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Minimizing Miss Mustard Seed


As I mentioned in THIS POST, I’m making some changes in my life to be healthier and lose some weight.  I owned up to gaining 30 lbs since I started blogging.  I didn’t gain weight because of the blog.  I gained weight because I didn’t make my health a high priority. That changed last August when I kicked processed foods to the curb and became a vegetarian.  Some of you have asked for more details of what I did and what I am doing, so I thought I share.  Remember that I’m just sharing my decisions and my experience.  I know food can be a touchy subject (see the thread about baby carrots!), so you have to ultimately make the decision of what’s best for you and your body.

I watched three documentaries that changed the way I viewed food.  Food Matters, Forks Over Knives and Hungry for Change. (They are all available on Netflix as well.)  Don’t watch these if you like your fast food and diet sodas and sugar.  You’ll be bummed.  I was bummed, but then I was motivated.

Step one for me was cleaning out the pantry and fridge.  

I got rid of anything that contained MSG (which is fed to mice to make them fat, for goodness sake!), hydrogenated oils, corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup, and anything else I couldn’t pronounce or didn’t know what it was.  It was amazing how much of the food I ate everyday contained one or all of these ingredients.  Just look at the paragraph of ingredients in dried breadcrumbs!  Is all of that really necessary?  Anyway, I pitched what was open and gave away what was still sealed and hadn’t expired.  (I must say I felt a little bad about that.  “Here’s food I refuse to eat anymore, but you go ahead and eat it.”)  I know this step is hard.  It was hard for me to look at an almost empty pantry.  It was hard to waste food I had paid for.  It was hard to be so black and white.  You might decide to take the “phase out” approach (this is what I did with my kids) and the foods you decide to cut out might be different, but this is how I did it.

Step two was about replacing.

I started by replacing foods that I liked that were not healthy for me with foods that I liked that were healthy (or at least better) for me.  For example, I was a Diet Dr. Pepper addict.  I was cracking one open at about 10:00 am everyday and sipped on them until I went to bed.  I could go a few days without drinking any water.  Really.  I decided to go cold turkey and stopped drinking them.  I felt pretty crappy for about 2 weeks.  I had headaches, was cranky and craved them intensely.  I had no idea I was so addicted.  Then, I looked for a good replacement and found Clementine Izze.  It’s an all-natural, no sugar added soda.  Just fizzy fruit juice.  I know it’s still empty calories, but it was something that was better for me and it gave me that fizzy fix I needed.  I also started drinking a lot more water.  Now, I mostly drink water and have an Izze 2-3 times a week when I want something different.  The more water I drink, the more my body wants it.  It’s great.  Now a new, healthy habit has been established.

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I kept reminding myself that I’m not dieting, I’m replacing!  All-natural dark chocolate instead of candy.  Sliced red peppers and cheese slices instead of crackers and cheese.  Avocado instead of mayo.  I never felt deprived, because I was eating things I really liked anyway.  And I found some treats like Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.  I don’t eat them much anymore, but they were a nice way to transition.  I know they are fried white potatoes, but the ingredients were potatoes, oil and salt.  I didn’t lose a lot of weight in steps one and two – only about 4 lbs, but it wasn’t about weight loss.  It was about change and health.

The main focus of this stage was getting used to eating real, whole food.  Once healthy habits were established, I moved onto step three.

Step three was adding exercise.

If I’m going to exercise, I want to be sweating and exhausted when I’m done.  I don’t like to waste time with a fluffy workout, so I looked for an option that would fit my work schedule, would be challenging and would be working towards a goal.  I did a bunch of research and decided to start with the video workout series called P90x.

I’m three weeks in and I am really enjoying it.  It’s challenging.  It’s varied, so I don’t get bored.  It’s working me towards an end goal and I already see that I’m getting stronger, faster and more agile.  The best thing is that my husband decided to do it with me, so we’re pushing each other on.  He hates Plyometrics (jump training) and I hate Yoga, so we encourage each other through those DVDs. This works for me, because I can do it in my home whenever it’s convenient.  I loved taking classes at the Y, but I have to show up when the class is scheduled and it didn’t always work with what I had to do that day.  It was too easy to skip out.  I also wasn’t working towards a specific fitness goal.  I just took random classes I liked.  As a bonus, one of my readers is doing P90x also, so we’re keeping in touch AND another reader is a Beachbody coach, so she’s become my official coach. I have lots of support.

