New Years Resolutions with Athleta

Happy February! I'm sorry about the long absences in between posts lately, but I've been really busy at other goals lately. I'm excited to bring some of those goals into the blog this week! I'm declaring this "fit" week on Selective Potential. ;) Since most of us "resolutioners" have died off by now, I'm hoping to inspire you to stick with any goals you had set for yourself. Remember why you started. Today, I'm going to share my running routine and some of my tips in collaboration with Athleta. I also have a fun inspiration post and giveaway from Sweaty Wisdom, a post on my new cooking/eating healthy habits and my favorite workout playlist. I hope you guys enjoy!

As many of you know that follow me on Twitter and Instagram, I've been a running machine lately! Running all began for me when I lost 35 pounds five years ago. Back then, I was a die-hard elliptical machine lover. I thought it was doing wonders for me until I suffered a severe pinched nerve. I could barely walk for weeks, and had to slowly get back into working out. I tried the elliptical again, but my leg continued to hurt. So I started walking around the track. I felt like I was doing nothing, and was so bummed. But eventually walking led to speed walking and that led to jogging and running. I ran my first 5K almost five years ago, and it was a huge and exciting moment for me! I'd never go back to the elliptical machine. Plus, running has such an amazing support group of people and a social aspect to it that I love.

This year, one of my big new year's resolutions was to run a 10K. What!? I know. My first thought was… let's do a 5K. But once I got to the gym and started running, I realized how easy 1 mile felt to me. And I thought doing a 5K wouldn't be enough of a challenge. So I officially signed up and paid for a 10K race in May. That gave me 16 weeks to be able to run 6.2 miles. Um… I've never ran that far before in my life. Unfortunately my first week in, I suffered a shin splint. I know it was overuse, and "too much, too soon". So I took a (sad) week off, and started off slow again. I joined a free 10K training program on RunKeeper. That is my favorite app ever. I'm constantly looking at it on my phone… just feeling so proud of myself. You can track your runs through the app, sign up for training schedules, set "goals" for yourself. I love the goals part! If any of you have a RunKeeper account, be sure to add me as a friend!

As for my shin splint, I took several measures to help correct the issue. I purchased a stretching app (lolo Performance Stretching) and follow the "Running Warm Up" routine every time before I run. I tape my shin using KT Tape. And after every run, I ice my shin with an ice pack. Also, if it started really hurting while running, I would stop immediately. One helpful stretch I'm showing above in the photo... I sit against the wall and do 20 toe taps in a row. I'm so thankful my shin is now healed and feeling back to normal… and I'm running up to 4 miles! I couldn't be more excited.

For workout style, I like tighter fitting pants. I tried a pair of baggier workout pants early in the year, and I felt so uncomfortable and sloppy at the gym. Honestly, these relay tights are the best pants I've ever worked out in. I feel comfortable in them, and they are super form fitting. I also love the long tanks and tees - ones that almost cover my butt. That way when I'm doing my crazy stretches, I'm not worried about my shirt riding up at the gym. Also for gals with bangs, I'd totally recommend a little headband to keep your hair out of your face. I always wear this when I'm running. Also! Be sure to change your shoes every 400-600 miles. I think that was a large reason why I suffered a shin splint was because of my old running shoes. My new shoes have made my shins super happy!

Disclosure: Athleta provided me with apparel in exchange to participate in the Athleta Fit Style Challenge.


Diet Recap + Albion Giveaway!

As promised, I will be doing a recap of my health/fitness goals from the new year. The first couple of months are always the hardest to get into a routine. I feel like if you can get through January and February, you'll make it through. Maybe that's just me, but I do better once I get used to a schedule. My goal was 5 pounds a month for 4 months, to lose a total of 20 pounds. I started January 1st, and we're in the middle of March and I'm down 8 pounds! Not at the exact goal I set for myself, but definitely on my way. February was a super challenging month with traveling, Valentine's Day and other winter woes. Honestly winter is the hardest time to lose weight. You just want warm, comfort food! But my clothes are fitting a little better and I'm feeling more active, happier and in control. I'm excited to keep going!

