Just Heather

In the last week, I’ve pushed myself quite a bit. I upped my weights on the assigned workouts, added a few more, and yesterday, I ran farther and faster than usual. Yet, when I stepped on the scale, it hadn’t gone down much.

A few years ago, that would have discouraged me. Now, though, I know there is more to fitness and weight loss success than a number on a scale. Sure, it’s frustrating to work hard and not lose weight. But sometimes it’s good to focus on the other benefits of fitness.

Here are 5 great ways to tell your weight loss efforts are not in vein:

Measurements: If you haven’t already taken measurements, do it now! Seriously. Stop reading and go measure your chest, waist, hips, thighs, and arms. In just two weeks, I’ve lost 6 total inches. When you aren’t losing weight, it’s great to have definitive proof that you’re still shrinking!

Photos: Before and after photos can really show a difference, even if you don’t lose a lot of weight. Take front, back, and profile shots once every month or two. I’m already looking forward to the “after” pics for my current fitness challenge.

Energy: When you’re working out and eating right, you’ll actually have more energy. Take note of your energy levels — for me, that usually means my desire to nap — to see how much healthier you are even before the weight starts dropping.

Muscles: A pound is a pound is a pound. But, while muscle doesn’t really weigh more than fat, it is more dense. You may be gaining weight in muscle even as you’re losing fat. The full body composition monitor from Omron Fitness has been great for me. It measures not just weight but body fat, skeletal muscle, and more. I’m able to actually see that I’m building muscle and losing fat, even when I’m not losing weight.

Clothing: How your clothing feels is often the first indicator that things are changing — I was down a size long before the weight loss felt significant at all. I focus a lot on how my clothes look and feel to measure my fitness success. The jeans that were getting a little snug already require a belt — I’ll take that kind of loss over a number on a scale any day.

How do you measure your success?

Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds
This Week’s Weigh-In: 192.6 pounds
This Week’s Weight Loss: .6 pounds
Total Omron Fitness Weight Loss: 2.4 pounds
BMI: 27.7

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.

Thanks to Trop50 for sponsoring this post on my New Year’s resolutions as part of their Trop5 True Resolutions project. Trop50 juice beverage contains 50 percent less sugar and calories, and no artificial sweeteners. Which made our New Year’s Day mimosas even better!

I’ve never been one to make normal New Year’s resolutions. My favorite was the year I vowed to take a bubble bath every night! I totally didn’t mind keeping that one, and I still enjoy a bubble bath at least 3-4 times per week. For the last few years, I’ve made a to-do list for the year instead of resolutions, but I didn’t get very far with last year’s list.

So, this year I’m changing things up a bit. I love the idea of resolutions—there’s nothing wrong with working to better yourself or setting goals for the year. It’s just that traditional resolutions so easily fail. Even with the best of intentions, the New Year’s goals most people set are ignored by February. And, I think I’ve figured out why.

They aren’t SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and within a Time Limit. Resolutions that fit these principals will be easier to keep. That’s why I’m revising a few traditional resolutions, to set specific goals for myself this year.

Common resolution: Be more eco-concious.
My resolution: Build a rainwater barrel.
Each year, we make an extra effort to reduce our environmental impact even more. This year, I want to focus on the rainwater barrel. I’ve wanted to do this for years—hello! Free water for the lawn & garden—but I just keep putting it off. I’ve seen a few simple tutorials on Pinterest lately, so I think it’s time to tackle this project.

Common resolution: Eat healthier.
My resolution: Plant a garden.
Having fresh veggies right outside the door helps keep me on track with a food group I’d prefer to ignore. We didn’t get a garden planted last year—time just got away from us. This year, I plan to get a jump on it early. We’ll get out there in March and clear the overgrown weeds from the garden. Then, it will be ready for tilling, new soil and compost in time for planting season.

Common resolution: Lose weight.
My resolution: Lose 10 more pounds.
I worked hard through most of last year to set fitness goals, eat healthier and lose weight. I lost a total of 25 pounds, but I am still a bit shy of my 40×40 goal. I think another 10 more pounds should do it, and I wanted to set a time limit. Since I need a new swimsuit, I figure that’s as good a time as any. I’ll know my final clothing size just in time for swimsuit season.