So, I worked my tail off the first week and ate healthy foods, but I gained a pound.  Bummer.  Time for step four.  This was the step I dreaded the most.

Step four – tracking calories.  

I hate this part.  I get sick of monitoring everything I put in my mouth.  I don’t want to weigh it and write it down.  I just want to grab a handful and enjoy.  The first day I tracked my calories, I realized why I had gained a pound.  I was eating more calories than I was burning.  I made some adjustments, steered myself towards better choices (again replacing, not depriving) and I lost two pounds last week.  As much as I hate this step, I need to do it and I need to make it as easy on myself as I can, so I stick with it.  I’m using two tools…

My Fitness Pal – It’s a FREE App for your iPhone that you can use to track your calories and exercise.   I did it for a few days and decided I would maybe track my calories a few days a week, so I didn’t get sick of it. Well, once I entered in my regular foods, recipes, meals and exercises, it was really easy, so I’ve been using it every day.  In the past, I tracked everything by hand, in a notebook, so it got exhausting.  Since the foods I eat most often are saved (and I’m a creature of habit), it’s just a couple of taps to add in my food.  Writing everything down helps me make better choices…especially when it comes to quantities.


The second tool I’m using was my birthday present – The UP Bracelet by Jawbone.

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 This bracelet does a lot of things.  It’s a pedometer, it tracks my sleep (light vs. deep, how long it takes to fall asleep, etc.) and it tracks my resting and active calorie burns.  How?  I have no idea, which is why I paint furniture and write a home decor blog instead of inventing cool gadgets.

There is an UP app for my iPhone and I plug the bracelet in to track everything from that app.

I don’t use it to track my food, because I like My Fitness Pal better, so I use the two apps together to make sure I’m staying in a calorie deficit each day.

 If you’re a goal-oriented, good-grade-getting kind of person, you would like this App.  I will make extra trips to the basement, march in place when I’m on the phone and walk around the church parking lot to make sure I get my 10,000 steps for the day.  I also make sure I get in bed early enough to reach my 8 hour sleep goal.  I’m really loving this gadget.

As I mentioned, I don’t like the food-tracker on their app, so I don’t use it.  Sometimes it tracks “steps” when I’m rolling up some jute webbing or moving my arm a lot, but am still sitting down.  Other than small stuff like that, I think it’s pretty accurate.  I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how it goes.


So, that’s what I’m doing.  Four steps to a minier-Miss Mustard Seed.  I do have some number goals in my head, but my main goal is to get the fittest I have ever been in my life and be at the place where clothes shopping is fun.  I have Christmas and birthday money I still haven’t spent because clothes shopping isn’t fun.  When I get yelled at for the Kohl’s charge bill, I’ve reached my goal.  (Just kidding, hon.)

I’m going to be even more transparent. I was hesitant to share about my health journey, because I’m afraid I’ll get side-tracked and I’ll abandon it.  Sharing it is a big step and I had to muster up some courage to take it.  Some of the things I’m trying might not work for me in the end.  Maybe they will.  Time will tell.  My blog is an outlet for me and this is a big thing going on in my life right now, so it seemed right to share, even though it has nothing to do with decorating.

But I guess this blog has always been about more than that, anyway, right?  :)


Disclosure: I was not asked or paid to promote any of the products I linked to or wrote about in this post.  I did not receive any products for free or in exchange for advertising.  Some of the links are Amazon Affiliate links, so I am paid a percentage if you make a purchase through that link.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this…I know how hard it was. I shared my own weight loss story last fall and I almost puked after I hit the publish button. Seriously. I was 100% honest so some of it wasn’t pretty. I too counted calories. Obsessively at times! It took me 2 years but I lost 40 lbs. The very best result was that my health improved and major issues I was having just disappeared. Keep the faith Marian. I wish you good health!!

  2. Maria says:

    I just wanted to say, ‘keep up the good work!’ I too am doing P90X. I have had a weight gain of 25 lbs over the past 10 years, am in menopause at 53, have hypo-thyroid and adrenal fatigue. I am always tired, especially after working out. I just started working out a few days a week with an outrigger team at our local ocean harbor. This makes me feel so young, but the next day I am exhausted.

    I have changed my diet significantly as well and will go back to My Fitness Pal to track my calories. (Thanks for the reminder!) I use a heart monitor/calorie device when working out to track my calories, etc. I notice I gain weight because I am building muscle. It IS a wonderful feeling to have strength and sore muscles. It’s a feeling of well being and health that I love.

    Many blessings to you on your journey, Marion.

