“W” is for Weekly Words of Wisdom

Hello peeps! We’re back on schedule. YAY!

When I started this blog I intended to post regularly but quickly learned that life would get in the way so I decided that I would at least make an effort to write a digest post every week and so was Sunday Summary born, a weekly post that most times serves as a weekly digest and sometimes allows me to highlight something important that happened or that I learned during that week.

Whichever the case I like to end the week on a high note and always share a quote, book passage, or some motivational words that I hope you’ll like and that usually become my mantra for the following week.

Since the start of this blog (March 2014), I’ve written 52 Sunday Summaries and therefore shared 52 weekly words of wisdom. I can’t really share them all but here’s a sample.

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Happy Motivation Monday. 🙂

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Sunday Summary: Catching Up

Hello peeps! Long time, no see.

You know, sometimes you fall off the wagon and other times, upon falling, you decide to take a nap and miss the next wagon that comes along. THAT’S EXACTLY HOW THIS WEEK WENT FOR ME.

I haven’t tracked my food all week, I barely exercised at all, and I completely dropped the ball on the A to Z Challenge.

However, I am not giving up. I am too close to the end. Here’s me playing catch up:

IMG_4468“S” is for Social Media which I love a little too much. In terms of my journey SM has been of great help (post here). I share pictures and progress reports with friends and family who in turn encourage me to continue and keep me accountable. You can find me posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram, and from time to time on Twitter. Go ahead, stalk me (no creeps please). Is there some other place I need to be on?

IMG_4469“T” is for Television which I watch way too much of. Thanks to the magic of time shifting I can binge watch my favorite shows when I have time. My current five unmissable TV shows are HBO’s VICE to stay up to date and Game of Thrones (no explanation needed), BBC One’s Call the Midwife (the good old times sucked! but these women are awesome), Canal+ Borgia (so juicy), and BBC America’s Orphan Black (best sci-fi ever).  Any TV soulmates out there? 

IMG_4470“U” is for Unprepared which is what I was this week for what took over my life. I’m not really ready to share what I am working on but I do recognize that I need to work on my scheduling if I want to keep this blogging thing going. Also, I realize that this blog really does ground me so I promise to do better moving forward. Any recommendations on how to get better organized when there’s too much coming at once?

IMG_4471“V” is for Virtual – one of the reasons I do love doing this challenge is for the blogs I discover. Here are my favorite virtual places to visit:

– Katie Paul at Head Heart Health Best find ever! Katie, I love the way you write and your take on life. I want to be you when I grow up.

– The beautiful lady at Chocolate Makes it Better –  She writes about depression and other issues I share too and makes it better with chocolate. Love at first bite. Although, like me she fell off the wagon regarding the challenge, I do invite you to visit her blog.

– Parul (?) at Happiness and Food writes about… well, happiness and food but took the A to Z Challenge to focus on women issues and has done a fantastic job. I am behind on my reading but I know you will love it and best of all learn something new.

– Another beautiful lady, this time at Failed Experiments & Experimental Failings is another great lifestyle blog with a lot of sass. Just how I like them.

– Eva (?) at Eva Marasca self-identifies as an introvert just like I recently discovered that I have become myself (post here). Her musings are at times funny and others serious but always insightful.

I hope you take the time to visit them (or have already if you’re on the challenge). You won’t regret it. Thank you ladies for inspiring me.

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OK peeps! It's time to finish strong. Four days left, four letters left. Normally I would share Weekly Words of Wisdom along with my Sunday Summary but I'll be doing that tomorrow so come back for "W" is for Weekly Words of Wisdom. Best way to start the week. XOXO

“R” is for Restaurants

RI don’t know you peeps but in my experience there is just no way to lose weight if I constantly eat out. There is just no way. And I love eating out and therefore I have had to learn to make smart decisions when I eat out and plan ahead in order to not terribly disturb my weight loss journey.

So… let’s talk about restaurants. I love them 😆 and what’s not to love: yummy food, no prep, no cooking, no clean-up. It’s awesome. The main problem with eating out is that we have very little control on how it is prepared and therefore a simple meal of 600 calories at home may easily turn into a 2000-calorie monstrosity at your favorite food joint. What’s a girl (or guy) on a diet to do?

Toni’s Restaurant Tips

TIP #1 Check the menu before you go – Most restaurants share their meals’ nutritional value on their website. Check it before you head out so you have a better idea what are your best choices. There are also apps that can help you make smarter choices at the dinner table. I usually check my copy of Eat This, Not That! or the website. In any case, the trick is to be prepared before you set foot in the restaurant.

