FIT Mythbusters: Fat vs. Muscle

Although FIT is ultimately a weight loss challenge, there are times when I wish we could all just throw out our scales! That mean ol’ scale can be so discouraging sometimes, and that’s precisely why we incorporated MEASUREMENTS into our program. We measure during Week 1, Week 4, and then finally at the end of Week 8. Even though that nagging number at your feet may say otherwise, you could be LOSING INCHES. Don’t live and die by what that scale screams at you on a day-to-day basis, because it could be LYING a lot of the time. If your clothes are fitting better (or falling off in some cases), that’s a fabulous indicator of how fit you are getting.

Have you ever heard the saying that “muscle weighs more than fat?” This is a complete myth. Think about it: a pound is a pound is a pound…and one pound of muscle weighs the SAME as one pound of fat.

5lbs muscle and fat

Lovely, eh? 5 lbs of fat and 5lbs of muscle

The truth behind this rumor-turned-wrong is that muscle takes up a lot LESS SPACE than fat. If you have 5 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle, the muscle will be about 1/2 the size of the fat.

muscle vs fat

Here’s a startling visual…

muscle vs fat 2

Aaaaand another one.

FIT member, Amy Reese, is living proof that gaining muscle is fantastic for your health and wellbeing. Check out her journey:

“I was the skinny girl — the one who could eat whatever she wanted (and I did!) and still stay skinny. As a teen I never worried about weight or even got on a scale unless I was at a doctor’s appointment. I was VERY unhealthy despite being thin. I ate tons of junk and thought I could continue that way. Then I got married, and a few months into my marriage we discovered I had female medical issues. For the next year and a half I was put on a plethora of different birth control meds (none of which solved my problems), and in the process I gained 15-20 pounds. My husband and I found out we were unexpectedly pregnant with our first child, but unfortunately, just 2 weeks later I had a miscarriage. This pregnancy had stirred baby fever within me, and I wanted another baby but was fearful that I might do something to lose it, so I decided the best course of action was no physical activity. Meanwhile I still had those medical problems, and they made it difficult for pregnancy to happen. Months came and went without conceiving, and I put on ANOTHER 15 pounds. Finally a year later we got pregnant, and now we have four precious babies. I have never struggled too much with taking off the baby weight gained, but that 30 pounds I gained prior to conceiving has haunted me.

Fast forward to January 2015 when I was at my wit’s end with weight loss. A friend told me about the group and I thought why not? It was the best decision in my weight loss journey ever. I have learned so much about the importance of what I am putting in my body! In my first challenge I was able to get the rest of that pesky pre-pregnancy weight off, and I moved forward with maintenance challenges. I continued to push myself even harder in the exercise category and focused on not worrying about the scale but enjoying looking in the mirror. At the end of this last challenge and having been a part of FIT for six months, I have come further than I ever thought possible. I GAINED weight during this last challenge, but a gain is not always bad. When you put the right stuff in your body, and you move your body on purpose, exercise results are amazing!! I now have abs and guns, and I never dreamed I would get there. The sense of accomplishment is phenomenal, and if I can get here, anyone can!”

amy

Amy Reese through the years. Looking great, girl!

Are you ready to take the plunge and get those “abs and guns” like Amy? Check out the FIT Strength Training Ideas on Pinterest.

Pssst. Don’t forget that we don’t live and die by what the scale tries to get us to believe. The truth is in how you feel and the confidence you exude when those inches fade away.

– Monica Brown

 

 

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50+ Free (and Frugal) Kid-Friendly Activities in Hot Springs

 

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Healthy kids are ACTIVE kids. The sad fact is that this is the first generation that may not outlive their parents. That is not acceptable. Let’s do our part to turn the tide by increasing the activity levels of our youngins. To get you started, I’ve collected over 50 cheap or FREE ideas that won’t break the bank. Many of these ideas are for local Spa City dwellers, but many can be used in your neck of the woods. Enjoy!