To be honest, I was a little disappointed in January while doing WW. Four years ago, when I lost 35 pounds, it was like... if I followed the points, I lost at least 2 pounds a week. That was that. This time, I'd follow the points and I'd gain 2 pounds. It was so discouraging at first. After doing a bit of research online, I found out a lot of women were struggling with the new WW plan. So I had to take down my daily points, and could not touch my extra weekly or activity points. It went from feeling like I was eating a ton each day to basically nothing. That wasn't the case, but it just felt like such a drastic change. But I got into a new routine and felt fine after a few weeks of eating less. As for food these past few months, for breakfast I'll usually do a yogurt or fiber bar. Lunch is pretty much always a salad. I've honestly fallen in love with salads over the past few months and now I crave them. Ha! I also eat a lot of soups. For dinner, I try to cook whole-wheat pasta dishes, stir-fry veggies, veggie tacos and grilled or baked chicken. When dining out, my favorites have been veggie pizzas, thai chicken lettuce wraps and whole wheat mariana spaghetti. For sweet tooths, I always keep fruit around, along with WW fudge bars and frozen yogurts. That's not to say I don't indulge in some of my favorite foods once in a while, but this is what I tend to stick to on my "good" days.

As for my exercise routine, it's really basic. I'm doing the same routine I did when I lost 35 pounds. I try to run 3 times a week, and hop around to a few of the different machines at the gym and do two reps of 15. I do an ab, upper arm, and inner thigh machine. My routine usually takes about 30 minutes at the gym. I can run 2 miles in about 20 minutes, and then my machines only take about 10-15 minutes. I love having a gym membership, but now that it's getting nicer I'm excited to run outdoors a bit. I just crank some music and run! I just received a couple of new workout pieces from Albion Fit and I loved wearing them to the gym! My favorite part about this top is how long it is and didn't ride up at all. I felt so comfortable sweatin' it out at the gym tonight.

Albion Fit is doing an amazing giveaway for Selective Potential readers! They are offering one of you a $100 gift card to their shop. Both my pants and top are from Albion Fit and their materials are so breathable and flexible. Just head over to their website and leave a comment with what you'd get with your gift card!

A new diet story

I've been going through all of my survey answers this week and taking tons of notes, so thank you to everyone who filled that out. One of the biggest requests I received was to post more about my diet/exercise routine. If you're a new reader to Selective Potential, I lost 35 pounds almost four years ago. It was my 2009 new year's resolution to finally lose the weight I always wanted to lose... and I did it! I accomplished my goal by following Weight Watchers and training for a 5k. You can read more about that story here; today's story is a bit different.

I stayed at my lowest weight for about four months or so when I lost my 35 pounds. Then, I eventually gained some back (it happens) and stayed right about 10 pounds above my goal for the past three years. But, I was content. It was never enough to inspire me to go back on WW and lose it. That was until I got to the 20-pound mark this past year. Obviously, it's been an insanely hard year for me, as many of you know. I turned to one of my good, old friends - food. And something new for me - drinking and going out more often. Plus, when you start to date someone... you gain love weight. I'm serious, it's real! You go for ice-cream, try new restaurants together, grab drinks with friends, order pizza in, order Thai in, make popcorn every night,  hit up a late night diner, the list goes on.

But after this rough past year, I'm ready to move on and get back on track. I've said this to girls before who have asked me, "How do you get your inspiration or motivation to lose? I will stick with it for a week and then give up." Honestly, something in you has to snap. You honestly have to get a little pissed, which I am. I think about anyone who's ever called me "fat" or said I couldn't do something or be somebody. It's such a huge motivation. We'll show them, right? I know a lot of you are interested in my process, so I'm going to start doing a monthly recap post on my experience talking about my personal diet and exercise routine.

