Posts filed under "24DC"

24 Day Challenge Results

So here we are on June 25th. I officially have completed Advocare's 24 Day Challenge. I want to share my results with you in an honest, transparent, and practical way. So here we go...
My "start" photo from the first week of the 24 DC


I've tried SO many "diets". The summer before 9th grade, my mom became a member of Weight Watchers. Obviously, I didn't join, but sometimes I'd go to the meetings with her just to listen, and she definitely changed the way she cooked for my dad, my sisters, and me. As a result, I lost about 15 lbs. Before you get all freaked out about a 14 year old losing that much weight, I promise, I had it to lose. For the first, and maybe only time in my life, I felt skinny.

Later in high school, as my body continued to change, I gained some weight. In college, I was up and down and all over the place. I tried diet after diet looking for a "quick fix". I had a problem and I wanted someone to give me a solution.

This, paired with the fact that I'm insulin resistant, means that I've been on a very frustrating, and at times gruesome uphill battle for about 10 years. I'm the product of someone who is constantly worried about the way I look, how my clothes fit, and as I've said before on my blog, I always make sure that I mentioned my weight first (usually as some sort of joke) to make sure that people know I realize my own size.

What they don't know is how aware of it I am. It haunts me. And it has haunted me for years and years and years. But in May, on my 24th birthday, I realized that I was heaviest, most out of shape, and largest I'd ever been.

So, when I saw a friend posting stuff about the Advocare 24 Day Challenge on Instragram, we began talking about it. After talking to Jason, we came up with a plan to pay for it, and I began the challenge. Day 1 for me was June 1st, so it was pretty easy to keep track of where I was in the process according to the date.

My Expectations:

When I began the 24DC, I was still in "quick fix" mode. I saw how the weight fell off of my friend and I wanted to see the same results. After the cleanse phase, I'd lost about 4lbs. I promised myself that I would not measure until I completed the challenge because I was afraid of getting discouraged and giving up. So I celebrated my 4lb. loss and decided to keep going. And I did.

My Reality:

Before I give you my results, I want to point out a few things. If anyone reading this is walking through a weight loss journey, I want to be clear that most important thing to focus on is not the number on a scale or the notch on a tape measure - the most important thing is being honest with yourself about your reality.

So here's mine:
  • I'm 5 feet tall. 5 lbs. on me (either gained or lost) looks a lot different that 5 lbs. on someone who is even 4 or 5 inches taller than me.
  • I'm insulin resistant. I have to work twice four times harder than the average person to lose any weight at all because my body literally has a physiological irregularity. I'm not just an average person trying to lose weight.
  • I have a lot of encouragement and many partners in this. I already mentioned my friend who told me about the 24DC. She was so encouraging along the way and I know she will continue to be. We're shaped similarly, and it's been nice to have honest conversations about things we struggled with in college that we never really talked about. If I had to guess, we both just kind of stuck our head in the sand about our weight and pretended we were okay with the way things were.
    I also have Jason. He's been on his own journey with weight loss and just overall general health. Going from the "single guy" lifestyle of lots of meals out, fast food, and cooking easy and convenient things, to married life with a wife who is obsessed with trying to eat healthier, has kind of prompted him to find what foods are best for him. He's also allergic to milk, so he's been testing his limits and realized that his limit is much smaller than he previously thought.
    Last, I have my mom. A few weeks into the 24DC she texted me and said that she wanted to walk through this journey together. She joined and we've been holding each other accountable to eat the right amount of calories, eat the right kind of food, and exercise. I cannot describe in words (without crying at my computer) how much it has meant to me, in this stage of life, to have my mom come alongside me in this.
  • I have a sedentary lifestyle. As much as I hate to admit it, I do. I work at a desk for 8 hours a day. I get up and walk around some here and there, but not enough compared to how much I used to walk around campus in college or activities that kept me moving in high school. I cannot change the fact that I have a desk job, but I need to be honest with myself about what that means for me and how vital it is for me to intentionally exercise each day in some way!
  • I REALLY love sweets. Like, it's bad. I will eat something that I don't even like that much just for the sheer fact that it's sweet and it satisfies my sweet tooth craving. That's something that I'll ALWAYS battle. I will never look at a cookie and say, "Eh, I'll pass. That just really doesn't look good." It can be the grossed looking cookie ever, and the only way that I'll restrain myself is if I am aware of my craving and talk myself out of it by making a healthier choice that will satisfy my hunger. 
  • I'm 24 years old. My body has changed over the years just in the ways it's shaped. I don't need to worry about fitting into clothes from high school or even early college. Those days are gone...and really...what 24 year old woman really wants the body of a teenager?