For the active family, consider participating in the Iron Ranger Challenge over the course of the year. Visitors can choose to hike, bike, paddle, walk, run, or roll 100 miles in any or all of the Arkansas National Parks. http://www.ironranger2016ar.org/

If you can rustle up an alligator farm t-shirt, kids get in free if they wear it. http://www.alligatorfarmzoo.com/ No t-shirt and don’t want to pay? Park beside the building and look at the half dozen deer that are right inside the fence. Hold up some grass, and Bambi might just saunter up to ya.

Walk the Grand Promenade and end by dipping your hand into the hot springs. Aaaah. That’s nice, isn’t it? See who can hold their hand in the longest. http://www.nps.gov/hosp/planyourvisit/grand-promenade.htm

Grab your tent and camp out at the gorge for just $10 a night! http://www.nps.gov/hosp/planyourvisit/campground.htm

Check out fishing poles from the Garland County library and fish at Family Park or Entergy Park. Here’s the schedule of when fish are stocked at those locations: http://www.agfc.com/fishing/pages/fishingprogramsfcfstock.aspx

Walk the trails around the lake at Entergy Park. There are two playgrounds — one with a huge spider web type jungle gym and one for toddlers. http://www.cityhs.net/Facilities/Facility/Details/Entergy-Park-6

Fly a kite at the Cedar Glades Park. http://www.hotsprings.org/places/cedar-glades-park-garland-county/ The Hot Springs R/C Flying Club also flies their planes there sometimes. Nifty. https://www.facebook.com/HotSpringsRCFlyingClub/

Ready for a hike? Choose a long or short trail, take a sack lunch, and enjoy the gorgeous views of our national park. http://www.nps.gov/hosp/planyourvisit/hiking-trails-list.htm

Go on a hunt for treasure with geocaching. http://www.agfc.com/education/Pages/EducationProgramsGEO.aspx

Restaurants in town where kids eat FREE (may be provisional with purchase of an adult entrée):

Cajun Boilers – on Mondays

IHOP – on Thursdays

Ruby Tuesdays – on Tuesdays

San Francisco Bread Co. – daily after 5

Trejo’s – on Tuesdays

Xaxby’s – daily after 5

*These days/times are subject to change. Please contact restaurant beforehand.

Gather your sand toys and have a grand old time digging and creating in the sand volleyball court at Family Park.

Give your children a chance to sell their homemade wares by participating in the Youth Market at the Farmers Market during the summer. Once a month it’s FREE! http://www.hotspringsfarmersmarket.com/Youth-Market.html

Check out seeds (don’t worry — you don’t have to return them!) from the Garland County Library (up to 10 packs per card for spring and fall) and start on that garden.

For truly brave souls, experience the death-defying thrill of a metal merry-go-round at Chattanooga Park.

Don’t miss when the AKC Dog Show comes to Hot Springs at the convention center. Your kids will love to see the hundreds of beautiful pups competing to be top dog. (no current event schedule available)

The Garland County Library has tons of free activities available: Lego club, board gaming club, movie night… Go pick up a calendar and schedule some free library activities.

Readers are LEADERS. You won’t regret signing your kids up to participate in the library’s summer reading program. They’ll receive prizes for hitting pre-set reading goals, and there is even an end-of-summer party for those who log 100 hours of reading.

Participate in Lowe’s Build and Grow projects. http://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com/

Hot Springs native Sonya Chittum offers a free city-wide Children’s Celebration Choir on Monday evenings at 5 pm at Gospel Light Baptist Church. Perfect for your little songbird. Contact Gospel Light to get in touch with Mrs. Chittum: 501-624-5288.

