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September 14, 2012 / amybrewer17

Everyone Loves a Countdown List, Right?

Visit reasonstobefit on tumblr for the rest of the list. Love this site.













I’m in a light-hearted mood today and have been visiting reasonstobefit lately for some motivation.  It’s inspired me to create my own list.  A list to look at when I want to binge, be lazy or slack on one of my training runs; a list that I can put on the fridge beside my monthly measurements/progress (yes, I post up my measurements every month like moms put up their kids’ report cards) to help keep me from sliding and help push me forward.  Motivation like on reasonstobefit is very inspiring in a “yes that would be great” kind of way, but I need to make my own list tied to emotions and feelings that are personal to me.

The list below is my list of “25 Reasons I Hate Being Overweight…”  I want to identify why I hate this place I have been.  Why 25?  Because these came to mind quickly; I’m sure I’ll add…I’m sure anyone who is has struggled with their weight could add some to this as well.  Some may be funny, lots are embarrassing for me and I’m sure others who feel this way, and some are serious.  All are real and will serve as a reminder why I hate being overweight.  I’ve already checked a few of these ‘off my list’ as I’ve lost weight, but I hope to continue to knock all of these off until they only serve as a reminder of my former reality versus my ‘here and now.’ In the effort to be completely honest, which another blogger says is rare in social media in his very interesting recent post, here is my list…

25.  Snoring:  This may or may not be because of my weight but I’m going to blame it on my weight.        Yeah…that’s right, it’s my weight!

24.  Scales (or facing the truth):  Stepping on a scale means you know your weight and know you have a problem.  For me not knowing means I can avoid it for that much longer.  Now I step on the scale at least once a week and I use it as a tool vs. treating it like the monster it once was

23.  Not being able to wear cute heels:  I don’t know about you but I don’t’ feel comfortable wearing my cute tiny-heeled shoes.  I feel like it’s asking to break an ankle.  I’ve seen others do it, but they are much braver than I

22.  Having people catch me eating in the car:  In my head they are judging me

21.  Feeling terrible when I have to squeeze in the backseat with others:  Enough said.  Sorry everyone who’s had to cram in a backseat with me before

20.  Airplane seats and EVERYTHING about them

19.  Only having 2 clothing outfitters to shop at

18.  Having to exit a thrill ride before it even starts because you don’t fit in the seat:  Absolutely mortifying.  Tears streaming down my face, try to get it together before the family gets off the ride type of emotion.  Even 60 lbs down, I’m not sure if I’m confident enough to try that again

17.  Knowing my outer self does NOT match who I feel I am

16.  Chaffing:  A girl training for the half-marathon with me told me I was smart for wearing long pants the last run vs. shorts because of the chilly morning.  Like I have a choice!  Shorts = Pain and raw skin on my legs.  Gross I know.

15.  Shopping with skinny friends

14.  Having to dress like a potato sack is the only thing that fits

13.  Not being able to play competitive sports:  I’ve been competitive all my life in volleyball.  Not being able to make it through a point without heaving is embarrassing.

12.  Getting winded walking to places within a normal walking distance

11.  Stadium seating:  I spent every moment at the last Cubs game in the stadium on the edge of the seat because my hips wouldn’t let me slide back into the seat.  OUCH

10.  My double chin

 9.  Feeling guilty for eating:  Eating when others are not, or eating fatty foods in front of others would embarrass me.  I know people know that overeating and inactivity lead to obesity but I hated letting others see me do that to myself.  Now that I take care of myself this is barely an after thought, until I have a cheat and those feelings come back

 8.  Pictures:  You can tell from my timeline on Facebook when I started to gain weight because there is a huge gap in pictures, and an over-abundance of pics from skinnier times.

 7.  Mirrors

 6.  Feeling unattractive:  It’s hard to feel attractive at 283 pounds.

 5.  Feeling like I have no control

 4.  Feeling like I let people down

 3.  Looking like a square-shaped boy in suits

 2.  Wings as upper arms:  Still my most sensitive subject and fear that my arms will never get in shape.  They are so out of proportion with the rest of my body.  I’m afraid that my skin won’t snap back in this area.  Ugh.  You could tell me otherwise and I won’t believe it until I see it.

 1.  Being scared to death of getting diabetes or having other health-related issues due to my weight:  Terrifying that I could get a very serious disease through not taking care of myself.  I would have a hard time forgiving myself.