To start off the first post, I'm going to share everything I did before I got started. Honestly, it helps so much to plan and prepare for a huge commitment like this. I've warned others before... this isn't for everyone. And I'm a firm believer that beauty is 100% on the inside. BUT, I know what it's like to feel uncomfortable in your body and your clothes and it's the worst feeling. To be clear, I'm doing Weight Watchers again. I loved my experience on it the first time, and the only reason I gained was because I dropped off the program completely for three years. But honestly, it took three years for it to come back on and I basically ate what I wanted all that time. That's why following a real lifestyle change is so important. I tried a 7-day diet last October, lost almost 10 pounds in a week and gained it all back as soon as I went back to eating normal. Not worth it! It's normal and healthy to lose 1-2 pounds per week and it'll stay off longer!

Here is my pre-diet routine:

  • Pick a lifestyle plan that suites you. I personally signed up for WW online. It's affordable and since I already carry my iPhone around everywhere, it's easy to track points wherever I am. This could be something as easy as "no soda" or "veggies with every meal". Pick what will work best for you!
  • Sign up for a race, fitness classes or plan to do a video with a friend. It helps to have something you look forward to. Plus, it holds you accountable.
  • Make a workout schedule. You can always move it to a different day if plans fall through, but at least you have a plan. I strive to work out 4 times a week. I have my schedule booked through May until my 10k I signed up for!
  • Buy yourself some new workout gear! I made sure I had everything I'd need to feel comfortable and happy at the gym. Even if it's just new socks, or a water bottle.
  • Pack and keep your gym bag handy. To the gym, I bring my earbuds, iPhone, Propel Water Zero, workout pants, top, sports bra, comfy socks, tennis shoes and a hair tie. If you pack the night before, you're more inclined to work out the next day.
  • Make a huge healthy grocery trip run. Buy everything you'll need for breakfast, lunch and dinners for the next week. I also stock up on healthy low-calorie foods in case I'm in panic mode. I love WW's Giant Fudge bars and Jolly Time's popcorn bags. Plus fruit and veggies! You can eat as many of those as you want.
  • Pack your breakfast/lunch the night before. It makes it so much easier to stay on track the next day. If you invest in a cute lunch bag, you may be more inspired to pack!
  • Start a private journal. I use a private online journal to talk about my daily diet successes and struggles. I also did this when I lost my 35 pounds and now I love reading back on how I struggled through it. It gives me motivation that I can do it again. And it shows me mistakes I made and how I overcame them last time.
  • Write yourself sticky notes. In my bedroom and at the office, I have an "every day counts" note. It's a daily reminder that today does matter. The night before I weigh in, I write a "weigh in & good luck!" note and stick it on the mirror. Talk yourself through it!
  • Start a Pinterest board to motivate you. Post exercise routines, diet recipes, pictures of women that inspire you, wishlist items, you name it. One glimpse at it, and you'll be inspired again. I just started mine!
  • Create a motivational playlist! I am constantly adding songs that pump me up and motivate me to my Spotify playlist. That way when I get to the gym, I start it on the first song and keep movin!
  • Eat your favorite meal the night before you start your diet. Eric and I went to Olive Garden and I splurged on breadsticks, salad and chicken alfredo. :)

Good luck to all of you on your own personal journey! Feel free to shoot me an email anytime with questions - I'm happy to help in any way that I can! I'll post again at the beginning of February with my results, successes and struggles from January!

Q&A: Diet talk

Honestly, I've been putting this post off for a while. I get hundreds of emails and questions on my weight loss story. The reason I've put it off for so long is because - I don't want this to become a diet or fitness blog. It's not my goal and honestly it's not something I'm crazily passionate about - but I know it means a lot to many of you. My weight loss story is my highest viewed post of all time. Between the emails and the questions - I know a lot of you are struggling and are so curious of my success story, so I wanted to share more details. I hope this helps inspire you again in the new year. To be clear, this blog post is my personal story and my personal advice. I'm not saying diets work for everybody and I'm definitely not telling women to diet to feel and look better about themselves. I was beautiful before I lost my weight and I'm beautiful now - just like all of you are. Please remember that!

