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The Midwest has Made me Fat

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hello Strangers,
I've been tracking calories on Spark for the last two months but haven't been using many other features on the site. There's just one thing I want to say today: the Midwest has been terrible for my health.

I joined Spark summer of 2012, about a month we moved from North Carolina to Wisconsin. I was terrified because I'd gained 5 lbs and was having a horrible time losing it. I started working out upwards of 2 hours a day. Eventually I just fell away from the site. My first weight log after gaining weight was 142

I returned in Spring of 2013 a few months before my wedding. I don't remember exactly what I weighed when I started, but my last weight log was on 4/13, 150 lbs. I believe I was able to get it down to about 145 before the wedding. When I returned home I thought I'd become aware and good enough at paying attention to how much I consumed -- I'd never tracked calories before moving to the Midwest! So I stopped using Spark again.

This morning I tracked my weight and did measurements for the first time since 4/13: I weigh 156.8. All measurements were exactly 2.5 inches larger except for arms.

I know this issue has many factors. When we first moved here, for example, I was shocked at how much meat and cheese there REALLY is. We were thrilled to try all the new microbrews, started drinking PBR, and grilling brats on a fairly regular basis. Today, nearly 2 years later I've all but cut out cheese once again. I'm eating lots of homemade veggie soups, stirfry, etc. But what is the issue here? There are no evening walks or morning bike rides in addition to my workouts. I thought today I'd take a nice long walk. But it's mid March, 23 degrees, no sun, so windy my windows are shaking in the panes, and looks like it will either rain or snow at any minute. Would you go out in that?

Ever since we moved here I have tried new ways to combat this weight gain. I feel OK saying this: the Midwest is my greatest antagonist. If I were trying this hard living in the South I'd weigh 20-30 lbs lighter simply because my lifestyle there is so different.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CORNEJ2 3/25/2014 2:46PM

    I feel ya. I am actually on the other end of the spectrum for most of the year, though. I live in AZ and while the weather is absolutely beatutiful for a total of 2 months of the year (for me anyway) It is BLAZING hot over the summer and exercising outside is impossible and dangerous. I am so bored of the gym!! I am trying to get my hubby to move to San Diego...Nothing is more motivating to me than to run on the board walk!! BUT I could almost guarantee that I would be thinner there...

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CLRWILLIAMS25 3/12/2014 9:36PM

    While I don't live here and am only in the Midwest ofr a week for work, I totally see what you're talking about. Lots of meat and cheese and not very many vegetable options. I got broccoli as a side for dinner only to have it sitting in a bowl of butter!

I also think getting outside puts you in a better mood and less likely to turn to comfort foods. Hoping you get some weather relief so you can get outside soon :)

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REDSASSENACH 3/12/2014 9:56AM

    Sausage, cheese, and beer. Three of my favorite things in the whole world to put into my face. I'm in Indy, but most of my formative years were in Colorado. Same thing- lots of outside activity there, healthier lifestyle in general. I'm totally down with the sausage/cheese/beer side of the Midwest in my heart, but I'm trying to stay away from it, too.

Getting married tends to bring along a few pounds with it, too. I find it easier to get lazy and put on weight when I'm content.

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Afraid of Food

Friday, September 13, 2013

You know who I'm talking about (or maybe you've been that person). It's a look someone gets when they're tempted to try some delicious calorically dense food. The graceful decline. I've noted this over the years and through my fitness journey have repeatedly said "I want to be healthy but I don't want to be afraid of food." I don't want to be that person. I'd rather be overweight than be the prig who doesn't eat cake. Since this recent bout of weight gain, however, I'm in the market for change and have returned to the subject.

This time what it draws to mind is my attitude towards coconut. A few years ago I had my first allergic reaction to coconut water. After it first happened I was distraught and would still try a few bites of foods that contained coconut -- penang, carrot cake, whatever. Each time I'd experience the same things, throat swell, cloudy thoughts, itchiness, rash. It's scary. I never know how bad the reaction will be and I still don't have an epipin. Eventually I admitted I should stop trying to eat it and my feelings of grief were replaced with revulsion. Instead of remembering how tasty coconut based curries are all I think about is how scary it is to feel my tongue swell inside my mouth. I don't touch the stuff anymore. I don't want to, it hurts me.