Common resolution: Get out of debt.
My resolution: Pay an extra $1000 per month towards our debt snowball.
We’ve made just about all the budget cuts we can. Now, it’s up to increasing our income, which we’ve been steadily working on for the last several months. Most of that paid for Christmas, since we hadn’t done a good job saving throughout the year. For 2012, we will set aside more money each month for the holidays, then put the rest of our extra income towards our debt.

Common resolution: Spend more time with family.
My resolution: Start a regular game night.
Last year, one of my goals was to schedule a family fun day once per month. The girls loved it, and we experienced new things they’d never done before. However, as we’re working on our debt snowball, the family fun budget has to go. In its place, we will do at home fun days each month. Movie nights are a favorite, but I want to get them more involved. We had a blast playing games on New Year’s Eve and again the other night with the hubby’s sister. We played board games, Just Dance, Wii Pictionary—and I loved every minute of it. I want to capture some of that all year long.

Common resolution: Help others.
My resolution: Sponsor a child.
I’ve thought of this off and one, but over the last few weeks I’ve felt really convicted. Not only do I need to share our blessings, but I need to teach my girls how many we truly have. They need to see that this is not how the rest of the world lives. And, they need to see that we can make a difference in someone else’s life.

Common resolution: Get organized.
My resolution: Reorganize the pantry & fridge.
There are so many things I could have picked. I’m a hot mess, and the whole house needs an overhaul. We need serious paperwork help, the bedroom is a disaster, and the office looks like a bomb went off. But, I’m choosing to focus on food organization. The reorganization will include an “anytime” shelf that should help the girls gain some much needed control over what they eat.

I know that’s a lot, but it’s all very specific and manageable. I can do this. And, I’m looking forward to seeing where I am at the end of the year. Plus, I’ll be blogging the results along the way. Check back Monday as I rejoin the Mamavation Sistahood and step on a scale for the first time in a long while!

Trop50 True Resolutions celebrates the reasons behind New Year’s resolutions. Share the secret motivation behind your resolution to earn a coupon for $1 off Trop50 for yourself and 50¢ off coupons for your friends. Plus, enter the sweepstakes to win a $1000 gift card.

I was compensated for this review, but all opinions (and my 2012 goals!) are entirely my own.

Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl on a date. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy & girl live happily ever after.

Except, ours went more like: Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy barely notices girl exists. Girl stalks boy through email for 6 months. Boy asks girl on a date. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy & girl live together ever after. The happily part came & went through the years, but that’s another story.

This is the never told story of a long ago email stalking flirtation. The story of us.

The story most people remember is we were engaged less than 6 months after beginning our relationship and married when I was 5 months pregnant. My version is better—we met in 1995 (my freshman year of college), were engaged in 1996, married in 1997 and had our first child in 1998.

And, none of it would ever have happened, if it weren’t for one impulsive, late night email.

But, I suppose I should back up a bit. I first met Spencer when I needed some help finishing a project. The super cute geek in the computer lab came to my rescue, but I didn’t think much beyond “Oh, yum!” and “Crap! I hope I can get this finished on time.” So, I didn’t even get his name.

Then, I bumped into him again, a few weeks later—on my turf. I served him ‘mocktails’ at my dorm’s Casino Night fundraiser and brazenly introduced myself. This is sort of not like me, but I figured seeing the same cutie twice in one month was fate. We flirted (yes, even him—it was awhile later before I realized he kind of isn’t good at it.) a bit and that was that.

Everything in me wanted to call him up the next day and invite him to our dorm’s formal that night, but I figured it would be a bit much. So, I settled for bumping into him the next week at the computer lab & sending random, light-hearted emails to stay on his mind—a tactic I employed for the several months. I flirted. He blushed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Until the night I stayed up way too late and ended up sending a completely different kind of email, about how much I liked him. I can’t begin to tell you how much I wished for an undo button that night. It was completely candid & totally humiliating, probably even more so because he didn’t even bother to respond. But, it did put things out there and make my feelings completely obvious to a clueless college kid.

It would be several more months before he did anything about it, but it didn’t take much from there for everything to click. And, that’s a story for another day!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Dove Ice Cream. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the things I had lost in years of being a wife & mom was me—and I’m taking it back. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the grocery shopping, shoe tying, dinner prep & laundy—oh, the laundry! Somewhere along the way, I kinda forgot how to be Just Heather. Then, I sorta forgot how to be a good wife.

