OAC #YWM2014…I am SO excited!

It’s only 79 days away, and the excitement is killing me!

It's almost here!

It’s almost here!

Last year, I attended the Obesity Action Coalitions 2013 “Your Weight Matters” Convention. Not only did I get to meet and mingle with some amazing advocates and representatives for the fight against obesity (including my idol, Michelle Vicari of the “The World According to Eggface” blog which inspired me to start the SeeSondraSlim blog in the first place!), but I was afforded the opportunity to attend workshops with some motivational, inspirational, and ridiculously educated experts. Check out my post from last years event here!

Chilling on the gorgeous hotel grounds at #YWM2013 in Phoenix, AZ between sessions!

Chilling on the gorgeous hotel grounds at #YWM2013 in Phoenix, AZ between sessions!

I left YWM 2013 with a renewed sense of purpose, and more importantly, with more resources and information to help me not just on my own journey, but with the information I needed to be a better educator advocate myself!

This year, the Your Weight Matters 2014 Convention takes place in Orlando, Florida from September 25-28. I was originally going to have to opt out this year, due to budget issues and switching jobs (as of next week! YAY!), but this year, the OAC even has a scholarship opportunity to attend! Naturally, I applied as soon as I learned about it, and will be anxiously awaiting any word until they announce the recipients in August.

I think that events like this are essential to success for those who want to be a bigger voice and advocate for Obesity. It’s challenging in a world full of Photoshop and celebrity influence to stress the importance of not only body positivity, but overall health and wellness.

OAC’s YWM Convention exposes attendees to so many resources and speakers. Check out the 2014 Event Agenda here!  You can also check out some fun YouTube videos on #YWM2014, too!

The OAC is looking for bloggers/vloggers to help spread the word so we can make #YWM2014 better than ever! If you’re interested, you can email mvicari@obesityaction.org for guidelines and helpful info/links to share with your followers. You can also feel free to share or re-blog my post, if you’re too busy to put one together! You can also post badges, fliers, etc. to your social media outlets to help spread the word! Click here to see what content is available for you, and use it to your hearts content! :)

I really hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about this amazing event, but I hope even more to see you in Orlando in 79 days! ♡

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Clean Eating Challenge: Days 4, 5, & 6!

The Buzz Feed Clean Eating Challenge has been really good to me so far!

I have no complaints, actually. The food isn’t boring. It isn’t super hard to prepare. It’s not outrageously expensive (thank you, Sprouts for having a bulk section).

I especially enjoyed making asparagus under the broiler, and got a little naughty. I used some leftover prosciutto in my fridge (so it wouldn’t go to waste. And because I’m italian…and partially because I lack some self control!)!
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Days 4, 5 and 6 have been delicious, thanks to all the recipes!

Check them out at these links!

Buzz Feed Clean Eating Challenge Day 4

Buzz Feed Clean Eating Challenge Day 5

Buzz Feed Clean Eating Challenge Day 6

I did totally “cheat” on Sunday, and got some frozen yogurt at FroYoLove by my house…I was having cravings for something ice cream-like. The good news is, I had sugar free, dairy free cherry with raspberries and blueberries in one half of my cup, and dairy-free pineapple with strawberries and kiwi in the other half!
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So overall, I didn’t do too badly…and I skipped the after-dinner snack to compensate somewhat.

As of this morning, I am down 3 pounds, which is pretty awesome. My 4 mile jog/walk around my neighborhood on Sunday probably helped with that! :)

I go shopping today with the Week 2 Grocery List, and then tomorrow will be the Day 7  mark!

Pretty excited to continue with this eating plan, and keep feeling and seeing results! I love that it’s not a “diet” so much as it is a better way to fuel your body.
More soon!
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Photo Reveal: Korin at Wonderland Boudoir!

Posing...

I had a blast back in April, modeling for The Boudoir Divas at their 2014 Boudoir Retreat. I met some amazing women on a journey to begin/improve their Boudoir skills, and I am so excited at the fact that photographers … Continue reading

Clean Eating Challenge Day 2 & 3!

It’s been a doozy!