My Results:

I want to break my results into two parts. I know some of you may be thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is the longest post ever and there aren't any pictures. I don't care that much about your life Jessica!" I don't really blame you. This is long. But for someone who might struggle with the same things, it's important for me to write everything that I need to communicate.

For me, weight loss is WAY more mental and emotional than it is physical. I know, that's crazy and probably impossible. Some people say that it's all math. If you burn more calories than you eat. then you lose weight. Simple if/than statement, right? WRONG. For me, there is nothing simple about losing weight. My mind and my emotions get in the way and make everything way more complicated. I believe it's important to celebrate, pay attention to, and acknowledge the emotional side of this thing just as much, if not more, than the physical.

Physical Results:

I lost right at 6 pounds and 5 inches. Basically what that means is that my "big clothes" are fitting better. I'm not slipping into my "skinny jeans" - in fact I haven't even tried. The those that are the size that I was when I started the 24DC are looser, but they're not falling off. As I said before, I was hoping for a quick fix and I thought that at the end of this, I'd slip on my jeans and they would fall right off. Not the case, but hey, it's only been 24 days.

As far as my physical results in terms of how in shape I am, that's improved a lot. This morning I walked the fastest 5K that I've ever walked. My overall health is improving, and that's a win in my book!

Mental/Emotional Results:

Until last night, I didn't even think that I was going to write about my results because I was ashamed that I didn't lose more weight or shrink any more inches. As I was talking to Jason, he said, "So if you lose 6 lbs. every month, over the course of a year, that's 72 lbs. Wait, you don't need to lose that much...please don't do that!" It hit me that 6 lbs. is GOOD. That's about 2 lbs. a week. If I lost more than that in a week, I probably wouldn't be doing something that is maintainable.

Saturday night as I was getting ready for dinner I realized something; I felt more confident. I slipped into a little red sleeveless sundress that I bought back in May. I accessorized with some cute jewelry and a new headband I got from Target. I was the only one home, and I sat down for a minute and starred at my closet. I wear a cardigan of some sort with 100% of my sleeveless dress/tops. I stood up, and looked in my full length mirror. For the first time in a LONG time, I just looked at myself and thought, "I look really cute." (Usually, my response is more of, "Cute outfit, but oh my gosh my arms and my calves are hideous!") Then, I grabbed my purse and headed out the door  - WITHOUT a cardigan.

After that, I went to The Summit to pick Jason up from work. When I got there, I parked, and while I was waiting for him, I texted my mom and said, "When I eat healthy and exercise, I'm automatically more confident in the way I look. I know I'm not at my goal, or even close to it, but I know that there's nothing more that I could be doing. I'm living as healthy as possible, and that makes me feel good about myself." 

To me, that's a bigger victory than losing a pound a day or an inch a day. That text that I sent my mom is a more truthful result than any scale or tape measure can give me.

What Now?

The challenge is over, so what do I do now? Nothing.

I'm going to keep eating the exact same way. I've still got my booklet and I'm going to follow all of the food directions that come in it. I'm not going to do the intensive supplements and stuff because they're only made to do for 24 days every few months, but that doesn't mean that I change the way I'm eating. In fact, I love the way I'm eating now. It's basically my spin on clean eating - and it keeps me full, it keeps me satisfied, and I'm pretty sure it's helped my metabolism.

