sets this con apart from others; the inherent heart.

Mostly this con reminded me how lucky I am that I do have friends in fitness AND in fandom. I hope I never take that for granted because they're the ones who get me through all the challenges this journey has thrown at me. Where do you go for support? Who do you look to for a helping hoof? Tell us about it in the comments!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Out Of The Frying-Pan Into The Fire

Week 1 Weight Loss (WL): 4 lbs

So I’m four days into my 31 day challenge and, since there is a sense of geek culture about Project Reroll, I am reminded of when I first started playing D&D. You get the basics of how to play the game to you, you’re a Level 1 N00b (insert your own class here) playing with people who’ve been doing this a while, and everyone is excited that you’re there. You think to yourself “I’ve played games before…how hard can this be?” And then…the adventure starts.

Like anyone starting out something challenging, the first steps are extremely challenging. Day one was a sense of false hope. I was positive, drinking juice for breakfast and lunch to prepare my body, walking 3 miles that day, and eating a sensible meal. Everyone was excited for me to go on this journey and I received tons of praise.

Day two I was still doing really well. Had the remainder of the juice I made (if you do it right…the juice you make one day can last you a solid day and a half), got some exercise in, was feeling really good, and then I met my first Boss of my adventure…the dreaded Level 20 Convention Weekend.

See here’s the funny thing about working at conventions and someone trying to lose weight. It’s like battling a monster that you’re just not prepared for. The environment you are in was not made for people who are trying to be healthy about their choices. There’s overcooked hamburgers/hot dogs, soggy fries, $2 bottles of water that really cost $5 for a pack of 24, and all the alcohol you can get your hands on.

It’s a test of Will Power (I failed a few times in some of the food choices I made) and a reminder that this is not a game. I was still able to get some exercise in, my Saturday night primarily consisted of water and early to bed, and I did lose a few pounds, but I’m not happy with the outcome because I was just a Level 1 N00b who fought a Level 20 Convention and got away with a few wins, but a lot more loses.

So, Fellow Adventurer, here’s some tips that I will be using next time I got to a convention. Maybe these will help you.
  1. Pre-pack some healthy snacks.  Not all conventions have access to places have healthy choices on location so it’s best to prepare ahead of time.
  2.'s not just for Hobbits. Most of the hotels you stay at during a convention offer a continental it. Make good choices, but do not forget the most important meal of the day. Trust me you'll feel it later if you forget.
  3. Drink Water...lots of water. Water will help stave off some craving if you’re drinking enough. Also, it’s healthier for you than a soda, energy drink, and so on.
  4. If you feel like you want have a drink with friends…have Rum. Captain Jack was right… rum can be good for you. A Beer, per 12 oz service, can range from 64 to 330 calories depending on the brand. Rum, Whiskey, or Scotch is 64 calories for 80 Proof and 80 calories for 100 Proof per serving.
  5. Don’t forget to exercise. Because I’m often promoting something at a convention I don’t get many chances to take long walks around the floor. Even if it’s something like a large Comic Con, you need to remember that walking the floor does not replace your exercise. It enhances it.
  6. Get rest. Yes it’s fun to stay up late and burn the midnight oil, but you pay for it the next day. Your body needs time to recover and sleep can be the best thing for it.
So we enter Week 2 of my Project Reroll 31 day challenge today and I’m already starting off better than Week 1. W00t. I feel like I leveled up.

Monday began the start of a 10 day juice fast.  If you’ve never heard of a juice fast, I highly recommend you check out the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” on Netflix, Xbox, or where ever you stream your content from.

Until next week.

Mike Dougherty

Thursday, August 1, 2013

10 Things Animal Crossing Teaches Us About Living Healthy

It's no secret that the world has been playing a lot of Animal Crossing lately. When I get a street pass from someone, 9/10 times that's what they've been playing. I basically had to pay an attunement fee to socialize with my friends because I couldn't understand what all the fuss about perfect cherries was and that trips to "the island" weren't about Jack and Kate having to go back (WE HAVE TO GO BACK, KATE!). 