The hard parts? NOT going to Starbucks for my second wind after my 3 hour lunch break, not being able to indulge in bakery fresh cookies (I snuck one yesterday, and told myself the calories don’t count if no one sees me. I am terrible, and my detoxing tummy made me feel it!), and well…. that’s about it. Not really bad at all!

The good things? My water intake is way up, I feel more energized in the morning, and I know where each and every ingredient in my meals comes from… plus, I am cooking more! Cooking is one of my passions, and it’s really therapeutic after a day of insanity! I’m glad this motivates (and um, REQUIRES) me to do so!

Day 2 was awesome. I finally had overnight oats. And I LOVE them! So much so, that I substituted the day 3 yogurt parfait for another batch of overnight oats…. because otherwise, plain Greek yogurt and I are NOT friends.

Day 2 Recipes are here.  Day two was a little bland after breakfast, mainly because I was all excited for the cabbage wraps… but I am allergic to mango and avocado. So…I didn’t take the time to think of worthy substitutes. I bought an avocado anyways, but chickened out when I realized I was out of Benadryl and too lazy to go to the store. :)

Blueberry Overnight Oats with chia seeds

Blueberry Overnight Oats with chia seeds

Day 3 Recipes are here. Day 3 was awesome! The Asian chicken salad with leftover cabbage and almonds and chicken was great… and I really enjoyed the vinaigrette too! I forgot to add the tomatoes to the salad… so when I make it again after the challenge, I’ll remember that part! I skipped the yogurt parfait today in favor of making another batch of overnight oats… because. I love them! My new favorite healthy breakfast… and it would make a great snack, too! It’s really filling (thanks to those oats and chia seeds), full of protein (as a WLS post-op I need 60-80 grams per day), and I eat it slowly to savor it. It took me so long to eat it at work this morning, I skipped the avocado snack.

Softening the shallots and garlic for the lentils...

Softening the shallots and garlic for the lentils…

Bubbling away!

Bubbling away!

Cauliflower "Steaks" that sound weird, but are SO addictive!

Cauliflower “Steaks” that sound weird, but are SO addictive!

 

A quick tip? Lentils are a lengthy process! Prep them ahead of time… or cheat a little bit! I have always bought the Trader Joe’s steamed lentils in the refrigerated section with the other prepped veggies. For the sake of showing you all how easy the challenge can be, I followed the Buzz Feed recipe, but you could easily doctor up the already prepped lentils.

Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils

Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils

Same goes for the quinoa…TJ’s has it in the freezer section, and it’s ready after 2 minutes in the microwave!

Overall, the Buzz Feed Clean Eating Challenge has really been…..FUN! I love that the menu is so structured, without being daunting and skimpy. As a matter of fact, I am eating about 1/2 of the meal serving, which means I am eating about half of the nutritional value… so I am keeping an eye on that in the case I need to double up other supplements.

Have you tried the Clean Eating Challenge? If so, what are your favorite meals so far?! Which ones are you looking forward to? That’s all for now, but I’ll do my best to keep you posted as I go!

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

 

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 1!

Today was a good day!

If you don’t count the 10 minutes I spent in the breakroom at lunch talking about all the food I CAN’T eat, it was at great day overall!

Day 1 recipes were today’s menu, and I found myself completely satisfied. As a matter of fact, I ate about half of every recipe, because I was so full – I didn’t even eat this evenings snack/dessert! Dinner was steamed kale with quinoa, chicken breast, and an orange vinaigrette with things like apple cider vinegar and olive oil. It was really good…I’m not even a big kale fan. The simple Buzz Feed steaming instructions helped a LOT.

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I especially enjoy that each day has the next day prep as needed. After I whipped up my awesome dinner, I prepped my overnight oats and stuck them in the fridge and breakfast will be a cinch in the morning. Plus, today’s dinner was half of what was prepared,  and the other half is for lunch tomorrow!  Saves me time, and makes my tummy happy!

Tomorrow is Day 2, and the Day 2 Recipes look great, also! I am really excited for the dinner menu, sans mango (I’m allergic).

More soon!

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Join me on the Buzzfeed 14 Day Clean Eating Challenge!