See where I'm going with this? I love all things unhealthy. Bourbon sours, red velvet cake, aged meats, cheese! Burgers. Popcorn. Pasta. So much delicious food that I want to eat all the time. But why should I love these things so much? My lack of self control caused a childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood of low self esteem, guilt, weight fluctuations, hangovers! Maybe I should stop associating tasty treats with sweet bliss (and maybe a little bit of the forbidden) and blame them for causing all those sh*tty emotions. Why shouldn't I feel revulsion? I'm tired of experiencing dread when I step on the scale or (horrors) look in the mirror. I'm tired of untagging photos on Facebook and having to wear my size Medium house pants. I'm tired of weighing more than my husband. I want to look good when I see my family at Thanksgiving. I don't want to feel self conscious the next time I step on stage. These are shallow, yes, but they're things I want. Maybe an attitude shift is in order and what I should feel towards unhealthy foods is not fear, but anger!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CORNEJ2 10/9/2013 2:30PM

    I, like you, love food! You have a great perspective...Whatever gets you through, I always say. For me, I think about what is happening in my body to help gross myself out...what I mean if I choose to eat Doritos instead of an apple, what does my body have to do to process it? Where do the ingredients go? I try to follow it all the way through my body...Doritos - salt to kidneys to fat fingers from swelling, excess fat to ass...Apple - no salt or fat so, ummm, energy from natural sugar and fiber to help regulate what I have accepted is virtually unregulatable for me (anyone say IBS? TMI, I know) Catch my drift? :)

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WENMARIE78 9/13/2013 1:04PM

    I think this is a great way to look at it. Thank you for the insight.

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IGSBETH 9/13/2013 12:16PM

    I love this blog. I have to agree with what you say.

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RODGRODMEDFLOD 9/13/2013 12:03PM

    What a great blog! Your perspective is fantastic.

emoticon emoticon

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First Blog in a Long Time

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Hello Sparkers!

Just getting back into the groove of not only this site but also diet/exercise. A couple months ago I took up a seasonal job doing cleaning and minor repairs on violins. That, in addition to rehearsals, teaching, and commuting an hour a day meant I REALLY didn't have time to exercise. Unlike my husband, however, I don't stop eating when I don't exercise. After a few months of this I decided it wasn't worth it. I knew I was gaining weight -- I'm so fat it's uncomfortable -- and quit the job. I started working out again two weeks ago and this week slowly eased back into tracking calories / exercise. Finally weighed myself a couple days ago and yes it was worse than I ever could have imagined. But that's the way it goes and I'm back at it to try again. I feel it necessary to tell you I can't bring myself to change the ticker, so what you see as current weight is a lie.

We suspended our gym membership until it's too cold to exercise outside so workouts tend to either be walk/jog or riding the bike. This week I started walking/jogging with a friend and it's WONDERFUL.

Today's workout:

10 mile ride 45 minutes
Found this link from someone else's blog (and did it) :

And will walk/jog with friend this evening.

Question: while I was gone Spark changed the calorie counter so that you have the option for it to monitor calories consumed versus expended. I'm using that option because it's new but basically every day that I work out it increases my calorie range. I like the idea of being "allowed" to eat more than 1550 calories a day but not sure if it's beneficial. Thoughts?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALICEART2010 9/8/2013 6:24PM

    It was suggested to me to stick to the "low end" of the calorie range to see better results.? It just depends on how much I expend for that day.
It's difficult for me but not impossible. The more you exercise, the more you can eat.

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Low Calorie, Healthy Meals

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

I'm one of those weirdos who prefers to work out on an empty stomach. I typically drink coffee, go the gym, and come home around time for lunch (11am is not too early!). Over these months I've been trying different foods which meet a criteria I will call LCFSH: low calorie, satisfying, filling (those two are not always the same thing!), and healthy. Some foods are healthy, low calorie, and maybe even filling, but they may not satisfy. For instance, many times putting tuna in a salad just simply doesn't fill me up and satisfy as chicken does. And while a gin martini is low calorie I'm way more satisfied drinking a glass of wine.

Here's a couple great meals I've discovered which also happens to be probably exactly what I'll eat today:

1/2 Cup Light and Fit Nonfat Yogurt: 45 calories
3/4 Cup Shredded Wheat and Bran: 120 calories
1/2 Cup Raspberries: 30 calories
195 calories

Afternoon Snacks:
50/50 Salad Mix: 20 calories
Low Fat Feta: 50 calories
Light Caesar Dressing: 70 calories
140 calories

Fiber Plus Protein Bar: 170 calories

Above Salad with 3 oz chicken: 300 calories
White Wine: 150 calories

Extra: Soymilk 1 cup (in coffee, etc)

Daily Total: 1055 calories

My suggested intake is 1200-1550 calories a day, so as you see this even leaves room for another low calorie snack or too.

Anyone have favorite meals that meat my LCFSH criteria?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIKIMAV 6/18/2013 9:16PM

    Mm I love all of these ideas!

Well I love all freggies so I eat almost daily a huge plate of vegetables ( now that it is summer mostly tomatoes and cucumber) with or without olive oil (depends on whether my my calories intake allow it each day)
fruit obviously,

and tuna! Actually any kind of fish is great, but personally I dislike the procedure of cleaning the fish so instead I try to eat 2 cans of tuna every week. And goes well with any kind of salad, or even better with pasta (if you manage to stay within range with the pasta of course!)