Tour the Fordyce Bathhouse downtown. They’ll love the gymnasium room. http://www.nps.gov/hosp/planyourvisit/fordyce.htm

Take Fountain Street from the downtown area and fill up your water bottles with the cold springs there. (There are also cold springs available down Whittington Avenue.) **Continue up the mountain after filling up those bottles to see the park lookouts.**

Go see the sweet dogs and cats at the animal shelter. (Don’t forget to ask to see the puppy room!) You might just leave with a furry friend. http://www.cityhs.net/126/Animal-Services

Tour the Mountain Valley Spring Museum and sample the water. http://www.mountainvalleyspring.com/water/visitor-center/

Did you know that Babe Ruth trained in Hot Springs NINE times? Check out the Historic Baseball Trail here. http://www.hotspringsbaseballtrail.com/see-the-trail/

Close your eyes, and you’re *almost* in Destin… Spend a day at the sandy beach-type area at Brady Mountain. http://www.ouachitasailing.com/TheLakes/BradyMountain/bradymountain.html

Take your horse enthusiast to Dawn at Oaklawn. http://oaklawn.com/racing/dawn-at-oaklawn/

See the M60 tank at Desoto Park and find the secret cave. https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DmVVBUkb0CVw&h=dAQHrqW-K

In the winter, take your own cocoa mix and styrofoam cups and make your own hot cocoa with hot water downtown.

In the middle of December be on the lookout for announcements about the luminaries in the historic district. Slowly drive through and enjoy the beautiful display.

Take a drive around the city and spot the different holiday light displays in the historic district, downtown, the courthouse, Trivista, and Eastgate.

Use the bike path at Whittington Park and then check out the playground equipment at Linden Park. Don’t forget your ball for the full-size soccer field. http://ar-hotsprings.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Linden-Park-12

Take a bike or scooter ride at Hollywood Park. Bring a basketball and shoot some hoops on the court there. http://ar-hotsprings.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Hollywood-Park-10

Gather loose change and go treasure hunting at Goodwill and Salvation Army and other thrift stores. Abilities Unlimited will sometimes have toy bag sales for a buck.

Stroll through Dryden Pottery (341 Whittington Avenue) and peruse the beautiful pieces there.

Enjoy Frost-T-Treat “Throwback Thursday” prices for cones and burgers.

Visit the Family Dollar stores (5 or 6 in town) following holidays and rack up on 90% 0ff sales.

Run relay races at public school tracks when not in use.

Take your pooch to the dog park located across from Hollywood Park. There are separate areas for large and small breeds.

Discover the waterfall while hiking at Lake Catherine State Park. http://www.arkansas.com/outdoors/hiking/trail-detail.aspx?type=H&trail=2&owner=Arkansas+State+Parks

Grab your tennis racquets and serve up some aces on the courts at Family Park. http://ar-hotsprings.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Family-Park-7

Did you know that the Spa City actually boasts SIXTEEN city parks? Grab this list and make it a summer goal to check out each one: http://www.cityhs.net/210/City-Parks

Visit the Hot Springs Slot Car Speedway at 419 Albert Pike for an inexpensive, yet exciting, time enjoying the whiz of the slot cars. It’s $5 for 30 minutes of fun, including the car.

Become a junior ranger. https://www.nps.gov/hosp/learn/kidsyouth/beajuniorranger.htm

Find the “lonely spring.” https://www.facebook.com/HotSpringsBroadcast/videos/1673942156221231/?hc_location=ufi

Dig for crystals at Miller Mountain. Ages 9 and under are free. Adults are $10. Make it an all-day excursion and bring a lunch. 58 Bighole Rd, Jessieville, AR 71949 (501) 984-5752

Not crazy about springing for Magic Springs passes but still want to hear the summer concert series? Grab a blanket or chairs and sit out on the old Magic Hills Golf Course at dusk on Saturday evenings in the summer to hear acts like Hunter Hayes perform. Here’s the entire concert schedule: http://www.magicsprings.com/concerts.php

Set up a time on Tuesdays or Thursdays to tour the old Army/Navy hospital. 624-4411

Visit the fish hatchery. http://www.arkansas.com/attractions/detail/andrew-hulsey-fish-hatchery/93190

Park behind the racetrack and watch the horses run without having to go inside. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1436/

Shred the new skatepark on Valley Street near the Boys’ Club.