That’s where the 40×40 list & alphabet dating projects come in. It’s not about stressing myself out to cross off a list. It isn’t even just about having an excuse & motivation to do things I’ve always wanted to do. It’s about trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up. It’s helping me take the—like riding a carousel like a kid—to relearn who I am again.

From big moments like graduating from college to small ones like eating cotton candy at the carnival, I’m discovering how to be someone other than Stacia, Brenia & Lorelai’s mom or Spencer’s wife. Then, there are the even smaller moments—indulging in a piece of chocolate I bought just for me, curling up with a book in a quiet house or soaking in a hot bubble bath at the end of a long day.

Dove Ice Cream gets mini moments! I am dying to try the miniatures—tiny bits of ice cream wrapped in Dove chocolate. At only 70 calories, I won’t even have to pretend to feel guilty.

They are sponsoring a “My Mini Moment” contest, with the chance to win a mini-getaway to Napa Valley, Spa services for a year or a mini-home makeover. To enter, submit a photo & essay by June 7th.

I think I would choose a mini-home makeover right about now—I’ve been on a declutter & clean kick and I’d love to cap it off with a redesign. What would you choose?

Visit my sponsor: “My Mini Moment” contest

When MFJ and I went to BlogHer over the summer, she had the brilliant idea of putting our information/media kits into folders to be sure they would actually make it back to the offices of the very important people we were meeting, in hopes of gaining sponsorship for Inexpensively. I originally looked at custom glossy folders, but—Holy cha-ching, Batman!—those puppies are expensive. We settled on purple folders with a sticker sporting our logo, address and phone number.

Next, I’m planning to use the folders for Inexpensively workshops (including the Black Friday Prep Course I’m teaching next month!). It should be a good way to provide participants with the resources and materials they need to start saving money. I am excited that U-Printing is giving me 250 free custom stickers to use on my folders. I think they’ll look a bit more professional than the first set I had printed at the office store down the street. With this many stickers, I’ll be able to include my business info on all the folders plus have plenty left to use as return address labels on packages.

Of course, there are many other things you can do with customized stickers. If you want to make address labels, business stickers or holiday gift tags of your own, you can save 10% on your U-Printing purchase now or, even better, win 250 custom stickers here or there—simply leave a comment, telling us what you’ll do with your prize. You can earn additional entries by:

  • Following U-Printing and me on Twitter
  • Blogging about this giveaway
  • Tweeting about this giveaway: Win 250 free custom stickers from @Uprinting and @JustHeather! http://bit.ly/4Ee2b3

For your extra entries to be counted, be sure to leave an additional comment directing me to your entry. Only one additional entry per method (i.e. While multiple tweets are appreciated it, only one will count as a drawing entry.) The contest runs until October 18th at 11:59pm edt. One winner will be notified by email on October 19th (as selected by Random.org) and must submit their mailing information within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Open only to residents of the U.S. & Canada and cannot be shipped to PO boxes.

Your prize (full color front, blank sticker back printed on 70lb matte paper in sizes: 2” x 3.5”, 2” x 4”, or 3” x 3” with 4 Business Day printing) will be awarded in the form of a custom coupon code, redeemable at U-Printing.com. Prize includes free UPS shipping in the U.S. (Canadian winners will be responsible for any shipping costs incurred.)

I was offered this giveaway as part of the U-Printing Blog Sponsorship program. I am receiving 250 free stickers in addition to the free product for my readers for hosting this giveaways, but the opinion is 100% real and honest.

You may have noticed that little button over there announcing I am now an official Event Chaser. I mean, it’s bright orange so it would be kind of hard to miss. I signed up last week and just got offered NBA tickets for later this month. I’m so excited about it, all I can think is “Squeee!” I’m not sure that’s quite what they were going for with Wordless Wednesday.

I have always been a huge Pacer fan, although without Reggie Miller they’ve lost a little of their shine for me. I still try grab Pacers tickets at least once each season. Usually, I go with the hubby but this time around I’m sharing my Miami Heat tickets with MFJ—it should make for an interesting girls night! (Of course, it’s always interesting when the two of us get together.)

After I was contacted by One 2 One Network about reviewing the new Harry Connick Jr. CD, I anxiously checked the mailbox every day. I absolutely adore him already and when I read the track list I knew I’d love this CD. He covers some of the greatest classics. Oh, how I love them!

