On Discipline, and Setting My “Onederland” Goal Reward

Setting rewards for hitting a goal – whether that goal is health-related, educational, professional or otherwise – can be a helpful tool in achieving that goal. Rewards can be anything from a quiet, relaxing afternoon at home to yourself, or a pedicure – to a luxury vacation somewhere exotic or a big-ticket item purchase. Anything that’s beyond the norm can qualify, if it’s special to you.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it here on the blog as of yet, but it is rather difficult for me to assign myself rewards for hitting goals. The reasons behind this difficulty are three-fold: 1) ideas for “things to consume” or “experiences to participate in” have to occur organically for me (and I’m horrible at remembering what I want), and building a list from my memory at any given time proves impossible; 2) when I do think of something I want, I tend to go after it immediately without any thought of attaching it as a reward; and 3) I have a history of lacking discipline, and waiting to go after what I want is, well see reason #2…

Important Aside: Let me just say here, I totally get that this qualifies as a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM. If assigning rewards to goals is a hurdle in my life then, well, my life must be pretty awesome! 

Lately I’ve been feeling much more lively about producing content for this blog. I get “good feels” from the videos I post – perhaps it’s the old college filmmaking education I exited from a long time ago coming back to haunt me – and at the moment I’m feeling especially driven to achieve improvements in the quality of these videos. So I find myself spending hours and hours looking for other weight loss bloggers, watching a lot of other YouTubers, researching filming and lighting techniques, and digging through online forums for equipment reviews. And of course along with this there’s the inevitable: “Oh, if I had this (insert equipment here), I could make my indoor shots look better”, etc.

So it occurred to me over the weekend, while I was out at Best Buy perusing the point-and-shoot digital cameras, that instead of just buying one merely because I want it, why not use this as an opportunity to earn something for achieving a goal? And I have a long list of videography-related items that I’ve been adding to my Amazon wishlist recently – why not set some reasonable targets to get those items in my possession? Hallelujah! I just resolved reason #1.

Now to overcome the second two reasons… this is where the challenge really comes in. So I’ve had my eye on this particular digital point and shoot camera for a little bit now. Now that I’m hiking, and heck, just getting out of the HOUSE a lot more, I’m finding using my iPhone to shoot photos and videos to be less-than-ideal for reasons of quality, battery life, and not dropping it in a frickin’ LAKE. So after doing a more than reasonable amount of research, I’ve 99.9% settled on this model from Canon, the PowerShot S120.

canon_nowOn Saturday, when chatting with my boyfriend about camera options, I mentioned that I could use this purchase as a reward for hitting Onederland. Because this camera is kinda pricey, and I’m not earning money at the moment, I think it would make a more-than-adequate reward for the epic achievement of getting under 200 lbs. And I’m SO CLOSE, people! I weighed in this morning at 203.2 lbs. I can TASTE IT, it’s so close! But still a couple weeks away, in all likelihood.

…And then Sunday morning I woke up and got it in my head that I would go to my local camera store and look for an in-person model to handle, and MAYBE if I liked it, go ahead and pick it up to use on another park outing that afternoon. Huh?

This thought clashed with my resolution made JUST THE DAY BEFORE to use it as my Onederland reward! My impatience was busting through. After being confronted by my supportive and reasonable boyfriend about the swift shift, I took the opportunity to reflect on my discipline challenges.

Discipline is one of those important personal tools that I never adequately learned growing up. To be completely frank, my parents were awful at it. I would be scorned for a bad activity and grounded for, like, a week, but then the grounding would be quickly forgotten by later the same day. And when things got hard in school, or in an activity I was pursuing, I was never pushed to overcome.

