July 9, 2013

Ripples in My Weight Loss Journey

Last week's Weight Watcher's meeting topic, small changes that cause a ripple effect, really hit home with me. 

I first joined Weight Watcher's in the fall of 2010. I followed the portion of the Points Program almost exactly. I lost every week, for a total of 25+ pounds.

I have mentioned in a previous post that I have chronic depression. The depression was getting out of control. I was having trouble staying on plan, attending meetings... I even stopped going to church. So by Spring, 2011, I quit the program. I felt that if I got my depression under control, then I would be able to work the plan better. For those of you who are in this situation currently, in retrospect, this was not the best idea. Because even if I was working the plan at least half way, I could either maintain or have a controlled gain until I was able to get where I needed to be with my depression.

November, 2010

I gained all the weight I had lost, plus a few pounds more when I finally returned back to the program a few months later in the Fall of 2011. I returned to the Weight Watchers because I know that it works. I have never felt denied or hungry on the program. And I do not have to drink any protein shakes as part of the program.

By Christmas 2011, I had lost about 10 pounds. For the next 3-4 months, I tracked all my food like I had done before. This time instead of losing every week, I would lose one week and gain it back the next. So I was basically at a stand still. I took a hiatus from Weight Watcher's while still paying my monthly pass fee while I dealt with a family crisis. I felt that if I quit, I would never come back ... I was off program for a couple months. When I came back, I was able to lose all that I had gained during my hiatus rather quickly. After that, I was back to the lose/gain weigh ins again.
July, 2012

One of my friends from Facebook, whom I met in a Weight Watcher's Support Group, started a challenge on her blog, The Awesome Mom. She got it from someone else and wasn't able to finish it for one reason or another. But she wanted to do the challenge, so she started it on her own. The Even Better in 2013 Challenge went from late January to mid March. I signed up because it sounded like something fun to do.

I had no idea that this challenge would change my life. The requirements of this challenge got me to change how I worked the program. 
For the Weight Watcher's Healthy Guidelines, you are supposed to have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, 8 ounces of liquid, and exercise daily.

Prior to this challenge, more times times than not, I would have 5 servings of fruit. I now get in at least 2-3 servings of vegetables to go along with the fruit. Before, used to only drink diet coke/coke zero for my liquids. A diet soda is now a rarity rather than the norm. My liquids come in unflavored water. I try to limit my sweets whenever possible. I have incorporated exercise into my lifestyle. 

I used to never exercise. I now exercise at least once a week on a bad week, and 4-6 times a week on a good week. I now do Wii Fit Strength Training, 45-60 minutes of Zumba on the Wii, and 30 minutes of kickboxing in a Punch dvd put out by Weight Watchers. I have exercise clothes, shoes designed specifically for use in Zumba, sports bras, and I even have a set of hand weights. I may not be consistent with my exercise every week, but I do make an effort to get some kind of workout in at least once a week. None of these lifestyle changes would have happened without Amy's challenge.

April, 2013 ... earned my 10% key chain!

These changes are my ripples. As a result of my ripples, I have lost over 14 pounds since Christmas, 2012.

I am so proud of myself ... I am proud of how far I have come in the last 6 months.

In some of the Facebook Weight Watcher's Support Groups that I am in, some of these ladies have only been on Weight Watcher's since the beginning of the year and have lost 40-50 pounds. I have only lost 26 and have been on it for over a year. But I am OK with it. I know that I may not be losing  as fast as others. But I also know that any one of my medications may be slowing down that process. I know that the longer it takes me to get to goal, the longer this lifestyle will stay with me... these lifestyle changes will last me a lifetime.

July 8, 2013

The Baby Sweater is DONE!!!

So I have posted a few times about how I am taking a class on Craftsy.com called Beyond Rectangles by Linda Permann. The project for the class is a baby sweater. My issue with the class project is that I don't have a baby nor do I want one ... my two teenage sons are more than enough. I also have this thing about making something that no one will use. Luckily, I have a friend who is expecting in September.

Bernat yarn gauge swatch using I hook

Bernat Yarn gauge swatch using G hook.

I originally chose a Bernat baby yarn. But as I tried to do the gauge swatch, I was having the hardest time with this yarn and using the smaller crochet hook than I was used to.

I Love this Cotton yarn gauge swatch using G hook.
I Love this Cotton yarn gauge swatch using I hook.

Eventually, I ended up using Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton yarn. It is a heavier weight yarn than what was used in the class videos.