Let’s be real: When you hear the words “gluten free” or “low carb” in relation to eating or dieting…it’s an instant turn off! I love the Buzz Feed 14 Day Clean Eating Challenge concept,  mainly because the disclaimer that it’s both of those things didn’t fully register until AFTER I got super excited about it!

When you see the methodical, practical, and easy to follow guidelines for this challenge, it seems so EASY! The photos of food that had me salivating in all of their delicious looking glory didn’t hurt, either!

Buzz Feed has done all of the hard work for us. They’ve split the grocery list into two weeks, broken down each day into menus AND recipes with step by step instructions and photos,  and even gone so far as to provide guidelines for meals that you end up replacing with eating out!

I started my grocery shopping on Sunday, getting most of my dry ingredients, and today I got my meat and produce to start meal prep this evening and officially begin the challenge tomorrow. What I love is how flexible this challenge actually is. While you need to follow the menu day by day (leftovers are used for the next day withe most of the daily menus), you don’t have to start Sat/Sun as it does.  I tailored it to fit my payday schedule and the schedules of those doing the challenge with me!

So, today is “Day 0,”  and I followed instructions accordingly for prep.

I’ll be posting daily with the link to the corresponding day of the challenge,  so you can check out the ingredients and recipes…maybe you want to do the whole challenge, maybe you just want some new healthy ideas for meals.

We will be following some of the #tiu Tone It Up workouts while we go, with 4 scheduled work outs per week, also! Plus, walks and stairs at the beach! That new bikini I ordered from Swimsuitsforall.com better watch out! :)

Wish me luck! I’m hoping not only for a few pounds lost,  but for some new energy and excitement, too!

Check out tomorrow’s lunch and snack!
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What are some of your favorite resources for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle on a busy schedule?

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The #GoVoxBox Reveal!

Hey Everyone,

I am so excited to share my new goodies with you all. I am a member of a website called Influenster, where you take surveys and review products. By connecting your social media outlets to your Influenster account, you can get “status” for sharing things with others. I recently was qualified for the #GoVoxBox with an over health and fitness theme, and couldn’t wait to share all the goodies that came inside!

First Look!

First Look!

 

Each VoxBox comes with a card detailing the products and gives Social Media handles to use to share via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Typically, these cards go over the retail value of the products, as well!

Each VoxBox comes with a card detailing the products and gives Social Media handles to use to share via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Typically, these cards go over the retail value of the products, as well!

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The Vitamin Shoppe "Next Step" Weight Management Program goodies!

The Vitamin Shoppe “Next Step” Weight Management Program goodies!

I generally have very mixed emotions about The Vitamin Shoppe, simply because on the 3 occasions Sean has taken me there to look at supplements, everyone acts too busy to help us or answer questions about which of the millions may be suitable for us. However, I was very excited to see that they have this new Weight Management line, and I can’t wait to try the shake flavors and see if they are tasty enough to make this a regular part of my life!

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Along with the Next Step shakes, there is a shaker bottle too! I love that the shaker mechanism shape is that of a jack! I can’t wait to put this baby to use! Plus it’s a super fun color!

Aqua Spa Relax Body Crème in Lavender and Chamomile

Aqua Spa Relax Body Crème in Lavender and Chamomile

I am a big lavender fan, and I am excited to try Aqua Spa Relax products. I’ll be using this after my shower tonight…. lavender is supposed to aid sleep!

Blue Diamond Fruit Flavored Almonds in Blueberry

Blue Diamond Fruit Flavored Almonds in Blueberry

I have tried flavored Blue Diamond Almonds before, but they were toffee flavored. I can’t wait to rip these open after my workout tomorrow as a sweet snack!

PROFOOT Triad Orthotics

PROFOOT Triad Orthotics

YAY!!! Athletic orthotics that are affordable, easy to fit in multiple styles, and not completely bulky and weird looking! I am trying these babies out during my workout tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see if they help my stability! They are “3 zone, everyday orthotics clinically proven to relieve knee, leg, and back pain when worn in your favorite shoes.”