My therapist and I talked briefly about parental neglect in our sessions, and I never really felt I had an issue with neglect in the form I imagined it to classically take. I was fed and had a roof over my head, and even though there were some darker aspects to my childhood, part of me thought I had it relatively good! But I can now admit that this consistent lack of regulation and positive pressure really did a number on me. It has deeply affected me in the pursuit of my education and career goals, the activities I explore, and my health. My wherewithal is nowhere near where I’d like it. So parents out there, take this to heart: if you can, be at least somewhat consistent with your discipline and help your children push to achieve their goals in a healthy way – it really matters!

But I’ve learned that I DO have a sense of self-discipline, I just need to stretch those muscles, and to cultivate it. Hello, perfect opportunity! So as I drove away from my house yesterday – maybe to the camera store, maybe directly to the park – I made the decision that NOW is the time to focus on discipline with these purchases. The camera will wait until I see that “199.8” (or less!) appear on the digital scale, and not a moment before! And I’m backing that up by posting this here. I’m not completely out of my element here – getting out of the house to exercise when I don’t necessarily want to is one way I’ve been strength-training these self-discipline muscles over this last half-year, so I definitely have a good start. I can’t wait to share all the awesome photos and videos this camera can capture, ONCE I’M UNDER TWO HUNDRED POUNDS!!!



Video: Hiking Fun & Betting My Weight Away!

Greetings! Yesterday I had the opportunity to go hiking again at Saint Edward State Park (you can check out my RunKeeper route here!) and scored some video to “Memorex the moment” – I’ll take any ‘ole opportunity to get some editing practice in! Also, at the recommendation of a new vlogger friend, I finally got around to joining a DietBet! I’ve been a bit interested in the idea for a few weeks now, but her recommendation sealed the deal. Learn more about it by watching the video above.  My game is already started, and it’s only a 4-week game, so it’d be a little silly to join up at this point, but if you’re interested in what DietBetting is all about, take a look at this video. I’ll be sure to give updates on my progress as this game nears its completion.

Thanks for stopping by!

Video: Updates and Excitement Galore – in Glorious HD!

Hi folks! Well, my shoulders are aching from being hunched over my MacBook Pro for the better part of the last two days while both filming and editing my latest vlog. Maybe time to cash in that free massage voucher? Anyways, hopefully you will see a quality boost in this latest video update. I replaced my broken lens (with a minor upgrade), and downloaded a trial copy of Final Cut Pro X to try my hand at. And my hand is loving all those ridiculous, over-the-top titles!

I kinda don’t wanna recap because I really, really, REALLY want y’all to watch it, but if you’re aching to know the deets and can’t catch the video right now, bookmark it, and read my recap below!

Okay, so yesterday I weighed in at 205.6 lbs, or 0.4 lbs down from last week. Not shocking or worrisome, as I’ve been having some PMS-related bloat – and this morning’s casual weigh-in has me already down a pound more. This past week can be summarized by the following two highlights:

  • First, I’ve been feeling really empowered during my workouts. I find myself negotiating with my trainer for a few more minutes of cardio, and am full of positive emotions during and after my workouts.
  • Second, I’ve been flexing my creative muscles more than usual this week by getting back into photography and shooting video on my DSLR.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing online research about videography using a DSLR, and have learned SO MUCH from the following two videos:

The big excitement yesterday – beyond my nearly non-stop video editing and playing with my new lens– was that my boyfriend volunteered me to be interviewed by his cousin, a senior reporter for the nationally-syndicated public radio program, Marketplace, about my use of wearable fitness technology. It was a fun five-minute chat, but unfortunately her piece was so short that she wasn’t able to use my material. Oh well! It’s still an interesting segment, and if you’re so inclined you can check it out here!

Are you geeking out about anything right now as much as I am with videography? Or do you have any suggestions or questions regarding related tech tutorials?

Thanks for reading!

Video: How I Track My Food (My 1st Screencast!)

I was just about to eat “second dinner” last night and started to plan my meal using my 20/20 Lifestyles meal tracker, but then I thought maybe it would be a good opportunity to show how I use my tracker for guidance just as much as I use it for accountability. So I fired up Quicktime Player on my Macbook Pro and started a new screen recording (I didn’t know it had this built-in functionality, did you?) – a super-sweet feature! If you’re so inclined, go have a look!

