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Packing for St. Petersburg!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hello again Sparkles :)

I am so excited! On Saturday, me and about 20 fellow Russian language students are going for an educational/cultural trip to St. Petersburg for four days! I've never visited Russia before even though it is our neighboring country and it only takes about 3 hours by train to go to St. Petersburg from where I live in Finland. Up until a couple of months ago, before I started my Russian language studies, I didn't speak a word of Russian and never imagined myself going to Russia, but here I am, packing to go to one of the most beautiful, exciting cities in the world filled with culture and architecture!

At first, I was a little worried about how I would be able to control and monitor my calorie intake while on vacation, but now I just feel like I don't want to stress too much about it. I'll order lighter options on the menu, I'll watch my portions and enjoy every single bite. I won't be tracking what I eat because that would be impossible since we're always going to be eating out. We'll probably be walking A LOT which is always good. I don't want to ruin my trip by constantly worrying about my calories or whatever. That being said, I won't use that as an excuse to overindulge, either.

I'm so excited to take this trip! I never imagined that I would go there. There are so many places I want to see and visit, but Russia or St. Petersburg have never been on that list. It'll be interesting to see what it's like over there! In Finland, people (especially older people) usually have extremely negative connotations with Russia (and mostly, for a good reason). Finland was at war with the Russians during World War II (twice, actually) as they tried to take over our country, but the Finnish troops were able to stop that from happening. I understand that older people still feel really negative about Russia because of that (in fact, my grandmother doesn't understand why on Earth I would ever want to study Russian after all her generation did to stop that from becoming an official language here).

I'm rambling!!! Sorry :) Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you guys because I'm so excited to be going there!

Also, here's something else I want to share with you! Another victory:

I haven't worn that jacket in over two years because it was too small, and now it fits perfectly!!! I'm so happy :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PASKALINI 4/13/2012 2:04PM

    Congratulations on the Jacket it looks awesome on you!

Enjoy the trip! That is so exciting! Take lots of pictures and enjoy all the new sights and sounds! As a Greek/American who moved to Germany I can say I never thought I would learn German (my German is still pretty bad) Bryan's Grandmother is British and she was totally unimpressed when we told his family we were moving to Germany. There are many war time memories that will forever be impressed in their minds. Heck my dad was like BLEH Germany why? He was born in Greece 1940 the year the nazi's occupied Greece. Have I let any of this put a damper on my time here NOT AT ALL. Do your thing!

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ZANNACHAN 4/12/2012 11:26PM

    Awesome! I hope you have a wonderful trip! I had a friend of mine, years ago when I was studying Spanish in Mexico (of all places, LOL) who had been to Russia and she just loved her visit. I hope you have an equally great time.

I can understand why your grandmother feels the way she does, but I do think that things like learning about other countries and visiting them is an important to promoting peace. Learning about another country and visiting it doesn't mean that you want to hand your own nation over to them, but rather establishing a positive relationship that may pay off in the long run.

I think you have a healthy attitude toward the food. I'm sure you'll be doing a ton of walking, which helps. I find that eating out, especially in foreign restaurants where you don't necessarily even know exactly what you're eating (though I will say that when I was in Mexico I quickly learned the names of key food items!) The first time I went to an Indian restaurant, I didn't have a clue what most of the dishes I ate (it was served family style) were even called, let alone if they were made with butter or whatever! But you can try to make healthier choices, not stress about things you can't control, and enjoy the trip.

Whoo hoo for being able to wear that jacket again! It looks fantastic on you--You look fantastic.

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IUHRYTR 4/12/2012 11:05PM

    When I saw your headline I was excited thinking maybe you were coming to St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, just a couple hours drive away. Still, this should be a terrific trip for you. Many years ago I was in Leningrad and was astonished at the architecture and the sights. Hope you can post some pictures. Enjoy. -- Lou

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MAGGIEX3UK 4/12/2012 5:57PM

    I hope you have an amazing trip! Be sure to take some lovely pictures of the beautiful city. I think it's so cool that you are from Finland
I think what I love about Europe is how really close it is to go a neighboring country. I was born in England and I took for guaranteed how close I was to the rest of the European countries. Now that I'm I'm the US, Europe is sooo far away and expensive!
Way to go on the jacket fitting! It lool great on you!
Safe travels

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MISSKLEIO 4/12/2012 5:35PM

    You look great! Have a wonderful time in St. Petersburg ... I hope to visit there someday.

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Week 7 recap: Signs of progress and too many Easter treats!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Hello Sparkles :)

This past week was both positive and challenging at the same time. I started my week on the right track, making healthy choices and meeting my nutritional goals. Then along came Easter with its many (irresistible) treats. Ahhhhhh. For the past three days I have been eating enough food to keep me going for a week! I'm visiting my family and my mom is a great cook, making all these delicious Easter foods and desserts. Even though I have been tracking everything, working out daily and trying to limit my portions, I have consistently gone over 2,000 calories for the past three days! AND I'M DONE.