PROFOOT Pedi-Rock

PROFOOT Pedi-Rock

I love the pedi-rock concept! This is way less gross than the PED-egg craze, and it’s pretty cool that it can be used wet or dry. This will definitely save me the extra $5 for the callus remover add-on during my salon pedicures. :)

Playtex Sport Fresh Balance Tampons

Playtex Sport Fresh Balance Tampons

So, the cool thing about these tampons is that they are designed to neutralize odors for ultimate freshness. Girls who run marathons, go hiking, participate in extreme sports…. they are BAD ASS. But they are still girls… they have periods too. Staying fresh when you do high octane activity is a must!

Müller Greek Coupon for one FREE Müller Greek product up to $1.49

Müller Greek Coupon for one FREE Müller Greek product up to $1.49

I love, love LOVE Müller Corner Greek yogurt! There is one with little dark chocolate flecks and cherry compote…. and I’m not generally crazy about black cherries or dark chocolate…. but it’s SO good. I think it’s awesome that this product is getting some more exposure. The low fat yogurt with fun toppings or fruit really making eating healthy more enjoyable!

So, as you can see, this box is full of goodies to help make a healthy lifestyle even more enjoyable! I will gradually share more about these products as I use them, and I can’t wait to find some new favorite items in the process (PROFOOT orthotics are only $10.49 a pair! Can you imagine how much more inclined to be to support your feet at a great price like that?)!

What are your favorite items for a healthy lifestyle? And if you’ve tried any of these, I want to hear YOUR thoughts!

More later!

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

 

 

Learning to See the Pretty…and Photo Reveal from Agi M Photography!

It may sound a little stupid, but I have gotten pretty used to being “pretty.”

A lot of people think I’m really vain, self-absorbed, or shallow… but the fact of the matter is, I am just catching up. I’m making up for lost time. Making up for all of the years, days, hours and minutes that I told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Freshman Year Homecoming... circa 2002?

Freshman Year Homecoming… circa 2002?

Circa 2009...at karaoke with my Other Mother

Circa 2009…at karaoke with my Other Mother

All the time that I sat there and believed I didn’t deserve to be loved.

That was all, pardon my French BULLSHIT.

Your weight doesn’t determine what how much love you deserve. A bad haircut doesn’t instantaneously disqualify you from being treated with respect. It doesn’t work that way.

When someone says “You are so pretty!”  I smile, and accept the damn compliment with a “Thank you!” and I always try to genuinely return compliments as well.

But there is always that one person trying to rain on my parade and make me think that those compliments are undeserved. And lately, that person has been ME.

I literally cried when I saw that homecoming photo on Instagram. Partly because that point in life is hard to re-visit in general, but also partly because I needed a reminder that no matter how I might think I look or feel at times…I am NOT this girl anymore. I am so much stronger. So much braver. So much more confident in what she deserves.

I was honored and thrilled to be asked to model for The Boudoir Divas recently at their annual Boudoir Photographer Retreat, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d been considered in the first place!

I got there, got my makeup done, Candace came and did my hair…I put on my high wasted black panties, black bra, black bustier, and lace robe…and I felt ready!

I felt gorgeous! I felt secure!

As some of the photos made an appearance on Instagram, I started to feel less sure of myself.

As I mentioned awhile back, I ironically LOST weight on vacation in Hawaii. In the midst of my return, I was dealing with things being harder at work, Sean losing his job the day before I departed for Hawaii, and more… and next thing you know, the New Year is here and I’ve gained 20+ pounds.

I was so disappointed. I was so angry. More than anything…I was so ashamed. I pride myself on what I accomplished with weight loss, and here I was, failing. Gaining.

My immediate reaction was fear. Fear of becoming that girl again. So… when I saw these photos from the amazing and talented Agi from Agi M Photography, I was having a hard time seeing the pretty.

I was seeing the cellulite. The HUGE arms. The droopy thighs. The plain face.

(I should disclose that I opened this email Sunday morning at closing ceremonies for Relay for Life, after walking over 30 miles in a weekend, and operating on the one nap I took from 1-6 am. So, I was not the most aware of anything happening!)

You know what? My arms might be huge. But I can change that! My thighs might be droopy… but at least my surgeon said the first revision wasn’t perfect. My face isn’t plain. I’m just a tad dramatic when I see myself NOT smiling. Agi was so much fun to work with; so full of life, so excited, and so passionate about what she does. She is one of those people who you trust instantly, because you feel like you’ve known her forever (she is perfect for this industry, because you’ll recall I felt the same way about the Divas and their MUA Peggy when I very first ventured in. You can read more about that in this post)!