Make the 1,300 foot hike up Mount Riante and take in the spectacular view. http://www.peakware.com/peaks.html?pk=3407

Visit Fox Pass Pottery. http://www.foxpasspottery.com/studio.html

Check out Movies at the Market in the summer at the historic downtown Farmers Market. Movie events begin on June 2, 2016. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1970/

2016 Scheduled Upcoming Events

Attend Cutwell 4 Kids at the Maurice Bathhouse and let your children create crafts on the first Saturday of each month. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1844/

February 26-28 – Hot Springs Boat and Tackle Show at the convention center. Children 12 and under are free (adults $5) http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1583/

March 10-12 – Kids 4 and under are free (everyone else $8 for the whole day) to watch the best high school basketball in the state for the high school state finals at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1584/

April 1-2 – Free admission for your own Katniss Everdeen fan at the Archery Shooting Sports Tournament at the convention center. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1585/

April 21-23 – Free admission on April 23 from 9 am – 2 pm for the Corvette Show at the convention center. 400 – 500 Corvettes expected to be there for your car fanatic to see up close. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1590/ http://www.centralarkansascorvetteclub.com/

April 23 – “From Salvage to Sculpture…” Check out the UPcycle Cultural Festival at the farmers market. No fee if your children wish to enter their statue. Apply here: www.hsfac.com http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1872/

May 6, 2016 is National Public Gardens Day at Garvan Woodland Gardens. Free to ages 0-5, $5 for ages 6 -12, $15 for adults http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1939/

Enjoy a beautiful handbell concert presented by Ouachita Hills Academy on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016, at 3 pm at the gorgeous Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens. Concert is free and open to the public. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1940/

May 22 – Interested in dance? Check out the Dance City Studio Annual Recital at Horner Hall at 2 pm. Free admission. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1725/

June 4 – Bring your water guns and wear your shower cap, robe, and slippers while you watch the hilarious annual Running of the Tubs downtown. Parade begins at 9 am and the Running of the Tubs at 9:30 am. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1482/

June 18 – The 4th Annual Tinkerfest at Mid America Museum is free to members and $7 for children and seniors ($10 for adults). You can spend all day mesmerized with the scores of eye-popping science exhibits. Don’t miss it this summer! http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1795/

July 1 – There are several free fireworks shows around the 4th of July. The Spa Blast at Oaklawn is one of them. Begins at 4 pm http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1811/ If you don’t dig crowds, drive up to West Mountain at dusk and watch from there. Beautiful!

July 30-31 – Lions Club Gun and Knife Show at the convention center with free admission for kids 12 and under (adults $7) www.hslionsgunshow.com

September 8-10 – Motorcycles aren’t really my thang, but if you like the dissonant sound of Harleys wafting into your eardrum, check out the annual bike rally. http://www.thehotspringsrally.com/

September 23-25 – Heard of Comic Con? Neither had I up until a couple of years ago. With the excitement of the new Star Wars movie and the constant influx of superhero movies, Hot Springs was bound to host its very own version, the 1st Annual Spa Con. http://www.hotsprings.org/events/event/1880/ For more info, call 321-2277.

December 2016 (exact date TBA) – attend the annual Tree Lighting and Gingerbread House Celebration at the Arlington Hotel (and if you’re lucky around New Year’s, watch it be taken down and snag some wrapped candy).

Do you have more ideas to share? Comment to let me know!

Monica Brown, FIT administrator

**Take an 8-week challenge: www.8weekfit.com

**Like the FIT page: https://www.facebook.com/8weekfit/

**Follow the FIT boards on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/8weekfitchallen/

 

 

 

 

This New Yorker doesn’t mince words, capiche??!!