So did I miss anything?  I’d be interested to hear others, funny or serious.

September 11, 2012 / amybrewer17

Call me butter baby! (But make sure it’s the fat-free kind)

‘Cause I’m on a roll…after a 12 pound loss last month, I expected to only lose a few pounds in August; especially since the beginning of this month was one of the most stressful of the year and my eating paid the price.  I am happy to report that I’ve lost another 10 pounds!!  For those of you counting that’s 60 lbs since January 2nd.  These past two months I’ve lost more than I have any other month except January…so what’s the difference?  And what makes someone successful at losing weight (in my humble non-professional opinion, of course)?  I’ve been asked how I’ve been so successful more so now than ever.  And I have to be honest; it’s not just me putting in the hard work.  Let me explain more…

See, this is me working hard…Mud Wars in Chicago. 5k Obstacle Course with LOTS of mud

It’s true, YOU have to be the one to get fed up and decide to make a change but that does not and should not mean that you have to do it alone.  The average person knows enough about nutritional basics and exercise to get started.  We all know that weight loss is about burning more calories than you eat, or creating a calorie deficit.  Just because you know what to do does not mean you know how to create a plan unique to you or have all the motivation need to take the first step.  We all know that first step is the hardest!  Take me for example; I’ve already busted my ass once to lose this weight.  I know how to count calories like an expert.  I was a NCAA DIII college athlete.  If anyone should know how to stay healthy and how to get back on track it should be me so trust me when I tell you the key to consistent weight loss at a manageable pace is a great support system.  And I’m not talking about one person…think of it as a network of people.


I know for me, I hate to burden one person with all of my ups and downs (my mom is excluded from this list as she gets to privilege of hearing it all!) so I have people I go to when I’m stressed and need some perspective, I have those I go to that I know will celebrate my accomplishments, I blog regularly to hold myself accountable through my readers, I have someone to help me schedule my weeks and I work with trainers who help build intense workouts for me, push me outside of my comfort zone AND help on my nutrition when I need it.

Step 1 should always be deciding to make a change, and making that decision for YOU and no one else.  The next step (step 2 if you are counting) should be to consult someone who knows what they are doing.  You need a plan!  Something that’s feasible based on your current activity level, family life and work schedule.  I highly recommend consulting personal trainer/nutritionist/life coaches at least for a couple of sessions so that you can create a plan, then tweak after a month or so.  I can’t stress this enough as this has probably been most helpful for me from a tactical perspective.   I have made some changes to my monthly budget to be able to afford this and it has been worth every penny.  If you need a kick start or a change to your current routine, my trainer has created a blog with helpful workout tips including everything from new exercises to music to keep you going.  Check it out at TheStrengthGame.

If you can’t afford it or don’t feel comfortable then reach out to someone you feel comfortable with that has an active lifestyle.  I know my brother was more helpful to anyone the first go around and pushed me hard to get healthy (sometimes too hard, but hey what are little brothers for if not to annoy you).  Do what it takes to get focused and get a routine in place.  Take the emotion out of it and stick it in a calendar and think of it as a work meeting or a family function.  It’s just something that needs to get done.

Remember to make this change for good, whether its 20lbs or 120lbs, it has to be a lifestyle change.  You have to be willing to take the necessary steps to make it permanent.  I am saying this as much to myself as you.  I still need to work on my stress management.  I feel like if I can get this under control, I can really make this work.  The beginning of the month proved I have some work to do.  If I could only fix the switch in my brain that makes me want to eat and pout when I’m stressed to making me want to work out instead, I would look like J-Lo (right!).

More to come very soon…I’ve been training hard for a half marathon and I’d love to let you into my foray into the world of running.  Thanks for your support!

August 28, 2012 / amybrewer17

Reblog on Spinach

Hi readers! I just read this blog and thought I would share on my blog. I lack the nutritional education to give in depth information like this on food so if you are interested I will continue to repost great nutritional info,enjoy!

So Healthy Nutrition

Blog Image17Remember Popeye, the hero who had to rescue Olive Oyl from “the most remarkable extraordinary fellow,” Sindbad the Sailor? Popeye got his butt kicked and it wasn’t until he managed to scoff down a can of spinach that he was able to turn the tides, pummel the brute, and save the day. Popeye definitely had the right idea with spinach and if there is one simple swap you should be making immediately, it’s this leafy green graciously lying on your sandwich instead of iceberg lettuce.