Q: In the start of your weight loss journey, how did you get inspired? Did you put up photos or quotes on the wall?

A: Absolutely! I printed out photos of myself I wasn't happy with and posted them on the fridge. I also stuck with my "every day counts" motto - writing it on sticky notes, in my planner, on a digital sticky note on my computer desktop. I had to constantly remind myself that every little day really did matter. It's so easy to say, "Oh, I'll start my diet again tomorrow." The future is now... it's now or never.

Three years ago, I was not comfortable in my body. I'm not by any means saying I was "fat"; I just felt uncomfortable. I would constantly walk around with my hands covering my belly or sitting with my arms crossed to cover most of my body. I never liked having my photo taken and if I had to have a picture taken, I was posing in whatever way possible to cover myself up. I knew I wanted to do something about it!

Q: Did you ever get to the point where you considered not eating to lose the weight?

A: Absolutely not. I would never consider not eating to lose the weight. It's terribly unhealthy and will only lead to health issues and possibly anorexia or bulimia. I knew I wanted to lose the weight in the healthiest way possible so that it would stay off and I would feel great about what I did to my body - instead of feeling guilty about how I may have harmed myself. Sticking to my healthy diet, exercising regularly helped me get to my goal weight and that is the only way I recommend losing weight.

I was constantly wrapping up in towels during summer, when my favorite thing ever is to be in the water! We live in the Great Lakes State with amazing sandy beaches and fresh water - to go boating and swimming! And I was stuck.. wrapped in a towel. It wasn't a fun experience for me to hold back on so many things I loved doing because I wasn't comfortable with my body.

Q: How did you start working out?

A: I started very foolishly. I went from being sedentary (to not exercising at all) to exercising too much in the beginning. I purchased a gym membership and hopped right onto the elliptical machine at an hour for 4-5x per week. I didn't feel like it was harming my body by doing too much, but within a short amount of time, I suffered a pinched nerve in my leg and could barely walk after that - let alone exercise. I would say ease into working out. Start small - increase your time each week. Cardio was my best way to lose weight. With trying to heal a pinched nerve, I walked the track and eventually starting jogging. I signed up for a 5K, trained for my goal and accomplished it. Start small, go big!

It took me from January 1st to August 1st to lose my ideal goal of 30 pounds. That's an average of 3.33 pounds per month. That is really not much. I took it very slow, which I would absolutely recommend. I felt amazing after losing 20 pounds. The last 10 were the cherry on top of my low-fat cupcake! An average per week of weight loss is 1-2 pounds. Of course, I gained a lot of weeks. I also maintained a lot of weeks. One month I did great - losing 10 pounds. Another month I struggled - losing 2 pounds. It's okay to take your time. Once I did finally get to my goal weight, I was a new person. I was happy, I wore whatever I wanted, I'd whip off my towel and dive into Lake Michigan, I was on top of my world. The time and the struggle was worth it. Plus, I did it the healthy way... and now 2 years later, I'm still eating healthy and maintaining my goal weight.

My most asked question:

Q: How do you stay with the diet even when you are discouraged? Most days I just don't have the energy to "deal with it".

A: I know it's hard, but it's like something inside of you needs to snap. You need to want it more than anything - otherwise it will be pushed to the back burner and eventually forgotten. In order to accomplish things sometimes, you need to be obsessed. And trust me, I was obsessed. I would pop 100-calorie popcorn bags and stuff them into my purse before going to see a movie at the theater. I would spend hours at the grocery store calculating my points with my little calculator. I made a weekly menu and posted it on the fridge. I tracked my points everywhere. I wrote myself sticky notes and posted them everywhere. I was literally obsessed for a really long time - but it just meant I was really passionate about this. It has to become a huge part of your life - especially if you LOVE food like I do!

Q: Do you think I could lose weight without exercising?