There is something about “tough love” that motivates at times. What I love about our guest columnist, Donna Medeiros, is that she shoots straight (as many New Yorkers do), but yet she balances that blunt delivery out with love and compassion. I’m thrilled that our blog readers get to hear from her about what FIT has meant to her:

So we all like some type of accountability, don’t we?? Isn’t that why we join weight loss groups and buy into weight loss gimmicks? Take Weight Watchers for instance. They watch our weight for us, they see it each time we go in and give over our weekly fee. Begrudgingly, at times, we hand it over, knowing that when we step on that scale there is going to be a number we don’t want to see. Other times, we hand it over happily because we know that we have lost at least something, even if it is a couple of ounces. Then there is Medi-Fast. We pay hundreds if not a thousand dollars of our hard earned money to drink shakes twice a day and then eat a ‘well rounded, balanced diet.’ We go each week for our weigh-in knowing we have lost some weight because we’re so hungry day after day, and we hold on to the thought that once our stomach shrinks, the angry knot in our stomach will go away. We end up being ‘hangry’ (angry because we’re hungry!). There it is again: accountability. We pay our fee, and someone watches us step on a scale. Then there is gastric bypass. A major surgery not without risks — risks that people are willing to take at any cost just to be thinner, and then to only gain it all back plus some in a few years. GB is like putting a band aid on a gushing laceration. It will work for a minute, but eventually it will open back up. Oh, there are some who will do well on any diet, but it is few and far between who are able to make choices that will last a lifetime.

But have we learned HOW to eat and WHAT to eat? WW doesn’t care if you eat all of your points away in a Jim Dandy from Friendly’s, and you don’t care as long as you didn’t go over your points for the week. Medi-fast has taught you that in order to lose weight, you have to drink your calories away in 2 out of your 3 meals a day, and that drink gets old doing it day after day. Gastric Bypass taught you that you can’t eat and drink at the same time; that you will have to take vitamins for the rest of your life because the part of your gut that absorbs vitamins from the foods you eat has been cut away. These are just the tip of the iceberg of weight loss gimmicks that are out there.

But what FIT teaches you is how/what to eat. It teaches you about eating ‘clean.’ Clean eating is eliminating packaged/processed foods and eating things that are grown in the ground, not packaged in a can. It teaches about the importance of drinking enough water and eating the right portion size, something that most people have no idea about. It teaches you about reading labels: how to look for carbs, hidden sugars, and all the ugly processed stuff that we are putting into our bodies day after day. FIT is learning about YOU…what motivates you to eat, why you eat, to think about what you’re eating. It teaches you that it is ok to have a cheat day once a week but not to cheat EVERY day. It teaches you that even if you mess up one day, tomorrow is a new day. A new day filled with options and choices. It teaches you how to become informed — informed about what you’re eating. It teaches you the importance of exercise and how it is so good for our bodies. And it teaches you how to be a better you. FIT is a community of women all in different stages of life with different needs, health concerns, and limitations. But yet we are all connected by the desire to get healthier. There are no gimmicks, there is no pill, there is no shake. There are just women who have either joined FIT at inception, or women who have joined along the way.

FIT uses a daily checklist with points assigned for each activity on the list. There are points for drinking 8 cups of water a day, exercising for 30 minutes a day for 5 days out of the week, points for not eating sugar for 6 days out of the week, thereby giving you the opportunity to have sugary snacks one day that week. There are points awarded for not eating after 9 pm, points for eating 3 cups of fresh/frozen veggies, eating one piece of fruit daily and so on. This is when accountability and integrity come into play. And who are you accountable to now? There is no one at the scale recording your weight, looking at you over the top of the rims of their glasses all the while sitting in their cubicle, pushing your weigh-in paper back at you as you snatch it off the counter before someone else sees it. There is just you and a community on social media who are willing to be your cheerleader, your praying partner, or your accountability partner. They are a group of women you have never met, yet you are bonded to them through common goals: weight loss, health, and the desire to have that woman back that you once knew.