I would never tell anyone NOT to eat iceberg lettuce, because any lettuce is better than no lettuce, but nutritionally speaking, you are probably getting the same amount of nutrients from that leaf of iceberg lettuce as the Toronto Maple Leafs would get wins. Ouch. However the fact is as follows: compared to other vegetables in regards to total calories versus nutrient density, spinach is…

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August 27, 2012 / amybrewer17

Denied by Doc Due to Weight: Motivating and Necessary or Ridiculous and Discriminating?

I read an article this morning on CNN that sent my me on a journey of mixed emotions associated with my own personal struggle with weight loss (to catch up read my story).  It seems a doctor would not treat a woman who sought out her services because the woman was over 200 lbs.  What?!  I’ve busted my ass for 8 very long months to get down to where I am at now which is 226 lbs. and I cannot imagine the mortification and horror I would feel from being denied a doctor visit because of my weight.

During the interview with the Doc in question, she says that doctors can excercise the right to choose with whom they enter into a doctor-patient relationship and that she referred her to an obese clinic nearby more equipped to handle her needs.  The doctor even mentioned that this should be a motivating factor to start losing weight.  Let me take the time to point out that the woman from the video who had been denied the visit looks to be right at or just over 200lbs.  Overweight, and yes probably obese from the weight loss charts, but when about two-thirds of America is overweight she’s at the small end of the scale.

I’ve tried to take a step back since reading this article to ask myself if I am simply sensitive to this issue and it is clouding my judgement or is this as ridiculous as my gut first told me it was.  That has been a hard thing for me to do.  I’m sure some are in the camp of ‘tough love’ and that at some point you have to draw a hard line.  Why not with healthcare?  But then how many smokers would that same doctor turn away or how many drinkers?  To be fair I do not know the answer to those questions, and it could happen but I’ve never heard of it.

I am not in the “Tough Love” camp or feel that in any case that the healthcare field is a case that needs to practice tough love in the form of denying office visits.  Doctors are there as a resource to help.  State the facts.  Give alternative ways to eat.  To show what good looks like from a weight loss perspective.  Motivation comes from inside, not from being turned away at the door.  Having friends and family who are honest with you and care about you are not to be discounted as well.

I realize there is no black and white response to this question, but I do feel like there are more ways to curtail the weight ‘woes’ of America other than denying Doctor’s visits.  I’d love to hear what any thoughts on this one, especially from any who feel that it’s acceptable.  The issue I think is larger than this one visit; consider parts of the Affordable Care Act that offer rewards for not smoking or being at a healthy weight.  On the flip side there could be penalties or required health/wellness programs that you must attend in order to no receive a penaltiy (more information can be found here).  I am a proponent of the Affordable Care Act, even with this inclusion.  I think the wellness program or a reward system would be ideal, but I realize the cost of healthcare for an obese person is more than for someone at a healthy weight.

So what do you think; is this all acceptable and motivating to you or is this in some ways a form of discrimination against those of use who struggle with our weight?

August 12, 2012 / amybrewer17

Needing a little motivation? It’s the Olympics, people!


I don’t know about the rest of you, but my most patriotic times are during the Olympics.  Never again would you see me voluntarily watching (not to mention from the edge of my seat) girls and guys swinging from rings and tumbling across the floor.  This year, as in most in the past, beach volleyball had me glued to the T.V.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings were impressive on the court as always.  I mean, who goes undefeated in three Olympics’ worth of matches and loses only one set?!  They have always been a powerhouse but this year there was some question on how their performance would stack against the rest of the field…so much so that the 2-time Olympic champs were ranked 3rd before play began.  Since Beijing Kerri Walsh Jennings had 2 children and Misty May-Treanor tore her Achilles tendon.  The odds certainly were not in their favor yet here they are again this year, despite the rating and more importantly despite life stepping in the way, stepping up to take the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics.

After my ultra high from losing 50 lbs (so far!), life has decided to step in the way and test my resolve over the past two weeks.  Work has been an uphill battle…on Mount Everest…cut off from all food supply…fighting with Samurai swords when your enemies have guns…big ones.  What have I learned over the past two weeks?