I'm going to give myself milestones along the way. Will I eat cake on Jason's birthday? Heck yeah! Will I eat dessert once a week because I'm really just craving something sweet? Nope. I've learned that it helps me to plan ahead. I can say no to a boxed cookie every day for a month knowing that in July, I will celebrate my husband's birthday with him and eat some delicious cake. I've chosen to be picky about my sweets. Quality must trump quantity when it comes to all foods. 

As far as exercising...I'm a walker now. I've fallen in love with it. I love a nice long walk in the morning or evening. One great thing about it is that it just gets me moving without having to think about it. Especially in the evenings when nothing is on TV, Jason and I can go walk for any distance or any length of time and have the same conversation we'd have inside sitting on the couch. I'm a horrible runner. It hurts, and not the good kind of hurt. It hurts my bones and my joints. If I wake up in the morning at 5:00 a.m. and know that I've got to go run, I'm going to press snooze until 6:30 every single time. If I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and know that I get to go listen to a podcast, wake up outside, and watch the sun come up over Birmingham while walking, I'm about 99% more likely to not press snooze.

I also love Zumba. I've come to realize that over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, my gym only offers it on Tuesday nights and Saturdays, but I plan on making those classes as much as possible. It's really fun and it releases a lot of nervous energy that I have pent up for working at a desk all day. It really just takes my mind off of anything stressful for about 55 minutes. Really, what more can you ask for?

Looking Forward:

My goal is to do this for a year. I began the 24DC on June 1st, and I want to make eating healthy and exercising my focus and priority for the next 11 months. My hope is that by June 1, 2014, I'll be at a weight and size that I'm happy with and that I can maintain. This is long a long term goal and there's nothing about it that can be a "quick fix". I don't need fixing, I just need to be healthy. 

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Weekend Top 5 - Single Car Family

The Weekend Top 5 is back!!

Before I dive into my weekend reminiscing, let me just send out a warm thank you to everyone who read the first guest post that went up on Friday. We had almost 100 views, which is incredible. For anyone who was a first time reader, I hope you'll come back. For those of you who read somewhat regularly, I hope you enjoyed Jason's take on his favorite summertime song. We'll have more guest posts from Jason throughout the summer and I know that each of them will have just as good of a viewership.

Now, onto the TOP 5!

#5: One Car Family.
This really isn't a favorite thing about the weekend, but it's a big story for me nonetheless. A few weeks ago, Jason's car got hit. He wasn't in it. In fact, it was parked. But anyway, the door got messed up and so last Monday he took his car to the shop and was given a rental car. Friday, I took the rental car to work and was supposed to return it and pick up his car. Well, his car wasn't ready until the rental car place was closing, so I wasn't able to accomplish my task. So, Saturday morning I headed downtown and returned the rental car. I was worried I'd need some sort of paperwork or piece of info that I didn't have, but luckily the return went off without a hitch. Enterprise took me to the body shop and dropped me off. I was in my workout clothes and ready to pick up Dora the Explorer (yes, that's what I lovingly named Jason's car when we were dating), head to the gym, and get my Saturday-o-errands started. But guess what? The body shop was closed. So of course I called Jason crying my eyes out (I'm one of those awkward people who cries when I get really mad or frustrated), because I was stranded downtown at a deserted body shop. Poor Jason had to take his lunch break at 10:00 in the morning, rush downtown, and save me from the situation. So, on a weekend when Jason worked both Saturday and Sunday, we had one car. I drove The Summit a lot this weekend. There's always a silver lining, and this time it was the fact that I got to spend more time with Jason on a weekend that I wasn't going to get to spend much time with him.

