Get out the abacus, we’re talking numbers

3 01 2013

I’ve debated between talking about food or exercise first. And I think I’ll talk food first. Let’s start with science.

Your body requires x number of calories per day to function. Calories are NOT bad. Calories are energy. But, because our bodies are designed to take care of us, when we consume more calories than we actually need, our body stores it as fat so that we don’t starve on the days that we get less calories than we actually need. So, what you want to do is give your body what it needs.

3,500 calories = 1 pound. So, to lose 1 pound you must create a deficit of 3500 calories in your diet. DON’T PANIC. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Let me use myself as an example of how this isn’t as horrific as it sounds.

Here is the formula that will determine how many calories you should consume in a day to maintain your weight (aka: what your body needs today that won’t result in stored fat).

1) current body weight x 10 = resting metabolic rate (RMR)
this is me: 160 x 10=1600
2) RMR x 10% if you are sedentary most of the day, exercise not included (desk job, etc)
RMR x 20% if you are moderately active (waiter, etc)
RMR x 30% if you are very active (construction worker, etc.)
me: 1600 x 20% = 320 (Daily Activity Burn/DAB)

So, for me, if I don’t work out at all, I can have 1920 calories a day and I shouldn’t gain any weight. DISCLAIMER: This is not an exact science. Every body is different and there are some people who can eat a lot more than me and not gain a thing and others who can eat a lot less and do nothing but gain weight. So, just realize this is ballpark and you’ll just have to use trial and error to perfect it for you.

Now, if I want to lose weight, say 1 pound a week, I need to lose about 500 calories of that 1920. That leaves me with 1420 a day to work with. Doesn’t sound like much anymore, does it? That’s where exercise comes in! If I work out and burn 300 calories that means I can eat 300 more calories. And sometimes that is all the motivation I need to work out.

Here’s the thing, and I can’t stress this enough: NEVER drop below 1200 calories. At least not on purpose and not often. This will send your body into starvation mode and it will store fat faster because your body’s natural preservation system will think you have stepped into a famine and will do everything it can to keep you alive. Your body is really smart, ya know. Eventually, yes, you will start losing the weight when your body has to call on those reserves to keep your vital organs functioning – but then it starts breaking down muscle tissue for energy. And, then, if you have enough sense to take care of yourself again, you will gain the weight back so much faster because you don’t have any muscle (fun fact: the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate – that means you can consume more calories without consequence if you have more muscle). And that will just start the whole self-defeat weight gain cycle all over again.

So, get it through your   head now that the only SAFE, sure-fire way to lose weight is through the discipline of taking care of yourself.

Once you figure out your calorie needs, you have to write things down.  I use to track my calories each day.  A perk of these calorie tracking sites is that most of them will figure out how many calories you need for you.  I’ll talk more later about some tips and tricks that may help keep you motivated once you realize exactly how much you are eating each day and how many calories are REALLY in that  (fill in your most frequent indulgence).  Tracking my calories almost broke my spirit once I realized that I was eating way way way way way too much.  But once I chose to make better food choices instead of feeling defeated by the difficulty of changing, I took a baby step, like only having one serving of sunchips instead of 13.  Then another, like finding a friend that kept me motivated.  Then another, like scheduling my workouts.  And so on and so on.

And it took 2 years to get the weight off.  And I still have a bit further to go.  But I didn’t give up after the first month because I didn’t see dramatic results immediately.  And you shouldn’t give up either.

So, now that you have your inspiration, whatever it may be, start learning how you eat.  Figure out how many calories you need and figure out how many you’re consuming.   Once you’ve got those numbers sorted out, then you can start taking the steps needed to make real, lasting change in your health.


Maybe I can inspire someone

31 12 2012

Over the last 2 years, I have lost roughly 54 pounds. It’s been hard, but I’ve done it.  As I’ve been talking with friends over the last couple of months about how I’ve done it and how I plan to keep the weight off, I’ve been told that I kind of have some good sense about this whole thing.  So I thought I’d start sharing it.  I don’t plan for this to be the last blog I write about this, but I’m not making any promises. 

For me, the realization that something had to change came when I saw this photo of myself from Thanksgiving 2010


If you can ignore the fact that I had a pink scarf wrapped around me as a papoose because I was singing a Pocahontas song for my family’s American Idol competition, that’d be great.