So to tell you a little about myself, I am a Registered Nurse, received my Associate’s degree in Massachusetts 12 years ago, and was an LPN for 7 years prior to that. I am currently working on my Bachelor’s degree and will be finished at the end of this year. I work in a primary care doctor’s office and currently hold the title of Care Manager. I sit with patients on a daily basis helping them to get in control of their diabetes, cholesterol, and their weight. I see them cry, I see them frustrated, I see their addictions. And the reality is, I am just like everyone else. I struggle with making good choices, eating healthy, and I need accountability as well. While I can sit behind my desk and give out instruction, help people decide on life goals, be their cheerleader and their accountability partner, I realized I needed all of those things as well. Prior to my joining the 8 Week Fit group, I talked to patients about the things that cause weight gain: carbohydrates, sugars, portion control, and it all worked. Patients lost weight, their blood sugar numbers were in better control, their cholesterol improved, but there certainly were things that were lacking. Now when they come in to the office we talk about eating 3 cups of fresh/frozen veggies, drinking more water, getting out and exercising, and getting away from packaged/processed foods. And the patients are doing well!!! They have more energy, they have a sense of control, and they are reading labels and understanding them!!

So you say you can’t exercise for 30 minutes a day because you don’t have the time, but I can tell you that everyone can find two times a day when you can exercise for 10 to 15 minutes. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. But I know it can be done, because I did it.

Do I know all the answers about food? No, but I do know that getting back to basics, getting rid of highly processed and packaged foods and eating more berries and veggies, is going to keep me healthy for a long time. I don’t want to spend my “Golden Years” paying copays at the doctor or paying for medications. And if YOU don’t want to, then I say you are reading this at the right time. Go ahead. You can do it. Find that woman you once knew and love her like you once did and make those changes. It is never too late to start.

301243_3467294562587_1121910548_nDonna Medeiros, Greece, New York

#SorryNotSorry

<drags soapbox to center of town>

<stands up on said soapbox>

<adjusts mike and clears throat>

Ahem…

There is an issue needing to be addressed that’s been welling up within me for some time now.

Women apologize WAY too much. (Here’s a satirical video on the subject: http://videos.nymag.com/video/Inside-Amy-Schumer-I-m-Sorry#c=8680372DVZQXJ0MY&t=)

I’m sorry to admit that I’m a pathological apologizer.

^^^ See? Apologizing that I apologize. I can’t help myself. Sigh.

Even some of the posts on my wonderful FIT forum, with over a thousand like-minded ladies working diligently on a collective journey to health, prove that over-apologizing is a sad fact for females. Ladies say they are sorry even when they’re doing good things for their health and moving in the right direction.

Recently, our weekly theme was “One Small Step.”

IMG_0544

Replacing the American flag with a poorly photoshopped FIT one was just an attention-getter, and I’ll save moon landing conspiracy theories for another post.

“One small step…” Participants were encouraged to earn points in the eight-week challenge by incorporating a small, health-related step in the right direction into their lives. What they did was up to them: adding a new facet of exercise, trying a new recipe, etc. Although we had fantastic results, some negativity still sneaked in. A few recent quotes from our group to prove my point (to be stated in my best attorney voice)…

Exhibit A: “I’m such a wimp. I could only finish half the tricep push-ups the right way.”

Exhibit B: “My split time was 12:30 (don’t laugh).”

Exhibit C: “This might not be much to some, but I did a half walk/run this morning.”

Exhibit D: “I only did 5 mile intervals…”

Exhibit E: “My push-ups are pathetic. I try, but I know it’s nothing even close to a proper push-up.”

If I could insert sound effects here, a “record scratch” or “abrupt silverware clink” would be perfect. Why are we APOLOGIZING and berating ourselves when we should be applauding ourselves for getting out there?

Cue inspirational photo.

