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Pictures from St. Petersburg!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I had such a wonderful trip :) Four days was a really short time to get to know such a big city but I did get to see A LOT and experience so much! I knew St. Petersburg is such an old, beautiful city but it still surprised me how beautiful it actually is. The canals, the old buildings, the churches... I was blown away! But, then again, as soon as we traveled away from the city center we saw a lot of poverty and slums, things you basically never see here in Finland. That's the things about Russia, I guess. The rich are filthy rich and live in exquisite old palaces and the poor are really dirt poor and live in slums.

Anyway, here are some pictures! I took almost 500 pictures (!!!!) while I was there so it was really difficult to choose the ones I would upload here.

Beautiful old buildings along the Nevsky Prospekt, the main street of St. Petersburg.

St. Isaac's Cathedral.

The Neva River with the Hermitage on the far right.

Me and my friend Heini.

The Church of Savior On Spilled Blood (that's seriously the name of the church!). So beautiful!

The Hermitage.

At lunch with a group of friends.

Having some white wine in a nice and stylish bar/club called Gamma.

Did some shopping as well! ;)

The shopping mall, Galeria. It was HUGE!

My friend Heini and me! :)

Enjoying a glass of white wine with my friend Nita!

I hope you enjoyed them! I had such a wonderful time!! We ate well, walked EVERYWHERE (my feet were so sore when I got back home) - and as a plus, I even lost a pound while I was there!

Now it's back to normal, however, and I'm back to tracking what I eat. It's always tough to re-gain the momentum and get back to your normal routine after being away for a while, at least for me. But I'm working on it! ;)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WHQPHQ 4/29/2012 8:32AM

    Love your photos, I'd love to visit but the visa costs so much!

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41SUSAN14 4/23/2012 11:45AM


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GAYLA1271 4/21/2012 7:49PM

    Thank you for sharing your pics. Looks like you had a great time and got to see lots of beautiful places.

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IUHRYTR 4/21/2012 7:39PM

    I have looked forward to seeing pictures of your trip. Guess all that walking paid off. I admit ignorance that I didn't know St. Petersburg had canals. Thanks for the travelogue an the education. Glad you had a nice time. -- Lou

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MAGGIEX3UK 4/21/2012 6:57PM

    Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing

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WALKINGRED 4/21/2012 6:02PM

    Love the pictures! What a fun trip!!

Take me with you next time, pleeeease emoticon

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LIZ1147 4/21/2012 5:22PM

    St. Petersburg looks gorgeous! Such beautiful old architecture. You look goregous as well. Glad you had such a great time!

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PASKALINI 4/21/2012 3:52PM

    All the pictures are fabulous! You look great.

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CANES4EVER63 4/21/2012 3:04PM

    Congrats on losing a pound while going on vacation, that's awesome!!

And your pictures are gorgeous! I love St. Peteresburg, it's so beautiful there! You made me miss it!! I'm glad you had a fun time and were able to even go shopping!

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Week 8 recap: Two months and 15 pounds gone!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So itís been two months now, and Iím 15 pounds lighter a million times happier than on the day I finally committed to getting healthier and losing this weight. Iíve learned so much along the way and I know I still have a lot to learn. I donít mind that Iím losing weight much more slowly than other times when Iíve wanted to lose weight. This time, I want to take it one small step at a time to really make a change that will last and to be able to maintain the weight I will one day reach :)

This month I lost:
4.4 pounds (total loss 14.4 pounds)
0.4 inches around my waist (total loss 2.4 inches)
0.8 inches around my hips (total loss 2 inches)
0.8 inches around my bust (total loss 1.6 inches)

Next month, my goal is to:
- lose 10 pounds by my birthday (May 19th)
- do an hour of cardio (mainly walking/light jogging) at least five times a week
- track what I eat every day
- get at least 5 servings of fruit and veggies
- stay within my calorie range EVEN ON THE WEEKENDS!

If I manage to not go over my calorie limit even on the weekends and if I work out regularly and eat my 5 servings of fruit and veggies, I will reward myself at the end of every week. Iíll give myself something nice (a manicure, new top, a movie night) for the good work Iím doing. Iím thinking of maybe only weighing myself again on week 12 (on my birthday). Maybe that will keep me motivated to work hard to reach my goal and prevent me from becoming too obsessed with the scale.

Iím so proud of myself for coming this far already. I know 15 pounds isnít that much and I have a long way to go to my goal, but itís not all about the weight. Itís about how I feel. How my clothes fit. How much energy I have. I keep noticing positive changes in myself every day, and it inspires me to keep on going!

Anyway, Iím off to St. Petersburg now! I wonít be updating while Iím there, so Iíll see you guys again on Wednesday!

Have a great weekend! :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZANNACHAN 4/16/2012 4:16PM

    Have an awesome trip!!! I'm looking forward to your stories when you get back!

I think that it makes a lot of sense to focus on the healthy choices and how you look/feel than on the scale. If I went by the scale, I'd probably have given up ages ago... but I know I'm thinner, stronger, and healthier and I know that every time I make a healthy choice--eat fruit instead of candy, drink water instead of pop, go for a walk instead of sitting on the couch--then I'm doing something good for myself.

Congratulations on the weight loss--and even better to being thinner, having more energy, and in general feeling better about yourself! Way to go!

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IUHRYTR 4/14/2012 5:32PM

    An, it is so much fun to read the happiness in your words about your progress. I know you will keep it up. Have a great time on vacation. -- Lou

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CANES4EVER63 4/14/2012 7:02AM

    Congrats on your efforts so far and you will do awesome with meeting your goals for the next month! Keep up the great work!!

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My first video blog!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

I hope it works this time; I tried uploading this here before but it wouldn't work :( I was so nervous while filming this, haha! My hands were literally shaking. Sorry for the bad quality in advance! Hope you enjoy it :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOGUSANNIE 4/13/2012 6:44PM

    your accent are beautiful...we all have some kind of accent...keep on vlogging!!! you are great!!

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IUHRYTR 4/13/2012 5:28PM

    Beautiful. I feel as if I have finally met a dear friend. Accents are attractive. In high school, after living in Scotland for two years while Dad was stationed there with the Navy, I was told I had a Scottish accent. Now, nothing, but I've long wanted a little twang or something so people would say, "You're from somewhere, aren't you?" emoticon I hope to see more of you, Annie, and to read of the fantastic time you will have in Russia. emoticon -- Lou

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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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