  1. I still want to eat everything in site when I’m stressed.  I need to learn to replace this with something productive
  2. I’m not as work-life balanced focus as I thought I had become.  Wow it’s hard to shut off after you leave the office!
  3. I need to do a better job of reminding myself of the end goal, or even the small wins, to get through tough times

It’s hard to be honest with myself sometimes.  I’ve been very ‘woe is me’ this week and I am using this as my swift ‘kick in the ass’ to stop it.  Misty May-Treanor is one of the scrappiest defensive players I’ve ever seen.  You’d have to ask my brother or roommate how many times I’ve said that these last couple of weeks.  I’m going to take my cue and motivation from her this week and get a little scrappy myself.  I need to work twice as hard this week but it’s going to happen!  I’m headed back to the basics.  Food journal will be back in full force and so will the gym.  It’s going to be a take no prisoners kind of week.

To keep me focused, and well, prove that I’m crazy…I’ve signed up for a half marathon that occurs in December.  Half-Marathon.  WHAT?!  That’s 13.1 miles!  Good thing I can walk and run it otherwise it could be a sorry sight.  The exciting thing is that it’s through Team Challenge and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCFA).  My goal is to raise $5,000 to support the CCFA.  This matches the funds my little cousin raised in May for the same foundation.  She struggles with Colitis among some other medical issues every day and is one of the toughest people I’ve ever seen.  (If you couldn’t see it coming here is my shameless plug…)Please Please Please help us both raise awareness and funds alike to support the CCFA and follow my journey to Vegas to take on my first ever half marathon.  I’ll chronicle my training here, of course, which starts tomorrow.  To donate please first visit my page and give what you can.  Next please share my link with anyone you know suffering from Crohn’s or Colitis…your friends…your family.

Thanks for reading (and hopefully making a donation)!

July 29, 2012 / amybrewer17

First Milestone…50 lbs lost!

After almost seven months of retraining my mind and body, handling intense emotions and even more intense workouts I have finally reached my first major milestone.  As of this morning I have lost 50 lbs and almost 18% of my starting weight of 283 lbs!!!  I still have a lot more to go; how much I won’t know until I get down to a healthy body fat % and see what’s maintainable but it’s not the time to think about that right now.  Now is a time to celebrate and reflect!  To give you a visual, I’ve been looking online for things that match my weight loss so that you can better picture 50 lbs.  Let’s see what I’ve found…

This is what 5 lbs of fat looks like.  Image 10x this and that’s what I’ve lost!  GROSS-looking, I know.

  According to, this guy is hold a 50 lbs blue catfish.  Can you imagine carrying that kind of weight around??

  A beautiful 50 lb chocolate lab!  Ah if only fat could look that cute (not really, I’m so glad this weight is gone)

Crazy, right?!  Even more crazy are the things that I’ve opened myself up to and actually have started to like recently.  The first and probably the biggest is the city I live in.  Who knew Chicago could be so much fun in the summer?!  A combination of being able to walk more than a mile without dying, enjoying being active and feeling comfortable in shorts and dresses has turned my view of Chicago upside down.  I’m eating fish now (albeit it just tilapia but hey, it’s a start!), I’ve completed five 5Ks, and I’m even considering a half marathon…not to say I will run it all or most of it but even to walk it all considering where I started would be huge.

As I sit in reflection I know I could not have done this without the love and support and kind kick in the ass from quite a few of you.  All the positive thoughts and kind words help on days where I just want to binge eat or days that I don’t want to go to the gym (luckily these days are now few and far between).  Those days still happen on a regular basis but they get easier and easier to simply brush off.  My brother and his family as well as my sister were up here last week.  My brother told me after a tough workout that if I ever got to that place again he would come up here and kick my butt…I told him good that’s what I need and what I needed!  It’s so easy to slip back and so hard to see it until it’s too late.  Those of you that struggle with your weight know what I mean.  You cheat a couple of days in a row vs. just in one meal, you decide to have 2 lazy weekends in a row, you let fries come back into every single meal.  It’s tough to see how far you slipped and even tougher to get the motivation to do something about it. Ok, enough reflection.  Time to move forward and look to the next 50.

Until then!

July 15, 2012 / amybrewer17

You’ve Asked for It…My Nutrition Plan


45 lbs down and about 60-80 more to go!