Linda used a Berrocco Pima Cotton. I have primarily been purchasing my yarn from the big box stores. Berrocco yarn is primarily sold online or in the local yarn shops. I have found a local yarn shop near my work, but I want to deplete my stash before I start buying new yarn.

With the heavier yarn and a bigger hook than the pattern called for, my gauge wasn't quite exact. But in the end it all came out all right. My only fear is that it will be too big for the baby, but the good thing about babies is that they grow.

Linda worked in a different order than the pattern was written in. That was mostly because she wanted to introduce certain topics in a certain order. As a result, the back was done first.
For the back, the techniques learned were linked stitches (prevents a big gap at the end of the row ... I did not practice this technique because I did not feel like I needed to link my stitches for this project  [holes at row ends were not very big]), arm hole shaping and neck shaping.

The next step in the online video class were the arms.
One arm of sweater.

Both arms for the sweater.

For the arm, the technique that was taught was increasing in order to make the arm larger at the shoulder than they are at the wrist.

Linda next instructed the class to work the front of the sweater, which involved two pieces.
Right Front

Left Front
Both pieces of the front
 For the front of the sweater, the techniques covered were the arm shaping that was covered when we made the back and decreasing. The decreasing introduced a new stitch for me, dc2tog. This is basically double crochet 2 stitches together. It is used for the v neck shaping.

The next step was to soak all the pieces. This is to simulate the washing process so if the yarn shrinks, expands, etc. you can shape it back to the correct size in the blocking process.

Sweater pieces soaking
I am so proud of this work. Now to start and finish the baby blanket!
Blocking of front and back of sweater.
For the blocking, we basically stretched and pinned the pieces to the correct size (based on the schematic in the class materials) to our foam tiles and let them dry over night. Now I haven't seen any schematics for any other patterns in the past. But I have never tried to make anything with shaping. So I am hoping that this is something that I will be using on future projects. Once all the pieces were dried, we wove in the ends.
Blocking of sweater arms

All pieces blocked.

 Once the sweater dried. We used a whip stitch to put the pieces together in assembling the sweater.

Next we used a double crochet stitch to do the edging. I chose to attach an embellished flower with a button in the center on the front and then do a toggle clasp kind of thing to make it easy closure for Mom.
Finished sweater.
 I also found a pattern for a baby hat in the materials. Its the Crochet Baby Hat on the Bernat Yarn website. For some reason, it won't let me link directly to the pattern. I changed the edging of the hat so that it was the same as what is on the sweater.
Finished baby sweater and hat.

July 2, 2013

Staying Focused

Sometimes it's hard to stay on track with this weight loss journey I'm on. At times, OK ... a lot of the times, I have forgotten why I am doing this. Is it because I want to look good? Do I think my dating prospects will improve with the weight gone? Or is it something less superficial ... like being healthy and living longer for myself and my boys? I know for me, anything that will motivate me to stay on track will be a plus. So I decided to post motivational pictures in my desk area at work. In the search for weight loss motivation pictures and sayings to help me exercise more frequently, I found a blog called MotiveWeight.Blogspot.com that had just that. One of the motivational pictures was about goals. I realized that I need to focus on my goal in order to stay on track and not give up.
Photo Source: MotiveWeight.Blogspot.com

This picture lists what needs to be done to stay focused on your goal. Based on this list, I want to weigh between 125-130 lbs or lose 101-106 lbs. I believe I can do this because I haven't given up yet and I have seen a lot of people be successful with this program. Once I meet my goal, I will be at less risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. I will most likely be able to come off my blood pressure and cholesterol medications. I will also benefit from the cute clothes that are available in the smaller sizes (always a plus). My plan is to continue working the Weight Watcher's plan through tracking my food and activity. I will make sure to track daily and remind myself daily why I am doing this. Celebrate every small success ... this is being done through WW meetings and my Facebook support groups. My mini goals are in 5 pound increments. My vision board is in the works. Getting healthy is my only goal at this point. Sure, I could break it into smaller goals ... lose weight, exercise more, watch what I eat, etc. but since it all folds into one goal, the bigger picture is what I'm focused on. I have been doing Weight Watcher's for a while. But it has only been within the last 3-4 months, that I have someone who is doing this with me. My friend Cara, from work, joined Weight Watcher's earlier this year. Sure, I have a few Facebook Weight Watcher's support groups that I belong to, but to actually do this with someone I see most everyday is so very important to keeping me on track and keep me accountable.