    Maria Ricci

    • Sounds like you are dehydrated the day after your big workouts. Several thousand units of D3 helps also. Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy (Cancer) has now been diagnosed with adrenal problems, so has several posts about it. Good luck and don’t give up. I haven’t lost much weight, either, but am getting suoer strong.

  3. You can do it! I am going through a similar thing where I gained 25 lbs. back (after I had lost it twice before!) since I’ve been blogging-and you’re right, it’s not due to the blog. I’ve changed my lifestyle recently (and tried a few times before and was discouraged) by watching my calories (I’m a food blogger and surrounded by temptation), working out about 4 times a week and I gave up pop as well. I too didn’t get much water in a day but that’s much better these days. I’m down 8 lbs. in this first month! P90X is a good one. I also enjoy Chalene Johnson programs like Turbo Jam. Gotta agree with you again and say if I’m not drenched in sweat it’s not good enough. Slim in 6 from Debbie Siebers is a top pick of mine. Seems basic and kind of boring (until you put on your tunes) but effective and I’ve never felt pain like that the following few days. Ouch! So, we can do it and you sound like you’re doing amazing! Keep it up! If you need any recipes let me know. I have a number of them now from past lifestyle changes (not diets) and today. Plus, I’m always looking for new ones and calculating the calories.

    • Water is the key to health. I sound like a crazy, but I live in the mountains half the year, so I am always thirsty. If you weigh 150 lbs, you need half that in ounces of water a day. 75 ounces. I have a bottle of water with me at all times, especially in the car. It really helps.

  4. awesome! I love MFP – I lost 30 lbs cleaning up my diet ans using it to become aware. However I went off it for about a year and have gained 20+ back – eek. Time to get back on the bandwagon. Love the barcode reader on it – even produce is barcoded nowadays if it’s from the grocery

  5. Getting in excellent physical shape can seem daunting…sooo much info, books, diets, do-hickies to track this & that.
    Just 2 simple steps will get you there…eat less & move more! And if you don’t do that for one day just start again tomorrow. YOU can move “mountains” ~ you certainly can loose 30 pounds.
    Good luck!!

  6. JaneEllen says:

    Hi Marian Congratulations on your life style change. Everybody is different so our metabolisms work differently. I can only imagine how hard it’s been since you have so much on your plate daily to tend to.
    Last year I lost about 20 lbs. due to curtailing all the junk we’d been eating continually. I also have hypothyroidism, born with thyroid not working at all so my weight has been an issue for me since I was a young woman. Seemed once I started having children boy did I gain weight. I had 3 kids in 4 yrs. then another at almost 30.
    Last Spring and Summer we spent much time outdoors cleaning out our shed and all the “stuff” in it. What a job. It was hot and I drank sun tea and water continually, good direction. We also did not have the money to buy junk let alone having enough to buy groceries so that meant we had to ration what we ate to make it last. We’re on SS, I’m 72 as of last July and hubs is 71 as of Oct. Our shed is down below our house, have to go up and down a slight decline that seemed to help also as I was hauling a wagon full of “stuff” up the hill all that time. I didn’t even realize I was losing weight until I went to put on some of my summer clothes and they were all big, YAY. I’ve kept it off but it’s starting to creep back on just couple lbs. but I’m doing what I can to stop that right away. I can’t do some exercising due to back, leg and shoulder problems but I do what I can without hurting myself. I’ve gotten more flexible and stronger. I still need to work on the french fries and sweet stuff but that’s in progress also. Maybe you’ve inspired many of us to think about food and our health more, always a good thing.
    Good for you for realizing what direction you were heading and making good food decisions, I’m sure we all need to be more observant what’s going into our bodies and our families. Keep up the good work.

    • JaneEllen – Get in a pool. There must be one near you somewhere. Water aerobics has changed my life. I have actually improved my bone density with the pool alone, no drugs. These days the classes are different, you wear shoes for bouncing, you don’t wear weight belts. A lot of hospitals have pools they use for rehab. They also have classes for the rest of us. Many nursing homes have exercise classes where you sit in a chair. You can do that also. French fries will kill you. About 700 calories in each serving. I am 66, you can improve at our age. Keep going! Ann

  7. Karen says:

    I feel like we have been on the same journey. I did P90X last year for a few months and not only lost weight, but got in the best shape of my life. It is HARD!! You do need someone else to do it with to stay motivated. Try some of the recipes – the Island Pork Tenderloin Salad is one I have made over and over.