I was sitting at around 214 pounds.  And I knew I was heavy.  Technically, I was obese.  I knew I was sluggish and never felt good.  I knew I was never confident in how I looked.  I knew that I needed to lose weight. But I didn’t have the inspiration.  Then my sister tagged me in that photo and I decided to make some changes. 

This is 54 pounds less of me today. 


If you can ignore the fact that I’m having to take this of myself in a poorly lit bathroom mirror, that’d be great.

I will talk more on upcoming blogs about my transition to a pescatarian lifestyle, my workout habits, my eating habits, my health concerns, etc.  But let’s start with inspiration.

What do you want to see change?  How will you ensure that you stay motivated to make those changes? 

Do you have a family health history that you want to rewrite?

Do you have kids you want to keep up with?

Do you have a pair of jeans that you’d love to get into again?

Do you want to be a Victoria’s Secret model? 


I don’t care one bit what your motivation is.  I only care that you have motivation.  Even if you think it’s superficial and shallow, so what?  If it helps make you a better, healthier you, then use that inspiration.  My journey started out thinking, “I’m not going to look like that anymore!”  Now, it has more to do with my overall health and well-being. 

You need to start NOW, but you also need to be realistic with yourself about your temptations, your weaknesses, and your STRENGTHS. 

Fact: I’ve been munching on a movie size box of nerds whilst writing this.  If I beat myself up over every indulgence, I’d still be sitting at 214.  Maybe more.  I just know that, because I chose to eat more Nerds that should be legally allowed, I don’t get to have the oh-so-delicious nachos at work tonight.  I get to have the light and, yes, oh-do-delicious chopped caesar salad with a bit less cheese.  So my weakness is sugar, but my strength is in knowing how I can offset that without feeling deprived of anything good.  

Don’t start 2013 thinking that in one week’s time you will undo all of the bad habits that got you where you are. That’s how you end up in tears on your hallway floor eating an entire double chocolate fudge cake by yourself with your hands in your bathrobe on January 16th.  Nobody wants that.  Nobody. 

So start where you are.  But, just start.

Why am I so bad about this now?

3 05 2012

I imagine only four people care about this blog. And of the four, I imagine about 3 of you are family (hi mom). So, basically, there is no need to catch you up because I talk to you all the time. So here are a few new things.

1. I work at Starbucks again. I’d rather not talk about it. I also work at Chili’s, babysit twice a week, sell Mary Kay, and do office work for a friend. I work pretty much all the time.

2. My sister started a blog called The Shire. You should check it out. She cares more than me. And she doesn’t have me on the “Blogs I Read” tab.

3. A coworker at Chili’s said to our manager this week: You look like the kind of person who likes the Doritos Locos Tacos. I have laughed for days.

4. I got an A on my thesis!!!

5. My pastor/friend/mentor completed his PhD this week. And next month he moves to Tennessee. I am thrilled and saddened.

6. My little sister finished her masters this semester.

7. My dog farts out loud and crop dusted the bedroom the other night. Rude.


My life has lost a lot of its fascinating qualities since I moved back to the states.

New Year…New me?

17 02 2012

First, let me say “I’m sorry” for not posting in forever.  I need to get back to it.  I’ve just been lazy.

I realize that it’s mid February and most people have already broken their resolutions for the year.  But I want to post about my hopes for 2012.  I mean, what else is there really to talk about, right?

So, I’ve spent the couple of months reflecting on the time  I spent in Barranquilla.  I got back in Oklahoma on December 15.  Then I spent a couple of days in Oklahoma City with my sister and a brief visit with some of my friends.  After that I spent about 10 days in Stilwell with my family.  Then a couple of days in Dallas to visit a friend.  It wasn’t until I got back to Oklahoma City on New Year’s Eve that reverse culture shock set in.  I found myself incredibly uncomfortable with my friends.  There were all of these jokes that I didn’t get because I wasn’t there for 6 months. Plus our annual NYE dinner is with all of our friends so I was just kind of overwhelmed by the size of the group, which is weird because I was in large groups in Barranquilla all the time.  Basically, it was awkward for me and I have NO IDEA why.  None.

Well, I’m completely over the awkwardness now.  I am glad to be back amongst friends and family and things I understand.  Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY miss Barranquilla and I’m already plotting to get back to visit by the end of the year.  But I’ve got a job here now which means I finally have income.  This is so nice.  I’ve got my mutt back and we’re just living the dream, I guess.