TIP #2 Plan out your week – I usually know how many times I’ll be eating out during the week so if it’s only one day I may allow myself to splurge and have a “cheat-meal” with no regrets but if I know that I will be eating out three or more days the next week then I make sure that I choose healthier options with plenty of greens and sauces and/or dressings on the side.

TIP #3 Check your alcohol and/or skip dessert – The biggest change I made to my lifestyle was limiting my alcohol consumption. I barely have any anymore unless I’m out with friends and preferably if I know I will be dancing and therefore burning it off. I also rarely have dessert and if I do I try to share it.

Do you plan your eating out adventures? Got any tips?

“Q” is for Questions

QEver wonder if you are doing life wrong? I am currently in a transitional state, not quite clear about what will be next; a sort of mid-life crisis. As I await for some projects to take form I wonder if I am on the right track or making the biggest mistake of my life. The problem is that there is really no way to know. As Steve Jobs famously said…

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

I recently came across this article, 30 Thought-Provoking Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every Day. I invite you try to answer them for yourself as I take on each question:

1. Who am I really? I am a woman, a daughter, a relative, a friend. I am curious, skeptical, intelligent, knowledgable. I am single, adventurous, adaptable, and always searching. An eternal teacher and student. An investigator and a writer.

2. What worries me most about the future? That we will not learn from our mistakes and therefore we are bound to repeat them.

3. If this were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? Probably not. I would fly back to Venezuela and spend that day with my family and childhood friends.

4. What am I really scared of? Never establishing roots.

5. Am I holding on to something I need to let go of? I hope not. I try not to hold on to things that are out of my control or in the past.

6. If not now, then when? If only it were that easy. If possible, now… always now.

7. What matters most in my life? That I am happy and have no regrets, and that I can somewhat contribute to the happiness of people around me.

8. What am I doing about the things that matter most in my life? Unfortunately I have to accept that regardless of what I do I cannot make everyone happy, but I can make myself happy. I’m learning.

9. What do I matter? In the great scale of things not that much but being here is awesome so I’ll try to make the best of it for myself and those around me.

10. Have I done anything lately worth remembering? Nothing earth-shattering I believe. I can’t answer this now. Years from now… who knows what will be worth remembering.

11. Have I made someone smile today? I did… and laugh out loud too. Mission accomplished. 😀

12. What have I given up on? Having children of my own.

13. When did I last push the boundaries of my comfort zone? In general I push the boundaries quite often but mostly to accommodate others not myself. My comfort zone is very roomy though.

14. If I had to instill one piece of advice in a newborn baby’s mind, what advice would I give? Don’t doubt yourself… let others do it but if you must err in the assessment of your own capabilities, let it be on the side of overconfidence but accompany this overconfidence with a thirst for knowledge.

15. What small act of kindness was I once shown that I will never forget? There have been many… from friends giving me long rides to someone saving me 25 cents at the supermarket.

16. How shall I live, knowing I will die? Fully.

17. What do I need to change about myself? My self-doubt.

18. Is it more important to love or be loved? To love.

19. How many of my friends would I trust with my life? Mmmmm… about 10 who are carefully located in different parts of the world. 😆

20. Who has had the greatest impact on my life? My mother.

21. Would I break the law to save a loved one? Absolutely.

22. Would I steal to feed a starving child? Yes.

23. What do I want most in life? To be happy.

24. What is life calling of me? To make a move.

25. Which is worse: failing or never trying? Never trying.

26. If I try to fail, and succeed, which have I done? Succeeded.

27. What’s the one thing I’d like others to remember about me at the end of my life? That I was there when they needed me and that I made them laugh.

28. Does it really matter what others think about me? Not more than what I think about myself.

29. To what degree have I actually controlled the course my life has taken? At times I’ve been in full control but lately I’ve been on autopilot for too long.

30. When it’s all said and done, will I have said more than I’ve done? Sheesh! I hope not.

I am not sure that I will be asking myself these question every day but perhaps every few months would probably make a good exercise. How did you do?

“P” is for Progress

PHello peeps! Last year, I wrote about being stuck in a plateau. At the time I wrote about lack of progress but now I know better and have learned not to measure my progress in terms of pounds. I’ve learned that not losing weight and being stuck in a plateau does not mean I am not making progress.

I have learned that progress happens in many ways. On my weight loss journey, I’ve discovered these awesome things called non-scale victories (or NSV) that many times are much more fulfilling than seeing the number on the scale change.