I decided to open the email and re-visit these images this evening, after showing them to Sean last night and sharing how I felt with him last night. If you know my boyfriend, you know he is a huge supporter, and that he loves me for me. And his perspective was not surprising. He said I looked great, and then helped me plan my next steps for fixing what’s really wrong: how I feel inside!

So… here are a few of my favorite shots. Check me out!

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Check out more amazing photos from some amazing women at the retreat in this Boudoir Divas Blog Post! Also, you can connect with Agi M Photography on Facebook! While you’re at it, you need to check out my super talented friend, Candace from Ah La Mode Designs. My phenomenal hair is ALL her doing! Also, the fabulous Peggy with His Blushing Bride who did makeup for all the girls! This was my second makeup run with her, and she is still as fun as the first time I met her!

I’ve rambled on and on… but the moral of the story is… sometimes you have to learn to see past what you hate seeing. See past what you’re struggling with, and know that you are captivating regardless of what a label in a dress or a number on a scale says. You’re not defined by how small your arms are, or how your thighs look. The best thing about boudoir is that it captures your beauty at any size. It’s not about being a Victoria’s Secret Angel… but the fact that you FEEL like one. And that you are captured in a way that puts you right up there with them in rank.

 It’s a gift to learn to see yourself in the eyes of those who capture you the way that Agi captured me. And once I took the time to see that, I found myself re-energized and ready to get back to actually working on those things, instead of avoiding the way they look in photos. I’ll be sharing more from these talented ladies, as I receive them!

That’s all for now… but I won’t be gone for long!

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

 

Affordable (and ADORABLE) Work Out Gear!

Let’s face it.

One of the most UN-appealing things about working out, is the dreadful fear of having to get ready to do so.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like to look presentable, albeit fashionable. I find that cute workout clothes actually make me more motivated get out of the house, and get moving!

Some of my favorite items I have come from none other than Old Navy!

Old Navy workout gear is affordable, comfortable, durable, and fashionable. They almost always have sales on items, and they have coordinating pieces with moisture wicking fabrics, pockets to hold keys/cards and flattering styles that suit all body types. They even go from a size XS to XXL…and if you know Old Navy, you know their clothes always run bigger!

I recently hit up Old wavy to get some new clothes, since the workout clothes I got there over a year ago were starting to fray a bit. For wearing them 3-4 times a week, I am actually really impressed at how well they hold up.

Some of my favorite items they carry? I am so glad you asked! Check out some of the best pieces I think that the Old Navy Active Line has to offer:

Old Navy Bubble Hem Mesh Tank

 

Photo Credit: Old Navy.com

Photo Credit: Old Navy.com

One of the most appealing things about these tops is the fun colors! They are SO flattering, no matter your body type, and they don’t annoyingly ride up while you run! I can go full-throttle on the treadmill or track without being self-conscious and having to fiddle with my top the whole time. Runners know the struggle. Joggers and walkers do too, actually! :)

Old Navy Active Compression Tank

 

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

Much like the bubble hem tank, the compression tank also comes in fun, pretty colors. I love the hem on this one, as well, because it’s elasticity conforms a bit more and allows you to not have to fiddle with it. This one has a LOT more support for the chesty, and is still super flattering because of the empire-waistline style. It’s one of those items that makes you feel “pulled together.” And that is a great way to feel while you’re working up a sweat!

Old Navy Active Cinch-Tie Hoodie

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

 This hoodie is AWESOME for morning outdoor workouts, but is light enough to wear casually if you wanted to. I adore running/fitness clothing with thumbholes… although I don’t have a concrete reason why. I love the style of this, because it’s a bit unique, without taking away from it’s functionality as a lightweight, warm and useful item to add to your workout wardrobe. It ran REALLY large for me… I’d recommend going down one size.