But onto more important things.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve been back, I feel different.  Motivated.  Generous.  Thoughtful.  I describe it as feeling “adult.” As we all know, I’m 28 now.  I’ve come to terms with this.  I’ve decided that some of the things I do that are childish, wastes of times must be put away.  I have big dreams for myself and I need to focus myself and develop some discipline.

I also have to stop thinking of it as “my money.”  It’s not my money.  It’s God’s money.  And if he says to give it to someone else instead of putting it toward my savings account, I have to trust that I’ll be taken care of when push comes to shove.  Of course I’m still going to put what I can in my savings account.

I also have to stop thinking of it as “my time.”  I can’t be generous with others if I am “busy.”  This doesn’t mean I don’t have a full schedule (I’ve been all full up the last couple of weeks), but I think that busy-ness is our culture’s way of selfishly hoarding our spare time instead of selflessly giving ourselves to others in service.  Of course, a night in with my pup and a good book never hurt anything.

Basically, in all I do, I want to be able to serve others without overextending myself in an unhealthy way.  Pray with me and for me as I do this.

What I’ll miss … and What I Wont

2 12 2011

I’ll be home in 12 days. This seems a little bit crazy, but it is what it is. So here are some things I’m definitely going to miss.

1. Monica and Alvaro. I’m not really sure how to say “thank you” and “I love you” enough or in the right ways to express my gratitude and admiration for them.

2. My new friends. So grateful that social networking sites have made the world a little bit smaller. It’s definitely not the same, but I’m grateful we’ll have something.

3. Hot dogs.

4. My students. This should probably have been listed before hot dogs, since I will miss them more. They made me laugh and taught me, by far, more than I could have ever taught them. so grateful for this opportunity.

5. Vacation. I’m going to have to get a job again when I move back. I will have gone roughly six weeks completely unemployed when it’s all said and done…so yea, I’m going to have a hard time switching out of lazy mode.

6. Juices. They make juice fresh for every meal. And they are all really good. I’m going to miss Lulo juice especially. I just shed a tear over the Lulo.

Now, here are a few things I will not miss.

1. The smell of the soap used in mopping here at the house. It burns my nose 😦

2. Everybody honking at everybody on the road. It really stresses me out.

3. rice.

4. not being able to drive. 5 months without driving is waaaayyyy too long. I’m looking forward to being behind the wheel again.

5. Not being able to understand what’s going on. I like being fully in the loop. That doesn’t happen often when there is a major language barrier.

Preparing for Advent

25 11 2011

Advent has become my favorite season of the church calendar. It begins four Sundays before Christmas, so November 27, 2011. I have found that participating in this season’s activities helps keep me focused on the meaning of Christmas amidst all of the commercialism and stress of the public holiday season. I am also particularly fond of the symbolism of the wreath, candles, and colors. The wreath symbolizes eternal life, as it is a circle of evergreen. The nuts and seedpods used to decorate it represent resurrection, and the fruits used are symbolic of the fruitfulness of Christian life.

The candles represent the coming of light into the world. The first week, one candle is lit, and each week after one additional is lit until all the candles are lit. The first 3 candles lit are purple, the color used during Lent and Advent to represent penitence. The fourth candle is pink, a liturgical color only used on the 4th Sunday of Advent and on Laetare Sunday during Lent. On Christmas day, the greens are replaced with fresh greens and the four candles are replaced with white candles that are burned throughout the Christmas season (or until Epiphany on January 6). The white candles symbolize Christ.

It is important to remember that the color purple, used during the season, is the color of penitence. This season is about anticipating the advent (both Christmas and the 2nd Coming) of Christ, but it is also about repentance. It is a time to reflect on our sinful condition as we await the only one who can redeem us. Fasting is appropriate but not required during this season (it should be noted that one cannot fast on Sundays or on holy days).

So as I prepare myself for this season, I generally read The Prayer of Manasseh. It’s an apocryphal book, but it is entirely appropriate. At least I think so.