Theeeere it is.

Theeeere it is.

Is it insecurity that we’re not good enough or worthy enough? Is it pride or the fear that we won’t live up to others’ accomplishments? There is simply no room for this thinking in our lives. II Corinthians 10:12 sums it up beautifully. “But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” In other words, be the best YOU that you can possibly be. And in the meantime, stop apologizing for moves in the right direction. Put your “I am woman, hear me roar” game-face on and start hashtagging the fire out of #SorryNotSorry. It would make a great t-shirt, really.

Whoops. Someone beat me to it.

Whoops. Someone beat me to it.

Maybe I just have too much Pollyanna-esque glass-half-full mentality in me, but I like to think that funneling out the negative can only lead to good things.

Remember when she was GLAD she received the crutches because she had no need for them? That's my girl.

Remember when she was GLAD she received the crutches because she had no need for them? That’s my girl.

Be #SorryNotSorry that you attempted to work out today, even with a toddler cramping your style by sitting on your face during your crunches. If you ran a 13-minute mile, you’re still inspiring people. You RAN. Use that #SorryNotSorry hashtag proudly.

So here’s the challenge to ourselves: Be confident in our health-related accomplishments without having to throw in a bunch of disclaimers. There will always be women more fit than you, and yet there will always be women who would die to be able to do what you are doing. There are both sides to the story, so just tell your story.

<drops mike>

“If I can, you can too…”

Our first FIT blog guest contributor is Iris Lancaster. You’ll be inspired to tackle those challenges after checking out her story. Don’t wait until the new year to change your life. Now is the time to get FIT! http://www.8weekfit.com

My FIT story began on June 30, 2014, just 6 weeks after my third baby was born. I started at 236.8 pounds with a goal to lose 50 pounds by Christmas 2014. I had lost that 50 pounds by mid-October, winning first place in two 8-week challenges in a row in the “pounds lost” category. I went on to lose another 24.2, for a total of 74.2 pounds lost.

Iris 1

I heard about the 8-week FIT challenge through a friend who shared her weight loss experience on Facebook. I knew immediately after reading the description that THIS was how I wanted to lose weight and get fit and healthy. I had been contacted and tempted many times by sweet, well-meaning friends encouraging me to try their drinks, shakes, or wraps. I always felt uneasy and hesitant about trying those. BUT, the FIT plan just made perfect sense to me: cut down on the sugary and processed foods and replace them with REAL and minimally processed foods, increase my water consumption, increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits in my diet, keep a food journal, and consistently exercise.

Among all of these changes, the one that I struggle with the most is excessively indulging in sweets. With the motivation, encouragement, and accountability that I received from being part of this amazing group of women, I quit coffee creamer, and I limited myself to sugary sweets only one day a week. I believe this was a HUGE contributor to my weight loss.

The other huge contributor to my weight loss was the decision to become a runner. Halfway through my first weight-loss challenge, my husband and I took our teen group to camp where there are no cardio machines, and I started running. When we returned home, I didn’t stop running. Never before had I run more than 1 mile at a time. I hated running. But I decided that I hated being unfit even more. Each day I saw improvement which gave me motivation to continue. On Memorial Day 2015, I completely a 15k race, my longest race to date, and I’m now training for a much bigger race in the near future.

Why do I share all this? Because if I CAN, you CAN too. I’m a 30-year-old mom of 3 kids: ages 4, 3, and 1. I’m a normal girl, with normal struggles, and normal opportunities. We can either make excuses (Like I did after my first two children were born. I have been there!), or we can change our thinking and our attitudes and decide “I AM going to take control of my health and get fit. I AM going to change my lifestyle and my habits.”