Here are my top FIVE progress moments (all NSV):

  1. Taste Change – Mornings when I crave a smoothie and mealtimes when I crave a hearty salad.
  2. Dropping Sizes – Reducing inches is way more rewarding. Sometimes the weight won’t change but I can feel my body changing in amazing ways.
  3. Perfecting Form – That moment I saw myself in the gym mirror and realized that my squat looked amazing.
  4. Reaching New Heights – The sound of Nike+ saying “your goal is in sight” 😀 Crossing the finish line of a 5K run, and realizing I should increase the weights I’m lifting.
  5. Feeling Great – Just having more energy to work hard and play harder. I am still caught off guard from time to time doing something I couldn’t or wouldn’t do before.

So, whatever you are up to peeps don’t get lost in only looking at the final destination but take time to celebrate all the little bits that make it happen; in other words, enjoy the journey.

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“O” is for Omnivore

OBeing an omnivore, an animal that eats food of both plant and animal origin, is probably the cause of a lot of our problems; certainly a source of one of mine. Being able to eat pretty much anything has expanded our taste buds and driven us to exploit too much of our natural habitat. And it wasn’t enough to eat varied locally but we’ve moved things around and disturbed natural habitats to create a food system that can meet (with detrimental effects) our ever-demanding taste buds. It’s our dilemma as Michael Pollan puts it.

I read this book many years ago. It was an assigned reading in an Environmental Communication class I took one summer. In this class and following Pollan’s lead, each of us tried to follow the production chain of a particular food. I remember I did soy milk from a particular brand and since then have sworn the whole thing off. I was baffled by how difficult it was in the US to really know where our food came from and/or how it had been produced. Since then I try to have more control over my food at home but when eating out (and even sometimes at home) I tend to throw the rule book out. Bad choice.

If Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma seems too long, I recommend that you check out his Food Rules book. Very short and to the point. Here’s the main lesson you’ll find in all his books and a great piece of advice for all of us omnivores:

Eat-Food-GraphicNow, when it comes to meat I have gone vegan and/or vegetarian a few times and when I go back to meat it is rarely red. If I eat red meat it is usually grass fed. I gave up seafood for humanitarian reasons and now it looks like fish is off the table too. You can read the article that convinced me here but I’ll summarize the top reasons: we’re overfishing and depleting our marine wildlife, fish can live for quite a while (upwards of 80 years) so we could be eating really old fish, and finally, most fish eat other fish which brings me to this highlighted point:

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So… I don’t know what most people are up to but this omnivore is going to finish the chicken and fish leftovers that are in my fridge and I’m heading back to vegetarianism, well, let’s say mostly vegetarianism. Seafood is definitely off the menu but I may partake in free-range chicken and/or grass-fed red meat every now and then.

Oh, sushi… I already miss you so much.

“N” is for Now

NAt the start of the A to Z Challenge, I posted “B” is for Before where I wrote about where I was before I began my weight loss journey. Here’s where I am now:

Now I am no longer pre-diabetic. Although my cholesterol levels continue to rise above normal every now and then, it’s not as alarming and I now know that I can keep it under control by eating well and exercising regularly. I don’t have to depends on the meds anymore. I am not depressed. I still have some moments of not feeling too well but overall I can say that I am happy and again looking forward to and excited for new things to come.

Weight-wise I am not where I want to be but much closer. I am now (as of this morning) at 172 lbs. My trip to Washington DC didn’t do as much damage as I thought. Since the beginning of my journey (20 months ago) I have reached a net loss of 53.4 lbs. I would love to lose 50 more.

This is now:

  1. BMI > 30 – I’m obese, but not super-obese, and that small change has added years to my life.
  2. I’m happier
  3. I sleep around 6-8 hours every night and according to fitbit my sleep is 94% effective.
  4. I workout in average 8-10 hours a week. My lowest week has been 5 hours, my best week, 13.
  5. My diet is much more varied with lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains. I’ve fallen in love again with cooking and enjoy making healthy meals.

This is now:

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I no longer feel insecure about taking pictures… well, I do… a little… but not so much anymore. Overall, I feel happier with whom I am but I realize that it’s not so much because I lost weight. Weight loss has been a side effect of my treating myself better. In fact, I haven’t lost much weight in the last year and yet it’s been a much happier year than I had had in a long time. Perhaps with less academic and professional achievements but with greater life ones.

I wanted to end with something snappy but Jessica Kane from Life and Style of Jessica recently put it in better words:

“Eff the critics babygirl, and eff anyone else’s version of beauty if it forces you to deny embracing moments like these..live your life NOW.”