A: It all depends. I will say that you should exercise no matter what. I know that it's hard though, especially with the busy lives we all lead. To lose 30 pounds, I would say yes.. it's a given you are going to need to exercise. To lose 5 pounds, I would say it's not vital. I'm currently in the process of losing 10 pounds I gained back and I do not have time to exercise right now. But I always take the stairs at work. During lunch, I try to get outside and go for a walk to pick up my lunch. At home, I try to keep busy cleaning and staying active. Every little bit helps. If you can't run a mile at night or don't have time for a video work-out, think of the small things.

Q: How did Brett feel about your diet? Were you nervous that he might not like your "makeover"?

I was never nervous that Brett might not like the way I looked after I lost my weight. Brett loved me at my heaviest and he loved me at my thinnest - exactly the same. The important thing to Brett is that I'm happy and I'm comfortable and healthy. He was my biggest support system during my struggle with weight loss. He'd sacrifice pizza nights for Subway nights. He waited patiently as I scrambled through the grocery store trying to figure out healthy meals. He suffered through some terrible meals as I was trying to learn how to cook low-cal. He dealt with my insanely late nights at the gym after class. He loves me now, he loved me then and he'll always love me. It's the only thing that matters.

I hope I answered some of your questions! You are always welcome to email me and ask me any questions. If you are struggling and need advice, let me know. I know what it's like to go through this process. If you missed my first dieting post, you can head here to view the "overall" story and to get some resources to help you with dieting. Good luck, everyone!

New Year's Dieting Post

My email has been flooded with emails from girls asking me how I lost my weight and if I could give tips and how I did it and many more questions. In this post, I'm going to try to cover everything for all of you! And in celebration of being on Weight Watcher's for 1 year, I wanted to do a post where I share my success with you all. I thought I'd put together some forms, export my dining out guide and write up a daily example for anyone out there struggling with their weight or who has dieting at the top of their new year's resolutions. It was mine in 2009 and I'm so very proud to say I accomplished my goal (and lost more on top of that!)

My personal experience: A brief history is.. I was always a bit heavier. In high school, I averaged 135 pounds, size 4 jeans, which is a comfortable weight but never ideal for what I truly wanted for myself. When Brett and I were planning the wedding and I was stressed with school, I went up in my 140's. Then, after we were married, I was having a meltdown because I couldn't afford college and I was stuck in a full-time job I was super unhappy at. We moved into a town I thought I'd escaped forever and I was just really unhappy and got up into the high 150's. I think one point I even hit 160. I tried in 2008 to do Weight Watchers. I lost 15 pounds before giving up and going back to old habits of fast food, being stressed and having no self control. After we moved to Grand Rapids, I was in my low 150's. Felt awful in the summer, could never find a bathing suit I loved and instead of swimming in Lake Michigan (my favorite) I was on the beach wrapped in a towel.

In 2009, I made another new year's resolution to lose the weight. I hated paying the money for a gym membership, but I did it, and on New Year's Eve, I started. We went to dinner with friends at Applebee's and I ordered off the Weight Watcher's menu and I stuck to it. I started doing the elliptical machine at the YMCA four times a week at about 30 minutes each period. Then I'd run around to a few different weight machines attempting to tone my arms, my legs, and my belly. I stuck it out.. and by the end of January, I lost 10 pounds to bring me down to 140. I felt so much better after just 10 pounds. In February, I got a pinched nerve in my calf. I could barely walk. Brett had to help me down stairs after a movie one night because I couldn't move. I limped everywhere. I cried my eyes out... honestly. I was like, I'm being punished. I don't deserve to be thin. But I never cried over a bowl of ice-cream or binged on my favorite comfort food. I cried over the sink, I sobbed into my low-calorie chicken noodle soup. The doctor said I could slowly get back into working out, but said I was doing too much too fast. So I tried the elliptical again and my leg got worse and worse. So I went into the gym and walked around the track. It felt like I wasn't exercising, like I was wasting my time, but it made my leg feel better. After a few times, I started doing more laps, walking faster. My leg started to finally feel better in March and I decided to sign up for our 5K. Never having done a 5K before, I was so excited and so nervous. I started running around the track, increasing laps each week, until I hit April and I could run 3 miles. 3 miles. Me? I know... it's crazy.