    I also tried My Fitness Pal this year when I started to gain weight. Normally I hate to track calories, because it makes me obsess about food (even more than I usually do!). But the app makes it super simple and fast. I stopped tracking for a while, but your post has given me the incentive to start again.

    Good luck!

  8. Sarah says:

    Woooo Girl!!! Congrats on making it three weeks of P90X! I made it maaaaybe one week. That is BRUTAL. I’ll stick to running. Good luck on your new life journey!

  9. Karen says:

    I too have gained about 30 lbs. in the last 10 years. I have had some health issues recently that are screaming at me to do something! I have started by trying to get off the soda ( I am also an addict) and am down to 1 a day. I am making healthier food choices and I am putting in a garden so that I can eat fresh and healthy, too. At 51, I am finding this isn’t easy, but necessary. Thank you so much for sharing you journey. I know you can do this and are on your way to a better, healthier you! Keep talking about it… I find that it keeps a person on track! :-)

  10. One pound bag of dried garbanzo beans…soaked overnight…drained the next morning…dump into roasting pan…drizzle with 1 tbl EVOO, cracked sea salt, cracked pepper and roast until done. It’s one thing I do for myself to keep from eating junk; it’s replaced most of the junk and is a lot healthier than junk.

  11. Congratulations on making those tough changes. I’m on the same journey and i love my fitness pal! I been making better food choices for myself and family but haven’t added exercise consistently yet due to illness. I know how hard it is to find vegetarian recipes that your family will eat but my hubby and kids both love this recipe – it only takes about 15 minutes to make. I found it on Bon appetit’s website. Search for Chana masala – it an Indian chickpea dish that is filling and awesome! Being such a busy girl I thought you might appreciate a super fast veggie gourmet meal! Keep up the good work! You’ve inspired me to get moving. That’s what I love about your blog…it’s always inspiring no matter the subject. Thanks Marian!

  12. I watched those same 3 documentaries on Netflix and I’ve made radical changes, too! I’m feeling much better. Also, I know exactly what you mean about giving away the food that you have decided is unhealthy. But the folks who got it all seemed happy and they think I’m a bit of a nut for giving the stuff up. One more thing – a great breakfast I’ve just discovered. I don’t eat process cereal anymore and really missed the ease of it. Now I have a cereal of my own without any grains at all. Just pick out 2 different types of nuts and put a scoop of each in a bowl. Add fresh fruit and almond milk. A dash of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla make it even better. It’s wonderful, fast and easy and the only iffy ingredients are those in the almond milk. I hope to get back to making my own almond milk one of these days – then this cereal would be PERFECT.

  13. I rarely comment but felt compelled after reading your post. You are very brave to share your story. It is very difficult to own up to an unhealthy lifestyle. About a year ago, I decided to no longer live that way. I started going to a crossfit gym and cut out all processed garbage from my diet. 80 pounds later I had minor surgery and started to fall back into my old bad habits. I put on a few pounds but turned it back around after the holidays and am back to losing weight again. It just shows what a journey leading a healthy lifestyle is. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you are not alone, to know that other people are facing the same obstacles in life. Great post, you are brilliant no matter the subject matter!

  14. Nancy says:

    Oh Marian, you are on the right track girl. I started walking everyday and using ” My Fitness Pal” at the same time about a year ago. I lost 35 lbs in four months. I also kicked the diet soda cold turkey and started drinking tea sweetened with Stevia. As you said, it was hard for a couple of weeks but then everything got easier. I was doing great but my husband had a health crisis and I backslid while dealing with his problem ( he is ok now). I regained all but 5 lbs. and have just started walking and watching what i eat again. My advice is be persistent and try not to let anything interfere with your plan. It is easy to think its ok to have one soda or one cookie but in my case it just doesn’t work. I think MFP rocks and I like that it gives you extra calories for working out. Now I’m going to find a Jawbone bracelet.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Last year my husband developed a corn allergy and we had to cut out anything made with “corn” & MSG in it. Almost everything has corn of some form in it, even salt. I too gave food away. I also had a diet drink addiction. About 3 weeks ago I had the flu and couldn’t drink them and haven’t had one since. I drink water now, something I never did and hope never to go back to drinking diet drinks. I feel so much better. As a bonus I no longer crave “sweets.”