Something I share often is that the first step to changing your body is to stop hating it. Remember that your worth does not lie in a number on the scale. You are loved, and you are valuable no matter what your size. Jesus Christ died to offer you salvation from your sin. The God of the universe considers you worthy of His sacrifice! So please, dear sweet lady, stop with the negativity and self-loathing, and accept yourself where you are now. Then, and only then, will you be able to celebrate even the smallest victories and continue to be encouraged during the biggest of setbacks. Join our FIT team and make it your lifestyle.

Iris Lancaster

Iris 2

“Food, Glorious Food!”

“Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard!” The Broadway show Oliver! obviously wrote their opening number with me in mind. I’ve always LOVED food. Here’s proof.

My poor little jaw needed a hinge.

My poor little jaw needed a hinge.

Yes, even at that tender young age, no burger was safe from my clutches. Growing up with the winning combo of being athletic and having a high metabolism allowed me the pleasure of eating whatever I wanted (Taco Bell as an everyday afterschool snack? You betcha.) and whenever I wanted (Double Stuf Oreos dunked in milk at midnight? Yes, indeed.) with no consequences to my waif-like waistline.

Super skinny me in high school flirting with Presidents

Super skinny me in high school flirting with Mr. President

It wasn’t until my burgeoning birthing hips appeared that I was blindsided with the fact that I could no longer inhale a drive-thru Dairy Queen dipped cone and then immediately pull through Wendy’s for value fries dredged through a Frosty without DIRE consequences. Oh, the humanity!

Fast forward past trying and failing at a bazillion diets including, but not limited to, SlimFast (which certain unnamed male members of my household affectionately referred to as SlimSLOW), HCG drops (aka, I’m-only-eating-500-calories-a-day-and-you-may-or-may-not-be-murdered-in-your-sleep diet), and a super weird 3-day hot dog diet that made me question the meaning of life. I was four weeks postpartum with my second child and one click away from an Amazon order of my very own weight loss-inducing tapeworm when I saw a friend’s social media post about a weight loss competition that involved NO WEIGHT LOSS products. None. The competition aspect intrigued me, as did the accountability and list of daily common sense helps like eating veggies and fruit, drinking water, exercising, and laying off sweets. It seemed doable. And it was. I was finished with lose-weight-quick gimmicks and finally free from dieting! I lost 40 pounds learning to eat whole, clean, REAL foods.

At my heaviest (left) and sporting a rad FIT tee (right)

At my heaviest (left) and sporting a rad FIT tee (right)

Gone are the days of popping open a can of disgusting meal replacements. Discovering that NOTHING replaces the real food that God made our bodies to eat was a long time coming and a lesson that I just have to share with other women who find themselves in the same battle. FIT (Female Inspiration Team) is a ladies-only weight loss group that helps teach women that you don’t have to ever diet again. The unique thing about our challenge is that competitors are not permitted to use any weight loss products to win. Each challenge goes on for eight weeks, but my prayer is that lifestyle habits are subconsciously instilled at that time. You would be amazed at how much I’ve come under fire for just wanting to promote REAL FOOD. I can’t promise that you will lose all the weight you need to in 8 weeks, but I absolutely promise that our group will help equip you with the knowledge you need to continue with a LIFESTYLE that will eventually help you reach your goals.

Let me be transparent. I didn’t create this accountability group because I’m an authority on fitness and weight loss. I created it because I finally conceded to the fact that I needed help and couldn’t do it on my own. Sigh. Sometimes I feel like I’m still one whiff of a Sour Patch Kid away from diving into a vat of them. The green ones. Just one huge tub of the green ones. But I’m learning more every day and loving every high and low of the journey.

I’m stoked about our FIT blog because it won’t be limited to my own health-related ramblings. You’ll often hear from guest bloggers on a myriad of informative helpful subjects that will inspire you to get FIT. I can’t wait. Thanks for following. – Monica Brown

I would love to hear from fellow recovering Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food addicts. Contact me at 8weekfit@gmail.com.

July 2015 - Me and the newest little contributor to my ever-growing birthing hips

July 2015 – Me and the newest little contributor to my ever-growing birthing hips