Do you use a food tracker? If so, which one, and how/why do you use it?


I Was Never Much of a Drinker…

Just Say No During Weight Loss

“Beer Sampler” by Quinn Dombrowski, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / added graphic and text

A fun fact about me: I’m not that into alcohol. I never acquired a taste for beer, much to my partner’s chagrin – he’s super into craft beer and even home brews! Nor wine, alas, so no wine tasting trips in our future. The hard stuff is like battery acid to me, but if you dress it up with a bunch of colored sugary water and a slice of fruit (certain cocktails for instance), I’ll occasionally be provoked to imbibe. A particular favorite was the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise‘s rendition of a Singapore Sling. Or the “Hot Mess” Martini made up at some hotel bar in Bellingham, WA (it proved worthy of its name). YUMMY! And I’m a cheap date ‘cuz, contrary to my size, I get TORE UP pretty easily (and amusingly).

So when I signed up for the 20/20 Lifestyles weight loss program and heard that one of the rules was NO ALCOHOL for the entire length of the program, it didn’t really phase me. No drinking that stuff I hardly like? NO PROBLEM! But when I was explaining the assortment of rules to my partner, he scoffed upon hearing the no alcohol bit. He postulated that even if he was morbidly obese he wouldn’t be able to partake in the program due to his undying love of the result of the process of saccharification of starch and fermentation of the resulting sugar (thanks, Wikipedia).

Many would see this admonishment of alcohol as a simple issue of calories in/calories out. Most of us are aware that alcoholic beverages have a lot of empty calories (and if you’re not, go have a look at this handy alcohol calorie calculator), and empty calories !=good calories, so we should simply cut them out like we would soda pop. But what I learned at the first 20/20 Lifestyles seminar (a roughly 2.5-hr lecture given by the director of the program) about why alcohol consumption during weight loss is detrimental to the process was fascinating and I had never heard about it before. And I’ve been thinking: well if I hadn’t heard about it, maybe some of my new online friends (you lushes!) could benefit from this information as well. Hence, this post!

I’m going to link to some sources below, but the main thrust is this:

When you drink alcohol, your body goes on high alert because it senses a toxic substance and focuses on getting rid of it, pronto. It shuts down its normal fat burning metabolic processes and switches to trying to metabolize the alcohol instead.

So if you spend a few hours at the gym and then unwind with a cold brew afterwards with some friends, maybe skipping the chili fries and having a salad instead, you’re actually halting the process that would lead to the weight loss you were going for in the first place with all that exercise effort and healthy eating choices!!! To add further insult, it takes the results of that metabolic process and turns the byproduct into fatty acids. Fun! And it takes more time than you would think for that desired fat burning process to fire back up again. I can’t find a solid online reference as of posting time, but if I remember correctly (it’s also mentioned here) it’s something on the order of DAYS for the deleterious effects on your metabolism processes to subside.

As a side note, for those who take a balanced approach to their food (vs. those who use restriction dieting), many enjoy knowing they’re feeding their bodies the proper nutrient-rich foods in order to have their body systems functioning as well as they can. But when you throw alcohol into the equation (aka against your intestinal walls), it can prevent the body from absorbing the very nutrients you’re putting so much thought into getting. This is more an issue for people who drink alcohol excessively, but still something to point out if you’re carefully monitoring the amount of, say, Vitamin A you’re getting.

Here are some links that illustrate and explain (in a vast array from easy-to-read to ultra-scientific-speak) the science behind the metabolism of alcohol and the deleterious effects on weight loss.






So, have fun partying this weekend. Lol! Just kidding!

In all seriousness: to me, the negative effects on the metabolism make it super-easy to abstain, and I likely won’t treat myself to a sugary alcoholic drink while I’m actively working to lose weight. But how about you?