Thou who hast made heaven and earth with all their order; who hast shackled the sea by thy word of command, who hast confined the deep and sealed it with thy terrible and glorious name; at whom all things shudder, and tremble before thy power, for thy glorious splendor cannot be borne, and the wrath of thy threat to sinners is irresistible; yet immeasurable and unsearchable is thy promised mercy, for thou art the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful, and repentest over the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to thy great goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against thee; and in the multitude of thy mercies thou hast appointed repentance for sinners, that they may be saved. Therefore thou, O Lord, God of the righteous, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against thee, but thou hast appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner. For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea; my transgressions are multiplied, O Lord, they are multiplied! I am unworthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities. I am weighted down with many an iron fetter, so that I am rejected because of my sins, and I have no relief; for I have provoked thy wrath and have done what is evil in thy sight, setting up abominations and multiplying offenses. And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching thee for thy kindness. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I know my transgressions. I earnestly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me! Do not destroy me with my transgressions! Do not be angry with me for ever or lay up evil for me; do not condemn me to the depths of the earth. For thou, O Lord, art the God of those who repent, and in me thou wilt manifest thy goodness; for, unworthy as I am, thou wilt save me in thy great mercy, and I will praise thee continually all the days of my life. For all the host of heaven sings thy praise, and thine is the glory for ever. Amen.

How do you prepare yourself for advent? Are there particular scriptures you read this time of year?


14 11 2011

A bunch of my friends on facebook are daily making their statuses something they are grateful for. For whatever reason, I did not join that bandwagon. Probably because I’m typically ungrateful. So here is my attempt at getting up to speed with them. A list of 14 things I’m thankful for and why (in no particular order):

1. I’m thankful that I get to experience life in Barranquilla. It has been challenging and difficult at times, but I know I am the better for it.

2. I’m thankful for my mom and Billy. Without them. I definitely would not have survived my transition into life as a grown-up. They have been there for me emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I owe them an unpayable debt.

3. I’m thankful for my awesome sisters. All four of you mean more to me than I can express. I love that we can laugh together and that we can celebrate each others’ successes and support each other through the “failures.” I love you all!

4. I’m thankful for my mutt Abelard. He has been my little shadow for three years. It’s been a difficult few months without him and I’m sure he’ll have some trouble transitioning back into my care. But I love that crazy dog even when he poops in the house and eats things he shouldn’t and gnaws on my dresser. He makes everyday a little more interesting.

5. I’m thankful for my nieces and nephews. These kids light up my life. I’ve watched some of them grow from adorable little babies who just wanted to curl up on my chest and go to sleep to amazing young adults. And for the younger ones, I’m enjoying watching you grow and learn. All of you make life worth living. I’m so blessed to be your aunt.

6. I’m thankful for my brothers. Ryan, I have some great memories of when we were kids. I hope that we can make more now that we are adults. Jason, I’m so thankful that we were finally able to meet! It’s been a great two years getting to know you and your family. I love you!!

7. I’m thankful for Monica and Alvaro, my Colombian parents. I’m constantly amazed by their generosity and hospitality – not just to me, but to everyone that they encounter. May I learn to be that gracious.

8. I’m thankful for Divine Life. I’ve been a member of this particular community since the summer of 2004. This community has been there to support me during some of the darkest moments of my life. They have also been there to celebrate with me through my successes. I’ve learned more about grace and forgiveness and hope and love from you all than you will ever know. I miss you all and cannot wait to be back amongst you. (fingers crossed that you are missing me, too!)

9. I’m thankful for my dad. He and I are a lot alike in that we are both very hardheaded and stubborn. It is this that makes us argue so much. But I’m grateful that I get to hear his stories a hundred times and that we have a good relationship. It has taken many years on my part to get to this point, but I’m thankful that I won’t have any regrets about our relationship when all is said and done.

10. I’m thankful for Colombian style hotdogs. Seriously, they are delicious. I’m going to learn how to make them before I come home.

11. I’m thankful that I can at least understand some Spanish, even if I can’t speak it yet. It definitely helps that I can figure some things out on my own.

12. I’m thankful for the way God has provided for me to get to Colombia and while I’ve been here. I still need a few hundred dollars to get me home, thanks to a passport issue, but I’m confident that God will handle that.

13. I’m thankful for good friends. I’m thankful that I can laugh until I cry with you. I’m thankful that you forgive my stupidity and let me be myself. I’m thankful that you stuck with me when I was difficult to tolerate. I miss you all!!!!!!!

14. I’m thankful for Skype. Without it, I would be very limited with my contact home. I’m so grateful that anytime I’m homesick, I can call my family or friends and speak in English really fast!

So there you have it, up to date gratitude 🙂