Old Navy Active Compression Capris

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

I have about 7 pairs of these leggings, and I adore them! Running, walking, or being the girl who looks like she came from the track when I’m really only ‘running’ errands… these leggings are comfy, stylish, and functional. The moisture wicking fabric, as well as the handy pocket inside make wearing them great at the gym or when I jog in my neighborhood and need to carry my house key or debit card/ID. It’s awesome to run with less on me, and yet have what I need tucked away in a safe place.

Old Navy Active Compression Mesh Capri

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

Photo Credit: Oldnavy.com

 I absolutely love the mesh panels on these leggings, more for the fun pop of color than functionality. I got them with a teal color to match my Beats headphones Sean got me and a matching bubble hem tank, and it’s very fun to put on at 5:30 in the morning and get a little pep in my step! Much like they’re less jazzy sibling compression legging, they are also very comfortable, functional, and easy to wear!

These are definitely my bare-basics for workout gear, whether you’re looking to add to your workout wardrobe, or start at the beginning. These foundational pieces come in lots of fun colors, prints, lengths and sizes… and they are super affordable!

Want to save even more money? If you’re shopping Old Navy online, sign upon for Ebates.com and you’ll get cash back on your purchase, and if you’re brand new to Ebates, use my link and you get a $10 gift card of your choice when you use the site to make your first purchase! As of right now, Old Navy is 2.0% cash back…and it adds up quickly!

It’s absolutely FREE to sign up, and the money adds up quickly! You get a check quarterly (hello, Christmas money), and they have THOUSANDS of retailers you already shop with.

That’s all for now! Happy shopping, and may your workout gear make pour workouts even MORE enjoyable!

That’s all for now, but I want to know where YOU found your favorite workout gear! Let me know!

‘Til Next Time!

XOXO

Guest Post: Staying Motivated to Work Out with Sara Upton

Staying Motivated to Work Out

With Guest Blogger: Sara Upton

For the past few years now, I’ve been trying to lose weight. And you know what I’ve found? It’s really hard. I wish it was difficult just for me, but I know this isn’t the case. I’ve spoken to plenty of people who also struggle to shed the pounds. Especially since, in the society we live in, there are countless advertisements for junk food bombarding us every day–messages goading us to ignore healthy foods in favor of a treat or for the sake of convenience.

If avoiding the fatty foods wasn’t a big enough problem, there’s the fact that regular exercise has to be part of the plan when it comes to getting slim. And it’s the exercise part that I find the hardest to maintain. I can refuse to eat fast food or keep candy around my house. I can avoid cooking with a deep fryer and drink water instead of soda. But it’s establishing and a maintaining a regular workout routine that has posed the greatest challenge for me. What it comes down to really isn’t so much a problem with getting active–it’s finding the motivation to maintain an exercise plan.

I’ve gotten a lot better at staying motivated in recent months, so it’s not as big of a problem as it used to be (though it is still bothersome). I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned in overcoming motivational hurdles, in hopes that you’ll be able to use this information in your own journey of living a healthier life.

Join a gym.

Ever since I joined my gym, I’ve found it easier to work out regularly. There’s something about exercising around other people–even if I’m not in a class–that makes my workouts better. I also like the various pieces of equipment in gyms, so my visits can have some variation. Some gyms throughout America include Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness.

Get the right tools.

One tool I personally use is a sleep and activity tracker by Jawbone called UP. According to Verizon Wireless, “Users barely remember they have it on while the smart accessory tracks their daily activities, providing data to help them set and achieve fitness goals.” So if you want to see how much you’re sleeping or view how far you’ve walked throughout the day, this could be a good tool for you.

Have a vision statement.

What are the one or two primary reasons why you want to lose weight? Maybe it’s so you can have the energy to play with your grandkids one day. Maybe it’s so you can be fit enough to run a marathon. Or maybe you just want to feel better in your everyday routine. Whatever your reason, write it down and put it in a place where you can see it every day. I’ve found this helps me stay focused and disciplined.

Exercise with a friend.

Having a friend come along with me when I go for a run or head to the gym makes the experience much better. Plus, I have someone to hold me accountable when I start to sway from my focus. I’ve found exercising with a friend also helps them to stay motivated in their workout routine, too.

These are a few ways I stay motivated, and I wish I could say it’s always a breeze to get up and go work out. I have found, however, that following these tips makes it easier to get in shape.