#4: 24 Day Challenge Ends.
Today is the last day of the 24DC. I know that's not technically the weekend, but this was the last weekend doing the challenge. So far, I feel great. I'll measure tomorrow, but I do know that I've lost 6lbs, which is more than I've been able to lose in a month in a LONG time. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to jump start their weight loss. I'll continue eating the same, and I really like the Spark energy drinks and the meal replacement drinks. I'm planning on keeping those around.

#3: Flatbreads.
I'm obsessed with homemade flatbreads right now. I've basically got it down to an art.

Here's how I make them:

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Yields: 1 Serving
  • Flatout Spinach Flatbread
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 3 oz. cooked chicken, diced
  • About 1/4 c. of shredded, reduced fat cheese
  1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray cooking spray on the foil.
  3. Lay your flatbread on the foil and spray the top with a little bit of cookie spray.
  4. Put 1-2 tbsp. of BBQ sauce on the flatbread and spread around.
  5. Spread your chicken around on the flatbread. 
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You'll want the edges to almost look burned. That's how you know it's crispy. 
  8. Enjoy! 
Sorry the picture is a little dark.

#2: House Hunters.
No, we're not going to be on the show, [yet] (I applied, although I really want to be on Property Brothers.).  Jason and I decided back in January that we're going to start looking for a house to buy in Birmingham around our one year anniversary. Well, Saturday marked our nine month anniversary, so that means only about three months until we get to start really house shopping!! I'm literally beside myself and my favorite pastime has become driving through neighborhoods to look at houses that are for sale. Yesterday, Jason and I drove around the Cahaba Heights area for about 45 minutes just looking. It's just really a lot of fun to dream together. We still have to figure out what kind of house we want and what part of town we want to live in, but the time to make all of these decisions is fast approaching and I couldn't be more excited!

#1: Welcome Home Lauren!
One of my best friends from college, Lauren, just moved back to Birmingham. I literally could not be more excited. Saturday night a group of us all met up at Jackson's to surprise her with a welcome home gathering (Jason was supposed to get a video of the surprise part on his phone but after the surprise ended, he realized he forgot to press record. Silly Jason). It was great to see her and other friends from college. We really have to get together like that more often. I am thrilled that Lauren is in Birmingham now and I can't wait to start getting together regularly...just like the ole days!
Pictures stolen used from Lauren's Instagram.

One last thing - 

If you're looking to make a delicious, healthy, cold treat this summer, look no further than right here. Saturday I made some chocolate strawberry popsicles at home.

Here's how:

Chocolate Strawberry Homemade Pops

Yields: 4 Popsicles
  • 1 c. Light Chocolate Silk milk
  • Handful of frozen sliced strawberries (make sure the buy the bag that has no sugar added)
  • Popsicle molds (Target has them for $2.99 on the seasonal summer isle in the back)
  1. Place strawberries in the molds.
  2. Pour milk over strawberries.
  3. Freeze overnight.
  4. Enjoy!!!
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Posted on June 24, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "cake", "friends", "recipe", "weekend".

Weekend Top 5 - Road Trip Weekend & TWO BONUSES

Instead of doing a Top 5, I'm going to give you 5 events from the weekend. Let's go!

Obviously we went to Jacksonville so that Jason could be in his friend Cody's wedding. Beautiful wedding. Gorgeous bride. Wonderful food. Now, Mr. & Mrs. Jones are in Jamaica and I'm kind of very jealous.
Mr. & Mrs. Cody Jones
Most awesome groomscake ever.
Me and my handsome groomsman
Us again :)

My sister Julia is now officially a high school graduate! She did such a wonderful job walking across that stage, not to mention the four years of lots of hard work and dedication. She put in so much during her time at Fort Walton Beach High School and I know that she's just going to love college and flourish at Samford.
"There she is!" That's what my grandpa always says when he sees one of us.
Me, Jason, lots of brand new high school graduates, their parents, some friends, and my grandparents. Oh yes, it was awesome.
Grad party photobooth.
Super Sassy, even at 91 years old!