Why is it so difficult to stay on track when you're not at your own home, making your own meals? While I've been here I've been using an electronic kitchen scale to measure all my portions and reading nutrition labels and planning ahead, and still I find it very difficult to stay within my calorie range. That's definitely something I want to and NEED to learn along the way.

I did work out every day, and today I burned 600 calories on my dad's stationary bike. A minor victory! :) I'm so happy to go back home tomorrow morning though, back to my familiar foods and routines. I intend to do very well for the rest of the week. Friday is my weigh in day and I definitely do not want to see the numbers go up!

On another note, my mom and my grandmother both commented on my new appearance and my positive attitude this weekend. My mom actually told me I seem to have so much more energy and I seem more like myself than I have in years. I feel different! I know I'm making progress beyond losing weight. I'm actually improving myself as a whole.

Here's another sign that I'm making progress:

A month ago, I couldn't even button up this top and now it fits perfectly! :) I love seeing changes like this, especially since this is one of my favorite summer tops and now I'm finally able to wear it again!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZANNACHAN 4/12/2012 11:08AM

    PS, I also indulged over Easter--both on regular food (hhmm, ham, which I almost never get) and with sweets (I don't wanna talk about it, LOL!) Moving on, not going to berate myself for it--the occasional indulgence isn't such a bad thing--but definitely time to refocus!

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ZANNACHAN 4/12/2012 11:07AM

    Whoo hoo for being able to wear that shirt! It looks great on you!

Yeah, I struggle with food when I'm away from home, too. It's hard, for a lot of reasons--1) I am serving myself at the table, and on plates that are unfamiliar, so there's more guess work involved--and I'm not terribly good at guestimating measurements. 2) And probably more importantly, I didn't cook the food and so I don't know if the rice dish is a healthy one or if it's loaded in saturated fats or whatever. And 3) my mom gets so disappointed if I don't eat something that she made! Thankfully, most of the places I visit regularly (my family, in-laws, etc.) cook reasonably healthy meals so I don't have to navigate a table ladened with fried foods and sweets or something. But it is hard.

I also have a really hard time working out when I'm away from home. 1) I'm self conscious about it, even though everyone I stay with is supportive of my working out. 2) I feel like I'm being a bad guest if I take over their living room to do yoga or whatever, and there's never enough room in the bedroom. and 3) it's really hard to find time to work out, especially at holidays when the days are jam packed full. Sparks recommends doing active things with family, to make it easier for everyone to be active, but that's just not an option with my mom's arthritis, my MIL's heart issues, etc.

So if you ever do figure this out, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would love to know how!

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FIERCE_FABULOUS 4/11/2012 12:59PM

    wooohoooo! you look super cute!! emoticon its so nice to hear from loved ones compliments and support. =)

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MAGGIEX3UK 4/11/2012 10:21AM

    Gorgeous shirt! What a nice accomplishment.
It's always great when others around us notice our continues to validate that we're doing something right! You my dear are on the path to success!

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PASKALINI 4/10/2012 2:52AM

    I love this blog! You look GREAT!

My family is so far away but I know if I went home I would be stuffing my self full of Greek food made by the wonderful cooks in my family no matter how much I weighed and measured! Sometimes it's nice and it's great that you are committed to getting back on track when you get home.

Congratulations on getting back into your favorite top. Successes like that sometimes feel better to me than a good weigh in or measurement day. I made Bryan watch me button up 2 different shirts and a pair of pants over and over because I couldn't believe that they would button and not look like all the buttons wanted to pop off! It's exciting and motivating. Keep up your great work! You can do this!

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IUHRYTR 4/9/2012 10:05PM

    In the mist of your inspiring progress you have identified several trouble areas: weekends, eating at others' houses, and holidays. As you focus on those areas, you will learn ways to handle those times and see even faster progress. Wishing you much success in overcoming those trouble zones. -- Lou

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CANES4EVER63 4/9/2012 7:47PM

    Congrats on the shirt fitting!!! Keep up the good work!

And I'm totally with you on the not being able to eat well when you're not in the kitchen! I definitely ate more than what I'm use to when I went home this weekend! It was all GOOD food though. Just too much of a good thing, I suppose. It's so much harder when you're not preparing your own meals... and for some reason, even though I'm full, I still feel like going back and getting seconds. I only do this when my parents cook - I don't understand it!

But keep on burning those calories and any damage that could have been done over the weekend will go away soon!!

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WHQPHQ 4/9/2012 5:22PM

    It's nice that your family are supportive, sometimes they sabotage your dieting attempts. It won't be the end of the world if you've eaten badly for a few days just get back on the wagon when you're back in the comforts of your own home!

Love that top! You have so many nice clothes!

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Making smart substitutions

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I've gotten pretty good at making smart and healthy substitutions over the past few weeks! Before, I might have had a cheeseburger and large fries if I were super hungry and had no time to make dinner but now (if I feel like eating fast food) I go to Subway instead and have a veggie sub with light mayo. Or instead of eating an entire box of chocolates I only eat a few pieces. If I crave something sweet for an afternoon snack, I have a fruit and berry smoothie instead of ice cream or a milkshake. The opportunities really are endless and I don't feel the least bit deprived!