There was only one problem. Once I picked up my pink 3DS XL and founded the town of Olympus, I couldn't STOP PLAYING THIS ADDICTIVE GAME. 

For the life of me, I couldn't understand what was so damn appealing that I wanted to sign in and water flowers every day on my subway ride to work. I feared Tom Nook breaking my kneecaps if I didn't pay my housing loans promptly. I found myself yelling at visiting friends to stop running on my grass and killing it. YOU KIDS STAY OFF OF MY LAWN! Apparently a mixture of environmental responsibility and a palpable fear of a raccoon mobster "coming to collect" is super addictive. After spending about three hours that should have been allotted to working out and cooking food for the week ahead on planting flowers in a circle around my town square, customizing a Rainbow Dash themed home gym in my house's basement, and completing sundry tasks for a social climbing pink dog named Cookie instead, I realized I had better come up with some reason why this game is a good influence or surely I would suffer all the guilt ever for wasting so much time on a video game. It was actually kind of weird because as I thought intently about how the structure of the game relates to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, it wasn't all that hard to draw some positive comparisons. 

Here are 10 things that Animal Crossing teaches us about living healthy.

  1. You cultivate your town at your own speed, but things go wrong if you do absolutely nothing. In order to enjoy the game, you don't have to progress quickly, but logging in and spending a little time daily keeps your town looking nice and helps you pay off parts of your public works projects and home loan. If you don't log in at all, for one day, it probably won't make a huge difference, but if you go a long time without paying any attention to your town, your fruit trees will rot, your flowers will die and you'll find yourself having to retrace your steps.  The same can be said of weight loss. If you skip a day of working out or have one bad meal, it's not the end of the world, but if you let yourself slump away from good habits for a long time, you can lose the progress you've made. 
  2. With a little effort each day you can keep things the same. With just about half an hour of playtime, you can organize your house, water your plants, dig up your daily fossils, and check in with your residents to keep things copacetic. Things might not move forward at an alarming rate, but at least you're maintaining your progress. When it comes to weight loss, if you're plugging away at it for a year or more, sometimes it's nice to go into this mode for a week or so to give yourself a mental and physical break. You workout routine might drop to three times a week for half an hour and you could allow yourself a few treats throughout the week. If you're careful and don't let it become a lazy bingefest, you can totally maintain your weight with just a little bit effort. 
  3. With a lot of effort each day, you can make progress. If you sink a few hours into your game  beyond general maintenance by farming bugs, going scuba diving, making trips to the island, and chatting with your residents throughout the day, you can really make some strides in your town. You can finish projects, pay your bills, make custom plantings, and design fun outfits that visitors and your townspeople can purchase. Similarly, putting in the time with your health to read articles online and learn more about the process can help you make better and more interesting choices. Putting in more time at the gym doing the right things can take you from squatting on the elliptical for 30-45 minutes of Xena episodes, just going through the motions each day, to running a 10k and making new personal records. Sure, you start small, but if you put in the time,  effort, and the willpower each day, you can achieve great things.
  4. At some point each day, there's not much more you can do. There are limiting factors. Like construction. Unless you just want to farm bugs all day or fish, there's a point at which it might be better to accept what you accomplished and put the 3DS down. Construction happens overnight so if you're waiting to decorate your new housing renovation or to celebrate the construction of a new town fountain, you HAVE TO WAIT. If you continue to play, you're just going through the motions of the same mini games over and over. It's unnecessary and you're wasting your time and doing the rest of your life a disservice. When it comes to your health, if you've already done an hour of cardio and you're desperate for results, adding on another one may actually be more of a detriment. You could injure yourself. If you've already done your eating for the day and you're harping on yourself for going over your allotted calories, just stop! It's already done. Punishing yourself more isn't going to change it. Just "turn off the game" and get back in the swing of things tomorrow. 