  16. I’m really proud of you for making your health a priority and for being so diligent! It’s not easy being as transparent as you are, but honestly, I don’t like it when bloggers only show all the perfect stuff…as pretty as it is…this is real life too! Love it! Thanks for sharing your journey. You are very inspiring!!! I’ve always been sort of a health nut myself, but it’s amazing how many “levels” there are. Just when you think you’re healthy there’s something else you need to take out of your diet. Ha! Do you ever feel that way? I don’t see it as discouraging though (and I really want to watch those videos on Netflix) but a challenge. Healthy living is a huge interest of mine, but like you said, everybody has to do what works for them. One person’s health regime will differ from the next. Anywho…!

    Have a blessed day!


  17. I need to start losing some of my weight too. Gahhh. I hate the fact that I am so lazy to move.

    We can do it!! 😀

  18. Karen Stuart says:

    I am so proud for you MMS, and I thank you for sharing your healthy changes journey. I watched a documentary by President Clinton’s doctor (after he had his heart attack). I can’t remember that doctor’s name, but I am sure he pleaded the Vegan cause as well, because it was the first time I considered it.

    I will watch those documentaries soon, and see if I can add to the many changes I have already made towards healthy eating.

    Thank you for your inspiration!


  19. woo! get it! I love when people realize how horrible our food system is. Read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. Also, if you ever want to have a healthy chat/b!tch session about HOW MUCH CORN SYRUP is in EVERYTHING, you know where to find me :)

    PS: If your bread has 18 ingredients…is it really bread?
    PPS: Hooray for vegetarianism!

  20. Kim L. says:

    Oh, I so want that bracelet! My family doesn’t need to loose any weight (except me ) but I have decided to clean up our eating too. One day I just looked at all the ingredients in the food we eat and was disgusted. Now I try and make it myself or I look for things with “real” ingredients like your chips. I replaced all my mixes with DIY ones that I found online like ranch dressing, taco mix, and gravy mixes. They are the worst X P

  21. Sue and Danny says:

    An honest “thank you” simply stated but direly needed

  22. Angie W says:

    Keep us posted on the UP bracelet. I’ve never heard of it and interested to see how you like it over time. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers but haven’t been very good about tracking my activity.

  23. Lori R. says:

    You should be proud!! This is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of determination and HARD work.

    I know because I have lost 10″ in my waist, 7″ around the caboose and 2″ around my thighs since I started working out in November and changed my diet. I work out 6 days a week. An hour for 3 days and 1 1/2 for the other 3. I call it going to the Torture Chamber. My husband always tells me to have a good time. My response is always if it was fun everyone would be doing it.

    I too use MyFitnessPal. I love it! I am down 3 dress sizes and can’t wait to meet my goal. Keep up the great work and I think it’s awesome that your husband is doing the workouts with you!!

  24. Thank you SOOO much for sharing your journey! Thanks to some health issues, Prednisone and being in my 40’s… I’ve gained about 40lbs. over the past 5 years. I’m doing MUCH better now, but have lost my motivation as well as my stamina! I SO need this type of information and inspiration! Keep up the great work. I pray I can get going myself! :)

  25. It is always nice to see what other’s are doing to get healthy. I found that I had a similar experience as you did going off Diet Dr. Pepper. Mine was Pepsi! Boy, my poor family could barely stand me. That was months ago. I like drinking water with lemon. I also love drinking fruit tea. I am going to start juicing as I kick the junk food habit. Best Wishes with your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

  26. Laura Phillips says:

    I’ve been behind in reading the posts, but I had to stop and say, “Yea! for Marian!” I am so proud of you! I have been hoping and praying for this revelation and action for you since your surgery last year (wasn’t it last year?) How amazing that one of the same films that influenced us (Forks Over Knives) was also action-prompting for you. God has used you to inspire and bless so many folks, and I think it’s only fitting that this be one of the next steps in your ‘becoming’ and growing …. and helping others to do the same. With so many influential people in our world using their powers for “less than good”, THANK YOU! for being prayerful and considerate of how you use yours. Can’t wait to see what God does with you in your new abundant health and vibrance, Marian!

  27. Great Job Marian! That’s great that you’ve made so many healthy changes. I have a similar journey. Beginning in Jan 13 I gave up drinking diet soda cold turkey. I also started doing the BB program Turbo Fire. I finished 90 days of that and had lost 15 inches and 15 pounds. i was so thrilled that I immediately started the Insanity program and am running a small challenge group of people doing Insanity. I am really loving the BB programs and the inspiration and energy I get from getting people together for a healthy cause. So happy for you! I’m sure you will have bumps in the road but with all of us here to cheer you on, you can’t help but be successful!

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