Most incredible people ever. 91 and 92 and they're rockin' this party!
My parents and Julia are in Birmingham right now (Carlee is taking classes at home this summer...we MISSED her!) for Samford orientation. It's been great to spend some extra time with them during lunch. For the last two days I've been able to go eat with them in the caf. Since Jason works for orientation, we are able to eat for free. Yesterday Jason and I got asked if we have a son or daughter who will be a freshman next year. 

Last night Jason stayed at Samford really late so that he could get video footage of Samford's karaoke night that they have during orientation. Sidenote: I actually remember Jason from my orientation. Anyway, since he was working late, I had a night at home by myself. I usually don't like to be by myself for long periods of time, but I really enjoyed the relaxation and quiet after such a busy weekend. I got to watch my shows, watch a movie, and eat a really healthy dinner. It was kind of a treat.
My delicious dinner for one.
Today I began the "max" phase of the 24DC. I'm feeling really good and excited to start seeing results. Since last week I couldn't get into a routine of any kind since we were traveling so much, so today was my first day back in the 5Club. I was up at 5:00, at the Lakeshore Trail by about 5:30, and done with my workout by 6:30. When I got home, I was able to unload and load the dishwasher, make lunch, put dinner in the crockpot, and make my delicious meal replacement shake. It was quite a productive morning. I guess that's what happens when I wake up three hours before I have to leave. I'm thinking of making a badge for my blog for each day that I wake up at 5:00.
Lakeshore Trail at 5:30 a.m.

Meal replacement shake packet, 8 oz. water, 3 large ice cubes. Blend. YUM!
Best flavor of Spark EVER!
How about this...I'll make a 5Club badge, and if you get up at or around 5:00 (let's say any time between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning), comment below the badge! That'll be really encouraging for anyone who gets up early just to know we're not alone!!

Plus, it'll give you another reason to BLOGBACKTOME!


This is an EXTRA BONUS! I'm selling my 13" MacBook Pro. I got it last year and it's the late 2011 model. It's in really good condition. If you're interested in buying it, comment below and I'll send you the tech specs and price.

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Posted on June 11, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "graduation", "travel", "weekend".

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Well we're all packed up and ready to go. In a few hours, the Morales wagon will be headed south for the next few days.

After much deliberation, I finally picked out what I was going to wear the the THREE big events this weekend: graduation, rehearsal dinner, and wedding. I usually have trouble dressing myself for one event much less three. But I just chose my newest, nicest dresses and packed them up. It really got me thinking that I could probably handle to give away or sell a lot of my clothes. I basically wear the same six or seven outfits to work, I wear the same five dresses to events, and on the weekends I try to stay in stretchy pants all day. How easy would it be to do laundry if I literally got ride of 3/4 of my wardrobe? That's definitely something to think about.

Maybe Jason and I aren't the only ones who are here today and will be gone tomorrow.

In other news, I mentioned the other day that I'm in the middle of the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. So far, I've lost 3.4 lbs. Is that .4 necessary to write? Yes, yes it is. I have always had so much trouble losing weight, so if I've lost over 3 lbs. in 4 days, I'm totally going to claim it! I'm currently on Day 5, and I really do feel great. I haven't had any coffee in a few days, and that's probably the hardest part. I also haven't had any sweets, and that part has actually been a little bit easier than I anticipated. I'll continue to write updates on the blog. I'm hoping that this weekend proves easier than I think it will be to stay on the plan since we'll be traveling so much. I'll be okay, I know I can be disciplined enough!

I probably won't get to blog while we're out of town, so check back next week to see pictures from our trip and also to see the results of the "cleanse" phase of the 24DC.

As always you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or you can just blogbacktome!

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Posted on June 5, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "graduation", "travel", "wedding".

Weekend Top 5 - The Traveling Morales'

We've been traveling for three weekends straight. It's been a blast and I'm sad to see it ending next Sunday - although we're going out with a the best trip of all!