There is something just so uplifting about older music. I think lyrics were much more positive—a bit less about who is cheating on who and other horrifying themes that have been popular the last several years. The songs in this collection are true love songs. What can be better than a relaxing mix of love songs? A relaxing mixing of favorites sung in Harry Connick Jr’s sexy, smooth voice.

The first time I had a chance to play the CD, Lorelai was mad that I didn’t turn on a movie instead. She was screaming from the backseat of the van (which, btw, we ironically named Serenity), until his voice started. She was literally stunned silent. Of course, that only lasted until she remembered she had wanted something else and her chorus of “I wanna watch a moobee!” began to drown out the CD. That’s okay, a bubble bath is better suited to this kind of musical enjoyment.

A perfect solo evening would have to be Your Songs, a bubble bath and Twilight. Although, if I’m listening to “Harry Potter Jr.” as Brenia calls him, I guess I should be reading another magical series. Still, I’m spending my bubble baths these days with Edward Cullen. Regular bubbles baths are one of my guilty pleasures. The hubby is great about indulging me—I’m a lucky girl!

Harry Connick Jr.’s wife is another seriously lucky lady. He had this to say on his website: “…when I sang `Only You’ and most of the other songs, I was thinking about my wife Jill.” {Swoon} How would you like to have this gorgeous guy crooning sweet, classic love songs just for you?

The CD features signature songs by iconic artists—all your favorite songs (ah, there’s the title!) by the gorgeous Harry Connick Jr.

Album Tracklisting (Originally performed by):

All The Way (Frank Sinatra)
Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (Elvis Presley)
And I Love Her (The Beatles)
(They Long To Be) Close To You (The Carpenters)
Besame Mucho
The Way You Look Tonight
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)
Your Song (Elton John)
Some Enchanted Evening
And I Love You So (Don McLean)
Who Can I Turn To? (Tony Bennett)
Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)

You can also catch him on several upcoming talk shows. I always enjoy watching him on television (Will & Grace, anyone?). I big puffy heart The Rachael Ray show—hopefully, I’ll be able to catch it that week!

9/28 – Today Show
9/29 – The View
9/30 – Imus in the Morning
9/30 – Letterman
10/1 – Today Show
Week of 10/5 – Rachael Ray

Your Songs is in stores now, but check Inexpensively next Tuesday for a chance to win a copy for free! You can also preview (or even download) every song on the album from Amazon. Single mp3s are only $1.29 and drm free.

Disclosure: I received a free CD from One 2 One Network for the purposes of this review. In the interest of full disclosure, I also receive affiliate revenues from Amazon if you choose to purchase via any of the included links.

The first time I saw Red Chair Confessions was over at Chic Shopper Chick. Erika was convinced her first confession was about shopping. I mean, she looked good—very high fashion (but I’m absolutely sure it was done on a budget; she looks smart, right?)! By the second video, I was starting to think the same thing—this chick has a serious shopping problem. I hope she lets us in on her great scores soon.

We will finally get the big reveal next week, but until then it’s fun to speculate! And, even more fun to reveal a few confessions of your own. Confessing is good for the soul so here goes…

Confession #1: I shared this dirty little secret yesterday on Twitter. I don’t do it all the time. We all know that rampant misuse and abuse of anything is bad. I try to keep it in its proper place. I only do it when I can find just the right circumstance. I <3 Comic Sans. There, I said it. Confession #2: This one is probably no secret, but admitting you have a problem is the first step. Hi, my name is Heather and I am addicted to Reese’s peanut butter holiday shapes. The eggs are by far the best, but it’s been a long hard 6 months since Easter. I snatched the first bag of pumpkins I could find. Without checking the price! And they are amazing! In fact, I’m thinking about having my next fix right now.

Confession #3: I watch a lot of television. A lot. That probably isn’t a unique confession, but my problem is that I am addicted to the DVR. I don’t watch anything live. Ever. This year, we don’t have cable. It will be interesting to see what place t.v. can play in my life now that I have to pay attention to schedules. I’m used to letting my shows fit into my own schedule and I’m seriously thinking about how to fit my schedule into my favorites. I think Hulu may just be my next addiction.

Okay, your turn! Fess up—what are your true confessions? What do you think the Red Chair mom is confessing?