I guess it's all about making it work for you. I've been really paying attention to my eating habits and things I like and don't like, and tried to modify my diet by making healthy substitutions and watching my portions (and by tracking!) in a way that doesn't feel like I'm 'dieting'. And for the first time in my life, I've actually been able to do that! I definitely don't feel like I'm 'on a diet'. I don't get cravings because no food is completely off limits and I can enjoy everything in moderation. By allowing even the not-so-healthy stuff, I've stopped craving them like I used to. How ironic! I feel like I can finally do this because it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. I'm constantly learning about myself and what works for me, and it's so fascinating! I'm loving every minute of it :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 4/6/2012 12:00AM

    emoticon! I also like the veggie subs and agree that nothing should really be off limits because the more we deprive ourselves the more we crave what we're denying ourselves. Control is key as you've said. I enjoy following this new way of life of yours and reading of your success. One positive day at a time, right? -- Lou

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MAGGIEX3UK 4/5/2012 7:13PM

    That's great! I've always said the key is moderation in what you choose to eat. Keep up the great work

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CANES4EVER63 4/5/2012 6:32PM

    Congrats on the great work!! Keep it up!!

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WHQPHQ 4/5/2012 5:18PM

    I've really gone off fast food, I used to go to the McDonalds drive-through on the way home from work because I knew I wouldn't be bothered to cook at home. Since I've started SP, I haven't! emoticon
I love to eat fruit and veg as snacks, plus I've tried a whole load of new nuts that I didn't expect to like. Have to be careful because they are super high in calories but it's all good fats and vitamins and minerals.

Your way of thinking is they way I'm thinking at the moment, people on regular diets are shocked that I can eat cake and not feel bad about it. I'm not on a diet though!!

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LIZ1147 4/5/2012 5:10PM

    Good job! I'm glad you are finding it easy to make substitutions. I have found by making healthier substitutions and eating more fruits and veggies, that I very rarely have cravings anymore. I also have more energy. Keep it up! I hope it works for you!

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Just a thought!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Just something I found and wanted to share with you guys! This is so true! We might not be where we want to yet, but that shouldn't stop us from loving our bodies, flaws and all!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIZBIZ9 4/4/2012 8:34AM

    this is definitely true! Sometimes hard, but necessary!

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IUHRYTR 4/3/2012 6:48PM

    WHQPHQ's reply hit it on the head. Thanks for the reminder. -- Lou

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LIZ1147 4/3/2012 5:10PM

    Thanks for sharing that! It is so true!

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WHQPHQ 4/3/2012 3:08PM

I think we are harsher to ourselves than we would ever be about a friend who looked the same. Love love love!

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My day in pictures :)

Monday, April 02, 2012

When I woke up, I made myself a healthy breakfast. Low-fat vanilla yogurt, fruit muesli and 10 (I counted!) seedless grapes. Delicious!

For lunch, I had a tomato and cheese sandwich with a hard boiled egg and half a banana for dessert :)

I then got ready to go to my sister's art school's gallery opening, and ended up choosing this outfit:

It was great seeing my sister and her beautiful paintings. One of them is in the background of this picture:

I even found a couple of pictures of myself at the gallery! I modeled for my sister's photography project last fall, and she ended up choosing two pictures for the art show.

By the time we got back home it was getting late and it had started to rain. I really didn't feel like going for a walk but - AS PROMISED! - my fiancÚ Tommi and I went for a short walk before dinner. No workout clothes but at least I got some walking done :)

I forgot to take a picture of my dinner! :( I had some dark spaghetti with some delicious tomato sauce & fresh mushrooms and zucchini. I had a tangerine for dessert!

All in all, a fun and healthy day!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIERCE_FABULOUS 4/11/2012 1:01PM

    you wear the cutest outfits!! and the food you eat sounds so delicious and different. you look so pretty, wtg!

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MAGGIEX3UK 4/4/2012 10:50AM

    I really enjoyed reading this blog and looking at all the pictures. Your food looks delicious and your sister is an amazing artist

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ZIGZAG123CC 4/3/2012 3:47PM

    I wish I could dress myself as fashionably as you do!

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WHQPHQ 4/3/2012 11:39AM

    I love food blogs! =)
Your outfits are amazing, I love wearing skirts and yours are really cute! emoticon

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IUHRYTR 4/2/2012 8:57PM

    This was a fun read, Annie. Makes me feel a part of your day. Thanks. -- Lou

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LIZ1147 4/2/2012 6:01PM

    That tomato and cheese sandwich looks tasty...I'm definitely going to have to try that sometime, considering I love both. Love your outfits in the pictures! Super cute!

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LUCYGODDESS 4/2/2012 3:58PM

    Enjoyed seeing your day "in pictures." You did fantastic today!!! emoticon

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ONUTHIN125 4/2/2012 3:53PM

    emoticon emoticon Spark On! emoticon

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