Many of you have asked for both pictures of my progress and what kind of nutrition plan I’m on.  My goal is to provide both!  My progress on the scale has slowed down a touch but that’s because the fat has been shifting to muscle which is fun to see.  I feel stronger and my arms actually look like they have some muscle in them now.  Yay!

I’ve had to keep my nutrition plan very simple.  I’m treating this as a lifestyle change so I needed something that I can continue long after I’ve reached my goal weight; something that’s maintainable and does not deprive me of my favorites.  I’ve narrowed my focus to just the critical points below; there are some notes behind each that i try to keep in mind but at the end of the day it comes down to the main factors (now before reading or trying any of this I feel I must tell you that I am by no means a professional nutritionist/dietician so if you have special needs or want to try something consult someone who knows better how to help you.  This is just what works for me…I’m hoping it sparks you to try something that works for you):

  • Maintain a daily caloric intake of 1400-1600 calories:  It’s all about simple math.  If you want to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you intake.  For women your body needs a minimum of 1200 calories to function so don’t starve yourself.  To lose 1 pound a week, you typically need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories (by exercise or nutrition or both).  If you search calorie calculator online you can figure out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.  A lot of weight loss also depends on reducing your sodium intake as well.  This is where I struggle because I put salt on everything.  I make sure that if I eat more salt than usual then I flush it out with lots of water.
  • Eat 120g of Protein daily:  Because my exercise routine is centered around strength training with some cardio, I try to eat 120g of protein every day.  This feels like A LOT of protein and I can’t do it without drinking a protein shake every day.  But it’s important when building muscle to get the right amount of protein every day.  According to the experts (again, this is not me but others), a good balance in your diet is about 50% of calories coming from carbs, 20-30% from fat and 20-30% from protein.  My current distribution is 50% carbs, 30% protein, 20% fat.  I use myfitnesspal to track my calories and distribution every day/week.  I would be lost without it.  I have become an expert at counting calories but I cannot keep up with the other numbers without help.  It doesn’t matter what you use as long as you are tracking your eating habits
  • Water, water, water: Drinking enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day is key.  It’s a struggle but you have to find a way to do it.  I try to get in 90 – 100 oz of water in every day.  Most of it comes when I’m getting my butt kicked at the gym but hey, it counts!

Now I do have some favorite meals or standard go-to meals for each time of the day.  Any yummy recipes that I’ve found or that have been supplied to me are on my interest page which I’ve included in the links section. Below are meals that I know will get me what I need nutrition-wise and keep me satisfied until the next meal or snack:

Breakfast:  Egg White Turkey Sausage Flatbreak or Wake Up Wrap from Dunkin Donuts (310 and 120 calories respectively), 2 eggs scrambled with spinach and cheese with a piece of turkey sausage (210 calories), blueberry banana nut oatmeal from McDonald’s (300 calories), Egg McMuffin from McDonalds (300 calories)

Lunch and Dinner:  Any subway sandwich on the 6 grams of fat list with cheese and light sauce if any, Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom “Unwich” with extra meat, 4-5 oz of lean meat and LOTS of veggies, turkey burger with cheese, baked sweet potato fries with light canola oil, ground cinnamon and salt (YUM)

I haven’t had pasta in forever because I usually center my meals around protein and using veggies as my carbs, but if you love pasta make sure it’s whole wheat and you only eat one serving.  I can easily eat out most anywhere by altering the menu item.  It gets annoying to have to make special requests all the time but I figure I’m paying for it I should get it the way I like it. I’ve switched from regular wheat bread to those Arnold’s Whole Wheat or Multigrain Sandwich thins.  They are so good and really cut down the carbs!

I think that’s it.  Like I said I try to keep it simple and not so complicated.  My trainer(s) helped me to come up with a plan that works for me and help me to switch it up when I need something different.  I can’t stress enough that if you are serious about weight loss, meet with someone who knows what they are doing to help you…whether that’s a trainer, nutritionist, etc.  It’s been a blessing and has given me focus.

With my birthday coming up next week, I’m having a cookout and will be sticking to turkey burgers, grilled veggies and sweet potato fries.  I will stick with my standard gin and tonic, 90 calories a drink in case you were wondering, and will not overeat at all.  So exciting to know that I can enjoy my birthday without over-eating or drinking a bunch of calories.  Looking forward to it!

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