  5. Each town is unique to each mayor. They can build it around their interests or needs. One of the fun things about Animal Crossing is that every town is unique. You decide what the layout will be. You decide where to plan trees or build projects. You have unique townspeople that might have their own wishes they want fulfilled. I might put my fountain by townhall and someone else might find it more appealing to put it between a bunch of houses. With health, you have to do what's right for you. Everyone's journey is going to be different because everyone is different. Some people might move quickly and others might progress more slowly. Some people might like Weight Watchers while another finds success with Paleo. If you do your research and stick with a plan long enough to see results, I don't really think it matters what it is as long as you aren't starving yourself or overworking yourself at the gym. 
  6. Everyone's town is different but features a lot of the same elements. There's a common language with similar but unique results depending on how you build your personal town. If you like fairy tale bridges, then you can make them, but someone else might prefer suspension bridges. At the end of the day, both of you are getting from one side of the river to the other on a similar structure. Both mayors have houses, but I might go for an "astro" aesthetic while someone else might go for a mermaid themed wall around their house. It's all cosmetic but it's built using the same tools. Just because someone is doing a juice fast to jumpstart their weight loss and you're on Nutrisystem doesn't mean you can't talk shop about health and give each other support. You might be going about it different ways, but talking with other people who are trying to accomplish similar things can get you the support your need to keep going when it gets tough and also teach you a lot. 
  7. The more you improve, the more options you have. More shops get built on main street over time, new neighbors move in, and you get invited to a special island by the former mayor! You build more bridges over time and get more mobility to travel around your town. You can eventually help build a night club and a a second floor of your museum, not to mention a barber shop where you can get a makeover to suit your mood! All of this happens gradually over time, but every time you make an improvement, it opens up a whole new set of options for your to pursue. This aspect of the game makes me think a lot about the process of getting fit. When I first started going to the gym, it was a hassle just to get myself moving for long enough to raise my heart rate and burn off some calories. Once I got passed that phase, I started looking into more structured workouts like HIIT or body circuits. Then when I felt I'd lost enough weight to avoid injury, I started training to run long distance. After I'd lost about a hundred pounds, I got to try wall climbing. Every stepping stone brought me more mobility,and more ability to do and try new things. It doesn't happen overnight. Take it in steps.
  8. There are infinite ways to progress. I might be better at fishing and more focused on building my own personal house. A friend might be more focused on paying for public works projects. Others might be obsessed with touring on the tropical island and getting medals to buy unique items for their home. I might love visiting other towns and inviting friends into mine, but another player might never want to take advantage of that aspect of the game. It's completely up to you. Similarly, I might love Paleo and think it's the bees knees, but I have other friends who love Atkins. I like running, but I have other friends who are all about crossfit and if they never had to run over 3 miles again, they'd be happy. All of us are making progress, we just have different priorities, and that's cool! It's going to result in unique "towns," or bodies (hehe!), and it should because we're all unique people. 
  9. The game is designed to be pleasant. There's something serene about arranging furniture and harvesting fruit. Sure you're just completing chores, but this is a world where you don't have to fight some great evil to feel like you've accomplished something. It's a liveable world. The same thing can be said of successful health plans. You have to be able to live with them daily and sustain them over time in order to achieve lasting results. If you're driving yourself into the ground trying to be a perfectionist, you're going to fall off the wagon at some point. 
  10. Every day is different. There's always something new to learn, experience, or build on. Animal Crossing is designed with 365 days of unique content! That is bananas to me. Every day builds on the last and stores get renovated, you make your own improvements, and special events birthdays, and holidays occur. The combinations of events are endless! I think its important to approach your own life like that. Yesterday is gone! What can you do today? What's unique to this day and this season that you can take advantage of? Who's in town? What new things can your learn and how can you challenge yourself in a way that you didn't before? You can build on each little experience to create some pretty cool results when you piece your progress together  the fabric of a healthy lifestyle over time.

Now to get off my butt and go to the gym. No, not the pixelated one in my fake basement. The actual one.

BUT WHEN I GET BACK HOME... I'm going scuba diving off the coast of Olympus to hunt for new species of fish!