June 26, 2013

Hair Barrette Tutorials

My sister's birthday is in the first week of June. I was short on funds that week, so I decided to make her birthday present out of my yarn stash. I looked through the patterns on Ravelry. Although I didn't really find one for a barrette, I did find some appliques. So I crocheted the appliques and attached them to a 2 inch barrette.

I decided to do two barrettes ... one of a rose and another of a starfish (my sister just loves starfish).

You will need a worsted weight or category 4 yarn. I used "I Love This Cotton" and "Sugar and Cream" yarn that was leftover from earlier projects. The website calls for a I or J hook. I used an I hook. But I think if you stay within that range you can adjust the size a little bit bigger or smaller to suit your preference. Gauge is not important to either of these patterns.

Rose Barrette

I found the pattern to this tutorial on Attic 24's blog. I left out the part with the leaves. She shows you how to do the pattern in English crochet terms where mine has been converted to American crochet terms.
CH (chain) 4. Join into a ring. I usually put a stitch marker around the chain before I join so I know where the center of the ring is for the first round.
Round 1: CH 3 (counts as DC [double crochet]). DC 11 into the ring. Join with SL ST(slip stitch) in third chain. fasten off. --12 stitches.
Round 2: Join new color with a SL ST. CH 4 (counts as CH 3, SC [single crochet]). SK (skip) 1 stitch, SC into next stitch. *CH 3, SK 1, SC*. Repeat between ** four times. SL ST into ch 1 to join. -- 6 CH-3 loops.
Round 3: In the first CH-3 loop, * SL ST, HDC, DC 3, HDC, SL ST*. Repeat between ** five times under each CH-3 loop to create 6 petals.

Round 4: Join in a third color to the middle round (round 1) by pulling a loop through the first stitch of an unworked stitches section on round 1. SL ST to secure or just work the stitches to keep it secure. *SC, HDC, DC, HDC, SC*.
Repeat five times working in the unworked stitches of the first round. Join with a SL ST.

I made two flowers and attached to a hair barrette, which can be purchased at any craft store (usually in the jewelry/beading section), using glue. I used E6000, but anything will work as long as it attaches to both metal and fabric. You could also tack the flowers to the barrette using yarn. Whichever is your preference.

I also added a crystal  with a flat back (also found at any craft store) in the center of the flower, to give it a little bling.

Starfish Barrette

I found the pattern for the starfish barrette on Beginner-Crochet-Patterns' blog. I really like this blog as it has lots of easy patterns.

CH 3. Join ring with a SL ST.

Round 1: SC 6 in ring. SL ST.
Round 2: For each ray, *CH 6, SL ST in the second chain from the hook. In the chain, SC 2, dc 2. SL ST to the first round in the next stitch from the chain.* Repeat between ** four times. The starfish should have a total of five rays.

For the starfish barrette, I made two starfish. I then attached them to a barrette by using a whip stitch with the yarn and the E6000 glue where needed. As with the rose barrette, I also added a few crystals for some bling.
My sister thought these were the cutest things! Score one for me!

I recently finished the baby sweater I have been working on, so I will be posting about that one soon.

June 20, 2013

Weight Loss: Moment by Moment

On my weigh-in from last week, I lost the 1.4 lbs I gained the week before. I knew that I wasn't following the plan as I should and was taking responsibility for that. I posted regarding that in my Facebook Group, Just another Mile. The two of the members thought my choice of words meant something totally different. So instead of it coming across as taking responsibility for what I lost or didn't lose on the scale, it came across like I had horrible self-esteem which was causing me to make the bad food/exercise choices. Then one of those members, who is also the administrator, turned around and posted about "self-love" ... basically making what they misunderstood in my post as an example for everyone to learn what "not to do". Needless to say, I am no longer in that group.  However, I have found two others that are very supportive, have tons of food ideas, and some very inspirational stories. The groups are closed, but if you are on Weight Watcher's and need a little support, inspiration, please ask to join. You will not regret it! The groups are : Weight Watchers and US and Weight Watchers Support Group: The Program that Works!

On my last post about my weight loss, I spoke about all these plans that I had to amp up my weight loss. I did none of them!
What I did do is buy a battery for my food scale, which my boys lost almost immediately, but I haven't gone back to get another. I made poor food choices at lunch (multiple carbs at lunch) and then went out to eat for dinner. And I only exercised once. At the end of the week, I had -10 weekly points including the 3 activity points I earned. To my surprise, I maintained for the week. I am determined to stop revisiting my previous weight. So starting now, I put my exercise plan into place and there is no excuse for not working out.