Now that you know the effect, do you think your alcohol consumption will change in light of your weight loss goals? And I’m also curious: Was this something that you had heard of before, or is it as fascinatingly-new to you as it was to me?


Let’s Talk About Food, Shall We?

A lot of this blog is about posting results, sharing my successes and fitness ventures, and delving a little into emotional issues that surround weight loss. But it appears I’ve been remiss in not sharing information about the kinds of foods I find myself eating as I make my way along. All the experts seem to say that weight loss is made (mostly) in the kitchen, not in the gym, so it’s an important part of my journey. Let’s talk a little about what I eat!

First things first, no nutritional program works for every individual. We all have different needs, issues, trigger foods, and exclusions (health- or ethics-centered) and what has worked for me may not work for you. That out of the way, I have to admit: I cannot believe some of the stuff that I get to eat! In all my life, “dieting” has been about restriction – about not getting the kinds of foods I thought I “enjoyed” – Mexican food, ice cream, pizza. Dieting would be a period of time I needed to take a break from my normal fare and eat “the healthy stuff” to lose weight, with no real plan for what happens afterward.

The reality with weight loss is that, while one CAN trudge through a restrictive diet like the one I mentioned above, it doesn’t set you up for lasting weight loss. People who spend a year eating from a place of restriction (if they can make it that long) are likely to spend the next putting as much junk in their trunk as they can manage. It’s not our fault we do that – it’s how our bodies work. It’s called a survival instinct!

So how does one “win” in this reality? Well, it involves learning to eat all over again. And in my case, I think lasting success is going to require me being able to partake in those enjoyable foods in a balanced way. I’ll make some examples below, but let’s get down to the nitty gritty.





  • 20/20 Whole Wheat Chicken Vegetable Pizza (490 cals)
  • 20/20 Grilled Chicken with Pesto Zucchini (350 cals)
  • Chipotle Burrito Bowl (615 cals)
  • Panera Half-sandwich, half turkey chili (or half salad), with apple


I could go on and on with dinners – that’s where I explore the most with recipes. I like to take pictures of my food, occasionally, so below is a gallery of the types of foods I’ll eat from day to day.

Sure, my dietary intake is not perfect – I could always add more fresh vegetables, for example (it’s a goal I’m working towards) – but it’s light years beyond the kind of food I was eating before. Well over 50% of what I eat is made at home, and that is revolutionary for me. I am forever indebted to those denizens of the internet who post healthy recipes online. I don’t feel very creative in the kitchen, and finding yummy recipes that I can emulate has been key in my success.

As for the nuts and bolts, I average between 1000 and 1400 calories per day (sometimes more, rarely less), and try to hit a macronutrient makeup of 35% protein, 25% fats, and 40% carbs. I weigh and measure everything I can, and track everything as closely as I can. And if I have a craving that doesn’t go away after a day or two, I allow myself to indulge (I’m looking at you, Five Guys!) and move on with the regularly scheduled programming.

The biggest takeaway: I still get to enjoy Mexican food, ice cream (froyo and banana soft serve come CLOSE ENOUGH!), and pizza on a regular basis. These feed the taste buds I’ve developed over my lifetime AND allow me to lose weight (and even gain muscle, what the heck?!?). I often step back and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I can eat like this and still lose weight!” It seems a little too good to be true when I’m noshing on a shredded pork burrito with sour cream and guacamole, but it’s working for me.

How is your food working for you in your weight loss strategy? Any surprises?

Video Update: Sick Again, But Still Feeling Like a Superhero!

My apologies for the multiple cough-breaks, but it’s time for another video update! Here, in addition to coughing, I talk about some emotional skepticism surrounding the amazing-tasting foods I get to eat and yet still lose weight. Stay tuned for the blog post I tease about what I actually eat on a regular basis. It’s bound to be fascinating. Okay, maybe not fascinating, but it has a lot of words.