By the time I ran my race, I finished in good time, crossed the finish line and felt like a brand new person. I had lost 25 pounds. I was 5 pounds away from my goal and I've never felt more on top of the world. After the race, I stopped running so much, but never gave up on my diet. Finally, on my birthday, July 29, I was down 30 pounds to 120. My goal. My 23rd birthday gift to myself was a brand new body. And with losing weight, I didn't just lose weight. I seriously became a different person entirely. I was happier, funnier, a better wife to Brett even. I felt confident and I bought new clothes and I cried when I looked into the mirror at myself. Losing that weight was honestly the best experience and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. I swear the more you struggle, the more rewarding the whole experience is.

In September, I was down 35 pounds to my very ideal weight, 115, which I plan on staying at for the rest of my life. Well, not when I'm pregnant, obviously, but right after having babies I will go back on Weight Watchers (they even have plans for nursing mothers!) so I plan on staying on this diet for the rest of my life, and that is an amazing feeling. I know... dieting for the rest of your life? How could that be fun? It truly is.. coming from the girl who's favorite food is chicken alfredo from the Olive Garden and chicken tenders from Red Robin. I mean, seriously? The girl who sits on the couch and hates sweating? If I can do it, anybody can do it. It changed my life 100% and I'm in love with who I've become. And it's not just being thin. It was the whole dedication, self control, struggle that got me to where I am. And I'm not saying that being thin is the only way to be, it was just something I really wanted for myself. I have so many friends who aren't the "ideal" weight and aren't dieting either and are completely happy because they are gorgeous and have the self confidence. I think no matter what - self confidence is the sexiest thing you can have.

My biggest advice: Don't give up. It's as simple as that. I had gain weeks when I had counted every bite and thought I did so well. My leg swelled up like a blue balloon and I limped around with mascara stains all over my face, but I kept walking at the gym and sticking to my diet plan. If I had given up even after 5 gains, I would have never made it. If I thought this was going to be a piece of cake and those pounds were just going to "slide off", I would have never made it. And this is also coming from the most impatient girl  ever. This is something you have to work at.. and struggle over.. and have patience with. It doesn't come easy, but if you want to do it, it's worth it in the end.

Need help?: Honestly.. if you need help or have questions or want to ask me whatever, please do. You can email me at tieka@selectivepotential.com and I will try to help you in any way I can! I had Brett's mom to talk to this about and help me through and it was a blessing so it's really nice having someone who is going through it (or went through it) and knows how hard it is. If you're doing this, good luck! And also.. if you're trying to diet, do it the healthy way. It's an average of 2 pounds a week, which I know doesn't sound like a lot.. but trying to do more than that isn't healthy. Eat everyday, be healthy, lose it the way you should and it'll stay off. Fads don't work.

35 Pounds!

So, I've lost 35 pounds. Isn't that insane? Honestly. I still can't believe it when I step on the scale. I still can't believe it when I buy size 2 jeans, (that are now too big for me) and when I buy size small tops. I can't believe it when I have to punch extra holes in my belts, or when Brett complains he's fatter than I am. (WHAT? He's the tiniest little creature alive!) or when I can see my shoulder bones, collar bones, spine. It still amazes me that jeans I couldn't fit into 8 months ago, are giant on me now and I've had to donate so much to Goodwill. I think that's why I'm seriously obsessed with fashion and shopping, it's because I've never been able to wear what I want before.

I haven't been this thin since middle school. Honestly. High school was always squeezing into size 4's, averaging 130's. I just still cannot believe how amazing this is. And I mean, it was hard work. I spent an entire semester, tracking every bite I ate (still have my food diary from last January), spending 9:30-10:30 at night at the YMCA working my ass off, and popping 100-calorie popcorn bags before going to the movies. And it sucked. Honestly, it was the worst. But it was worth every second. Every single second. <3