Oh and something else I do very often is just slicing peppers, eggplants and carrots, and grilling them for a few minutes , and yum.....they are so sweet... I usually combine them with yogurt or pasta.

oh... now I cannot stop thinking of all! I will go to the grocery first thing tomorrow! emoticon emoticon

P.S.I know most people don't find vegetables filling enough, so I am not sure whether these will meet your LCFSH criteria, but with the amount I eat they are for sure enough for me! I mean my typical salad is at least 500 grams of veggies, so....

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FISCHY19702 6/5/2013 1:36PM

    My daily usually goes like this:

Breakfast & repeat for Lunch:
Slim fast - low carb shake (20g of protein)
Piece of fruit

Around 600 calories total - so 300 each meal and believe it or not, I feel full and satisfied because there is so much protein in the shakes.

Afternoon snack:
100 calorie pack of popcorn

around 200 calories

That means I still have between 400 - 700 for dinner, which is more than enough for a variety of options ranging from eggs/hashbrowns, pasta with bocca crumbles and sauce, tacos, etc.

Because I'm getting 40+g of protein in for breakfast/lunch, I feel more satisfied throughout the day and also feel like I have enough energy for my 20-30 min afternoon workout. Even if I get in a 30 min workout before breakfast, I don't feel the need to eat more to compensate.

I also am more of an evening eater, so I like having so many calories left over for dinner ~ espec. in case I want to sneak a little dessert in. Some days I am closer to the 1200 range, some days the 1500 range.

I do want to try to stop leaning on the slimfast as my main meal source for breakfast/lunch, but it is hard to pack as much protein into 180 calories through "real food" so I struggle. Thanks for sharing some ideas!

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Bikini Boot Camp Plan?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I found this yesterday on and am not entirely sure what I think. I sort of respect it a lot and am super intimated! Here it is:

Bikini Boot Camp Plan

A Refresher of the Rules

This is a lifestyle change, so do not think of it as a diet. Try to stick with this as long as you can!
Don't lose sight of your goals. You can do this!
Drink lots and lots of water. {Tone It Up tip: "Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, get that calendar out and mark it down to remind yourself.}
As soon as you wake up, have one cup of lemon water. Make sure you drink it at least 30 minutes before you eat.
Pick one exercise to do every day (save one day for rest). Need a little inspo? Listen to my workout mix!
Do all of the exercises listed under "Everyday Exercises" each day in addition to your selected workout.
Pick one meal from each category for each day.
Pick one snack for each day.

The Off-Limits List

No white breads, large portions of cheese or fried foods. {Tone It Up tip: Try to limit these but donít become obsessiveóleave a little wiggle room for your favorite foods.}
No candy, baked goods, or ice cream. Ideally, no sugar! (Learn how to curb your sweet tooth by clicking here.)
No soda or flavored drinks.
No eating 2-3 hours before you to go bed.

Exercise Options

Run for 45 minutes
Alternate sprinting and walking for 60-90 seconds for 30 minutes
1 hour of yoga, kickboxing or Pilates
Cowabunga Full Body Toning Workout
45 minutes of spin
The Aussie Babe Sunseeker Workout
20 minutes of cardio of your choice (Make sure you break a sweat!)
2 sets of my arm workout + 30 squats, 30 lunges, 30 leg lifts for each leg
Any of the exercise options from my 7 Days to Skinny Jeans Plan

Everyday Exercises

50 crunches in the morning, 50 crunches at night
60 second plank in the morning, 60 second side plank on each side at night {Tone It Up tip: Side planks will blast your love handles! Pulse your hips to the floor and back up to increase the intensity.}


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEGSMINDHEART 5/24/2013 11:05AM

    Does the Cowabunga Full Body Workout involve dressing up like a TMNT and eating pizza? I can do that. ;)

I actually like the sound of it. Maybe I'll do that to kick myself in gear once my sister gets married on June 1st and I have time to breath again!

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LUNABYRD 5/22/2013 4:59PM

    Some of it might be a little restrictive, but in general I think it's not bad. For someone just starting out though I would start with fewer crunches and work up to 50.

I hesitate with anything that states drinking lemon water will fix everything. I have super sensitive teeth and can't eat citrus like that. I know it's supposed to help with digestion, but I guess you have to know your limits.

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IGSBETH 5/15/2013 2:40PM

    Intimidating but smart!

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STODD251 5/15/2013 12:59PM

    Definitely intimidating, but I'm sure you'd see results if you stuck to it.

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JAMIEBOYD328 5/15/2013 12:16PM

    it would be difficult but emoticon

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MYUTMOST4HIM 5/15/2013 12:16PM


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