 I have also decided to put my goals down in writing and create a plan of action along with some other tools to help me stay focused on my ultimate goal. But that is another post for later in the week!

June 13, 2013

Hair Bow Barrette Tutorial

A few weeks ago, I had two birthdays to get gifts for. A dear friend from work who is helping me make better choices on my weightloss journey. Since my friend is always wearing a hair bow barrette in her hair, I thought I would make her one or two to go with her collection.

Since I am somewhat new to crochet and still learning myself, the thought of trying to make a pattern and then crochet it, is more than I want to tackle right now. So, I went to Ravelry to find a FREE pattern that would do the job. I found one with a tutorial for a hair bow on an eleastic band. The Lively Crochet blog has the pattern. I made adjustments as needed for my use.

1 package of Darice barrettes (can be found in the jewelry making section of any Joann's or Michael's craft stores. I used the 3 inch size, but you can use any size that works best for you.
Yarn: I used some cotton yarn that was leftover in my stash that was mostly light and medium weight. I would suggest using either a light or fine weight so that you can attach the bow to the barrette more easily.
Hook: I used a size H but you can use whatever is comfortable for you and appropriate for the weight of you yarn as gauge is not important for this project.
Yarn needle. I recommend the metal kind or use a tapestry needle. The plastic ones tend to break after a while. They can also be difficult to maneuver as they rub against the yarn when weaving in your ends.

Bow Main Piece:
CH 9
First row: HDC in second chain from the hook and in every stitch to the end of the row.-- 8 stitches
Second row: CH 1, turn. HDC in each stitch.
Repeat second row until the main piece of the bow measures about 5 inches (length of barrette with one inch longer on each side of barrette end). Fasten off leaving about a 10 inch tail.

Bow Tie Piece:
CH 4
First row: HDC in second chain from the hook and in each of the remaining stitches. --3 stitches
Second row: CH 1, turn. HDC in each stitch.
Repeat second row until the tie piece of the bow measures about 1.5 to 2 inches in length (enough to wrap around bow and barrette). Fasten off leaving about a 4 inch tail.

This what the two pieces should look like when finished.
Center barrette on top of the main piece and pinch sides.

Wrap tie piece aroud the middle of bow and underneath the arched piece of the barrette (piece near my thumb in the above picture). Using the tail from the tie piece, stitch the tie piece ends together. Weave in ends.

Using the tail of the main piece, attach the bow to the barrette. Weave in ends.

I attached the bow to the barrette using the wholes at the ends of the barrette. I weaved in the ends as I traveled from one end to the other so I didn't have to add a separate piece of yarn.
I decided to add a bit of "bling" to the hair bows by gluing some "bedazzle" gems (or at least that's what I like to call them) to the tie.
I really like how these came out.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I look forward to doing more tutorials in the future!

June 11, 2013

Knowing When to Quit

A few months back, I wanted to start a class on Craftsy called Beyond Rectangles. This class teaches shaping so that you can create items other than squares or rectangles, which is mostly what I have done in the past, up until now. As I have mentioned before, in a previous post, my friend Natasha is expecting a baby in September. Since the project for this class is a baby cardigan, I thought this would be perfect for her.

Following the instructions, I tried to get the gauge right with a Bernat Baby Coordinates yarn. However, I was having trouble with the gauge and working with this yarn for such a tight stitch even though I was able to get the gauge right.

So then I thought, I would change yarns. I would use a cotton yarn for the sweater and then make a baby blanket. I decided on the Bernat Baby Coordinates - Sweet Baby Blanket pattern.

So it started out fine with no problems. But as the project went on, the blanket started curling more and more. It also was taking much longer than anticipated. I started to get frustrated with the whole thing as I wanted to work on other projects and start more of my Craftsy classes. Eventually, after 6 weeks and not a lot of progress, I decided to abandon what I have made so far.

Abandoned blanket
Close Up of "blanket".
I have decided to weave in all the ends and give this to the baby's big sisters as a scarf to play dress up with.

Meanwhile, I have decided to do a granny square baby blanket that I found in the latest issue of Crochet World's "Glorious Granny Squares" called "Baby Blocks"
Photo Courtesy of "Crochet World's Glorious Granny Squares"
Once I finish the baby cardigan, I will get started on this. It will be my first granny square project. I am soo psyched about this!!