At the end of this week, we'll drive south to my hometown to see my sister graduate from high school (YAY JULIA!). Then we'll head east to Jacksonville to see our friends Cody and Lacey get married. Jason's actually in the wedding, so we'll be there all weekend, and then head back to Birmingham on Sunday just in time to see our friend Rachel off on her midterm mission trip. We will sure miss her over the next 12 months!

Now, here's this weekend's top 5:

#5: 24 Day Challenge.
So I've seen a lot of people on social media who are doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. I'm always looking for ways to eat healthier and just kind of kick start my body into eating better. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do this or not though, because last time I did something like this I quit when it got really heard (remember the cleanse round 2?). But after talking to a friend about it and talking to people at the gym about it, I decided to do it. I began Saturday. So far, so good. I'll keep you updated.

#4: REALLY good food.
After beginning the 24DC, it was kind of tough to go out of town. But we did, and I think for a day of traveling I did pretty well. Saturday night I made salmon, asparagus, and for Jason I made garlic cheese bread. YUM! I also made some protein packed blueberry muffins so that I could gave a breakfast on the go or a good snack while we were traveling the next day. Usually that's a problem because even if I like the healthy version of things, Jason doesn't. BUT, he really liked the blueberry muffins so these are coming to you "picky-husband endorsed".

Here are my yummy eats from the weekend:
Salmon and asparagus.
Blueberry muffins.
Pulled pork salad from Fox Brother's BBQ in Atlanta.
Balsamic Bleu Salad from Ted's in Atlanta (I didn't eat the fried onion straws).

#3: Fall Out Boy. 
Jason has been a FOB fan for too many years to count. As he put it, he's been a fan since before their fans were all teenage girls. So since FOB has reunited, Jason bought tickets to THREE of their shows. One in Atlanta that was last night. One in Nashville at the end of June. One in Atlanta in September. He decided to sell his Nashville tickets after he bought the tickets for the second Atlanta show because he figured that three might be overkill. I just let him do his thing because I get to see JT in November - so I'll save rock and roll with FOB 10 times if that's what Jason wants. The show was actually a lot of fun. I'm a fan of FOB, but not nearly as much as Jason. I recognize most of their songs and I know a handful. But overall, we had a blast...other than them stopping the show four times because people kept passing out from heat exhaustion. Thankfully we snatched some seats upstairs where it was much less crowded, but still really hot.

Fall Out Boy.
Not sure how Jason has on a hoodie because I was absolutely disgusting due to the heat.
#2: Passion City Church.
We were planning on going to the Georgia Aquarium yesterday, but after a late start that idea got postponed. So, what do you do in Atlanta when your aquarium visit gets nixed? Go to Passion City Church of course! We went. We loved it. Jason got a pop (yes, King of Pops has carts there to raise money for the youth kiddos). Matt Redman led worship. Louie preached. We sang. It was awesome. I wanted to take a picture for the blog during the worship set, but I don't really like it when people take pictures at church, so I decided not to be "that girl". Instead I took one before the service started. It's not great, but I was trying to hold my phone in my lap so that no one would see me. Here's what I got:

#1: Backyard friends.
Friday night some of our friends had a little house show in their backyard. It was so cool. I love to hear my friends sing because they're all incredibly talented. I just love and admire so much how they use their beautiful voices to bring friends together and to worship our Creator. The backyard party was so much fun and such a wonderful time of fellowship with friends. We hope they decide to do it again soon!

Here's the recipe for the blueberry muffins:

Blueberry Muffins
(recipe adapted from this one)
Yields 12 muffins

  • 1.5 c. all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar (I used baking Splenda)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (6-ounce) container nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c. canola oil (I used unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1 egg (I used egg whites)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. fresh blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine, Greek yogurt, milk, oil (applesauce) and vanilla. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just enough to combine. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top. 
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
How was your weekend?

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Posted on June 3, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "friends", "recipe", "travel", "weekend".